Knicks Finish Disappointing Season

The+Knicks+season+can+be+summed+up+in+one+word%3A+disappointing.+%28Courtesy+of+Twitter%29

The Knicks season can be summed up in one word: disappointing. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Michael Calamari, Contributing Writer

The New York Knicks 2022 season came to a close Sunday night versus the Toronto Raptors, finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 37-45 and on the outside of the playoff picture. After a 2021 season that saw New York place fourth in the Eastern Conference, the 2022 campaign was nothing short of a disappointment. Nevertheless, a season that seemed to be a waste might have a light at the end of the tunnel.

Prior to the start of the season, a lot of hope surrounded the franchise. A successful offseason saw them bring in veteran three-point sharpshooter Evan Fournier on a four-year, $78 million deal and four time All-Star Kemba Walker to run the point guard position. However, the mix of the new acquisitions with the 2021 returners never seemed to quite click. After starting their season 5-2, New York would end November with a 11-11 record. After that, a disastrous December saw them lose seven out of nine games to start the month, falling well below .500, a mark they would never get back to for the rest of the year. The lowest of the lows came towards the second half of the season where New York won just three games over a 20-game stretch from Jan. 17 to March 4, putting them well on their way to missing the playoffs.

The question now becomes, how could a team ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference fall six spots lower in the standings in one year? In 2021, the Knicks were a team built by hustle and defense, ranking third in defensive rating across the NBA. Just one year later, that mark dropped to 10th. While a rather small drop-off, the offense struggled mightily to make up for the defensive setback. The Knicks 2021 All-Star Julius Randle saw a serious regression in 2022, as his field goal percentage, three point percentage, rebounds per game, assists per game and points per game all fell well below his 2021 marks. In addition, signings Walker and Fournier also both failed to pan out. Walker, coming off averaging 19.3 PPG with Boston, put up a career low PPG mark in New York. Meanwhile, Fournier posted a career low FG percentage and struggled to be consistent all season long. With underwhelming performances from their most highly touted players, a lack of scoring would become their biggest downfall, ending the season in the bottom five in offensive production across the NBA.

Although the season was riddled with disappointments, the young core of the Knicks gives hopes to a bright future for the organization. Third year point guard RJ Barrett finished with 20.0 PPG on the year including 11 30+ point performances. Towards the end of the season, the 21-year-old became the heartbeat of the Knicks, averaging over 24 PPG after the All-Star Break. Aside from Barrett, second year standouts Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley provide further hope for fans. Toppin and Quickley were best known as spark plugs off the bench throughout the season, but combined for 76 points in the season finale to send a message to fans that they have the potential to be so much more.

Barrett, Quickley and Toppin highlight a group of Knicks all under the age of 25 looking to bounce back in 2023. Along with them, fourth year center Mitchell Robinson (who had 20 double-doubles in 2022), 22 year old mid-season acquisition Cam Reddish, as well as rookies Deuce McBride and Jericho Sims all add further depth to an already extensive young core. 

“It’s huge for us. Our young guys all stepped in this year and played well at different times,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said after their final game Sunday night. “But we know we gotta make a big step this summer, so we’re gonna need everyone to be in there, making a commitment.”

As the Knicks 2022 season finally comes to an end, the organization may have a better idea of the franchise’s direction now more than ever. With clear problems emerging that need to be addressed and a young group of budding stars that can help them do so, the Knicks 2022 disappointing season may have a silver lining.