For most of my life, the Knicks have been a joke. Even when Carmelo Anthony became the savior of the franchise, it just wasn’t enough to overcome the toxicity that revolves around the organization. But at the start of this season, the young prospects are giving some life to the formerly comatose franchise. And they have coach Thibodeau to thank for putting them in a position for success.
Through six games this season, the Knicks have shown that they can compete with the best when everyone is on the same page. Instead of being the pushovers we've seen over the past few years, they’ve tightened up defensively and are forcing teams to change up their gamelans and beat them in multiple ways. The team may be relatively young, but so far they’re showing a lot of heart and confidence on the floor.
The Knicks’ December 27th matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks may have became the start of something special. Coming off of a blowout loss to Philadelphia, the Knicks tuned up their defense in the second half, continued to increase their lead and shot 59% from the three point line. Despite Milwaukee not showing much effort, this win gave the Knicks momentum that they could build on.
The one big standout so far this season is Julius Randle. It’s a wonderful sight to see considering how much of a laughing stock he has been over the past several years. Randle seems to be playing with more of an edge on both ends of the ball. His play on offense has seen an incredible turnaround as his averages revolve around 23 points, 10.4 rebounds and seven assists.
How about RJ Barett? A player that I’ve told many to stay patient with. Barrett’s shooting numbers are still a work in progress. But he’s showing more promise with his versatility and ability to run the floor. Saturday's effort against Indiana was a perfect example of Barrett running the show for the Knicks. His ability to find players in pick and roll action, along with coming off screens to find his own shot, shows that Barrett is still an all-star in the making.
Those are just small samples of how impressive the Knicks have been. But the Knicks recent success has largely been a team effort. Players like Mitchell Robinson, Reggie Bullock, Alec Burks and Eldridge Payton, among others, have stepped up in a tremendous fashion en route to the team's strong start. It’s not a fluke that the Knicks have been so good thus far. Their numbers have taken a big step forward across the board and they seem to be more aware of the little things that are necessary for them to inch closer to becoming a possible playoff team in the East.
It is still very early, but the Knicks are showing promise with their young talent. The team may only be 3-3, but it is great start by their standards. Coach Thibs is on a mission to bring winning back to Manhattan again. If he continues to help his players develop, that goal may be achieved very soon.
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