Dec 13, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks went 21-45 in the 2019-20 season, and were expected to be one of the worst teams in the 2020-21 season. That may still prove to be true, but they’ve actually played good basketball so far- and particularly great basketball of late.

The Knicks — as seven-point road underdogs — took down the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, improving their record to 4-3 on the season.

And all four wins have come over the last five games. The Knicks got their first win with a stunning 120-113 victory — as 13-point underdogs — over the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 27, and followed that up with road wins — against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Hawks — in three of four games.

Julius Randle — the No. 7 overall pick of the 2014 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers — has been taking his game to another level, averaging close to a triple-double so far this season: 22.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists. In Monday’s win over the Hawks, Randle had 28 points, 17 rebounds, and nine assists in 43 minutes.

He’s also been getting it done on the defensive end, which has to especially make first-year Knicks head coach — and defensive guru — Tom Thibodeau happy.

R.J. Barrett — the No. 3 overall pick of the 2019 draft — is also showing signs of making a leap in his second season, with 25-plus points in each of the last two games, and 11 assists and six rebounds on Monday night.

It’s very early in the season, but the Knicks are truly playing impressive basketball so far. If Randle can keep playing anything to this level all-around, and Barrett can indeed take a big step forward in year two, perhaps the Knicks can contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at