2021 could definitely end up being a better year than its predecessor. One sign of the times could be the hot start that the New York Knicks have gotten off to in the 2020-21 season so far.
For the first time in recent memory, the Knicks are actually holding a decent placement in the Eastern Conference standings through their first eight games. While the season did only just start, there are a few contributing factors that could lead to them sticking around in that regard through the season.
The Knicks have remained the laughingstock of the NBA for nearly a decade. The competitiveness that once boasted the Knicks when Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire graced the Madison Square Garden has long passed.
The major question remains, however: Can the Knicks keep this newfound streak alive throughout the season?
While the Knicks certainly don't pose a legitimate threat without much star talent on the roster, there's a valid case to be made for their placement in the East. Several teams are in the midst of reshaping themselves in the Eastern Conference, which leads the bottom of the standings up for grabs.
Their franchise cornerstone in RJ Barrett seems to be turning the corner at the start of the season. The 20-year-old guard is averaging 17.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists through his first eight games of the season, all of which are considerable bump-ups from last season's averages. The supporting cast that surrounds the Duke standout has been the main catalyst for their successes, though most of the Knicks players were considered last-minute grabs to fill a roster versus the former.
While the roster isn't as full of star-like quality as the Knicks had hoped for, they've also found some high-caliber role players to help bring them up the standings.
The overall gist to be made is that there are still 64 regular-season games remaining for the Knicks. While they've gotten off to an impressive start, most of their wins have come from the lower half of the Eastern Conference, though they were able to pull off a stunning victory against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Still, 64 games leave quite a lot of time for the usual teams to catch up that haven't had the best of starts. Most teams such as the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are still battling fatigue after a short turnaround from last season, whereas the Knicks were on rest mostly since the COVID-19 hiatus in March of last season.
As it stands, teams like the Heat, Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets are still under the Knicks. That won't be the case for much longer as those teams continue to find their footing.