New York Knicks 2023-24 season preview and predictions

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New York Knicks season preview

This preview originally appeared in our 2023-24 VSiN NBA Betting Guide, which was released on Thursday, October 5. To become a VSiN Pro subscriber and get all of our NBA coverage throughout the season, click here.

 

Knicks Betting Odds

NBA Finals: +5000
Conference: +1800
Division: +800
Win Total: 44.5
Playoffs: Yes (-380)

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Team Analysis

New York’s first season with Jalen Brunson on the roster went as well as the team could have hoped. The Knickerbockers won 47 games and took their first postseason series since 2013 when they defeated the Cavaliers in five games. Success like that is worth building on, and New York is doing just that by running it back this season. 

There is a limit to how much better a team of veterans can be when a front office decides to retain the same core, but this was a different team in the second half of the season. 

New York finished the year as the fourth-best cover team in the league, including regular and postseason, at 51-39-3 ATS. After the trade deadline, the Knicks went 17-8 SU and ATS with the second-best cover margin in the league (+4.1). Their pace over that stretch was equivalent to a 59-win team, according to Cleaning The Glass. Winning that many games is unlikely for New York, but being a top-four seed in a conference that got weaker at the top is not out of the question.

The Knicks’ strength last season was its offense, surprising for a Tom Thibodeau team, and it should be once more. New York averaged 118.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, the second-best offensive rating in the league. They did so by absolutely crushing teams on the offensive glass. 

The team rebounded 30.8% of their missed attempts – the second-best rate in the league – and averaged 16.2 second-chance points per game. Cleaning The Glass had them as one of the most effective putback teams in the league. They ranked third in putback points per miss metric (24.2) and second in putback plays generated per 100 misses (21.3). Mitchell Robinson is an elite offensive rebounder who ranked in the 98th percentile last season in offensive rebounding rate (17.2%), and Jericho Sims placed in the 88th percentile (12.7%). Players like Julius Randle and Josh Hart also contributed from their positions, which allowed the Knicks to dominate the offensive glass. That strength should remain in place this season.

There are some odd anomalies in New York’s offensive production though, and should they fail to replicate their success on the glass it could lead to a big dip in offensive production.

Despite finishing second in offensive rating, this team was somewhat inefficient from the floor. It finished 20th in overall effective field goal percentage (54.3%), and the most efficient area of the floor it shot from was short mid-range (shots 4-14 feet from the basket), and they finished no higher than 19th in shooting percentage from any other area. 

In other words, the Knicks relied heavily on their offensive rebounding to produce its offense. It could be argued that a team that relies on efficient mid-range shooting and offensive rebounding could be due for a step back in efficiency the next season, and New York fits those parameters.

Should the Knicks regress on offense, this defense will have to be much better. They allowed 115.3 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time and ended up finishing 20th in halfcourt defensive rating (98.8). Taking this into consideration with their rebounding on defense – New York was 11th in defensive rebounding rate – and the 13.3 second chance points allowed per game, it’s pretty clear that opponents were having success on initial shot attempts. 

It wasn’t all luck though. Once again the Knicks allowed a high rate of wide-open 3-point attempts last season. Opponents averaged 17.8 uncontested looks from beyond the arc per game and shot 38.8% on those shots. Initial success on a possession, coupled with a high rate of uncontested attempts, will equal a below-average defensive rating, and that is exactly what transpired for the Knicks last season.

Improvements on both ends of the floor are needed for the Knicks if they are going to maintain the success they had last season, but none of the improvements needed are ones that are impossible to achieve. They can certainly contend for one of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference this season. 

The real question will be about their ATS and whether or not they can sustain it. New York is always going to be a publicly backed team, and because the bettors were treated so well backing them at the window, it wouldn’t be a shock if they start the season as one of the more overvalued teams by the betting market.

Win Total Analysis

In the aftermath of the Damian Lillard trade to Milwaukee, the Knicks saw their win total jump by a single win to 45.5 at DraftKings. Miami was expected to be a dominant power in the Eastern Conference, but that was dependent on the team acquiring Lillard. Now that he is elsewhere the Heat’s win total and projections take a hit, and the ripple effect is an increase in the expectations of the teams around them. The win total is still one that is fewer than New York’s final record from last season, so those who believe in the production this team showed in the final 25 games are getting some value here.

The Knicks’ schedule is very manageable compared to their conference rivals. New York has the 12th-lowest strength of schedule, according to Positive Residual. It is among the teams with the fewest back-to-backs on the schedule (13) and while they have a negative net rest advantage (-1) they only have nine overall games in which they are at a disadvantage. They are also among the teams that travel the fewest miles this season.

With all of that Under consideration, there is no strong lean toward one direction or the other, but if forced to choose sweating out an Over would be the recommendation here. The conference got weaker at the top, and New York was among the best in the league after acquiring Josh Hart at the deadline. This team won’t produce at the 59-win pace it was to end the season, but they should be among the five best in the East without a doubt.

Win Total Recommendation: OVER 45.5