The New York Knicks might only be 2-2 on this season, but a culture change is noticeable. New head coach Tom Thibodeau has entirely overhauled the mentality within the organization, implementing a win-now strategy that has brought the best out of a group of players that doesnâ€™t seem to fit together.
Ultimately, they were puzzle pieces that hadnâ€™t yet been formulated into a complete puzzle, but Thibodeau is slowly piecing things together and seeing the fruits of his labor. Over the past two games, the Knicks have beaten strong teams in the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers, and they are gearing up to face off against another formidable opponent in the Toronto Raptors.
The New York Knicks are finally getting the most out of their players:
So far this season, power forward Julius Randle has led the group in points, averaging 24.8 points per game, 10.5 rebounds, but has turned the ball over quite a lot with 5.0 per contest. Cutting down on his turnovers will allow the Knicks to retain the ball and open up more shots, but that number indicates a change mentality.
ThibodeauÂ wants to spread the floor and open up clean shots for his players, and Randle is passing the ball more now than he ever has. Randle is averaging 7.5 assists per game, which leads the team by a large margin. Only the Elfrid Payton is behind him with 4.5 assists, attesting to Randleâ€™s change in mentality and fit into this Thibodeauâ€™s scheme.
â€œThere is a mentality shift,â€™â€™ said one NBA executive who has spoken to the Knicksâ€™ brass, per the NY Post. â€œThibs wants to win every game and heâ€™s selling that to the players and they are buying into it so far.â€™â€™
Even young Kevin Knox has noticed a change, considering he has seen several coaches over the past few seasons since joining New York.
â€œHeâ€™s really been teaching, from Day 1, getting to the basket, making the right reads and kicking out,â€™â€™ Kevin Knox said. â€œYou got a layup or dunk, you finish but if the defense collapses, make the right read and share the game. Thatâ€™s why a lot of guys are getting open shots.â€™â€™
â€œWeâ€™re coming off two good wins,â€™â€™ Knox said. â€œCoach Thibs really has us playing hard defensively, offensively, sharing the ball. I think weâ€™re looking good and we want to keep the pace going and playing together.â€™â€™
For Thibodeau, it is all about the defense, and the Knicks showed off that part of their game, limiting an offensively stout Cleveland team to just 86 points this week.
â€œCoach demands for every player to go out and play the right way,â€™â€™ Reggie Bullock said. â€œI think he let that be known from Day 1 in camp that weâ€™re not going to force shots. Weâ€™re going to share the ball, As long as youâ€™re playing hard on offense, on defense, moving the ball, every player on this team is going to get a chance.â€