The Forgotten Eastern Conference Contender

As the 2023-24 NBA season draws closer, fans and analysts alike are making their early picks for a Western and Eastern Conference contender. The popular choices in the West have been the defending champion Nuggets, Suns, and Warriors. Out East it’s been the new-look Celtics, Heat, and Bucks.

But one team that has seemingly been overlooked is the New York Knicks. Despite their recent history, they could very well be an Eastern Conference contender.

What makes the Knicks a contender?

The Knicks are coming from their best postseason performance in a decade. Their season ended with a second-round elimination to the Eastern Conference champion Heat in six games. A series where Jalen Brunson averaged an absurd 31.0 points per game.

The Knicks already have a star duo with Brunson and Julius Randle. But an important element of any contender is continuity, and the Knicks were one of the few teams in the conference to no suffer major roster turnover this offseason. They returned every starter from last season and only replaced one member in their 9-man rotation, which was Obi Toppin with Donte DiVincenzo.

Not to mention they have three players participating in the FIBA World Cup in Brunson, Josh Hart and RJ Barrett.

ESPN Insider Bobby Marks joined a recent episode of the Bart & Hahn podcast, speaking on the potential threat that the team could pose.

“I think there’s a lot of parity in the Eastern Conference here, and I think barring an injury to one of their main guys, we should be talking about New York when it comes to representing the Eastern Conference,” Marks said.

One thing that could be pivotal for whether New York is capable of making that step into an Eastern Conference Contender is if their young core can progress and build upon last season, especially fifth-year wing RJ Barrett.

Under the leadership of Randle and Brunson, the latter coming off a career-best season, the Knicks should be in the position to turn a lot of heads next season.

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