In the 2018–19 season, the New York Knicks had the worst record in the league, finishing the regular season 17–65. It was their fifth consecutive year of 50 or more losses. Despite adding new players to the team for this season, don’t expect them to do much better. Here are five reasons the Knicks still might not have 25 wins this season.
1. Lack of overall talent
In January 2019, the Knicks traded star player Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. Over the summer, the Knicks failed to sign any All-Star players, which they’d promised to do. They missed out on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who both signed with the Brooklyn Nets, and on Kawhi Leonard, who signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. New York missed out on the big fish, but Marcus Morris spurned the Spurs and signed on the Knicks’ dotted line.
They made several trades, however. To go along with the two players picked in the draft (Ignas Brazdeikis and R.J. Barrett), the Knicks signed seven players in July. In the preseason, however, only Morris and Julius Randle recorded 15 or more points per game.
Mitchell Robinson and R.J. Barrett show promise, but they are untested in their second and first years in the NBA, respectively. While the roster should be better than last season, it’s unlikely to produce a winning year.
2. R.J. Barrett struggles
The Knicks took 2019 draft pick R.J. Barrett with the intention of saving the franchise. That might happen someday, but for now, it looks like he will struggle more than some rookies to adjust to the NBA.
Barrett had a tough start in summer league games, in part because he failed to make tough shots rather than passing the ball. And, through three preseason games, he shot reasonably well in two (12-of-28 combined) and poorly in the third (4-of-14). Luckily, he made other plays even though he wasn’t shooting well.
At Duke, Barrett needed time to adjust. His first month of play there, he shot 42% from the floor. He improved to 54.4% in month two and finished the season shooting 45.5%.
3. Mismatched pieces
Sometimes the sum is not greater than the parts. The players that the Knicks have this season don’t seem to have the right combination of skills to mesh well together. Can they set each other up to make shots? Or will they just block each other’s playing time? There are a number of veterans, but too many of the Knicks’ players are power forwards: Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, and Marcus Morris.
4. The Knicks have the same coach
David Fizdale remains the coach for the Knicks and is going into his second year with them. He has described wanting a fast-paced, aggressive team but hasn’t been able to deliver that yet, despite having several young players. In his three years as a head coach, with two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies and one with the New York Knicks, his teams have won only 36.6% of their games. But, with new players to work with and a self-reflective personality, Fizdale may be able to build the team he wants with more time.
5. James Dolan still owns the team
Owner James Dolan has a reputation as one of the most disliked team owners and is known for his management mistakes over the years. He gained full control of the team in 2000, and the Knicks have remained average for many of the years since.
The team has also had 13 coaches in 18 seasons and overpaid for several end-of-career stars. That environment has created a bad atmosphere that won’t help attract top talent.
Sorry, fans. You’ll likely need to wait for the 2020–21 season for things to get better.