Mediocrity, Thy Name is The Knicks

Shortly after the Knicks signed Jalen Brunson to the largest deal in NBA history for a non-all-star player, I wrote an article about how it was another classic masterstroke of mediocrity by the New York Knicks, a franchise marred in it due to crippling decisions by front offices ever since I have followed basketball.

Well, turns out the Knicks did one better and decided to sign RJ Barrett to a monster 4-year, $130 million extension. What is it with the Knicks and handing 9 figure contracts to players who haven’t even made an all-star team? The justification for this deal is: you’re not paying RJ for what he is, you’re paying him for what you hope he can become. I believe this was based off the stretch he had after the all-star game last season where he averaged 24.5 points/6.2 Reb/3.8 asst. per game and was an overall +29. Gaudy counting stats certainly, but when you take even a slightly deeper dive you see that it had the makings of fools gold.

During that same stretch, RJ also shot 40% from the field and 30% from 3pt range. Both those percentages were below his career averages up to that point, not by much, but below. This leads me to my point…RJ Barrett, four years into his career, is exactly what he was after his rookie year. He is an inefficient shot taker who is a hypothetical on defense and doesn’t make players around him better. Part of the reason signing Brunson was to “unlock” RJ. To this point he’s turning in his worst statistical season of his career, after getting his bag.

To be fair, Brunson has actually been living up to his deal individually, averaging 21.8 PPG and 6.7 Assists. If the Knicks didn’t hand RJ such an outrageous deal, I actually would have had to be writing this article about how wrong I was about Brunson being another mediocre move. But, in typical Knicks fashion they follow good money with bad and lock themselves into what is likely the fourth best player on a championship squad for all star money. RJ is only 23, and it’s possible he refines his game and becomes an all star and makes me eat my words, much like Brunson seemingly has…but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. The Knicks track record for player development is possibly the worst in the league, and we have a tired retread at coach to steward a young team when he is well known for not trusting young players, or developing them past accosting them to play defense and playing them 40 minutes a game (which isn’t even working this year, the Knicks are 26th in defense).

The moral of the story is this: for every good Knicks move, there is at least one bad one to keep things mediocre…perfectly balanced, as everything should be.


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