If I had to guess the Knicks’ record in the first six games before the season began, I would probably have said 1-6 or 2-5 if I was wearing particularly rose-colored glasses. The Knicks record is actually 1-6 right now. So why, oh why, I do feel like everything is going in the most horrible way possible?
I guess everything starts with the inherent distrust you’re forced to carry around Dolan’s minions. While Perry hasn’t done anything super bad (not a good talent evaluator, but he actually won a few marginal trades), Mills and Fizdale look like guys who can talk their way out of a lot of hairy situations while failing to understand a lot of basic basketball principles – Mills talking with Dolan, Fizdale with media and pundits alike.
I mean, I guess it’s probably hard to build a coherent roster starting from essentially scratch. But when you go around and build something that even the man on the street will tell you is deeply mismatched, and then compound the mistake by putting at risk the development of what you already have because you need to make it work with the new pieces, and that’s because you need to save face about your acquisitions… well, this is how the worst run organizations work.
The battle in Boston was pretty much well fought, so what do you do to tackle the Kings? Of course, you change your starting lineup to make space for one of your newest acquisitions, Bobby Portis. He’ll be the key to unlock your big summer splash, Julius Randle! Yeah, sure. Pretty much everyone would have told you the results would have probably been bad (especially on defense). You know what? Fizdale isn’t pretty much everyone; take that for data!
The game itself doesn’t offer many talking points: it was a complete drubbing, we were never without striking distance and a lot of Knicks were very disappointing in every facet of the game. You know who wasn’t disappointing? Yeah, the (probably still injured) guy switched out of the starting five. And the good Melo impression Marcus Morris. That’s it. Everything else was between slightly below average to downright terrible. De’Aaron Fox toyed with everyone, even Frank (who half the time looks like on the verge of a focus crisis); a lot of the other guys kept hitting threes with incredible ease, with the Kings ending the game on a good 15-for-39 from behind the arc – and a certain point they were 12-for-24! I don’t know how but we managed to make Harrison Barnes, a very useless basketball player, look competent and reliable.
The sooner we forget about his game, the better.
– Marcus Morris (28 pts, 6 rebs, 2 ast, -11 +/-) played a very efficient offensive game, scoring his 28 on just 14 shots and hitting 6 of his 7 free throw attempts on a night where the Knicks were terrible at everything (40% from the field, 25.8% from three, 64.5% from the free throw line). His playing style is something that makes me want to pry my own eyes out with a screwdriver, but it would be very intellectually dishonest on my behalf to pile on him on good nights. That said, December, 15th can’t come soon enough. It’s only a shame that our FO will not recognize, for the umpteenth time, the opportunity cost in retaining those one-year-contract veterans and will fail to capitalize on the few good games Morris and Ellington will have played from now to that date.
– Who knows if this terrible performance will dissuade Fizdale to ever play Bobby Portis (2 pts, 6 rebs, 1 ast, -23 +/-) more minutes than Mitch? I mean, this guy was supposed to be the answer to “How in the hell do we set the table so that Randle will stop hamstringing himself with his magic imaginary yo-yo?” and ended up being out of place, out of space for all the 20 minutes he was on the court. Portis will never give you defense, we all know that (maybe Perry and Fiz don’t, I seriously don’t know about them). If he can’t even give you a modicum of offense and spacing, he’s worse than useless. He’s utterly detrimental. Friendly reminder that we’re paying this guy 15 million dollars this year and that our coach seems to like him more than basketball savant Mitch.
– Kevin Knox (2 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast, -3 +/-) played in a few semi-effective lineups, but totally laid up an egg this time. 0-for-4 from the field, 2-for-6 from the line, ludicrously ineffective defense. This is his first real bad game of the year, but on the nights he plays like this there’s nothing wrong putting in Iggy. Looked slow, looked tired, looked last year’s Knox. This won’t cut it, ever. That said, I think we need 15-18 minutes per game from Kevin on a nightly basis, if only for spacing purposes. Allocating all of Portis’ minutes between Knox and Gibson would make me happy. Well, maybe not happy. Glad?
– Portis was supposed to unlock Randle. Julius’ line: 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4-for-13 from the field. Our vaunted summer acquisition is posting negative WS/48, BPM and VORP numbers. He’s exactly the same player (minus a probably flukey shooting hot stretch from last year). Who do you think takes the blame for his unprecedented regression?
– How can you unlock a burly, paint minded power forward by having him initiate the offense 30 feet from the basket? Asking for a friend.
– RJ is kind of a beast going to the rim and posted good numbers (22 points, 5 boards, 3 assists) but his efficiency is waning. His TS% is .487 (mostly thanks to his woeful free throw shooting). His raw numbers are good, but he needs to be playing inside a more functional and functioning system for us to really grasp what do we have here. I like him, a lot, but there are times when I’m afraid he’s a smarter Evan Turner and that doesn’t bode well.
– Mitch in 24 minutes on a bum hand: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, +5 +/-. But sure, he’s the reason Randle started off very slowly. In extremely limited minutes, he’s posting a .293 WS/48. Hey Fiz, here’s a hint: play him until he fouls out. Nobody cares. Everyone else in the frontcourt is all Afflalo to us. Mitch is our future and whoever stands between him and leaguewide dominance should be kicked out of New York asap.
– How I wish we had a decent point guard. If we add to that the fact that the only point guard (?) we have now is Frank, and he derives his value from on man defense, and we deploy a very switch-heavy style, playing him doesn’t make a lot of sense. Moreover, De’Aaron simply pwned him.
– Why does Trier end up from time to time in Fiz’s doghouse? Nobody’s arguing he’s a great player, but when he plays he delivers something usually. His fit with Barrett is simply awful, though.
– First NBA minutes for Iggy! I already said he’s a better player than Knox. Hot take, maybe, but I want to know what we have in him.
Let’s hope for a bounce back game against Detroit and our old frie… sucky point guard Derrick Rose. Until then, fare thee well!