Knicks Preseason Preview: What to Watch for tonight in opening battle with Celtics

Josh Hart and RJ Barrett Knicks NBA In-Season tournament
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The New York Knicks are set to tip off their preseason action against the Boston Celtics tonight. While there is still time before basketball counts, the Knicks faithful should be on the lookout for a couple of things tonight as their team takes the floor for the first time since May.

Coming off surgery this offseason, it will be interesting to see how close Julius Randle is to in-season shape. The All-Star forward alluded to his condition during media day, saying that he was getting better every day. Tonight will be the first live-game action Randle has faced since surgery, so that will be something to keep an eye on.

Randle’s teammates Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett seemingly had no offseason, playing in the FIBA World Cup for their respective countries. While international play is different from the style of the NBA, it will be interesting to see what these two key contributors added to their bags in the offseason. Barrett especially will be looking to transfer the success he had in the international tournament to the states, shooting better from the field and beyond the arc compared to his NBA numbers last season. If the Knicks want to be a serious threat in the east, they need their workhorses Barrett and Brunson to step up and lead from the front. 

Coming off the bench, Immanuel Quickley will be fascinating to see this season. The young guard showed flashes of brilliance last season and has shown with consistent playing time he only gets better. With a full offseason behind him, the Knicks need the young guard to take a big step this year and carry the load for the second unit.

Immanuel Quickley Knicks
New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) battles against New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, April 7, 2023. The Pelicans won 113-105. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Speaking of the second unit, Donte DiVincenzo and Miles McBride will be looking to find their roles and minutes in the rotation. DiVincenzo was the lone off-season signing for the Knicks but has proven he can play a reserve role throughout the league. He brings a scoring skill set that will bolster Quickley and complement the scoring of the second bench unit, something the Knicks were desperately missing last season. It will be interesting to see how Head Coach Tom Thibodeau utilizes these two dynamic guards and preseason rotations with the backcourt as a whole.

The frontcourt for the Knicks is much less of a question mark, with the three-headed monster of Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Isaiah Hartenstein anchoring the paint. Given that it is the preseason though, expect Jericho Sims, Nathan Knight, and Isaiah Roby to contend for rotation minutes.

All three forwards/centers bring a unique skill set to the table that Thibodeau can utilize in these early preseason games to see what combos work best moving toward the regular season.

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