Happy new year, Knicks fans! What a week it’s been. And before you say anything - I know. Brunson won conference POTW. I love Jalen Brunson. And I also don’t care. We knew all of this about Jalen Brunson. My POTW is someone that I didn’t know much about not too long ago.
Seven days ago, the New York Knicks were in a very different place. After a 140-126 drubbing vs. the Pacers last Saturday night, a new reality began to set in.
In a trade that broke earlier that day, RJ Barrett, the Maple Mamba, returned to his home country with the Toronto Raptors. Alongside him was Immanuel Quickley, another home grown player and fan favorite.
In return, the Knicks received OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn. The team was flailing over its past few games, and the squad was looking for a spark. OG has a reputation as one of the top defenders in the league, and Achiuwa and Flynn have been two NBA-caliber depth pieces coming to a team in search of just that.
It was a risk. But early returns have been very encouraging.
On Monday, the new-look Knicks trotted out OG in the starting five for the first time against Minnesota, the top team in the West. The Knicks won by six. Anunoby was a +19.
On Wednesday, New York took on the Chicago Bulls on national television in a primetime game. The Knicks won by 16. Anunoby was a +35.
On Friday, New York traveled to Philadelphia to matchup against the Sixers, again on national TV. The Knicks won by 36. Anunoby was a +20.
On Saturday, New York visited the lowly Wizards in Washington D.C. The Knicks won by 16. Anunoby was a +11.
Nope! No typos! Double- and triple-check them. You couldn’t have scripted a better week. Four games. Four wins. And Anunoby was a +85 across the week, playing fantastic defense and making timely buckets.
In his first 4 games as a Knick, OG Anunoby has been a defensive powerhouse.— Big Knick Energy (@BigKnickEnergy_) January 8, 2024
• OG’s opponents are averaging just 9.5 points per game when he is the primary defender.
• His defensive rating is a 98.5
• Anunoby has the best +/- in a player's first 4 games as a Knick, with a +84… pic.twitter.com/CL2to2IRAH
That’s the highest in Knicks history. That’s the second highest in NBA history. Jeez.
Don’t get me wrong - there were other heroes in the blue and orange this week. Jalen Brunson literally won Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Julius Randle had three 30 point games. Isaiah Hartenstein continued to put up career numbers on the glass.
Even with all of that, a first impression is always a lasting one, and this was one that fans could only dream of. The Knicks were sorely seeking a strong defensive player who could complement them on the offensive end of the floor, and they certainly found one. I don’t give a damn about counting stats. This team feels different than they did a week ago, and there’s one reason for it: OG Anunoby.
Welcome to New York.