The Knicks are currently on a seven game winning streak and a lot of their on-court execution and performances have been well analyzed and dissected. From the improvements that Julius Randle has made this season and Jalen Brunson’s adept ability to be an efficient scorer on a consistent basis, to the defense, lead by Mitchell Robinson, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, and Josh Hart hounding guys while still being on a string with their rotations, the Knicks are a good basketball team right now and a lot of people are finally starting to realize that. But one thing that’s gone somewhat under the radar, at least with non-Knicks fans, is just how close this team is and just how much fun they are having.
It’s crazy to think that just a season ago, this roster, made up of mostly the same core guys, were so often showing signs of frustration and even a level of disconnectedness. It wasn’t everyone or every game, and that’s not to say that they hated each other or disliked playing with each other consistently. But the vibes and atmosphere around the team rarely seemed quite right and it was clear that not everything was clicking. Now, obviously, a lot of that comes down to results. Last season was supposed to be the continued growth for a Knicks team coming off of it’s first playoff appearance in a long time but instead, what the fans and team got, was an incredibly frustrating team. One where wins were hard to come by, players, both young and old, were inconsistent, and the best player spent most of the season looking uncomfortable, frustrated, and detached from his teammates. Things continued to get worse when the team, on it’s way to a 37-45 record, continued to lose but Tom Thibodeau remained insistent on staying over reliant on the veteran players instead of pivoting and entrusting and developing the young core more.
Fast forward to the 22-23 campaign where, outside of the tough stretch to begin the season that included frustrating play and embarrassing losses a kin to last season, the Knicks have been great. And the team, lead by the aforementioned Randle, is not only winning games at a high rate but they are also having fun and enjoying themselves again. To start, for much of the season, we’ve seen Randle be better with his body language and composure. While he’s still prone to throwing his hands up in the air or complaining to the refs occasionally, there’s generally been a lot less of it happening this season. Again, results matter, and the fact that the Knicks are currently in sole possession of the fifth seed in the eastern conference helps. But Randle, along with both Brunson and assistant coach Johnnie Bryant, who have been credited with keeping Randle more calm, deserve a lot of credit.
RJ Barrett on Knicks putting egos aside: "We’re winning. What’s better than that? Everyone always says they wanna be part of a winning team and stuff, and that’s kinda what it looks like. Just a bunch of good players. You don’t know whose night it’s gonna be on any given night."— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) March 2, 2023
And it’s not just them either. Barrett, despite not posting the prettiest individual stats on a consistent basis, has been a big supporter of Randle, Brunson and the team’s overall success. Quickley and Grimes have been the definition of youthful exuberance, cosistently remaining positive and playing hard. Isaiah Hartenstein remained very critical of himself and kept his head up high when things weren’t going his way. And they also have guys like Obi Toppin, Jericho Sims, and Deuce McBride, who remain ready when called upon but don’t say a word when they don’t get big minutes. Even Thibodeau, who fans love to hate, deserves credit for the current culture of this team. And while it’s hard to truly say which one is a result of the other, it’s undeniable that what we have now is a lot more winning, and a lot more joy, a combination we have not seen in the Garden in quite a while.
We’ve seen some great post-game interviews with Randle looking incredibly happy next to Brunson.
We’ve gotten Randle getting thrown lobs off the backboard and then celebrating with Quickley on the other end.
Seeing this live, watching IQ strut down after, Randle smiling, dancing, felt real good to see, energy at MSG was nuts pic.twitter.com/ogfEhLodNC— Danny B (@dan_ny_b) February 26, 2023
And guys like Grimes, Barrett, and others have joined in on the fun as seen below.
One example of the loose feel in the Knick locker room after tonight’s win over BKN: https://t.co/4C7V7uKOCl pic.twitter.com/4Wq2k4lego— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 2, 2023
There’s still a long ways to go for the Knicks, both in the regular season and in the post season. And this team will need to do this for more than just one season to be considered “back” and a consistently good franchise. But this team, more than any other Knicks team in a very long time, genuinely seems to enjoy being with and playing with each other while actually winning as well. And remember, they’ve managed to do all of this with a relatively young core.
Average Age of Knicks Rotation (2013)— KnicksMuse (@KnicksMuse) March 2, 2023
30.6 Years Old
Average Age of Knicks Rotation (2023)
24.4 Years Old pic.twitter.com/QbJWN4BPE6
While the national media is too busy brainwashing casual NBA fans into thinking that the Knicks are still a failure for missing out on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Donovan Mitchell, Leon Rose and the Knicks have given us fans a team that not only wins but is also easy and fun to root for and it’s been a genuine blast returning to actually getting excited for Knicks games again.
Just left the Knicks locker room. I can confidently say that the vibes are immaculate. Everyone in there screaming jokes across the room. It was just a wave of cheeriness.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) March 2, 2023