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5 huge questions facing Knicks as they enter final stretch of season

We’re two-thirds of the way through the NBA season, leaving about 27 games for teams to iron out their issues in time for the playoffs. One of those teams is the Knicks, now with heightened expectations but suffering through a major injury wave.

We haven’t seen their full roster in a month -- longer if you count the absence of Mitchell Robinson -- and much is still unanswered.

Here are the five biggest questions for the Knicks during the homestretch of the regular season...

Can they get healthy in time?

Robinson, Julius Randle, and OG Anunoby are all recovering from injuries. Robinson hurt his ankle, Randle separated his shoulder, and Anunoby needed a minor procedure on his elbow.

These three are obviously pivotal starters and are arguably three of the Knicks' four best players. Getting them back on the court with sufficient time to ramp up for the postseason -- without compromising their recovery -- will be key.

Will the Knicks be able to rediscover their January chemistry in time for a playoff run? That may determine the outcome of their season, and their starters aren’t the only ones who need integration.

Can the bench find its groove?

New York dealt Quentin Grimes, cap fodder and draft compensation to Detroit in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks at the trade deadline. The idea was to bolster the bench rotation with a one-for-two swap, bringing in veteran creation and shooting that can play off the Knicks' stars while carrying backup units offensively.

Bojan Bogdanovic
Bojan Bogdanovic / John Jones - USA TODAY Sports

It’s too early to tell how this will shape up, with New York’s rotation constantly in flux due to injuries. The two will need to acclimate to the Knicks' systems and then its players as they make their returns.

Fortunately, the talent is there -- it just needs time to build chemistry. A Bogdanovic, Burks, Josh Hart and center lineup looks great on paper. We just need to see it click on the court.

Can Brunson’s three-point shooting sustain?

The biggest revelation in Brunson’s game this season has been his deep shooting. He’s knocking down an impressive 41.1 percent of his threes on a career-high 6.5 attempts per game, with newfound confidence in his pull-up and extended range game.

We’ve seen his shot fall off in February, however. He shot 42.4 percent from three through January and has shot 31.4 percent since. This has been due in no small part to the surrounding injuries, but is still a concerning drop off.

The hope is this is only a seasonal slump coinciding with too much defensive attention. The Knicks will need Brunson shooting at the top of his game come playoff time.

Can Randle turn his postseason record around?

Randle has cemented himself as an all-time great Knick and All-NBA level regular season performer, but to this point he’s failed to deliver in the playoffs. 

Jan 20, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau talks to forward Julius Randle (30) during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden.

He scored 18 points per game on 30 percent shooting as the lone option in 2021, and battled an ankle injury to mixed results last year.

If New York wants to make a real push in the East come April, they’ll need the most out of Randle. How he recovers from his injury will be crucial, but he can’t put up another stinker if the Knicks want to meet their aspirations.

Can Anunoby be an effective third option?

For maybe the first half of Anunoby’s Knicks tenure, he wasn’t fully implemented into the offense, largely finding his shots on catch-and-shoots, attacks, and random cuts.

During the back half, we saw more sets run for him and a little more one-on-one play as he and the team got more comfortable.

How Anunoby develops and plays as an offensive option can swing the Knicks' short-and long-term prospects wildly. He’s always been an efficient 17-point per game scorer, but we’ve seen flashes of more -- and some analysts believe he’s one offensive leap from stardom.

It will be interesting to see how he fares once he’s back, and if he can be a bigger part of the offense.

Donte DiVincenzo is making a real claim to be the team’s third option, but Anunoby has the build to be a better one -- if he can put it together and carry it over into the postseason.