Not only did the New York Knicks have one of their better drafts in recent years, but they have also been making great moves through trade and free agency. Standout forward and Naismith Player of the Year Obi Toppin fell right into their open arms with the 8th pick in the draft after being projected to go higher. New York has brought in multiple players through free agency, some of which have flown under the radar, like third-year big man Omari Spellman. Others made headlines, such as veteran guard Austin Rivers. Let’s break down their offseason acquisitions that will hopefully get the Knicks back on track after missing the playoffs for the past seven seasons.
Obi Toppin: F-Dayton
The Knicks used their first-round pick to select Obi Toppin, a power forward who flashes jaw-dropping dunks and has all-around athletism. Toppin will be vital on the court for the Knicks this year. Toppin can crash the glass and hustle down the court in seconds. He has strong court vision and knows when the double-team is coming in the paint. Not only does Obi run the floor, but he does so with confidence, unlike many of his teammates. Obi Toppin was the best pick that the Knicks have made in the last decade, and he will prove that to us this season.
Immanuel Quickley: G-Kentucky
The Knicks acquired the draft rights to guard Immanuel Quickley, via the Oklahoma City Thunder, who selected him with the 25th pick in the draft despite not being considered a first-round pick. However, I think this was a solid choice, as the Knicks are in desperate need of depth at guard. The reigning SEC Player of the Year averaged 16 points a game last year and shot 42% from three. He also will play a role on the defensive end of the court, as he is long and fast and can lock down a guard. Quickley likely won’t start, but he is a great ball-handler and should have a strong defensive presence coming off the bench.
Myles Powell: G- Seton Hall
Myles Powell, the Knicks undrafted steal who earned the Big East Player of the Year award, Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year, a consensus First-Team All-American in 2020, and two-time First Team All-Big East. Powell is quick on both sides of the court, averaging 2.1 steals last year and 23.1 points. The Knicks are continuing to build up their bench and develop these young players who have potential to be quality players and provide depth for them, which could lead to them contending. Powell is exactly what the Knicks are missing in Ntilikina, the ability to play defense well AND score while handling the ball in a smart way. Powell will play a strong role off the bench once the Knicks see what he can do and as he continues to improve his rebounding and he bulks up a little, he could be essential to the team.
Austin Rivers: G- Free Agency
The Knicks inked Austin Rivers to a 3 year, $10 million deal. Rivers is an experienced veteran who will not only be an asset on the court but a mentor to the players on a very young Knicks team. He started his NBA career on the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans), then spent a couple of years with the Clippers, he played for the Rockets this past season. Rivers thought he found a home in Houston, saying “It’s the happiest I’ve been in my career,” however he is now a Knick. Rivers is known to be a reliable backup point guard, and will most likely play the same role in New York behind Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina. He averaged about 9 points per game last year for the Rockets and will provide locker room leadership and a veteran presence for the young Knicks.
Omari Spellman: F- Trade with Minnesota
Omari Spellman was the 30th pick in the 2018 draft out of Villanova, where he played a key role in their national championship run. While it is still up in the air if the Knicks will keep him on their roster, if they chose to do so, this could be a breakout year for him. After spending 2 years in the league, Spellman is now looking to break out and should receive more playing time and improving aspects of their game. Over his short NBA career, he has averaged 6.8 points per game and shot 36.6 from three, pretty good for a young player. If he can improve his game around the rim and polish his rebounding, he has the potential to be a solid player for the Knicks.
The Knicks know that New York is disappointed in them, and it seems like team president Leon Rose finally has a plan. These players (and more) will hopefully be what the Knicks need to get them back on their feet, and back in the playoff hunt. After seven hard, disappointing years of missing the playoffs, missing out on stars in the draft, and poor management in the front office, the Knicks finally have a reliable head coach in Tom Thibodeau and a team of young players to build around.
Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler