It's been a while since the New York Knicks last were relevant and being a Knicks fan must be pretty hard right now. However, for the first time in ages, it seems like there's some light at the end of the tunnel for a franchise that used to be great.
The Knicks are coming off their best offseason in years. And even though they didn't land a superstar via trade or free agency - again - they've put together a team that could at least try and make a playoff run in the Eastern Conference.
With Tom Thibodeau at the helm and their prized rookie Obi Toppin ready to take the Madison Square Garden by storm, perhaps we're sleeping on the Knickerbockers. That's why today, we're going to let you know about their projected starting lineup for the 2020-21 season.
Bench: Austin Rivers, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks, Myles Powell, Andrew White, Reggie Bullock, Ignas Brazdeikis, Obi Toppin, Skal Labissiere, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nerlens Noel, Omari Spellman
Point Guard: Elfrid Payton
Believe it or not, Elfrid Payton looks like Tom Thibodeau's safest bet at point guard right now. He's a solid defender and playmaker and can bring more balance to the team than Frank Ntilikina (better defender, worse scorer, and playmaker) or Dennis Smith Jr (more athletic and better scorer but worse defender and playmaker).
Payton didn't live up to the hype that surrounded him as the second coming of Rajon Rondo but he's still an above-the-average point guard that knows how to get his teammates the ball when and where they need him, so the job is his to lose for now.
Shooting Guard: RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett has drawn mixed reviews since he played for the Duke Blue Devils. It's clear that the athleticism and talent are there and he could turn out to be one of the most dominant scorers around the league, but the shot-selection is a concern.
Barrett showed glimpses of greatness from time to time during his rookie season. Maybe we're just sleeping on him because of the Knicks' struggles overall, but there's a strong belief within the organization that he's their biggest building block right now.
Small Forward: Kevin Knox
Kevin Knox drew comparisons to Paul George when he first made it to the league. Needless to say, he's far below that expectation and some people even question whether he'll be in the NBA a couple of years from now, so he's got a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
Knox has the physical tools to become a dominant two-way player but he needs to take a huge step forward next season. He's been inefficient as a scorer and inconsistent in the defensive end of the floor but he's still pretty young, so we'll give him another shot.
Power Forward: Julius Randle
Julius Randle is one of the most polarizing players in the league. No one can question his drive, grit, effort, and grind, but he's gotten one dimensional and predictable and is yet to improve in the areas that concerned scouts when he was playing in college.
Randle is explosive, strong, and athletic. He's a solid offensive rebounder and a much-improved ball-handler. Then again, the Knicks just have no use for him and should look to trade him as soon as possible to unleash Obi Toppin at the power forward spot.
Center: Mitchell Robinson
The New York Knicks landed a true gem in Mitchell Robinson. A lot of people slept on him but he's proving that he doesn't shy away at the big stage by becoming the best player on the team last season. And, according to those close to him, he's only gotten better in the prolonged offseason.
Robinson knows how to use his length to alter a lot of shots below and above the rim, and he can defend in the perimeter as well. He improved his shot and his handles and has already impressed with his athleticism as a rim runner and a finisher.