New York Knicks 2021-22 season preview


Jean-Baptiste Bellet | Wikimedia Commons

Vasileios Michaelides

For the first time in a very long time, New York Knicks fans are excited for the upcoming NBA season. The buzz that was created last season in Madison Square Garden has not only stayed but has also grown to a point where many Knicks fans feel confident enough to say that the Knickerbockers will win 50 games this season! Very bold and very New York, but it shows the basketball excitement running through the city.

A large part of this excitement is due to the offseason the Knicks just had. The front office, spearheaded by Leon Rose, impressed again this offseason by not making reckless mistakes. After years of wrong decision after wrong decision, Leon and company have been a breath of fresh air. They prioritized team chemistry this summer by re-signing some key pieces from last year like Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel. On top of that, the Knicks signed former All-Star guard Kemba Walker and veteran Evan Fournier.

Now that the off-season is over and the season is right around the corner, the Knicks roster is all set. Starting with the guards Derrick Rose, as mentioned before, returns alongside the newly added Kemba Walker. During the Knicks media day, the former MVP revealed that Kemba is the planned starter while he will remain on the bench, just like last year. Essentially, the point guard spot will be rotated between Kemba and Derrick as long as they remain healthy. Injury, though, has been a problem for both of these players throughout their careers so it’ll be up to teammates like Immanuel Quickley and perhaps even rookie Deuce McBride to step up in times of need.

Quickley proved last year that he is a reliable shooter from downtown who also has a lethal floater game. This year, however, he has to show his playmaking prowess while also increasing his shot selection. Quickley cannot just stick to triples and floaters. McBride on the other hand, may find it difficult to see consistent minutes, but his defensive tenacity and work ethic may earn him an opportunity.

For the Knicks shooting guard, it’ll be a split between RJ Barrett and Evan Fournier, similar to the D-Rose 一 Kemba situation. Both might even start with Barrett playing the SG and Fournier playing at small forward, or vice-versa. ]They both can play either positions, so the matchup will probably determine who plays where. Coming off the bench for those two will be Alec Burks, who showed his bucket getting capabilities in the biggest of moments last year.

Fournier and Burks will be heavily relied upon to contribute to offense this season. It’s safe to expect at around 15 to18 points per game from Fournier and 12 points per game from Burks.

Fournier’s arrival may also inspire head coach Tom Thibodeau to have his team shoot more threes. During Knicks media day, D-Rose said that the Knicks want to increase their attempts to 37-40 from the 30 of last year.

Next up are the forwards, who are highlighted by the reigning Most Improved Player: Julius Randle. RJ Barret will probably also be asked to play the forward position this year. Speaking of RJ, this may be the year in which RJ takes a leap and reaches stardom. However, he will have to do so by being the Knicks number two option, behind Randle. It’ll be interesting to see how many touches he’ll get and how he’ll play alongside newbies like Kemba and Fournier.

As for Julius — the anointed king of New York — he’s coming off his first All Star appearance and has already won the MIP award. Randel is poised for another similar campaign in 2021-22. Plus, he’ll have a chip on his shoulder coming off his forgettable playoff performance against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. Randle has a proven work ethic and whenever something doesn’t go his way, he puts his head down and works to prove the doubters wrong.

The center position this year will be reclaimed by Mitchell Robinson. Mitch may as well be the X-factor for the Knicks this year. His absence was felt in many games last season, but especially in the playoffs. Hawks’ center Clint Capella dominated the Knicks in the paint, which was one of the main reasons why the Hawks advanced.

Robinson’s presence in the paint, his shot blocking abilities and his defensive instinct are second to none. Those are the attributes that have Knicks fans hopeful that he can develop into a serious defensive player of the year candidate.

Backing up Mitch will be the returning Nerlens Noel, who has had an exceptional campaign last season. Another great defender at the center position for New York, Noel was an absolute warrior in many games Expect more of the same this year from Noel, especially considering the continuity that exists across the team.

As far as predictions go though, the Knicks will probably have a similar season as last year. However, the East did seemingly get better, with the Miami Heat, Indian Pacers and Chicago Bulls making big off-season moves but the fourth seed may be a tough spot to reach again. Although it may be a tough place to reach, it’s not unattainable. As a matter of fact, there are many scenarios where the Knicks can clinch the fourth spot and even the third! However, for a less “homer” prediction, the Knicks should finish around the 6th or 7th seed. Hopefully, they will fight to avoid the 7th seed, as that will put them in the unpredictable play-in tournament before the playoffs start. No matter the result though, this will be a fun and intriguing season for everyone involved with the New York Knicks.