The Knicks go for their first win of the season on Friday night against Brooklyn.
Saying that the Knicks have struggled to start this season would be a gross understatement. I’d argue that they’ve been bad! Really bad!
Their New York City counterparts, however, have been an entertaining bunch, highlighted by an impressive victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. The Brooklyn Nets have a ton of young players hungry for playing time, and their drive is obvious when tuning in. The Knicks are, well, not that. It’s a nice, tidy narrative for people to run with because it looks like these teams are going in opposite directions. The Nets are giving their young guns all the minutes that can chew on, while the Knicks are tethering their talent to the pine. The Nets are allowing unproven youngsters like Spencer Dinwiddie and, to a greater extent, D’Angelo Russell, explore their respective games, while the Knicks are trotting out Ramon Sessions for 30 minutes per game. The Nets are fun. The Knicks are not. It makes sense.
We all knew the Knicks were going to be a below average team this year, but they’ve been worse than we could’ve imagined. Beyond Kristaps Porzingis and the hollow Enes Kanter stat line, the entire roster has been underwhelming. It’s still early, and the Knicks have played two of the better teams in the league, but their showings have been painful. A win over the Nets tonight in what should be a high-scoring affair would be a blessing for this beleaguered squad.
A few thoughts:
- Frank Ntilikina is expected to play tonight (WOO!) in a game that will mark his regular season debut at Madison Square Garden. There’s really not much more we can say about Ntilikina at this point. All that’s left to do is watch and hope he shows some good signs, in addition to staying healthy. That part may be more crucial than anything else.
- D’Angelo Russell is questionable tonight for the Nets. He’s been nothing short of amazing when on the court during this short season, so the Knicks will be crossing their fingers that Russell can’t suit up tonight.
- How worried are we about Tim Hardaway Jr.? I’m not. I’ll bet you that he doesn’t shoot 24 percent from the floor during this season. Bold, I know, but that’s how I feel. To be real though, THJ will be fine. He mentionedthat he struggled early last year as well, so perhaps he’s one of those players that has to get his feet under him. As long as he sticks with his game and keeps getting the shots he wants, he’ll heat up soon. If the Knicks play ten games and he’s still struggling, come find me and call me stupid.
- The Nets are leading the NBA in points per game (121.2), but are also surrendering the most points per game (119.4). To put it simply, these Nets play fast. Kenny Atkinson has his team running and shooting a ton of threes, which is exactly what they did last year as well. It’s good to see Atkinson getting props from many around the league, considering that he used his four year tenure as a Knicks assistant to catapult him to his current gig.
- If the Knicks lose tonight, they will end up 0–7. Take it to the bank. After this one, they play Cleveland, Denver, and Houston. Yikes. Have a pulse tonight, boys!
- Kristaps Porzingis had decent success against Brooklyn during his freshman and sophomore campaigns, so look for him to eat tonight. He should have a size advantage on offense, so please, give him plenty of looks in the post tonight.
- Is Willy Hernangómez a rotation staple from here on out? He scored 12 points in just 11 minutes against Boston on Tuesday night, while Kyle O’Quinn was only on the floor for six minutes. The Knicks need to make a trade. They have too many bodies to fill the same role. I would be shocked if O’Quinn isn’t moved, and if the Knicks close out the season with the current depth chart at center still in tact, they have failed. There’s no rush for a trade because this team is bad and other organizations aren’t desperate yet, but it’s something to think about.
- There’s been plenty of chatter about Jeff Hornacek’s rotation choices. Is there any chance the Knicks are playing the veterans to bump up their trade value? Maybe. However, realizing that Hornacek is clearly not in the long-term plans for this team breaks that theory down fairly quickly. This front office didn’t hire him, and if the Knicks keep this ghastly play up, his head will be on the chopping block, perhaps sooner than we think.
Tip is planned for 7:30 P.M. at the most famous arena in the world. Whether the Knicks win, lose, or lose badly, we’ll be here to give you the best content every step of the way.