The New York Knicks still have one primary focus in mind, suffocating defense. Last season, head coach Tom Thibodeau established a team that played physically and aggressively, limiting opposing scorers and offensively stout teams.
The Knicks ranked fourth in defensive rating, per the NBA, also ranking in the top 10 in defensive rebounds with 2554. The Knicks were specifically fantastic in limiting points in the paint, ranking fourth defending the rim. Despite having starting center Mitchell Robinson out due to injury, reserve option Nerlens Noel played a significant part in rejecting interior scorers.
The team plans to continue their defensive efficiency, as All-Star power forward Julius Randle remains confident in their abilities.
Julius Randle told Ian Begley of SNY:
Obviously Thibs is going to make sure that we’re going to play defense. There’s certain things as a team (that we know about) who we are and what we need to do night in, night out to give ourselves the best possible chance to win. We know what those things are. Everything else, we’ve just got to keep improving on and getting better.
Expectations are rising for a team that added Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker this off-season to the squad. With more offensive production, the likely result, it boils down to remaining disciplined on defense and not playing for a shoot-out offensively.
Dallas had previously targeted Ntilikina in the 2017 draft, electing to take a Dennis Smith Jr. instead. Having added former Knick Reggie Bullock this off-season, it seems as if Dallas is picking up a few wayward pieces. Ntilikina’s contract is over two seasons with a team option after the 2021-22 campaign. He will have an opportunity to compete for minutes, but he must find a way to improve his scoring production, which has been his major fault over the past few years.