The Knicks are not an infallible team in the playoffs, but not an easy team to beat

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October 14, 2022; New York, New York, United States; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) controls the ball against Washington Wizards guard Monte Morris (22) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

Brian Windhorst has become the latest ESPN media personality to think the New York Knicks are headed in the right direction.

Even after missing out on three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, the Knicks have been solid in the preseason, bolstered by the addition of Jalen Brunson.

Brunson commanded the respect of the team and got the Knicks starters to play basketball selflessly. The Knicks’ starting five are averaging 14 assists to just 5.3 turnovers per game. They outscored their opponents by 64 points when Brunson was down.

Windhorst thinks the addition of Brunson is a boon for the Knicks.

” I do not think that [the Knicks] are going to be a surefire playoff team. I don’t think they will necessarily make the play-in (tournament) and they played a whole bunch of games last year with Alec Burks as point guard. They did it because of injuries and other circumstances. And that’s just a huge upgrade and so they won 37 games last year which was in 11th place, and they might not win a lot more this year but win 41 or 39 games this year could be a very good accomplishment considering the Eastern Conference’s competitiveness.

And I think that’s a step up for the Knicks and I don’t think they’ll be an easy team to beat, especially coming into the Garden. There’s going to be a lot of teams going in there thinking it’s a rare and easy night and the ease and they’re going to come out of there with a loss and Jalen Brunson is going to be a reason why more because of the layoff level it is from what they had on the 37-win team last year.

Brian Windhorst via NBA Today on ESPN

Windhorst joins ESPN colleagues Bobby Marks and Zach Lowe who are bullish on the Knicks this season.

Marks thinks the Knicks can win 45 games, while Lowe is betting on them to win more than 39 games.

Despite the addition of Brunson and stretch five Isaiah Hartenstein, the Knicks still face great odds as the Eastern Conference has deepened.

The Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers are still in the top group. The return of Ben Simmons could revive the Brooklyn Nets in the conversation. The Cleveland Cavaliers went all-in with the Donovan Mitchell upgrade. Then the Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, and Atlanta Hawks along with the Knicks, Washington Wizards, and Charlotte Hornets are grouped into the level of play.

A path back to the playoffs remains difficult for the Knicks. But with Brunson bringing stability to their backcourt and depth, the Knicks could pull off another miracle run like they did two seasons ago with any luck.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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