The New York Knicks had a big offseason after a disappointing 2021-22 campaign. Through two games so far this season, it's looking like some of the changes the Knicks made could pay off in a big way throughout the season.
It's admittedly only a two game season, but getting our first look at how all 30 teams in the NBA are shaping up is extremely important. We saw last season with the Boston Celtics how teams can overcome slow starts to dominate down the stretch, but for the most part, what we see in the opening week of action is a sign of what is to come as the season progresses.
For the Knicks, that's an encouraging sign. They lost a hard fought season opener against the Memphis Grizzlies before dominating the Detroit Pistons in their second game of the season. With two games in the books, let's take a look at three hot takes from the Knicks first week of the season.
3. The Knicks have one of the deepest benches in the league
What the Knicks have lacked in pure star power recently, they have made up for in depth. Last season, the Knicks were an unorganized group of solid players that never were able to consistently put together wins. Early on this season, though, it looks like things could be different for New York.
In their season opener against the Grizzlies, Julius Randle led the way, but the two next best players for New York came off the bench. Cam Reddish had a very strong start to the season, pouring in 22 points on an efficient 9/15 shooting percentage. Isaiah Hartenstein also had a very solid debut for the Knicks, and ended up playing the most minutes of anyone on his team, while scoring 16 points and hauling in eight rebounds.
Against the Pistons, the Knicks bench largely outplayed their starters. Immanuel Quickley led the team in scoring, Obi Toppin chipped in 16 points, and Derrick Rose scored 13 himself. Right off the bat, that's five strong players coming off the bench behind the starters, and it's beginning to look like the Knicks may have one of the deepest benches in the league this season.
2. The Knicks made the right decision to sign Jalen Brunson this offseason
The Knicks drew some grief around the NBA for giving Jalen Brunson a four-year, $104 million deal in free agency this offseason. Brunson turned a strong postseason effort with the Dallas Mavericks into a starting role with the Knicks, but he ended up getting a deal that many fans wondered whether or not he was actually worth.
Brunson is a solid scorer, and he has potential to become a strong passer if he's given the reins of the offense, but he's undersized, even for a guard, at 6'1, and he isn't exactly a good defender. The Knicks needed to improve their defense this offseason, so it didn't make a ton of sense to invest in Brunson with a long-term deal.
Brunson hasn't been fantastic in his first two games, but he's been solid for the Knicks at point guard, and there's hope that he can continue to grow into his role in the offense. Brunson shot poorly against Memphis, but he dealt out nine assists in the game, showing he's committed to improving his playmaking. Once Brunson finds his way in the offense, the Knicks could go on a big run.
1. Julius Randle will have a bounce back season for the Knicks
The biggest reason the Knicks fell apart last season was because Julius Randle wasn't the same player he was during the 2020-21 season. Randle's efficiency from the field was way down, and given how big of a role he had carved out for himself in the Knicks offense, it ended up killing them.
Randle opened the season with a strong outing against the Grizzlies (24 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST, 9/16 FG) and very nearly led New York to an upset victory. He wasn't as good against the Pistons, but considering how New York led the entire way through, and he only played 25 minutes, he didn't really have to do much when he was on the floor.
Randle's strong season-opening performance inspired hope he can return to the high level of play he produced two seasons ago. He has more help on offense, especially if Brunson can continue to develop as the primary facilitator of the offense, which would take a big load off of Randle's shoulders. The Knicks offense hasn't hit their peak yet, but their start to the season is encouraging, and if they can continue to build off this start, Randle is poised to put together a nice bounce back campaign.