After an overachieving 2021 season, the New York Knicks are finally done. They kinda got crushed by the Hawks, but that doesn’t matter. The Knicks had the most successful 2021 NBA season.
The big reason why is, of course, their overachievement record wise. Nobody (besides maybe some die hard Knicks fan) had them finishing anywhere near the playoffs this year. I had them at 29th in my preseason power rankings, and here’s what I had to say:
“The Knicks suck. They young guys they have never pan out because they can’t develop players. My example is how New York killed Dennis Smith Jr.’s career. They will be awful again this year. Obi Toppin will probably be a bright spot. I don’t have much else to say.”
Yikes. That’s embarrassing.
The Knicks obviously didn’t suck this year. The most impressive part was that they actually had young guys pan out. R.J. Barrett showed why he was the third overall pick in 2019. Immanuel Quickley was a top steal in the 2020 draft (he was picked 25th overall). Obi Toppin wasn’t some crazy bright spot like I predicted, but he was still solid (he stepped up in the playoffs, which you love to see from a rookie). Unfortunately Kevin Knox didn’t get any better, but that’s all good.
The biggest welcome surprise was of course the 2021 Most Improved Player, Julius Deion Randle. This guy deserves only respect from every NBA fan. His regular season was All-NBA worthy. He did everything on the court. His improvement is truly amazing.
He may have struggled in the playoffs, but I’m going to cut him a little bit of slack. He led a truly awful team and organization back to NBA relevance. Plus, to be the number one option in your first ever playoffs must have unbelievable pressure.
Tom Thibodeau, my 2021 Coach of the Year, also deserves lots of respect. He made the Knicks a top defensive team. Also, Julius Randle credited a lot of his improvement to coach Thibs, which tells me a lot about Thibs as a coach.
The Knicks veterans were awesome this year as well. Derrick Rose never fails to impress me with his high level of play despite all of the injuries he’s faced. Alec Burks is a pure scorer, and will be sought after by contenders for the rest of his career. Nerlens Noel should be in All-Defense conversations this year. Reggie Bullock, to me, is a truly underrated player. Not underappreciated, but underrated. He was great as the Knicks starting shooting guard, because he shot the ball well and played solid defense.
At the end of game five last night, when Trae Young was dribbling the clock out (before he shot and made a final “eff you New York” triple), New York fans gave a standing ovation for their team. I’m very happy for those fans. They’ve endured so much pain the last few years that they deserve what the Knicks gave them this year.
All NBA fans should be happy for what the New York Knicks accomplished this year. It’s truly awesome. I might just start wearing the Knicks hat I picked up when I went to New York sometimes.
(First of two notes: You’re welcome for the back-to-back-to-back articles. This obviously won’t be a consistent thing, but since I’m wrapping up school, I’ll have more time to write.)
(Second of two notes: The Bench Mob Blog now has a Twitter! I’ll tweet when I publish a new article, and whenever I feel the need to make a random comment on the NBA. Feel free to tweet me some thoughts on my articles.)
Thanks for reading, and see you next time!