The New York Knicks have been on a roll as of late, as they have won six of their last eight outings including three straight heading into the All-Star break, and currently find themselves on track to nab their first playoff berth since their Cinderella story 2020-21 campaign.
However, though everything seems to be trending in the right direction for Tom Thibodeau’s club, some are still not all that high on their overall prospects as the campaign progresses, with Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report going as far as to predict that they will wind up making the postseason as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference standings and, in the end, lose to the third-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round.
“New York’s offense (sixth) actually ranks ahead of Cleveland’s (ninth), but the gap in defensive quality is the real determining factor here. The Cavs are tied for second on D, while the Knicks, even with the benefit of unsustainably cold opponent three-point shooting, are 18th. It’s easy to imagine Mitchell and Darius Garland exploding for huge scoring nights that put this series away early, while it’s tougher to envision Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle creating enough quality looks against the length of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen,” Hughes wrote.
Through 60 games played in 2022-23, New York boasts a record of 33-27, currently good enough for the sixth-best mark in the conference standings.
Though even his own Bleacher Report cohort Greg Swartz boldly predicts that the Knicks will finish off these final 22 games with one of the best records during this stretch and head into the playoffs with momentum on their side, Hughes still seems to be low on the team’s chances of making it out of this year’s quarterfinals.
Josh Hart Viewed as Key to Knicks Advancing
Hughes may be down on New York’s chances of advancing beyond the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs but former league journeyman and member of the 2016 champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Richard Jefferson believes they have a shot at clinching a semifinals berth this year, and, in his eyes, the addition of Josh Hart is the reason why.
“Josh Hart IMO is a piece that can help you get to the 2nd rd,” Richard Jefferson tweeted.
Acquired by the Knicks the day before the league’s February 9 trade deadline, Hart, who Swartz deemed as being a big factor in his pleasant prediction for the team heading into the final months of action, has played a major role in Tom Thibodeau’s nine-man rotation and has posted stellar per-game averages of 17.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.7 steals on 64.3% shooting from distance while New York has gone undefeated.
Knicks Guard a Top Buyout Target
Though Derrick Rose may be under the impression that he’ll remain a member of the New York Knicks for the remainder of this year’s campaign, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News stated in a February 11 piece that the point guard could still wind up being bought out at some point in the near future.
“Given the fact that Rose has fallen entirely out of the rotation and injuries limited him to 26 appearances in 2021-22 (and an average of just 44 over the four seasons prior to that), it may be hard to imagine him being helpful to a contender this season. But Rose was tied for 33rd in the league in offensive box plus/minus from 2018-19 to 2021-22, behind averages of 22.9 points, 6.5 assists and 1.5 threes per 75 possessions…If Rose has his legs under him and doesn’t need to go through the grind of an entire 82-game campaign, he could have some moments in 10-15 minutes off the bench,” Bailey wrote.
Currently in the second season of a three-year, $43.5 million contract with the Knicks, Rose is posting per-game averages of just 5.8 points, 1.8 assists, and 1.5 rebounds and is currently amid a 23-game DNP streak.
However, during the four years before being ousted from New York’s nine-man rotation, the veteran was posting impressive averages of 16.2 points, 4.6 assists, and 2.6 rebounds on 47.7% shooting from the floor and 36.2% shooting from deep whilst predominantly coming off the pine, thus insinuating that, with the proper amount of usage, he could still provide quality contributions for a team in need.