The Knicks, who have a 5-3 record, are currently on a three-game winning streak, which features victories over the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, and Utah Jazz.
Julius Randle has been the center of it all for the Knicks.
He’s averaging a team-leading 23.1 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 7.4 assists for New York.
Other players who have stepped up under first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau include RJ Barrett (17.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG), Elfrid Payton (14.6 PPG, 5.0 APG), and the newly acquired Austin Rivers (13.3 PPG), who has been a tremendous asset off the bench.
Add rookies Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley to the mix, and the Knicks look like a team that could compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season.
Rivers noted that he’s been on bad teams before, but this year’s version of the Knicks isn’t one of them.
“I don’t care who we are, what we are, who we have, don’t have. I’ll never go onto the floor thinking we don’t have a chance to win a game,” Rivers said. “I’ve been on bad teams before, this is not one. I can promise you that.”
The Knicks currently rank third in the NBA in points allowed per game at just 104.5. Rivers says that “management and coaching” under Thibodeau are the biggest differences for New York.
“I don’t know where we’ll end up,” Rivers added. “There’s so much work to do. It’s really early in the year, but I do know the spirit is different. The willingness to work and learn is different. From management to coaching is different. This is not the Knicks team that… y’all have been covering. This is not.”