New York Knicks: Five Reasons To Calm Down And Let 2016-17 Play Out
The New York Knicks have struggled during the opening weeks of the 2016-17 NBA regular season. Don’t give up on your beloved Knicks.
If you’re a fan, supporter, or viewer of the New York Knicks, then you can likely relate to the current feeling of relentless frustration. No matter how promising they may appear to be on paper, the Knicks have only made four postseason appearances since 2001.
With a 2-4 record after six games in 2016-17, the Knicks are again in a rather disconcerting position.
New York currently ranks No. 30 in defensive efficiency with 110.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. It’s also No. 26 in points allowed per game and opponent field goal percentage, and No. 28 in opponent 3-point field goal percentage.
That atrocious defense has been the catalyst for the Knicks’ shortcomings during the 2016-17 NBA regular season.
Though it’s fair to be concerned, there’s also reason to believe New York could soon turn things around. Optimism is tough to find amongst Knicks fans, and with good reason, but it’s far too soon to give up on the 2016-17 team.
The question is: why should you be optimistic enough to let the 2016-17 NBA regular season play out before giving up on the Knicks?
An optimistic take would be that the New York Knicks have revamped and reloaded the roster with new and talented players. A pessimistic take would be that the Knicks don’t have as much talent as the name values would imply.
The realistic take on the matter is that 10 of the 15 players on the Knicks’ roster weren’t with the team in 2015-16—the ultimate reason to dismiss early chemistry issues.
Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Joakim Noah are all starters who will play upwards of 30 minutes per game for the Knicks in 2016-17. They’re also players who were members of teams other than the Knicks prior to the current season.
Also new to the roster are sixth man Brandon Jennings and fellow key reserves Willy Hernangomez, Justin Holiday, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, and Maurice Daly Ndour.
If the addition of new players—that list also includes Ron Baker and Marshall Plumlee—isn’t enough, then try the fact that New York has a new head coach. Jeff Hornacek is just six games into his Knicks tenure and he’s already revitalized the offense.
The fact that there are 10 new players and a new head coach should answer any and all questions pertaining to why New York is struggling early in the season.
Talent doesn’t win championships on its own, but it certainly helps in building towards that ultimate goal. The New York Knicks may not be a championship-caliber team, but there’s undoubtedly enough talent to make the playoffs.
If nothing else provides Knicks fans with reasons to be optimistic about the rest of the season, it’s the fact that New York has a significant level of talent on the roster.
Carmelo Anthony is a six-time All-NBA honoree and nine-time All-Star who has never averaged fewer than 20 points per game. Kristaps Porzingis made the 2016 All-Rookie First Team and has scored at least 27 points in back-to-back games.
Derrick Rose won the 2011 NBA MVP award, Joakim Noah was named 2014 Defensive Player of the Year, and both Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee have double-digit starts in the playoffs
The Knicks may not have the most ideal level of talent beyond those six players, but that’s one heck of a group to rely upon. If the likes of Justin Holiday, Kyle O’Quinn, and Lance Thomas can find their form, New York will have what would easily be a postseason-caliber rotation.
Talent isn’t enough to win big games, but the Knicks have enough of it to deserve some measure of faith from cynical fans.
One Quarter Away
The New York Knicks have looked like one of the best teams in the NBA for the first 36 minutes of almost every game thus far. Unfortunately, New York has fallen apart during a vast majority of the fourth quarters it’s played—a flaw that’s directly responsible for the current woes.
Though New York’s record may be 2-4, the Knicks were a pair of fourth quarter collapses away from being 4-2.
New York led the Utah Jazz by a score of 80-78 entering the fourth quarter of a 114-109 home loss. It trailed by a score of 86-85 with less than 10 minutes remaining and 94-89 with roughly three minutes on the clock during a 102-89 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
In both of those games, the Knicks had a golden opportunity to secure a victory over a postseason-caliber team.
Had the Knicks received the expected contributions from revered closers Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, they’d be 4-2 right now. That’s an invaluable truth to keep in mind when one is evaluating New York’s record at face value.
The Knicks have two proven closers and a third on the rise in Kristaps Porzingis. The results should reflect the talent in due time.
The Defense Shouldn’t Be This Bad
As previously alluded to, the New York Knicks rank dead last in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions. New York is also No. 26 in scoring defense and opponent field goal percentage, which paints quite the obvious picture: the defense is atrocious.
Though the Knicks may continue to struggle on the defensive end of the floor in 2016-17, it’s hard to imagine that a team with this much talent will continue to be this bad.
New York’s roster includes the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year and a 7’3″ shot-blocking menace. Based on the presence of Joakim Noah and Kristaps Porzingis alone, the Knicks’ defense should be significant better than it has been.
Keep in mind, the Knicks ranked No. 10 in scoring defense and No. 18 in defensive efficiency with one of the worst perimeters in the NBA in 2015-16.
Jose Calderon and an unmotivated Arron Afflalo have been replaced by Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee. Rose is no lockdown defender, but he can create turnovers and Lee is one of the more respected defenders at his position.
Throw in Justin Holiday and Lance Thomas, and the Knicks have too many high-quality defenders to continue struggling to this degree.
It’s Only Been Six Games
The New York Knicks have lost four games, with two being blowouts and the other two coming in a rather heartbreaking manner. New York has collapsed in the fourth quarter and played horrendous defense for the better part of all six games.
Though that’s all fair to point out and true in nature, there’s a critical piece of information that must be acknowledged: it’s only been six games.
New York is two games below .500 with 76 games remaining on the 2016-17 NBA regular season schedule. In other words, the Knicks have played just 7.3 percent of their regular season games and have 92.7 percent of the schedule ahead of them.
Even after the Knicks host the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, November 9, there will be 75 games remaining on the schedule.
Having established this, it’s unnecessary to panic after just six regular season games played by a team that had never previously taken the court together. There are issues that must be sorted out, but that’s what this portion of the season is meant for.
The Knicks must display a sense of urgency, but it’s far too soon to give up on what remains a promising team.
Apply pressure to your favorite team, but keep calm and understand that there’s a long season ahead of the 2016-17 New York Knicks.
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