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Knicks Update: Good news keeps coming as the team slowly gets healthier

Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

March is upon us, April is right around the corner, and the NBA regular season is less than a month away from completion. The Knicks are sitting in fourth place in a tight Eastern conference playoff race, and the team is getting healthier day-by-day. It feels as if the Infinity stones are slowly fitting back into place.

Latest on OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson

The three stalwarts of the Knicks' starting five have never played together. Crazy to think about right? Robinson has been sidelined since December 8th so these three haven't had the pleasure of sharing the court with each other yet this season (The OG Anunoby trade came on December 30th, three weeks post-Robinson ankle injury). However, that could all change very soon as each have made immense progress in their respective recovery timelines and we may see them on the court together for the first time by the end of March if all goes as planned.

The closest to returning as of this writing is OG Anunoby. Before the Knicks' recent game against the Magic, Anunoby was listed as day-to-day on the injury report. Tom Thibodeau, while speaking with the media a few days ago, confirmed that Anunoby had been cleared for contact and was actively scrimmaging in Knicks practices. All signs point toward Anunoby making his well awaited return, hopefully, by the start of the upcoming west coast road trip.

Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson are still a ways away from suiting back up and getting back on the court, but both are in the gym and getting treatment daily. Randle has been cleared for 'light contact' with pads but hasn't been cleared for full contact yet. The Knicks are being cautious with him, and for good reason, as his game revolves around using that shoulder of his to play bully ball and anticipate contact against defenders. They do not want to rush back a guy that the Knicks will need in a big way come playoff time.

I wrote about Mitchell Robinson's recovery briefly in a previous post focused on the Knicks post-All Star break, and it seems that he is progressing nicely and has been dribbling, shooting, and working on his basketball moves. As Tom Thibodeau notes in the video below, he hasn't yet been cleared for contact but he is doing good. Mitch made sure Thibs told everyone that.

Where do the Knicks stand from here on out?

Randle, Anunoby, and Robinson traveled with the team for their tilt in Cleveland on March 3rd, which is always very promising to see from injured players. Usually, injured players will hang back and stay home, get treatment done, and workout in the confines of their own comfort zone. But this news is promising, and provides more to the notion that all three are progressing in their recovery timelines. A big step to seeing where all three truly stand is come March 14th when the Knicks head out on a four game west coast romp. Fans should feel a whole lot better if they join the team on that trip.

The Knicks are coming off a drubbing of the Orlando Magic at home on March 8th and have two critical contests coming up against the Philadelphia 76ers. The injury-riddled Knicks have limped their way through February and early March with some nights having just seven guys available to suit up or two-way players getting big minutes (Jacob Toppin being one of them). The litany of injuries the team has faced has provided a tough test for them down the final stretch of the season. Jalen Brunson has missed three games (four if you're counting him going down 47 seconds into the Cleveland game on March 3rd) since early February and Isaiah Hartenstein missed extended time in February (4 games) with an Achilles issue. Those two are just as crucial to the Knicks' success as are Anunoby, Randle, and Robinson. With RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley being jettisoned to Toronto in the Anunoby trade, the Knicks faced a defcon-5 of depth issues throughout most of February. They went 4-8 during the month and struggled mightily.

Now, as the Knicks get healthier, they will begin to ease back into their winning ways that we saw throughout the month of January. That month, they won 14 games, with 12 of those wins coming prior to OG Anunoby and Julius Randle's injuries in the now famed January 27th game against the Miami Heat.

They've won two of their last three on the backs of guys like Josh Hart, Deuce McBride, and Precious Achiuwa. Those two wins have helped the Knicks start the month of March off strong and are confidence builders for a team recouping an identity that was lost when three of their five starters went down with injuries. Once healthy, this team can compete with the likes of anyone.

Jalen Brunson has heard MVP murmurs and earned his first All-Star game selection; Donte DiVincenzo is shooting 40% from three and was an absolute bargain free agency signing before this season; Julius Randle is the second of the team's All-Stars and his efficiency on the offensive end has not gone unnoticed; OG Anunoby is a prototypical 3-and-D wing player that Tom Thibodeau needed on his team; and Mitchell Robinson simply blocks shots and grabs double-digit boards each game. Not to mention the likes of Isiaiah Hartenstein, Josh Hart, Bojan Bogdanovic, Deuce McBride, and Precious Achiuwa have provided immense depth off the bench to help complement that strong starting five.

When fully healthy, this team can do a lot and has the capability to make a long playoff run. It looks as if they are getting healthy at the right time and once they find their groove again, there is no looking back.


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