The Knicks are ready to get back on track and back to winning. Pat gives us statline predictions for each player.
Today is an exciting moment: finally, we’ve reached the day a new NBA season tips off. The Knicks, like every other NBA team, are full of new expectations and hope. As the final page on the previous season is turned, it is a clean slate for Tom Thibodeau and his team as they try to be better than before. Some Knicks are hoping to continue where they left off and others hoping to get a fresh start.
So with all that said, it’s time to look at stats projection for the team.
We’ll start off with the starting five – after four preseason games, albeit a small sample size, it looks like they can make it work. Between Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, and Julius Randle the Knicks have three starters that can potentially average at least 20 points per game. Evan Fournier, if he manages to cling to his starter spot, is now a clear fourth option on this team, which is a good thing. All he has to do is worry about knocking down open three-pointers on the perimeter when he’s open, anything else on his part is gravy. Mitchell Robinson, coming off a big payday, looks to have a big year if he can stay healthy; he should at the minimum be able to average a double-double.
Jalen Brunson: In his successful tenure with the Dallas Mavericks playing alongside Luka Doncic, Brunson acted as the secondary ball handler. In New York, Brunson looks to be a little more ball-dominant as the Knicks hope he can alleviate the pressures of playmaking for Julius Randle and to a lesser extent RJ Barrett.
Stats Prediction: 21-23 PPG, 5-6 APG, 4-5 RPG.
RJ Barrett: While some folks still aren’t sold on Barrett, the Knicks certainly seem to be after extending him for four more years for as much as $120 million. Barrett has quietly improved every season he’s been in the NBA and while not as flashy as the two guys selected before him, he’s projecting toward becoming a formidable player for years to come. If he can continue the trend of his first three years in the league Barrett’s numbers will be even better. Still just 22 years old, the only way right now is up.
Stats Prediction: 20-22 PPG, 3-4 APG, 7-8 RPG.
Julius Randle: After setting quite the standard for himself in the 2020-21 season, Randle failed to rise to the level this past season. With newfound success comes newfound attention and NBA defenses were ready for Randle after his All-Star campaign. What some called a rough season most players could only dream of. Randle still averaged 20.1 PPG, 5.1 APG, and 9.9 RPG last season; his shooting numbers, however, took a massive hit as his efficiency nosedived. With an even more mature Barrett and offensive dynamo in Brunson, Randle should feel less pressure to force the action and play the game he’s good at.
Stats Prediction: 21-23 PPG, 6-7 APG, 8-10 RPG.
Evan Fournier: Even though he broke the franchise record for most made threes in a season, he left much to be desired in his first season in New York. After signing a big contract in the summer of 2021 Fournier left many with a sour taste in their mouth, partly do due to not playing as well as people hoped and partly for being asked to be something he’s not on the court. Fournier is realistically a tertiary or elite bench option on a good team. In New York, they tried to make him a focal point on offense to disastrous results. With the addition of Brunson and clear better options in Barret and Randle, the French national team’s Le Capitaine can go back to what he excels at: providing instant offense in spurts and deadeye three-point shooting.
Stats Prediction: 14-16 PPG, 2-3 APG, 2-3 RPG
Mitchell Robinson: The Blockness Monster has been beloved since he set foot in Madison Square Garden back in 2018 and New York rewarded him this summer with a 4-year $60 million contract. After early injuries at the start of his career, Robinson was able to play the most games ever in a season appearing in 72 contests. With health on his side, Robinson can cement himself as one of the premier centers in the NBA. Already an elite rebounder and shot blocker, Robinson looks to resume business as usual by dominating the paint this season.
Stats Prediction: 9-11 PPG, 10-14 RPG, 2-3 BLK.
RJ Barrett lobs it up to Mitchell Robinson 💥
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— NBA (@NBA) October 15, 2022
Under coach Tom Thibodeau the Knicks’ rotation was notoriously short as was the leash of the bench players. Thibs has no problem yanking guys out of games if he’s not liking what he’s seeing on the court. But being run as a tight ship has made New York’s bench one of the better ones in the NBA the last couple of seasons. They’ve been known to mop up after the starters make a mess and sometimes even close out games. You’re lucky if you can crack what has mostly been a four-man bench under this current head coach. Barring injuries or changes some guys will warm seats to start out. The following players are what looks like the main reserve unit will be.
Immanuel Quickley: After finishing the season on a strong note IQ hopes to continue his growth as a player. Players continued to fall last season due to COVID and injuries and Quickley stood tall and became better as the season went on. After the All-Star break, he went on a rampage and capped the season off with a triple-double to give Knicks fans one last show. This season he looks to remain an integral part of New York’s rotation as the designated 6th man.
Stats: 13-15 PPG, APG 3-4, 3-4 RPG.
Obi Toppin: There are still questions about how much the former lottery pick will play but Toppin has shown time and time again he deserves to be on the court a significant amount. Off his motor alone Toppin’s ability to impact a game is endless. He’s always moving and cutting and creating space, not to mention the constant threat of an aerial assault in the form of a highlight dunk. After stringing together some impressive outings in the absence of Julius Randle in the finals weeks of the season, he ended things on a high note with a career-high 42 points in the final game. Toppin should see plenty of court time after the departure of veteran bigs this past summer.
Stats Prediction: 10-12 PPG, 1-2 APG, 3-5 RPG.
Quentin Grimes: The Knicks have a lot of hope in their second-year wing. Many believed he could challenge Evan Fournier for his spot in the starting lineup heading into training camp but an injury set Grimes back as he continues to heel his foot as the season is set to begin. New York is looking for Grimes to show them something after reportedly not wanting to trade him in a deal for Donovan Mitchell. Grimes has shown flashes of elite skill on both sides of the court. Heading into his sophomore season he looks to continue development as a 2-way threat.
Stats Prediction: 8-10 PPG, 2-3 APG 3-4 RPG.
Isaiah Hartenstein: Before he signed a 2-year contract this past summer most assumed Jericho Sims would assume backup duties at center. But in a surprise move, the Knicks brought in a different flavor. While Hartenstein can bang with the best of them down low he brings the ability to stretch the floor as a big, something the Knicks have sorely missed in the past. His ability to knock perimeter shots and pass the ball gives the Knicks a new dimension to explore.
Stats Prediction: 7-9 PPG, 2-3 APG 5-7 RPG. D
Derrick Rose: the former MVP and Thibodeau mainstay has embraced his role as a veteran and leader on the Knicks. Many of the young players gravitate to him as he brings a calming and experienced presence to the lineup. As long as he’s healthy he will play. After double ankle surgery kept him out most of last season, Rose looks rejuvenated and ready to remind the world who he used to be. Two years ago Derrick Rose was a godsend for the Knicks as he helped them propel them to the fourth seed. Now, in his advanced basketball age, Rose’s contributions on the court will come in increments.
Stats Prediction: 10-12 PPG, 3-4 APG 2-3 RPG.