The New York Knicks are headed for a date with the Toronto Raptors on New Year’s Eve in the NBA. After back-to-back victories, the Knicks are gaining confidence that they can compete with some of the best teams in the league. They have a 2-2 record and appear to be headed for their third straight win.
The Raptors are going in the other direction with a 0-3 record after tough losses to the Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, and Philadelphia 76ers. But the season just started and there is enough time for Toronto to bounce back.
Combined Starting 5 (New York Knicks vs Toronto Raptors Prediction)
It’s a tough start to the season for the Toronto Raptors but that doesn’t mean they don’t have good players to contribute to our combined starting 5. The roster for the 2019 NBA champions is still mostly intact but they clearly miss Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol who are now with the LA teams.
The Toronto Raptors still have Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, and Norman Powell from their title team.
The New York Knicks are in rebuilding mode but the players clearly want to win now. Led by former Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau and power forward Julius Randle, the Knicks could surprise many teams this season.
The combined starting 5 for the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors feature these players:
Center - Mitchell Robinson (New York Knicks)
Mitchell Robinson has started at center for the New York Knicks in their first four games and he continues to impress. He’s an excellent defender (2.0 blocks per game) and is steadily improving as a rebounder (7.8 per game).
His offensive skills need work but he produces enough (8.0 points per game) that as long as his teammates can put the ball in the hole, the Knicks won’t need him to score as much.
Power Forward - Julius Randle (New York Knicks)
If the New York Knicks are inconsistent this season, it’s not Julius Randle’s fault. The 6-foot-8 power forward has been keeping the team afloat with his steady play. Randle is averaging career-bests in points (24.8), rebounds (10.5), and assists (7.5) per game while shooting a red-hot 69.2 percent from three.
The Knicks are fortunate to have Randle as he is the team’s cornerstone.
Small Forward - Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)
It has been a difficult first few games for the Toronto Raptors and Pascal Siakam is partly to blame. His scoring is down by more than four points from last season.
But even with the drop off in Siakam’s performance, only Julius Randle on the New York Knicks side can match his production. His 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.0 steals per game for the Toronto Raptors are superior numbers to more than 90 percent of the players in the league.
Shooting Guard - RJ Barrett (New York Knicks)
Talent-wise, RJ Barrett is the best of the bunch in the backcourt. He just hasn’t been able to maximize his God-given talent just like the two other players picked ahead of him in the 2019 NBA Draft.
But even with his lack of consistency, Barrett is currently averaging 16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. He could easily have a breakout game in the next game now that the Knicks are winning.
Point Guard - Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
In his 15th season, Kyle Lowry continues to play like a young, up-and-coming star. His 19.3 points per game average is almost the same as last year’s, but his assist numbers are up significantly (9.7 this season, 7.5 last season).
Lowry is the reason why the Toronto Raptors have been competitive in the three games they have played and he’s the reason why there is optimism that this team can turn it around soon.
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