21 games and roughly a month into the season, what do we have in the Knicks?
This Team Is Playoff Bound
Yeah, that’s right.
Now, when I say this team is playoff bound, I mean it’s a top ten team in the Eastern Conference. If you’re unfamiliar with the new playoff formatting, allow me to explain. Ten teams will be playoff-bound this spring because of the pandemic. The 7th seed will match up against the 10th seed and the 8th seed will battle the 9th seed in a two-game series.
To secure a playoff spot, the 7th and 8th seed will need to win just once while the 9th and 10th seed will need to win both games to move on.
For the first time in years, this Knicks team looks like they have the confidence to make the playoffs.
The Knicks Are on the Right Track
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about the Knicks this season is that they aren’t getting behind by too much too often, especially against better teams.
The Knicks were able to hold on and keep it close against Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and the Clippers on Sunday. They were also able to keep it close against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets.
They were able to defeat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks by 20 in December and defeated Jaylen Brown and the Celtics by 30 and held them to 75 points. They also defeated the Utah Jazz a few weeks ago, which may have been a turning point for Utah as they look like a potential issue for Western Conference foes.
Of course, there are bad losses. The 17-point loss to the not-so-strong-looking-anymore Raptors, a 12-point loss to a rebuilding Thunder, and a 21-point loss to the Hornets don’t look so handsome on the resume.
But those losses were weeks ago and this Knicks team looks better than it did a few weeks ago. The Knicks look like they know they can get a win on any given night.
Give Quickley All of Payton’s Minutes
If you’ve been following my (or any Knicks fans) tweets this season, you’ll see that Elfrid Payton is not a fan favorite by any stretch. Payton is simply unable to be a good point guard, which is one of the many issues the Knicks have had in years.
On the other hand, it looks as if the Knicks may have finally drafted the point guard this franchise desperately needs in Immanuel Quickley
Yet, Payton continues to start.
The 25th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft has found himself in Rookie of the Year talks with his 11.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 2.5 APG. Additionally, Quickley has had back-to-back 25 point performances off the bench. Payton scored followed Friday’s 2 points, 3 assist,s and 1 rebound performance with an unspectacular 10 point, 3 assist,s and 3 rebound game on Sunday
Payton fails the eye test and the stat test. Why Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau continues to put him out there is beyond me.
RJ Barrett Has Been Balling, My Goodness
In his last 10 games, Rowan Barrett, Jr. has been playing like an All-Star. In that time, he’s averaging 20 PPG, 5 RPG, 3 APG on 51% from the field, 45% from behind the arc, and 83% from the charity stripe.
However, many people told me last year he wasn’t good at basketball. Those same uneducated people are oblivious to what Barrett is currently doing, so many won’t vote for him for this year’s game.
But, the kid who was inexplicably snubbed from an All-Rookie team last year is on a mission. I still think Barrett can score 25 points a night. He may not reach that this year, but the way he’s been hooping this year, he might get there by his 3rd season.
He may also get an All-Star appearance by his 3rd season.
Just when you thought Randle was starting to come down, he shows off.
After back-to-back games in which Randle did not eclipse 20 points, he put up 27 points, 12 boards, and five assists on Sunday against the Clippers. It had been a full week since Randle last scored 20-plus points.
Given how All-Star voting is done, it’ll be tough for Randle to get enough votes where he’s starting over Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and Durant. But don’t get it twisted, Julius Randle has been playing at an All-Star level all season.
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