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Putting the young Knicks in context

Where do the Knicks rank in 2022? And in the past 20+ years? It’s time to have fun plotting some charts!

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

There has been a lot of talk about where the current iteration of the New York Knicks is going. It’s an interesting discussion considering the roster that is in place entering the 2022 offseason. As much as we all fantasize about the potential of the likes of Jericho Sims, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, and Immanuel Quickley (all of them either 21 or 22 years old) there are also some very grizzled veterans in the squad such as Taj Gibson (36), Derrick Rose (33), Kemba Walker (31), and Alec Burks (30).

All things considered, though, and excluding players without at least 300 minutes played last year, the truth is that the Knicks boasted a roster comprised of players with an average age of 26.2 years. Not bad! Not bad? That’s the question I wanted to put into historical context, if only for fun.

Were the 2022 New York Knicks a young team compared to the rest of the NBA franchises? How did they perform in comparison to those other squads? And when pitted against the history of the Association? So I just couldn’t help myself and went digging through the data.

The Young Knicks in the 2022 Season

I’m not going to get into very deep or analytical number-crunching here. This is just a little fun exercise to sprinkle a little bit of context on the 2022 season and further back in time. I’m not here to tell you this guy is going to break the league in half, or that guy is not worth peanuts. Nah, let’s enjoy this stuff for what it is without getting too deep into it, please.

Here are your 2022 New York Knicks.

So, first things first, what about the most recent sample—those from the 2022 regular season—of games? Here’s how the NBA landscape looked this campaign in terms of average roster age and average minutes played over the full year (min. 300+ minutes played to register as a player of the franchise).

Alright. That’s interesting for a start! The Knicks are pretty much smack in the middle of both the age and the minutes-per-player spectrums. Definitely not as young as the Thunder (!) but surely not as old-bum as the Lakers.

Also, data can be beautiful!

The Young Knicks in the 21st Century

Moving onto a wider angle, I wanted to see how these Knicks rank among all-time franchises. Instead of going with the full “all-time” thing, though, I just reduced the timespan of covered seasons to those taking place in this century: 2000 to 2022. Here is the mess of a plot I obtained.

Other than a couple of outliers (shouts out to the 2008 Spurs and 2020 Wolves!) that chart is virtually unreadable. So, I have isolated the 23 rosters from the New York Knicks franchise, and here is where they are.

Still not quite the clearest way to paint the franchise’s evolution in terms of its roster age as the years went on. Let me try again.

Much better! Long gone are the days of putting squads of 29+ years of age on the court like in the good old early aughts. In fact, barring an extraordinary season in 2013 (because of Kurt Thomas, Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni, and Kenyon Martin all being 35+ years old) the Knicks have not reached that 29-figure in any single year after 2004!

The Knicks Franchise in the Post-2000 NBA Landscape

In fact, looking at a three-year rolling average (calculated as the average of Year X and the prior two seasons), this is how things look from 2000 on for all NBA franchises to play at least one season in that span.

You can spot the different Knicks eras since the turn of the century, can you!?

Here is how the top-12 and bottom-12 franchises rank, in terms of the average age of their rosters in the past 23 seasons.

Kinda middle-of-the-pack for the Knicks, ain’t it?

So looking at everything plotted above, the current iteration of the Knicks can’t really be considered the youngest one in the recent franchise history of New York, nor the youngest one in the contemporary NBA compared to other franchises out there. That said, though, the core is quite young and some of the older players such as Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, and Kemba Walker are either close to retiring or expected to get moved sooner rather than later—and, perhaps most promising for the future of the Knicks, they only feature as role/off-the-bench situational players.

Finally, here is the last couple of charts. Every player with 300+ minutes played in 2022 is organized by both age (horizontal axis) and PER (vertical axis).

And your phenomenal New York Knicks.