Charlie Zegers and Bryan Gibberman discuss the Knicks’ poor start to the season and find positive nuggets embedded in the .167 winning percentage in this week’s edition of Monday Musings.
Charlie Zegers: The Knicks are now 1-5, but I like what I’m seeing.
With the exception of a fairly ugly road loss in Miami, they’ve been competitive in every game. (Yes, I’m calling the loss to Golden State competitive—they were up in the fourth quarter before Kevin Durant turned into freakin’ Neo at the end of The Matrix.)
They aren’t losing games because their coach is playing ridiculous lineups—they’re losing because they simply don’t have the talent to compete, especially with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined. (Tied in the fourth quarter, the Warriors handed their offense to Kevin Durant. The Knicks offense belonged to Trey Burke. I love Trey, but that just ain’t fair.) And even when they get caught in an awkward personnel situation—like when Tim Hardaway was matched up defensively on Caris LeVert in the final seconds of the Nets loss—there’s some valid reasoning behind it.
David Fizdale is putting his players in a position to succeed or to fail and learn from the experience. And I am 100 percent on board.
Bryan Gibberman: When Fizdale announced there would be a starting lineup change, I figured it would simply be replacing Burke with Dotson. Boy was I wrong. He blew the entire thing up. I think that’s something we’re going to need to get used to this season.
I’m a huge fan Frank Ntilikina, Timmy, and Dotson at the 1, 2, and 3. I’ll deal with them giving Emmanuel Mudiay a chance at some point, but once he fails there doesn’t need to be much experimentation at those spots anymore. I want to see the three youngsters given a chance to develop some chemistry.
The eventual most played lineup for the Knicks this season should end up being Frank, Timmy, Dotson, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson once Knox gets fully healthy. I’d bet this happens before the All-Star break, and perhaps even sooner.
How Enes Kanter deals with his demotion and low 20 minutes of playing time rather than high 20 minutes of playing time is going to be something to monitor.
Kanter gets past the future Knick, KD, and dunks it home pic.twitter.com/3JqFMbm5CV
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 27, 2018
Charlie: It kinda feels like the preseason never really ended, doesn’t it? And that’s probably for the best. The Knicks aren’t winning anything this year, especially with Porzingis sidelined, so let’s get weird. Let’s start Mitchell Robinson against Draymond Green and see what happens. Let’s give Frank some time as the nominal 1, 2, or 3. Let’s try different combinations of ball handlers on the floor at a time.
Let’s even give Mudiay a shot. Sure, I don’t think he’s a part of this team’s future—and I know you agree—but if Fizdale still thinks he seems something, who am I to judge? He has until the clock runs out on Trier’s two-way contract to prove himself, right?
As for Kanter? I’m deeply sympathetic to his situation. He’s about to hit free agency. If he gets starter-equivalent minutes, he’s a lock to post 20-and-10’s, which will at least look nice on his resume when he’s looking for his next job. But he’s such a defensive liability. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but against the Warriors, I’m guessing he was minus-infinity.
He clearly loves New York, but it’s blindingly obvious to everyone—with the possible exception of Kanter himself—that he’s not part of the Knicks’ long term plans. So what can he do? His best option is probably just to play “good soldier” and hope he impresses somebody enough to land another nice contract.
Bryan: When Kanter picked up his option he should have known this was a possibility. All you had to do was listen to what Fizdale was saying publicly and it was pretty obvious what Kanter brings isn’t high on the coach’s list of what he considers valuable.
The schedule lightens up now after the ridiculous five-game stretch. I think we start seeing the Knicks pick up some wins over the next two weeks.