The New York Knicks were very close to adding a bona fide superstar to their roster last summer. Unfortunately for them, they somehow missed out on Donovan Mitchell, who is now playing some pretty excellent basketball with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Knicks, for their part, have been left with a relatively formidable group led by what some would say are second-tier NBA stars.

Be that as it may, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t exactly ruing his team’s current situation. The veteran shot-caller is delighted with what Jalen Brunson has done to elevate this team so far, and he also has nothing but good things to say as well about Julius Randle and RJ Barrett:

“The thing is, I like the young guys that we do have,” Thibodeau said, via Anthony Rieber of newsday. “I’m looking at what Jalen has done in the fourth quarter — he’s one of the top players in the fourth quarter. I think Julius has had big moments for us. RJ’s had big moments. So you look at the players that you have and you want them to continue to improve. Hopefully we can get there.”

Coach Thibs is trusting the process. At this point, it doesn’t seem like he has any other choice.

The Knicks battled the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday at they all got a first-hand taste of Giannis Antetokounmpo in action. After the game, Thibodeau expressed how much respect he has for the former back-to-back MVP while also explaining why his situation with the Bucks is much different from that of the Knicks:

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“How you get [a superstar] — there’s obviously a lot of different pathways to getting them,” Thibodeau said. “Where Giannis is today was not where Giannis was as a rookie. So he’s made himself into that. They’ve done a great job developing him and putting the right players around him as well. So whatever opportunities you do get, obviously you look at your own team first and try to develop the players that you have. You look at free agency, you look at trade possibilities, but you’re always looking at trying to add whatever you think your team needs to improve and you look at how you match up with the teams in your conference. So it’s never-ending and you’re always working at it, knowing that you have to do it every day.”

As coach Thibs said, the Knicks are always trying to improve their team and they’re doing whatever they can to take this squad to the next level. The addition of Jalen Brunson this past summer was an integral step toward this objective, but it is also hard to deny that New York still has quite a ways to go before they can be considered as a real threat in the East — in spite of the emergence of their Big 3.