The New York Knicks have a new, young star in Kemba Walker. With the addition of veteran players like Lance Thomas and Michael Beasley, they will be the biggest surprise in the NBA this season.
Kemba Walker and the New York Knicks Will be the NBA’s Biggest Surprise This Season. Read more in detail here: nba new york knicks.
All 30 NBA clubs have reason to be optimistic over the summer. Young prospective superstars are drafted by teams to add to their rosters. Head coaches come and go throughout the league. Established players join existing rosters via free agency. Some new signings cause a stir throughout the league and make the front pages, while others go undetected. The summer for the New York Knicks was mostly unnoticed. Bringing Kemba Walker back to Madison Square Garden is arguably the most significant move made by New York. Nonetheless, the Knickerbockers’ rotation positions them to be one of the greatest shocks of the next season.
The Knicks largely maintained the same lineup as previous season.
The New York Knicks’ RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Derrick Rose go onto the floor. | Justin Ford/Getty Images
Walker signed a two-year contract with New York for less than $9 million each season. It’s a low-risk, high-reward gamble on a player who has previously carried a franchise. Evan Fournier, a guard, was also signed to a four-year deal by the club. Fournier, who averages 14.3 points per game in his career, provides the team with some much-needed playmaking.
Derrick Rose and Alec Burks, as well as forward Taj Gibson and center Nerlens Noel, were all re-signed by the Knicks. New York retains six of its top seven rotation players while adding two players, Walker and Fournier, who will instantly fit into the starting lineup.
Julius Randle returns in 2020-21 after having his greatest season ever, leading New York in points, rebounds, and assists. He also hit 41.1 percent from three-point range, which was a career high.
New York also boasts a slew of young players that can help the team progress.
R.J. Barrett was the third overall selection in the 2019 draft, and he improved statistically and became more efficient last year. He improved his 3-point percentage from 32.0 percent in his rookie season to 40.1 percent as a sophomore. When Barrett came in New York, he was supposed to be the franchise’s face. He hasn’t quite reached that level of stardom yet, but he’s just two seasons into his career, has showed signs of progress, and will be 21 this year.
After being chosen with the 25th selection in last year’s draft, point guard Immanuel Quickley showed early potential. In 2020-21, the rookie averaged 11.4 points in 19.4 minutes per game while playing for Tom Thibodeau, a notoriously tough head coach.
Last season, the Knicks selected Obi Toppin in the lottery, but the No. 8 overall choice didn’t have a great rookie season, averaging only 4.0 points per game in just 11.0 minutes. Toppin, on the other hand, has shown why he was likened to Amare Stoudemire as an offensive talent going into the 2020 draft via summer league. In Las Vegas, his athleticism and offensive skill level have skyrocketed. Against the Detroit Pistons, Toppin scored 31 points on 12-for-20 shooting. He made two three-pointers and added three blocks and two steals to his stat line. In four games this summer, the 6-foot-9 forward has averaged 23.5 points on 47.4 percent shooting. He also averages 9.3 rebounds per game and has a long list of highlight reel moments.
The New York Knicks have assembled a roster and rotation that is poised to shock the NBA.
Walker, Fournier, Barrett, Randle, and Robinson will most likely start for New York. Rose, like Quickley, can play both guard positions off the bench. Barrett has the ability to switch between the 2, 3, and 4 positions. Robinson can rely on Noel as a backup. In certain small-ball teams, Toppin may play power forward or center. With Burks and Taj Gibson waiting in the wings, the Knicks’ rotation is comfortably nine deep.
The depth chart is well-balanced, with many playmakers and scorers, and with Thibodeau at the helm, the club will be disciplined, hardworking, and defensively powerful.
After placing fourth in the Eastern Conference previous season, the Knicks hosted a playoff series. It was the first playoff appearance for the Knicks since Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, and Tyson Chandler.
The team re-signed the majority of last year’s playoff roster and made two off-the-radar free-agent signings. Barrett may be poised to take another step forward in his third year, with Toppin showing signs of progress in his second. New York’s playoff seed in 2021-22 may very well surprise the league.
Basketball-Reference provided all statistics, while Spotrac provided contract information.
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