Knicks Look to Close Out NBA Season on High Note
With only a few remaining games in what has been a disappointing season for the New York Knicks, there are still reasons to get interested in the final stretch. As the Knicks will go into most of their final games as underdogs, the NBA basketball lines for the Knicks remaining games promise some big payoffs for anyone looking to make money off of a Knicks upset.
Here are some of the key matchups to look at:
April 9th & 11th – home and home series against the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs will be looking to use these games as a springboard into the playoffs. Currently sitting in third place in the East and five games into a win streak, the Cavs would do themselves well by getting two big wins against an inferior team right before heading into the postseason. With as close as their division is (Indiana is right on their heels and Milwaukee isn’t too far behind either) the Cavs may even need these games to lock up third place, which will be crucial down the stretch. Look for a confident Cavaliers team to show up to this back to back series. It will be doubtful that the Knicks could pull wins off in either of these games, but if Cleveland takes things for granted in an effort to rest up before the playoffs, or if they choose to give their bench some more playing time before things get serious, the Knicks have a shot at a couple of wins here. As proof it’s not impossible, the Knicks did win the first meeting of the season, taking a 114-95 victory back on October 9th.
March 28th vs the 76’ers
Philadelphia has already locked up a spot in the east, but they are right in the middle of a bunch of teams who could move up or down the standings depending on how the rest of the season plays out. The Knicks have yet to win against the 76’ers this year, most recently dropping a 118-110 contest at home back on March 15th. Since Philly will be trying to string together some wins going into the playoffs to both give themselves momentum and gain ground in the standings, look for them not to take this contest lightly. This game is the least likely to end in an upset, so if you are looking to make money off the Knicks, this is not the most likely game to do it.
April 7th vs the Bucks
During a miserable 1-17 stretch that lasted all the way through February and halfway into March, the Knicks faced the Bucks three times and dropped all of those contests (92-90, 103-89 and 120-112). Fast forward to now, and well…nothing has changed much. The Bucks have still not clinched a spot in the East, but still have a good chance at making the playoffs along with the Miami Heat, with whom they are tied in wins with 39. Depending on what happens between now and then, these are games that the Knicks could possibly steal if Milwaukee takes things for granted. All three times they matched up this year the Knicks were in the middle of playing their worst basketball and come April 7th they might feel they have something to prove. You never know this time of year.
March Madness Draft Preview
As the NCAA tournament approaches many top NBA prospects will be in action providing NBA fans a good look. This is a good opportunity for fans whose teams are in tank mode to see potential prospects in action.
I recently got Twitter for the first time and one thing I have noticed is the apparent desperation among Knicks fans to reach the top of the lottery. Fortunately that may not be necessary to get a franchise cornerstone in this draft.
This was one of the best drafts at the top in recent memory, and the ascension of Oklahoma’s Trae Young just makes it better. Collin Sexton has been compared to last years fifth overall pick De’Aaron Fox. In this years draft many mock drafts have Sexton falling out of the top ten.
It also helps that the Knicks major deficiencies, defense, three point shooting, and the small forward position all can be addressed around the ninth pick. The back end of the top ten seems to be the optimal spot for a team seeking a three and D wing.
This season has been a career year for Villanova Junior Mikal Bridges. Up to this year he had been a defensive stud for the one seed Wildcats. Now he has been an offensive weapon as well. He averaged 18 points a game for a very good team, and is a good three point shooter. He has spent the most time in college of the top prospects which could help ease the transition to the NBA. His scoring ability, and three point shot are nice, but his ability to defend multiple positions, and shut down an opponents best player is his biggest draw.
Kevin Knox Continue reading
Heat, Mavs, Improvement?
The Knicks moved to 19-21 this season after an encouraging win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Prior to the Dallas game, the Knicks threw away what would’ve been a great confidence boosting win in Miami, who’s victory was largely predicated on their willingness to shoot threes, and the Knicks’ reluctance to do the same.
The 107-103 loss in overtime to the Heat was a reminder for Knicks fans that despite a
promising start to the season, there is room for improvement on multiple fronts for the
team going forward. Much has been made over the improved defense and effort that passes the eye test when watching the team, but statistically, the game-plans have to
improve if the Knicks want to reach even the 8th seed in the playoff race this year.
Miami attempted 42 threes on Friday, but the Knicks only managed 13 attempts – this
disparity further highlighted by the fact that the Knicks didn’t make a single 3 pointer until the 3rd quarter. Of course, attempting a low number of threes would be excusable if the team was having an off night – there’s no use chucking threes just for the sake of it. However, the Knicks hit 5 threes on Friday, shooting a good 38.5% as opposed to the Heat who shot 28.5% (12/42).
We all know that the Knicks have struggled mightily in defending the 3 point line this
season, in fact, it’s probably the most frustrating part of watching the team so far. Given that for the most part the effort on defense has been great, the Knicks’ players are doing themselves a disservice by giving them up.
A more detailed study of the Heat game, undertaken by reddit user /u/zounderk1te (1) , shows that the team suffers from multiple individual errors when on defense; this is compounded by the fact that the team has to constantly help on defense to contain opposition players who are allowed to drive to the rim far too easily.
Despite KP’s recent ‘tired’ comments, there is a real case for him moving to the 5 once he can hang physically with NBA big men down low. KP frequently doesn’t contest 3 pointers when guarding stretch 4’s, and there’s no doubt he’s best defensively as a rim protector, closer to the basket.
Anyone who has watched the Knicks this year will tell you that the team appears to flat out refuse to box out sometimes, instead ball watching and allowing easy offensive rebounds as well as long rebounds which lead to easy threes for the other team. Truthfully, it’s hard to say whether this is solely a coaching issue, or because of the inexperience of the team’s young players, but regardless it’s killing the Knicks especially down the stretch in close games.
|Rank||Player||Comments||Last weeks Rank|
|1||Porzingis, Kristaps||Please don’t be injured, please don’t be injured, please don’t be injured, please don’t be injured.||3|
|2||Kanter, Enes||The fact that Kanter is a double-double machine and McDermott is a solid bench player while Melo is averaging career lows in just about every category makes me feel so much better about this trade than I did a few months ago.||2|
|3||Lee, Courtney||Lee has had some monster games lately. Definitely picking up scoring void Hardaway left when he went down.||1|
|4||McDermott, Doug||McDermott was a big reason that all of the starters had a negative +/- while all the bench players had a positive +/- against the Hawks.||7|
|5||Beasley, Michael||If Beasley keeps playing like this it’s definitely going to effect the odds on Knicks making the playoffs.||5|
|6||Ntilikina, Frank||Up and down season, which is normal for a 19 year old PG. This week was a very up week.||11|
|7||Jack, Jarrett||Jack had a similar week to last week. He’s only moving down because so many Knicks had an even better week.||4|
|8||Thomas, Lance||Thomas has moved into the starting lineup and hasn’t looked too bad. No apology coming.||8|
|9||O’Quinn, Kyle||O’Quinn hasn’t been getting many minutes lately but he’s definitely been making the most of them.||9|
|10||Hardaway Jr., Tim||The Knicks have been winning, but they are going to need Timmy to get healthy soon. A ton of away games in January and against much better competition.||6|
|11||Baker, Ron||Baker came back and has looked like a 4M a year player. Take that however you want.||13|
|12||Dotson, Damyean||Looks like Baker took Dotsons minutes. Not sure how I feel about that. I don’t think I feel great about it.||10|
|13||Hernangomez, Willy||Willy better figure out defense and fast or he’s going to be out of the NBA in a year or two.||12|
|14||Sessions, Ramon||Since Jack is the Knicks veteran PG presense what value does Sessions bring?||14|
|15||Noah, Joakim||Parsons is averaging over 12 PPG this month, making Noah the official worst contract in the NBA.||15|
|Four games since the last rankings. 2 and 2 which is pretty amazing considering Porzingis and Hardaway each missed three games.|
|Rank||Player||Comments||Last weeks Rank|
|1||Lee, Courtney||Someone needed to step up when Porzingis and Hardaway were out and it looks like Lee was more than happy to take on that roll. Great week for Lee.||3|
|2||Kanter, Enes||Three double-doubles this week for Kanter. It’s so nice having someone down low who is able to grab seemingly every rebound.||6|
|3||Porzingis, Kristaps||Beasley did better than expected when starting in place of Porzingis, but I think we can all say thank god Porzingis is back.||2|
|4||Jack, Jarrett||Jack has definitely been this seasons most pleasant surprise. I guarantee that in the beginning of the season there weren’t too many NBA betting sites that had Jack averaging over 6 assists per game.||4|
|5||Beasley, Michael||Beasley backed up his words with a surprisingly good week. Color me impressed.||8|
|6||Hardaway Jr., Tim||Of course as soon as Hardaway starts looking great he gets injured. Knicks really need his scoring. They averaged just under 99 points a game in the three games THJ missed this week.||1|
|7||McDermott, Doug||McDermott hit 14 shots this week and only 3 of them were threes. Weird.||7|
|8||Thomas, Lance||The bench has been very mediocre lately. Not terrible, but no one has stood out either. Lance leads the ‘meh mob’.||10|
|9||O’Quinn, Kyle||KOQ did almost nothing on the court this week but I still love his energy.||5|
|10||Dotson, Damyean||Dotson got to start a couple games this week and even grabbed 7 boards on Monday. Progress.||11|
|11||Ntilikina, Frank||Frank had me really excited a few weeks ago. Lately….not so much.||9|
|12||Hernangomez, Willy||Willy played one game this week where he didn’t look like trash, tying his season long record.||14|
|13||Baker, Ron||Baker is back. Hooray?||13|
|14||Sessions, Ramon||We had a Ramon sighting this week. Rad.||15|
|15||Noah, Joakim||To everyone who got mad at me for criticizing the Noah contract: apology line starts on the left.||12|
(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.