After losing in the playoffs last year, the Knicks have bounced back in the preseason

Dec+11%2C+2020%3B+Detroit%2C+Michigan%2C+USA%3B+New+York+Knicks+forward+Obi+Toppin+%281%29+celebrates+with+teammates+after+a+play+during+the+fourth+quarter+against+the+Detroit+Pistons+at+Little+Caesars+Arena.+Mandatory+Credit%3A+Raj+Mehta-USA+TODAY+Sports

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 11, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin (1) celebrates with teammates after a play during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Xie, Contributing Writer

 

With the 2021 NBA regular season on the horizon, the New York Knicks look to be a potential contender in the Eastern Conference this year.  After going undefeated in the preseason, the Knicks look to continue their success into their first full season since the pandemic. 

Many players on the Knicks’ roster have earned their spot and proven that they belong on the team.  Julius Randle, signed a four year, $117 million dollar extension with the Knicks this offseason.  He had an excellent preseason, where he led the team in points and rebounds.  Randle  displayed the ability to thrive in the clutch as he knocked down a game winner against the Washington Wizards.  One key player who will most likely come off the bench for the Knicks is former MVP Derrick Rose, who the Knicks recently re-signed.  

“Rose had become a leader for the team last year and I’m excited to see him back in action with the orange and blue,” said Junior Cal Gober.

Rose displayed great value for the Knicks with some stellar performances in the preseason.  

Obi Toppin, Mitchell Robinson, and Quentin Grimes have also been key factors for the Knicks as well.  Toppin, who didn’t get many minutes last year, had an opportunity in this year’s preseason.  He capitalized by leading the team in blocks and creating some electrifying plays.  Robinson was out with injuries last season, and has shown that he is still capable of anchoring the Knicks defense and grabbing rebounds.  Although his stats do not show much, his impact on the court says otherwise.  Grimes, the Knicks’ newly drafted rookie, displayed solid shooting despite getting limited minutes.  Other players, including Taj Gibson, RJ Barrett, and Jericho Simms, also had a great impact in the four games of the preseason.

Despite the many Knicks performing at a high level, there were also some that struggled.  Immanuel Quickley is one of those players.  After coming off of a solid rookie season, Quickley had trouble scoring the ball this preseason. He put up seven points per game with mediocre shooting at best.  After signing a four year, $73 million dollar contract with the Knicks, former Celtic Evan Fournier has yet to live up to his expectations with an underwhelming preseason.  After averaging 10 points per game while shooting 30% from three, the French player is not currently worth the amount the Knicks gave him based on his play.  

“Although he has gotten off to a bad start, I have full confidence that he will be a star for the team this year,” said Junior Jack Mcnaughton.

Another player who has been struggling is former All-Star guard Kemba Walker.  While only being signed for $8 million dollars this offseason, Kemba has been playing well on offense. However, on the defensive end, Walker is proving to be a liability.  Despite a few highlight reel plays, his shooting has been poor this preseason, as the guard is under 30% from three.  Even with the guards struggling, fans should not be concerned because after all, this is only the preseason.  Walker is coming off an injury, Quickley had his fair share of struggles last season as well, and Fournier has always been a good shooter so it is only a matter of time before they all bounce back.  Once they get out of their slumps, expect them to open the floor up for the Knicks drastically.

The Knicks have some great expectations going into the season.  After drafting defensive guards in Miles Mcbride and Quentin Grimes, along with picking up Jericho Simms, the Knicks have a young, hard-working group of rookies that can take the load off some of their veterans.

“ I watched Grimes excel in his final season on the Cougars and after taking a tough loss to Baylor in the Final Four of the NCAA March Madness Tournament last year, I hope he will be able to bounce back and have a great first season,” said Sophomore Barnaby Griffin.

With new additions in Walker and Fournier, along with players like Randle and Rose being brought back, the Knicks have only improved their team from last season.  New York’s defense should remain as one of the best in the league, but the big difference this season is that the Knicks have more offensive weapons, making them an elite team on both ends of the floor.  The Knicks are far from the best team in the East as they are expected to finish around the 4th and 5th seed in the East, but they do have the potential to be one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.  Do not count out the Knicks as they could be the dark horse contender that shocks the world this season.