Photo Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
New York Knicks tank is rolling through a town near you
Ladies and gentleman, the tank is now fully locked and loaded for the New York Knicks. In nine of the last ten games, the Knicks have had amazing tanking performances. The most notable tanking exploits during these run of the games came against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, and last night against the Atlanta Hawks. These are all games the Knicks should have come out as victors, but when the tank is rolling, there’s no stopping it.
There isn’t much to say about the Knicks dreadful second-half performance against the Hawks. All season, the Knicks haven’t shown the ability to put together a full 48-minute performance. Last month, the main issue for the Knicks were slow starts to games which led to eventual blowout losses. Now, the Knicks are struggling to carry over great first half performances to the second half.
There are some positives for the Knicks despite constantly losing games
To be fair to the Knicks, coach David Fizdale’s main focus coming into the season wasn’t wins and losses. Fizdale’s mission was to make sure the young players on the Knicks roster develop their game. After all, proper player development will lead to wins down the line. While player development is Fizdale’s main focus, the losing culture that has been ingrained into the Knicks for so long continues to rear its ugly head.
Despite all of the losing, there have been some positives for the Knicks this season. The most notable positive has been the development of the young players, especially Emmanuel Mudiay and Kevin Knox. Both players had great games last night against the Hawks. Mudiay notched his third 30+ point game of the month. That stat is significant because Mudiay only had two such games before this season started. Knox continues to mix up his offensive game and give the defense fits. He scored 24 points, and the majority of those points came in the first half.
Shot selection continues to be a problem for the Knicks
While the development of Mudiay and Knox are great positives, there are some negatives Fizdale needs to weed out. Last night, shot selection was a major issue. In the second half, against the Hawks, an APB was sent out to find the Knicks offense because it went missing. Instead of running the offense to create good shots, the Knicks took ill-advised shots to try and get back into the game. The two most ill-advised moments which stood out the most were shots taken by Tim Hardaway Jr. and Mudiay late in the fourth quarter.
With 2:13 left in the game, after a Lance Thomas steal, Hardaway Jr. had the ball with the Knicks down by six, 109-103. Instead of running the offense, Hardaway Jr. elected to rise for a quick pull-up three over a Hawks defender in his face. Throughout his career, Hardaway Jr.’s shot selection has been an issue. Seeing Hardaway Jr. continue to take shots like that raises the question of his development.
After Hardaway Jr.’s ill-advised shot, Mudiay decided to take an ill-advised shot of his own. With 1:18 left, Mudiay had the ball about two to three feet behind the three-point line. At the time, the Knicks offense has been stagnant, and there was no movement off the ball. Instead of initiating offense or driving to the rim to create, Mudiay settled for a deep three which he bricked. Both ill-advised shots summed up the Knicks second-half performance. The Knicks couldn’t buy a bucket if their life depended on it.
At this point, tanking may be the best option for the Knicks
Currently, the Knicks are sitting near the bottom of the NBA standings with a 9-25 record. At the moment, the Knicks have the fifth worst record in the league, and the teams with the worst record, the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers, are within striking distance with an 8-25 record. If the Knicks continue to maneuver its tank correctly, there’s a strong chance the Knicks may fall into the bottom three. By doing so, the Knicks would have a 14% chance of landing the top pick.
Tanking is an art form only a few teams are capable of pulling off. Right now, the Knicks have the formula in place to tank to its heart’s desire. Any blind person can see the Knicks are in need of talent. With the plethora of talent entering the NBA draft next year, most notably Zion Williamson, it may be best for the Knicks to continue tanking. Maybe Scott Perry will be able to draft a generational talent to play next to Kristaps Porzingis and Kevin Knox for the next ten years.
To tank or not to tank is the question the Knicks have already answered with their recent play. It’s time to break out the tank full-time. The tanking season is now in session for the Knicks.