Knicks Need To Strongly Consider Rotation Change

Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks, NBA Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

The New York Knicks have endured what was the toughest start any team in the NBA had to face to start the 2023-24 regular season. New York was placed in the toughest pool in the In-Season Tournament, having to go up against the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat.

That has resulted in the Knicks having to face the Bucks five times this regular season. On top of that, they have had multiple back-to-back sets and have already faced the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers multiple times as well.

On top of the difficult schedule, the team has also had to overcome some record-setting poor shooting performances from Julius Randle. Despite all of the challenges that the Knicks have faced, they are entering Thursday’s game against the Detroit Pistons with a 10-7 record.

Currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, New York is right about where many people expected them to be this season. They are going to be battling for one of the spots outside of the NBA Play-In Tournament with a fighting chance to be inside the top three.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Immanuel Quickley, Josh Hart, RJ Barrett, Donte DiVincenzo, New York Knicks Updates

While their record is strong given the difficulty of their opponents, the Knicks could actually be performing at a higher level with a slight tweak to their rotation. When healthy, New York has a dominant starting lineup of Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Randle and Mitchell Robinson.

According to Knicks Muse on X, that group has played 182 minutes together and has a Net Rating of +7.0. That five-man group has a nice blend of two-way players that has been ascending with the improvement from Barrett on both ends of the court.

However, the lineup that is used most frequently after that is Josh Hart coming into the game for Barrett. Hart is regularly the first substitution that head coach Tom Thibodeau makes, and that five-man lineup has played 104 minutes together.

However, the results are polar opposite of the starting five. Brunson, Grimes, Hart, Randle and Robinson have a Net Rating of -10.5, essentially undoing all of the work that the starting five does at the beginning of the game.

Hart is the quintessential glue guy that all successful teams have in their rotation. But, some limitations to his game are accentuated in some lineups, such as the one Thibodeau turns to most often after his starting five.

In that group, the Knicks have three players who aren’t really threats offensively; Grimes, Hart and Robinson. That puts immense pressure on Brunson and Randle to score the ball, but the biggest drop-off is in 3-point shooting. 

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Immanuel Quickley, Josh Hart, RJ Barrett, Donte DiVincenzo, New York Knicks Updates

Barrett is in the midst of the best 3-point shooting season of his career, knocking down 43.3 percent of his 5.0 attempts per game. Hart is connecting on only 30.8 percent of his 3.1 attempts, which is clogging up an already inefficient Knicks offense.

Slightly tweaking the rotation, and bringing in Immanuel Quickley or Donte DiVincenzo as the first sub for Barrett should lead to more productive results for the Knicks. Both are excellent 3-point shooters and can more closely replicate the impact Barrett has, at least on the offensive side of the ball.

As a defensive-minded head coach, Thibodeau is likely more worried about what things will look like on that end of the floor without Hart in the game. The Knicks’ defensive performance could slip with Quickley or DiVincenzo entering for Barrett, making an already semi-undersized perimeter grouping of Brunson and Grimes that much smaller.

Alas, whatever slippage the Knicks have on that end of the court should be more than made up for offensively. Quickley and DiVincenzo would help spread the floor more for Brunson and Randle, making it more difficult to collapse and focus on their efforts.

Major changes aren’t needed as New York looks like one of the better teams in the league. However, a slight tweak to who subs in and when could take the team’s performance to another level.

Want the latest NBA analysis, breaking news, and insider information? Click Here. Follow NBA Analysis Network on Twitter and Facebook.

Interested in reading the latest storylines and analysis in the NFL? Check out our partner NFL Analysis Network.

Analysts Praise New York Knicks After Win vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Throughout the NBA season, several games will stick out to teams as potential turning points. For the New York Knicks, Sunday evening against the Cleveland

Los Angeles Clippers Face Brutal Russell Westbrook Injury Update

One of the reasons that the Los Angeles Clippers have found so much success during the 2023-24 NBA regular season has been their ability to

Chris Paul Claims Daryl Morey Lied To Him About Thunder Trade

Being traded is something that Golden State Warriors point guard Chris Paul has become all too familiar with during his NBA career. He has played