The New York Knicks: Temple Immanuel of Midtown

This depth chart shows Cooper’s predictions for the Knicks starters and bench rotation when they are at peak strength in the next few years.

The last time the Knicks made the playoffs was seven years ago. Due to injuries, aging, and lack of coaching talent, no player from the 2013 team is left on their roster. Nonetheless, the Knicks have a promising duo in center Mitchell Robinson and small forward RJ Barrett. Another plus is the improved play of power forward Julius Randle: he has clearly worked on his jump shot over the summer and has secured a spot for the All-Star Game.

In the draft, The Knicks grabbed Obi Toppin to play PF behind Randle, and Immanuel Quickley at guard. Quickley has shown a lot of proficiency on both ends of the court this season. It seems that the team plays better when he checks in – he has what coaches refer to as “intangible abilities.” He also boasts one of the highest player efficiency ratings in the league, on top of being top-30 in Points per 36 minutes. Toppin is great inside the paint, but he struggles a bit in other areas of the court. The Knicks have signed some good free agents like Alec Burks, Austin Rivers, and Nerlens Noel. To offer the young players a mentor, they have also traded for veteran Derrick Rose.

Considering all of these combined forces, the Knicks will be a mid-level team in the 2020-21 season. They lack depth when it comes to strong outside shooters – Quickley, Burks, and Reggie Bullock only put up a few points a game; Randle’s prowess can only do so much. The advancements they’ve made this offseason are not enough to climb the team out of the hole their management has dug them into.

Fortunately, the Knicks have two first-round picks this year. They should use their mid-level slots to pick shooters. One possibility is for them to select Jalen Suggs, a top-rated SG that has some of the best shot and assist numbers in the draft. Other options include picking up Tennessee’s Jaden Springer, Baylor’s Jared Butler, or senior Corey Kispert of Gonzaga. All of these are strong choices who, for the most part, live beyond the arc. In short, there is a plethora of talent for them to choose from no matter what pick they get.

I project that the Knicks will be a sixth or seventh seed in 2022 and 2023, hopefully helping them attract a free agent or two. Assuming they have not traded away any of their assets  – as they did with Porzingis – 2024 is the year that the Knicks will be a top seed in the East. Their quintet of Barrett, Randle, Quickley, and Robinson, and a 2021 pick  – with Nerlens Noel or Alec Burks at 6th man and Obi Toppin/Austin Rivers adding depth – will be an incredible sight to see both offensively and defensively. That is if they don’t make any bad deals or let someone talented walk in free agency. If all goes right, the Knicks will win a trophy around 2024 or 2025, being at least a roadblock in the playoffs for years to come.

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