Knicks’ Evan Fournier brushes off pre-season shooting woes, Thibs drops wisdom

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The preseason is essential for players to begin building chemistry, especially ones trying to adapt to a new team. The New York Knicks brought in two high-profile free agents this off-season in Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker, and while it will take a bit of time for them to gel with their new teammates, utilizing their existing skills is all management expects.

During preseason play, Fournier struggled to get going, averaging 25.5 minutes over four games. He shot 35.5% from the field and only 30% from three-point range, a number the team expects to increase during the regular season and a larger sample size.

Knicks’ head coach Tom Thibodeau stated that Fournier needs to focus on being himself rather than trying to adapt to his new teammates and find his role within the team. The front office signed him to be a lethal shooter from range and to curate more opportunities from himself, which Reggie Bullock struggled to do last season.

“I was just told that actually, which makes sense,” Fournier said after practice Sunday. “The season is kind of my first time being the new guy on the team. But I have no [concerns] at all.

Luckily, the Knicks didn’t need higher efficiency scoring from Fournier to extract victories during preseason play, but the regular season is a different beast with more intensity. The Boston Celtics aren’t going to be rotating their reserve players in to help mitigate fatigue prior to the start of meaningful games.

“Preseason is preseason. It’s actually made to make mistakes and to learn from your teammates and plays and stuff. Once the season starts you start to get into a rhythm. The main thing is to be yourself.”

The Knicks are already expected to be without starting center Nerlens Noel for opening day against Boston, thrusting Taj Gibson and Mitchell Robinson into more prominent roles to start the year. However, they will need more production from the former Celtic, who contributed 17.1 points last season, adding 3.4 assists, 3.0 rebounds, shooting nearly 46% from the field and 41% from three-point range.

Once Fournier is in rhythm with his teammates, the Knicks could have one of the more potent offenses in the league, especially if they can maintain a high rate of three-point shooting and efficiency above 39%.