The New York Knicks are currently on a three-game losing streak and have dropped six of their last seven games. Despite benching Kemba Walker on November 26, they still host the 25th ranked defense with a 110.5 defensive rating.
The Knicks have also experienced a significant drop off with their shooting, currently ranking 10th in three-point percentage at 36% after starting the year strong in the category. In addition, theyâ€™ve also dropped to 22nd in total points per game at 105.8. Their field goal percentage is 24th in the NBA, landing at 43.8%, and their rebounding has fallen out of the top 10.
Altogether, the team has struggled on both sides of the ball, and head coach Tom Thibodeau is floundering to find a player combination that can pick up the slack. However, he lacks a few key pieces to his team, which have held him back from sustaining his team’s defensive identity. The players have also noted a lack of energy and effort during games, which is an unacceptable justification for poor performances.
Two factors the Knicks are severely lacking:
A true leader on and off the court:
When the Knicks signed Julius Randle to a massive four-year, $117 million extension, they expected him to be a leader on and off the court. Randle has spent more time jarring at the referees than actually leading his team with effort and by example. Randle has seen natural regression take hold of his game, averaging just 19.1 points, and shooting 42% from the field and 32.6% from three point range.
Thibodeau has continued to rely on Randle to be their clutch player at the end of games, but has failed to come through, turning the ball over seven times against the Milwaukee Bucks in the team’s most recent defeat and failing to hit a big shot against the Toronto Raptors to tie the game with seconds left on the clock last Friday.
Randle isn’t known for his outgoing personality, and his constant complaining during games for missed calls has done nothing but harm to his team. The Knicks lack a true leader to help will them out of funks, and after the exile of Walker, one of their more extroverted players, they put themselves between a rock and a hard place.
A scoring big man who can shoot:
The Knicks have relied on traditional big men like Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson for the past few seasons, but it may be time to change up their strategy.
Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner has been connected to the Knicks as of late, indicating he doesnâ€™t feel valued in his role with Indiana, making a potential trade all the more likely. If the front office is able to acquire a player like Turner, they would find themselves in a far better position, given his elite scoring abilities at the 5.
With Noel averaging 3.8 points and Robinson contributing 6.9 points this season per game, the team is primarily depending on them to be rebounders and defensive players. Considering the Knicks rank in the bottom-5 in defensive efficiency, it may be time to shake things up, and trading for Turner would be a big step in the right direction.