As the Knicks get set to open training camp, here’s the rundown of what to watch for this season:
Who will start at shooting guard, defensively challenged veteran Evan Fournier or inexperienced second-year player Quentin Grimes? It will be one of the major decisions of training camp, particularly after Grimes was so impressive during the Las Vegas Summer League.
Most intriguing rookie
The Knicks passed on the first round of the draft, making a series of trades to free up cap space and add draft picks for the coming years. They wound up with just one selection in the second round (42nd overall), and used it on Duke one-and-done guard Trevor Keels, who is unlikely to have much of a role this season.
Story to watch develop
The first draft pick of the Leon Rose era, Obi Toppin, made progress last year in a limited role, but there may not be much room for the athletic 6-foot-9 forward to grow after the Knicks brought back center Mitchell Robinson and added big man Isaiah Hartenstein. Toppin’s fit on this roster, as long as head coach Tom Thibodeau remains hesitant to play him alongside Julius Randle, is uncertain.
Coach’s toughest challenge
There is pressure on Thibodeau, after his second season resulted in a dismal 37-win campaign. That pressure is to at least get the Knicks into the play-in round while further developing young players such as Toppin, Grimes, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley.
Most intriguing newcomer
That is an easy choice: Jalen Brunson, the high-priced newcomer the Knicks are counting on to solve their decades-long problem at point guard. That $104 million contract is a lot to live up to.
Most notable absence
Positional versatility, shotmaking and defensive prowess, Alec Burks was a valuable Knick the past two seasons. His departure, in a trade to the Pistons along with Nerlens Noel to clear cap space, hurts the Knicks’ backcourt depth and 3-point shooting.
It’s fair to wonder how much Derrick Rose has left in his soon to be 34-year-old legs after he appeared in just 26 games a year ago due to multiple surgeries on his right ankle. A Thibodeau favorite, Rose was one of the linchpins to the 2020-21 breakthrough season for the Knicks.
Don’t be surprised if
Feron Hunt is one of the big stories of training camp. Signed to a two-way contract in March, the long 6-foot-8 wing is a promising perimeter defender who understands doing the little things is his NBA ticket, especially playing for a coach like Thibodeau.