How the Knicks Exceeded Expectations With Magical 50 Win Season

Last year was an overachievement season. Coach Tom Thibodeau, in his 3rd season with the Knicks coached them to their first playoff series win in a decade. The Brunson/Randle Knicks came up short in round 2. This year, they vowed to do the opposite. The New York Knicks led by once again Brunson and a strong supporting cast, clinched the 2 seed in the East and finished with a 50-32 record. The sky's the limit for the Knicks, and here's how they got there.
Sacramento Kings v New York Knicks
Sacramento Kings v New York Knicks / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

What the Knicks have done is simply revive New York City. Last year was a fever dream finishing #5 in the East AND winning a series. This year they went completely above and beyond their "run of the mill" expectations set by the majority of the basketball media. Finishing with a 50 win season and the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Orange and Blue sit as a legitimate threat, no matter what the betting markets say.

High Expectations From The Start (From the Fans)

For the third year in a row, many Knicks (and NBA fans in general) expected Coach Thibodeau and Leon Rose to make ANOTHER attempt at trading for a superstar. Unfortunately, the Knicks fans were "let down" again. The Knicks did make some moves though, trading Obi Toppin to the Pacers for 2 2nd round picks, and signing Warriors SG Donte DiVincenzo to a 4 year $50 million contract, reuniting the Villanova connection with Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart. The Knick fans had hope that they would finish in the top 5 again, but other Knicks fans were disappointed when the teams started just 17-15 before the new year. The Knicks were ready to make a move, and what they did was a shock to the fanbase.

The Trade That Changed the Team

On December 30, 2023, the New York Knicks sent SF RJ Barrett, SG Immanuel Quickley, and a 2024 2nd round pick to the Toronto Raptors for 3&D wing OG Anunoby and PF Precious Achiuwa. When this trade was first announced Knicks fans were angered, and outraged. Most of the NBA believed the Knicks overpaid for OG. But, throughout the month of January the whole NBA and their media was proven incredibly wrong. As of today March 16, 2024: The New York Knicks record with OG is 20-3. Without Randle, 8-1. OG recently came off the IL from his elbow injury against the Heat back on January 27. (A day that will live in Knick infamy) Since his return, OG put up 13 points, 3 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 6 games.

OG wasn't the only one producing from the trade, the side piece of Precious Achiuwa might no longer have that name of a "side piece." Since he was traded to New York, Achiuwa has proven to be a legitimate big man, putting up a solid 7.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and averaging 1 or more blocks per game. Achiuwa has played 49 games with the Knicks and in his time as a Knick, he has provided some major big man depth for Coach Thibodeau.

Injuries, Injuries, And More Injuries

Over the course of the long 82 game season, this Knick team has been BANGED UP to the CORE. It's one thing to have a few injuries, but to have at least TEN players be injured and your STILL winning games? That is truly incredible. Notable players that were injured include the following: Jalen Brunson, OG Anunoby, (out for 2 months) Mitchell Robinson (was out 3 months) Precious Achiuwa, Isaiah Hartenstein, potentially Bojan Bogdanovic, Donte AND Josh Hart even though they only missed one game. And the coup de grace of them all: On April 5 Julius Randle received shoulder surgery, ruling him out for the season.

Nevertheless, through grit, grind, and determination the Knicks managed to pick up the 2 seed as previously mentioned. The good news is they will be having a home playoff series against the 7/8 winner of the play in.

New York City Gets its 2nd "MVP"

The New York Rangers have Artemi Panarin, a top 10 winger that finished top 5 in scoring. As for the Knicks they have a guy by the name of Jalen Brunson. This man was labeled as a backup for the longest time and said by the media nothing more than: "A colossal overpay." Yet this season, Brunson proved last year was NOT a fluke. Brunson averaged a whopping 28 pts, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds while playing 77 of 82 games. Brunson set multiple career highs including coming up one point shy of the all-time Knicks single game point record of 62, when he dropped 61 against the Spurs in a heartbreaking loss.

Brunson was hearing MVP chants for the majority of the season, and they were well deserved. Brunson made his first All Star Game this year and will most likely be a member of the All-NBA team.

What's next for the Knicks

The road ahead could potentially be a very bumpy one. As the Knicks first round matchup is the 7 seeded Philadelphia 76ers. Jalen Brunson + Friends vs the Process. A matchup the world is desperately waiting for. Game 1 will be this Saturday at 6pm at The Garden.

Buckle up Knick Fans, the story has just begun.

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