The 2020-2021 NBA season was as interesting as any. Countless off-court issues caused this year to look murky before the opening tip. This doesn’t even include the lack of expectations for the New York Knicks before the start. 2020-2021 is one Knicks fans won’t forget for a long time, here’s why.
This was Tom Thibodeau‘s first year, and he didn’t disappoint. Thibs was met with initial criticism and then got to work. Thibs put in the work with his players and demanded the best from them. This kind of accountability from the Head Coach position was something fans hadn’t seen in a long time. So finally after three coaching changes in five years, and “resetting the culture” being shoved down fans throats by the front office, that actually happened. It hasn’t even been a year since Thibs was hired, and already this team has made the playoffs become a top ten defense, made The Garden mean something, and develop players.
If you touched the floor for the Knicks this season, you contributed. Just look at how Thibs was able to get the most out of his veterans. Julius Randle won Most Improved Player and looks like a cornerstone of the Orange and Blue. With Randle, he elevated his game and this team to levels nobody saw for this year. Yes, he struggled in the playoffs, but the Knicks wouldn’t be there without him. Then you have constants with Thibs teams, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, two players that always rock with Thibs and played big roles. Rose was nominated for Sixth Man of The Year and deserves every ounce of love he’s getting. He’s not the old DRose, he’s the present DRose, which is still a remarkable talent. Taj Gibson never lit up the box score, but was a big veteran presence, and held it down very well without Mitchell Robinson.
Knicks have a Future:
For the first time in forever, there’s a future in New York. As I just listed, there are pieces that are big parts of this team’s future, and draft capital, the future is very bright. Pair the pieces and picks with a good salary cap, this team should make another playoff appearance next season. In a good draft with two first-round picks, and fifty million in cap space, the Knicks actually appear to be back. With coaches and draft picks seemingly walking in and out the door in a month, it’d appear that won’t happen with this group. Immanuel Quickley was a revelation and dazzled for the majority of the season. Obi Toppin struggled but then turned it on in spurts towards the end. RJ Barrett took the next step to becoming the player we think he’ll be. These are players taken in the last two drafts and will have serious impacts on teams in the near future.
Restored Belief in the Knicks:
Taking away from the first two parts I wrote, the Knicks and Thibodeau have restored belief that this team can be a competent organization. Knicks fans are extremely loyal, and this season was huge in showing them that the team has a plan. Being able to watch this team every night was a pleasure. I know that the Knicks retained and gained a ton of fans this year. For the first time since 2012, there was a player product, and decisions made that actually made sense. Under Thibs and Leon Rose, the light at the end of the tunnel actually is within sight.
After a surprising, yet incredible year, I believe the Knicks will be back next season. The right decision-makers are there and will keep up the great work. Thank you, players, and the entire organization for a great run.