The New York Knicks won their first playoff series victory in a decade last year, and expectations for the upcoming 2023-24 regular season are sky-high. Although New York has not had an NBA title since 1973, the Knickerbockers appear to be headed in the right direction.
Fourth-year head coach Tom Thibodeau welcomes back a dozen players who combined for 90% of the Knicks' regular-season minutes last season. New York notched 10 more wins than the 2021-22 squad and eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round before falling to the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals.
"Proud of our guys. There's always disappointment at the end of the season," Thibodeau said after the Knicks Game 6 loss last season. "In the end, there will be one team standing. Take what we learned from it. Get away for a little while and decompress. But I'm proud of the way this team worked all year. I thought they improved daily.
"I thought we got valuable experience in the playoffs, we learned a lot, and
The star of last year's playoffs and the face of the franchise, point guard Jalen Brunson, was also poetic after being eliminated from the postseason last year.
"You've got to give
"It stings a little bit, definitely a learning experience. But if you don't win, you lose."
New York is confident that this year's team is close to taking the next step and competing for the Eastern Conference championship for the first time in more than two decades. And it all starts with Brunson.
The former Villanova standout set career highs with 24 points and 6.2 assists per game last season after inking a massive four-year, $104 million contract last summer. While the Knicks still need to add another star player to become a legitimate NBA title contender, Brunson has New York poised to join the upper-tier division powerhouses.
Brunson averaged 44.5 points in the final two playoff games last season and was the main reason the Knicks garnered their second-most wins over the past 22 seasons. But New York will need Julius Randle and RJ Barrett to become consistent scoring threats, especially in the playoffs.
Randall posted a team-high 25.1 points and 10 rebounds during the regular season in 2021-22 but tallied a disappointing 16.6 points and 8.3 boards in the postseason. The two-time All-Star shot 37.4 percent in 10 playoff contests and connected on just 3-of-14 shots in the Knicks Game 6 loss to the Heat.
Barrett also disappeared in New York's final game last season. The No. 3 pick in the 2019 Draft made only one of 10 shots from the field and must become a better outside scoring threat. Heading into his fifth season, Barrett's 51.7% true shooting percentage among players with at least 2,000 field-goal attempts ranks 138th out of 139.
The Knicks upgraded their perimeter shooting with the free-agent signing of DiVincenzo to a four-year, $50 million deal. The Villanova product hit nearly 40% from beyond the arc last season with the Golden State Warriors, which should help a New York squad that was one of the league's worst three-point shooting squads the previous season.
The Knicks shipped Toppin to the Indiana Pacers in July for two future second-round picks. The former 8th overall pick was stuck behind All-Star Julius Randle but still averaged 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game. Toppin was reportedly unhappy with his lack of time on the court and never had the chance to hone his skills in a Knicks uniform.
Rose only played in 53 games over the previous two seasons and was a fan-favorite among his teammates and fans. However, the veteran playmaker inked a two-year, $6.6 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies this past summer and could play a significant role until Ja Morant serves his 25-game suspension.
The days of Knicks fans wearing paper bags over their heads are over. New York has a strong nucleus of players that should easily qualify for the playoffs and, with the addition of another star player, will have all the tools to compete for a Larry O'Brien Trophy. The Knicks reached the second round last season and will look to exceed that milestone this season.
How far New York advances in the playoffs this season will depend on the success of Brunson, who has quickly established himself as the franchise cornerstone. While he enjoyed a career year last season, the 27-year-old is preparing to prove the naysayers wrong again.
"I don't really care what the outside world thinks of myself or my teammates," Brunson said. "It is what it is what they think, but, for me, it's just all about how can I get better, how can I be more consistent. How can I help my team win?"
The savvy point guard remains focused on elevating the Knicks into a championship-caliber squad and has an inner passion that continues to fuel his desire to be one of the league's top players.
"I'm really excited for year two," Brunson said. "I think the motivation comes from within. The fans are a really big part of what we do. They're going to give us everything when we're on the court, whether we're playing in The Garden or if we're on the road. Now we're everywhere. But that motivation has to start with a focus in."
The 2023-24 season promises to be another excitement-filled campaign for Knicks fans. For the first time in decades, the Big Apple has a basketball team that has the potential to become a legitimate title contender.
For those who've closely followed the Knicks' journey, predicting the outcomes has always been part of the fun. Whether you're considering the game's outcome, individual performances, or seasonal milestones, sports betting provides another layer to the basketball experience.
As the season progresses, stay updated with our betting tips. Whether you're wagering on the Knicks to go all the way or placing your bets game-by-game, there's never been a more exciting time to get involved in NBA betting.