The 2021 – 22 NBA season did not go according to plan for the New York Knicks. After a surprise run to the playoffs, expectations in the Big Apple was high. Many expected the team to build off of that season and take baby steps to becoming a true contender again. Instead, the Knicks did the complete opposite of this.

The Knicks regressed in many ways in the 2021-22 season. Breakout stars from the previous season returned to their previous mediocre forms. Their free agent signings struggled to make an impact on the team. It was, by all accounts, a disaster of a season, especially after the expectations set for them by the fans.

Heading into training camp, the Knicks will be facing a ton of questions surrounding this team. Let’s take a look at some of these questions.

3. Will Jalen Brunson be worth the hefty price tag for the Knicks?

The biggest move that the Knicks did in the 2022-23 offseason is their signing of Jalen Brunson. After an incredible playoff run, the former Dallas Mavericks guard was heavily sought-after by New York in free agency. With virtually no other competitors, the team signed him to a massive four-year, $104 million contract.

Jalen Brunson will certainly be scrutinized by the Knicks fanbase from the start of training camp. The team handed him a hefty contract, after all: fans are going to want to see big numbers from him. He had solid numbers in his only year as a full-time starter, averaging 16.3 points on healthy shooting splits while also having 4.8 assists. Bear in mind, though, that this is with him playing alongside Luka Doncic. In New York, Brunson will be expected to shoulder a bigger load on offense.

The expectations are sky-high for Jalen Brunson in New York. If he falters to start the season, expect the “overpaid” chatter to start up.

2. Can RJ Barrett improve upon his breakout season?

RJ Barrett was easily the best player the Knicks had last season. After years of playing so-so basketball, the Duke product emerged as the top threat for the team last season. His three-point stroke, paired with his slashing ability, has made him a truly dangerous prospect. He even showed flashes of great playmaking and defense, which is a great sign.

The question now for the Knicks is whether this performance from RJ Barrett is the best that it can possibly be. Barrett’s efficiency numbers took a slight hit last season, but that was mostly due to him getting used to being the lead man for the team. In training camp, the Knicks are hoping that Barrett can continue improving his game with an increased workload. If he is successful in getting his efficiency back to 2020 levels while keeping the same amount of touches in 2021, then he’ll undoubtedly be the king of New York.

Perhaps RJ Barrett can use his inclusion in the Knicks’ failed trade for Donovan Mitchell as motivation. Will he prove that the team is better off with him as the lead guard.

1. What version of Julius Randle will the Knicks get?

The last two seasons of Julius Randle with the Knicks has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation. In 2020, we saw All-Star Julius Randle, who heroically led New York to the playoffs. He improved his scoring from all three levels, shattering the low expectations set for him in the season. Even after a miserable playoff series, fans expected that this version of Randle will remain as their pillar.

Instead, Randle regressed big-time in the Knicks’ 2021-22 season. His field-goal percentage was the worst it’s ever been since his first season in the league. His three-point shooting fell off a cliff. Suddenly, New York’s offensive engine was sputtering and struggling. His reactions to the harsh Madison Square Garden crowd did not help matters.

With the Knicks training camp looming in the horizon, fans are wondering which version of Randle will the team get this season. New York doesn’t really need their former All-Star to be the primary focal point of the offense again. Last season showed that RJ Barrett would do well as a secondary facilitator for the team. Jalen Brunson was also brought in specifically to ease the load off of Randle’s shoulders. Perhaps the lessened pressure on him would help him rediscover his game.

The Knicks are coming into the 2022 season with a lot more questions than the ones we’ve listed here. Will the team redeem themselves after falling flat on their faces last year? Or will they prove that their playoff run in 2020 was merely a fluke?