Former NBA Champion Reveals Why New York Knicks are Succeeding in NBA 2020-21 Season

Published 01/08/2021, 11:30 AM EST
New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin (1) celebrates with teammates after a play during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have arguably been the most underwhelming team in the NBA since the last decade. They haven’t made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season. But this season the Knicks have seen a renaissance. In the first eight games, they have only lost three and won five.


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The biggest game changer has been the change of coaching staff. The first thing executive Leon Rose did was to bring in an experienced coach in Tom Thibodeau.

Dec 31, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts against the Toronto Raptors during the first quarter at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing spell with the Timberwolves, coach Tibbs was away from the game for a year. With the Knicks, the veteran coach has showed his quality and transformed the team.


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The team has also have a new star in Julius Randle. Randle till now has career year and averaging almost a triple double every game. RJ Barrett has also shown significant progress, and free agent signing Austin Rivers has slotted right in the team. They have certainly answered their critics in some fashion.

Kendrick Perkins impressed by the Knicks

Former NBA champion Kendrick Perkins in a recent appearance in the ESPN’s The Jump talked about the resurgent Knicks and described why he was so impressed by their performance. He also explained how the hiring of Tom Thibodeau was crucial for the Knicks.

He said, “We are finally seeing something good about the Knicks. It has been a decade that we have been talking bad things about the Knicks are here they are and it started with the hiring of coach Tom Thibodeau.

“You remember when everyone had all these questions about coach Tibbs- was he gonna be able to adjust? And you remember I told you on the show right when he got hired I said Tibbs had time to reflect on himself and learn the new generation, and it shows on the court.

“One thing you know about Tom Thibodeau is that he’s going to demand guys to play defense at the highest level, and that’s what the Knicks have been doing. So he’s going to prepare guys, he’s going to have them ready. Guys are going to know their personnel.

“In the offensive end Tibbs is letting these guys be themselves, they are playing freely together. Julius Randle has always been a stud in my eyes. Now he has a coach that actually believes in not only on his scoring and rebounding, but his ability to create for others.

“I love the direction that the Knicks are going in, and I say they are a sleeper pick to making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.”

Can the New York Knicks finally end their playoff drought?

The Knicks haven’t made it to the playoffs in the last six seasons. This time around, things are very different for the Knicks. They no longer have the worst record in the league, and the team finally looks functional.

A lot of credit goes to Thibodeau. Coach Tibbs has made the Knicks much more solid defensively. After having a dismal defensive display last season where they had the 23rd best defense, they now are the 10th best team defensively.


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Dec 13, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) ties up New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) for a jump ball during the second quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The team has also looked great offensively as they have become much more fluid in their passing. Tibbs has also brought out the best from their veteran signings Alec Burks and Austin Rivers, who are having their best seasons in recent memory.

The emergence of Julius Randle and RJ Barret as stars for the team has changed the fortune for the team. They now have three wins in a row and have the 5th best record in the Eastern Conference.


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Given the form they are in and the way they are playing, they may a real chance to win enough games to stay over .500. The Knicks might just break their six-year drought and make it to the playoffs this time.


Aditya Mohapatra

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Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.