New York Knicks Midseason Awardsby Frank Sims March 10, 2021 0 comments
If you were able to predict the New York Knicks would be above .500 halfway through the season, then go play the lottery. The unexpected has happened this year, and the Knicks look… competent? Sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks have been the surprise of the NBA thus far. However, what may be an even bigger shock is how they are winning games.
This roster is almost identical to last year’s, where they won 21 games in a shortened season. Amazingly, they now have 19 wins with another half of basketball to play. This organization and its players deserve credit for what they have been able to do, which is why we will be handing out midseason awards.
Most Improved: RJ Barrett
We are still not exactly sure what kind of player Barrett is. Whatever he may be, he has become good at it. Barrett’s numbers are not exactly eye-popping, but the confidence he is playing with is. Many had their doubts about him last year. While he had the benefit of the doubt of being a rookie, he looked lost on the court at times. That is not the case this year.
Barrett has improved his scoring and shooting percentages, but that is not the most critical aspect here. He is demonstrating confidence and has shown he can be a go-to guy down the stretch. He wants to take the late game shots. Last year, his presence was not felt at times. This year, opposing teams game plan for him. He has taken his play to a new level and only looks to be growing.
Biggest Surprise: Immanuel Quickley
Ironically, the biggest surprise is no surprise at all. As the 25th-overall pick in the draft, Quickley has exceeded every single expectation set for him, and then some. You can make an argument Quickley is already the third-best player on the team. Taking that a step further, if he was getting the minutes his fellow rookies were receiving, he may have some serious Rookie of the Year consideration.
While Quickley may look flat in some games, more often than not he is a major spark off the bench. He is the type of player to score more points than minutes played, and that is something a team desperate for scoring needs. For the first time in what feels like decades, the Knicks may actually have a legitimate asset at the point guard position.
Biggest X-Factor: Derrick Rose
The Knicks received Rose for next to nothing. They gave up Dennis Smith (who barely played) and a second-round pick in exchange. While Rose has only been around for a few weeks, he is already looking like a player who can make or break them down the stretch.
For one of the first times in his career, Rose is not expected to do it all. He can simply play the game in a way that comes naturally to him. If he feels like scoring 15-plus points, everyone knows he is capable of doing so. If he wants to run the offense and distribute the ball, we have seen him willing to do that. Simply, Rose is just another talented piece to a team that is lacking in that department.
MVP: Julius Randle
Everyone knows who the MVP of the Knicks is. Without Randle, New York would be headed towards another lottery season. Yet somehow, he has placed the Knicks square in the middle of the playoff race.
Randle was not impressive last year. He made some poor decisions on the court. This is not the case anymore. In his seventh year in the league, he is averaging career-highs in almost every category. These numbers earned Randle his first NBA All-Star appearance. More importantly, they are translating to wins.
After all the criticism he received last year from Knick fans, he stayed focused and easily won them over. Randle has given something the Knicks faithful have not felt in nearly a decade: Hope. He will not win it, but it is not far-fetched to say Randle is playing like a true league MVP candidate.
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