The New York Knicks are back in the NBA Playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season and the energy around the team couldn’t be higher.
Buoyed by the strong play of first-time All-Star Julius Randle, who is also a finalist for Most Improved Player, and first-year coach Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks were even able to lock up a home-court matchup in Round 1.
Going into that matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, former Knicks coach Mike Woodson couldn’t be any prouder of his former team. Earlier in the season, Woodson served as an assistant to Thibodeau before leaving to fill the head coaching vacancy at Indiana University.
Ahead of Game 1, Woodson has nothing but praise and excitement for his former squad.
Woodson Wishes The Knicks Luck
— Mike Woodson (@MikeWoodsonNBA) May 22, 2021
On May 21, Woodson tweeted out an image of the team and wished them luck in the playoffs.
“This was a special group of men I had the pleasure of working with,” he tweeted. “Best of luck to Coach Thibs and the [New York Knicks] in the NBA Playoffs!”
Mike Woodson was the last Knicks coach before Thibodeau this year to guide the team into the playoffs. The roster has been completely overhauled since that last appearance, but Woodson is still loved in New York.
If things fall into place, this could just be the first of many playoffs trips the Knicks are able to string together thanks to their young, blossoming core.
One of those players who will have to continue his development is RJ Barrett, someone who Woodson believes has a very bright future.
Woodson Praises RJ Barrett
In an interview with SNY’s Ian Begley, Woodson noted the leap Barrett made this season after there were doubts that he wouldn’t be able to.
“He’s made a major, major jump,” Woodson told Begley. “Johnny (Bryant)’s worked with him some and he’s made the leap. Everyone was questioning and doubting him coming into the season, saying he can’t shoot. And he proved them wrong. But there’s always another level. Is he there yet? No, he’s not there. But he’s headed in the right direction, I’ll tell you that.”
In his second year in the league, Barrett’s shooting numbers increased across the board and he was able to shoot from behind the arc at a 40.1% clip. This is something that the Knicks improved on across the board as they finished third in the NBA in 3-pt shooting at 39.2% as a team.
At just 20 years old, the future for Barrett and the rest of the Knicks young core appears to be very bright. It’s expected that he will only continue to improve barring any major setbacks, so there’s cause for excitement if you’re a Knicks fan.
In their first playoff matchup as a unit, the Knicks will be going up against another young stud in Trae Young, so their work will certainly be cut out for them as they look to defend their home court and advance into the second round.
The action kicks off Sunday, May 23 at 7 p.m. ET.
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