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As the New Year hit, the Knicks started getting key players back who were out due to COVID protocols. Honestly, the Knicks aren’t the only team to have to overcome COVID challenges as the league has been ravaged by COVID where teams have been decimated and having to rely on G-League call ups to fill roster spots. Just as the Knicks started getting key players back the team has been hit by injuries. D-Rose is out for at least 4 more weeks, Kemba is out with a knee injury, Evan Fournier is hobbled with a thigh contusion, Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson have been trying to get back to playing form as they are recovering from injuries. The season has been filled with highs and lows, with difficulties to have a set rotation that can be depended on night in and night out.
Currently the Knicks are 2 games below .500 and are 10th in the eastern conference. This past week the Knicks have gone 2-2. RJ has started the new year off right as he is showing huge strides in both confidence and consistency. Over the last week he has averaged 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists over the span including a huge 32 point game where Julius Randle who has been slumping this year also joined in with 30 points in a win over the Pacers. And let’s not forget RJ’s game winner against the Celtics, Thursday night. Hopefully this is something that can be sustained for the remainder of the season.
Though the Knicks have a lot of bigs, it’s finally nice to see Obi on the court consistently contributing. His influence is not always measured in stats, but his impact on the team is extremely important. When he get’s significant playing time, the Knicks tend to play with more energy and are able to play faster. Though it was a losing effort, Obi played 45 minutes against the Raptors where he had 19 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. He is a player who has and continues to put in the work and if used right, can really be an instrumental factor on the Knicks playoff push.
On the flip side, the struggles and inconsistency of Julius Randle have been very heavily talked about as he has been all over the place this year, but another player who has been extremely inconsistent is Evan Fournier and this week has been a prime example of this. He went from scoring 20 points to having 0 the next game, then exploding against his former team for 40 and then missed the next game due to injury. He is an extremely important piece to the team the Knicks are trying to build because he is able to stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting but much like the Knicks as an organization over the past few decades this erratic play is something that will need to change.
Over this next week we can hopefully get back above .500 as we have the Spurs, Mavericks and Hawks.Of those 3 teams, only the Mavericks have a better record than the Knicks.