Will the Knicks make the post season?

Will the Knicks make the post season?

Written by Luke Ambrose, follow him on twitter and instagram


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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmVIcNqBfF4

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.

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The New York Knicks Podcast – Episode 403: Slump or Elbow

Marc and Jay talk with Chris from the Almighty Baller podcast network about the Knicks vs the Raptors, injury situations, rotations, Noah, Ntilikina, and more

Episode 402: Special Mini Episode

Marc and Jay talk about the Cavs and Jazz games in a special mini episode. Also some around the league news and more

Phil Jackson should still be with the Knicks

Phil Jackson should still be with the Knicks

Written by Luke Ambrose, follow him on twitter and instagram

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
Knicks.

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
defensively.

‘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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUTLx11GYQ8 (FreeDawkins)

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.

Changing Tides, KP, Frank, Playoffs?

Changing Tides, KP, Frank, Playoffs?

Written by Declan Ryan

Just over 2 weeks ago the Knicks were returning from Boston, reeling from a disappointing 21pt loss to the Celtics. KP looked flustered and the team looked sloppy in a game where the corpse of Ramon Sessions played 26 minutes – and Kyle O’Quinn played only 6.

Those were the dark days of the winless Knicks, 3 games into what appeared to be another long season filled with dreams of a top draft pick and little hope of competitive basketball.

Fast forward 2 weeks and there is a stark contrast in mood around the team, yet more
importantly there is a contrast on the court – ‘stark’ just doesn’t do it justice. In his 3 rd NBA season, Porzingis has blown all expectations out of the water, and his play has been bolstered by a functional and dynamic offense brought forth by coach Jeff Hornacek.

When they’re not turning the ball over, the Knicks have a half-court set that still contains triangle concepts, with lots of high-low action helped by a physical and offensively gifted frontcourt. However, unlike last season, the team no longer runs the triangle as a means to itself – that is to say that there is a clear goal for each possession – to give Porzingis the ball.

Continue reading

Episode 400: Porzingod

Marc and Jay talk about the last 4 games, the rotation, our thoughts on each player so far, 10 minutes with a die hard Knicks fan, and much more

What does Noah’s second chance look like?

What does Noah’s second chance look like?

Written by Luke Ambrose, follow him on twitter and instagram

At centre, 6’11, from hell’s kitchen, Joakim Noah will return November 14 th against the King and his Cavs. The $17-million a-year man has struggled during his time in New York so far, and with younger, better options ready to play meaningful minutes does Noah get another shot? More importantly what does Noah’s second chance role look like?

Over a year ago Phil Jackson offered Noah a huge 4-year deal which will send around $17- million plus per-year to Noah, paying him until he is 34. At the time, Jackson sold a lot of Knicks fans on Noah’s defence, rebounding and precision passing. Last season the garden only saw brief glimpses of the upside Jackson had praised before Noah returned to street clothes with injuries (sore left hamstring/ankle), then the PED suspension at the end of the season (12 games).

Since Noah has been out, the Knicks have transformed their roster into a young, hungry, and centre heavy team. Porzingis has developed into the superstar many predicted he would become a couple of years from now, currently the NBA’s 3 rd highest scorer (29 ppg). Enes Kanter has been exciting with his polished low post game and relentless rebounding (9.9 rpg), even Willy Hernangomez (2016-17 1 st team all-rookie) has had to sit a lot this season because of Kanter’s fireworks. And I haven’t even mentioned a current crowd favourite at the garden, Kyle O’Quinn, who like Porzingis has taken a big step up this year that many did not expect. So, with Kanter playing 24 minutes, O’Quinn playing 16.4 Minutes, and Willy playing just shy of 10 minutes, where does that leave Noah?

The 10-year veteran who won two national championships with Florida in college, and three years ago was in the conversation for MVP will have to fight for minutes. We have already seen coach Jeff Hornacek rewarding his players in minutes for the effort they are giving in practice, and more specifically their defence. Most noticeably Willy Hernangomez has gone from Marc Gasol look-a- like (according to Carmelo Anthony) to role player, because Hornacek has rewarded newbie Kanter for his defensive efforts. While both Willy and Kanter have been battling for minutes through an increased focus on defence neither are projected to be great rim protectors anytime soon.

ESPN’s Jaylen Rose says there are two kinds of players in the NBA, skill players and will
players. Generic as that statement may seem, it does ring true in the league, and Joakim Noah has made a career out of being one of the best ‘will players’ in the NBA. His gritty play may be more suited to the noughties, or even the 90’s, but that toughness Noah attributes to ‘growing up in New York’ is valuable. Granted it is not like the $17-million dollars of cap space, but never the less, it is valuable.

During Joakim’s media day interview he spoke of redemption, ‘I just want to redeem myself, for myself’ he added that he wanted to ‘make peace’ with the fact he got paid ‘a lot of money to be here’. At the time Noah’s personal interview did not truly register as anything noteworthy, but as we creep closer to his return, it may be a positive sign for the young Knicks.

So what does a redemption season look like for both Joakim and the Knicks? This debate has been ongoing for a while, many still see Noah playing meaningful minutes next to Porzingis. On the other end of the conversation Noah is collecting DNP’s and eventually getting removed from the roster via trade or buyout. The Knicks coaching staff will no doubt throw out some strange line-ups after Noah returns. Hornacek & Co, will be praying for a Joakim that resembles himself three years ago. However, his stats across the board both offensively and defensively have been in quick regression over the past three seasons. Multiply that with a long grocery list of injuries and it becomes very clear that Joakim’s most effective basketball has been left in Chi-Town with no intention on migrating to New York.

If he doesn’t play well enough to secure minutes, which seems inevitable with the log jam of talented centres in NY, what can the Knicks do? Trade him? The percentage of that happening without losing a young asset is low, very low. Maybe they can buy out his enormous $17-Million dollar plus contract? The percentage of that happening is equally depressing for Knick’s fans.

Beneath all of the accolades Noah received while he was with Chicago and the drama he has faced in New York he does still have an important role to play on this young Knicks team. If he is willing to buy in the Knicks could make use of Noah as the veteran that keeps this team honest. With so many young players the Knicks need a veteran that has always emphasized defense, ball movement, and effort during his 10-year NBA career. The young Europeans in Willy Hernangomez and Enes Kanter will need another voice in their ears other than Hornacek throughout the season, and Noah seems like the best candidate.

A leadership role may also benefit fellow Frenchman and newly drafted rookie Frank
Ntilikina. We may have already seen some of Noah’s defensive intensity rub off on the
Knicks point guard of the future, with his relentless ball pressure and razor-sharp instincts for cutting off opponents passing lanes. Frank is currently averaging 1.7 spg whilst playing only 17 minutes a night.

By no means is a bench heavy leadership role the best way to spend $17-Million in today’s NBA. However, with a new front office looking to make the Knicks interesting again, Noah’s large contract may act as a safety net during the next 2 years’ of free agency. It will prevent the tandem of Scott Perry and Steve Mills from over paying mid-level players (like Tim Hardaway Jr.). Then once Noah’s contract comes off the books, the Knicks will have a much better young core, and may only be a few pieces away from being interesting.

The NBA is a fast-paced league but for the Knicks at least it seems the best way to become truly relevant again is to take it slow, real slow.

2017/18 Knicks Roster Power Rankings – Week 2

I thought it would take a little longer to get this down on the Knicks, but they are already one of only 3 teams in the NBA without a win after two 20 point blowouts and one blown 20 point lead.
Rank Player Comments Last weeks Rank
1 Porzingis, Kristaps Porzingis was terrible against the Celtics but he gets a pass for looking pretty incredible in games 1 and 2. 1
2 Kanter, Enes If you blinked during the first quarter of game 3 you would have missed 8 rebounds by Kanter. He finished with 19. If he could develop even leauge average defense the Knicks could really have something here. 3
3 O’Quinn, Kyle O’Quinn looked like a solid backup in games 1 and 2, but was only given 6 minutes in game 3. I get Hernangomez needs minutes but I figured that would wait until KOQ hit a slump. 6
4 Sessions, Ramon Sessions hasn’t looked very good, but he’s ranked this high because I’m taking into account he’s a backup being thrust into a starting role. Considering that he’s been OK. 12
5 Lee, Courtney Lee’s best days are clearly behind him, but he’s not terrible, which is more than I can say for almost everyone ranked below him. 4 Continue reading

Episode 396: Preseason

Marc and Jay talk about the 3 preseason games, rotations, odd man out, injury concerns, and much more

Episode 380: Ex Knicks in the Playoffs

Marc and Jay talk about each series of the playoffs, offseason moves, ex Knicks in the playoffs, what Phil might be thinking, who to draft, and much more

Download Episode 380

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