For the second straight season, the Knicks are mired in NBA mediocrity

For the second straight season, the Knicks are mired in NBA mediocrity

After turning the page on what was a very disappointing and frustrating 2021-22 season, knicks fans did their best to be optimistic this season. The team acquired a point guard that fans could finally believe in. RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley were coming off big results from the previous season. There was hope that Julius Randle would experience some kind of positive regression and that Coach Thibodeau would have changed some things.

And it all looked very sweet and sweet to start the season. The team started the year with a tough loss to a good Memphis team, but bounced back with three straight wins against Detroit, Orlando and Charlotte. Randle looked closer to the All-NBA version of himself, Brunson looked like an All-Star, and Toppin looked like he couldn’t miss downtown. Sitting at 3-1 with a team playing faster and a more selfless brand of basketball, there were some very good vibes around the fan base.

But that didn’t last long. Absolutely not. The Knicks lost six of their next nine games. During this ugly stretch, they lost to the Nets by 27 and continued to give up 145 points in regulation to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They ended up going 3-2 on the West Coast trip, but honestly, it was just more blows to bad teams. All three of their wins came against a Jazz team that has been pretty bad lately, a Nuggets team without Nikola Jokic and a Thunder team that isn’t particularly good either. Still, between Julius Randle’s inconsistent performances, RJ Barrett’s horrible cold streak, Obi Toppin’s negative shooting regression, and the team’s mostly ugly defense outside of Cam Reddish and Quickey, there was a very real and foreboding feeling. concern that this season was beginning to plummet, as it did around this time last year.

If you remember, the 2021-22 Knicks started the season 5-1 and the fans were feeling absolutely amazing. But then the leaks started appearing. They had ugly losses in the pacers, Cavaliers and Hornets , and barely managed to string together enough wins against mediocre teams to make fans believe they would turn the corner. Yet they never did. They made some alignment and rotation changes to try and right the ship, and while it led to some positive results, it ultimately didn’t move the needle much. The rest of the season ended with an amalgamation of upside, horrible coaching decisions, Randle underperforming and getting into it with the fans, and general mediocrity. And for the most part, that has been the problem once again.

Since the 3-1 start, this team has repeatedly embarrassed itself with its lack of defense, a confusing distribution of minutes, an offensive game plan that lacks any real creativity or versatility, a complete inability to know the triples and the unwillingness to adjust.

To put that into context, the Knicks are currently 3-12 against teams not named the Hornets, Magic, Pistons, Thunder. They have been a mediocre team, good enough to beat really bad teams but not good enough to beat good teams. They play well enough to keep fans somewhat hopeful, only to let them down in an eerily similar fashion to last year.

And if you look elsewhere, it’s much more of the same, of the same. Thibodeau has been a point of contention for many fans. Randle, despite posting improved offensive stats, seems completely uninterested in playing defense for many of the games. Quickley and Toppin often find themselves playing less than 20 minutes. The team has taken advantages again. And whenever adversity hits this team, they tend to shut down completely.

For the second year in a row, this is a team built for the future, with a coach trying to win now, with a front office that isn’t fully committed to either end of the spectrum. And if Leon Rose doesn’t want to see his team die a slow and painful death, like they did last season, sooner or later changes will have to be made. Unfortunately, until then, it’s looking increasingly likely that this season will just be a one-way ticket to NBA purgatory (the playoff game, if we’re lucky) as the front office looks to stockpile draft picks and wait for the next star young man who became discontented.

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