In a rare night that ended in favor of New York, the Knicks were able to take down the playoff-bound Washington Wizards.

The Knicks (27–47) went to Washington and picked up a rare road win against the Wizards (40–33), who are still waiting on John Wall‘s return.

It was a close game from start to finish as the Knicks, led by early flurries from Michael Beasley and Enes Kanter, stunned the Wiz right out the gates. New York surprisingly hung in tight and, even after the Wiz finally found their rhythm late in the fourth, closed out the game 101–97 after Trey Burke‘s dagger and-one:

Let’s dive into the action.

Frank Notapointguard

Since the emergence of Trey Burke and the acquisition of Emmanuel Mudiay, the Knicks have moved Frank Ntilikina almost completely off point guard duties on offense.

Look, I get it. It’s late in a throwaway, experimental season, and to get as much value in whatever’s left of it, the Knicks are trying every experiment they can conjure up. Frank Ntilikina at shooting guard? Why not!

But in the 20 minutes he played today, I didn’t see Ntilikina take more than two dribbles during a halfcourt possession. That’s fine if you’re a winning team covering up Ntilikina’s weaknesses; his handle is shaky and although his jumpshot looks alright it hardly ever falls. The Knicks are not a winning team. They are amidst a throwaway, experimental season, and I think it’s more valuable to develop Ntilikina’s playmaking skills rather than let Mudiay, who’s clearly plateaued as an NBA player, drive aimlessly at the rim.

Especially when Ntilikina has flashed good vision and passing ability at times.

Luke Kornet!!

A little over a month ago, the Knicks called Luke Kornet up from the G League. He has since surged into contention for the Joe Ingles Award (my annual designation for best random NBA success story for a white dude).

At a lanky 7-foot-1, Kornet was a towering paragon for his college team, the Vanderbilt Commodores. After a historic four year career, he graduated as the all-time leader at Vandy for blocked shots and the NCAA all-time leader for three-pointers made by any player above seven feet. Yet even in an NBA that seems tailor made for shot blockers that can space the floor, the NBA seemed out of reach for Kornet. He went undrafted in the 2017 NBA draft, but got a shot on the Knicks Summer League squad to test his mettle.

Turns out Kornet is pretty good! His skills — outside shooting and team defense — translated to the big leagues, and after playing well in the G League, the Knicks called him up to the varsity squad. Per 36 minutes, he’s producing at a pace of about 14 points and 2.3 blocks. He hasn’t shot well enough, just 34 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep, to guarantee a spot in the NBA next season, but this is already a smashing success story for Kornet, who chipped in two threes, a block tonight, and general hustle tonight.

Other candidates for the 2018 Joe Ingles Award: Daniel Theis (Celtics), Alex Caruso (Lakers), Kyle Collinsworth (Mavericks), and the clear favorites: Pat Connaughton (Trailblazers) and Tyler Cavanaugh (Hawks).

Embarrassing The Wiz

The Wiz came into this contest wanting to win. They are a playoff team, supposedly much better than a hapless Knicks squad that somehow looks like it’s playing hard and tanking at the same time. Even without John Wall, who is set to return soon according to team officials, the Wizards should not under any circumstances lose against this Knicks team.

But they did. There’s a lot to be proud of. Before you cry out “but we’re tanking!” let’s just remember that the draft is going to net one player that will be a part of the Knicks’ future. Two if we’re lucky. By picking up these wins, in which the players on this roster learn a lot about themselves, the Knicks are building up a lot more than one or two assets, and simultaneously weeding out the pieces that are dispensable.

This is a good win. Even for a tanking team.