The Knicks and the Nets, as Carmine Lupertazzi Jr. of “The Sopranos” might say, are at the precipice of a huge crossroad.More than halfway through the 2021-22 N.B.A. season, the groups have more questions about their rosters than they were expected to have in training camp. Both have underachieved relative to their preseason expectations. The Omicron version of the coronavirus has affected both teams– although the Internet can declare the crown here, considered that Kyrie Irving’s rejection to get vaccinated against Covid-19 has kept him off the floor most of the season.But there’s a great deal of want to walk around, too. The Knicks, at 22-23, have almost the very same record as they did at this point last year, when they went on a dominant second-half run to surprisingly get home-court benefit in the first round of the playoffs. And they appear to have turned a corner, going 8-5 in their last 13 video games. The Webs(27-16) are just a half-game behind first place in the Eastern Conference.(All statistics are through Tuesday’s video games.) There’s lots of time left for both groups to increase in the standings. Here’s a take a look at the concerns dealing with the Knicks and Nets as the second half of the season gets underway. The Knicks: Familiarity?
1. Will last year’s Julius Randle appear?Randle, the Knicks ‘cornerstone, coming off a large contract extension, has actually had a hard time
with his shooting for most of the year, which
is especially troublesome since he takes the most shots on the group. This is not the Randle who moved the Knicks to a second-half resurgence last year; the one who won one of the most Better Player Award, made his first All-Star selection and made third-team all-N.B.A. His struggles are baffling and partially originate from his inability to hit wide-open jumpers. Can the Knicks be one of the best teams in the N.B.A. in the second half without their best gamer producing at a high level? Perhaps,
however it’ll be exceptionally difficult to sustain that success over dozens of games– particularly provided the improvement in the remainder of the league– unless Randle comes around, too.2. Which RJ Barrett will the Knicks get this spring?Barrett, now in his third year, has had one defining characteristic in a young career: He is significantly much better in the 2nd half of seasons than the first. In all 3 years, Barrett,
21, has actually shot inadequately in the first half of the season, raising questions about his viability in the N.B.A.And then at the halfway point, a switch appears to flip and Barrett appears like the budding star the Knicks hoped they prepared with the third choice in 2019. Last year, Barrett balanced 18.6 points per game and shot 43.5 percent from 3-point variety after the All-Star break, up from 16.5 points per video game and 35 percent. The trend
is comparable this year. After another slow start, Barrett has actually played some of the best basketball of his career. In his very first 8 January games, Barrett balanced 23.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while hitting 46.7 percent of his 3-point attempts. He’s a trustworthy dribble-penetrator and may currently be the Knicks’ best option on offense.The question with Barrett has always been among endurance: Can he keep this up? Even in this effective January stretch, he’s had at least 4 ineffective offensive video games, consisting of Monday’s 7-for-18 performance in the Knicks’loss to Charlotte and a 6-for-16 trip Tuesday in a defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves.3.
What will the rotation be for the remainder of the season?Kemba Walker was the team’s beginning point guard at the beginning of the season. And after that he quickly wasn’t. Other than then he was, when the Knicks started to lose gamers to health and safety protocols. Walker played sporadically much better in his quick second act prior to missing a stretch of games with a knee issue.Walker, who went back to the court on Tuesday for the very first time since Dec. 29, is apparently the beginning point player again. Will he remain in the rotation? Especially with Derrick Rose’s ankle injury anticipated to keep him out for months? Tuesday was a motivating efficiency: Walker scored 19 points on 13 field goal attempts.If not, will the rookie Quentin Grimes, who has supplied a reputable scoring spark off the bench, be a component for the Knicks?And whom will Coach Tom Thibodeau utilize to close games, particularly if Evan Fournier’s struggles continue?The Nets: To Win or Not
to Win 1. When will Steve Nash stop experimenting?Coach Steve Nash has actually taken a novel method to the regular season, essentially treating wins as practically completely irrelevant.(Good idea too: The Webs are 4-7 in their last 11 video games.)He has mostly utilized the project to try out lineups. Gamers have actually been shuffled in and out, often seemingly at random. Some of this, unquestionably, is since of injuries and players rotating in and out of health and wellness protocols associated with Covid-19. However a few of the tinkering is just Nash throwing things at a wall. This year, the Webs have had 16 players start a video game for them. David Duke Jr., an undrafted rookie, has begun 13– practically unheard-of for a group with championship aspirations.