The Knicks are coming off another disappointing defeat to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday evening, thanks to poor play from the starting unit. However, the team’s defense once again failed them, despite better perimeter defense. The Knicks currently rank 25th in the NBA in defensive rating, landing at 109.7.
The Knicks are currently giving up 13.4 points on opponents’ fast breaks, which ranks 22nd in the league. They are allowing an impressive 41.1 points in the paint, which ranks 2nd best in the league. Unfortunately, their defensive efficiency from three-point range is abysmal. They fail to close out players appropriately and contest shots.
The second team has played far better than the starters lately, which could hint at two reserves getting more playing time in the near future.
Two players the Knicks need to play more moving forward:
1.) Obi Toppin
Second-year power forward Obi Toppin is deserving of more minutes, averaging 7.6 points, 0.8 blocks, 3.2 rebounds, and shooting 56% from the field over 14.8 minutes per game. While his three-point shot has fallen to a measly 12%, he represents a solid player that can dominate in transition and produce electrifying plays to shift momentum.
Toppin could pair with Julius Randle in a unique double power forward combo, but Tom Thibodeau prefers to have a big man on the court who can defend the rim properly. Over the last few outings, Toppin has played extremely well and deserves more opportunities to showcase his skill-set. The Knicks are one of the worst transition scoring teams in basketball, but Toppin changes that narrative the second he steps on the court.
2.) Quentin Grimes
Rookie guard Quentin Grimes has earned very few opportunities this season, averaging just 2.3 points over 4.5 minutes on average per game. Heâ€™s only made four appearances this year, hitting 50% of his three-point attempts and 50% from the field. However, his biggest quality is his defensive aggression and intensity.
Grimes is known for his pesky defensive traits out of Houston, and with the Knicks struggling in that category (especially at the perimeter), they might be able to use him in that way, opening up the floor for the team’s scorers and kicking Grimes out to the corner where he could knock down three-point shots effectively.
Against quality point guards and shooting guards, having Grimes’s press defense would be fantastic, especially with Evan Fournier providing absolutely nothing on that side of the ball. While it is unlikely Thibodeau provides him with an opportunity to showcase his talents, it is possible he gets overly frustrated with his team’s production on defense and begins to consider Grimes as a potential solution at some point in the game.