The New York Knicks limped into the 2024 All-Star break, which — from their perspective — couldn't come soon enough. They suffered a number of challenging injuries that brought them back to Earth after a wildly successful January.

Granted, most teams have more than one thing to figure out at this stage of the season, and the Knicks aren't unique in that regard. But ultimately, New York's fatal flaw at this point in time is clearly health, or a lack of it.

The Knicks are currently 33-22, which is good for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They remediated a lackluster start to the season by completing a trade with the Toronto Raptors that returned OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa. They played incredibly well in January, winning 14 of their 16 games; however, a series of injuries left New York looking very vulnerable.

A follow-up trade with the Detroit Pistons landed the Knicks Bojan Bogdanogvic and Alec Burks, which theoretically solidified their rotation. But we have yet to see what a complete and healthy Knicks team looks like.

Let's review how the New York can fix their fatal flaw (a litany of injuries) and when we can expect to see some progress in that regard.

Knicks’ injuries

New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks season felt like it might turn into a Cinderella year. But the wheels began to fall off in Miami on January 27. That's when Julius Randle suffered a dislocated non-shooting shoulder, leaving New York without their All-Star power forward.

Separately, Anunoby underwent a procedure to remove a loose body from his shooting elbow, and January 27 was the last time he was seen in the Knicks rotation, too. New York is just 4-5 since Randle and Anunoby exited the starting lineup.

But it’s not just Randle and Anunoby.

Isaiah Hartenstein missed the last three games before the All-Star break due to an Achilles strain. Bogdanovic missed the last game before the break with calf soreness. Donte DiVincenzo was listed on the injury report, too, with hamstring soreness. And, of course, there’s Mitchell Robinson, who remains out after undergoing ankle surgery in December.

And the results are telling. New York lost four straight games before the All-Star break against teams whose records are all worse than their own (Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks, and Houston Rockets).

Health impacts both sides of the floor

New York boasted the league’s best defense in January, with a 105.9 defensive rating through 16 games. And they had a few truly inspiring defensive performances, including a game on January 9 in which they held the Portland Trail Blazers to an eye-popping 84 points.

Comparatively, the Knicks defense dropped to 20th in the NBA through the first seven games in February. Some of that is due to new players and a lack of familiarity. And some (if not most) of it comes down to injuries and who wasn't available.

But injuries impacted the Knicks' offense, too. And New York ranks only 18th in offensive rating through seven games so far this February. And that's after they ranked sixth in January.

So, it's pretty clear why health is the team's primary concern.

Reinforcements on the way

New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) reacts after making a basket during the first quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Fortunately, some relief is imminent. Hartenstein, Bogdanovic, and DiVincenzo are all expected back immediately following the break.

Hartenstein's return will help dramatically. Considering Hartenstein entered the season as the team's backup center, there is an obvious lack of size behind him. New York resorted to playing the six-foot, eight-inch Achiuwa at center at times just prior to the All-Star break. So, Hartenstein's return is music to coach Tom Thibodeau's ears.

DiVincenzo's return should also help a lot. DiVincenzo is averaging 26.5 points on 39.6% on three-point attempts in the last 7 games in which he played. So, DiVincenzo should be incredibly helpful to a depleted Knicks' offense.

As for Bogdanovic, his scoring ability is unquestionable. But he needs time repetitions alongside the Knicks' starters before he'll understand where and how he fits.

Unfortunately, Anunoby and Randle will remain out for a while longer. Anunoby should return to on-court activities about three weeks after undergoing elbow surgery, which took place on February 8. Randle's return will happen on a similar timeline.

He is expected to be re-evaluated two to three weeks after the original injury, and this past Saturday marked three weeks. Randle has allegedly made good progress in his rehabilitation process, according to sources.

As far Robinson is concerned, he will begin on-court activities immediately after the All-Star break, and it is now believed that he will return at some point this season. But adding Robinson to this Knicks team should be seen as a proverbial cherry on top. Remember, the Knicks were on a rampage in January without Robinson. So, the Knicks can wait a while longer for his return.

Health is paramount for the Knicks success from here on out. While the teams immediately ahead of and behind them (Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers) are dealing with their own respective challenges, the sixth, seventh, and eighth seeds (Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic) all have reason to be optimistic, and they are only 2.5 and/or 3 games behind the Knicks.

So, the final stretch of the 2023-24 season is shaping up to be a crapshoot. New York has to hope that the return of Hartenstein, DiVincenzo, and Bogdanovic will be enough to allow them to tread water before Anunoby and Randle return.

If their two forwards come back by early March, the Knicks will be well positioned to pick up where they left off on January 27. If they are out for much longer than that, securing a top four seed in the playoffs could be nearly impossible.