As we all know the Knicks have been the biggest joke of a franchise since the day the let Phil Jackson become the President of Basketball Operations. But after this season, I think it's safe to say the Knicks are back on track for what could be the start of something special.
As it stands right now the Knicks are sitting at the 5 seed in the east, and a game over .500 (19-18). Although for most teams this would be deemed as a below average record at the all star break, however for the Knicks and Knicks fans this a sign of optimism we never thought we'd see again. There's a few guys to attribute this success to, but it starts with Thibs and Leon Rose as heads of the franchise. What they've done with this team of young guys is by far enough of an accomplishment for me to call it a year, I mean we are seeing strides from RJ and Mitch, as well as Julius Randle who of course is having a career year averaging 23 Points, 11 Rebounds, and 5 Assists which was enough to get him a spot on the All Star team this year. Although its important to mention those guys (most importantly Randle) you cannot forget the hidden gem that is Immanuel Quickley. Quickly has been averaging 12 points off the bench for the Knicks this year and I could only imagine the amount of hype that would be around him if he were a starter for the team. Although we haven't seen too much from Obi Toppin, he did participate in the dunk contest, which of course we know is all bullshit, but still... there's a star to be made in Toppin, and seeing how well the Knicks have done with player development in just half a season, it wouldn't surprise me if next season he takes a big leap, potentially finding a way to be the teams 6th man or even a starter depending how they want to play size wise next season.
Now you're probably thinking I forgot Derrick Rose, but I really didn't. Derrick Rose in his second stint with the Knicks and his 3rd team playing under Thibs has really been the guy in New York since he was traded to the team for basically a bag of hot shit (Dennis Smith Jr. and Cash Considerations). Drowse is averaging 12 points, 5 assists and a steal per game this season, and although the numbers don't necessarily jump out at you on paper, it's more of the eye test that tells you there could be something special going on. The bonified leader of the team has been mentoring most of the young guys if not all, but most notably RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, and its absolutely a match made in heaven. Before I make my closing statement on Derrick Rose, I'd like to point out the fact that I am a delusional Knicks fan, taking little signs of improvement and promise and absolutely running with it. With that said I think Derrick Rose, who is 32 (basically old but not really old yet) can return to the upper echelon of basketball, and if there's anyway next season or the season after that one that he can guide this team to a top 4 seed he will absolutely finish top 5 for MVP. Before you click away just remember the MVP award is now a narrative based award, and although his skill will never bee top 5 or even top 20 if I am being completely honest, ever again, his story is most certainly top 5. However the storyline would go something like this: 'The man who had everything, lost everything, but than got it back in New York of all places. Leading one of the worst run organizations in all of sports to be a top 4 team in his conference'. Ignoring that possibility however unlikely would be more stupid than me taking 15 minutes out of my day to write a paragraph about how it's potentially possible.
Now that we've gone over the key players, head coach and front office, it's time to talk about Kenny Payne, the assistant coach from Kentucky that Leon Rose brought in to help the development of Julius Randle, Kevin Knox, Nerlens Noel, Immanuel Quickley, and all the other young guys on the squad. At the beginning of the statement, John Calipari said in a press conference that bringing in Kenny Payne would change the careers of Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel, Kevin Knox (with time), and give Immanuel Quickley (former Kentucky Guard) a greater chance at reaching his potential, and man was he right. Kenny Payne is getting some credit from hard core New York fans, but I do not believe he's getting enough, seriously if it weren't for him the Knicks would just be the same old Knicks, wasting the potential of their young guys and begging Dolan to sell the team (still doing that, but since Dolan has been hiding in his penthouse since the season began, finally allowing a coaching staff and front office full control I am on decent terms with him as of right now), and I am sure ridiculing the team for hiring Thibs to coach this team. He's crucial to this team, and I am scared of the head coaching offers he'll be getting in the future.