Knicks Beat Teams They Should, Struggle Against Top Teams

After the first 14 games of the season, the New York Knicks sit at 8-6. However, New York is only 1-5 against teams with a winning record. These past four games have for the most part summed up the way the Knicks have performed against each type of team.

Knicks Past Week

Against the 6-6 Hawks, the Knicks played a back and forth game and eventually came out on top 116-114. Julius Randle had his best game of the young season with 29 points on 12-24 from the field and 3-5 from three. He also came close to a triple double with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

A few nights later, New York trounced the lowly 2-11 Wizards by a score of 120-99. Jalen Brunson scored 32, Immanuel Quickley scored 27 off the bench, and Randle chipped in 22 as the Knicks easily took care of business in their second in-season tournament game.

The next night, the Knicks got out early and never looked back against the 4-9 Hornets as New York won 122-108. Donte DiVincenzo had his best game as a Knick with 25 points on 9-12 from the field and 7-10 from three. Brunson had another 32 point game, while Randle helped with 21 points of his own.

New York got up to 8-5 after this three game stretch of beating the teams they should, and found themselves tied with two other teams for the fourth seed. Monday night however went quite differently as compared to the past three games.

The Knicks came into Minnesota Monday night to face the top seed in the Western Conference in the Timberwolves. A back and forth first half left New York trailing by only two points at halftime, however a 35-19 third quarter in favor of the Timberwolves left the Knicks in the dust as they fell 117-100.

Efficiency was an enormous issue against the top defense in the league in the Timberwolves. As a team, New York only shot 34.8 percent from the field and 23.7 percent from three. Randle shot 6-16, RJ Barrett shot 4-13, Quentin Grimes was 0-6 and Quickley shot 4-14.

In the short season so far, this four game stretch has sort of defined the Knicks first 14 games. They have showed up against the lesser teams and have taken care of business to put themselves squarely in the top six or so records in the Eastern Conference. However, New York has yet to beat a top end contender this year. They have lost twice to the Celtics, and once to the Bucks and Timberwolves.

How Far Can New York Go?

Only 14 games into the season, it could be too early to project the entire season for a team, however with the Knicks it might not be. This team is for the most part the exact same as it was last year. The only addition to the rotation has been DiVincenzo, who has been a solid backup wing, but overall is not going to move the needle in terms of title expectations.

Brunson and Randle are probably at the best version of themselves that they will be at in their careers. The only player that has a real chance of elevating himself to change the outlook for New York is Barrett. He is only 23 years old still and has been off to the best start to a season in his career. However, he still has a very long way to go to have a chance to supplant Brunson or Randle in the offensive pecking order.

In terms of moves that New York can make, there has already been a pretty big development in Chicago with guard Zach LaVine. It seems a certainty that the former All-Star will be traded at some point this season, and the Knicks have been linked. LaVine would certainly add a scoring punch to the offense, however it is unclear how well he would fit as a third option behind Brunson and Randle. LaVine has never been a good defender in his career, and assuming he replaces Grimes or Barrett in the starting lineup, it could present some issues defensively.

Karl-Anthony Towns has been a name linked to New York for years, however there seems to be very little legitimacy behind these ideas. Minnesota looks to be one of the top teams this year as they have the best record in the West and have beaten numerous contenders already. Towns is clearly the second best player on that team, and it would really be silly at this point to have any thoughts of him being moved barring a massive change in Minnesota's season outlook.

It will be intriguing to see how the rest of the trade market develops, as the Knicks will be squarely in it to see if there is a chance to bring them into the championship contender conversation. With the way the early season has gone, it seems New York will be at the same ceiling as they finished last year, but there is a long season ahead and many moves still to be made.


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