Too Late For the Knicks?
Just two months ago, everything was going great for the Knicks. They were the talk of the NBA as Kristaps Porzingis was a serious MVP candidate, Enes Kanter and Frank Ntilikina were fighting the king and Tim Hardaway Jr. was on fire.
It is rough being a Knicks fan. I would know. We are cautious whenever something is going well, because we know that it will fall apart soon. Whenever the Knicks ever make headlines, it is mostly negative. But for those three weeks, everything was going amazing.
The season isn’t close to over though. Just as a team can get cold, they can get hot as well. The Knicks are only a game and a half behind the eighth seed and are just barely holding on to contention. There are some things the Knicks could do to turn their season around. So I took it upon myself to write a step-by-step letter to Knicks head-coach Jeff Hornacek to give him some advice from a fan’s perspective.
Step 1: Get Hardaway Back
Knicks fans were not happy when New York signed him to a 4YR/$71M this summer. Personally I was upset about the backlash that Hardaway received after the signing. I was excited about it. He brings scoring and energy to a Knicks team that needs it.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has been out for over a month now with a stress reaction in his left leg. Just before his injury Tim was averaging 18/3/4. He got off to a rough start but picked it up in November. The Knicks are desperately missing his three-point scoring.
If anyone misses THJ the most, it’s KP. Porzingis has been really struggling without him. He is shooting 37% from the field in his last 10 games on 18 shots a night. The team has been lacking offense. Guys like Jarrett Jack and Courtney Lee have been doing great, but it just isn’t enough to help carry the team.
The Knicks recently got good news though as Hardaway finally gave a timetable on his mysterious injury.
“Maybe sometime on the West Coast,’’ Hardaway told The New York Post,“Not going to have too many home games so possibly so, hopefully if not this next week [upcoming], the week after that.”
That is a huge step for the Knicks who are missing their spark plug Hardaway desperately.
Step 2: Get McDermott Involved
Jeff Hornacek if you are reading this, please start running plays for McDermott, or even get the ball to him. You literally have one of the best shooters in the league on the floor, and he barely gets any touches. It really isn’t that hard.
If the Knicks could try to treat McDermott like Kyle Korver in his prime, he could put up 15-20 a night. Guys like McDermott can single-handedly turn games around. It hurts to watch such a good shooter stand in the corner, wide open and nobody tries to get the ball to him. If they started setting screens for McDermott, and getting him open it would be deadly. Shooters like McDermott get really hot as well. So if he isn’t hitting his shots at the beginning, keep feeding him the ball and he will eventually start making them.
This will help take some of the pressure off of KP and Tim as well. If it was up to me, I would start McDermott when Tim gets back, and have Lee come off the bench. Since McDermott cannot create his own shot, but guys like KP and Hardaway can, it will lead to a lot of wide open threes. Lee coming off of the bench would help keep the momentum going. Getting Doug hot would get the other guys going, and get the ball moving.
Step 3: Give Ntilikina More Minutes
Frank Ntilikina aka “The French Prince” has won over Knicks fans this season with his defensive prowess, and shoving LeBron James. The Knicks defense has been absolutely horrible in past seasons. The Knicks have definitely improved this season. Ntilikina has shut down elite guards this season and has proven that he is most definitely not a bust.
The most important thing with Ntilikina is patience. Ntilikina is not as flashy as Dennis Smith Jr. or Donovan Mitchell, but he is definitely a smarter player. Unlike other rookies, Ntilikina is far from selfish. Coach Hornacek literally had to beg Ntilikina to shoot the ball more in the beginning of the season because he was too unselfish to shoot.
Jarrett Jack has done a good job at the starting point guard spot and got off to a great start, but he is nothing more than a rental right now as Frank Ntilikina is the PG of the future. It is time to start Frank.