The Knicks started their second 10-game section of the season Wednesday evening in Brooklyn with an embarrassing defeat, even busting the pattern of statistical mediocrity — in nearly each method — from their 5-5 begin.
All of their wins in that preliminary stretch had come in opposition to groups with shedding information, whereas all the losses had been suffered in opposition to golf equipment above the .500 mark.
Kevin Durant and the Nets got here in with a 4-7 report — to not point out being embroiled in a latest teaching change and the Kyrie Irving suspension — but hammered the Knicks from begin to end in a 112-85 beatdown at Barclays Middle.
By means of Tuesday’s league-wide shutdown for Election Day — a terrific thought, by the way in which — the Knicks additionally had been squarely in the course of the NBA pack statistically, rating sixteenth in offense and sixteenth in protection. Such symmetry held each encouraging and disappointing tendencies relying in your basic optimism or pessimism when evaluating the staff’s progress and long-term prognosis, starting with how they reply to this horrid exhibiting Friday evening at residence in opposition to the Pistons.
After accompanying the Knicks for his or her highway win in Minneapolis earlier this week and making an allowance for Wednesday’s non-performance, listed below are just a few ideas and observations on what a number of the early numbers imply and what ought to occur when it comes to taking part in time as the primary half of the season develops:
Evan can wait
Quentin Grimes’ nagging foot damage has offered a possibility for Cam Reddish to show himself as a helpful piece and perhaps even worthy of the first-round decide the Knicks sacrificed to acquire him from Atlanta in January.
Reddish was one in all a number of Knicks to put up a stinker (0-for-7, zero factors) in opposition to the Nets, however when Grimes is totally again and commonly out there — each time that is perhaps, primarily based on his continued iffy standing — I might see Reddish nonetheless getting minutes both because the starter at capturing guard or off the bench.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has proven he gained’t shy from dropping a veteran from his rotation altogether.Corey Sipkin
This totally seems as if it’s heading towards Evan Fournier’s eventual deletion from the rotation, akin to Kemba Walker going from starter to non-factor final November and early December earlier than accidents necessitated his short-term reinsertion to the lineup. Austin Rivers equally went from an everyday to the top of the bench and an eventual jettisoning throughout Thibodeau’s first season with the Knicks in 2020-21.
The entrance workplace was unable to discover a taker for Fournier’s contract — $18 million this season and one other $18.9 million assured for 2023-24 — finally season’s commerce deadline or over the summer season, even after he nailed a team-record 241 3-pointers and shot 38.9 % from lengthy distance final season. Maybe attaching one of many 9 first-round picks the Knicks nonetheless management over the following 5 drafts — left over from the failed summertime bid for Utah’s Donovan Mitchell — might entice one other staff to tackle Fournier’s contract.
It ought to be famous that Fournier has dealt with his demotion from the beginning lineup — to a median of 14.3 minutes over his final 4 appearances off the bench — professionally.
However Grimes (22) and Reddish (23) establishing themselves as common contributors clearly is extra necessary for long-term constructing of this roster than no matter Fournier’s short-term contributions is perhaps.
Reddish’s perimeter protection has vastly improved — drawing raves from Thibodeau about Reddish’s size and exercise within the passing lanes — this season following his disjointed arrival. Each of them have credited Reddish making the most of the chance to familiarize himself with the system and his teammates throughout the staff’s summer season program.
“I feel that’s for any participant,” Thibodeau stated. “It’s exhausting. You get traded in the course of the season, there’s no coaching camp. You’re attending to know your teammates, they’re attending to know you, you’re adjusting to a brand new system. There’s an enormous adjustment that goes together with that. I feel he put a whole lot of time in being in New York throughout the summer season. Jalen [Brunson] was there, plenty of vets had been round and I feel that helped loads.”
Prime out Obi’s minutes
The Knicks are actually 3-1 when Obi Toppin performs not less than 20 minutes.USA TODAY Sports activities
Even with Julius Randle largely taking part in effectively, it’s turning into more and more tougher for Thibodeau to maintain Obi Toppin off the ground, particularly if he’s going to take care of the improved consistency he’s displayed along with his 3-point shot.
Toppin’s athleticism at all times may have worth as an lively spark for the staff and for the Backyard devoted, however the former lottery decide amazingly was one in all solely three NBA gamers via Tuesday who was capturing not less than 49 % from the sphere (49.4), 40 % from lengthy distance (41.9) and 90 % from the free throw line (8-for-8). The opposite two? Trey Murphy of the Pelicans and, effectively, Steph Curry of the Warriors.
The third-year ahead additionally had logged not less than 20 minutes in simply three of the Knicks’ first 10 video games, however they’d gone 3-0 in these contests — wins over the Pistons and the Sixers and Monday’s victory over the Timberwolves, during which Toppin scored 15 factors and was extremely energetic defensively with a career-high 4 steals. The Knicks misplaced for the primary time Wednesday with Toppin crossing that threshold (20:47); he shot 2-for-7, together with 0-for-2 from 3-point vary.
Mitchell Robinson’s absence this week and maybe past with a sprained knee has enabled Thibodeau to take an prolonged have a look at aligning Randle and Toppin at instances as a frontcourt tandem. The outcomes have been blended: The pairing performed successfully down the stretch in opposition to Philadelphia and Minnesota, albeit not a lot in Saturday’s blowout loss to the Celtics. However it definitely deserves extra seems as a matchup various to conventional facilities Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims whereas Robinson is sidelined.
Preserving the tempo
Jalen Brunson has helped the Knicks enhance from the NBA’s second-slowest tempo final season.Corey Sipkin
Thibodeau not solely has implored the Knicks to extend their quantity of 3-point makes an attempt — lastly leading to a season excessive of 48 tries (with 19 makes) from past the arc Monday in opposition to the Timberwolves, 10 extra makes an attempt than in any of their earlier 9 video games.
Thibodeau additionally has been preaching a rise within the staff’s tempo since coaching camp after the Knicks completed second-to-last within the league final season with 96.42 possessions per recreation. That determine has elevated to 100.86 this season, as much as thirteenth within the NBA because the buzzer sounded Wednesday evening, a substantial enchancment.
The $104 million addition of Jalen Brunson has the Knicks transferring the ball and discovering the open man, even when his 33.6 minutes per recreation primarily has resulted in a drop in Derrick Rose’s taking part in time to a median of simply 12.8 minutessince getting back from a number of ankle surgical procedures.
Brunson notably had one in all his two worst video games of the season Wednesday evening, ending with 14 factors on 4-for-14 capturing with extra turnovers (three) than assists (two) in 31 minutes. He’d posted an identical statline in a loss to the Bucks in October.
On the different finish of the courtroom, the Knicks nonetheless are permitting opponents far too many 3-point makes an attempt – a median of 41.3 per recreation, probably the most within the league. That features the 51 put up by the Celtics on Saturday, leading to all-time information for each franchises on their 27 conversions. Thibodeau and varied gamers have cited a necessity for improved communication on the defensive finish, although the coach stated the Knicks had been “significantly better” in that regard in holding Minnesota to an 11-for-41 evening from lengthy vary on Monday.
Right here comes RJ
RJ Barrett attributed the uptick in his 3-point capturing numbers to adjusting to his teammates.NBAE by way of Getty Photos
RJ Barrett, who inked a four-year contract extension price $107 million assured, opened the season capturing simply 14.3 % (4-for-28) from 3-point distance over his first 5 video games. However he’s heated up and buried 15 of 34 makes an attempt (44.1 %) over his previous six.
“Simply grooving, I’m simply grooving,” Barrett stated Monday. “Nah, engaged on my recreation, you already know it’s gonna occur. Yearly you form of have new gamers and simply attempting to determine play with them, and stuff like that, however it’s occurring for us, and it feels good.”
Barrett equally began the 2020-21 season lacking 21 of his first 24 makes an attempt from past the arc (12.5 %), however he completed that season at 40.1 % earlier than falling again to 34.2 % final season.
Deuce awaits his probability
Deuce McBride was a standout throughout the preseason, however hasn’t performed significant minutes but in a recreation that counts.AP
With Robinson unavailable, second-year massive man Jericho Sims lastly acquired prolonged taking part in time with begins Monday in Minnesota (17 minutes) and Wednesday in Brooklyn (26 minutes) after totaling simply 11 minutes over the primary 9 video games.
Second-year guard Miles “Deuce” McBride has been on the courtroom even much less, with zero factors in 10 minutes of mop-up time all season, together with six within the fourth quarter Wednesday.
Thibodeau experimented with totally different three-guard alignments to get McBride on the courtroom throughout the preseason, however it’s clear he’ll want an damage to somebody forward of him within the rotation to obtain a possibility.