• Kaunda Chama

New York Knicks on the rise

Could this be the best performing New York Kinks squad we have seen in recent years? Definitely!

With exactly a month left till the playoffs, the Knicks are enjoying an eight-game streak and are on the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference with a 33 and 27 record. This is great news for their fans because the franchise has not seen the postseason in eight years.

The last time the Knicks were in the playoffs was in 2013, when they lost 4-2 to the Indiana Pacers the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Recently they have become “the other team from New York”, mainly because of the Brooklyn Nets who have assembled what could be a “superteam” or even the Eastern Conference "Avengers".

The Knicks have experienced many turbulent years that were a source of frustration for both the fans and players, with reports sighting front office and ownership issues as affecting the team’s overall morale and performance.

Even having an All-Star talent like Carmelo Anthony (2011 - 2017), and seeking some assistance from the great Phil Jackson didn’t seem to help the franchise which seemed to be perpetually ending regular season close to the bottom of the table.

However, things seem to be changing for the better as the team looks to be playing with a different type of energy and winning games.

The team’s current roster is clicking and they are playing some impressive basketball. They currently boast the likes of RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox II, Obi Toppin, Elfrid Payton, Derrick Rose – on his second try at the team, and the man of the moment Julius Randle.

Randle was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and spent four years at the franchise where he played alongside one of the league’s legendary talents – the late Kobe Bryant (2014 - 2016). He has stated many-a-time that Kobe’s influence is strong in his game to this day.

In 2018, Randle found himself in New Orleans, as part of a trade package for Anthony Davis. This did not dampen his pursuit for dominance or work ethic.

In 2019, he was traded to the Knicks and has continued to be a dominant and very impactful power forward. This even saw him getting his first All-Star nod last month.

He is averaging a team-leading 23.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 6.1 assists, while shooting 46% from the field, 41% from range and 80% from the charity stripe – add some “Mamba Mentality” to that and its no wonder the 27-year-old is emerging as the leader at Maddison Square Garden.

Collectively the Knicks are averaging 106.7 points per outing, while shooting 45% from the field, 38% from range and 77% from the free throw line.

New York is fourth in defensive rating with 107.8, ninth in net rating with 2.1, eighth in offensive rebound percentage with 27.8, and 10th in rebound percentage with 51.1.

Unless something terribly goes wrong, the Knicks look like they are a lock for the post season, something that they have not done in a while and will definitely be great for the NYN loyalists.

If the seeding remains the same, the Kicks would face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round and would potentially repeat the regular season sweep that they just handed them. All things considered, the New York Knicks look to be definitely on the rise.

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