Last season, the New York Knicks were the National Basketball Association’s feel-good story.
After years and years of ineptitude, they fielded a team with a true star in Julius Randle and a mix of young and experienced role players.
Even better, head coach Tom Thibodeau built a culture based on defense and winning ugly, and it worked to the tune of a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and a playoff spot.
Instead, they regressed, winning just 37 games as their defense became inconsistent.
Now there are rumors that the Knicks are looking to major major changes to their roster this offseason.
Would that be a wise decision?
Julius Randle Has Become His Best Self
In his first few seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Randle was a good player, but he was underdeveloped and flawed.
But after joining New York last season, he has blossomed.
The former lottery pick put up 24.1 points on 41.1 percent shooting from 3-point range, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game in 2021 and got selected to the All-Star Game for the first time.
This season, his numbers fell to 20.1 points, while his overall shooting percentage fell to 41.1 from 45.6 in 2021.
Maybe Randle cannot be the best player on a championship team, but it seems he can be a great second-best player on such a squad.
The Knicks Have Young, Promising Players
RJ Barrett, their 21-year-old wing, has developed nicely, and although his shooting accuracy also fell this season, he averaged 20.0 points a game and established himself as a legitimate scoring threat.
In Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks have a change-of-pace backup guard who can increase the pace, score some buckets and get teammates involved.
Obi Toppin, a second-year 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward with plenty of hops, showed some improvement this year, averaging 9.0 points on 53.1 percent shooting in 17.1 minutes a game.
He ended the season with a flourish, scoring in double figures in 10 of his last 11 games, including a 35-point performance in the Knicks’ penultimate game versus the Washington Wizards and a 42-point explosion in the final game of the season against the Toronto Raptors.
— Back2Back (@B2BFR) April 11, 2022
Mitchell Robinson is an energetic big man who rebounds and protects the rim well, and at 7-feet tall, he has legitimate height and size for the center position.
Unless they get a massive offer they can’t refuse, the Knicks shouldn’t blow things up, as they have nice pieces, but they do need more pieces to get back to the playoffs.
What Are The Missing Pieces?
Ever since Carmelo Anthony left the Knicks, and especially ever since Patrick Ewing ended his tenure with the team, the Knicks have lacked a true franchise superstar who can lead a team to the world championship as “the man.”
They can either trade some pieces for such a player, or create a max salary slot under the cap and look to attract one in free agency.
On the other hand, if the Utah Jazz were willing to give New York Donovan Mitchell for Randle, perhaps it should at least consider such a deal.
After all, Mitchell is originally from Westchester County.
Donovan Mitchell pulled up to Queens to catch his Mets tonight pic.twitter.com/eIaqPM1bFA
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 3, 2022
New York also needs a solid point guard who is a floor general and will stabilize the team throughout the game, especially come playoff time.
Will 6-foot-8 Cam Reddish, whom the Knicks acquired at mid-season, develop into that type of player?