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Five Knicks players named in The Athletic 2023 Player Tiers

Same five as last year, only now better!

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Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Knicks might not have a superstar and still be chasing one, but they sure have a lineup packed full of talented basketball players.

That is, at least, according to Seth Partnow of The Athletic ($) and his yearly NBA Player Tiers project. In his latest edition, published in full at the end of last week, Partnow named five New York Knicks players in his Top 125 ahead of the 2023 regular season.

Just for context, and in case you have never heard of Partnow’s tiers, every year the analyst “names the top 125 players in the league after each season and then separates them into five distinct categories of value, each with their own sub-categories to further delineate them.“

A full explanation of the ranking/tiering process can be found here ($).

When it comes to the players named by Partnow that belong to the Knicks organization, those are, in order:

  • Tier 3B: PG Jalen Brunson
  • Tier 4B: PF Julius Randle
  • Tier 5A: SG Quentin Grimes
  • Tier 5A: SF RJ Barrett
  • Tier 5B: PG Immanuel Quickley

Here are some excerpts about the aforementioned five Knicks, as written by Partnow in his tiers project through last week.

Tier 3B: PG Jalen Brunson

As many around the league had long thought before Brunson carried the Mavs through the postseason two years ago and last year in his debut campaign in New York, Partnow was “skeptical of Jalen Brunson since before his NBA career began.”

The analyst wondered, “How would an undersized power guard with limited athletic pop function at the NBA level? Would such a player be a viable playoff performer? Could he be a starter? Could he become the best player on a playoff-level offense?” before acknowledging Brunson “answered yes to each question, so definitely that there is no conclusion to draw other than he is much better at basketball than previously given credit for.”

All things considered, though, Partnow “still doesn’t think that makes him a franchise-level player,” though he gave the Knicks starting point guard his flowers, saying that “it might be years before we see a player acquired as a free agent make as large an impact as Brunson has done in New York.”

Tier 4B: PF Julius Randle

According to Partnow, Randle is “perhaps the best illustration of the differences between regular-season accumulation and impactful postseason play in the NBA.”

While the analyst believes Randle’s high-volume, decent-efficiency skill set “has proven extremely useful in two of the last three seasons,” he goes on to counter that by stating that “in the playoffs, the diet of tough isolation shots has caught up with him.”

Tier 5: PG Immanuel Quickley, SG Quentin Grimes, SF RJ Barrett

Partnow didn’t break down each individual player on his lowest tier.

However, he defined the group as a mixture of “promising youngsters on the way up, stars still finding ways to contribute at a moderately high level later in their careers, and a group of excellent-but-not-quite-elite role players (including Quentin Grimes).”

Last season, the same five Knicks players made Partnow’s list as we covered here a year ago. However, entering the 2023-24 campaign, Brunson has gone up a tier (from 4A to 3B), while Julius Randle has jumped up from the last tier to 4B.