Many Knick fans are viewing this offseason as a disappointment. The Knicks didn’t draft a player with the 11th overall pick, instead preferring to trade it away. So this year there won’t be a new promising young player for the fanbase to get excited about.
Then that was compounded by the Knicks missing out on Donovan Mitchell, the star guard from New York who wanted to come home. Expectations rose to an unrealistic level after the media kept reporting that the Knicks were the favorite to land Mitchell because of their draft capital. But when the RJ Barrett extension was announced Mitchell was quickly traded to Cleveland. That set off the ‘Knicks for Clicks’ media that always jumps at the opportunity to mock the Knicks. This naturally set off the fanbase’s Knicks PTSD.
But I am hear to tell you that this offseason hasn’t been a disappointment, in fact it has actually been a very good one. The issue is that everyone thinks the Knicks need to make splashy moves in order for the offseason to be considered successful. ESPN has everyone thinking that championship teams can be made in a microwave. However that isn’t the case, real team building takes time. It requires years of good unexciting small moves just to get in position to make big move. Leon Rose is just starting his 3rd year as team president of a project that usually takes 4 to 5 years to complete.
Knicks still paying the price for past mistakes…
The truth is that the Knicks have no one to blame but themselves. They missed on two straight lottery picks; drafted Frank Ntilikina with 8th pick in the 2017 draft, then drafted Kevin Knox with the 9th pick in 2018 draft. Just imagine how much farther along the Knicks would be right now if they just hit on one of those two picks. They could have already had Donovan Mitchell who was drafted 13th in 2017 or the fanbase’s latest obsession, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was drafted 11th overall in 2018. So it’s not this front office’s fault that the Knicks are not yet in position to trade for a star.
Do The Roster Math
As for those who keep complaining that Leon Rose is scared to make a bold move and hasn’t done much. I say to them, look at the roster Leon inherited in 2020 and the one that is going to start the 2022-23 season. You will notice that there are only 3 players left from the 2019-20 team: Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and RJ Barrett. So Leon has turned over 75% of the roster, that is significant.
When you consider that teams only use 9 players in a game and only 4-5 get significant playing time, adding 1 new starter and 1 new rotation player to a team that already has a young core in place is again significant. The Knicks went from Nerlens Noel, a veteran rim-protector that doesn’t give you anything on offense to a much needed stretch 5 who is 4 years younger (24). Isaiah Hartenstein provides the Knick lineup flexibility, allowing them to get more creative with lineup combinations.
Then there is the big signing of the offseason, Jalen Brunson, who has not gotten a lot of fanfare. While Brunson is not a superstar, in terms of pure talent he is the best point guard the Knicks have had since Stephon Marbury 15 years ago. When you look at the combination of talent with leadership, Brunson is the best point guard the Knicks have had since Derek Harper, 27 years ago!!
Speaking of bad point guard play, let’s not forget that in the 2020-21 season, Leon’s 1st, the starting point guard was Elfrid Payton. Two seasons later the Knicks have upgraded to Jalen Brunson, one of the stars of the 2022 playoffs.
Fans are forgetting that Brunson won the head to head match up against Donovan Mitchell in the playoffs with World Wide Wes & the Knicks’ brass in attendance. Brunson cooked Mitchell when he got him in isolation. Dallas was not suppose to win that series once Luka got hurt at the end of the regular season. Brunson carried Dallas as the number#1 option with Spencer Dinwiddie and Maxi Kleber as his 2nd and 3rd scoring options. In 18 playoff games Brunson averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. In 44 career games without Luka Doncic, Brunson has averaged 16.6 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds. That is something to get excited about. Brunson might not be a superstar, but his talent combined with his intelligence, grit, and determination is exactly what the Knicks need.