Assessing the 2021-22 New York Knicks

June 13th, 2022

By Alan Lu

After the Knicks had made the playoffs last year, big things were expected out of them.  Julius Randle was an All-Star last season, and they added Kemba Walker in the offseason.  They started off winning five of their first six games, and a new catch phrase was born, “Bing Bong.”  “Bing Bong” became so popular that it even made it into a trailer for The Batman, long after it became a trendy catchphrase in New York.    

However, after they started off 11-9, they soon went on a losing streak, and they had a mediocre season in which they won 37 games overall, but wound up missing the play-in tournament.  Kemba Walker was benched and virtually deemed unplayable by head coach Tom Thibodeau, and he ended up turning in a very disappointing season.  The Knicks traded to get promising swingman, Cam Reddish, but the Knicks had their rotation set, and he received only sporadic playing time before getting hurt late in the season.  The Knicks missed the playoffs, but they received strong play from rookie guard, Quentin Grimes, and R.J. Barrett also scored 46 points against Miami in late February this season.

Key Players:

Though Julius Randle averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists per game this year, he didn’t shoot nearly as well as he did last year, the Knicks missed the playoffs this year, and his feelings here succinctly summed up the Knicks’ basketball season in a nutshell.
(Photo:
Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports, via ESPN)

Julius Randle
2021-22 (NYK): 20.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 5.1 APG, 41 FG%, 31 3PT%, 76 FT%, 51% TS, 15.7 PER, 3.1 WS

He had a very good season last year, as he made his first All-Star team then, although he really struggled in the playoffs.  This year, Randle did score, rebound, and get assists in bulk, but he didn’t shoot the ball very well, or defend as well as he could have this past season.

2022 Season Grade: C-
Projected 2023 Rating: 3 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting power forward on the New York Knicks

R.J. Barrett scored 46 points in a loss to the Miami Heat in a February 25th game this year for the New York Knicks.
(Photo:
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images, via Bleacher Report)

R.J. Barrett
2021-22 (NYK): 20.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 41 FG%, 34 3PT%, 71 FT%, 51 TS%, 13.7 PER, 2.3 WS

R.J. Barrett struggled to make shots efficiently this year, but he showed that he can score the basketball, and he also had a 46-point game in late February against the Heat this past season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Starting shooting guard on the New York Knicks

Mitchell Robinson
2021-22 (NYK): 8.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 76 FG%, 0 3PT%, 49 FT%, 72 TS%, 20.7 PER, 8.5 WS

He is an athletic center that has been a rim protector for the Knicks, and he’s consistently played a role as a solid interior player for them, but he hasn’t expanded upon his game since he’s been with them, and there may not be much more upside left in his game.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting center on the New York Knicks

Evan Fournier
2021-22 (NYK): 14.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 42 FG%, 39 3PT%, 71 FT%, 55 TS%, 12.3 PER, 3.7 WS

Evan Fournier is a skilled swingman that provided some shooting and scoring, but he didn’t rebound or defend quite as well this year.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting small forward on the New York Knicks

Derrick Rose
2021-22 (NYK): 12.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.0 RPG, 45 FG%, 40 3PT%, 97 FT%, 54 TS%, 16.9 PER, 1.4 WS

He thrived as an offensive player for the Knicks early on, but he went down to injury and ended up only playing 26 games this year, which really hurt the Knicks’ postseason chances after that.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the New York Knicks

Alec Burks
2021-22 (NYK): 11.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 39 FG%, 40 3PT%, 82 FT%, 56 TS%, 13.7 PER, 6.1 WS

He proved himself to be a reliable role player, as he was tasked to play point guard for the Knicks, and he also excelled as a three-point shooter and defender.  He struggled to make two-point shots, but Burks had a solid season, nonetheless.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the New York Knicks

Immanuel Quickley
2021-22 (NYK): 11.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.2 RPG, 39 FG%, 35 3PT%, 88 FT%, 54 TS%, 14.6 PER, 4.2 WS

After turning in a very good rookie season, Quickley showed much-improved playmaking skills, but he struggled with his outside shot this year.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the New York Knicks

Other Notable Players:

Cam Reddish

He is an athletic swingman that was able to turn a strong 2021 postseason with the Hawks into more playing time at the start of the year.  He is a 3 and D player that also can score the basketball, but inconsistent playing time midway through led him to being traded to the Knicks.  He didn’t receive much playing time with the Knicks early on, but he was just beginning to solidify a spot in the rotation before getting hurt and missing the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (3 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the New York Knicks

Quentin Grimes

He is an athletic, skilled swingman that had a very good rookie season, and he thrived as a 3 and D role player for the Knicks this year.

2022 Season Grade: A-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the New York Knicks

Obi Toppin

He received more playing time than last year, and he showed improved as an inside scorer.  He also won the dunk contest this year, but he didn’t rebound the ball quite as well as expected this season.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the New York Knicks

Nerlens Noel

After having a good season last year, Noel came back, but he didn’t look to score the basketball nearly as much, and he missed a lot of time due to injury this past season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the New York Knicks

Jericho Sims (Two-Way Player)

He had a solid rookie season as a rim protector for the Knicks this season.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the New York Knicks

New York Knicks’ guard Kemba Walker didn’t have a great season this year. He started off playing well, but things quickly dovetailed after the first month of the season, and the former All-Star point guard suddenly found himself being out of the rotation and being a benchwarmer on the Knicks as the season wore on.
(Photo:
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post)

Kemba Walker

He is a former star point guard that excelled as a shooter and scorer in the first month of the season, but he then had a shooting slump that landed him in head coach Thibodeau’s doghouse, and he didn’t play much after he got benched, as he ended up riding the pine for most of the second half of the season.

2022 Season Grade: D
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team

Other Players on the Roster:

Miles McBride

He played very well in the G-League, but he shot the ball poorly in limited minutes with the Knicks in the NBA as a rookie this year.

2022 Season Grade: C-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the New York Knicks

Feron Hunt (Two-Way Player)

He is an athletic combo forward that provides energy, grit, and motor, and he projects into a defensive specialist role in the NBA.  Hunt played very well in the NBA, but he barely played in the NBA, as he received a few minutes towards the end of the season.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the New York Knicks

Taj Gibson

Gibson didn’t receive much playing time this year, but his numbers seemed down across the board this season.

2022 Season Grade: C-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the New York Knicks

Ryan Arcidiacono

Arcidiacono did a pretty good job as a backup point guard in limited minutes for the Knicks this past season.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on an NBA team

Head Coach:

After they had a surprisingly good season last year, the New York Knicks missed the playoffs and had a disappointing season this year.
(Photo:
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post)

Tom Thibodeau
2021-22 (NYK): 37-45, 11th in the Eastern Conference

After winning the Coach of the Year award last year and leading his team to a surprisingly good season last year, his team lost in 5 games to the Atlanta Hawks that led to a disappointing first round, playoff exit last season. 

NBA fans expected him to lead the Knicks right back to the playoffs, but instead, they won just 37 games, missed the play-in tournament, and they also missed the playoffs this year, as the Knicks turned in another familiarly, disappointing season.

2022 Season Grade: D-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Head Coach of the New York Knicks

The Batman’s commercial that uses the formerly trendy phrase “Bing Bong” that was popularized early in the season when the New York Knicks had gotten off to a strong start.
(Source:
Twitter/@TheHoopCentral)

The New York Knicks’ Projected 2022-23 Rotation:
C Mitchell Robinson
F Julius Randle
F Evan Fournier
G R.J. Barrett
G Derrick Rose
___________

G Alec Burks
G Immanuel Quickley
G Quentin Grimes
C Nerlens Noel
F Obi Toppin

The New York Knicks’ Picks in the 2022 NBA Draft:
#11, #42

The New York Knicks’ Projected 2023 Win-Loss Record:
41-41, 10th in the Eastern Conference

Their Projected Offseason Plan:

The Knicks are projected to be capped out in the offseason, so they will likely maneuver by making trades and by selecting players in the draft as a means to improve for next season.  They will need to improve their scoring and playmaking skills, and they will also need players that can fit around the talents of Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett in the meantime.

Right now, the Knicks may be at a crossroads. They had a surprisingly good 2021 season in which they had made the playoffs, but they followed that up with a disappointing 2022 season that resulted in them missing the playoffs. Furthermore, they added Kemba Walker in the offseason, but were unable to get him and head coach Tom Thibodeau to gel, which makes the Knicks’ acquisition of Kemba Walker a very disappointing addition to their team. The Knicks will need to find ways to bolster their offensive firepower and talent level around Randle and Barrett, and they may need to find more creative ways to improve their team on offense. Otherwise, the Knicks might end up treading around mediocrity, and if they continue to flounder, they may have to consider replacing their head coach in the future.

I went to No Trade Clause and Basketball-Reference for research purposes. Thanks for reading.

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