In the NBA, having depth is strength in order to progress through the season should injuries arise. The Golden State Warriors have portrayed that through ten games. However, the New York Knicks’ roster exhibited the same as they took down the Boston Celtics in their season opener.
New York Knicks’ Depth This Season
Tom Thibodeau’s system has elevated Julius Randle’s game to the next level as he made his first All-Star appearance last season. The franchise also made it to the playoffs after not making it for quite some time. This season, the Knicks have a few more weapons due to free agency and the draft.
Thibodeau seemingly always reminds the reporters and fans after every post-game interview that team success happens when everyone on the roster gets involved. He stated;
” It’s important for the players who aren’t in the rotation right now to continue to prepare to be put into the rotation… Oftentimes, there’s an injury, there could be an illness. And someone gets thrown in there and he plays well and the team takes off.”
This was evident against the Celtics to open up their season as Nerlens Noel was out due to an injury and Taj Gibson was out due to personal reasons. With two of their big men missing in action, the Knicks had to turn to Mitchell Robinson and Jericho Sims to protect the paint. The team also displayed a smaller lineup in stretches in the second half and in the two overtimes.
Too much depth can also be a problem as there will be issues regarding playing time as players’ numbers will plummet or not play at all. For example, it would not be efficient for the Knicks to play Kemba Walker and Immanuel Quickley at the same because they would be a liability on the defensive end of the court. Mitchell Robinson and Jericho Sims can’t really co-exist because neither player can stretch the floor.
Questions Regarding the Knicks Depth Moving Forward
As of right now, the Knicks don’t have an issue with splitting minutes among players as everyone is fine with their specific role. Taj Gibson should be available in the next few days, and when Nerlens Noel comes back at some point this season. This means that Sims may not have a spot in the rotation as Obi Toppin made a statement that he has improved.
Toppin’s performance was one of the reasons why the Knicks were able to come back against the Celtics. Toppin had 14 points, five rebounds, and a block in his season debut. The Celtics were so focused on their on-ball switching, which left him open on numerous occasions.
Toppin may have found his groove as he started playing better since the second half of last season. This may also affect Kevin Knox’s future on the team as the NBA’s came and went with both sides not reaching an agreement. His future in the NBA is looking bleak as three players who were drafted after Knox in the 2018 Draft signed contract extensions worth $434 million before the start of the season.
Having Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose as the team’s main point guards may affect Immanuel Quickley’s usage rate and role with the team as the season progresses. Quickley was a steal in last year’s draft as he averaged 11.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 2.0 APG as he was selected 25th overall. He only played eight minutes and recorded two points, one assist, and one steal.
Quentin Grimes who is waiting to make his NBA debut is a shooting guard who was selected with the 25th pick in this year’s draft may make Quickley’s role more confusing. Walker is slated to be a free agent after the 2022-23 season. After watching the Knicks play the Celtics, the Knicks definitely need a star point guard who can create shots and also defend.
All the draft picks, and other assets the Knicks have on the roster may put the Knicks in a good position to make a trade in the near future. Evan Fournier who signed a four-year contract with the Knicks this offseason will most likely not stay all four years. They can use Fournier (match contract and can be traded after December 15th), Quickley (potential), and a couple of draft picks to bring in a star.