Knicks Players with Most at Stake During 2022-23 NBA Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 15, 2022

Knicks Players with Most at Stake During 2022-23 NBA Season

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    The New York Knicks have plenty to prove during the 2022-23 NBA season.

    They're not only looking to rebound from a difficult 2021-22 campaign, but they're also out to justify the massive investments made in this roster. Between adding Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein, bringing back Mitchell Robinson and extending RJ Barrett, the franchise has pumped a ton of resources into this team.

    The entire roster, then, should feel some degree of pressure during the upcoming season, but the following three players will experience it more than most.

Jalen Brunson

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    Pressure didn't get the best of Jalen Brunson last season, as he turned a contract year into a breakout campaign and punctuated it by inking a four-year, $104 million pact.

    Securing the bag was critical, but now he needs to justify its price tag—and do so under the always watchful eye of the New York media.

    All eyes will be on Brunson to determine whether he's worth the money and if he can be the kind of addition that elevates this team to a new tier. He is a good player, but he hasn't hit that level yet. Last season was the most productive of his career, and he still finished it with per-game averages of only 16.3 points and 4.8 assists.

    He should have a chance to spread his wings more now that he's not playing second fiddle to Luka Doncic in Dallas, although there are other mouths to feed in New York, too, so it's unclear how big Brunson's role increase will be. Given the investment level, the Knicks will probably give him all of the touches he can handle, and everyone around the hoops world will be watching to see how he reacts.

Julius Randle

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    It wasn't surprising to see Julius Randle's fall back to earth this past season. It might have been disappointing, sure, but it definitely wasn't shocking.

    His 2020-21 campaign bordered on brilliance, but it was also propped up by numbers the rest of his career suggested weren't sustainable. Regression should've been expected, and it hit him hard: his field-goal percentage fell from 45.6 to 41.1 while his three-point percentage plummeted from 41.4 to 30.8.

    Unfortunately, Randle's season was rocky for reasons beyond just his sagging stat lines. His behavior had some around the league thinking "he's acting in a "James Harden type of way" that suggests he wants a new place of work next season," Marc Berman of the New York Post reported in March.

    Randle surely has his own goals list for the upcoming season, but it should be topped with a simple (sounding) task: playing so well that it flushes the memory of this 2021-22 effort. If not, he could hear his name rumbling around the trade rumor mill, perhaps even during this season.

Cam Reddish

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    While every Knick will have something at stake during the upcoming season, Cam Reddish might be playing for his NBA career.

    Now, that may ring a tad hyperbolic for a 23-year-old, but he has failed to make a splash in three NBA seasons and clubs may not give him more time to figure it out. He already saw the Atlanta Hawks, the team that drafted him 10th overall in 2019, trade him away, and the Knicks—or coach Tom Thibodeau, at least—have never shown a ton of interest in developing him.

    He reportedly wants to be traded again, per Marc Berman of the New York Post, as the clock is ticking for Reddish to make his mark. He needs a new deal by next season, and he hasn't exactly incentivized teams to pay him.

    The Knicks didn't make him a rotation player right away, and even when he started getting minutes, he shot just 41.5 percent from the field and 25.8 percent from three. You can still see the rough sketch of an intriguing talent—think: three-and-D forward with some shot-creation—but teams will only chase potential for so long before moving on to the next up-and-comer.

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