Fans at the Madison Square Garden are cheering for the home team. Stephen A. Smith is smiling again. How things have changed for the New York Knicks, but there is reason to believe that these good times will go beyond this season. New York is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 37-30 record.
Below are three reasons why the Knicks will build on what they have established.
Knicks prosperity indicators: 1. Draft capital
The Oklahoma City Thunder are the gold standard when it comes to having a treasure trove of draft picks, but having seven, first-round picks are not too shabby. It must be said that head coach Tom Thibodeau has a reputation of giving limited playing time to rookies.
Eighth overall pick Obi Toppin barely sees playing time, because of Julius Randle’s ascension as an All-Star. It is too soon to write off Toppin. The draft-day acquisition of Immanuel Quickley looks like the better move.
Despite the guard logjam, Quickley is regularly seeing the floor as an off-the-bench scorer. Through time, he should be able to round out his game and become more consistent.
If the Quickley move and getting big man Mitchell Robinson in the second round are future indicators for drafting success with non-lottery picks, then New York is on the right track. Further, the team can use the draft capital to trade for an established star if they feel they have the right roster in place.
2. Solid Core
Speaking of the roster, the Knicks have assembled a talented, young core with a gritty identity. Randle made his first All-Star team this year and there is no reason why it should be his last. R.J. Barrett is just 20-years old and has shown the discipline and work ethic to further improve on his game. He is much more than a consolation prize to not getting Zion Williams and Ja Morant.
The front office just needs to take care of the duo of Randle and Barrett in terms of their contracts and development and the team will be set for the coming years.
When healthy, the 23-year old Robinson can provide a solid presence on the defensive end and be an anchor with his size and athleticism. Some teams would envy having this much budding talent.
3. Free Agency
Despite the perks of playing for a big market team and the prestige of suiting up for a storied franchise, the Knicks have not been a free agency destination as of late. However, with the success of the team this offseason that might just change.
For now, the upcoming free agency is headlined by Kawhi Leonard. New York is known for swinging for the fences when it comes to recruiting stars. With the team’s improvement, they might just hit a home run. The large amount of swings and misses in the past might not matter in the coming summer, because if players know the Knicks are good, they will want to play in Madison Square Garden (especially with fans).
Should the Knicks go for a more frugal approach, they could pursue Lonzo Ball and Dennis Schröder. Ball is an interesting choice since Thibodeau prioritizes defense and Ball is one of the best defensive guards around due to his high basketball IQ and frame. At the same time though, Ball is at his best when playing fast, which is not how New York became successful this season. Schröder adds another scorer and playmaker into the mix.
Brighter days are ahead for the Knicks.