38-30 • 4th in EASTERN CONFERENCE
|G||29||N/A||6' 6"||214 lbs||COLORADO|
|G||32||N/A||6' 2"||200 lbs||MEMPHIS|
|G||27||N/A||6' 3"||195 lbs||LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE|
|G||22||N/A||6' 4"||200 lbs||N/A|
|G||21||N/A||6' 3"||190 lbs||KENTUCKY|
|G||23||N/A||5' 10"||175 lbs||AUBURN|
|F-C||26||N/A||6' 8"||250 lbs||KENTUCKY|
|F||21||N/A||6' 7"||215 lbs||KENTUCKY|
|C-F||23||N/A||7' 0"||240 lbs||N/A|
|C-F||27||N/A||6' 11"||220 lbs||KENTUCKY|
|C||28||N/A||6' 10"||231 lbs||N/A|
|F||23||N/A||6' 9"||220 lbs||DAYTON|
|F-G||20||N/A||6' 6"||214 lbs||DUKE|
|G-F||30||N/A||6' 6"||205 lbs||NORTH CAROLINA|
|F||35||$9,800,000||6' 9"||232 lbs||USC|
|G-F||25||N/A||6' 5"||212 lbs||NORTH CAROLINA|
After a historically disastrous 2019 offseason, things were looking up for the New York Knicks in 2020. After all, there's no way to go but up after that travesty.
New York's biggest acquisition of the offseason came in the form of rookie Obi Toppin, who the Knicks selected eighth overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-9 forward was an excellent choice for New York, with Toppin providing franchise superstar potential. The Ossing, New York native had a decorated two-year career at Dayton, where he put up averages of 20.0 points on 63.3 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks, while also connecting on 1.0 triples per game.
The Knicks also scored big on Immanuel Quickley, selecting the 6-foot-3 guard as the 25th overall pick in the draft. Early in the 2020-21 season, the former Kentucky standout is already looking like a steal for New York.
The Knicks signed a trio of noteworthy free agents in Austin Rivers, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel. On the other hand, they also parted ways with a number of guys via free agency. This includes Maurice Harkless, Bobby Portis, Allonzo Trier, and Damyean Dotson.
New York also made a much-needed coaching change in the offseason. They brought in a high-profile name in Tom Thibodeau as the squad's new head coach. Coach Thibs, who most recently served as the head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, takes the hot seat in New York. If there's anyone who can cope with this high-pressure job, it's Thibodeau.
New York enters the new campaign with a starting five of Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Reggie Bullock, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson. Barrett is the one to watch here, with the second-year shooting guard expected to have a breakout year.
The Knicks will rely on the likes of Burks, Rivers, Kevin Knox, Quickley, Noel, Toppin, and Frank Ntilikina to serve as the squad's second unit. For those wondering, it doesn't appear that the once highly-touted Dennis Smith Jr. will play a significant role in Thibodeau's rotation this season.
In the 2019-20 season, the Knicks had one of the least efficient offenses. They were 25th in the NBA in field goal percentage, last in 3-pointers made, second-to-last in 3-point attempts, and 27th in 3-point percentage. Additionally, they were the worst free-throw shooting team, 27th in assists, and scored the second worst points per game (105.8), per Basketball-Reference.
In advanced metrics, the Knicks had the fourth least efficient offense in the league behind three teams all in the top four of the 2020 NBA Draft. They were also 25th in assist-to-turnover ratio and played with the sixth-worst pace, per NBA.com. In shooting, the Knicks had the second-worst efficient field goal percentage (50.1) and worst True Shooting percentage (53.1).
Part of New York's problem this past season was loading up on big men in the offseason. Veteran Marcus Morris, the team's leading scorer prior to his trade to the Clippers, is better suited to play the four; instead, then–head coach David Fizdale placed him at small forward with Julius Randle and either Taj Gibson, Mitchell Robinson, or Bobby Portis sharing the frontcourt. It was crowded, and despite capable 3-point shooters in Morris, Portis, Reggie Bullock, and Wayne Ellington, the Knicks' spacing severely suffered from claustrophobia.
The past offseason also saw the acquisition of Elfrid Payton, who had prior experience as Randle's running mate in New Orleans. Payton had tunnel vision to set up his former Pelicans teammate, creating an asymmetrical offense that relied on the former lottery pick turning into a volume scorer at power forward. Randle was not efficient in his first turn as a No. 1 option.
While Robinson set a new regular-season record in field goal percentage, besting the mark set by Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain, the second-year center only played 23.1 minutes per game, limiting his productivity on the court in spurts.
The Knicks' defense, strangely for a poor team, was their strength in 2019-20. New York was middle of the pack in opponent field goal percentage (17th), per NBA.com, but opponents shot 38.1 percent (third best) against the Knicks. Additionally, the Knicks were in the top half of the league in opponents' assists per game and top 10 in opponents rebounding.
In advanced metrics, the Knicks had the eighth-worst defensive efficiency (112.4 defensive rating). New York was also in the bottom 10 of the NBA in opponents scoring off turnovers (meaning they gave up the 10th-most points). The hat the Knicks could rest this past season was packing the paint to prevent up-close scoring; they gave up the fourth-least opposing points in the paint per game, just behind the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, and Boston Celtics.
The defensive philosophy for the 'Bockers in 2019-20 was largely the same between Fizdale and interim head coach Mike Miller: don't let anybody score in the paint. This was mostly successful, but because the league has evolved into a jump-shooting sport, the close distance matters less compared to covering and rotating over to open 3-point shooters. The Knicks were fine with giving up many 3-pointers if it meant opponents had trouble shooting within 15 feet of the basket.
The Knicks' best defender in 2019-20 was third-year guard Frank Ntilikina, who is singularly one of the better man-on-man defenders in the league, despite trouble progressing on offense. Ntiliina had top-flight performances against the Rockets' James Harden and Russell Westbrook and twice in eight days shut down Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic in clutch situations for two of New York's more impressive wins during the year.
The Knicks hired Tom Thibodeau as the franchise's 31st head coach in history, including interim coaches. Thibodeau takes over for Mike Miller, who was the team's interim coach and former G League affiliate head coach before joining David Fizdale's bench. Fizdale joined after being dismissed by the Memphis Grizzlies in May 2018 and only lasted one season and change.
Thibodeau returns to New York after first joining then–head coach Jeff Van Gundy's staff back in 1996-97. Thibs spent seven seasons with the Knicks before following Van Gundy to Houston, later winning a ring under Doc Rivers in Boston.
After that, Thibodeau became the head coach for the Chicago Bulls, led by MVP point guard Derrick Rose and All-Star center Joakim Noah. As a first-year coach, Thibs won the NBA's Coach of the Year and was a constant threat for the Eastern Conference Finals if not for LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Thibodeau left the Bulls in 2015 after five consecutive winning seasons and, following a year off from basketball, became both the head coach and president of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Thibs struggled in holding both positions at the same time, although he did lead Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to the franchise's first playoff berth in 13 years. Thibodeau was fired 40 games into his third season with Minnesota in Jan. 2019 and 18 months later was hired by Knicks President Leon Rose.
The Knicks also hired former head coach Mike Woodson to Thibodeau's bench along with Kentucky coach John Calipari's longtime assistant Kenny Payne to the staff. Also joining them is former Utah Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant and Thibodeau mainstays Daisuke "Dice" Yoshimoto and Andy Greer.
Thibs' record as head coach is 352-246 (.589).
The Knicks didn't exactly make a splash in free agency during the abbreviated 2020 offseason. With regards to their most recent signing, this came in the form of 6-foot-3 combo guard Austin Rivers, who himself put pen to paper on a three-year deal worth $10.0 million. It was a sign-and-trade deal with the Houston Rockets.
Rivers averaged 8.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in Houston last season while connecting on 1.4 three-pointers per game. The 28-year-old could serve as the primary backup to RJ Barrett at the two spot.
Despite being one of the worst teams in the league over the past few seasons, the Knicks still remain to be one of the top destinations for free agents. In this year's unprecedented offseason, New York brought on a number of names, but none of them have been of the franchise-altering variety.
Veterans Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel both signed one-year deals for $6 million and $5 million, respectively. A couple of days later, the Knicks lured Austin Rivers from the Houston Rockets, with the 6-foot-3 combo guard putting pen to paper on a three-year deal worth $10 million.
Aside from the aforementioned trio, the Knicks were also linked to other names in free agency, including Derrick Jones Jr., Bogdan Bogdanovic, Carmelo Anthony, and Danilo Gallinari.
On November 27, the Knicks pulled the trigger on a sign-and-trade deal with the Houston Rockets centered around Austin Rivers, who will now ply his trade in The Big Apple.
Along with Rivers, the Rockets gave New York the draft rights to Sergio Lull, Tadija Dragicevic, and Alex Hervelle. In exchange, the Knicks sent the draft rights to Issuf Sanon to Houston.
The Knicks have won two championships and made eight Finals appearances, so it's only fitting their best roster was one of the pair of titles earned in the early 1970's.
Nov. 1971 saw All-Star guard Earl "The Pearl" Monroe traded to the Knicks, joining another star in Walt "Clyde" Frazier in New York's backcourt. The pair would help the Knicks win a championship the following season, in 1973, the franchise's second title.
The 1972-73 Knicks featured Frazier, Monroe, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, and former MVP and Finals MVP Willis Reed. Additionally, the team was galvanized by a bench unit featuring future multi-champion coach Phil Jackson, Jerry Lucas, and Dick Barnett, a former starter for the 1970 championship team. All players entered the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame except Barnett (college hoops HOF) and Jackson, in there as a coach.
Heading into the 2020-21 season, the Knicks are below the NBA's luxury tax threshold ($132.6 million) with a payroll at $90,637,364. New York is also below the NBA's salary cap ($109.1 million in 2020) by $18.5 million, per Spotrac.
This is a bit of a tough one considering how it remains to be seen what type of starting five new head coach Tom Thibodeau will field for the 2020-21 season. Logically speaking, though, he's probably going to go with Elfrid Payton at PG, Alec Burks at the two, RJ Barrett at the three, Julius Randle at PF, and Mitchell Robinson as the starting center.
With the above assumption, there are a few players that could emerge as New York's Sixth Man for the upcoming season. Frank Ntilikina and Alonzo Trier could potentially both have breakout campaigns next season, while newcomer Austin Rivers could also prove to be a key player for the team's second unit. However, right now, we're looking at Obi Toppin, who the Knicks selected eighth overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. Assuming that he doesn't start, he could actually be the Knicks' best player off the bench next season.
Before the end of the abbreviated 2019-20 NBA season, the Knicks' most frequent starting lineup included lottery picks Frank Ntilikina and RJ Barrett and free agency acquisitions Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, and Taj Gibson.
By the end of the season, interim head coach Mike Miller frequently started veteran point guard Elfrid Payton with Barrett, Randle, and Gibson and small forward Maurice Harkless after the Morris trade with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Heading into the 2020-21 season, the Knicks’ starting lineup projects to be Elfrid Payton, Alec Burks, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson.