Most cheap preseason projections slotted the Knicks wherever from ninth to eleventh within the Japanese Convention. There was an excessive amount of depth for them to be any greater, too many query marks on their roster. Reaching the play-in spherical of the postseason, most consultants agreed, can be a hit.

By 60 video games, although, Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks have surpassed these delicate expectations. They enter the All-Star break on their own in sixth place, simply two video games behind the Nets for fifth, six video games over .500 at 33-27.

Their Over/Beneath quantity for wins was 38.5. It looks as if a digital lock that they may surpass that determine. A lot has gone proper for the Knicks, from well being to the good play of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle and the groups round them unexpectedly struggling for quite a lot of causes.

The Put up breaks down the stunning season so far for the orange and blue:

Jalen Brunson
Robert Sabo

The purpose guard

A lot has gone proper. Randle has been a monster. Immanuel Quickley has developed right into a two-way dynamo. The commerce of Josh Hart has given the Knicks a spark. However it all begins with Brunson, the purpose guard this franchise has lacked for many years.

Thibodeau and Randle have each pointed to Brunson’s presence for the ahead’s 180-degree flip after final yr’s disappointment. Thought of an overpay by some in the summertime, Brunson has truly been a discount at $104 million, posting career-bests of 23.9 factors, 6.2 assists and 41.1 % 3-point capturing.

Over the past 21 video games, he’s averaging an excellent 30 factors on 51.8 % capturing. The final Knick to do this over a 20-game span? Patrick Ewing in 1990. He needs to be an All-Star, clearly. The Knicks went from not having a degree guard final yr to having among the finest within the league, a real chief who faults himself after losses and defers credit score after wins.

Watered-down East

The Bulls, Raptors and Hawks have all been main disappointments, a mixed 10 video games south of .500. Lonzo Ball’s season-long absence has created a crater-sized gap at level guard for Chicago, which is surprisingly twenty fourth in offensive score regardless of a Massive 3 of All-Star DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine. The addition of Dejounte Murray was speculated to make the Hawks higher, however they’ve in some way been worse, a subpar defensive workforce that’s constantly inconsistent. The Raptors have but to place collectively a profitable streak of three or extra video games, and final yr’s Rookie of the Yr, Scottie Barnes, hasn’t progressed as anticipated. Issue within the Nets buying and selling Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant and the Warmth being unable to improve their roster over the summer season or on the latest commerce deadline, and it’s clear that lots has damaged proper for the Knicks. These 5 aforementioned groups all have a worse profitable proportion than they did a yr in the past. 

Well being

Sure, defensive spine Mitchell Robinson has missed 22 video games resulting from a fractured proper thumb and sprained proper knee, however in any other case, the Knicks have been the image of excellent well being. Randle and beneficial reserve Isaiah Hartenstein haven’t missed a recreation.

Julius Randle hasn't missed a game yet this season for the Knicks.
Julius Randle hasn’t missed a recreation but this season for the Knicks.
Getty Photographs

Brunson missed solely 4 and RJ Barrett seven. Quickley, having by far the perfect season of his three-year profession throughout the board, has performed in 59 of the Knicks’ 60 contests.

Evaluate that to the Warmth, who had been with out star Jimmy Butler for 15 video games and Tyler Herro for 14, or the Raptors, who haven’t had the providers of key gamers OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr. and Pascal Siakam for a minimum of 9 video games apiece, or the Hawks, who’ve been with out beginning heart Clint Capela and key cogs Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter for prolonged stretches.


Thibodeau is smashing narratives, reminiscent of the concept he doesn’t prefer to play younger gamers. He benched veterans Derrick Rose and Evan Fournier for second-year guards Miles McBride and Quentin Grimes.

The 23-year-old Quickley is enjoying probably the most minutes of his profession. Thibodeau additionally has began second-year heart Jericho Sims with Robinson harm. He has made changes, none extra vital than reducing his rotation all the way down to 9 on Dec. 4 to create higher cohesion.

Since then, the Knicks are 23-14. Thibodeau has closed with totally different lineups, just lately sitting struggling wing Barrett down the stretch of shut video games. The Knicks are tied for sixth in offensive score at 115.7, partly as a result of the coach made wanted changes — like enjoying quicker and pushing the tempo early within the season — after ending twenty third final yr at 109.7.