The New York Knicks were the biggest surprise team of last season. Julius Randle played like an MVP candidate during the regular season. Derrick Rose played like it was 2011 and Tom Thibodeau proved he’s the right man for the job. However, they were bounced in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks. Will they take another step? Time will tell.
What we do know is New York improved on paper in the offseason. In the draft, New York grabbed Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride, who both played well in Summer League. In free agency, they brought back Rose, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel before signing Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.
It’ll be interesting to see how much better the Knicks really got though, considering Walker’s injury history, Fournier struggling a bit in Boston, and Reggie Bullock leaving for Dallas. There are many statements being made about this year’s squad, but we’ve got you covered with our Fact or Fiction series. It features the biggest claims being made about the Knicks and gives you the answer with a decisive fact or fiction.
Make sure to check out all of our other Fact or Fiction articles.
Julius Randle Will Build On Last Year’s Breakout Performance
Randle had a career year last season. He averaged career highs in points, assists, rebounds, and steals. The 26-year-old won Most Improved Player of the Year and was rewarded with a four-year, $117 plus million extension this offseason. While it will be difficult for Randle to have a better year than last year, there are some reasons to believe it will happen.
After a great regular season, Randle only averaged 18 points and four assists in the playoffs. There’s no way he wants to do that again so he used that as motivation this offseason to get better. Randle has more talent around him in Walker and Fournier so opposing defenses can’t only focus on him and RJ Barrett. Therefore, he should have more open scoring opportunities. Another source of motivation for Randle has to be living up to the big contract he signed. The first part of Randle’s three-year contract in New York didn’t work out and he obviously doesn’t want to have that happen again this time around.
Verdict: Fact, Motivation is Key
Kemba and Rose Can Play Alongside Each Other
It looks like Walker and Rose will be the starting and backup point guard respectively. That doesn’t mean they can’t play with one another though. Coach Thibodeau showed last year in the playoffs that he’s going to play the best players. Elfrid Payton didn’t deserve to be the starting point guard anymore and was benched in favor of Rose. During the playoffs last year, Rose and Immanuel Quickley–a guard like Walker–played at the same time. My point is if Walker and Rose are the two best options at guard at some point in the season, then Thibodeau will put them on the court together.
Verdict: Fact, Coach Thibodeau isn’t Afraid to do Anything
The Knicks Will Have a Better Record Than Last Season
The Knicks finished last season with a 41-31 record. This was with a team that didn’t have a great starting point guard (Payton) and was in Thibodeau’s first year. Not only will Thibodeau have more time with his team but they should be a better offense (assuming the starters stay healthy). Last year, Walker averaged nine more points and almost two more assists than Payton with Fournier averaging 17.1 points per game. Don’t forget that Mitchell Robinson will be back from his foot injury.
Another factor to consider is the Eastern Conference didn’t get that much better. Yes, the Heat signed Kyle Lowry, the Wizards acquired Kyle Kuzma and Spencer Dinwiddie, and the Bulls acquired Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso. However, the Knicks got better too, and should have one of the best defenses in the conference again. It isn’t unfair to expect a 42-win season.
Verdict: Fact, They’re a Better Team Than Last Year
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