Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the news that shook the sports world was the hiring of David Fizdale as the new coach of the New York Knicks.
Okay, maybe the news didn’t shake the sports world, but the hiring of Fizdale is a very astute signing by the Knicks brass.
In Memphis, Fizdale adapted to the roster, and the style of basketball the players were used to playing, to help lead the Grizzlies to a playoff berth in his first season as head coach. Unfortunately, what led to his downfall was his will to change the way Grizzlies play basketball overnight.
Before Fizdale touched down in Memphis, the Grizzlies were known as a team that grinds out victories by slowing down the pace of the game and playing tough, hard-nosed defense. Fizdale wanted to change the style of play, in his second season as coach, to a more uptempo style of offense.
Unfortunately for Fizdale, Marc Gasol wasn’t down with the change, and their relationship deteriorated as a result. What also happened as a result was Fizdale eventually being fired by the Grizzlies.
Now, in this new era of Knicks basketball, Fizdale wants to bring his ideas of a more uptempo offense to a Knicks roster that have the players to run it. Unlike in Memphis, where Gasol looks like he’s one or two hotdogs overweight to be running up and down the court, New York has a star big man — eloquently known as Kristaps “The Unicorn” Porzingis — who can run the court like a gazelle and can flourish in an uptempo style of offense. Also, the Knicks have a plethora of guards who can run the floor and cause havoc for opposing teams.
There are many positives you can point to about the Fizdale hire, but probably the most important trait he brings to the Knicks is having the confidence to hold players accountable. Last season, there seemed to be a lack of holding players accountable under Jeff Hornacek — which ultimately was one of the main reasons why he was let go. Fizdale expects his players to translate tough defense into creating turnovers and getting out on the fast-break to create easy offense. If a player decides to be lackadaisical on defense, expect Fizdale to sit that player down and replace him with someone willing to give more effort on the defensive side of the ball.
Overall, Fizdale seems to be a great hire for the Knicks when his style of play and personality is taken into account, and besides, any coach that takes on the challenge of turning Emmanuel Mudiay’s game around must be a basketball god.