When the 2023-24 season begins, the goal for the Knicks will be the same as it was entering every year of the Leon Rose era: make the playoffs and advance as far as possible. While the team pursues that ultimate goal of winning a championship, they won’t accomplish it without strong individual performances from each member of the team.
Any one of New York’s players could swing a series or the whole season, so everybody stepping up in their roles will be vital.
Here is one goal each rotation piece should strive to achieve this season…
Mitchell Robinson: Shoot a career-high from the free throw line
Robinson had a career year last season, staying relatively healthy and cementing himself as one of the league’s best defenders and rebounders at the starting five position. Unfortunately, he still struggled mightily at the charity stripe, which has plagued him throughout his five-year tenure.
Shooting a career-high clip from there seems like a lofty ask, but that would only mean eclipsing the 60 percent mark he hit as a rookie. He shot under 50 percent over the last three seasons, so any kind of improvement would go a long way.
Julius Randle: Keep a level head
There aren’t many players who can stop Randle when he’s on, but one that’s had strong success over his career has been himself. Randle feeds off emotion and deeply cares about winning, but sometimes these tend to manifest in counterproductive ways.
Like with any season, Randle will face shooting slumps, bad officiating and disagreements with his teammates. Tempering his emotions and staying collected through those friction points could result in Randle’s best year yet, much like he put up last season and in 2021.
Quentin Grimes: Improve pull-up shooting
In his sophomore season, Grimes emerged as a dependable starter quality 3-and-D wing, knocking down spot-up looks and guarding the opponent’s best scorer on a nightly basis. He even evolved inside the arc, generating more finishes and assists off his drives to the basket.
The next step in his development should be hitting more of his off-the-bounce jumpers, where he only made 16.7 percent of his twos and 29.1 percent of his threes last year. Being able to score against collapsing defenses will elevate his game and the team’s offensive attack to new heights.
RJ Barrett : Finish with a career-high true-shooting percentage
While still very young and developing every year, it’s no longer a screw that Barrett will be crucial to this Knicks success and be one of the team’s leading bucket-getters. His issue has been doing so efficiently at all levels.
This is the year for him to sharpen up, much like he did in the 2023 postseason and FIBA World Cup. He’s yet to shoot 45 percent from the field and only surpassed 35 percent from three once, setting the stage for what should be a breakout season from an efficiency standpoint.
Jalen Brunson: Increase usage percentage to 30 percent
There’s no reason why Brunson should only be the team’s secondary creator statistically. Randle finished a larger number of his team’s offensive possessions despite being the less efficient and less deadly option.
Brunson needs a dose of give-me-the-ball-and-clear-out energy befitting someone who smoked an NBA Finals team for 70 points over back-to-back elimination games. Whether that usage comes from scores or assists, it hardly matters, but the ball needs to be in the best player’s hands more often.
Immanuel Quickley: Attempt four-plus free throws a night
IQ’s offense often arrives in explosions, with variance in his jump-shooting offset by crazy heaters. A quick way for him to perform more consistently is getting easy points from the foul line, where he used to live much more.
He had a 30 percent free-throw rate as a rookie, which has dropped each year, in part due to crackdowns on foul-baiting. Still, since he’s penetrating more and built up strength, this could be a simple way to boost his efficiency while sticking to his game.
Josh Hart: Shoot threes
Hart just needs to shoot some threes. They don’t even need to go in. But as long as he plays in games that matter, where defenses will simply ignore him on the perimeter, he has to make them think about it — just a little bit.
Donte DiVincenzo: Knock down 40 percent of his threes
DiVincenzo fits the blue and orange of this era in a number of ways, and will contribute plenty, but the primary reason for his signing is what he brings from behind the arc. He’s shooting 36.2 percent from deep in his career, shot 39.7 percent last year, and should hopefully bring those numbers to New York.
Isaiah Hartenstein: Hold an assist-to-turnover ratio of two
Bemoaning the lack of offense run through Hartenstein — a strong passer from the center spot — should fall on the ears of the coaching staff, but even with less creation opportunities last season, Hartenstein turned it over at a higher rate. Tightening up those mistakes in favor of the pinpoint passing and deep outlets the Knicks convert into easy scores will be a key factor in his season.