Grading the Knicks’ NBA 2K22 Ratings: Are they accurate?

knicks

With the release of NBA 2K22 last Friday, we finally have our first look at the 2021-22 New York Knicks roster in 2K. This also means that Miles McBride and Quentin Grimes are playable for the first time ever. Let’s dive into these ratings and see if 2K got it right.

The Ratings

Julius Randle, 87

Can’t really complain about this one. Coming off the best season of his career where he won Most Improved Player(MIP), Randle has earned his place among the top ratings in the Eastern Conference. He should probably be at an 88 or an 89, but his performance in last year’s playoffs definitely played a factor in this year’s rating.

Grade: B

RJ Barrett, 83

This one was really surprising. Not because of how he isn’t higher, but because 2K finally decided to show RJ some respect. 83 is honestly a really great jumping-off point this upcoming season for the 21-year-old. The rating isn’t too low or too high, it’s perfect.

Grade: A

Kemba Walker, 83

Unsurprisingly, this is the lowest rating Walker has had since NBA 2K16. The 5-time All-Star had one of the worst seasons of his career last year and looks to bounce back on his hometown team. His dynamic scoring and playmaking abilities could transform the Knicks’ offense, leading to a ratings boost down the line. However, whether it be from his knee issues or just a regression of his skills, there is also a chance 83 isn’t the lowest we see his rating throughout the year.

Grade: A-

Derrick Rose, 83

After a terrific playoff series against the Hawks last season, D-Rose earned this 83 rating. Although he’s tied for the 2nd highest rating on the team, the former MVP will be coming off the bench this season. Look for him to make a real run at 6th Man of the Year and for this rating to stay pretty much the same all season.

Grade: A

Mitchell Robinson, 80

There’s no question about it: When the 7’0 Robinson is healthy, there are not many other players in the league who can match his level of athleticism and energy. However, he’s coming off multiple injuries, the latter of which saw him miss the final 26 games of the regular season, including the series against the Hawks. If he’s able to stay healthy, there’s little-to-no chance that this rating stays the same. For now, it does make sense after not playing half of last season.

Grade: B+

Evan Fournier, 79

This is the first one that’s way off. 2k has had a tendency in the past to underrate guards/wings that can score in a multitude of ways. Any guard they perceive to not be able to defend well and not have playmaking abilities will have a hard time getting a rating over 80, especially if they play for the Knicks. This one just doesn’t make sense, though. It could be due to the fact that the devs may have been taking his stats with Boston into account too much. Before his trade to the Celtics, Fournier was putting up almost 20 PPG in only 30 minutes per game. Fournier is at least an 82, maybe even an 83. The intangibles he brings on offense, including his shooting and finishing skills, are better than any other 79 in the game. This rating isn’t accurate at all.

Grade: F

Immanuel Quickley, 78

As one of the biggest steals in the 2020 NBA Draft, Quickley improved his rating from a 71 last year all the way up to a 79 by the end of the year. This is why this rating doesn’t really do it for me. To drop down a point after an entire offseason doesn’t make much sense. We’ll see how it unfolds for the second year from Kentucky, but there’s little doubt that he improves enough to get this rating over 80 by the playoffs.

Side note, Quickley is REALLY good at NBA2K.

Grade: C

Nerlens Noel, 78

As the defensive anchor of the Knicks throughout the final stretch of last season that culminated in the team making the playoffs for the first time in 8 years, Noel proved that he wasn’t your average backup center. Defensively, Noel is an incredibly reliable option off the bench. However, his offensive woes will always hamper any rating he’ll ever get from 2K.

Grade: A-

Obi Toppin, 76

If it weren’t for the competency and confidence shown by Obi Toppin at the end of the season last year, there’s a chance he’s nowhere near the 76 that he finds himself right now. The potential is clearly there, but will he find the ability to become more offensively dynamic? Only time will tell. But until we see him take a big leap, the rating he currently holds will stay the same.

The Rest:

Taj Gibson, 76

Kevin Knox, 72

Quentin Grimes, 71

Luca Vildoza, 71

Dwayne Bacon, 71

Miles McBride, 70

Overall, the Knicks have a team rating of 83, which is the highest rating they’ve had since NBA 2K14.

Knicks reunion among Carmelo Anthony’s options during free agency

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony

After the Portland Trail Blazers moved on from him, Carmelo Anthony considered a reunion with the New York Knicks.

In Chris Hayne’s podcast on Monday, Anthony revealed that moving back to New York was among his options in the free agency before the Los Angeles Lakers offer came along.

“It was (hard) because I had just moved and bought a house in New York, Anthony said. “It was unexpected. My son starts school (today) in New York. So it was like, I’m here, I’m home. I never expected the Lakers to call.”

While Anthony said he’s been spending summertime in Los Angeles for more than a decade now, moving his family there never crossed his mind.

Anthony, a Brooklyn native, spent some of his prime years with the Knicks and led the team to the playoffs in 2013.

The Lakers were the Knicks’ rivals during their two championship runs in the 70s. The spotlights of Broadway and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood made them the two biggest markets in the NBA.

“I don’t know if I was ready to do that because that’s a big shift. When you wear the purple and gold, that’s different. Even in New York, when you wear the blue and orange, that’s blood. That runs deep. It’s the same way as the purple and gold. It’s just at different sides of the country,” Anthony said.

Anthony said he was in constant communication with Portland’s stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He was waiting for the Trail Blazers’ call that never came. So he thought he’d move back to the east coast.

“I made [Portland] almost like a home for me. Within two years, I felt like I was a part of that community,” Anthony said. “New York was always there. Coming back to New York was always a story. I’ve always told my son when he goes to high school, I’ll be right there with you. The New York thing made sense.”

Anthony would have added more firepower to the Knicks’ bench that already has Derrick Rose and the pair of electrifying sophomores Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin.

Aside from the Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Orleans Pelicans also showed interest.

“I didn’t really get a chance to really converse with Philly, but there was interest there,” Anthony said.

He then revealed that Philadelphia’s stars Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris reached out to him, but he never had the chance to talk to them as the Lakers scooped him up before the Sixers did.

The opportunity to chase a ring with his good friend LeBron James and Anthony Davis was too good to pass up, but it was never an easy decision.

“Having a great chance to win [was what made me decide to join the Lakers]. It took me some days to really like sit down and kind of break it down and really dig deep into making that decision,” Anthony said.

“To most people, it probably would have been an easy decision to make. But to me, it wasn’t. I really have to align a lot of things and put things in order for things to work out, for me to feel comfortable to be away from my family for another year and the kids not being there. People don’t understand that part. That’s the hardest part. The basketball (part) is easy.”

Anthony was linked to the Knicks when his former agent Leon Rose became the team’s president. But the former Knicks star said the interest wasn’t mutual.

“At this point, it wasn’t really a lot [of consideration],’’ Anthony said in the summer of 2020. “The Knicks were making moves and were trying to figure out the direction they wanted to go in. They weren’t done making moves. I’m sure they have a plan. I don’t think me coming in and trying to mess their plan up was good for either party.”

“They are rebuilding and figuring out what’s in their near future. It was me personally wanting to be part of a situation I was already comfortable with. I just finished playing with these guys two, three months ago. I felt it was the right fit at this point of time where I’m at right now this particular year.’’

Then the Knicks made a surprising run to the playoffs and have positioned themselves to make another serious run this season with the addition of four-time All-Star Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.

What a difference a year makes.

The Knicks suddenly became an attractive destination to Anthony again until Hollywood pulled him away from home.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Predicting the Knicks’ 2nd team combination ahead of 2021-22 season

new york knicks, immanuel quickley, obi toppin

The New York Knicks starting five is likely set ahead of the 2021-22 season, with the exception of Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose likely interchanging spots. However, the second team combination could go several different directions, but ideally, head coach Tom Thibodeau will look to get some of his younger pieces on the floor who can contribute immediately.

While rookies Miles McBride and Quentin Grimes looked good during Summer League play, it is unlikely they earn ample minutes this upcoming season, rather featuring on the third team or in garbage time.

Let’s take a look at what the second unit could look like and what each player’s role will be.

Projected 2nd team combination:

PG: Derrick Rose

As stated above, Rose and Walker could interchange spots on a nightly basis. However, the expectation is that Walker will get the majority of starting minutes, but Rose could shift in shortly after to mitigate fatigue.

The veteran point guard averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 assists, and shot nearly 49% from the field. There’s no question he can help some of the younger pieces on the team elevate their play and develop during live action. The drop-off from Walker to Rose isn’t significant, giving the Knicks consistent PG play throughout games.

SF: Alec Burks

Burks ended up being one of the more surprising players last season. Signing a three-year extension, Burks wan’t only clutch in the fourth quarter but averaged 12.7 points, 4.6 assists, and shot 41.5% from the three-point line. His value off the bench is essential to the Knicks’ long-term success, as he contributes instant offense and spaces the floor exceptionally well. At 29-years-old, he will have a key spot off the bench and can supplement multiple positions, including shooting guard and small forward.

PF: Obi Toppin

With Julius Randle starting at power forward, Obi Toppin will have a tough time earning minutes. Randle doesn’t come off the floor very often, as he played in 71 games last year and averaged 37.6 minutes per game. Given an NBA game has 48 minutes, that is 10 extra minutes to spare where Toppin can make an impact. He has been working diligently to improve his shooting and isolation moves this off-season after averaging just 4.1 points last year. If he can improve his defense, Thibodeau will have more trust with him on the floor.

SG: Immanuel Quickley

The Knicks will obviously be looking to find ways to include Immanuel Quickley in their game plan. Quickley spent the off-season playing point guard with the Summer League team. During his rookie campaign, he averaged 11.4 points, 2.0 assists and shot an impressive 39% from three-point range. He’s also an 89% free-throw shooter, offering consistency in multiple categories. The likelihood is that Quickley features in a shooting guard role, but he has the potential to be a long-term solution at point guard after the contracts of Rose and Walker expire in two years.

The Knicks loved the combination of Rose and Quickley last season, so expect to see plenty more of that duo moving forward.

C: Nerlens Noel

The Knicks reassured Noel that he would have the opportunity to compete for starting minutes alongside Mitchell Robinson. After Robinson went down with a fractured foot and hand last season, Noel stepped into his position valiantly. While he doesn’t offer much as a scoring center, he was phenomenal on the boards, averaging 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, a career-high.

I anticipate that Robinson will start out of the gate, given his ability to guard the perimeter and down low with physicality. Noel has great anticipation but lacks the functional strength to defend against some power forwards and scoring centers in the low-post. He will likely feature on the second team, where he can still make an impact daily.

Will the Knicks start Derrick Rose or Kemba Walker next season?

New York Knicks, Derrick Rose

The Knicks now have the luxury of creating different combinations of players for the 2021-22 season. Last year, head coach Tom Thibodeau had trouble finding multiple lineups they could play at an efficient level.

With a lack of talent at various positions, including point guard and center, the Knicks forced some of the regular starters to play far more than desirable. This upcoming year, the hope is to give their primary players more rest to mitigate fatigue over a full 82-game season. Drafting Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and second-year players Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin should provide just that. Don’t forget reserve options like Nerlens Noel and Alec Berks, who can contribute immediately on multiple levels.

The most important part of creating combinations is having adequate talent so weaknesses don’t bleed through. One position that is facing an interesting conundrum is point guard, as the Knicks signed both Derrick Rose to an extension and acquired Kemba Walker in a sign and trade with the Boston Celtics.

Rose was offered a three-year, $43.5 million deal with a non-guaranteed year in the third season when he is 34 years old. Walker is set to earn $17.9 million over two seasons, a contract that most would agree is a bargain for his quality.

The question is, who will Tom Thibodeau lean on to be his primary starter?

Some believe that Walker is projected as the starting point guard, but Thibodeau might take a more creative approach to get both players on the floor and resting their bodies over the course of the year. In fact, I would label both of them at starters, as the Knicks will likely interchange them on a nightly basis to hopefully sustain health.

Last season, Rose averaged 25.6 minutes per game, and Walker played 31.8 minutes over 43 games. Theoretically, the Knicks could split the point guard responsibilities evenly and keep both healthy for the entire season. Rose and Walker played 93 games combined last year, 10 more than a regular NBA season.

With the 32-year-old Rose averaging 14.7 points, 4.2 assists, and shooting 47% from the field, the Knicks know they have a floor general who can manage the team properly. Walker is more of a wildcard, averaging 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and shooting 42% from the field. Walker is capable of providing elite offensive play but is rather streaky at times, which is why Thibodeau might take a more balanced approach to keep both focused and feeling at 100%.

How do you think the Knicks will operate a point guard this upcoming season with Rose and Walker? Comment below!

Knicks have one of the toughest schedules according to Positive Residual

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The odds are stacked again against the New York Knicks.

The Knicks have the 19th best odds overall and the 11th best odds in the East to make the playoffs at -135, according to DraftKing Sportsbook.

Crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets are an odds-on favorite to make the playoffs at -20000, followed by reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks (-8000) and the revamped Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, tied at -3500.

Despite the Knicks retaining much of their core that finished as fourth seed last season and upgrading their backcourt with Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, teams that didn’t make the playoffs were listed as favorites above them. 

Toronto Raptors (-300), Charlotte Hornets (-215), Indiana Pacers (-170), and Chicago Bulls (-155) have better odds to make the playoffs and the play-in tournament.

It doesn’t help that the Knicks have one of the toughest schedules in the upcoming season. They have the seventh toughest schedule based on Positive Residual’s metrics.

The Los Angeles-based sports analytics service provider said on their website that they measure the strength of schedule (SOS) by estimating how difficult a game or slate of games is based on the opponent’s quality, which is often defined by win percentage, net rating, or points above or below average and other variables such as home team strength, away team strength, rest and altitude at which home team plays. 

Positive Residual SOS chart

The Knicks’ schedule will feature 11 back-to-back games where Walker’s balky knee will be a question mark and two back-breaking road trips in February (5-game road swing in West Coast against playoff contenders) and March (7-game road trip: 5 in West Coast sandwiched by road games in Philadelphia and Brooklyn). But the Knicks front office has prioritized depth to mitigate these factors.

This could be arguably the most stacked team Tom Thibodeau will handle since the MVP Derrick Rose-led 2011 Chicago Bulls team he guided to 62-20 en route to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Thibodeau’s projected starting five this season will feature Walker and Fournier at the backcourt and Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson in the frontcourt with a deep bench led by Rose, who should be an early favorite to win Sixth Man of the Year, and veteran Alec Burks.

Knicks Projected Depth Chart:

PG Walker, Rose, Quickley, McBride

SG Fournier, Burks, Quickley, Grimes, Vildoza/Bacon

SF Barrett, Burks, Knox

PF Randle, Toppin, Knox, Gibson

C Robinson, Noel, Gibson

The Knicks were never given a chance last season to enter the playoffs, but they defied the 22.5 win odds in the pandemic-condensed 72-game schedule and finished at 41-31. They are pegged as a 42.5-win team this year, with the NBA returning to the regular 82-game schedule.

But with a roster that deep and with Thibodeau, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, at the helm, it’s hard to bet against the Knicks.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Grading the New York Knicks free agent acquisitions

New York Knicks, NYK

The New York Knicks spent an exorbitant amount of money this off-season to solve multiple positions of weakness. Having secured the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference last season, the team did more than enough to increase their odds of placing even better during the 2021-22 season.

Their free-agent acquisitions will play a big part in taking a step forward this upcoming year, including the retention of three familiar faces that were preparing to hit the market.

Grading the New York Knicks free agent signings:

1.) C: Nerlens Noel

With Mitchell Robinson playing in just 31 games last season, Nerlens Noel was forced into a more significant role. Averaging 5.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and shooting 61.4% from the field, Noel had one of his best years to date. However, his biggest impact came on defense, where he blocked 2.2 shots per contest and stole the ball 1.1 times on average. He was a maestro in the paint, meeting players at the rim to reject shots.

While Noel’s stats don’t stand out, a lot of his value doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. The Knicks seemingly overspent a bit on his retention, extending him on a three-year, $27.7 million deal. However, it is essentially a two-year contract with the third year not guaranteed. Paying him nearly $10 million is quite a lofty amount for a backup center, but the value he provides cannot go unnoticed.

Grade: B-

2.) PG: Derrick Rose

The very moment the Knicks acquired Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons at the deadline, the team took a massive step forward. It is clear that Rose is more than capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA, but age has certainly taken its toll on his stamina. With Elfred Payton offering little to nothing during the postseason, Rose was forced to play more minutes, picking up small injuries that impacted his production and efficiency.

Nonetheless, he averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 assists, and shot a career-high 41% from three with the Knicks last season over 35 games.

After realizing how much gas Rose has left in the tank, president Leon Rose elected to re-sign him on a three-year, $43.56 million deal. This is another contract that has no guarantees for the third season, and pairing ham with Kemba Walker should mitigate fatigue for the most part.

Grade: B+

3.) SG: Alec Burks

One of the Knicks’ top scorers last season was Alec Burks, who played an essential role off the bench. Serving as a shooting guard and small forward, the former first-round pick from 2011 averaged 12.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and shot 42% from the field. He also hit on 41.5% of his shots from three, representing another high percentage shooter who curates immediate offense when called upon.

Burks isn’t the most stout defender, but his ability to play multiple positions and rotate in different combinations was enough to convince the front office to keep him on a three-year, $30 million deal. Burks’s contract also has an out after the second season, as the Knicks eye a potential big-name free agent with the opening of more salary space.

Grade: B

4.) SG/SF: Evan Fournier

One of the Knicks’ more lucrative free-agent acquisitions was Evan Fournier, formerly of the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic. Replacing Reggie Bullock as the team’s primary shooting guard, Fournier averaged 17.1 points last season over 30 minutes per game. Attempting 6.7 3-PT shots per game, he hit on 41.3%, a solid clip. The difference between Fournier and Bullock is that the former is able to create shots for himself, which should take pressure off power forward Julius Randle, who also signed an extension this off-season.

The Knicks landed Fournier on a four-year, $73 million deal. The team has an out after the third season, giving them a bit of flexibility down the road.

Grade: B

5.) PG: Kemba Walker

One of the biggest surprises of the off-season was the signing of Kemba Walker. Having landed him on a two-year, $17.9 million deal, the Knicks couldn’t imagine in their wildest dreams he would be available at such a great price point. Having struggled to stay healthy last season with a degenerative knee issue, Walker was only able to play in 43 games.

After the All-Star break, his statistics skyrocketed, but the injury lingered and eventually forced him to miss more time. At 30 years old, Walker was most recently an All-Star in 2020.

The veteran point guard averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists and shot 42% from the field last year. Finding an efficient way for Walker and Randle to play cohesively will be a challenge for New York but can’t be any worse than Payton running around aimlessly like a chicken with its head cut off.

As stated above, the duo of Rose and Walker should be great for limiting minutes and keeping both healthy for a full 82 game season.

Grade: A

6.) Taj Gibson

Gibson’s role on this team falls into two categories, extra reserve, and leadership. Gibson is an all-effort type of player who contributed valiantly during the postseason after Noel picked up an ankle injury. His value as an offensive weapon is next to none, but Taj plays relentless defense and sets the tone for the rest of the team. He signed a two-year, $10.1 million deal with the Knicks, but the 2nd year is non-guaranteed.

Grade: B-

Knicks’ Kemba Walker gushes over Derrick Rose, ‘he’s such a great dude’

knicks, new york knicks, derrick rose

The New York Knicks made it a priority to upgrade the point guard spot this off-season, and signing Kemba Walker and retaining Derrick Rose accomplished just that. With two offensive-minded players who can operate as a floor general, the state of the PG spot has changed dramatically in just one off-season.

Just one year ago, the Knicks were rolling out Elfred Payton, Frank Ntilikina and hoping that Immanuel Quickley could provide some support at one of the more important positions on any given team. Now, the challenge will be devising ways to get all of their talent at point guard involved, ranging from Rose to Miles McBride, the team’s 36 overall pick out of West Virginia this year.

However, Walker has tremendous appreciation for D-Rose and what he’s accomplished thus far in his career. Last season, Rose played in 35 games with the Knicks, averaging 15 points, 4.2 assists, and shooting nearly 49% from the field. He connected on a career-high 41% from three-point range, securing a career-high 53% effective field goal percentage.

Having two players who have dealt with injuries in the past on the same team can create problems, but if they split minutes and mitigate fatigue, management can keep them healthy and operating at full strength. Walker did mention how Rose has dealt with a knee injury before, similar to what the former Boston Celtic is currently working through.

However, the veteran mostly gushed over Rose and the player he is after overcoming so much adversity.

“I love D-Rose,” said Walker, per Steve Serby of the NY Post. “I have always been a huge D-Rose fan, man. Just the way he carries himself, he just seemed like such a great dude. Young MVP, got hurt, so many people just talked so bad about him, but he just kept fighting, he kept fighting. Look at him now, he’s right back, and he’s been around for a long time now.”

With Rose averaging 26.8 minutes last season over 50 games of play, Walker will likely see his time on the floor decrease. Nonetheless, he only played in 43 games last season, so if the Knicks can keep both of them fully healthy, they can theoretically split the starting job.

Knicks: What position maximizes Immanuel Quickley’s impact moving forward?

immanuel quickley, knicks

Through two games in the NBA Summer League thus far, the New York Knicks have given Immanuel Quickley the ability to shine as a point guard. He may have not had the best outing in their first contest, but he turned it around with an impressive performance against the Pacers on Tuesday with 32 points and 8 assists. Just take a look at some of these highlights:

What he’s proven in these two games is that he thrives as the primary ballhandler on the court, and most certainly equips the playmaking skills necessary to play the 1 in the NBA.  However, it’s simply not the capacity in which the Knicks will need him the most this upcoming season.

Looking at the Knicks Roster

If Immanuel Quickley was to be listed as a point guard for 2021-2022, he’d be the 3rd option, behind Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose. The Knicks would also need to move on from Luca Vildoza, who has a non-guaranteed contract.

As of right now, the most likely role for the 22-year-old from Kentucky would be the backup SG with Evan Fournier starting. This would ensure him the most playing time, and the opportunity to fill in for either Rose or Walker if they were to get injured.

This is probably the most ideal situation for Quickley going forward. No matter how good he is at facilitating and handling the ball, he most naturally fits into the role of shooting guard. Keeping him at his regular position while occasionally giving him reps at PG will allow him to continue to grow as a valuable combo guard.

What Quickley’s Summer League Performance Means

As we saw all last season, Quickley is most effective when he’s shooting the ball well. This allows him to penetrate more efficiently and thus collapse the defense and find the open man or rise up for his patented floater. All this was evident in the first two summer league games for the Knicks.

Against the Pacers Tuesday, Quickley played with fearlessness and aggressiveness that came from increased confidence in his shot. Once he saw the ball go in a few times, he began attacking the rim, which forced defenders to commit. This not only gave players on the Knicks wide-open looks, but it also got him to the free-throw line, where he went 6-6. After the game, he displayed a heightened sense of maturity when discussing his role at the Summer League.

“I’ve been around a year… I’ve been in playoff games. Just continuing to spread my knowledge to the new guys, the young guys. Obi and I are doing a great job understanding we have to help these guys and communicate.” – Immanuel Quickley via NYPost

Quickley seems to be a player who understands what he needs to do to help the team win. No matter what it is you ask of him, he performs to the best of his abilities. As for this upcoming season, he will understand that the best way to help the Knicks will be at the shooting guard position. From a long-term perspective, Quickley could be the team’s solution at PG after Rose and Walkers’ contracts expire in two years. Rose is on a three-year deal, but the final season is not guaranteed.

How the Knicks replaced Elfrid Payton’s minutes in genius fashion

knicks, kemba walker

The New York Knicks had several goals this off-season, but none were bigger than upgrading the point guard position. After selecting Miles McBride out of West Virginia with the 36th overall selection in the 2021 NBA draft, the front office looked forward to free agency to find veteran leadership.

One of their first moves after free agency commenced on Monday evening was to bring back point guard Derrick Rose. The veteran is preparing to turn 33-years-old in two months but was one of the more impactful players for the Knicks last season.

Upon his acquisition, head coach Tom Thibodeau played Rose 26.8 minutes per game on average. He scored 14.9 points, 4.2 assists, and shot nearly 49% from the field. He also hit a career-high 41% from three.

Rose acted as a pure floor general, spreading the ball and leading the offense with vision and efficiency. However, his presence wasn’t enough for the front office; they wanted a bigger name who could share minutes and mitigate fatigue over the course of a long campaign.

In addition to Derrick, they targeted former Boston Celtics PG Kemba Walker. Walker finalized a buyout from the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday and immediately joined the ranks in New York, looking to revive his career in his hometown. As a Bronx native, Walker is 31-years-old and played in 43 games last year before injury got the best of him.

Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and shot 42% from the field. He is a high-clip three-point shooter as well, connecting on 36% over 8.2 attempts per game. However, the 2020-21 season represented one of his down years, considering he’s earned four All-Star appearances over the last five seasons.

During his most productive campaign in 2018, Walker averaged 25.6 points, 5.9 assists and shot 43.4% from the field over 82 games. His unique athleticism and burst gave him an edge over defenders, but his knees have taken a beating the last few seasons. The Knicks don’t want to rely on him as their primary option, so he will replace Elfrid Payton’s 23.6 minutes per game.

Payton was allowed to walk this off-season after a one-year, $5 million deal came to an end. He logged 10.1 points, 3.2 assists, and shot 43% from the field. He was borderline useless as a three-point shooter and was quickly replaced after the acquisition of Rose. The Knicks hoped he could provide some value during the postseason to help give Rose time to rest on the bench, but he simply couldn’t handle the load.

Fast forward to present day, and the Knicks have a point guard room consisting of Rose, Walker, McBride, and Luca Vildoza. Some might even categorize Immanuel Quickley as a PG, but he fits the role of a shooting guard moving forward.

The best part about the team’s moves is the contracts they handed out. Rose is essentially on a two-year, $20 million deal, as the third season is not guaranteed. Walker is set to earn just $8 million per year over two seasons, representing an absolute steal if he can remain healthy. Keep in mind, Walker is only one year moved from an All-Star appearance, and if he can return the form, the Knicks could find themselves pushing even further in the post-season next year.

Knicks: Why Derrick Rose’s impact will go far beyond his play on the court

knicks, new york knicks, derrick rose, miles mcbride

“Family,” that’s how PG Derrick Rose describes being a part of the New York Knicks. A special connection with his coaches and upper management lead to a three-year, $43 million contract, despite Rose headed toward father-time. His impact can still be exercised in multiple ways.

“It’s family here,’’ Rose said. “ I got Wes here. I got Thibs here. I got everybody that I’ve had success with here, laying down a foundation.’’

Bringing back Derrick Rose is about a lot more than his performance on the floor. His mentorship for young players like Immanuel Quickley and now Miles Mcbride holds invaluable benefit.

Rose spoke about Quickley last season as if he was his personal trainer, detailing his mentality to improve and learn:

“It shouldn’t be too hard with him,’’ Rose said. “We’re similar. He’s getting double-teamed in his rookie year. There ain’t too many rookies getting that type of attention. For him to see that kind of early, it’s just going to make his game better. The game is going to slow down more. And he listens. That’s the greatest thing about him, he listens. With that, you always got room for improvement. He’s a dog. He’s a dog. I can’t explain it. You’ve got to be a player to understand it. We’re in a fight, I know he’s fighting.’’

Quickley backed up Rose’s claim, indicating the ‘big-brother’ mentality the veteran had after being traded to New York from Detroit:

“He just stressed to me — first of all he gave me his number — said anything I need just hit him,” Quickley said. “But he sat down with me a little bit, me and Obi actually, just told us he’s here to help us, he’s here to help us grow and things like that.”

It’s clear Rose still has gas left in the tank, contributing as a player but also a leader for an extremely young team that just added three rookies in the 2021 NBA Draft — Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and Rokas Jokubaitis. The front office’s commitment to him speaks volumes of his value, especially at 32 years old and well past his prime.

Reviewing Rose’s performance last season as a player:

After spending the first half of the season with the Detroit Pistons, Derrick Rose played in 35 games with the Knicks, averaging 26.8 minutes per game.

The impact Rose had during his small sample size was tremendous, helping the team secure the 4th Seed in the Eastern Conference. He averaged nearly 15 points, 4.2 assists, and shot 48.7% for the field. He connected on a career-high 41% from deep, hitting 88% of his free throws.

Rose provided offensive efficiency but was also the glue the roster needed to bring the youth and veteran talent together in harmony. With holes all over the roster and deficiencies at multiple spots, they still managed to fight their way into the postseason, finishing the second half of the year in incredible style. Falling to the Atlanta Hawks isn’t something to be embarrassed about, as they made their way to the semi-finals before being knocked out.

Some might view his three-year contract as a bit optimistic based on his regression, but Rose is a legitimate starting point guard in the NBA, and he filled a massive gap for the Knicks upon his acquisition. Replacing the trio of Rose, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilimina with Rose, Luca Vildoza, and Miles McBride represents an upgrade.

Another variable to consider is providing McBride with a mentor who can help him adapt and leave his mark during the 2021-22 season. McBride is known for his defense but was also a solid three-point shooter at the collegiate level, connecting on 41% of his shots. He averaged 15.9 points and 4.8 assists last year with West Virginia. It will take time for him to become an adequate PG at the next level, but having a veteran like Rose to look up two will make his transition that much easier.