The Knicks are back and looking to build on last year’s success. The Knicks Wall staff is here to predict just how that will go.

The Knicks are coming off a year that saw them earn the fifth seed, make the second round of the playoffs, help Julius Randle land his second All-NBA selection, and perhaps most importantly, turn Jalen Brunson into a star-level point guard.

Putting together consecutive elite years has been tough for Randle, not to mention for coach Tom Thibodeau in his post-Chicago era, but the foundation seems to be laid for both to get over the hump this year and for the Knicks to finally become a playoff regular.

Let’s see what TKW is predicting for 2023-24 in our annual roundtable.

How Many Knicks Qualify For All-Star or End-of-Year Awards?

Nick Carannante: Jalen Brunson is the best player on this team. This year that will become readily apparent and the awards will reflect that. Brunson will be the lone All-Star on the Knickerbockers and also qualify for a place on Third Team All-NBA. 

Ace Pedraza: Two players will make the All-Star team this year for the Knicks: Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. Brunson had a slow start in the preseason but popped off the screen during the FIBA Tournament, while Randle looked great in preseason in his new highlighter Skechers. I can see, at the end of the year, Immanuel Quickley finally winning Sixth Man Of The Year with Brunson and Randle both making All-NBA teams and Mitchell Robinson landing an All-Defensive Team selection. 

Nick Scolaro: One. If Jalen Brunson exceeds or even duplicates his performance from last season, he will be an All-Star. If MVP truly meant most valuable and not best player, I could see Brunson being right in the mix. 

Mike Cortez: Four, two for each. For All-Star selections, I think it remains two: Jalen Brunson (snubbed last year) and Julius Randle as the favorites. For the year-end awards, I have Immanuel Quickley back in the Sixth Man of the Year race, and I think Mitch finds a way into Defensive Player of the Year talks.

Pete Saclarides: Two. Jalen Brunson just missed out on the All-Star team last year while Julius Randle made it, and I see them both improving on last season and being All-Stars in 2024.

Pat Diaz: I believe that Jalen Brunson has a humongous chip on his shoulder and he will not only be a first-time All-Star but he’ll also be on an All-NBA team. Julius Randle will also again be in those same conversations. I think RJ Barrett will be in on the Most Improved Player Award if what he did during the FIBA World Cup carries over to the season. Mitchell Robinson will cement himself among the best defensive players in the league as a finalist for DPoY. And finally, Immanuel Quickley will be the clear-cut favorite for Sixth Man of the Year on a quest to get paid.

Do the Knicks finally push their chips in for a star *cough*Embiid*cough?

Nick C: It will be more of the same: rumors and speculation with every possible big name. Embiid will loom over this season larger than any actual member of this organization. Donovan Mitchell’s potential extension or lack thereof will be another story that impacts the Knicks. But again, this front office will be unwilling to pull the trigger and while it hangs over the head of RJ Barrett and impending negotiations with IQ, nothing will ever happen. 

Ace: Writing this on Tuesday morning after that Keith Pompey tweet…no, I don’t see them making a move. This front office does a lot of looking, not a lot of actually buying. The closest they’ll get is likely Karl-Anthony Towns, who I can imagine being easier to acquire from Minnesota than Joel Embiid would be from Philadelphia and Daryl Morey. 

Nick S: I don’t have much of a reason to believe the Knicks will trade the farm to bring in a guy like Embiid. Incremental growth and improvement seems to be good enough for this regime and quite frankly, I get the sense that most fans are fine with seeing what this core can do this season, rather than mortgage the future for an injury-prone center like Embiid. Waiting patiently for the right star to be disgruntled/ask out seems like the direction the front office will go in and I don’t feel like that “guy” is out there yet.  

Mike: If it is for the reported deal Keith Pompey had for Joel Embiid – Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and picks – I hope not. It’s not that Embiid is not a needle-mover, it’s quite the contrary. The problem is it would bring them back to where they were ten years ago with Carmelo Anthony. Maybe something Karl Anthony-Towns’ price is much cheaper; either way, I think one season of running it back with the core, a good core this time, can help nail down exactly what type of star would be the most beneficial to move the needle.

Pete: I feel like the Knicks have been linked to every superstar rumored to be traded for the last 10 years and have never actually pulled the trigger. I hope so, but I lean no. 

Pat: Depending on what happens with the Sixers and their insanely public dumpster fire, I think Embiid will be in play contingent on two factors: 1. The Knicks are in serious contention, and 2. Embiid demands a trade. 

Who is the X-Factor that can help the team level up?

Nick C: Year Three Deuce McBride? Year Three Deuce McBride! While his per-game numbers weren’t anything special last year, he had impressive advanced stats and is a defensive stalwart. Expect him to be an impact defender off the bench and a true rotation player to bother opposing guards.  

Ace: Quentin Grimes. Grimes has a year of starting under his belt and an impressive defensive stand in the postseason, but he fizzled out along with Quickley in the second round. If he can consistently average something like 15/5/5 or something close to it, it immediately raises the ceiling of this team. 

Nick S: Donte DiVincenzo. Having another veteran, athletic presence off the bench who can shoot the three is never a bad thing and I believe he will get a more expanded role than he had in Golden State or Milwaukee. DDV being back with his old Villanova running mates will make him more comfortable and be able to fulfill the role that Obi Toppin never got the opportunity to seize. 

Mike: Quentin Grimes and it’s not close. The two biggest concerns (to me, at least) with the Knicks are three-point shooting and perimeter defense. Those are two areas where Grimes happens to excel, and if he can take a leap, he can shut down star discussions for the full season. Grimes is low maintenance in that he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective. If he can bump his three-point percentage into the 40s, while also increasing volume, the Knicks will have a four-headed attack in the starting lineup with Mitch to rim-run.

Pete: RJ Barrett, especially in the playoffs if the Knicks want to make a real run. RJ had his ups and downs in both the regular and postseason, and I think a lot of that had to do with figuring out his role as a third option. If RJ can be as comfortable in the offense this season as he was down the stretch of the playoffs, he will be a game-changer for this offense.

Pat: Quentin Grimes has to be the x-factor. He has to assert himself and can’t have too many quiet nights offensively. There are plenty of guys that could gun for his job and replace him in the starting lineup. He can’t simply be a passenger, the Knicks have put a lot of stock in him.

Predict The Knicks’ Record and level of playoff success, if any.

Nick C: 50-32, which will be good enough for the 4 seed. Unfortunately, they will get an unfavorable matchup in the first round with the Heat or the Sixers and not make it out of the first round. 

Ace: 47-35. I’m a bit lower on them because their schedule is so tough to start the year, and I can see some growing pains due to that. But I think they will finish fourth, behind Milwaukee, Boston, and Philadelphia. I can then see them returning to the Eastern Conference Semifinals but falling short again. They need at least one more starter outside of Brunson and RJ Barrett to step up in the postseason – if that happens, I’m thinking more like ECF as their ceiling. 

Nick S: 52-30 and the 3 seed. I believe the Knicks will win their first-round series but ultimately lose in 6 or 7 games to either Boston or Milwaukee in the second round. 

Mike: 52-30. A ton of people are slamming the Knicks’ under of 45.5. Those people are what people in the poker world call “fish”; the layman’s term being “suckers.” Barring serious injuries to one or more of the main core, this team has good players who are familiar with each other. Like Earl Monroe told TKW himself, the best way to team build, is… wait for it: keeping the team together! I truly believe the East is a two-horse race between Milwaukee and Boston, with a wide-open field after that. Last year’s pain should pay off in lessons learned, which is why I think they at least reach round two again this year, and I am cautiously optimistic a conference finals is not as farfetched as it sounds.

Pete: 51-31, which should get them the 3 or 4 seed. From there, I see the Knicks making the second round and, if the matchup is right, possibly making a run to the conference finals.

Pat: 49-33. This team is legit and they could dominate by feeding on the lower echelon teams around the league. Conservatively, I think the Knicks will once again make it to the second round, whether they end up playing the likes of the Celtics or the Bucks is anyone’s guess but they can’t bow out early. The Knicks must be stiff competition and push a series to six or seven games or possibly even win to prove they belong. 

Give One Bold Prediction:

Nick C: The Knicks will take Bronny James with the Dallas Mavericks late first-round pick that will convey this year. One more swing at LeBron and the limelight that comes with the James family. Bronny also does fit the Thibodeau style as a high IQ defensive-minded player. 

Ace: Barrett will end up being one of the most consistent players for the Knicks, finally averaging more than 20 points per game and ending the season just behind Randle and Brunson as the team’s best scorers.

Nick S: By the end of the season, Quentin Grimes will develop into the Knicks’ version of Klay Thompson; establishing himself as one of the best long-range shooters/defensive wizards we see in the NBA. 

Mike: Mitchell Robinson makes his first All-Defense team. Mitch looks to be in the best shape he has ever been in to start a season. His offense and free throw shooting improvements still feel optimistic, however, last year’s playoff run provided him the national platform he needed to show how good he is as the anchor of the defense. I believe he puts together a complete body of work that lands him in Defensive Player of the Year talks and All-Defense considerations.

Pete: Julius Randle has the best season of his career. I think Julius feeds off of all the criticism he got for his play in the postseason and leads the way alongside Brunson in a career year.

Pat: Unlike my smart and eloquent cohorts, who have given well-thought-out opinions, I will keep it short. EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS, HERE WE COME!

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