It felt like the New York Knicks were shortchanged by fate itself in the 2024 NBA Playoffs. They suffered a series of injuries that impacted (if not led to) their elimination at the hands of the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. While New York should be far healthier entering next season than they've been since late January, they're still not a championship team — at least not as currently constructed. But they're not far off.

After making a major trade for OG Anunoby in late December, the Knicks looked fairly complete. Unfortunately, the injury bug reminded all of us that no matter how complete a team looks, it is only a few injuries away from struggling. Still, the Knicks should be appreciative of the injuries they suffered for one key reason, they highlighted an important shortcoming that must be addressed. New York needs more playmaking.

It is worth pointing out that Julius Randle will return from a shoulder injury that cost him the final three months of the 2023-24 season, as well as the entirety of the 2024 playoffs. And Randle is a walking bucket. He averaged an efficient 24 points and 9.2 rebounds per game through 46 games in 2023-24. He shot 53% on two-pointers and demonstrated a new-found self-awareness in limiting his three-point attempts when he realized he wasn't sinking them with enough consistency.

So, where do the Knicks go from here?

Knicks need reliable perimeter scoring

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But is the re-acclimating Randle enough? Never mind his inconsistent effort and dust-ups with referees, Randle is not the type of playmaker the Knicks need. That is not to say that Randle's return won't help the team. Randle is a unique scorer and physical defender who is regularly underrated by many in the national media. And his presence will give New York another scoring option. But he's not the off-the-dribble guy they need.

However, Randle and another playmaker are not in a zero-sum relationship. New York can add a playmaker without subtracting Randle. Thankfully, they have the trade assets to do so (via Bojan Bogdonovic's contract). Still, the fact remains that the Knicks need someone else to break down defenses when Jalen Brunson sits, someone who can provide additional scoring and playmaking, preferably from the perimeter.

Just look at how the Knicks do with and without Brunson. With him on the floor, the Knicks score 119.7 points per 100 possessions. That would be good for the third-best offensive rating in the league. In their non-Brunson minutes, they score 10 fewer points per 100 possessions (109.4), which would be sixth-worst in the league.

While the Knicks obviously need some help in those non-Brunson minutes, they also need to help Brunson, who happens to own the fourth-highest usage rate in the NBA (35.5), when he's on the floor; specifically in the playoffs, when defenses key on Brunson.

What type of players should the Knicks look to add?

Jalen Brunson
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It's fair to assume that Brunson, Anunoby, Randle, Isaiah Hartenstein, or Mitchell Robinson are shoo-ins to start next year. We'll spend more time diving into specific trade targets and possible free-agent signings in the near future; however, the prototype of the player New York should look to add is pretty clear. A dynamic, two-way shooting guard is really all that's missing.

To be fair, that type of player does not grow on trees. If New York identifies the right guy, they must be willing to pull the trigger. Never mind how many draft picks it costs. They must do their best to keep their key players out of the deal. That means keeping Brunson, Randle, Anunoby, Robinson, Hartenstein, Hart, and DiVincenzo. If it costs Miles McBride, Bogdonovic, and numerous picks, then so be it.

It is important to note that upgrading the two-guard spot should not be seen as a dissatisfaction with Donte DiVincenzo's performance. On the contrary, DiVincenzo was excellent But the Knicks need help creating when defenses key on Brunson, and that's not exactly DiVincenzo's game. He makes an incredible sixth man, and moving him to the bench makes the Knicks even deeper. But New York needs someone else to generate buckets. Thankfully, they have the assets to go get him.

Fortunately, the Knicks do not need a superstar. They already have Brunson. They don't need a three-and-D wing. They have Anunoby. They don't need help at the center spot, assuming Hartenstein is willing to re-sign. They don't need a burly scoring forward. Randle fills that void. They don't need a shooter. DiVincenzo. They don't need an energy guy. Hart. They are one piece away. It's time to find that piece.