The New York Knicks have hit their stride lately and are playing their best basketball right now, having won six out of their last seven games to push their record to 23-16. This run came immediately after the trade that sent Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn.
According to a source within the team, this may not be a coincidence.
Knicks Employee: "They Got Rid Of The Softies"
According to Knicks writer and NBA Columnist Steve Popper of Newsday Sports, a team source on the Knicks said their recent success was due to "getting rid of the softies". This is allegedly not only referring to Quickley and Barrett but also Obi Toppin, who was traded to the Indiana Pacers in the offseason.
Referring to these players as "soft" is a bit harsh, but there is some truth to the idea that they may not have been the right pieces for a team coached by Tom Thibodeau. Coach Thibs famously prefers hard-nosed, physical defenders over offense-first players.
Toppin was a weak defender for his position. Quickley tries hard and can be decent, but he is certainly not a plus defender. Barrett is a fine defender but he is nowhere near the level of OG Anunoby, or a shooter for that matter. Therefore, replacing Quickley and Barrett with one of the best two-way wings in the league was certainly going to help making the Knicks less "soft".
The current iteration of the Knicks is a more fitting team to Thibs' stylings. Everyone plays hard and physical and competes defensively. The team may have lost some offensive firepower by losing Quickley but they have better spacing around the star duo of Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson. This helps them be more than the sum of their parts.
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