The New York Knicks were absolutely demolished by the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday evening, losing by 16 points but trailing the entire contest. Denver managed to lock down first-time All-Star Julius Randle, limiting him to just 14 points and forcing five turnovers. His partner in crime, RJ Barrett, started the game 0-for-8 and struggled tremendously in the first half before hitting a string of three-pointers to bring some life to the squad. However, it was too late, and the Knicks’ failed attempt at fighting back presents a difficult challenge ahead.
New York is preparing to take on the Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, and Lakers consecutively, a deathly string of opponents that could see them lose multiple games in a row. If they can extract a victory in the coming days against one of these premier teams, they will be in good shape, and considering the Atlanta Hawks just demolished Phoenix by 32 points, the Knicks undoubtedly have the talent to get it done.
Reinforcements on the way for the Knicks:
President Leon Rose and upper management recently signed Luca Vildoza out of the Spanish League to help fuel their point guard position. As a 6’3″ guard, Vildoza is just 25 years old and averaging 10.1 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.0 total rebounds for Baskonia. Heâ€™s connecting on .410 of his shots from the field and .376 from beyond the arc.
Vildoza represents a hard-nosed talent with quality passing attributes and scoring prowess. The Knicks believe he can help them in the postseason, and even sooner than that as they try to finish off the season strong. Luca is currently going through immigration and COVID-19 protocols, but once he is prepared to take the court, the Knicks could use him in live-action.
However, that presents a question, who will he be stealing minutes from?
I project that the Knicks will continue to decrease the minutes of Elfrid Payton, despite putting together a strong performance at times against Denver in the blowout loss. Derrick Rose simply means too much to the squad, and Immanuel Quickley represents instant offense off the bench. Vildoza can play aggressive defense while also offering height and shooting abilities, something that Payton struggles with.
Nonetheless, the Argentinian international gave the Knicks an excuse to take the expressway to free agency, and hopefully, he can have an impact with the season winding to an end.