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.
|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|
|Another 3-1 week with the only loss coming in a game that Porzingis (get well VERY soon) missed. The Knicks also came back from double digits to win in back to back games for the first time in franchise history, which is a lot more fun than the fake comebacks we saw in previous years.|
|Rank||Player||Comments||Last weeks Rank|
|1||Porzingis, Kristaps||Against the Pacers Porzingis had 40 points on 24 shot attempts with 8 rebounds and 6 blocks. A stat line Melo wouldn’t have even in the wettest of dreams.||1|
|2||Kanter, Enes||Kanter looks like he’s improving on defense. He’s got a long way to go but he looks like he’s putting in effort and getting some stops. Very good news for the Knicks.||2|
|3||Hardaway Jr., Tim||With Porzingis out Timmy stepped up with a nice 26 and 11 game. He’s been very inconsistent with his shot but at least he’s contributing in other ways. He’s more than doubling his average in assists, rebounds, and steals than he did his first time with the Knicks.||8|
|4||Ntilikina, Frank||Over the last 3 games Frank is averaging 8 assists per game while playing some of the best defense on the team. He’s only 19. Be excited.||5|
|5||O’Quinn, Kyle||I think it’s fair to say KOQ has one of the best contracts in the league.||4|
|6||McDermott, Doug||McDermott felt like a throw in with the Melo trade, but he’s now a key part of the Knicks bench.||7|
|7||Lee, Courtney||Lee hasn’t been bad this week, but a number of his teammates have played better.||3|
|8||Thomas, Lance||Lance had a +/- of +58 in over the last 4 games. Impressive but not quite ready for a Lance apology episode yet.||13|
|9||Jack, Jarrett||Just goes to show how this team is playing right now. Jack had a decent week and is still ranked 9th.||6|
|10||Dotson, Damyean||I think we’ll see more Dotson when coach realizes that the Beasley experiment isn’t working.||9|
|11||Beasley, Michael||With Porzingis out it was time for Beasley to step up and show what he’s got. Except that didn’t happen.||11|
|12||Baker, Ron||I was pretty high on Baker a few weeks ago and now I can’t see where he gets minutes.||12|
|13||Hernangomez, Willy||In the limited time we’ve seen Willy it looks like he does the same things as O’Quinn only worse.||10|
|14||Sessions, Ramon||At this point Ramon’s official position is injury insurance.||14|
|15||Kuzminskas, Mindaugas||The Knicks are looking to trade Kuz. Probably should have started that process a few games ago. Everyone knows he’s getting waived by the end of the weekend to make room for Noah.||15|
|16||Noah, Joakim||I mentioned above KOQ might have the best contract in the league. If you don’t count Chandler Parsons the Knicks might have the best and the worst contract on their roster.||16|