Julius Randle has an MVP poll case; Derrick Rose is popping again the clock, Obi Toppin is hitting transition threes, and R.J. Barrett remains to be exhibiting immense progress.
For the primary time since their memorable, joyous, and outlier, 54-win season, the New York Knicks have gained 9 straight video games. They haven’t gained a playoff collection since then both, however they, eventually, have the makings of a squad who’s more likely to piss somebody off round this time subsequent month. For comparability’s sake, they’re now the one workforce outdoors of the Utah Jazz with a successful streak that lengthy this season.
By the way, the earlier nine-game Knicks successful streak truly prolonged to 13 earlier than an time beyond regulation loss to present Coach of the 12 months candidate Tom Thibodeau, who has unquestionably left his imprint on this workforce. The Knicks defeated the Toronto Raptors 120-103 in a nationally televised Saturday afternoon (old-school!) recreation, they usually’re now 34-27, good for fourth within the Japanese Convention.
Randle, the odds-on favourite to win this season’s Most Improved Participant Award, completed with 31 factors, and 10 rebounds on 10-of-17 capturing from the sector, together with 5-of-7 makes on three level makes an attempt. He’s additionally proving he’s worthy of residing on the precise MVP poll of your favourite (or least favourite) voters when the time comes, past the serenades from the hundreds in attendance at Madison Sq. Backyard at this time.
It takes 5 for a poll, and Randle’s case is healthier than most as he continues to guide a workforce nobody foresaw enjoying vital basketball this late within the season. Randle’s nonetheless averaging over 24 factors, near 11 rebounds, and over six assists with 11 video games remaining. Most stunning of all, he’s capturing over 40-percent from three at over 5 makes an attempt per recreation.
Rose was (considerably controversially) acquired from the Detroit Pistons on February 8 in trade for Dennis Smith and a second-round decide. Since then, he’s been one of the vital impactful gamers on the roster. He got here into the afternoon scoring over 13 factors per recreation on 45 / 37 / 84 capturing splits, and at this time he exploded for 19 factors and 7 assists off the bench whereas capturing 7-for-10 and being a +26.
He additionally violated Pascal Siakam by taking him ice skating on a spring Saturday.
Toppin in transition and not dunking? Toppin solely had a nine-minute cameo nevertheless it got here with 9 factors, all of which arrived from three-point land.
And Barrett continues to have an unheralded awakening in yr two that must be garnering extra consideration contemplating the Knicks’ rise. However alas, the Duke alum and top-three decide from the 2019 Draft completed with 25 factors, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and shot 8-of-16 from the sector, together with 3-of-7 makes from three and 6-of-7 free throws. Barrett was additionally a +23, second solely to Rose’s +26 at this time.
Now, the Knicks are additionally practically as near the third spot than the play-in, sitting simply 3.5 video games behind the Milwaukee Bucks — which is able to seemingly return to 4 after they beat the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers at this time — and a couple of.5 video games forward of the seventh-seeded Miami Warmth.
Furthermore, the Knicks shot 56 p.c from the sector, 51 p.c from three, and 83 p.c on free throws as a workforce. And, let’s be trustworthy, these dudes weren’t going to lose in front of Benny The Butcher. That’s not What Would Chine Gun Do.