For a team that finished 20 games under .500 in last year’s campaign, the 2017-2018 New York Knicks aren’t any more impressive. They have potential for Knicks dynamism, with their leader Kristaps Porzingis who often fills the holes his teammates leave, but this also means Porzingis is sometimes playing multiple positions at the same time. Not a Lebron James; it would be unfair to compare him with the behemoths in the game—James, Durant, or to liken his play to the finesse of Steph and Kyrie. Porzingis is his own man, with his own swag, as seen in his ability to challenge in the paint and to hit the outside shot seamlessly. At 7 feet and 3 inches, the big guy can play a small man’s game. As a large and lanky power forward, his unintimidating style can be a weapon, for he is a dangerous player. Yet, with all that, it seems in year 3 KP is not playing up to his potential this season. One night he scores 33, the next night he shoots for not; he’s one of those players—when he’s off, he’s terribly off. The good thing, however, is that he recovers quickly. In the end, he is not a fast starter in most cases. I wonder if his in-game warm up will lead to more troubles.
Nevertheless, I’m a fan of KP6. As a fan of the Knicks organization, one quite emotionally invested in their success, KP is our future, the face of the team, and the plan this Christmas is to replace my Carmelo ornament with a Porzingis figure; he represents the new and points to what can come. Is he a Patrick Ewing figure, maybe or maybe not, but I’m certainly glad he’s on my team.
The rest of the Knicks are a hodge-podge of players finding their feet in the NBA. What makes this kind of cool is that when they gel together, it works well, and they are quite fun to watch. But they are untested, rough, and raw; this is how good teams develop potentiality, so let’s see what happens. The first order of business is to look into their vulnerabilities. We know it’s going to be a lackluster night when the opposing team can exploit their weaknesses in the first few minutes of play. This is why we need to seriously consider the starting lineup. Nothing is solidified, and that’s a good thing. We know KP and Hardaway (who is injured for at least a month), will start, and the outrageously endearing personality of Enes Kanter can be counted on as the big man of late (Joakin Noah will probably be injured for like ever). The backcourt, the quicksand of the lineup, pulls in everyone from the neophyte Frank Ntlikina to Courtney Lee (who has done more than asked of him so far) and Jared Jack. I know…for some of you it’s like the who’s who of the question…who, and that’s exactly why this needs to be settled.
The bench, which includes the aforementioned players in the back, possibly or eventually Noah, along with Lance Thomas and a very solid Doug McDermott are the saving grace of the team thus far. We write this at 12-12, 9th in the Eastern conference and our Knicks only seem to play well in the Garden, which can be noted in their 2-game win season on the road thus far. Something has to be done and soon. Right now they’re playing the Bulls and with minutes remaining they are down by 9. This can’t go on like this.
What I see thus far, is potential. No, they don’t have the exciting players of the 1990s, and they are not built like a Thunder, Warrior, or Cavalier, but they could do some damage if they did some melding, so gelling. They need to shoot more than 35% from the court each day. Consistency might be good too, but when have the Knicks ever been consistent? They are the perennial come-from-behind-lose-the-lead-and-come-back team, which is why they began tonight’s game down by 20 to come back, lose the lead, and come back with minutes remaining. With 30 seconds left of said game, the Knicks trail Chicago by only 2.
As the Yankees proved last year, you don’t have to have the big names to do big things in New York. My hope is the starting lineup, the bench consistency, and a gain in road wins will make the New York Knicks a competitive team. Although, the front office will have to face a harsh reality in the coming months, especially with a hobbling Hardaway. It may become clearer than ever that this team needs one more piece to complete this puzzle. For now, the team feels a bit incomplete, and that incompleteness transcends the recent loss of Melo (We’re so over Melo). But the ramifications of Phil Jackson remain, and to wash the final taint of that era, it might be time to make a big deal, if one becomes available. With 2.9 remaining, the Knicks trail by 2…a play for a tie. This has become a norm in Knick-land. KP shoots the 3 and it clips the rim, falls to the side and away from the net…Chicago Bulls, worst record in the NBA on this day, wins the game and the Knicks are 1-8 on the road.
Oh, this will be a long and winding road…