Are the Knicks a serious contender? NBA insiders weigh in after New York’s eye-opening streak

Last week, after a reckless eight-game winning streak by the New York Knicks, the idea of ​​a long-awaited resurrection of the Knicks was born. New York optimism was everywhere.

Jalen Brunson looked like a superstar. So did Julius Randle. The parts around them suddenly seemed perfectly constructed, a well-fused balance of offense and defense, spurred on by a unity and depth that hadn’t been there for a long time.

The offshore bookmaker reported that the Knicks’ chances of winning the championship went from 200-1 to 50-1 in just five weeks. Immanuel Quickly was the favorite to bet on the Sixth Man of the Year. Brunson and Randle scored points. Defense looked better, like Tibs. Winnings are cumulative.

And haters, doubters and misguided judges of what the Knicks, with their elements and additions, can add to this season – count me under category “erroneous” It took time for some serious thought.

After a daring double overtime win in Boston, the Knicks’ mania reached a fever pitch.

The Knicks then lost three games in a row, the euphoria faltering slightly before beating the Los Angeles Lakers last Sunday night.

So where does this leave us? What is “Nix”? Applicants? Applicants? Flash in a frying pan? The spark that can really ignite in the playoffs?

To understand how they are treated in the NBA, CBS Sports asked several people from across the league to read about the New York Knicks.

Here are some of these reactions:

Top Manager No. 1

View: The Knicks could be good enough for a serious playoff run.

Cause: The field is open wider than expected, and the Knicks are noticeably better than originally thought.

This leader breaks down the Eastern Conference into four levels:

  • Milwaukee and Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Cleveland, Brooklyn, Miami and Knicks
  • Chicago, Toronto, Washington and Pacers

But what this leader does not see either in the West or in the East is a hippopotamus, which can only be thwarted by injury or bad luck. “There are a few teams that are head and shoulders above – there are no great teams, but a lot of really good teams. By great teams, I mean Golden State (a few years ago), the Heat at their peak, Jesus Christ, how… There are 10 or 12 teams in every conference that legitimately think they have a chance. make it to the playoffs and they can win there.”

From this point of view of the current NBA, the Knicks can do it, along with several other teams.

“Obviously it happened at a higher level than any of us could have imagined,” he said. “They made free agent moves, the guys got opportunities and took them. And then we’ll see what that means. The regular season is one standard, and the playoffs are another. We all tend to have more confidence in what you do in the playoffs.

“You don’t have that same team-specific element where you feel like they’re going to push forward — that if they’re 100%, it’s basically impossible to beat them. I don’t think there is such a team now. year.”

This executive also believes that rising parity and a group of potential challengers may be somewhat obscure who is ready to make a breakthrough. According to him, it can be several teams. Nyx included.

“Of course, when Golden State won that (first) championship, I don’t think that in the middle of the season anyone saw what they would become. Could the Knicks be some version of that? Everyone called Brunson just a guy, and he’s so much more than that. I got it wrong too. I thought he was good, but he took it to another level. Now we have to see what he can do in the playoffs, but a lot of us got him wrong.”

And maybe, in the end, and the Knicks.

Top Manager No. 2

View: Nope. Not yet.

Cause: Another reading of the Orient and doubts about Tom Thibodeau.

This executive sees two clear favorites in the Eastern Conference: the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics.

“Unless someone gets hurt, I don’t see anyone beating these teams in a seven-game streak,” he said. “I see (New York) a second round team. Their matchup against Cleveland would have been a good first round series.”

While he likes what New York has built and was also impressed with Brunson’s time in New York, he is also very skeptical of Thibodeau. He is concerned that the Knicks coach is being too strict in his defensive covers, the adjustments he makes, and what is often seen as inflexibility for a famous coach.

“The problem is, the Tibs won’t change in the playoffs,” he said.

The scout who recently saw the Knicks with his own eyes

View: They are good, but not great yet.

Cause: Milwaukee and Boston are too much.

Like the previous executive, this scout loves the Knicks. He was impressed by what he saw recently and thinks they are building something that can work. But not this season. Not quite yet.

“I think they can win the round,” he said. “I don’t take them seriously because they are going to beat Milwaukee. I think they can beat Cleveland.

However, he, like others interviewed, was impressed by the team’s balance. Is the Thibs team well protected? It checks. But a Knicks team that’s just superb on offense? Now this is something new.

And this Knicks team – fifth in offensive rankings and only 16th in defensive rankings – is exactly that: a welcome surprise.

“They’re just good,” the scout said. “They need Brunson. Their attacking generation is largely made up of Julius Randle doing things for himself, even though he’s good. I think they are good as a team. perfect there. They are definitely building something.”

Former top player

View: If anything goes wrong, the Knicks could make the playoffs.

Cause: Tom Thibodeau is exactly the coach they need, and the NBA’s quest for parity has finally arrived.

“I think Tibs did a great job of just solidifying a defensive identity,” he said. “And then adding the development of regular offensive players. Signing Brunson, bringing him in, integrating him into what they’re doing. All of that was key.”

Bruson deserves special praise, both for this former player and others in the league. He’s a big reason the former player doesn’t write the Knicks off the postseason.

“You have to understand how important the point guard position is in the NBA,” he said. “Now he has an offensive identity that goes along with a defensive identity and how well Brunson played and fit in there. You have to give credit to Tibs for that. It is he”.

Another reason to love the Knicks is that this season is full of surprises.

“For decades, the goal that the NBA has always been talking about has been to try and achieve parity,” he said. “And you never had parity for decades because of LeBron, KD and Steph. But now that these guys are getting older and a new generation is coming up, they might be reaching parity. And it helps a lot of teams, including the Knicks.”

“They’re like the Sixers or the Cavs,” he said. “They are definitely good enough. We know what playoff basketball is – it’s about who’s healthy, who’s available, and who plays well in the series. If things go well for New York, they can go far.”


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