If you want to call the New York Knicks boring, go ahead and do so. Nobody will call you crazy, not in the environment in which the NBA operates these days.
That is, of course, the one in which what happens in the months spanning from July through October is more important than what takes place on the court through the winter and the playoffs.
When talking about the approach the Knicks took this summer, it’s fair to say it was a boring one. It is what it is. Just accept it and move on. In the grand scheme of things, the Knicks only completed one moderately interesting move when they flipped Obi Toppin for Donte DiVincenzo. A wing for a guard, not quite going yard.
Now, just a couple of weeks from the start of the regular season and with the roster virtually the same as it was shaped last year, there has only been one potential narrative touching on potential changes to Tom Thibodau’s lineup: who will start at guard?
Will it be Immanuel Quickley? Maybe the newly acquired DiVincenzo? Perhaps Evan Fournier!?
Well, none of those will.
“The big thing when you look at last season and you look at what our starting group did, you go in with the idea that’s where we’re going to start,” Thibodeau said on Media Day.
So we know that Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson will be our starters on Oct. 24th when the Knicks host the Boston Celtics.
That is fantastic and reassuring because it will leave Thibs with ample room to tinker with other lineup adjustments through the postseason not having to break his brain thinking about who to start here or there.
There are still decisions for Thibs to make, though, namely naming the final members of a roster that is currently over the limit and hosting more bodies than slots the NBA allows.
Basically, the Knicks have 12 guaranteed-contract players right now and they need to enter the regular season carrying 14 of them, while they can also add a 15th player to that. There are 21 players currently taking reps in the preseason.
Following Tuesday’s preseason opener, though, a comment from loyal P&T reader FooBarChu made me question the rotation of the Knicks. Are we focusing on the right thing? Are we really looking at what Thibs is putting the most importance on when it comes to deciding who plays the most minutes? Maybe not!
As FooBarChu put it: “Between Julius’s shave, Jericho’s full Sideshow Bob, Quickley’s Mos Def, and Jacob Toppin’s Obi-with-dreads... we need a full hair analysis of every Knick.“
Say no more, fam!
I have taken to the Getty Crates. I have gone through a million pictures. I have seen things. Ultimately, I found your Knickerbocker headshots for the 2023/24 season.
And hey, what if Thibs’ rotation ends up being all about the hair!? Better safe than sorry, so here’s the breakdown.
Presenting your NYC squad right here, right now, in all of its greatness, sorted from left to right, top to bottom, by the number of full-grown follicles on their domes and mandibles. (consider RJ and Knight the same person, which they might actually be, so the grid isn’t broken).
Takeaways? Not many!
But that’s because the exercise above is really based on my subjective opinion about hairstyles and facial hair. I have never donned cornrows, braids, or Arcidiacono’s smooth hair. I have seen Brunson with his braids out, and that’s wild as hell. But I just can guesstimate, if you know what I’m saying.
But numbers don’t lie. And we know for a fact what Thibs did and did not do last season. The next step on my way to knowledge was clear: plotting minutes per game against hair density. Here are the results.
Thibs relied heavily on a few players (in green), not that much in two others (in yellow), a bit less in another couple (in orange), and nearly nothing at all on poor Ryan Arcidiacono.
With baldies to the left and hair-sporters to the right, it’s clear that the players getting the most minutes as a group were those breaking combs. Check that cluster on the top-right corner of the chart. No doubt about it, folks.
That sounds ominous for the freshest Knick, DDV, doesn’t it? We’ll have to wait and see.
As for the backups/reserves/G-Leaguers fighting for a roster spot, if we follow Thibs’ seemingly clear preference for hairy sculps, then we can assume:
- There will be a new Toppin making it all the way to the regular-season Knickerbocker family
- Deuce McBride is a lock, but we probably already knew and expected that
- Isaiah Robby, Jaylen Martin, Duane Washington, and DaQuan Jeffries are solid contenders
- Charlie Brown and Ryan Arcidiacono are facing very long odds
- Dylan Windler is as good as cooked. So should be Nathan Knight, but he might make Thibs believe he’s RJ
So there you have it, folks. No need for more games, no need to prove anything on the floor, and no need for expert and hard-math calculations.
Maybe all of the above made sense. Maybe it did not—at all. So here I’m asking, who would you fill the three open spots in the roster with? Who would be your three picks for those 13th, 14th, and 15th slots? Let us all know!