The New York Knicks are a staple when it comes to the NBA. Madison Square Garden is the Mecca and the most famous arena in the world. The question all fans are asking though is: Why is the basketball team that plays in this arena consistently terrible?
The hiring of David Fizdale last year was supposed to get this team moving in the right direction. The only issue is that they are still trending in the wrong direction. The Knicks are currently sitting at 4-17, which is good for dead last in the Eastern Conference. OTH has them at 29 in their latest power rankings! With considerably more talent on the roster this season, the Knicks are still 3 games worse than they were last year at this point. The always lingering question for Knick fans is: What now?
The Knicks Get Bucked
Last night’s loss to the Bucks was a low point for the Knicks this year. They were outplayed in every aspect of the game and never stood a chance. After showing signs of life in their two previous games against the 76ers and Celtics, the Knicks came out and played their worst game of the season.
Nobody in the Bucks starting lineup had to play more than 22 minutes before this game was over. Everyone except for one player on the Bucks was at least +10 on the night and they had six guys reach double figures. It was a rough night to say the least for a Knicks team whose starting five averaged -31 in the game.
Nothing has worked this year and Knicks fans have been calling for Fizdale’s head since the first week of the season. His mismanagement of the PG position is giving fans nightmares. David’s unwillingness to really give the young guys a chance to grow is maddening to watch. This is not a playoff team and there is no excuse to not give guys like Kevin Knox and AllonzoTrier some run.
RJ Barrett is getting his run, but he has his rookie games where he can’t get anything going and that is to be expected. He has shown flashes of brilliance while also making rookie mistakes. I don’t think you can ask for much more out of the #3 overall pick on a 15-20 win team.
Mitchell Robinson has also been a bright spot in an otherwise dark season for this team. He hasn’t flashed his offense as much as I had hoped coming into the season, but I truly believe he is getting better with every game. He doesn’t always mesh well with the lineups Fizdale throws him out there with, but he does what he can and he always shows up on defense.
The biggest problem right now seems to be the offense and the lack of ball movement and player movement without the ball. The Knicks are averaging a league worst 100.9 points per game and they are dead last in offensive efficiency. Simply put, they are a terrible offensive team. They are in the bottom 5 in almost every single offensive category in the league. I don’t know where they go from here offensively, but it can’t get much worse, no matter what Fizdale does with lineups.
One problem I did not think the Knicks would have is Julius Randle. Coming off a career year with the Pelicans, I though Randle would step in and take over as the leader of this team. He has, but it hasn’t done any good. Randle is on pace to have his worst season since 2015, his second year in the league. He lines up too many isolations for himself and he never seems to pass out of them. He has shown flashes of being a great passer, but his unwillingness to actually move the ball has taken its toll on this offense. I don’t really understand why either, because the only statistical category the Knicks are near the top in is 3P%. Randle’s isolations lead to open shooters on the perimeter and most of the time, Randle just refuses to find them.
Frank Ntilikina is one of the more polarizing guys the Knicks have had in a while. The fan base is completely divided on him and it is easy to see why.
Frank is a defensive wizard. His long arms drive opposing PGs crazy and he always seems to make the right defensive play. He gets into passing lanes, he contests shots, and he is a team defender. It’s easy to see why he has so many fans.
It is also easy to see why some fans don’t want him to see the court at all. Frank is averaging 6 points per game in 26 minutes per game. He is shooting a dismal 38% from the field and he really provides close to nothing offensively. He is an extremely talented passer, but it’s hard for him to find open men, because he is usually the one that is left open.
Given how bad this team has been so far this year, I am of the opinion that Frank should be playing 30-35 minutes per night. Let him grow offensively and you may wind up turning him into one of the better two way PGs in the game. He absolutely needs to develop his midrange shot, but if he is getting those chances in games it will happen at some point.
Frank, RJ, Knox, Trier, and Robinsons are the only true assets this team has. If developed correctly, this can be the core of a playoff team in the future. If done incorrectly though, only one of these 5 will still be here in 2-3 years. Do not hedge your future at the expense of winning 25+ games in an already lost season.
What’s Next for the Knicks?
To answer the question posed in the title, no the Knicks are not as bad as they played against the Bucks. At this point though, there really is no turning this season around and it is time to focus on the development of the young core mentioned above.
I will be making this a weekly column and over the next 7 days the Knicks have 2 games with both of them against current playoff teams. They host the Nuggets on Thursday followed by another home game against the Pacers on Saturday.
Considering both of those teams are in the top 10 in defensive efficiency in the league, it will be interesting to see how the Knicks offense fares. Ball movement and players moving without the ball is especially important against teams like this. Limit the isolations and find open shooters and you can stay in these games.
I love Fizdale as a coach but if they Knicks can’t be competitive in either of these games it may be time to make a change.
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