Photo Credit: The Associated Press
New season, who’s this?
Last year, the New York Knicks started off better than expected until Kristaps Porzingis fell victim to the dreaded torn ACL injury. Afterward, the writing was on the wall, and the Knicks pulled out the infamous tank to close out the season.
Fortunately, for the Knicks, pulling out the infamous tank worked in their favor in the 2018 NBA Draft.
With the 9th pick, the Knicks chose Kentucky swingman Kevin Knox, and he was greeted with some boos which is what many have come to expect from the Knicks faithful. In this case, the boos were somewhat understandable seeing that Missouri standout Michael Porter Jr. was still on the board at the time, but his back injury history made drafting him a risk that many teams were not willing to take that high in the draft.
Like many rookies, Knox had his strengths and his weaknesses, and many thought that the Knicks drafted him too high on the board. Well, those thoughts were quickly erased when Knox burst on the scene at the Las Vegas Summer League.
Knox averaged 21.3 points per game (ppg), and he had a monster game against the, defending Summer League champion, Los Angeles Lakers where he dropped 29 points and led the Knicks on a monster 28-3 run, which erased a 25-point deficit. While Knox led the charge in the Summer League, he wasn’t the only Knicks rookie to impress.
Mitchell Robinson also impressed for the Knicks, and to many, he was more of a surprise than Knox. Selected 36th in the 2nd round, many weren’t expecting much from Robinson, especially since he sat out a year of college eligibility, but he showed his worth by swatting opposing player’s shots left and right. At one point, even the commentators were questioning why players would drive to the paint with Robinson protecting the rim. Robinson led the summer league in blocks per game (4.0) while averaging a double-double (13.0 ppg and 10.2 rebounds per game).
Alonzo Trier was also a pleasant surprise averaging 17.0 ppg, on 45% shooting, and 3.3 assists per game.
Coming into the new season, the Knicks have a revamped roster injected with more youth and athleticism. Besides the additions of Knox, Robinson, and Trier, the Knicks also signed Mario Hezonja and Noah Vonleh. More than likely, Joakim Noah will be allowed to ride off into the sunset since he doesn’t factor into the Knicks current plans, and it remains to be seen if Courtney Lee will start the season with the Knicks.
It’s near impossible to determine how the Knicks will lineup once the new season begins, but it’s clear that coach David Fizdale likes to play players who are versatile and have a lengthy wingspan. Also, Fizdale wants to play an uptempo style of ball, which involves high-intensity defense and getting out on the fast break.
At point guard, the dilemma for Fizdale will be to determine if he wants to start the best talent the Knicks currently have at that position, Trey Burke, or if he wants to go with length, and defense, and start Frank Ntilikina. Whoever Fizdale decides to start will be playing in the backcourt alongside Tim Hardaway Jr., who is one of the big money men on the roster.
While Porzingis continues to recover from the ACL injury, Enes Kanter will hold down the fort at Center, and if Knox continues to show out during the preseason, he will likely lock down one of the available starting forward positions. The remaining starting forward position will be up for grabs, between a plethora of players, but expect a player who prioritizes defense to fill that position.
Overall, whoever Fizdale decides to put in the starting lineup and rotation will be added with the intention to win games. The Knicks have to prove to upcoming free agents, such as Kyrie Irving, that the necessary talent is on the roster to win games and possibly a championship in the long run.
In other words, the Knicks tank has officially been parked, and the Knicks tape may be back in full force…eventually.