2022-23 was a Great year for the NY Knicks franchise:
- 47-35 regular season
- Beat Cleveland 3 games to 1 in the 1st round — putting to rest the notion they should have traded for Donovan Mitchell.
- Lost to Miami in hard-fought 6 games, 5 of them razor close. A few jumpshots and the Knicks would have gone to the next round.
- Became a contender for an NBA title — had they beaten Miami it says here they would have gone to the NBA finals — as they had solved Boston during the season, beating them 3 out of 4 times. The Knicks had the better coach which plays huge in a short series, as we saw with Spoelstra and Miami.
So it was a Great year for the Knicks.
It was a Great year for coach Tom Thibodeau.
It was a Great year for Knicks management who put this team together.
And it was a terrible year for some Knicks fans and content creators, and the media — who had smashed and thrashed this franchise and all of their decisions made, in the years prior, the summer before, and up through the first 30 games of the year.
There were some famed fan content providers, and media, that were suggesting the Knicks should blow up the team and trade assets after the first 20 games of the year — with 60 games to play.
Hopefully they learned something — that the goal of an NBA team with a good coach is to play its best ball the last 30 games of the year into the playoffs.
Key take away’s from the year:
1. Knicks Were One of Top 6 Teams
At the end of the season, the Knicks were one of the last 6 teams playing basketball. They played Miami as tough as any team did — tougher than Milwaukee did and just as tough as Boston did.
2. Thibs Has Given Knicks Identity: DEFENSE & REBOUNDING
Coach Tom Thibodeau has made the Knicks one of the top defensive teams in the league — maybe the #2 best defensive team in the league behind Miami. And the Knicks played their best basketball in the playoffs, which Thibs said all year, was the goal.
3. Brunson a STAR
Jalen Brunson didn’t make the All Star team — but he played all season and in the playoffs as one of the elite players in the game. He scored at will inside, with his hesitation dribbles, fakes, and floaters — and led the Knicks with a true-grit, win-at-all-times attitude.
4. Randle All NBA Team
Julius Randle had a comeback season, and made All NBA 3rd team. He averaged 25.1 ppg with 10.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and .343 from 3. His attitude was great. He led the team.
A bad injury to his left ankle late in the regular season, when he stepped on Bam Adabeyo’s foot, caused Randle to miss the final 5 games of the regular season and reduced his effectiveness in the playoffs — but he played through it and contributed to the 1st-round defeat of Cleveland. He re-injured the ankle in game 4 against Cleveland which further limited him against Miami, but he played through and still contributed mightily. After the season, in June, Randle had arthroscopic surgery on the left ankle.
WHAT A BLOCK 🚫🖐️ pic.twitter.com/3cle8o1Zot
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 13, 2023
5. Barrett a Rising Star — Great vs Miami in Playoffs
RJ Barrett had a good season. He was having a great season until he lacerated and dislocated his right index finger on December 27th (the bone cut thru the skin) on a Luka Doncic reach-in, then it took a while for Barrett’s shooting to come back when he returned 2 weeks later. By the playoffs, Barrett was in top form — and especially against Miami, raised his game to another level.
Against Miami his decision-making on drives reached another level, and he was hitting his 3 and inside 2’s. His Defense was excellent all year, Tom Thibodeau constantly pointed out.
6. Robinson a Defensive Intimidator
Mitchell Robinson DOMINATED in the playoffs against Cleveland — absolutely annihilating the Cleveland front-line of Jarret Allen and Evan Mobley. Robinson also dominated against Miami — he raised his game to new levels as an inside force on the offensive glass and on defense. He improved his defensive rebounding, something he said Thibs keeps getting on him about.
Robinson averaged 7.4 ppg and 9.4 rpg in 27 minutes a game.
Robinson injured his thumb in mid January and had to have surgery. He played in 59 games and the 20 missed games may have contributed to him not being voted to the All NBA Defensive 1st or 2nd team after the season — Brooke Lopez was the 1st team center (with Evan Mobley the power forward) and Bam Adebayo was the 2nd team center.
But Robinson has become everything the Knicks hoped he’d become as an elite defensive, shot-blocking, and rebounding big man — and an offensive weapon with the offensive rebounds.
7. Hartenstein a Great Pickup
Isaiah Hartenstein was the surprise of the year for the Knicks — a Heady big man who rebounds, passes to find the open man, and can take it to the hole. He came up clutch time after time on both ends of the court, in the regular season and the playoffs. He bonded with Mitchell Robinson and the rest of the team. He was a big reason for the Knicks’ success.
8. Quickley a Top 6th Man
Immanuel Quickley raised his game to new levels — becoming a defensive demon and an orchestrating and scoring combo guard, coming off the bench to ignite rallies. He dueled all season long with Malcolm Brogdon of Boston for the 6th Man of the Year Award — Brogdon won it and then got traded.
Quick is back with the Knicks looking for a $ contract extension.
9. Front Office Making Great Moves
The Knick front office has been SMASHED for years with every move they make ridiculed.
NY had one of the best ‘money ball’ free agencies ever in the summer of 2019, signing Julius Randle (and Marcus Morris, Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson, Elfrid Payton, and Wayne Ellington) — which gave the team good players at great value, keeping them under the cap with maneuverability for years to come. Scott Perry was the main man responsible for that along with Steve Mills and they were CASTIGATED by the media. The Knicks were right; the Knicks did well; and the Knicks today are still reaping the benefits of that summer and all moves made afterwards.
Perry left the Knicks after the 2023 season. It is unclear how much influence Perry had under Leon Rose, but one hopes the Knicks talent evaluation and smart-cap signings continue going forward.
10. Did NOT Need DMitchell
The 2022-23 season showed the Knicks did NOT need Donovan Mitchell — as NY and RJ Barrett beat his Cleveland team 3 games to 1 in the playoffs. Would Mitchell had made the Knicks better against Miami? RJ Barrett played well against Miami and you also give up defense with Mitchell.
11. The Next Steps Are Key
The 2022-23 season was a great year; the Knicks are on the rise. The team is young and getting better as they play together more. The next steps are key; can this team win it all with the current cast or do they need to make a move for another star?
RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson still have levels to move up to, as do Quentin Grimes and Emmanuel Quickley — and that could be all they need.