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  • Michael Ryan

Potential Breakout Players for the New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are transitioning to a complete overhaul of their roster. General Manager Scott Perry and the Knicks front office are shifting the roster to a younger, more athletic team. New head coach David Fizdale was brought in for his ability to relate his players and his ability as a coach to tap into potential and develop talent.

The roster now features six former lottery picks that are still 23 years old or younger. It’s a breath of fresh air for the Garden faithful to see the Knicks finally embrace a rebuild that features young talent.

So, who has the potential to break out for the Knicks this upcoming year and take the next step in their development? That remains to be see but it’ll be exciting to see how Fizdale figures out. Here are the players who have the ability to really show out this season.

Mario Hezonja

New York Post

Hezonja signed a one year, $6.5 million deal to sign with the Knicks this offseason. The former fifth overall pick from the 2015 draft has yet to fulfil his draft potential. Hezonja does have a shot to turn it around with the Knicks. The plan seems to be to start Hezonja as a small ball four, especially with Kristaps Porzingis out.

Coach Fizdale likes Hezonja’s playmaking ability. He has a ball handler and passer and the Knicks may feature Hezonja more with the ball since there’s no true point guard on the roster. In 30 starts with the Magic last season, he averaged 14.0 PPG, 5.6 RBG, and 2.2 APG in 30.4 minutes per game. Hezonja’s shooting percentages were 46.0% FG, 37.1 3P%, and 83.3% from the foul line. With more playmaking and likely a higher usage rate for Hezonja, there’s no reason he can’t surpass those numbers.

Frank Ntilikina

USA Today

Ntilikina’s development is the most interesting storyline for the Knicks last season. With so much raw potential and flashes of special highlight plays, Ntilikina won over the Knicks front office, a front office that didn’t draft him the year prior.

Ntilikina left Knicks fans wanting so much more and there were times when he needed to be more aggressive on offense. Too many times last season, Ntilikina would pick up the ball too quick crossing the half court before the Knicks were set in their offense or would look to pass off an open shot.

On defense, Ntilikina was a valuable asset. The deflections and steals were able to get the Knicks more fast break opportunities. Ntilikina will be competing with Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay for the starting point guard job and has a legit shot at winning the job. But whether Ntilikina starts or comes off the bench, don’t be surprised to see his numbers double up this year.

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