See, we’re not asking for much. Most of the times, we’re not even asking for real competitiveness. We ask for rootability and hints of development from somebody. Even if that somebody is not a core component of our future, but we feel like he’s a kid of ours nonetheless. Well, tonight we got a tiny bit ot that, with Kornet starting in place of Kanter.
I’ll pull out a total jerk move and quote myself here: “When Luke Kornet plays instead of Kanter, you can see the team trying to play better. They fail, of course, because Luke sucks and they all suck, but it’s a breath of fresh air to see someone who’s clearly not interested in padding his boxscore.”
In the first quarter that was very evident. Apart from the improved spacing (and the diminished offensive rebounding) the team played better not having a big body who demands to be fed inside and who passes the ball just once in a while. Kornet is far from a good player, and let’s say he hits 2 fewer threes and you’re looking at a mediocre offensive game from him, but watching him play is so much better than seeing Kanter post empty double doubles while hindering whatever movement without the ball happens around the altruism-challenged THJ and Mudiay.
We got beat by Milwaukee, and that’s ok. They’re a good team and we’re terrible. The game was not competitive in the last 15 minutes. But I didn’t feel like I wasted my time watching this game. It’s not too much to ask, but sometimes it’s too much for this coaching staff/front office to give.
– Noah Vonleh (15 pts, 13 rebs, 2 ast, +2 +/-) showed his sulking teammate – let’s hope not for long – Kanter what a real, meaningful double double is. His rebounding number could have been a bit inflated by the fact that Kornet is a downright wet noodle on the boards, but Noah was there everytime. He wasn’t that good on offense, turning the ball over four times, but his defense tonight was awesome. He got tasked with guarding Antetokounmpo and made him sweat his routinely great performance. Giannis got close to a monster triple double (31/14/8) but through no fault of Vonleh, who might be one of the few players in the league able to keep pace with the Greek Freak on defense. He also added three blocks for good measure. I don’t think someone else will emerge from the fray to take away the Knicks MVP from Vonleh during the season. Now re-read the last sentence, remember Vonleh got into the roster as a non-guaranteed minimum salary player, and you’ll have your Knicks season in a nutshell.
– You’re damn right, I’ll put Luke Kornet (23 pts, 3 rebs, 5 ast, -8 +/-) in this section even if his game was nothing special. Yeah, he recorded 5 assists but most of them were lazy passes to semi-open guys who ended up hitting their shots. His 3 boards in 35 minutes are a freaking insult to the fact that he’s 7’1″. His defense was at best meh, even if just by raising his hands up he’s a 300% better rim protector than Kanter. But how can you not put him here on a night where he hit 7 treys and, as I said before, the team looked like it was playing better with him on the court? Some of his minutes were a gift from the officials, who weirdly ejected Kanter without him deserving it, but it was hard not to see the sheer difference in collective body language when Luke was on the floor compared to when Enes was playing. Bonus fun fact: Luke is now the tallest player ever in the NBA to hit at least 7 three pointers in a game.
– Allonzo Trier (7 pts, 2 rebs, 4 ast, -14 +/-) and Damyean Dotson (4 pts, 4 rebs, 2 stl, -8 +/-) were a combined 3-for-19 from the field tonight. While Dotson missed mostly good shots – but still ends here because shotmaking is something that has to be asked from him – Trier was a total mess. Iso Zo tried, over and over again, to delve deep into the Bucks defense without a care for the long arms of Milwaukee’s defenders. Seriously, have you considered now long they are? Giannis, Middleton, Hill, Maker, and Wilson (a sneaky good player in Bud’s system) are all superlong and have no trouble at contesting shots. Trier just couldn’t learn the lesson and went on to get swatted ad libitum, and when he didn’t, he bricked some iso shots. Normally I like Trier, but tonight I started suspecting I like him because we also have THJ who’s much worse. When THJ is not around, I might find myself liking him less simply because he’s the other black hole I usually tolerate thanks to his younger age and driving mentatity. Don’t get fooled by Trier’s 4 assists, he didn’t try to run an offensive set even once.
– Kevin Knox (12 pts. 6 rebs, 1 stl, -19 +/-) posted the worst plus-minus of the game while shooting horribly (4-for-15) and getting destroyed on defense by Middleton and Giannis. It’s nice that his double digit scoring streak still stands (nine straight, ten in the last eleven, eleven in the last thirteen), as it is that he’s grabbing more boards. Sadly, it’s not enough to be a functional NBA player, but it’s enough to give us a faint hope about this year’s lottery pick.
– Speaking of lottery picks, Frank is quickly becoming a frustrating issue. Keep in mind that tonight I had nothing to complain about the rotation (it was hard to screw it to begin with, given THJ was out and Kanter got ejected), so I could focus better on how the single pieces were doing. That focus allowed me to get struck by a revelation: to put it simply, Frank plays like I used to play at the local gyms once my paint-roaming days were over. As you might know, I stopped growing at 13. I never learned to play any other position than PF/C. At 16, I suddenly found myself being a bulky wing without any handle. I stayed on the perimeter waiting for someone else to pass me the ball and shoot it with inconsistent results. Every dribble I took was a steal waiting to happen. I attacked the basket maybe twice every month. Everybody recognized that I was a smart, dedicated player, with a fire and desire for playing defense (and a knack for rebounding and posting skinnier guys: it’s the only thing that differentiates my style from Frank’s one) but I wasn’t really in demand, as I was pretty much a zero on offense for the aforementioned reasons and couldn’t dribble to save my life. Now, add to this walk in the memory garden the fact that Wally said “I like Frank playing PG”, and it’s pretty much a death sentence for his future in the NBA. But I still want to see more from him, we don’t have anything to lose playing him ahead of Burke and Thomas. His two offensive rebounds were a nice touch, too.
– I won’t say anything else about Kanter apart from the fact that I viciously hate his “slighted superstar” act. I’m tired of everything Enes. Just pull your head out of your ass and count your days in NY, dude.
– Is any player in the League more average (in a bad way) than Courtney Lee? Is there any other player who is that fixated on the fake from three/shoot from two routine? Is there still someone kidding him/herself thinking we can trade him without a sweetener? Bonus fun fact 2: Courtney was the only Knick to hit more than half his shots.
– When do we trade Mudiay? He’s not as horrible as we thought he was at the beginning ot the season, but he can’t be the answer to anything Knicks-related, and I don’t trust our front office with his impending free agent status. Someone be a friend and do us a favor taking him away, like you do with your pal who drinks too much everytime you go out for a boys night, so you start boxing him out from the bartender.
It feels good to be just a half game from the worst record in the NBA. Let’s keep on losing without THJ and Kanter in sight, and all will be well! See you on Saturday against the Jazz, trying to keep this losing streak alive.