After an impressive season for the New York Knicks in which they made the playoffs as the four seed, they will now look to the offseason to improve their roster for next year. They are way ahead of schedule on their rebuild, and that can be credited to several things including the defensive coaching style of Tom Thibodeau, the emergence of Julius Randle as an all-star, the progression of RJ Barrett, the drafting of Immanuel Quickley, and the rebirth of Derrick Rose. All of these factors combined have catapulted the Knicks to a contender in the Eastern Conference.
Knicks Free Agent Strategy
The free-agent market will feature a ton of different options for the Knicks to improve their roster. When considering the right fit for the team, it’s important to look at their style of play and their weaknesses. Defense is the specialty of the Knicks, and they were the best in the NBA last season at 104.7 points allowed per game. On the other hand, they were at the bottom ten in points scored per game. A big reason why is that they were in the bottom five in three-pointers made per game.
Despite not making enough triples, they were actually very efficient from deep, ranking third in the NBA with a 39.2 three-point percentage. All things considered, when shopping the free-agent market, the Knicks would be wise to look for three-point sharpshooters who could also contribute on the defensive end as well. Here are three targets that make sense.
There are many reasons why Lonzo Ball is seemingly a perfect fit for the Knicks. First of all, he is a true point guard and would be a huge upgrade from Elfrid Payton in the starting lineup. This would also allow Quickley and Rose to continue coming off the bench, where they both thrived last season.
Ball is an excellent passer and playmaker, something that the Knicks desperately need. He averaged 5.7 assists per game last season and averages 6.4 for his career. In addition, his three-point shot continues to improve every year, and this past season he recorded a very respectable 37.8 percentage.
Ball is a tough competitor who plays good defense and that is an ideal fit for Thibodeau. He is a good on-ball defender, especially on the perimeter, and contributes in forcing turnovers with 1.5 steals per game average. The fact that he is still only 23 years old is a major bonus because he could grow with this young team and be a long-term staple.
There couldn’t be much better of a match than Ball and the Knicks, especially considering that Ball is always interested in playing on big market teams.
Impressively, Evan Fournier shot 41.3 percent from three-point range last season and even better in the postseason with 43.3. He is more than capable as a catch-and-shoot option but what makes him more valuable is his ability to create his own shot.
The Knicks do not have enough guys that make shots consistently off the dribble, so that skill of Fournier would be a huge help. His ball skills also allow for him to help out as a point guard too when needed. Defense is not a specialty of his, but he is not a liability there either. He has actually improved as a defender over the years and even averages over one steal per game.
At 28 years old, Fournier is still in the prime of his career. His versatility on the court and his ability to play multiple positions are what make him an intriguing fit for the Knicks. He is a solid piece for any roster and the type of complementary player who can bring a good team to the next level. The Knicks just may be the team to benefit from his services.
Otto Porter Jr
A somewhat under-the-radar option that could really be a useful addition is Otto Porter Jr. In his career, he shoots over 40 percent from three, and averages over one steal per game. What really makes him an attractive option, in addition to his efficient jump shot, is his defense. He can guard multiple positions because of his unique blend of size and athleticism. He is a very active and willing defender, which is exactly what Thibodeau wants.
Like Fournier, Porter is the type of complementary player that makes winning teams. He is also 28 years old with plenty left in the tank. The bonus for the Knicks is that Porter will be relatively cheap and would therefore be a great value signing with a ton of upside. He has the potential to make a big difference on a Knicks team that he would fit in with perfectly.