“Mike Miller hits different” is my all-time favorite Instagram comment. This was posted shortly after the Knicks promoted Mike Miller in place of David Fizdale as head coach. Whoever commented this wasn’t wrong, since Miller took over the Knicks have gone 13-19. David Fizdale in his year plus as Knicks coach only had 21 wins. The Knicks have played with a grit and fire never shown under Fizdale. Mike Miller has done something very impressive with this roster. In games the Knicks should have no chance in, he’s able to coach them up and keep it close. Ultimately, New York ends up short, but it’s nice to see them put up a fight against top teams. This turnaround has led to the Knicks having a chance, albeit very small, but a chance at the eighth seed.
New York has had key contributors to this resurgence. One of those contributors is second year center Mitchell Robinson. Robinson has turned his play up to a whole different level since Fizdale was fired. Fouls have been a big problem for Robinson in his brief NBA career. Since Mike Miller took over, Robinson has only fouled out twice, under Fizdale this happened eleven times. Robinson staying on the court for this team is huge. Mitchell Robinson causes a lot of teams to worry when they want to go in the paint. This season, and in the last month, Robinson has grown so much. This time last year, Mitch was just a bench player who blocked a lot of shots and got into foul trouble. Robinson has grown into a starter, who’s proven to be invaluable to the defense and on the glass.
Julius Randle has recently handled the load on the offensive end. In the last eleven games, Randle has scored at least 16 points and had six double doubles. The first year Knick has struggled at points this season. Randle has had questionable shot selections, and can be very streaky on the offense. So far in the month of February, Julius Randle has shot 76.7 percent from the free throw line. This is tied for a monthly high for Randle this season. During this Knicks’ turnaround, rebounding is a big part where Randle can help contribute. In February and January, he averaged 12 and 10.5 rebounds respectively. Julius Randle coming alive offensively is something the Knicks will have to hope keeps happening if they want to contend.
New York is still stuck in their rebuild. With the hiring of Leon Rose, the Knicks are under the third President in four seasons. Unfortunately this recent winning streak isn’t sustainable. Even with Randle heating up lately, he isn’t the dog they need. All of the elite teams have closers, that in the fourth quarter, just take over. RJ Barrett since returning from his ankle injury hasn’t been himself yet. Barrett could one day be that guy in clutch time. Given this roster, and where they currently sit in the standings, it won’t be this year though. Once the Knicks come back from the All Star Break, we can all hope they keep on playing competitively. Maybe they’ll win a couple and keep it interesting. If the Knicks can’t do that, I’m sure all Knicks fans will be ok with another lottery pick.