The New York Knicks‘ starting lineup has been an incredible thing to behold this season (and for all the wrong reasons). Even in a game like Monday’s bout with the lottery-bound Thunder — which saw Julius Randle drop 30, 13 and 10 while Evan Fournier nailed six threes and scored 29 points of his own — New York’s first five, including spot starter Quentin Grimes, managed to lose in overtime.
Of course, head coach Tom Thibodeau has been dealing with issues affecting his top guns throughout the campaign. The point guard spot has been a hot mess with Kemba Walker descending into irrelevancy and no one else being able to step into his spot. Meanwhile, Randle has looked like a shell of himself after being an All-Star last season.
Elsewhere, RJ Barrett is having to take more shots to score essentially the same amount of points he put up in 2020-21. And Fournier has been the picture of inconsistency.
As such, it should come as no surprise that Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey just slammed the Knicks starters — as well as their coach — in a piece ranking the regular starting fives of every club in the Association.
Knicks Starters Get a Bottom-Three Ranking
In Bailey’s latest lineup rankings, the Knicks entered the fray at No. 28 overall. Only the Pistons (No. 29) and the aforementioned Thunder (No. 30) have worse starting units, according to the longtime hoops scribe. He wrote:
The New York Knicks’ starting five has been a disaster. Unequivocally, a disaster.
The net rating alone doesn’t illustrate how bad this group has been. Or, in other words, how much damage they’ve been allowed to inflict on the Knicks’ season.
Coach Tom Thibodeau has played this lineup for 428 minutes. Only three lineups in the league have logged more time together. All that playing time has helped them establish their spot at 12,609th (or dead last) in total plus-minus.
Bailey also served up a less-than-subtle criticism of Thibodeau for allowing the madness to continue:
Whether it’s the dreadful scoring inefficiency of RJ Barrett and Julius Randle or the defensive liabilities of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, this lineup doesn’t work.
And aside from an early-season benching of Walker, Thibodeau has shown little desire to deviate.
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Knicks’ Next 10 Games Could Seal Their Fate
As it stands, New York remains within striking distance of the play-in range in the Eastern Conference standings. Even as the team has lost 12 of its last 15 games and fallen to 25-33 on the campaign, only two games separate it from the No. 10 Hawks.
Alas, Thibodeau’s crew is about to enter into gauntlet, courtesy of the league’s schedule-makers. The Knicks’ next 10 games shake out as follows:
Wed, Feb 16: vs Brooklyn
Fri, Feb 25: vs Miami
Sun, Feb 27: vs Philadelphia
Wed, Mar 2: @ Philadelphia
Fri, Mar 4: @ Phoenix
Sun, Mar 6: @ LA Clippers
Mon, Mar 7: @ Sacramento
Wed, Mar 9: @ Dallas
Fri, Mar 11: @ Memphis
Sun, Mar 13: @ Brooklyn
Seven of those 10 games come on the road, where the Knicks are 12-17 this season. All but one of them are against likely playoff teams, including bouts with both conference No. 1s. So, when all is said and done, New York will have either stormed back into the playoff race or squandered its postseason opportunity entirely.