Projecting Jalen Brunson, Knicks Stars’ Ceilings and Floors for 2022-23 NBA Season | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

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    The New York Knicks feel like they could be anything during the upcoming 2022-23 NBA season.

    Well, almost anything, at least.

    A championship run won’t be in the cards, and it’s just as hard to see the floor completely dropping out and plunging this group into the Association’s bottom tier. Somewhere beneath those two extreme outcomes bind this club’s actual ceiling and floor.

    Speaking of best- and worst-case scenarios, let’s lay out both for the top three stars on the squad.

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    Ceiling: All-Star debut

    The Knicks just paid Barrett like a star, and if everything—and we mean everything—breaks right, he could become one as soon as this season.

    The 22-year-old is already a 20-point scorer who defends at a high level, so the foundation is strong. Now, it’s just about making those fine-tuned enhancements that would increase the quality of his production.

    If Barrett shoots like he did in 2020-21 (44.1/40.1/74.6 slash line) and perks up his playmaking a bit, that could get him noticed by All-Star voters.

    Floor: Offensive inefficiency pushes him to the trade block

    The fact that we highlighted his 2020-21 shooting may have tipped you off about how he shot it this past season: not well (40.8/34.2/71.4 slash).

    His 51.1 true shooting percentage was second-worst (ahead of only Julius Randle) among the league’s 40 players who averaged 40-plus points, per Stathead Basketball.

    If Barrett’s shooting rates keep declining, it wouldn’t be totally shocking if word got around that New York was gauging his trade value around the deadline.

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    Ceiling: Solves Knicks’ decades-long search at point guard

    New York rolled out the red carpet and committed a nine-figure sum to Brunson for a reason. Clearly the Knicks brass sees star potential in the 6’1″, 190-pounder and thinks he can plug a hole at point guard that has plagued the franchise for decades.

    There have been flashes suggesting Brunson can do exactly that.

    This past season, he set career highs in points (16.3) and assists (4.8) while posting a 50.2/37.3/84.0 slash line, then he torched the Utah Jazz for 27.8 points per game in the postseason’s opening round.

    Floor: Fails to add volume, loses efficiency from his Mavericks’ numbers

    Look at Brunson’s counting categories again. Those aren’t the kind of stats that typically warrant such a massive pay rate, particularly for someone who has already celebrated his 26th birthday.

    The Knicks surely see growth potential in those numbers, and they’re obviously hoping he could maintain the same (or similar) efficiency levels despite presumably moving up the pecking order now that he’ll no longer share the floor with Luka Doncic. Still, there are no guarantees Brunson can elevate his production, and it’s possible he could see his efficiency rates plummet even without an uptick in volume.

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    Ceiling: Returns to All-Star Game

    Randle had a strange season in 2021-22 (to say the least), but he still found his way to per-game contributions of 20.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists. Those numbers weren’t far removed from his 2020-21 production (24.1, 10.2 and 6.0, respectively), which resulted in his first (and so far only) All-Star selection.

    The 27-year-old obviously has the talent to get a return invitation, particularly if next season’s Knicks are more competitive than last season’s group.

    Randle could also help his chances by bouncing back as a three-point shooter (30.8 percent last season, 41.1 the year prior).

    Floor: Regresses on offense and gets traded to clear a path for Obi Toppin

    As mentioned on the Barrett slide, Randle had the worst true shooting percentage among all 20-point scorers last season. He also matched his career-high with 3.4 turnovers per game. The Knicks fared 9.5 points worse per 100 possessions with him than without, per Basketball-Reference.

    If Randle’s shooting rates keep sliding, and he grows even less efficient, the Knicks will have no choice but to shop him around.

    It (sort of) makes sense to keep Obi Toppin buried behind Randle when the latter is at or near an All-Star level, but if he’s laying bricks and turning it over, the Knicks need to rush him out of town and get the 2020 first-round pick more floor time.

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