On Wednesday, the New York Knicks fell for the third time in their last four games.
The 104-98 loss to the 4-11 Orlando Magic was a tough pill to swallow for Knicks fans at Madison Square Garden:
Franz Wagner comes up big late in the @OrlandoMagic win at MSG!
Terrence Ross: 19 PTS
Cole Anthony: 15 PTS, 10 REB, 7 AST
Mo Bamba: 12 PTS, 12 REB, 2 BLK pic.twitter.com/0lqEECHBlB
— NBA (@NBA) November 18, 2021
RJ Barrett led the Knicks with just 17 points, as he shot 0-for-7 from 3-point.
That performance was his worst one from downtown this season.
In addition, Julius Randle scored just 13 points and attempted 10 of his 11 shots from 3-point.
If New York had swept the home-and-home set against the Magic, it would have been a strong step forward for the Knicks.
Unfortunately, they did not and fell back to one game above .500 on the season.
The Knicks also hope that Taj Gibson can come back soon from his groin ailment.
He is doubtful for Saturday’s contest against the NBA-worst Houston Rockets.
On the bright side, New York will get Nerlens Noel back from a knee injury.
So, what are the three legitimate concerns for Knicks fans?
3. The Knicks Need RJ Barrett’s 3-Point Shot
As RJ Barrett’s 3-point shot goes, the Knicks go.
New York has been successful when Barrett is hitting multiple 3-pointers:
- Makes more than one 3-pointer: 6-2 record
- Makes one or fewer 3-pointers: 2-5
The record is also similar to when he shoots at least 25 percent from 3-point land:
- 3-pointer percentage of .250 or better: 7-3
- 3-pointer percentage of .250 or worse: 1-4
Barrett has not made a 3-pointer in four different games this season.
He is starting and logging big minutes for the Knicks, so he has to develop more of a consistent shot.
His 31.8 percentage from 3-point is on pace to be a career-worst mark for him.
If it does not improve, the Knicks will have to fight to be a .500 team all season.
2. They Are Not A Contender With Julius Randle As Leading Scorer
It has not been a good five-game stretch for Julius Randle, who leads the team with 19.8 points per game this season:
Julius Randle is -68 in the last 5 games, the worst +/- on the Knicks.
His averages in that span:
45.5 FT% pic.twitter.com/qrLmGCFPAx
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 18, 2021
In addition, the Knicks have seemingly had to get double-doubles from Randle to win this season:
- When Randle double-doubles: 6-2
- When Randle does not double-double: 2-5
Can he get out of this recent funk and help the Knicks fight for the top spot in the Atlantic Division?
With the Brooklyn Nets already with double-digit wins this season, the Knicks will have to step it up.
Will they need a trade to be able to be one of the best in the East this year?
1. The Knicks Are At Least One Piece Away
At the trade deadline, or earlier, the Knicks will have to make a big move.
The Knicks are coming off a 20-win improvement from 2019-20 to 2020-21.
The impressive season last year helped Tom Thibodeau win his second Coach of the Year award.
He is hoping for more improvement this year.
However, the team is on the outside looking in at the top offenses.
New York owns the 11th-best offensive rating while the team is 18th in defense.
The Knicks, who were raining down 3-pointers to start the season, are turning into an average ballclub in 2021-22.
If they want to see playoff success this year, they will get on the trade market early.