(Note, we apologize to Declan for getting this very well written recap up late. We would also post a recap of last night’s loss to the Pacers but that would be NSFW)
Knicks lose at home to Magic, 105-100
With Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis out through injury, the Knicks (11-11)
fell to the visiting Orlando Magic (10-14) 105-100 in what was an uninspiring 48
minutes of NBA basketball.
Sunday’s loss sees the Knicks having won only 1 of their last 5 games, the only win
in that stretch coming against the Whiteside-less Heat on Wednesday. The absence
of both THJ and KP made a seemingly perfect opportunity for Frank Ntilikina to be
green-lit for sizeable minutes, yet as the game progressed it became obvious that
Jeff Hornacek had other ideas.
Immediately shifting the blame to the foul disparity in his post-game interview,
Hornacek failed to justify why at 8.55 in the 4 th he decided to bench Ntilikina for
Ramon Sessions’ first and only minutes of the game – not bringing the French rookie
back onto the court until the game was almost over with 25 seconds left to play.
Sessions immediately missed a wide open 3 pointer and had a -5 in his 4 minutes of
action. This substitution left the Knicks with a lineup of Sessions, Baker, Lee,
Beasley and KOQ playing important clutch minutes, where Ntilikina could have
instead been gaining invaluable experience in a game where despite foul trouble
early, he was being productive offensively.
Notwithstanding the 4 th however, the Knicks will rue their ineptitude in the 1 st where
they were down by as many as 17 points. Jarrett Jack and Enes Kanter were most
noticeable with their self-destruct style of defense allowing the Magic to enter the
paint like a hot knife through butter. On the surface Kanter’s 18 points and 16
rebounds seem more than serviceable for the Knicks most talented starter on
Sunday, but he allowed the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic to have 34 points and 12
rebounds, offering a stark reminder of perhaps why Kanter won’t be the long-term
answer at the 5 position for the Knicks – Vucevic had his number all game.
Unfortunately for rookie Damyean Dotson his first career start was met with great
effort but poor execution as he ended the afternoon with 2 points on 1-3 shooting, 1
rebound, 0 assists and with the worst +/- of any Knicks player with a -16 for the
game. Michael Beasley had a nice 21 points but made numerous poor decisions
especially in the 4 th that ultimately cost the Knicks, going 1-3 with a foul and a
turnover in the final 5 minutes.
|The holidays got in the way so this raking will cover two weeks and 6 games. Unfortunately 4 of those games are losses and injuries are finally playing a factor.|
|Rank||Player||Comments||Last weeks Rank|
|1||Hardaway Jr., Tim||Well I didn’t see this coming. Hardaway has kicked it up a couple notches since last rankings. He’s still inconsistent but in addition to scoring he’s been rebounding and assisting at an impressive rate.||3|
|2||Porzingis, Kristaps||Porzingis shot has still been way off since it came out that his elbow has been injured. Still he’s been averaging over 20ppg and is still the prohibitive favorite among the most improved players 1/4 through the season.||1|
|3||Lee, Courtney||Other than the first Raptors game Lee has played well. On a team of inconsistent players the consistency has been appreciated.||2|
|4||Jack, Jarrett||Jack had a 14 assist game this week. It was in a loss to the Hawks, but still.||6|
|5||O’Quinn, Kyle||O’Quinn isn’t the best player but man is he fun to watch. Gotta love his energy.||8|
|6||Kanter, Enes||The Knicks have a lot of big guys but not a lot of good ones. This was really apparent when Kanter went down. Bonus points for trolling LeBron.||5|
|7||McDermott, Doug||Can’t put all the blame on McDermott but his +/- this week raises all the eyebrows.||7|
|8||Beasley, Michael||Beasley had 24 points at the half against the Rockets. In the 2nd half he showed why so many teams gave up on him. He didn’t even cross half court on a couple defensive stints.||11|
|9||Ntilikina, Frank||Frank had a rough couple weeks. He’s looked out of his element lately. Coach seems to notice too, his minutes are way down.||4|
|11||Dotson, Damyean||Didn’t get to see much of Damyean lately.||10|
|12||Noah, Joakim||3 minutes in the last 2 weeks. Noah is going to get run in Westchester this week, that’s the way to slowly bring him back. I like it.||12|
|13||Baker, Ron||Baker is also playing in Westchester this week. If you’re doing the math that’s over $20 million in salary playing in Westchester instead of MSG.||14|
|14||Hernangomez, Willy||Willy has been so bad I went from ‘the Knicks have too many big men’ to ‘I wonder what Luke Kornet is up to?’||13|
|15||Sessions, Ramon||Nothing to see here.||15|
Will the Knicks make the post season?
The Mecca has been rocking of late with some impressive Knick performances, even the heart breaking come back loss handed to them by Cleveland was great to watch. Porzingis’s down tick in shooting percentage has gone unnoticed with Tim Hardaway Jr coming out party, highlighted by the dagger three at the end of the Utah game on Wednesday, a week after scoring 38 points against Toronto at MSG. Production from other role plays has also been important in jumping out to a good start. Lee, O’Quinn, Jack and Thomas have all been better than expectations at the beginning of the season.
So, what’s next for this gritty new Knicks team? In this unpredictable Eastern conference, it is too easy to fantasize about playoff basketball, and the Knicks will have to continue to improve to make it there.
The triangle is out of sight and out of mind. Horneck has been given full control of the
offense and now the offense is going to run. Unsurprisingly (given the Knicks personnel) they have managed to create an identity as a team that can run in transition, ranking in the top 10 in points added through transition (per 100 possessions). Getting out in transition is one thing but the Knicks have also remained efficient ranking 7th in transition points scored (per 100 transition plays), and 12th at finishing at the rim.
The numbers illustrate how the Knicks are trying to play, however to be successful against the better teams they will need to emphasis transition opportunities more often. We have seen New York resort to iso situations even off a steal, which slows the offense down and lets the opposing defense set up.
Another warning sign that the offense maybe struggling more than it seems is the inability to turn steals into transition points. So far, this year the Knicks rank 27th in transition points added through steals. This combined with the efficiency or lack of the Knicks are showing in transition is a worrying sign for the 10-7 New York squad.
Defensively, the Knicks have been dramatically up and down. Just over a week ago Kyle
Korver highlighted the main blundering point, defending the three-point line. This weakness was also taken advantage of by the tanking Hawks. The Knicks are one of the worst teams in the league at defending the three-point line, especially from the corners. In a three-point shooting league the team will struggle to make it to the post season without improving their close out defense. Otherwise we may start to see even more games get away from the Knicks like we saw against, Toronto (at Air Canada), Cleveland, and Atlanta.
The Knicks can’t rely on Kristaps through 82 games.
Versus both the Clippers and Raptors this week the Knicks have taken some further baby steps towards consistency. Even more encouraging for the blue and orange is Tim Hardaway Jr’s performances. Offensively the shooting guard has grown into his roll, taking less contested 3-pointers and getting to and finishing at the rim. Hardaway Jr’s performances have meant the Knicks have pulled out wins without completely relying on KP. As the season continues Timmy’s offense will become even more important, and he has to stay aggressive in attacking the rim if the Knicks are serious about staying over .500.
Unbelievably, THJ’s defense has also been worth writing about. Defensively, Hardaway has become more like his team mate Courtney Lee instead of 2015-16 James Harden. Once-upon-a- time, the young shooting guard would reach constantly, and become a turn table when confronted with a driving opponent. Nowadays, NY’s number 3 is moving his feet, muscling over screens, and stealing the ball from lackadaisical ball handlers. Hardaway Jr will never transform into Tony Allen, but if he can remain average on the defensive end the Knicks become a much better team.
Nothing illustrated the Knicks defensive improvements more than the third quarter on
Wednesday night vs division rivals Toronto.
However, the defensive effort has to be there for the Knicks 8/10 games if they want to hold on to one of those magical playoff seeds.
So, can the Knicks finally make a playoff run?
That’s to be decided, but they are making progress.
2018 NBA Draft Preview
By: Wyatt Krehbiel
This is the first of a series of articles on the 2018 NBA Draft. I plan on following this
article with several updates throughout the season and then scouting reports for players likely to interest the Knicks in the weeks leading up to the draft. The top end of this draft appears to very strong with five potential franchise cornerstones. After those five the rest of the draft is much harder to predict but has a lot of potential talent.
Although it’s too early in the year to know how everything will play out, the consensus
top pick in the draft appears to be Marvin Bagley III out of Duke. Bagley is a 6’11 front court player who has the potential to lead the league in rebounding while guarding multiple positions.
Bagley is a very athletic, high motor rebounder with plenty of shot blocking ability, as well as the speed and lateral quickness to guard smaller players on the perimeter. Bagley has shown flashes of a solid jump shot but needs to develop his offensive game to become a true star in the NBA. While New York appears to have an overabundance of players in the front court, if they somehow obtained the first overall pick it would be hard for the team to pass up on the best talent in the draft who could provide them with defensive flexibility alongside KP.
Luka Doncic is a 6’8 guard who seems to have the most developed set of skills in this
draft. Doncic lacks top flight athleticism, but his court vision, passing instincts, and ball skills allow him to be incredibly effective. Unlike the most of the prospects in this class, Doncic has performed well on a professional court. Doncic was a key player in leading his team to the Euroleague Final Four, and served as Goran Dragic’s sidekick in Slovenia’s gold medal run in Eurobasket. Doncic would be an ideal fit with this Knicks team by sliding in next to Frank Ntilikina providing another solid outside shooting threat, an exceptional secondary distributer, a high motor defender, and a high energy emotional leader on the court.
Michael Porter Jr. is 6’10 Forward out of Missouri who has the size to play the four but
the skills and athleticism to play the three. He has the ability to score from anywhere on the court with above average shooting from the outside. Experts have gone as far as to suggest that Porter has the upside of Kevin Durant. Porter needs to show scouts that he has the vision to be a consistent passer, and that he is willing to work on the defensive end but he looks to have the ability to slide into Melo’s old position, and provide the same scoring punch with higher upside.
The final two players in the preseason top five are Deandre Ayton from Arizona, and
Mohammed Bamba from Texas. Both players are centers which is not a position the Knicks are likely to be targeting. Ayton is the more talented offensively of the two and has a solid outside shot. If he develops his post moves he could fit the mold of Karl Anthony-Towns. Bamba will enter the league with the longest wingspan of any NBA player at 7’9, he is expected to develop into a potential defensive player of the year with similar rim protecting skills as Rudy Gobert.
Bamba has shown flashes of offensive ability but is not nearly as polished as Ayton.
The rest of the draft is hard to gauge at this point in the process. Other prospects of
interest include Miles Bridges who is an athletic freak who shoots threes and could potentially play small forward for the Knicks. Trevon Duval is a long, physical point guard who could potentially play with Frank Ntilikina. Lonnie Walker is a prototypical shooting guard who can shoot the three, attack off the dribble and has the wingspan to be a plus defender. Hamidou Diallo could be the most athletic two guard in the class but probably has the most riding on performance this year of any prospect. His athleticism is off the charts but he needs to show that he has the basketball skill to go with the athleticism.
|A 2-1 week that should have been a 3-0 week. If you told me the Knicks would be ahead of the Cavs in the standings 14 games into the season and LeBron was healthy I would have asked you to share whatever drug you were on. Oh and farewell to Kuz. We hardly knew ye.|
|Rank||Player||Comments||Last weeks Rank|
|1||Porzingis, Kristaps||Porzingis efficiency was down a good amount this week. I hope it doesn’t have to do with his elbow as that probably won’t get better any time soon. The good news is that even with lower efficiency KP still averaged 25 and 7.||1|
|2||Lee, Courtney||Lee had a great week, especially agains the Kings. He’s been an underrated part of the Knicks success.||7|
|3||Hardaway Jr., Tim||Hardaway had monster games against the Cavs and Jazz, which makes up for the turd he layed against the Kings. He’s showing some good signs like improved defense and passing. If he can get his consistency up he’ll be worth his contract.||3|
|4||Ntilikina, Frank||Not only did Frank have 6 steals against the Cavs, he stood up to LeBron. He’s going to be really good. Dennis Smith Jr. who?||4|
|5||Kanter, Enes||Kanter can score and he can rebound. What he can’t seem to do is defend and that was exposed against the Cavs and Jazz. Still, he’s an emotional presence. Standing up for Frank like he did in the Cavs game is important.||2|
|6||Jack, Jarrett||Jack averaged over 5 assists per game this week. I’ll take it.||9|
|7||McDermott, Doug||No one on the bench really stood out this week. Doug was the only one to have a positive +/- in all 3 games.||6|
|8||O’Quinn, Kyle||Quiet week from KOQ. Not terrible, but not as good as the last few weeks.||5|
|9||Thomas, Lance||I’m glad I didn’t bow down to the pressure and issue a Lance apology.||8|
|10||Dotson, Damyean||Dotson looked really good against the Kings and then played 1 minute over the next 2 games.||10|
|11||Beasley, Michael||Has the Beasley experiment come to an end already?||11|
|12||Noah, Joakim||Coach said he’s bringing back Noah slowly. Zero minutes over the first two games is an excellent pace if you ask me.||16|
|13||Hernangomez, Willy||Now that Noah is back I think the only way Willy is getting on the court is if he leaves hundreds of marbles in the locker room in the hopes of multiple sprained ankles.||13|
|14||Baker, Ron||Baker is out of the rotation. At least we’re paying him twice market value!||12|
|15||Sessions, Ramon||I remember really wanting Sessions on the team. That was about 7 years ago but still.||14|
Phil Jackson should still be with the Knicks
For all the damage Phil Jackson inflicted on the New York Knickerbockers, and all
the criticism he took during his time in the city, he may have actually saved the
This year we are witnessing Kristaps Porzingis live up to his multiple alter-egos, we
have seen flashes of both ‘Porzingod’ and the ‘Unicorn’. I’m not entirely sure what
either of those would look like, but I’m pretty sure KP is the closest thing you can get.
In fact, this season Porzingis has outperformed most of his talented 2015 rookie
class. So far in this season KP is producing 30 ppg, whilst also increasing his
efficiency across the board. Compared to the Latvian’s previous two years of 44.5
FG%/ 35 3FG% he has improved 6.2% from the field and 3% better from deep. The
numbers seem steady, until you explore the usage this year (35.7 USG%) which has
increased by more than 10% after Carmelo’s departure in the summer. Usually we
don’t see efficiency increases co-inside with a dramatic usage increase. Therefore,
seeing Porzingis’s development this year has surprised most. Also noteworthy is the
fourth quarter heroics, on three occasions now Kristaps has single handedly won
games (looking like 2009 Kobe). His new-found mamba mentality was on full show
during the Knicks’ recent game vs an in-form Indiana Pacers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsBT7kihaTE (Real GD’s Latest Highlights)
But we already knew Porzingis was going to be a scorer after his first few games in
the league, and with Carmelo Anthony as a mentor it seemed even more likely. What
is more encouraging for the Knicks faithfuls is the dynamic defensive ability KP can
produce, especially in the clutch. In the very same Pacers game KP rejected six
shots, four of which came in the second half, and all during the Knicks come back.
After the theatrics New York witnessed during KP’s first two years it was clear he
was a steal at the 4th pick back in 2015. Although that wasn’t commonly known in
June 2015, and while some saw athletic Dirk, most saw Darko. Even after some
impressive, well-edited highlight videos started to appear, many still were calling for
the Knicks to select Justice Winslow (a sure thing in many people’s opinion, even
mine). Then it happened; Phil Jackson rang-in the selection of a skinny 7’3″ European
and the rest just may well be history.
Fast forward two years, and things are really reaching a boiling point. Phil wants
Melo gone, Melo loves NY but hates Phil so agrees to make two teams available for
a trade (either of which he would join later in the year). Then it comes out Hornacrk
thinks KP plays ‘like a pussy’, so then Kristaps flies home before meeting with Phil
and Horneck. Or so it is rumoured.
Finally, the 2017 NBA draft, the one event that the Knicks excelled at, or at least
when they have had a 1 st round pick. And again, Phil Jackson along with his Knicks
staff select a long, skinny European, who like Porzingis had been playing
professional ball for a couple of years. Frank Ntilikina (the ‘t’ is silent) has gone
reasonably unnoticed among his peers, but that is by no means a reflection of his
potential. What’s most striking when watching Ntilikina is his defensive IQ, coupled
with a relentless motor. After 11 games, the 19-year- old has averaged 1.6 spg whilst
only playing 20 minutes, he’s also within the 100th percentile for his position on steals
per team possession (cleaningtheglass.com). In comparison to Dennis Smith Jr’s
defensive numbers 0.8 spg (1 spg per 36 minutes) Frank looks much more capable
‘The French Prince’ (Ntilikina’s favoured nickname) has also shown his ability to be
that floor general teams look for in an all-star point guard. Proving that his high
basketball IQ is not just a defensive one, he’s averaging 5 apg during is 20 minutes
of playing time. He’s also in the 73rd percentile in his position on what percentage of
his teammates’ buckets did he assist on (cleaningtheglass.com). At 19, his overall
game is impressive and throughout the year we are bound to see mistakes and
brilliance from the rookie. Once again it is difficult to criticise the pick.
So that’s one franchise player selected and a 6’5, 19-year- old point guard who after 11
games has shown he can defend really well and find his teammates. Plus let’s not
forget the trade Jackson made to acquire Willy Hernangomez (drafted and stashed
by the Philadelphia 76ers), another highly skilled European who was selected in the
NBA first all-rookie team just last year.
So, the question has to be asked, should Phil Jackson still be with the Knicks? Well
quite clearly no, but his time with the Knicks shouldn’t be remembered as a failure. In
fact, Jackson might have been one of the rare executives that leave a team in better
condition than when they started. Perhaps the Knicks could make the 11-time NBA
champion their head European scout? He could even live in Lithuania with
Kuzminskus once he gets cut to make room for Phil’s best friend, Joakim Noah.