After an impressive win over the Washington Wizards last Monday, the New York Knicks followed up their positive performance with a disheartening loss that exposed their lack of defensive prowess.
The New York Knicks still need to build on their improvements:
Falling 115-99 to Washington, the Knicks have plenty of work to do before being considered a quality team and worthy of contending for a playoff spot. Head coach David Fizdale wants to personify his team as a defensive unit, focused on locking down opposing scorers and using his players’ high work rate to put points on the board.
Players like rookie RJ Barrett fit this mold perfectly, as he will increase his work-rate to help supplement his deficiencies in other categories. Against the Wizards on Friday night, Barrett connected on 6-of-15 from the field and 2-of-5 from beyond the arch. He finished with a -13 rating and 15 points — another disappointing performance that we should become accustomed to in RJ’s first year in the NBA. It will take time for the rookie to find his groove and develop into a consistent scorer.
However, the night was tainted by weak defense for the Knicks.
“We stopped guarding the 3. We relaxed,” Fizdale said after Washington connected on 19 three-point baskets. “From Game 1 to Game 2, our closeouts were a nightmare.
“We have to be good defensively. I do think we have more scoring this year, but our first priority has to be the defensive end and taking that challenge.”
The only bright spot on the night was veteran Marcus Morris, who put up a noteworthy 21 points on a +6 performance. He went 8-of-13 from the field over 31 minutes, proving his worth on the offensive side of the ball. His efficiency regarding putting points on the board will be extremely beneficial in helping the Knicks overcome the 17-win benchmark set last season.
Morris and Julius Randle will both play influential roles in the season ahead, and while the latter is expected to be the focal point of the offense, Morris is more than capable of holding his own.