Knicks’ Young Trio in Same Tier With 4-Time Champion, Former MVP

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks

Getty RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks shoots a lay up against Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

The New York Knicks‘ young trio of RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes made it to tier 5 of The Athletic’s NBA Player Tiers.

Joining them in the top 100-125 players entering next season are four-time champion Klay Thompson and former MVP Russell Westbrook. Also in that group are former All-Stars Kyle Lowry, Al Horford, Mike Conley and Nikola Vucevic and other up-and-comers such as Houston Rocket’s Jalen Green and Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes.

Seth Partnow, who did the NBA Player Tiers, used a multiple-season sample of advanced metrics to arrive at the tiers, which is, he said, more about the players’ championship fitness (playoff competitiveness is relatively more important than regular-season production).

Partnow, who also previously worked as director of basketball research for the Milwaukee Bucks, views Grimes as belonging to “a group of excellent-but-not-quite-elite role players.”

Quickley, on the other hand, had a more productive season than Grimes as he finished runner-up to Malcolm Brogdon in the NBA Sixth Man of the Year race. However, Quickley enjoyed more touches than Grimes as the lead guard of the second unit. Quickley is entering a pivotal season, especially if he does not get extended this offseason.

On the other hand, Grimes had to settle behind the Knicks’ top three players — Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and Barrett in the starting five.

Meanwhile, Barrett had a roller-coaster season as he was slow to adjust to a new role as the third banana behind Brunson and Randle after playing as the second go-to guy in previous seasons. But based on his recent play with Canada, the Knicks would welcome back a rejuvenated and in-shape Barrett.

RJ Barrett Is Canada’s Scoring Leader

With Jamal Murray withdrawing from playing for Canada in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, more touches will be available for Barrett.

The Knicks starting forward has emerged as Canada’s leading scorer through three exhibition games, averaging 18 points per game on a ridiculous 68.8% shooting clip.

His 31-point heroic performance to lead Canada to win the Basketball Super Cup title over Germany was not lost on their coach.

“Overall, [Barrett] was outstanding. Very efficient offensively,” coach Jordi Fernández said via Canada Basketball. “He’s been very clean with his decision-making, running the floor and attacking the paint, so this is exactly what we needed from him. This is exactly the production we want.”

The 23-year-old Barrett sent the game into overtime with a layup in the final 10 seconds of the regulation. He completed his heroics by scoring five more in the overtime, including Canada’s last two baskets to fend off Germany’s late rally.

Knicks Not Giving Away Bench Depth Pieces

The Knicks have rejected offers from other teams to include third-string center Jericho Sims and end-of-the-bench guard Miles McBride as throw-ins in trades, according to The Athletic.

“They like those two too much just to give them away,” Fred Katz of The Athletic reported on Tuesday.

The Knicks value both players, despite not having a regular rotation spot for them, as they are still on their rookie-scale contracts. Both players will come in handy in case of injuries to their key rotation players or a significant trade that guts their roster comes to fruition in the immediate future.


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