The last New York Knicks NBA Finals appearance was back in 1999. The last Knicks playoffs series win was in 2013. As the team prepares for the 2023 NBA Playoffs, those dates may not be inspiring. But each season a franchise makes the playoffs brings new hope that an NBA title (which would be the Knicks’ first since 1973) is possible. So, as we look ahead to the 2022-23 postseason, here are three reasons the Knicks will shock the world and win the 2023 NBA Finals.
3. The Knicks finally have a Big Three
The last decade-plus has been the Big Three Era of NBA basketball. Nearly all the teams that won titles in this timespan had at least two and usually three superstars.
This includes the San Antonio Spurs (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and later Kawhi Leonard), the Miami Heat (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh), and the Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, with some Kevin Durant sprinkled in).
During this whole period, the Knicks never really found a Big Two, let alone a Big Three. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire came close, Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t, and RJ Barrett wasn’t ready during his first few seasons to match Julius Randle’s (occasional) All-Star performance.
In 2023, the Knicks finally have a Big Three.
Jalen Brunson was arguably the most impactful free-agent signing of the offseason, and his 23.6 points, 6.1 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game have allowed the Knicks to jump into contention this season.
Couple Brunson’s ascendency with Randle re-finding his All-Star form (25.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and RJ Barrett came on in the second half of the season and is now putting up 19.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists per game.
With the three pillars in place, the Knicks have been able to build up a roster with winning role players around them as well, such as Immanuel Quickley, who dropped 40 on the Rockets over the weekend, Josh Hart, Quentin Grimes, and Isaiah Hartenstein.
2. RJ Barrett hasn’t hit his ceiling yet
With the Knicks as currently constituted, we see what they are. They are the fourth or best team in the Eastern Conference. That’s now bad, especially with where the franchise is coming from, but it doesn’t make for a Knicks NBA Finals appearance.
What could propel a massive Knicks playoffs run is if one or more of their young players make a leap in the 2023 NBA playoffs.
The top candidate for this is RJ Barrett. The No. 3 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has superstar potential and traits, but he hasn’t fully put it together yet. He has played better in the second half of the season, which is why the Knicks are in the position they are in.
If Barrett can improve his 3-point shooting (currently at 31.8%) and add some more playmaking to his game, the Knicks also could have another level to get to.
If now Barrett, watch Immanuel Quickley. The scoring guard shows flashes all the time, but if he shows up and takes his game to the next level in the 2023 NBA playoffs, the 2023 NBA Finals could follow.
1. The Garden crowd
Let’s be honest. The reasons above as to how the Knicks will shock the world and win the 2023 NBA Finals are solid, but also a bit of a longshot. The top of the Eastern Conference is loaded, and the chances of New York upsetting two of the Celtics, Bucks, and/or 76ers is pretty unlikely.
At least from a pure basketball perspective.
There is almost no way that the Knicks shock the world and win the 2023 NBA Finals. That said, there is a way that New York shocks the world and win the 2023 NBA Finals.
The 2023 NBA playoffs will be a collective city effort for the Knicks. The NYC fans are the best basketball fans in the world, and the games played in the Mecca of Basketball, aka Madison Square Garden will be absolutely rocking.
New York fans have seen the Mets, Yankees, Giants, and Rangers all win titles since the last Knicks banner. Heck, even NYCFC has won an MLS Cup since the Larry O’Brien Trophy saw the inside of the Garden trophy cases.
Chances are the Knicks won’t have (overall) home-court advantage in any series they play this postseason, but they will have an advantage at every home game if they play well.
In the end, it’s unlikely the Knicks playoffs end in a championship in 2023 unless the Garden crowd helps carry them to it. And if any fan base can do that, though, it’s Knicks fans.