The Knicks are Back

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Second-year star RJ Barrett has been crucial to the Knicks’ success this season.

Daniel Rublin

When the New York Knicks signed coach Tom Thibodeau this summer, many fans were not excited by the news, as Thibodeau is the most recent addition to a long line of Knicks coaches in the past decade, most of whom have been unsuccessful and fired within a couple years. “When I heard that the Knicks signed Thibodeau, I expected Thibodeau to be just like all the other coaches we’ve had, and I assumed he would get fired,” said Jordan Paris ’23.

The Knicks finished last season with a 21-45 record, fit for twelfth place in the Eastern Conference. This season, projections had the Knicks finishing with a similarly abysmal record. “I imagined that this year would go as the last five years have gone, another failed season,” said Andrew Lehrman ’23. 

Instead of another failed season, however, the Knicks have become a force to be reckoned with in the NBA, to most experts’ surprise. “They just came out of nowhere,” said Mason Ruzumna ’23.

The headline player for the Knicks has repeatedly been Julius Randle, who has elevated his level of play this season. Randle was selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game earlier this year. “Julius Randle’s breakout season has been huge,” said Lehrman. While Randle’s elevated level of play has been a difference-maker, his presence in the locker room has also been important to the team’s success. “Julius Randle’s improvement, both in his play and his leadership, have really turned the team around,” explained Paris.

Fans have also expressed that the arrival of Tom Thibodeau has been a large reason for the team’s success. “The strong defense brought in by Tom Thbodou has helped to make this team one of the biggest threats in the NBA,” said Paris. 

Other students agreed that the team is now a legitimate threat, and that the team’s cohesiveness is a large reason for their success. “While the Knicks might not have the most talented roster in the NBA, their teamwork and chemistry…leads them to… pose a threat to whoever they play in the playoffs,” said Ruzumna. Fans also explain that the team has also thrived off of momentum. “The confidence they have gained… is significant to the team chemistry, and a major reason for their success,” said Paris.

The Knicks appear to be on a path to the NBA playoffs. This year would be the first Knicks playoff appearance since 2012-2013 if the Knicks do indeed make the playoffs as expected. “I’m excited to watch them in the playoffs,” said Lehrman. “RJ Barett and Julius Randle continuing to play well will be the key to winning games,” Lehrman added.

While attendance at games is currently limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, Knicks fans have been notably enthusiastic at games, likely due to their team’s newfound success. Only time will tell whether or not the team many SHS students love continues to play well.