The Knicks currently host a four-game losing streak, losing seven of their last eight competitions. At this point in the season, they face a challenge that will either make or break them with the season still young. Tom Thibodeau and his squad have plenty of time to turn a corner and get back into winning form, but itâ€™s going to take every ounce of effort and a lot of hard work to get there.
The players have been vocal about the time required to build chemistry, especially after signing Evan Fournier to a four-year contract in free agency. Kemba Walker has already been factored out of the equation after being bench due to defensive ineptitude. However, Fournier remains a liability on both sides of the ball, recording just two points in the 105â€“96 lost to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday evening.
All-star power forward Julius Randle had encouraging words after the game, indicating his team will get it done, regarding a turnaround:
“We’ll see what happens. Not we’ll see what happens, we’re going to get it done. We’re going to figure it out.”
Randle scored 31 points in the defeat over 37 minutes. He shot 10 of 21 from the field and 5 of 8 from three-point range, including seven rebounds and three assists. With New York shorthanded, playing without RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Quentin Grimes due to COVID-19 health protocols, they were forced to rely on reserve players like Miles McBride and Kevin Knox.
Covid issues and injury have hurt the team in recent days, but they were struggling well before these problems presented themselves.
In fact, the Knicks have been dealing with identity issues all season long after featuring one of the top defenses in the NBA last season in a miraculous turnaround. While Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock undoubtedly took the brunt of the blame for a lack of scoring proficiency, it is clear they offered essential defensive positioning and spacing to keep the team competitive.
This season, Thibodeauâ€˜s squad lacks communication and effort at times, allowing Golden State to post 49 rebounds on them compared to just 35 of their own. New York is witnessing a dramatic drop-off in statistical production, dropping to 13th in rebounds per game and 22nd in points.
It is entirely possible the front office makes a few moves at the trade deadline, as theyâ€™ve been connected to a myriad of players, including Ben Simmons and Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers.
Whether they actually strike a deal or not is yet to be seen, but their issues arenâ€™t going to be solved by the injection of talent. The Knicks need to be more physical and play disciplined basketball first and foremost — two solvable problems they simply havenâ€™t managed to decode.
At some point, the players need to back up their words, providing plenty of motivational quotes and statements but failing to replicate it via action. It reminds me plenty of New York Giants head coach Joe Judge and his empty promised coach speak.
Nonetheless, if the Knicks can fight their way out of this current funk and string together a few victories, it will be for the best. Good teams find ways to solve their problems mid-season without needing additional support via trade. There is no question they have all the talent in the world, but playing cohesive basketball with a strategy has been problematic. They can redefine themselves in the coming weeks, and it starts with piecing together a few winds to brew confidence.