1. OLD SCHOOL
The Knicks landed Kemba Walker, albeit a few years after pursuing him in free agency. Age leads to wisdom and experience provides guidance, but the Knicks need Walker, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson to continue to play as if they have found the fountain of youth at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks do have youth, but they also have seven players at least 26 years old, including that trio of Walker (31), Rose (33) and Gibson (36).
2. CULTURE CLUB
Some players don’t take to the hard-driving style of Tom Thibodeau, but the Knicks found a group last season without rifts or complaints. In adding talent, a goal for Leon Rose and the front office was to keep that culture of hard work and attention to detail in place, finding players who would shrug off the high minute count and the demands of the coach.
3. HEALTHY LIVING
The Knicks' success last season came in no small part to the availability of players, for games, for practice, never having to shut down for COVID and having Julius Randle and RJ Barrett play more minutes than anyone else in the league. Can they repeat that workload?
4. PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
Last season the Knicks rode the new levels reached by Randle and Barrett to a playoff berth and the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Randle might have a hard time topping that performance, but Barrett, at 21 and entering his third season, could be the key, along with another step up from last season’s rookies, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin.
5. LESSONS LEARNED
Throughout the regular season the Knicks seemed more prepared and harder working than the opposition, but when the playoffs came and the Atlanta Hawks had time to prepare for them, it wasn’t close. Can the Knicks take that lesson and with the addition of more offensive firepower be ready at a playoff run?