Ask any long-suffering New York Knicks fan and they will tell you not to dream too big when it comes to their team. This is a fan base that longs for the glory days of the 1970s and 1990s. Glory is actually a strong word there – but the way those teams played has been a long way from some of the fare dished up at the Garden in recent years.
All the major sportsbooks NBA betting sites have New York just about squeezing into the playoffs this season. But that seems about as far as any of them want to commit to. But is this a team that can do better? Can the Knicks compete? Let’s have a look at what is going on at the world-famous Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have been largely absent from the postseason picture for the majority of the current millennium. There was that one year – the 2012-13 season – when New York did everything right, winning the division, finishing second in the East and making it to the Conference semifinals. But it has been largely slim pickings since then
The low point was undoubtedly the 2018-19 season. Just 17 wins and Knicks fans complained that the team couldn’t even tank properly to get its hands on the number one draft pick. Things have been better since then. But the same old story with the Knicks is that there are two steps back for every one forward.
This year seems to be a case in point. The first winning season in eight seasons ended with a disappointing loss to Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs last year. Further improvement was expected but the team has largely stagnated. At least it hasn’t gone backward – but there is a feeling it could be better.
A season over .500 is an absolute must this year – and that does look as though it might just about come true. But in a very tough Eastern Conference, the Knicks seem to have a way to go before they compete for championships.
One way that New York has already begun to improve is with its recruiting and trades. A lot was made of the organization’s inability to convince Donovan Mitchell, an Empire State native, to come to the Garden. The explanation was that the Knicks didn’t want to over-reach themselves and give up too much for just one player.
After being disregarded by the likes of Kevin Durant in recent years, that excuse didn’t really wash. But there has been some improvement in this field with the capture of Jalen Brunson. He may not be at quite the same level as those previously named, but he has shown that he was playing under the shadow of Luka Doncic at the Mavs.
He is posting good numbers and the hope is that he brings the other players up with him. A major achievement would be for R.J. Barrett to earn his big-money contract and live up to the potential that won him many plaudits in his first year in New York. He is another reason why the Knicks didn’t go all in on the elite players, so he has something to prove.
Trade Deadline Questions
This could be a very important period running up to the trade deadline at the beginning of February. Arguments over whether New York should be buyers or sellers kind of miss the point that the organization just has to get the right trades completed.
Although there have been rumors about a chance of finally bringing LeBron to the New York, it is more likely that the Knicks will bring in some very good – not superstar – players. There are definitely enough first round picks to play with, without giving too much away, and there could be some players available that could really help the Knicks.
Predictions for Rest of This Season
Getting rid of some older, underperforming players such as Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose will free up some space. It would also allow Coach Tom to continue blooding an exciting group of young players. If Brunson can continue to run the show – and get good support from Randle and Barrett – a play-in game might even be avoided. Unfortunately there is just too much strength in the East right now, so going very far into the playoffs seems rather hopeful for now.