Before New York starts trading away it’s assets, it is imperative to have a goal before going out, starting with consistent and what they HAVE instead of putting faith in things out of your control.
Professional sports is still a business and successful business take stock and deal based on equal parts improvement, fit, and necessity.
The mix of young players and vets sprinkled has made a slightly competitive but ill-fitting team. Multiple players with similar skills and deficits at varying positions both mitigate and lessen the value of the skills and deficits are harder to hide. Outside of whether players will get a positive return, the roster needs to be broken up to give the younger players room to grow or fail.
The position of this team in the Eastern Conference would be different if Miller was coaching from the jump. Even still, the Knicks record is 10-29. The record is a measure of the moment and after the past two decades of focusing on the moment, lets asses the future with the team has.
Let’s be a business and instead of working on words, promises, and wishes, use what is in our control and take ownership of that.
First the most important factor when it comes to assessing a business is the only thing no one has control over in life, time. On the roster, the players that can be invested in based on the time on contract are Frank Ntilikina, RJ Barret, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, and Ignas Brazdeikis. At minimum these players are under contract for the next three years. Well, DSJ is currently locked up for three year but has shown he’s open to be moved and has interest from other teams, notably Minnesota.
The remaining players not mentioned are, at least contractually, not under the same timeline. Instead of evaluating their contractual value, the focus here is on what is under team control and how to put those players in a proper space for success.
Frank has shown growth offensively and is continuing to match his defensive upside. His three-point shooting needs more of a focus but his free throw shooting is a good indicator for more growth as he develops.
RJ Barrett being the most recent draft pick, the stock in him leans greatly on his pro athlete parents and his Hall of Fame godfather, Steve Nash. They’ll be his biggest cheerleaders but he’s not scared of the moment, is very strong and once he starts getting the benefit of officiating after his rookie year, the sky is the limit. Many believe he’s not a number one option, let alone a second. Hold those reservations because RJ Barrett is the best draft pick the Knicks have had since Patrick Ewing. Yes better than KP as well who previously held that title. He’s durable, strong, and has a work ethic that tempers any worries in his current game.
On the only player not drafted from the group whom has a time investment, Julius Randle has been serviceable throughout the season. Once Miller had been brought up, his play jumped from his play under Fizdale. It is important to note that he’s posting the same numbers he was through his time in New Orleans the previous season. It gives another point of data in the “Fizdale isn’t a good coach” camp, but it also not a noted improvement in his play last year. Now with a personal family event keeping him out of his second game in a row after the poor play in the road trip, it’ll be harder to evaluate his growth. If nothing else, the safest assumption is to assume he’s the player he’s going to be similar for his play under Miller for the remainder of the year.
Rounding out the others, Mitchell Robinson is a top-five role man. He needs to work on his fouls and strengthen up so centers around the league can’t throw him around with their size. Ignas has had too little a sample size and Knox of late has been poor but he too is another project, similar in length to Frank.
Both Ignas and Knox show potential for being plus shooters, but truthfully when assessing the strengths and minus of the team, two things are highlighted. Frank’s shooting can improve due to his free-throw shooting, but as it stands, having true floor spacing with this roaster is imperative. Second is that despite the ironic five-man line-up + 6th man of players’ significant time investment, there’s no clear way to improve the roaster for everyone as is.
Does that mean even those who have time invested in them should be moved? That’s another question for another day but for now take this in, digest it and remember to be the narrative you want to see in the world.
To preview future work, see the trades linked here, details in the individual trades.