The visiting team was still without Ben Simmons, who’s away from the team indefinitely in light of his trade request.
But the Knicks sat witness to the arrival of their own starting point guard, Kemba Walker, as he had his first breakout game with the team since signing this offseason.
The 31-year old lead New York with 19 points on the night, connecting on five of his 11 three-point attempts.
Prior to their latest victory over the 76ers, he’d been averaging just 10.3 points per game and was even benched for the final stretch of their previous loss to the Orlando Magic on October 25.
For it to take place in front of the home crowd at Madison Square Garden felt even more fitting for the Bronx native.
It was a special win and a special evening for Walker and the New York Knicks, early on in their inaugural season together.
Walker: ‘I Was Waiting For That Moment’
After their statement win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Kemba Walker spoke on (via the New York Post) the significance of his first big night for the New York Knicks:
I was waiting for that moment. I was waiting for that moment. It was the kind of moment I dreamed of when I was a young kid wanting to be in the NBA, watching the Knicks pay, coming to a Knicks game and seeing how the crowd goes crazy. That was a great moment for me.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau echoed the same sentiments:
Kemba played a great game. We played a great game. Tonight the way Kemba played, he set the tone. Julius was unbelievable making plays and being unselfish and got into a good rhythm.
As the starting point guard and the most talented among those of Knicks past, there’s a weight on Walker to set the tone for the team’s rebranded offense this season.
Walker even went as far as to say that their win over Philadelphia made up for their loss to the Orlando Magic, the first of such this season: “We redeemed ourselves.”
If he can keep posting performances like his latest against the 76ers, then New York becomes that much more of a threat in the Eastern Conference ahead of the 2022 playoffs.
And it certainly helps that his backup, Derrick Rose, is as equal an impact player, if not better.
Rose Having Strong Start to 2021-2022
After landing in the Big Apple prior to last year’s trade deadline, for his second stint with the New York Knicks, Derrick Rose put on a last-minute campaign for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
This season, he’s picked up right where he left off, starting the year strong and looking the part of an early favorite for the award in 2022.
Through the first four games, Rose is averaging 14.2 points, 4.0 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals nightly.
Among all players that come off the bench, through the season’s first four games, the former MVP has the best average net rating at (+14.8), far ahead of the second-place (+9.3) Damion Lee.
Kemba Walker’s counting on (via the New York Post) that caliber of play from Rose, for when he has his own struggles:
There’s gonna be games where I do score like that, maybe even more. There’s gonna be games where I don’t. There’s gonna be games where Derrick is playing super well, and he’s gonna stay in the game. It just is what it is. There’s gonna be games where I’m not gonna get back on the court just because guys are playing super well. And I have no problem with that, especially D-Rose, the youngest MVP ever.
Re-signing Derrick Rose and bringing in Kemba Walker was the backbone of the New York Knicks offseason.
As they start to see the benefits of their efforts, look for the expectations around this team to climb higher.