The New York Knicks have a solid roster going into the new season, and while they weren’t able to land Donovan Mitchell or another big name through a trade, it’s not the end of the world.
Jalen Brunson will be sliding in as the team’s starting point guard, and that solves a problem the team has been facing for years now. After splitting time between Kemba Walker and Alec Burks at the position last season, there was really nowhere to go but up, and that’s just what they decided to do.
Brunson has flashed All-Star potential, and there are already people out there predicted he’ll be named to the first team of his career, and that’s not a crazy thought to have.
What might be considered to be more bold is that he’ll be joined by another Knick. Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley predicts the Knicks will be sending two players to the All-Star game this season, and he calls Julius Randle the “most likely” candidate on the roster.
This could be a shock to fans considering how down his last season was, but there’s a sense that he could return to form and silence all the doubters.
Randle Over Brunson for All-Star Nod
Where Randle is perhaps able to pull ahead here is the fact that he’s been there, done that. Randle has been an All-Star in his career, and he still has the numbers that prove he’s worth of one.
Averaging 20/10/5 is nothing to scoff at, and while his efficiency was low last season, he still put those numbers up. If he can improve his shooting, then it’s not really a far cry to say he’ll be back in the All-Star game. Buckley notes all of that when he says Randle is likely to be the All-Star.
“Julius Randle is the most likely candidate for a spot, if only because he’s just a single season removed from getting the nod,” he said. “Even last season, when his numbers dipped across the board, he still had star-caliber counting categories with 20.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.”
As for the second All-Star, he believes it comes down to Brunson or RJ Barrett, which was expected. Brunson is the guy who has shown potential with the Mavericks, but Barrett has improved each season he’s been in the league as well.
“As for the second invitation, that’s likely to land with either RJ Barrett or Jalen Brunson,” Buckley continued. “The former paired a 20-point scoring average with the best defense of his career last season, while the latter engineered a breakout of his own. Both should also have ample attention on them after signing huge contracts this offseason.”
Will There Be an All-Star?
The problem with Brunson making an All-Star team is the fact the Eastern Conference is so guard-heavy.
He’ll have to compete against the likes of Marcus Smart, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Fred VanVleet, Zach LaVine, LaMelo Ball, and the list goes on. That doesn’t mean he won’t be able to get the nod, but this plays a role in why Randle might be the more likely candidate.
At the end of the day, many fans would prefer to see the Knicks make the playoffs over having players named to the All-Star team. Of course, having All-Stars is usually an indication your team is good, so maybe they’ll have the best of both worlds.