Knicks Players Who Need to Step Up Entering December

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 25, 2021

Knicks Players Who Need to Step Up Entering December

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    The New York Knicks need to get their groove back.

    The momentum and good vibes accumulated during their 5-1 start have been erased amid their subsequent 5-7 rough patch. The offense and defense are both huddling near the NBA's midsection, which sounds fine, but it also means this squad hasn't showcased a special ability at either end.

    The Knicks look sort of, meh. That won't cut it for the most decorated resident of the mecca of basketball.

    If New York wants to make noise this season, it needs the following three players to power up during December.

RJ Barrett

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    There were so many interesting storylines behind the Bockers' rise last season that not enough attention was paid to RJ Barrett's dramatic improvement at both ends of the floor.

    The Knicks desperately need to get his trajectory back on track.

    Like the team as a whole, he enjoyed a fiery start to the season, but it's been all frigid ever since. Over his last 11 outings, he's down to just 12.4 points per game on 32.1/24.1/71.0 shooting.

    It's a small sample and nothing that should be too concerning big picture-wise with 2019's No. 3 pick. For this specific season, though, the Knicks would help themselves a ton by helping Barrett rediscover his range.

Julius Randle

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    All of New York's biggest ambitions for this season are tied to Julius Randle either recreating last season's success or adding to it.

    He was a first-time All-Star then and more efficient than ever. Volume production had always been a strength, but once the quality matched the quantity, that's when he went next level.

    He might have slipped a few tiers since.

    The volume remains (20.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists), but the efficiency has vanished (42.2/34.6/75.0 shooting slash). He, more than anyone, made the Knicks go last season. Now, his floor presence is dragging them down by an enormous 22.4 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com.

Kemba Walker

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    As soon as Kemba Walker latched on with the Knicks this summer, it had steal-of-the-offseason potential.

    But the Bronx native's return to the Big Apple hasn't gone according to the script, almost from the start. In his first game with the Knicks, he shot below 40 percent from the field and had more turnovers (four) than assists (three).

    There have been a few bright spots since, but they have been clouded over by far more struggles. Scoring is supposed to be his specialty, and even that has fallen woefully short of expectations. He has just two double-digit outbursts to show for his last 10 outings, a stretch in which he has averaged a mere 8.8 points on 37.2/23.8/80.0 shooting.

    New York has fared much better without him on both ends of the court. If he can't flip the switch soon, it could cost him his starting spot.

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