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The New York Knicks finally hit their breaking point

An orange and blue graphic features the text "New York Knicks: Breaking Point" and images of Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanovic and Mitchell Robinson.
Graphic by Reid Nyenhuis


The New York Knicks’ brutal war of attrition is finally over, and they have fallen. 

The almost comically worn-down squad fought until the last moment before bowing out in a second-round Game 7 that somehow felt simultaneously like a letdown and a relief, a disappointment and an overachievement. 

Since the midpoint of the season, there was something different about this team. Something promising, but cursed. Jalen Brunson continued his ascent to superstardom and Julius Randle had a bounceback season, pummeling helpless undersized forwards en route to his second All-Star appearance in orange and blue. Before the deadline, they traded two beloved young homegrown players in exchange for O.G. Anunoby, who fit in seamlessly from day one. The Knicks won 21 of their first 23 games with him and looked unstoppable. 

Then came the rain.

Randle needed season-ending shoulder surgery. Anunoby missed 32 games to elbow surgery, then suffered a hamstring injury in the second-round series against the Pacers and was limited to a brief four-minute cameo the rest of the playoffs. 

Mitchell Robinson began the season finally fulfilling his potential as a dominant defensive center, limiting his fouls and improving his positioning while also emerging as the league’s premier offensive rebounder. He wound up needing ankle surgery twice and was forced to sit out the entire Pacers series. Isaiah Hartenstein—also having the best season of his career— started in his stead, but had his minutes limited most of the season due to Achilles tendon issues. 

Their best bench scorer, Bojan Bogdanovic, acquired in a midseason trade, saw his season end with foot surgery during their first-round series against Philadelphia. 

In all, the Knicks entered the playoffs leaning on an eight-man rotation that was already missing its second-best player. 

When the season ended, even team ironman Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson were cooked, with Hart barely unable to move after an abdominal injury and Brunson fracturing his shooting hand in the final game. Only three from that eight-man group were still healthy as the final whistle blew. 

In a way, it was a fitting end for the team. All year long, injuries piled up, and all year long, they managed to stay afloat. Sometimes, it was by starting a center with one healthy leg. Sometimes, it was by starting 6’4” shooting guard Josh Hart at power forward or playing a starting backcourt of Brunson and Deuce McBride, both standing at barely six feet. 

By season’s end, the starting lineup only featured one player—Brunson—who was in the opening day starting lineup. Yet, they cobbled together 50 wins, a first-round victory over the reigning NBA MVP in Joel Embiid and an incandescent Tyrese Maxey in a six-game slugfest and pushed the Pacers and their lethal offence to seven games. At times, they resembled the Black Knight in Monty Python—barely mobile, but insisting it’s “just a flesh wound.” 

They outhustled every team they played. Hart crashed the glass as if his life depended on it. Brunson shrugged off contact from defenders twice his size. Undersized players like Precious Achiuwa battled with giants like Joel Embiid and held their own. The ragtag group—the highest draft pick who saw real playoff minutes was former 12th-overall pick Alec Burks, who only played once the injury crisis got out of hand—fought until they had nothing left. 

In the age of parity in the NBA, there’s no guarantee a team on the rise will get back to where they were before, let alone continue their upward trajectory. Yet it’s hard not to feel optimistic about next season for the Knicks. Brunson has established himself as The Guy, Randle will return to take the pressure off him and the supporting cast has grown into their new roles, with players like Donte DiVincenzo and McBride flourishing after taking on more responsibility. 

I couldn’t possibly guess where they’ll end up next season—though surely they can’t have this many injuries again, right?—but one thing is clear: playing against them will be hell. This team is hardwired to never go down without a fight. 


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