The New York Knickerbockers, with 23-24, currently occupy the 11th position in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association, one spot off contention for the play-in tournament.
This is quite the departure from last season when the franchise impressed in the regular season and clinched its first playoff berth since the 2012/13 campaign, before being booted out by a Trae Young inspired Atlanta Hawks.
A reminder that after tying the series 1-1, Knicks fans chanted “We Want Brooklyn” outside of Madison Square Garden, and then went on to lose three straight games.
THE KNICKS WERE RIGHT TO BE HOPEFUL AT THE START OF THE SEASON
There was a reason for optimism in the off-season, and rightfully so, there were individuals like Spike Lee, a die-hard fan oc the club, who confidently asserted that the Knicks have arrived. And, despite a tough start thus far, New York has shown promise.
They even recently pulled off a trade with Atlanta for Cam Reddish in exchange for Kevin Knox and a first-round pick. New York also got a second-round selection and Solomon Hill in the deal.
But when you look deeper into this team, you are beginning to see signs that last season’s surprise run was, in fact, a surprise run and may not evolve into anything. The most recent loss to the New Orleans Pelicans only adds to the notion.
So, what is it about the Knicks that continues to show struggling signs? Simply put, it is the recurring story of a franchise that has one breakout season and then reverts to their underperforming nature, which is disappointing for a team in one of America’s biggest markets.
Was tonight's game vs. the Pelicans the worst Knicks loss of the season? Will the Knicks be sellers at the deadline?@IanBegley joins @emacSNY to talk about it on @GEICO SportsNite pic.twitter.com/L7pj2z74tb— SNY (@SNYtv) January 21, 2022
MUCH TO LEARN TO BECOME CONTENDERS
The team returned to winning ways against the Los Angeles Clippers, with a 110-102 victory at the Madison Square Garden on Sunday to halt their 3-game losing streak. The game was replete with Julius Randle showing glimpses of an all-round player, while RJ Barrett was aggressive all through with a 28 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists showing, indicative of a team turning the curve.
But same was not the case against New Orleans Pelicans a few days back; the Knicks allowed Jonas Valančiūnas and Josh Hart to run wild, combining for 35 points between the two. Overall, six Pelicans players scored over 10 points. The Knicks had five. “Not bad”, one could say, and frankly, it could also be attested to an off night, but no longer can New York be given that benefit of the doubt.
Coach Tom Thibodeau did bring a level of defensive pedigree with him, but New York’s defense has not been consistent. One can say that this is a young team that needs time to gel, but when the playoffs come and more opportunities for glory arise, the best teams, or at least the more focused teams, will push themselves to seizing the triumph.
Julius Randle on the Knicks finishing their homestand with a win:— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 23, 2022
"Ended it right, can't look back, and now we're looking forward to this road trip" pic.twitter.com/hZJVrayXmo
CAUTION IS THE RULE
That said, it is not over yet for New York. Things, definitely can change for the better, but for now though, it just looks like the same team that blows hot and cold in equal measure despite having the requisite talent, but ending up leaving a proud fanbase fuming at what could be for their dearly beloved team.
This is one of the crown jewel franchises in America, at least in net worth, but there have been no championships since 1973 to show for it. Instead, the headlines often portray what goes wrong. At some point in time, things have to change, right?
A 23-24 stat, two games below .500, a playoff berth to match from last season and the city buzzing with expectations about making the play-In Tourney, only time will tell if the team can pull the chestnut off the fire.