The New York Knicks are fun again.
Whether you’re a New York Knicks fan or not, when they’re competitive, the NBA is more fun. Mike Breen on the call, the organ playing through the loudspeaker at Madison Square Garden, you can’t help but enjoy it.
What’s great about the Knicks this season is their organic improvements. They didn’t buy their way to the playoffs, in fact, they have one of the lowest payrolls in the league. New York is one of the few teams in the league to not have a $20-plus million a year salary player on their team.
Their two highest-paid players are Julius Randle who is playing out of his mind this season, and Derrick Rose who they acquired in a trade from Detroit earlier this season. Randle is their only player who makes over $10 million a year. The Pistons, Hawks, and Grizzlies are the only other teams to have a roster without one $21 million a year player.
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How the New York Knicks are getting it done
Aside from Randle, their roster doesn’t put up crazy numbers. Randle, who’s having his first All-Star season and a candidate for NBA’s Most Improved Player, is a steady 23 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists per game. Aside from his consistency, the rest of the squad is a “Robin” to Randle’s “Batman”. they have 4-5 guys that give them between 10-13 points a night.
RJ Barret is blossoming, Alec Burks and Reggie Bullock can both really shoot at a high clip, and they also have tough, athletic big guys like Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel. Their mix of talent and effort is a perfect fit for how Coach Tom Thibodeau’s style and how all of his teams in the past have looked.
Tuesday night was a classic example of what this New York squad can do when they’re clicking on all cylinders. Randle got rolling early, hitting his first four shots, finishing with 20 points in the first half. It seemed every switch, every matchup, every defender the Wizards threw at Randle was at a disadvantage. It was “one of those games” for Randle on Tuesday.
That being said the role guys played tenacious defense, were super sharp in transition, and when the ball stopped on Randle’s post-ups, they moved great off the ball. Julius finished with 37 points, and 6 rebounds to lead the Knicks. Meanwhile, Burks and Barret each added 20 to cap off a 30-point dominating performance against the struggling Wizards.
It was one of those games that you reflect upon whenever you’re having a bad game or practice for the Knicks. For the Wizards, it was one of those games that you don’t even watch the film for. You just pretend like it never happened.
Coming off that win on Monday, the Knicks are a .500 team as far as record, 22-22 overall, 13-8 at home, 9-14 away, and are currently the 6 seed in the East. They have a “go-to” guy on offense in Randle, they have athleticism, and a few guys who can shoot the three. They take on the personality of their coach and play extremely hard, and together. They don’t have overwhelming talent but I expect them to make the playoffs and be candidates to upset their first-round match up.
The Knicks’ style of play is rugged and fast. If you mix that with a couple of games where Julius Randle goes nuts on offense, watch out. It’s good to have the Knicks in the mix again.