Former Bulls Trio Making a Run Together in New York: The New York Knicks are in the NBA Playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season where they fell to the Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Currently, they share a tie at 1 a piece with the Hawks in the opening round of this season’s playoffs.
How the Knicks Got Here
The Knicks organization has many people to thank for their unexpected, miraculous season. Recently rewarded Most Improved Player of the Year, Julius Randle, shined throughout the whole regular season showing up to each game prepared to be the hardest working player on the court.
Undoubtedly, the Knicks wouldn’t be in the position they are today if it weren’t for head coach, Tom Thibodeau. Head coach for the Phoenix Suns, Monty Williams, won the award race for Coach of the Year, but I firmly believe Thibodeau was more valuable to the Knicks than Williams was for the Suns as they had multiple stars to rely on in Booker, Paul, and Ayton.
The 2 veterans of the Knicks, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, were teammates from the spam of 2009-2016 with the Chicago Bulls being coached by Thibodeau. Gibson and Rose stuck together in reuniting in Minnesota from 2017-2019. Guess who the head coach for the Timberwolves was from 2016-2019: Tom Thibodeau.
It truly has come full circle with the former Bulls, Timberwolves trio connecting and finding success in New York. The brand of basketball the 3 bring to the table are compatible with one another in that they represent grit and determination.
Rose works his way into the paint time after time either successfully drawing the foul, getting the bucket, or both. He will also hurt you with a mean stepback that will make you touch Earth. Not to mention the kind of leadership skills and experience the longtime veteran carries with him.
While you may find Gibson struggling to breathe on the sideline during a TV timeout, it’s because he’s consistently the hardest working player on the court. Just watch him run up and down the court hustling back on defense, box out the defender for an offensive board, or effortlessly hook a shot in the basket. His actions speak for himself, they always do.
A strong emphasis on defense is something Coach Thibodeau implemented into all the teams he’s coached throughout his career. However, none has been more efficient than what he’s incorporated in his short time with the Knicks. Thibodeau’s Knicks lead the NBA throughout the entire season in points allowed giving up just an average of 99.5 points per game.
In addition to their defensive numbers, they finished 2nd in the category of rebounds averaging 51.5 rebounds per game. This is an incredible accomplishment as they aren’t exactly built with height and this boosts the point that Thibodeau’s coaching style leads to success.
We’re only through games 1 and 2 of the opening round of the Knicks against Hawks series, but we can take away a great amount of information. The first point being that teams benefit more from experience than people can imagine.
Julius Randle, the Knicks most reliable source for scoring in the regular season, fell into the shadows in the opening games scoring just 15 points in back-to-back contests. It’s been the heroics of Rose and Gibson on offense that have this series knotted at 1 game a piece. Through the first 2 games of the series, Rose is averaging 21.5 points per game while Gibson is averaging 8 rebounds and 4.5 of those being offensive boards.
This just shows you can’t make it far in the playoffs without a little bit of help from the people that have been there before. These Knicks are young, but they are also fortunate to have role-models in Rose and Gibson. One piece of advice for young Knicks players: follow your leaders and you will be successful.