The New York Knicks only spent five games in the 2021 NBA playoffs but left with a new enemy. Trae Young's heroics for the Atlanta Hawks and lack of fear in Madison Square Garden sunk the great season that Julius Randle and RJ Barrett achieved with the Knicks.
Although this season was not as glamourous for either team — the Knicks missed the playoffs and the Hawks are down 2-0 in the first round to the Miami Heat — New York has not gained any love for Young. Even at New York Yankees games, the fans are raining explicit chants at Young.
Barrett said on JJ Redick's The Old Man & The Three podcast that his respect for Young grew even as he defeated the Knicks. Young's ability to play so well in a hostile environment was impressive. Barrett also explains his own experiences playing in Philadelphia, who boasts another fanbase that isn't afraid to rattle players.
RJ and JJ on the strength it takes to play in New York and Philly pic.twitter.com/lnNNeWSB5B
— TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree) April 22, 2022
The Hawks and Knicks took big steps back this season despite breaking out in the 2020-21 season. Both of them are in for big offseasons as they consider shaking up their cores. Although both teams could look different next season, the main players for each team will almost certainly not change.
Barrett averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game this past season for the Knicks. He showed that he is approaching star territory after a rather disappointing start to the season.
Although New York and Atlanta may not find themselves as playoff foes again for a little while, Trae Young and RJ Barrett will continue leading their teams and look to keep improving.