After starting the season 3-1, the Knicks have dropped two straight against the Bucks and the Cavaliers, who currently hold the two best records in the eastern conference. Coming off two full days of rest, they’ll look to right the ship on statement night as they welcome the Atlanta Hawks and the villainous Trae Young.
It's Statement Night.— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 2, 2022
Our Statement Jersey's are officially on-sale, as the guys will wear them on-court for the first time tonight against the Hawks.
Now's the time to get yours!
While it’s still early on in the season, this is a pretty big game for the Knicks. They are in the midst of a two-game losing streak, are playing against a team they have some recent history against, and are in the midst of a tough stretch which includes games against some of the best in their conference. Sitting at 3-3 isn’t awful but if the Knicks want to put themselves in a position to make the playoffs, they’ll have to start stringing together wins against teams better than the Pistons, Magic, and Hornets.
New York’s most hated point guard, Trae Young headlines the 4-3 Hawks. All eyes will be on him as he makes his return to the Garden. Young is off to a very interesting start to the season as he is averaging 29 PPG and 9.7 APG but is shooting what would be a career-low 39.5% from the field. It’s still early on so he should start shooting better as the season progresses and he gets used to playing next to Dejounte Murray. Look for Young, who is coming off of a “cripple-double” where he went for 14 points (3-13 from the field), 10 assists, and 10 turnovers, to be aggressive early and often.
He’ll be going head-to-head with New York’s favorite point guard, Jalen Brunson, who is enjoying an auspicious start to the season. He comes into the game averaging 18.2 PPG and 7.2 APG but take out the tough season-opener against Memphis and the Bucks game where he was constantly blitzed, and he’s averaging 20.2 PPG and 8 APG. Brunson so far has been unselfish with the ball but against Young, who is 25 lbs lighter than hum and regarded as one of the worst defenders in the league, the hope is that Brunson can hunt the matchup, be aggressive and try to tire out Young on that end of the floor. Unfortunately, Brunson may find himself being guarded by Murray, who is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
Young will be joined in the backcourt by the newly acquired Dejounte Murray who comes into tonight averaging 20 PPG, 7.6 APG and 6.1 RPG on 45.5% from the field and an impressive 40% from 3. Starting at the two spot for the Knicks, to the dismay of many, will still be Evan Fournier despite having the worst net rating and plus/minus on the team. Fournier is coming off of his best offensive game where he went for 16 points on 6-9 from the field and currently averages 11.8 PPG, 1.7 APG, and 2.8 RPG.
NY is allowing 118.4 points per 100 possessions with Fournier on the floor this season - the worst individual DefRtg on the team. (Randle is second worst at 113.7)— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) November 1, 2022
Fournier's Net Rating of -4.0 also ranks dead last.
Quickley's Net Rating of +7.7 is the second-best on the team.
De’Andre Hunter has finally been able to stay on the court and has been producing at a very high and efficient rate for the Hawks. He comes into the game averaging 14PPG on 50% shooting from the field and a scorching 44.4% from 3 on 3.9 attempts per game.
He’ll be matched up against fellow 2019 draft classmate, RJ Barrett, who was selected one pick ahead of him. Barrett started off the season extremely cold but has since picked it up a bit. After shooting 34.6% from the field over his first three games, he’s shot 45.8% from the field in his last three. He is currently averaging 17.7 PPG, 2.2 APG, and 5.8 RPG on 40% shooting on the season, which is pretty much identical to his career averages. The key for Barrett, especially in this matchup, will be the three-point shot. Regardless of how efficient Barrett is in getting to the rim, if he cannot convert on his three-point attempts, Hunter will be able to neutralize the matchup, something that cannot happen if the Knicks want to come away with a win.
Starting at the power forward position will be perennial trade candidate, John Collins. Collins seems to be getting less and less opportunities in the offense, something he’s been vocal about before, and is currently having his worst statistical season since his rookie year. Despite shooting an efficient 54.2% from the field, he’s averaging a measly 13.7 PPG thanks in large part to his horrendous 26.1% from three and the lowly 10.3 shots he gets a game.
Julius Randle, who started the season incredibly hot, averaging 21.3 PPG on 51% from the field in his first three games, will look to get back on track after a trio of disappointing performances. The odds may be in his favor as he averages 26.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG, and 4.5 APG in 12 regular season games against Collins during his career.
Manning the middle for the Hawks will be veteran big man Clint Capela. While it’s still early on in the season, it’s interesting to note that Capela, like Collins, is having one of his worst statistical seasons so far. His MPG, PPG, FG%, FT%, RPG are all the lowest he’s had since his early days in Houston. He’s still a solid big who averages 8.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 1.7 BPG. but he seems to have lost a step or two.
His counterpart will be Mitchell Robinson, who is currently averaging a career-low 7.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG due to his career-high 3.7 fouls per game. What’s impressive, though is that despite his foul troubles and problems staying on the floor, he is actually averaging a career-high 2.5BPG in just 24 minutes, good for a whopping 3.7 blocks per 36.
Unveiling their statement jerseys, at home, against a familiar foe in Trae Young, coming off of two bad losses, this should be a fun one. The Hawks have two guards that can get to the rim easily and should feast off of the Knicks horrendous point-of-attack defense. Look for both Young, who always seems to play well in New York, and Murray to have a field day against Brunson and Fournier. And on the other end, they’ll be able to hide Young on Fournier while utilizing the size and length of Murray to defend Brunson, who the Knicks rely on heavily to get good looks.
That being said, Atlanta has been far from a perfect team. They lost to the Hornets early on this season and are coming off of a 20-point loss in Toronto. The Knicks may lose the battle in the backcourt but they should have the advantage in the front court with Barrett and Randle over Hunter and Collins. If they can win their battles and the defense can try to force Young into multiple turnovers, they should be able to keep the game close. The game may end up being decided by the bench where the Knicks should have an advantage. As far as the injury report goes, Quentin Grimes (foot) and Cam Reddish (non-COVID illness) are being listed as day-to-day while the Hawks’ Onyeka Okongwu (shoulder) is being listed as day-to-day and Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) is out.
I expect Young and Murray to have their way but ultimately not have enough to outdo Barrett, Randle, and the bench, who I expect to have big games. I’m going with the Knicks to eek out a close one as Young misses a late game-winning opportunity to extend their home winning streak to four.