The Knicks broke through a period of instability that saw them go six years without finishing in the top 10 in the Eastern Conference. They emerged as one of the brightest teams in the 2020-21 season as they finished fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The New York Knicks saw the emergence of new stars in the 2021-22 NBA season, as the team fought hard to end the season with a 41-31 record. Although they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, they are widely expected to improve and challenge again this season.
Let's take a look at some of the reasons why the Knicks can outperform expectations this season.
#3 Improved roster depth
After making key additions to the squad and keeping the core of the team that performed together last season, the New York Knicks are in a good position to win their first championship since 1973. The Knicks made calculative additions to their impressive roster, complementing their team with the additions of Kemba Walker, Dwayne Bacon and French Olympic silver medalist Evan Fournier.
The likes of Walker should prove vital to any championship hopes. The Knicks will be hopeful that the point guard can recapture the form he showed whilst with the Charlotte Hornets before suffering devastating injuries. Center Mitchell Robinson is another important player making his way back from injury.
#2 Julius Randle
The new NBA season is critical for last season’s most improved player in the NBA, Julius Randle.
The 26-year old former LA Lakers player had the best NBA season of his career last season, as he averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. Randle led the New York Knicks' charge in the playoffs, and he will be vital to any hopes of them performing better this season.
The 2020-21 All-Star power forward has seen his performances and stock rise in recent seasons since joining the Knicks in 2019. If the current signs are any indication of things to come, Orange Julius should see his best individual season this year.
The addition of stars like Kemba Walker is sure to provide the player with more floor space to shoot than he had last season. This was a constant problem the talisman faced last season, with the most recent example being a first-round playoff defeat to the Atlanta Hawks.
#1 Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks' defense
Tom Thibodeau's arrival last season helped jumpstart a sleeping franchise. Thibodeau transformed a mid-table team into one of the toughest defensive teams in the NBA and helped them break their playoff drought.
For his incredible work with the New York Knicks, the 2008 championship winner with the Boston Celtics was awarded the NBA coach of the year.
The Knicks had the fourth-best defensive rating in the league and were ninth for rebounds during the 2020-21 season. Thibodeau also managed to post a healthy .569 win percentage during his first season.
Heading into this season, he has overseen some key additions to improve the Knicks roster. Additionally, Thibodeau has also had an extra preseason to enforce his complex defensive tactical ideas. Both of these factors mean the New York Knicks should be primed for an assault on the championships in the playoffs.