VSiN’s NBA expert takes a deep dive into New York Knicks betting angles as the regular season approaches.
The obvious change with the Knicks is in the backcourt, where Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier will take over starting duties. Tom Thibodeau is hoping those two can recreate the statistical dominance they had for Boston last season, when the Celtics outscored opponents by 13.9 points every 100 possessions when they were on the floor together. The two fit with what the Knicks did offensively last season, as the Knicks ranked fourth in shooting at 39.5 percent despite taking the seventh-fewest attempts. Walker is a career 36.0 percent shooter and Fournier sits at 37.9 percent so both should help New York maintain a solid rate of shooting from beyond the arc.
Even so, some valid doubts surround how successful this team could be on offense, and all of those rest on the shoulders of Julius Randle. The reigning Most Improved Player was incredible last season, but how sustainable are those numbers? Randle posted career highs in usage rate (30.4 percent), assist rate (27.0 percent), 3-point shooting (41.1 percent) and points per game (24.1). Is that who Randle is, or did he have an incredible outlier season? The answer is certainly somewhere in the middle, but even with all those career numbers, the Knicks finished only 24th in offensive efficiency (110.7). If Randle regresses, how much will the presence of Walker and Fournier improve the team on offense?
Also consider potential growth for RJ Barrett. He improved his points per 100 shot attempts by 10.8 points last season and cut his turnover rate to 10.7 percent while maintaining his 23.0 percent usage rate. He emerged as a 40.5 percent 3-point shooter after shooting just 32.1 percent on 111 fewer attempts his rookie season. Like Randle, that extreme spike in shooting will likely regress, and he has yet to find efficiency at the rim. When healthy, Mitchell Robinson provides the Knicks with an elite rim protector and rebounder. On the surface this lineup is improved, but if the expected statistical regression comes to fruition, it will essentially be in the same place it was last season.
If Derrick Rose can replicate what he did in 35 games for the Knicks last season, he will be in the running to win Sixth Man of the Year, as he already has the overwhelming narrative behind him. Alec Burks is a great bench piece, too, as he is a career 37.3 percent shooter who hit at a 41.5 percent rate last season. He can score in bunches, as represented by his fantastic Game 1 performance against Atlanta in the first round in which he dropped 27 points. Immanuel Quickley was brilliant in his rookie season and looks like he will be a legit scoring threat. Fellow second-year pro Obi Toppin had flashes as well and shot 67.4 percent on rim attempts his rookie campaign. Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson give Thibodeau competent depth behind an oft-injured Mitchell Robinson. This is a quality bench that returns almost everybody from a unit that was ninth in scoring at 37.6 points per game. It should push for a top-10 spot again.
The Knicks were a great story last season, and their success took the NBA by storm. Breakout seasons from Randle, Rose and Quickley helped drive the narrative, but the team’s betting success really drove it home. The Knicks finished with the best cover rate in the league (62.7 percent) and at one point covered 12 consecutive contests. However, there was a good reason behind the market’s refusal to adjust. What the Knicks were doing was unsustainable, and that should show itself in a big way this season. Is last season replicable for Randle and Rose? Can a defense that allowed the highest rate of wide-open 3-point attempts really finish first in opponent shooting again? Those are unlikely to manifest again, but the win total is much higher at 42.5, making it a prime candidate to play Under.
Suggested play: Under 42.5 (-110 at DraftKings).
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