julius randle
Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

Even during this rough stretch, New York Knicks fans have plenty of reasons to be thankful for their team.

This year, Thanksgiving will be weird for some New York Knicks fans. For the first time in over two decades, the team is (currently, at least) putting together consecutive good seasons. For once, fans won’t immediately be in football mode on Turkey Day and checking how the day’s action affects their fantasy team.

And as I write this, the Knicks are 9-8 and struggling to build off of last year’s success. Team chemistry is an issue, but there have been small flashes of a return to a better form.

The next couple of weeks won’t be easy, but the Knicks have the Garden Faithful behind them. Like their favorite Knicks players of today, they too must stay focused and remember just how special this group is.

Thus, when this New York Knicks fan sits down to a full plate this year, I’ll be sure to leave some thanks for them.

Still not convinced? Well, let’s dive deeper.

Tom Thibodeau

Tom Thibodeau began his New York Knicks tenure with plenty of salary cap space and more than a few key names on the market. Instead of spending big, he just had new front office head Leon Rose and general manager Scott Perry keep it simple: sign Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks and leave the rest to him.

41 wins later, with a Derrick Rose reunion along the way, Thibodeau turned the Knicks into a cohesive, competitive team. Julius Randle won Most Improved Player while also putting up MVP numbers. There was a new confidence in the team barely seen in the previous 20 years and Madison Square Garden was completely rejuvenated.

The waters might be rocky now, but Tom Thibodeau knows how important it is that the New York Knicks keep pushing forward. This roster is a good team capable of accomplishing even better things when they’re running on all cylinders. Coaching matters in these very circumstances and as far as Thibodeau goes, it’s hard to find a better man to navigate the storm.

Derrick Rose

As rough as the Knicks have looked as of late, Rose has been a savior, win or lose.

No, seriously. Rose has literally been a difference-maker whenever Kemba Walker runs the point and subsequently runs the offense into a wall. He leads the team with a plus-minus of +154 for the season. More often than not, the team struggles early and he immediately closes the gap or further builds a lead once he’s off the bench.

He’s not an MVP anymore and has two bad knees at age 33. Yet, thanks to his long history with Thibodeau, Derrick Rose is practically a secondary coach. He too knows and understands what these New York Knicks are capable of and re-upped in the offseason to see the mission through.

Without him, the ship probably would have sunk already.

Julius Randle

Randle hasn’t quite matched last season’s production yet, but is still easily the best player on the New York Knicks. Even with his own on-court struggles, he’s recently started playing more aggressively and demanding the ball more. All things considered, he’s still having a pretty good season.

But Knicks fans are thankful for Randle for a different reason. He has remained humble and motivated after his breakout season and is even improving as a leader. He has publicly addressed the lack of chemistry and how he and his teammates “have to keep working through it.”

And how about opting for the team-friendly $117 million extension instead of waiting a year for the supermax, all so the New York Knicks have more financial flexibility? In an NBA defined by player movement and free agency seasons with more anticipation than the next Marvel trailer, this was a truly selfless move by Randle.

The Knicks are changing everything from roster to, most importantly, team culture. Randle has bought in and embodies it all to a tee.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.