The New York Knicks overachieved last season by capturing the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference while placing third in the Atlantic Division, which was home to four NBA playoff teams. Eventually, the Knicks fell to the Atlanta Hawks in the opening round, but it signaled that a bright future was ahead in Madison Square Garden.
With the draft in the books, the Knicks were able to add more young players to their roster. Quentin Grimes provides the team with much-needed shooting, who shot 40.3 percent from the three-point line in college this past season.
Miles McBride is an athletic guard who is a stout 1 on 1 defender who can guard both guard positions in the league due to his 6-8 ¾ wingspan and ability to force turnovers. Jericho Sims will be a work in process but can set screens, rebound, and defend the paint.
IS NEW YORK BACK TO BEING A FREE AGENT DESTINATION
The Knicks were linked to star players that is gaining a lot of attention as the Portland Trail Blazers failed to make a huge improvement with many top free agents off the board. At one point, some off-shore betting sites had the Knicks as the favorites to add Damian Lillard and Kawhi Leonard.
The Garden, for a very long time, looked like a prime destination for All-Star level talent. However, neither of them, especially Lillard, is wearing a Knicks uniform any time soon as the team added an All-Star guard who has ties to the city.
The Knicks were busy on the first day of free agency as they entered the period with the most money to spend and needed offensive help who can play at the wing position as well. They may have lost Reggie Bullock to the Dallas Mavericks but made a significant improvement by adding Evan Fournier and re-signing players like Derrick Rose, Narlens Noel, Alec Burks, and Taj Gibson a few days later.
HOW GOOD DOES KEMBA WALKER MAKE THE KNICKS
The four-time All-Star will be joining the Knicks as he and the Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to a buyout after being traded from the Boston Celtics earlier this season. Walker will be making about $8 million annually and may have something to prove as he had his lowest scoring output since the 2014-2015 season.
On top of that, he only averaged just 12.7 points per game and shot 31.7 percent from the field in three games during Boston’s first-round loss to the Brooklyn Nets. However, the knee injury he has been dealing with was one of the reasons for his low numbers on the court.
With that being said, how good does a starting lineup of Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Derrick Rose as the sixth man make the Knicks?
Despite all of the injuries and underwhelming season, Walker certainly makes the team better, especially in close game situations One thing the Knicks really lacked other than Derrick Rose was a couple of players who create their own shot. It came to a point where Rose rarely sat during close games and was heavily guarded on the court.
Walker can certainly have a much bigger role in New York as he doesn’t have to play behind Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. At the same time, Walker won’t need to be the dominant ball-handler and scorer he once was during his Charlotte Hornets days.
With Kawhi Leonard most likely not signing with the Knicks and Damian Lillard in the rearview mirror for now unless a team like the Philadelphia 76ers makes a move for him. On paper, the Knicks have made some noticeable improvements. RJ Barrett could take a leap this season by being a more consistent shooter by developing a better jump shot.
However, I still feel the Knicks are one or two stars away from making some noise in the playoffs, with teams like the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls making the biggest improvements in the East. Even though the Knicks are better than last year in terms of talent, I see them projecting as a 7th place team in the Eastern Conference.