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New York Knicks roster takeaways: Play the youngsters, Tom Thibodeau

Teresa Powe

The New York Knicks have a big problem with their fans right now. They have passed up on three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell for their young players. That’s somewhat hard to believe since their young players don’t play. However, it has long since been known that Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau would rather play his vets than the younger players on his team.

That’s not going to work, Thibs. It’s time to make the people who fill the seats in the World’s Most Famous Arena happy. That’s basically what the Knicks must do now. Danny Ainge wanted our young players so he could build around them. So, New York, why don’t you try it?

Related: New York Knicks standing in Sportsnaut’s updated NBA power rankings

Jalen Brunson is good but he isn’t a New York Knicks superstar yet

new york knicks' jalen brunson
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Brunson, 26, will be the point guard the Knicks have been waiting for for a long time. But for the Knicks faithful, it is always a “wait to see him in action” before giving him the title. No matter his stats, they know that Jalen Brunson is good, but he’s not a three-time All-Star like Donovan Mitchell.

In his four years with the Dallas Mavericks, Brunson started 127 games, averaging 15.4 points, 4.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds. In addition, he averaged 11.9 points 3.7 assists, and 3.0 rebounds off the bench. We must admit that Brunson is good and will most likely be doing much better as a full-time point guard, the floor general of this Knicks’ team.

Evan Fournier could be on the trade block

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks
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Fournier will make $18 million for the 2022-23 season. During a game with the Charlotte Hornets, Fournier broke John Starks’ single-season record of 217 three-pointers in a single season.

Unfortunately, his defense needs much improvement, and his play is sporadic. He can shoot for 32 in one game and five points in another. It is rumored that the Knicks are looking to trade him. But for who?

Related: 2022-23 NBA Playoff and championship predictions

Immanuel Quickley’s time to shine for the New York Knicks

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks
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Why should the Knicks look for a shooting guard when they already have Immanuel Quickley in-house? Many believe that Quickley is not ready for a starting role. However, compared to Tyrese Maxey, starting shooting guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, IQ is more than qualified. He just doesn’t play 30 or more minutes consistently.

During the last 10 games of the 2021-22 season, when Thibs decided to give the younger guys more playing time, Quickley averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds. They need more time, Thibs.

The New York Knicks are RJ Barrett’s team

new york knicks rj barrett
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Now the highest-paid member of the team, RJ Barrett, 22, is entering his fourth year. The only one of the young players who play consistently, Barrett has improved each of his first three years in the league. RJ was one of the players that Ainge wanted for Donovan Mitchell. It’s a good thing that trade didn’t happen. If you think there was rage because the Mitchell trade didn’t work, I would hate to think what New York would be like had the Knicks’ front office traded away their young star.

  • RJ Barrett stats (2021-22): 20.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 41% shooting, 34% 3-point

Yet Barrett was on the trade block. Then on August 29, when a mysterious deadline in Mitchell trade talks with Utah expired, Barrett was given a contract extension for $120 million.

Related: New York Knicks’ RJ Barrett and the NBA’s top-50 players of 2022-23

Julius Randle needs to step up for the New York Knicks

NBA: New York Knicks at Detroit Pistons
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Julius Randle took the Knicks to the fourth seed and the playoffs back in 2020-21, went to the All-Star game and was the league’s Most Improved Player. He averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. During the offseason, the Knicks rewarded him with a contract extension of $117 million.

In the 2021-22 season, he didn’t do any of that: nothing, nada. Instead, Randle was bad-tempered with his teammates and coaches and even gave the Knicks’ sold-out crowd a thumbs down. What happened? Your guess is as good as the season ticket holders to whom he gave the thumbs down.

Whether the Knicks keep, Randle should be treated the same as any player. When he throws a temper tantrum, he should be given a timeout like every other big baby. However, a recent tweet seems to say that he has gotten the message and things must change if he wants to remain a Knick.

We hope this is true, Randle. Your team needs you.

Mitchell Robinson is that stud New York Knicks center

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks
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The $60 million man is truly at the center of it all. The 7-foot big man is believed to become one of the premier big men in the league. He is already one of the league’s best rim protectors and is nicknamed the “Block Ness Monster.” Re-signing Robinson was one of the front office’s first and best moves this offseason and made their fan base very happy.

Many wondered if they would re-sign Robinson because he’s had some injuries that kept him off the court during the 2020-21 season. But he bounced back this past season and is almost back to his record-breaking ways.

Related: Top 5 games on the 2022-23 New York Knicks schedule

The New York Knicks bench

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks
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Developing their young talent is where the coaching staff must get it together. Tom Thibodeau left many young Knick players out of his rotation last season. Young players can’t be developed if they don’t play.

At guard, most likely backing up Brunson will be Derrick Rose. It is unknown if Rose will be on the team at the start of the season, but he should be. He would be a great help to the young players. What young player in the league would not want Rose as a mentor? Unfortunately, due to injury, Rose only played only 26 games for the 2021-22 season.

Miles McBride

When he wasn’t scoring 30 or more points a game with the Westchester Knicks, Miles “Deuce” McBride would sit at the end of Thib’s bench, waiting for the 17 or five minutes he’d get to show his stuff.

Most of the time during the regular season, he would not get to play at all. His defense alone should have him on the court for at least those fourth quarters when the defense has disappeared from the Knicks. Here’s just a sample of the “Deuce defense.”

Quentin Grimes

Behind every great shooting guard is hopefully another great shooting guard. If (and that’s a big if) the Knicks are fortunate enough to be able to trade Evan Fournier for great rewards, Grimes should be the backup number two for Quickley. With a stunning outing at this year’s Summer League, Grimes was a big part of what the Jazz wanted in the Mitchell trade and supposedly why the Knicks refused the deal. If this is, in fact, the case, then Grimes should either be a starter or the team’s sixth man.

Cam Reddish

NBA: New York Knicks at Sacramento Kings
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Does he want a trade? Cam Reddish says no. But could you blame him? When he got to New York, his coach said he was not expected to be in the rotation. And after 11 games and William Wesley’s talk with James Dolan, Thibs put him in for five minutes. But then, when Thibs did add him to the rotation, it wasn’t long before Reddish took a nasty fall, which ended his season.

As a Knick, Reddish averaged 14.3 minutes and 6.1 points per game.

Obi Toppin

‘Another native New Yorker on the team, Toppin is the fan’s number one backup for Julius Randle. However, most fans have Obi as their starting power forward.

Toppin is also the reigning 2022 NBA Slam Dunk champion and another player coveted by Ainge. He’s also another player that should get significant minutes. During the last 10 games of the season, when Thibs only used his younger players, Topppin averaged 30.3 minutes, 20 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. In the last two games of the season, he had 35 and 42 points, respectively. He averaged 17.1 minutes, nine points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists during the regular season.

Jericho Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein

There’s not much the Knicks need to do in the big man department. They hit a home run this offseason, giving Sims a three-year $5,66 million contract and acquiring Isaiah Hartenstein from the Los Angeles Clippers with a two-year $16.7 million contract. Both men are more than capable of backing up Robinson.