It’s early October in New York and the sports picture ahead of the start of New York Knicks season is…not great at first glance.
The Giants have fully regressed and the Jets’ Aaron Rodgers honeymoon was over just four snaps into its beginning. The Mets missing the playoffs isn’t a surprise, but their crosstown rival Yankees missing out sure is.
Meanwhile, the Knicks are watching quietly from Madison Square Garden as if to say, “You know we’re here too, right?”
That’s right, it’s true. We’ve officially hit the point where the city is banking on the Knicks to be the sports savior. The same Knicks who knew nothing but losing for nearly two decades. The New York City sporting spotlight is currently theirs for the taking.
And, dare we say it, the Knicks are ready to step up and shine. Moreover, unlike 2021-22, we’re serious this time.
Let’s begin by comparing a pair of Knicks playoff seasons, 2020-21 and 2022-23. The first saw coach Tom Thibodeau’s immediate effect on the team, with Julius Randle breaking out en route to winning Most Improved Player. New York also traded for Derrick Rose and rode a hot streak to the playoffs, where Atlanta bounced them in the first round.
Sure enough, the Knicks decided to run it back in the offseason. Rose was re-signed despite age and injuries. Randle signed an extension. New York native Kemba Walker signed to fill the void at point guard and Evan Fournier was also added in free agency to boost scoring.
The Knicks didn’t make the playoffs, and Walker was out of the rotation before the new year. Fournier met the same fate a year later, but we’ll get back to that.
The point is everything has still worked out for the Knicks despite that one bad offseason. Jalen Brunson signed in free agency and became an immediate star. They traded for his former Villanova teammate Josh Hart and won nine straight.
Cut to 47 wins and a trip to the East Semifinals, and team president Leon Rose has built a winner. It’s almost enough to forget his ridiculous refusal to speak with media.
And how did the Knicks spend their summer vacation? Why, re-signing Hart and adding another Villanova alum in shooter Donte DiVincenzo, of course. Better yet, Hart and Brunson each played for Team USA at the World Cup.
So, we’ve mentioned comparing two offseasons, so let’s get to it. Why will the Knicks build off of their playoff run last year instead of regressing?
The answer is simple: Because they were serious this time. Re-signing Rose was always a risk and so was the streaky Alec Burks. Walker was little more than a glorified PR hire and failed because he tried too hard to fit in rather than adjust to what Randle and RJ Barrett already established. Fournier can score, but was the worst possible successor to the stellar three-and-D of Reggie Bullock, so much that the Knicks tried to re-acquire Bullock last season!
But now? The Knicks are ready to win. Hart is an excellent swingman and thrives as both a starter and reserve. DiVincenzo adds some much-needed three-point help off the bench. Now, add all the returning starters, including an extra-motivated Randle.
It’s official, folks. These New York Knicks are officially our great city’s best sports team. Their 47 wins last year were the team’s most in a decade.
Let’s see them win 50 this season.