Knicks News: Coaches, scouts rave about RJ Barrett’s incredible growth

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Without second-year player RJ Barrett, the New York Knicks would be struggling in some categories. Of course, All-Star Julius Randle has led their team to success this season, and Barrett has fed off of that production and efficiency. However, Barrett has taken massive strides forward in his point production, increasing from 14.3 in 2019 to 17.7 to the 2020–21 season.

In addition, he’s averaging more steals per game, rebounds per game, and his free-throw percentage has ballooned to .745. He’s shooting .445 from the field and nearly .400 from three-point land, indicating an increase in efficiency with his shooting.

“His shooting,” Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego said raved about RJ Barrett, according to ESPN. “You can start there. Just the ability to shoot the ball now. He looks a lot more comfortable, more confident in his shot. He’s made a lot more plays. I think his playmaking has really taken a step there — and a lot of that comes out of your confidence in shooting the ball.”

“I think players in general, when they can shoot the ball and they can get downhill, they get much more comfortable making plays off the bounce and making plays for other people.”

Barrett has quickly put himself in conversation to be the next star in the NBA, but he does have some weaknesses that need to be refined if he wants to take that next step forward. The Knicks will be looking to add another big-time player next summer in free agency, but they may already have a budding one on the roster to help push the steam forward and hopefully compete for a championship in the next few years.

One scout was a bit more critical of Barrett’s game, indicating that he’s not a star-level player and more of a complementary option. While I disagree with that narrative, he has certainly benefited from the rise of Randle and complimented him very nicely.

“I don’t view him as a franchise or star-level player,” a Western Conference executive said. “I think he’s a complementary scorer and bucket-getter. His shooting has helped his efficiency, but he still plays a lot off the bounce and hasn’t proven able to make those shots.

RJ has an opportunity to squash this narrative, as the Knicks have two competitive matchups against the LA Clippers and Lakers over the next few days. Stellar performances from Barrett might quiet the haters, as they desperately need him to rise to the occasion and help extract a few victories on this tough road stretch.

 

Report: The New York Knicks are a life-long commitment to Julius Randle

new york knicks, julius randle

It takes resilience and grit to be a great player in New York, as the media and fans can be extremely hostile. The New York Knicks have been a floundering organization for years, and not even Carmelo Anthony to take them to a title in his prime. Great players come and go, and it has been quite some time since the Knicks were a destination for stars around the league.

However, the rise of Julius Randle has attracted attention from some of the best players in the NBA, and the Knicks have a fantastic opportunity next FA period to acquire a star to pair with their leader.

This season, Julius has averaged 24.1 points, 5.9 assists, and 10.2 rebounds, all career highs. He is shooting .461 from the field and .420 from beyond the arc, almost 50% better than his previous success rate.

The development of Julius has been one of the best stories of the season, and he’s made a transformation that nobody expected. Knick fans were ready to write him off this year and trade him at the deadline, but he has now become an indisposable factor that must be retained for the final year of his contract in 2022. Randle will account for $19.8 million and base salary next year, and if cut, the Knicks would only have to pay four million in dead money. However, they simply can’t afford to let Randle walk, as he represents the catalyst behind their success.

Randle insists that he wants to be part of something special from the ground up, which is exactly what the Knicks have done this year with new head coach Tom Thibodeau.

“I want to be a part of building something from the ground up. There’s no better place than New York to do it, no better organization or fan base that’s hungrier … than here in New York,” Randle said on The Woj Pod. “I want to be a part of that, honestly, for the rest of my career. I wanted to be one of the greats here … I don’t think there would be any better place to win other than here.”

The 26-year-old All-Star’s influence hasn’t only seen his statistics increase, but he has helped rejuvenate and develop some of the Knicks’ other players.

RJ Barrett has seen a major increase in production and efficiency this season with Randle by his side, and point guard Derrick Rose has turned back the clock and looked vintage at times. Thibodeau understands what he has in Julius — when he plays well, the team mirrors.

“That’s what you want from your best players … bringing out the best in his teammates,” said Thibodeau, who has been praising Randle for months. “And he’s doing it in every different aspect of the game, from the way he’s shooting the ball, the way he starts games, the playmaking, the defense, and just the way he works every day. You couldn’t ask for anything more. He’s having a terrific season and we want him to continue to grow and that’s what I love about him. He’s never satisfied — he wants to keep getting better.”

Ideally, New York will retain Randle and add another superstar to pair with him. They already have an extremely deep bench with Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin adapting to the NBA level. They should attempt to retain Rose and Nerlens Noel, as they will also have Mitchell Robinson available next year on the final year of his rookie deal.

Could Knicks’ fresh signing be the catalyst for their playoff push?

Luca Vildoza, knicks

The New York Knicks were absolutely demolished by the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday evening, losing by 16 points but trailing the entire contest. Denver managed to lock down first-time All-Star Julius Randle, limiting him to just 14 points and forcing five turnovers. His partner in crime, RJ Barrett, started the game 0-for-8 and struggled tremendously in the first half before hitting a string of three-pointers to bring some life to the squad. However, it was too late, and the Knicks’ failed attempt at fighting back presents a difficult challenge ahead.

New York is preparing to take on the Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, and Lakers consecutively, a deathly string of opponents that could see them lose multiple games in a row. If they can extract a victory in the coming days against one of these premier teams, they will be in good shape, and considering the Atlanta Hawks just demolished Phoenix by 32 points, the Knicks undoubtedly have the talent to get it done.

Reinforcements on the way for the Knicks:

President Leon Rose and upper management recently signed Luca Vildoza out of the Spanish League to help fuel their point guard position. As a 6’3″ guard, Vildoza is just 25 years old and averaging 10.1 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.0 total rebounds for Baskonia. He’s connecting on .410 of his shots from the field and .376 from beyond the arc.

Vildoza represents a hard-nosed talent with quality passing attributes and scoring prowess. The Knicks believe he can help them in the postseason, and even sooner than that as they try to finish off the season strong. Luca is currently going through immigration and COVID-19 protocols, but once he is prepared to take the court, the Knicks could use him in live-action.

However, that presents a question, who will he be stealing minutes from?

I project that the Knicks will continue to decrease the minutes of Elfrid Payton, despite putting together a strong performance at times against Denver in the blowout loss. Derrick Rose simply means too much to the squad, and Immanuel Quickley represents instant offense off the bench. Vildoza can play aggressive defense while also offering height and shooting abilities, something that Payton struggles with.

Nonetheless, the Argentinian international gave the Knicks an excuse to take the expressway to free agency, and hopefully, he can have an impact with the season winding to an end.

The Knicks now face their most difficult test of the 202-21 season

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The New York Knicks saw their winning streak come to an end with a bang as the Denver Nuggets dominated them on Wednesday evening. Losing by 16 points, Denver had the lead for the entire contest, thanks to Nikola Jokic posting 32 points, showcasing his MVP caliber season. In fact, Jokic was pulled in the fourth quarter for rest purposes, as Denver sent out their 2nd team to finish off a struggling Knicks squad.

This was an anomaly for New York, who experienced their last loss against the Phoenix Suns, who they will go to battle with on Friday evening.

This defeat was a wake-up call for Tom Thibodeau and his team, who have steamrolled worse squads over the past few weeks, but this blowout loss represents a tremendous challenge internally.

To be considered one of the best teams in the NBA, you must be able to accept defeat and come back with a fresh slate the next day. The Knicks must do whatever it takes to forget about this game, putting it in the past and moving forward with positivity. Phoenix is no joke, as they are also considered title contenders this year, but the Knicks have what it takes to compete and even win games against quality teams, as we’ve seen in the past.

However, when we look back at this loss to Denver, we see struggles in most categories, Denver did a fantastic job suffocating Julius Randle when he drove to the basket, finishing with just 14 points and turn the ball over five times. The Knicks turned the ball over 15 times in total, which is simply far too many against competitive teams that will take advantage.

It wasn’t a surprise to see Barrett struggling along with Randle, as both seem to work off one another. Barrett went 0-for08 before hitting a few three-point shots to raise his average. Altogether, the team was flat, and only Immanuel Quickley showed any sense of life, posting 18 points, with the majority coming in garbage time.

This West Coast trip will prove to be their most difficult challenge of the season, but internally, they must remain confident and motivated for the final stretch of the regular campaign. They must finish strong and head into the postseason with a full head of steam.

Knicks news: 3 keys to beating the Nuggets in Denver

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Let the games begin, the New York Knicks are scheduled to face off against the Denver Nuggets, who are currently locked into the fourth seed in the Western Conference on Wednesday evening. Denver is no pushover, as the Knicks prepare for a four-game stretch where they take on the Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, and Los Angeles Lakers, all of which are in top-six seeds in the West.

This will be a true challenge for the Knicks, who have won 12 of their last 13 games but haven’t had any significant challenges, aside from Phoenix, who represents their only loss during that stretch. Nonetheless, New York is more than capable of hanging with these teams, as the Knicks should’ve beat Phoenix if not for Julius Randle struggling and Chris Paul working some magic at the end. Randle having inadequate games is an anomaly these days, having posted 28 points against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday and 31 points against Houston on Sunday.

Three keys to beating the Denver Nuggets for the Knicks:

1.) Defense, defense, defense

The main task for New York is to limit any given team defensively, using their aggressive and suffocating style of play.

The Knicks rank first in the NBA in points allowed per game, with just 104.6. In comparison to Denver, they are allowing an average of 109.9, which is a significant difference. However, Denver has three elite scorers on their team, including Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr., who are averaging 19+ points per game. However, Jamal Murray suffered a season-ending injury, so he won’t be available for Denver’s remainder of the season, giving the Knicks a slight advantage.

If the Knicks realistically want to walk away with a win, they are going to need to play elite defense, which we know they are capable of doing. As long as they can stop Denver from blowing this one open and scoring 120+ points, the Knicks will have a chance at keeping a close. The usual method for New York is late-game fatigue, which allows their opponents to turn on the afterburner’s and hit shots to pull away. The squad has done a much better job closing out games and playing solid defense, meaning they will need to continue that trend.

2.) Limit the big two

As stated before, stopping Jokic and Porter Jr. must be the priority. Jokic is averaging 26.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 8.5 assist as a center, which is absolutely mind-blowing. Porter has earned 18.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and has turned the ball over just 1.2 times, showcasing his skills.

The Knicks have a great defense, but this team is capable of blowing out anybody with ease, and they are also enjoying a nice win streak of their own. They most recently fell to the Los Angeles Lakers but have won nine of their last 11 games.

3.) Julius Randle must play ELITE basketball

There’s one simple truth to New York, as long as Julius Randle is playing elite-level basketball, the rest of the team rallies around him. His co-star, RJ Barrett, turns up the notch when Randle is hitting shots consistently. It doesn’t seem like the first time All-Star is ready to slow down anytime soon, showing off impeccable stamina and consistency the past few months. In addition, veteran point guard Derrick Rose seems rejuvenated, even looking like his vintage self at times. Pairing Rose with Randle and Barrett has proved to be a nice trio.

The Knicks instill fear in the hearts of elite West Coast opponents ahead

new york knicks, julius randle

When the New York Knicks demolished the Houston Rockets by 25 points on Sunday evening, most assumed the result. The Rockets are one of the worst teams in the NBA, if not the worst, so the Knicks blowing them out was nothing short of an expectation. However, the Memphis Grizzlies offered a different level of opponent, which didn’t stop New York from testing them to shred anyway.

Winning by 14 points, the Knicks have learned how to finish games, utilizing an astounding success percentage from downtown and defensive aggression. In the victory, Julius Randle posted 28 points, hitting 5-of-8 shots from 3-PT.

Randle’s counterpart, RJ Barrett, contributed 15, but it was veteran PG Derrick Rose that led the charge over 27 minutes, posting 25 points in the win. This team seems to get better and better every night, and while the Memphis Grizzlies are .500 on the season, they are no pushover. The Knicks limited star point guard Ja Morant to just eight points well below is 19.3 points per game on average. They showed off incredible defense once again, and the red-hot squad continues to dominate the opposition with little resistance.

The New York Knicks have not just a battle, but a war ahead:

However, a difficult string of games ahead should offer a more difficult scenario. They will face off against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday evening, a team lead by Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr.

The Knicks will need to be on their “A” game if they want to take down Denver, and immediately following that contest, they will travel to Phoenix and Los Angeles to take on the Clippers and Lakers. This will be their real test ahead of the postseason, proving they can play well against quality teams day in and day out. In fact, this might be the perfect scenario to set themselves up for the playoffs.

The Knicks currently sit in the fourth seed, 1.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Hawks and two games ahead of the Miami Heat. If they can hold on over the next two weeks, they won’t have to play into the playoffs but rather have an automatic entry.

Knicks: 3 keys to beating the Memphis Grizzlies to start tough road stretch

new york knicks, tom thibodeau

The New York Knicks embarrassed the Houston Rockets on Sunday evening, outscoring them by 25 points, having a bit of fun at the end of the contest, and playing more relaxed basketball. Julius Randle posted 31 points, shooting nearly 50% from the field and three-point range. He also contributed seven rebounds and six assists on his way to another stand-out performance, and the Knicks clearly rallied around him.

With only eight games left in the regular season, the Knicks are currently sitting at 36-28, having won 11 of their last 12 games, with their only loss coming against the Phoenix Suns thanks to a little Chris Paul magic.

Winning at this rate is incredibly difficult to sustain, but the Knicks might’ve figured out the perfect equation to curate a successful mentality and peek at the right time. As they head into a difficult West Coast stretch, the Knicks have their biggest challenge of the season, playing Phoenix, the Clippers, and Lakers consecutively. That string of three games will really prove to fans and analysts whether the Knicks are the real deal or not.

Nonetheless, it starts with one game at a time, and veteran point guard Derrick Rose understands that even though Houston was the worst team in the NBA, remaining competitive and in the right mindset can be the difference.

“We’re fighting for something,” Rose said. “We know that down the stretch we want to be playing our best basketball, giving our best effort and playing with urgency. It’s all about picking the other person up. We need to know it’s going to be a grinding game.”

Three keys to beating Memphis for the Knicks:

1.) Elite defense

Memphis is coming off a tough stretch of games, losing three of their last four and falling to the Orlando Magic by just one point in their latest defeat. The Grizzlies are one game over .500 and host a few talented players like Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas, and Dillon Brooks.

They are capable of scoring adequately on any given night, so the Knicks must utilize their league-best defense, as they are currently allowing just 104.6 points per game. As long as they are aggressive and attack Morant in the paint, they can easily walk away with a victory on Monday evening.

2.) Strong center play without Nerlens Noel

While the Knicks did demolish the Houston Rockets on Sunday, they did suffer one major blow. Center Nerlens Noel suffered a left ankle sprain after clashing knees with Christian Woods. This could prove to be a significant issue, and the Knicks desperately need their depth centers to step up in his absence. That will mean Taj Gibson and Norvel Pelle will be earning more playing time.

3.) Good Ole’ Julius Randle

The catalyst on any given night is Julius Randle, and while everyone seems to be waiting for him to stop producing, he continues to prove everybody wrong. Most fans were ready to get rid of him after the 2020 campaign, but this year has been entirely different, as he is averaging 24.2 points, 5.9 assists, and 10.3 rebounds per game, all career highs.

Again, as long as Randle is playing well, players like RJ Barrett continue to thrive. Barrett has experienced an astronomical leap in efficiency from the field end downtown, which has sparked the Knicks’ offense regularly during this winning stretch. Consistency on that end remains a catalyst for success.

Knicks News: Nerlens Noel could miss time with injury, Rockets offer massive confidence boost

nerlens noel, new york knicks

The New York Knicks didn’t miss a beat after spending the last few days resting on a short break. They easily dismantled a bad Houston Rockets team, and like all great teams should do, they dominated the contest.

The Knicks won by a score of 122-96, controlling the game throughout and allowing some of their bench players to earn minutes. Julius Randle once again was unstoppable, posting 31 points and shooting 13-of-22 from the field. RJ Barrett, who played 40 minutes, had 21, with seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals in the victory. Off the bench, Derrick Rose contributed 24 and Immanuel Quickley 13, showcasing their ability to produce consistently and adequate depth.

While this victory was simple and put the Knicks on the right track as they head into a more competitive game with the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday evening, there was a bit of bad news against Houston.

Nerlens Noel injury update for the Knicks:

After clashing knees with Christian Wood, Nerlens Noel left the game with a left ankle sprain, which could keep them out for several days. With Noel’s height and lanky frame, returning from an ankle issue can sometimes be strenuous, and it is best to rest up before the postseason commences in a few weeks.

Of course, this wasn’t an ideal situation considering the Knicks are coming off a resting period. Noel is currently on a one-year, $5 million deal with New York, averaging 5.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 23.9 minutes per game. He has been one of the Knicks’ best defenders this year and a player they cannot stand to lose during playoff games.

Hopefully, the ankle injury is a low sprain, which would keep them out for a few weeks rather than months if it was a high sprain. As soon as more information is available, we will provide an update.

In more positive news, the NBA will announce its Coach of the Month for April soon, and after going 11-4, Tom Thibodeau has a solid chance of earning the accolade. It’s about time the Knicks start to gain some recognition for their performance this season.

Knicks News: Alec Burks COVID update, Rockets must be crushed

New York Knicks, Alec Burks

After a few days of rest, the New York Knicks are gearing up to take on the Houston Rockets on Sunday, and veteran guard Alec Burks is available to return. However, the Knicks are taking it easy with the former first-round pick in 2011, as he fights his way back from COVID-19 in the fatigue that comes with it.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau wants to make sure that Burks is 100% healthy and his stamina is up to par before utilizing him in one of the most important road trips of the year for New York. The Knicks will take on the Houston Rockets on Sunday and take their talents to the West Coast shortly after, where they will play the Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs.

Having Burks available will be extremely influential, and while the Knicks managed to win without him while he recovered from Covid, he has played a massive part in their success this year.

“He’s got to get his conditioning up to speed,” Thibodeau said. “When he’s comfortable, we’ll get him in there.”

Burks is averaging 12.6 points, 2.2 assists, and 4.5 total rebounds per game over 25.8 minutes. He is shooting .414 from the field and .408 from beyond the arc, the best success rate in his entire career. As not only a veteran mentor for the youngsters, he curates instant offense for a team that has lacked in the category at times.

Despite his loss the past few weeks, Thibodeau understands that his team is extremely deep, and they managed to win games without him, but gaining him back is important.

“I think it’s one of the strengths of our club in that we do have a deep team,” Thibodeau said.

Not only do the Knicks have an extremely deep team, but they all also have the same mindset and mentality towards victory. They understand that every single game has significant importance toward their playoff hopes, as they currently said, 1.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.

Knicks News: RJ Barrett speaks words of wisdom, Julius Randle the catalyst

new york knicks, rj barrett

The New York Knicks are headed into arguably the most important string of games of their entire season as they look to hold onto the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. Currently, the Knicks are 1.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, giving them a nice little cushion to work with.

Luckily, the Knicks are preparing to take on the Houston Rockets, who are arguably the worst team in the NBA but have been playing better as of late, winning their last game against the Milwaukee Bucks in a shoot-out. Kevin Porter Jr. posted 50 points, while Christian Wood earned 30 and Kelly Olynyk 24.

However, New York has the best defense in the NBA, allowing just 104.7 points per game, so the Rockets will have a difficult match-up on Sunday evening. In addition, they will be coming off a contest against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday evening, so fatigue will undoubtedly be playing a factor.

Despite the record, the Knicks are 100% focused on the task ahead and treating every game like a playoff-caliber exhibition. If you treat every game the same way, with high intensity and aggression, the playoffs will seem like a breeze.

“We love big games. Who doesn’t want to play against the best of the best?” Barrett said Saturday after practice. “It’s kind of what I grew up wanting to do. It’s going to be a great challenge for us. Just excited to get going.”

After the Rockets, the Knicks take one step closer toward a four-game streak on the West Coast, taking on the Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs. That difficult string of opponents will prove to be the Knicks’ biggest challenge yet, and walking away with a few victories would give them tremendous confidence with the regular season nearing its end.

“What we’re doing is just thinking about Houston, and that’s really what we’ve done well all season long,” Thibodeau said. “We’ve had different stretches of the season where you have a bunch of games like [this]. I think the important thing is to have a routine of how you prepare for each game, and don’t get away from it.”

The Knicks rally around Julius Randle:

The Knicks might be the hottest team in the NBA right now, winning 10 of their last 11 games, with their only loss coming against the Phoenix Suns when Julius Randle struggled to get going, posting just 18 points. He rebounded against the Bulls with 34 points, showing that his small blip was nothing but an anomaly.

The reality for this passionate Knicks team is that when Julius Randle is playing well, everybody rallies around him and rises to the occasion. He is their esteemed leader, and as long as he remains consistent, they will be in good shape.