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New York Knicks playoffs chances: Can the Knicks make the playoffs?

New York Knicks playoffs

The beginning of the 2022-23 season is upon us. It’s just around the corner, and here at Knicks Central, we’re getting restless! Personally, I think it’s the best time of year to be a Knick fan. The team hasn’t lost a game and the idealistic New York fan base is fueled by the possibility of success. Today, we wanted to dig into that possibility and answer the question, can the Knicks make the playoffs?

Despite what you hear about the Knicks, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Leon Rose and the front office has been working towards a plan for the last several years. Now, over the next couple of years, we might start to see it culminating into on court success.

In this post, we are breaking down the New York Knicks playoffs chances. What needs to go right? What decisions will the team need to make? Ultimately, trying to determine how the Knicks can get there and if playoffs should be a real expectation for this team.

So, can the Knicks make the playoffs next season? Let’s find out!

Last time the Knicks made the playoffs

To begin, a quick look back at the Knicks last playoff appearance. The last time they made the playoffs was the 2020-21 season, as the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference.

Led by the NBA’s Most Improved Player (MIP), Julius Randle, the Knicks defied all odds to break the franchise’s playoff drought of 8 years. New York City was bullish on the teams first round chances against the Atlanta Hawks after a strong year, however, after the first game, it was clear they were outmatched and won only 1 game in the series.

The success during the 2020-21 season was an anomaly. They outperformed all expectations and crashed down to Earth the following season. Regression in play from Julius Randle and a team defense that didn’t have the same grit were the major reasons for the teams decline. With that said, the lottery was always the expectation for this team.

What are the odds Knicks make playoffs?

At the time of writing, September 23rd, the New York Knicks odds to make the playoffs are +210, according to Fanduel Sportsbook. While they are underdogs to make the playoffs, odds makers are not counting them completely out. They sit on the fringe, just below the Chicago Bulls at -175.

The Eastern Conference is becoming more and more talented by the day. Now with Donovan Mitchell joining the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Knicks have been pushed further down the totem pole. Odds makers have the Hawks, Bulls, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards as the top rivals for the play in spots.

What is the plan for the Knicks to get better?

In a recent interview between Leon Rose and Alan Hahn on MSG Networks, they talked in detail about the future and plan for this Knicks team.

In short, the plan is to continue developing the youth and winning games. They are not planning on tanking for a top draft pick. Rose is putting his faith in Tom Thibodeau to galvanize the team and structure team lineups. As he mentions in the interview, there is no edict on playing the young guys – his focus is to win games.

Whilst he is happy with where the Knicks are today, he mentions that the “shop is not closed.” Meaning the front office is still very much looking to trade players if it will improve the team. It sounds like everyone is on the trade table if the deal is right.

With all of this said, the plan for next season is to win as many games as possible. The front office will continue to look for opportunities to improve. Don’t forget, the Knicks still have 11 first draft picks through to 2029, of which, 9 can be used in a trade. With so many assets at their disposal, the Knicks will have no trouble moving players to free cap space, or including draft picks in a deal for a premium talent.

Knicks challenges to overcome in 2022-23 season

Now that we have a better understanding of what the front office are thinking, how does this translate to the New York Knicks playoffs chances?

Here are walking through some of the key areas that can impact the Knicks season. These are team variables and areas that will need to go well for them to make the playoffs.

The Eastern Conference keeps getting better

Games in the Eastern Conference are becoming more challenging. There are less and less teams to feed on during the season. With the Cleveland Cavaliers taking a giant leap and the Detroit Pistons starting to acquire talent that will help them win games, there are fewer easy games for the Knicks.

The improvement of the conference will directly impact the Knicks season record. There is less room for error and the Knicks will need to show up every night if they want a win. Having said that, this will impact all Eastern Conference teams. There will be less ability for top talent to take nights off, even against the conferences least talented teams.

Here are the teams the Knicks are projected to be competing with for a 7 or 8 playoff seed:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Washington Wizards

As you can see, it’s a deep conference!

All of these teams have genuine talent on their teams in some capacity. Hawks have Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, Bulls have Zach Lavine and Demar Derozan, while the Hornets have LaMelo Ball and the Wizards have Bradley Beal.

The Knicks can compete with these teams on a night to night basis. They have one of the deepest benches in the league, which could help them outlast some of these teams down the stretch.

Strengths of the Knicks next season

From what you read about the New York Knicks, you would think they have nothing going for them, but that is not true. They have three key strengths that can translate to wins:

  1. One of the deepest benches in the league
  2. Key positions filled and young player improvement
  3. Team that is willing to play hard

Tom Thibodeau is spoiled for choice. He has a deep bench at his disposal, that if used correctly, can tire out opposing teams and give different looks to keep defenses guessing.

The Knicks also have a legit starting point guard in Jalen Brunson. Last season, the ball was sticky and was played far too often through Julius Randle. As a result, the team became predictable and easy to defend. With Brunson leading the starting lineup, there is a genuine key position that has improved and that has the potential to feed into the play of others on the team.

Improvements and growing confidence of the young core of RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes and Cam Reddish will translate into on court success. On most nights you can expect the Knicks bench to outplay the opposing team.

A well coached team and a starting unit that can show some resiliency, will give the Knicks a chance on most nights. If they can win a few close games, avoid long losing streaks and find a way to manage their deep roster effectively, they will certainly be in the mix for a low playoff seed.

Roster challenges they will need to overcome

There is still a lot of noise around what the Knicks will do with Julius Randle and Evan Fournier. As the season progresses, if the team starts slowly and the young guys are not receiving valuable minutes, you can be sure you will begin to hear the media ask questions.

If the New York Knicks cannot manage this productively, we could see this negativity seep into the locker room. As we saw last season with Randle, this kind of negativity has the potential to derail a season.

This will be a challenge we will need to watch closely as the season begins. It will directly impact the Knicks playoff chances.

What’s the final verdict?

So, can the Knicks make the playoffs? In short, yes, they absolutely have an opportunity to be in the mix for a playoff position. Albeit, it’s likely this will be a low seed and many things must go right for this to happen.

Unfortunately, the Knicks don’t have a top 5 player that can carry them over the course of a season. They will be relying on depth and team basketball to make it happen. A path forward that is rarely a playoff winning formula in the NBA, but we think the opportunity is there.

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