As the New York Knicks arrive in the UK ahead of the NBA London game against the Washington Wizards, let’s take a look at what they have achieved so far this season and how it measures up to what was expected of them way back in October.
In April, the Knicks parted ways with former Head Coach Jeff Hornacek after two very disappointing seasons in charge. Shortly after, the team announced that well-respected coach David Fizdale would take over the reins and guide the team. This was an appointment that excited Executive Chairman and CEO Jim Dolan, who spoke very highly of his new man at the helm. Dolan said: “David is a bright and creative basketball mind who is highly respected throughout the NBA.”
Fizdale said: “I am honored and humbled to join the Knicks as head coach, I appreciate the enormous responsibility it is to coach the Knicks and am ready to give my all to build the type of winning team the passionate fans of New York will be proud of.” Knicks fans were very happy with the thought of Fizdale leading the team and a new era was about to begin.
The highlight So that’s this year has been would how impressive the Knicks’ draft picks looked. Ninth overall selection Kevin Knox and second-round pick Mitchell Robinson looked like they could potentially become solid pieces for the team, but it would be undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier who really looked like a steal. Trier got off to a decent start averaging 11.5 points in 24 minutes while shooting 49.7% from the field.
The Knicks started the season losing seven of their first 10 games. Something that was clearly lacking was Latvian All-Star Kristaps Porzingas, who was, and is still, recovering from the torn ACL injury he suffered against the Milwaukee Bucks last season.
Tim Hardaway Jr has led the team with his numbers of 23, 4 and 3, and center Enes Kanter showed that he is a force at the five spot as he managed 15 and 11, helping him on his way to 13 double-doubles. Back-up point guard Trey Burke also shined for Knicks, proving to be a very good option off the bench adding 13 points and 4 assists with a field-goal percentage of 46.2%. Wins over the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans saw them end the first quarter of the season on a positive, but they would only manage a 6-14 record.
New York’s recent stretch has got worse. A 136-134 overtime win over the Milwaukee Bucks, which saw big performances from starting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, Knox and Hardaway Jr, was as good as it got. The Knicks would only add four more wins to their total, seeing that slump to an ugly looking 10-33 overall as they sit 14th in the Eastern Conference. And the team currently holds the second-worst record in the league, only 1.5 games ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
New York comes to London carrying a four-game losing streak but will hope to capitalize on the fact that the Wizards haven’t been all that good themselves this year. Kevin Knox comes off a big-time 31 and 7 game last time out in the agonizing 108-105 loss to Philadelphia, so he will be the player to watch.
Mudiay has found some form over the last month while forward Noah Vonleh, is having a career year averaging a near double-double of 8 and 8. The team will be without center Kanter who didn’t make the trip, so we could see a return of young center Robinson, should he recover from a groin injury. Hardaway Jr has promised “all-out war” so we can expect a tough game from a Knicks team that is in desperate need of something to kick start the second half of their season.
The plan at the start of the season was simple: see the year out and attract a major marquee free agent come the off season. Now, though, it’s clear that this team is struggling and despite Porzingas’ unwilling, the Knicks will join this year’s tank race.
Trade deadline is just around the corner so rumors of players like French point guard Frank Ntilikina, 10-year veteran Courtney Lee and Kanter have all been mentioned, so that will be worth keeping an eye on. Of course there’s also talk of Porzingas making a return as his rehab period continues to make strides.
Although it may all sound doom and gloom, this team does have the potential to be a team to watch moving forward, especially as mentioned the cap space they have at the end of the current season. David Fizdale is also a coach who is known for his defensive intensity. Should the team get healthy and add a couple more of key pieces then the New York Knicks will definitely be a team that you should be watching.