How the Knicks Can Incorporate Mikal Bridges Into Lineup Next Season (2024)


  • The New York Knicks have a versatile and deep roster that can dominate in various aspects of the game. With a mix of talented starters and a strong bench, the Knicks have multiple lineup options that can be effective both offensively and defensively.
  • One of the league's best shutdown wing tandems, Brunson and Randle, will be a perfect matchup for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as New York fights to get out of the East. The addition of Robinson, who is an incredible rim protector as well as a rebounder, makes scoring on this team a nightmare for even the NBA's top offenses.
  • Offensively, the Knicks have a variety of options, including a small-ball lineup that can be deadly in certain matchups. Putting Randle or Anunoby at the five can be an intriguing wrinkle to throw at specific teams. The Knicks can also employ a ferocious defensive option without struggling too much to score the ball, featuring McBride, DiVincenzo, Hart/Bridges, Anunoby, and Robinson.

Despite losing stud center Isaiah Hartenstein to the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency, the New York Knicks have been a big winner of the off-season so far. Adding Mikal Bridges without sending a single rotation player to the Brooklyn Nets and retaining OG Anunoby will make sure the Knicks are top-tier contenders in 2024-25.

However, with New York being possibly the deepest squad in the NBA behind a rotation that goes nine or ten players deep, Tom Thibodeau will have his hands full making sure those that deserve floor time get their minutes. Obviously, injuries are inevitable, and no one knows it better than the Knicks, but they will enter the season with at least nine guys who will need consistent playing time.

These nine players are Jalen Brunson , Julius Randle , Bridges, Anunoby, Mitchell Robinson , Donte DiVincenzo , Josh Hart , Miles McBride , and a backup center who has yet to be acquired (it could be Precious Achiuwa if he returns). The first five names listed will be New York's conventional starting lineup, but matchups and in-game situations will dictate which grouping he uses at any given time.

Here are the five lineups Thibodeau should definitely make use of in 2024-2025.

Starting Lineup

New York's conventional unit will start most games

How the Knicks Can Incorporate Mikal Bridges Into Lineup Next Season (4)

If Mitchell Robinson can stay healthy in 2025 (a BIG if), the lineup the Knicks will likely use the most is their normal starting five: Brunson, Bridges, Anunoby, Randle, and Robinson. Robinson is the only true center on the roster currently while New York searches for a backup big man, and if Achiuwa returns in that role, there will be a lot on his shoulders as the sole center.

With that said, this is an excellent group and will compete to be one of the three best starting units next to the Boston Celtics , Denver Nuggets , Minnesota Timberwolves , Philadelphia 76ers , and Thunder. It has an opportunity to be both a top-five offensive and defensive lineup, with four elite offensive players and three of the very best defenders in basketball.

Bridges and Anunoby are the league's best shutdown wing tandem, and will be a perfect matchup for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as New York fights to get out of the East. Add in Robinson, who is an incredible rim protector as well as rebounder, and scoring on these guys is going to be a nightmare for even the NBA's top offenses.

Even Brunson and Randle have shown flashes of quality defense in their careers, and have an opportunity to elevate on that end with decreased offensive responsibilities.

Starting Five




Scoring, shot-creation, playmaking, spot-up shooting


Post-scoring, bully-ball, rebounding, driving closeouts


Wing defense, shooting, secondary-creation


All defense, shooting, spot-up attacking


Lob threat, rim protection, screening, rebounding

Offensively, the only weakness of this five-man group is Robinson's inability to shoot and lack of skill with the ball in his hands. He is a terrific screen-setter and lob threat, as well as punishing the offensive glass for putbacks, but he will hurt the Knicks' spacing anytime he is on the floor. New York will have to get clever about using him as a screener, roller, and off-ball screener to create space for his teammates.

His defensive presence is more than worth his offensive deficiencies, but opponents will have an opening to attack NY's offense.

Small-Ball Lineup

Putting Randle or Anunoby at the five will be deadly in certain matchups

How the Knicks Can Incorporate Mikal Bridges Into Lineup Next Season (9)

One way the Knicks can neutralize the Robinson offensive dilemma is to simply take him off the floor. This will only work in certain matchups, as he is easily their best option to guard star big men as well as protect the rim against high-frequency drivers, but there are definitely situations where New York will be able to go small-ball and unleash their offense.

Furthermore, Anunoby has proven that he can guard bigger players extremely well, at least for stretches of games, shutting down Joel Embiid late in playoff matchups several times just this past season. Using Anunoby at the five might not be sustainable for entire contests, but it is certainly an intriguing wrinkle they can throw at specific teams.

The group would look like one of two options: Brunson, DiVincenzo, Bridges, Anunoby, and Randle, or Hart replacing DiVincenzo to add more rebounding and toughness. This lineup would be an excellent closing five for New York to go to and increase their offensive ceiling.

Offensive Juggernaut (2024 Stats w NY)































*Bridges Stats are from Brooklyn

Teams this could work against include the Celtics because of Kristaps Porzingis tendency to play on the perimeter, where Randle or Anunoby could easily handle that matchup. In fact, NY might go to this as their primary lineup as they battle Boston for Eastern supremacy, as it gives them a chance to both defend their five-out attack but also match their offensive ceiling.

Additional squads New York could weaponize this unit against are the Indiana Pacers , 76ers, Thunder, and Dallas Mavericks . Whenever they decide to use it, the Knicks will suddenly become possibly the most dangerous offensive team in the league, especially when DiVincenzo plays the two. The amount of ball-handling, playmaking, and shooting in this group rivals that of the defending champion-Celtics.

Knicks Bench Unit

With three starting-level players, this group will be scary

How the Knicks Can Incorporate Mikal Bridges Into Lineup Next Season (12)

One of the best aspects of the Knicks' roster is their unbelievable depth, as they will be able to bring Hart, DiVincenzo, and McBride off the bench. These three players all played vital starting roles in New York's last playoff run, which saw them reach within one game of the Conference Finals despite terrible injury luck.

All three of them are starting-level NBA players, with DiVincenzo and Hart being considered good NBA starters to boot. The question will be who the two guys are that are put around them, and the Knicks have endless options. Their limitless number of solid players will allow them to pair the trio with one or even two starters at all times, which will create yet another elite lineup for New York. Thinking about this group matching up with opposing benches is terrifying for the rest of the league.

Starters Off The Bench (2024 Playoffs)





















My preference would be primarily using Brunson, McBride, DiVincenzo, Hart, and either Randle or the backup center with this group. Bench units rarely have a punishing big man to lean on, meaning the lack of size in this lineup won't hurt the Knicks, and Hart and Randle are incredible rebounders for their size.

NY could even consider putting Anunoby with this group against smaller lineups. Whatever they choose to do, it will be an excellent offensive and defensive group, and will help the Knicks build huge leads while their starters get rest. If Brunson needs a rest, McBride and DiVincenzo have proven they can create shots at a decent rate, even in the playoffs.

Knicks Defensive Lineup

NY can employ a ferocious group in certain situations

How the Knicks Can Incorporate Mikal Bridges Into Lineup Next Season (13)

Whether just for a defensive stop late in a game or for actual stretches of floor time, New York has a nuclear defensive option they can turn to, without even struggling too much to score the ball. This lineup looks like the following: McBride, DiVincenzo, Hart/Bridges, Anunoby, and Robinson.

This group has everything Thibodeau has ever dreamed of defensively. It has two elite point-of-attack defenders who can hound opposing ballhandlers 94 feet on every possession, two incredible wing stoppers in Anunoby and Bridges, and one of the NBA's premier rim protectors in Robinson.

Lockdown Defense






















*Almost all of Robinson's defensive attempts are at the rim, making 52.1% a stellar number

Furthermore, these five provide Thibodeau with more than just defense. It is a dominant rebounding squad, especially if Hart subs in for Bridges, which was the Knicks' biggest advantage over opponents during much of the 2024 season. This group will also be able to respectably score the basketball, as four of the five guys on the floor are solid to good offensive players in their own right.

This lineup will be Thibodeau's trump card over any offense New York needs to slow down at any time.

New York's Rebounding Death Lineup

Knicks can dominate the glass without going too big

How the Knicks Can Incorporate Mikal Bridges Into Lineup Next Season (14)

As mentioned previously, a huge part of New York's identity the past two seasons has been their rebounding dominance. They have easily been the league's best squad on the glass at both ends of the floor, and have won playoff games solely off their relentless attacking of the boards that Thibodeau has instilled in this group.

Rebounding Excellence






45.2 (5th)

12.7 (1st)

33.3% (1st)


46.6 (3rd)

12.6 (3rd)

31.8% (2nd)

2024 Playoffs

42.8 (5th)

13.5 (1st)

36.8% (1st)

2023 Playoffs

45.4 (4th)

12.9 (3rd)

34.8% (1st)

If healthy, Thibodeau can turn to a lineup that will absolutely maul opposing teams on the backboard: Brunson, Hart, Anunoby, Randle, and Robinson. If he wants to go nuclear, he can sub in DiVincenzo for Brunson, as Donte is also one of the best rebounding guards in the league, but Brunson would provide much better balance as an elite shot creator.

This five-man unit would be scary for any smaller team in quick bursts, especially because it would still be viable in other areas of the game. This type of versatility is the most exciting part of the 2024-25 New York Knicks: they can turn to almost any five-man grouping and feel confident that they can dominate one aspect of basketball while not losing too much in the other important parts of the game.

That one fact is why New York is one of the NBA's most dangerous teams heading into next year.


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How the Knicks Can Incorporate Mikal Bridges Into Lineup Next Season (2024)


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