Around 19,500 New Yorkers will gather in the World’s Most Famous Arena while millions more tune in for the beginning of the 78th season of New York Knickerbockers basketball – One glowing with new hope and excitement not seen around the franchise for years.

It’s been 162 days since the Knicks 2022-2023 campaign ended in the second round in Miami, and a long summer has passed since. The season left the dedicated fanbase of the Knicks a lot to think about, but one phrase and idea resonates throughout the Knicks faithful: Hope for the future.

New York had not seen a Knicks playoffs series win in a decade, but last year saw an incredible, and above all else, unexpected run to the conference semi-finals. With just three days until the new season begins, anticipation is bubbling throughout the city, and for good reason.

Before the season starts, let’s preview what it might hold in store for the Knicks and how it could be even better than last year.

Can DiVincenzo Prove His Value?

The Knicks’ most notable – and lone acquisition over the summer was Donte DiVincenzo, as the guard signed a 4-year deal worth 50 million with New York in July. DiVincenzo averaged 9.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game last year with the Warriors.

There’s some pressure on the 26-year-old starting his first season playing home games in Manhattan, as his deal was the only move Leon Rose made to improve the Knicks over the offseason.

However, he has said he feels less pressure this year than he did in his final season with the Warriors.

“…I’m fortunate and thankful to have some stability, to be on a team now on a four-year deal. I can settle down and calm down,” DiVincenzo said when asked about the potential pressure facing him as the young guard sets out to prove his value in New York.

What the Knicks Missed Out on This Summer

The absence of Obi Toppin will be felt in New York this season, as his three-year tenure with the Knicks ended this summer. The young forward was dealt to Indiana for two second-round draft picks. While Toppin never got the playing time he arguably deserved, playing behind Randle, he made his presence felt when he was on the court, and he was a notable subtraction this offseason.

The Knicks had a total of 8 minutes of playing time from rookies last season and had no draft pick this offseason. While they are generally still a young team, there will still be a lack of rookie presence.

Who Needs to Step Up

While last year was a dream season for the Knicks, there were still apparent problems which all in part led to the eventual end of the magical run. One player who must step up in the regular season and postseason is RJ Barret. RJ has had a relatively disappointing early career since being picked third overall in the 2019 draft. While he has not by any means been terrible, his presence on the court has not consistently had as much of an impact as he or the Knicks would have liked him to.

If RJ can take a leap this year, it could make the Knicks an astronomically better team. Julius Randle would also need to step up in the postseason, as he has failed to do so previously, but that’s much further down the road. Barret looked good in the preseason, and soon, we’ll see how it translates to the real thing.

How Far Can the Knicks Go?

There seem to be two leading contenders in the Eastern Conference going into this year, those being the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks.

After those two, the list gets much more unclear, and after winning a playoff series last year, the Knicks go into this year expected to be one of the better teams in the East.

Undoubtedly, New York will be in the thick of things this year.

Off to the Races

The NBA season will open up with two matchups on Tuesday night, and one day after that, New York basketball will tip off for the 2023-2024 season. The Knicks will take on the Celtics, a team that made it one round further than them last year as they reached the conference finals.

The Garden will come alive again as thousands of fans cram themselves into the historic arena sitting between Seventh and Eighth Avenue, and New York Knickerbockers basketball will return. Many questions are floating around going into the season. Will DiVincenzo improve the team? Can RJ step up? Can the Knicks match the success of last year? Can they top it?

Those questions will soon have answers, and the Knicks faithful will soon have our team back in action as another season begins—a new dawn of New York basketball, a new beginning with new hope and excitement.
Belief is bubbling, and anticipation is percolating throughout the city, personified in the colors of orange and blue. The Knicks are back, and New York is ready.

Photo: Gabriela Bhaskar

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