The New York Knicks start to the NBA regular season has been troublesome. With two of their point guards, Elfrid Payton (hamstring injury) and Dennis Smith Jr. (death of stepmother) being sidelined, Knicks and head coach David Fizdale look to others on the roster to step up and light a spark for the team.
The last two 20-point blowout losses against the Sacramento Kings and the Detroit Pistons, the Knicks entered the game looking like they have already been defeated. We see a team that looks disoriented and in dire need of leadership. Lack of energy and careless control of the basketball on the court have been the reasoning behind these blowout defeats. Without point guards in the rotation to help on the offensive side of the court, Knicks look like they are stuck in the mud.
But there are some positives to come out of these devastating losses. Frank Ntilikina has been playing strong defense and shown improvements in his passing and shooting abilities. Coming off an exceptional performance in the FIBA world cup, New York fans have high hopes that this would finally be the year Ntilikina would take that leap forward. Being the only active, healthy point guard on the roster currently, Ntilikina has been taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase his improved skills on the court. With a high work rate and effort, there is hope for Ntilikina, but still, a great room of improvement left for his offensive ability.
Wednesday night’s 122-102 defeat to the Detroit Pistons should be something to worry about for New York Knicks fans. Pistons entered the game facing similar issues as the Knicks, having both point guards Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson be out for the game. This seemed like a perfect opportunity for the Knicks to get out of three-game losing skid and gain some confidence. But this game was very one-sided by the end of the game.
Regardless of having their second scoring leader and best assist per game leader Derrick Rose, the Detroit Pistons offense looked efficient. The Knicks found themselves bing down by double digits in the 4th and hoped this would be another game they would fight back late, but they never found a grove. With poor decisions on offense and lackluster defense, the Pistons finished the game strong and extended the Knicks losing streak to 4. The Pistons who the same as the Knicks were missing two point guards, finished the game with 37 assists, 13 more assists than the Knicks 24.
The Knicks’ lack of energy and movement on both sides of the floor is something coach David Fizdale should address with the team. The Inability to knock down easy free throws and to control the ball are fundamentals that this team should already be versed in.
In desperate need for some more veteran leadership, the Knicks will continue to struggle all year until they find a spark to lift the energy of this team. There is enough talent on the Knicks to compete with the league’s best, but they need to play with that New York grit and tough mentality we all know they are capable of. If nothing changes and their struggles continue, then they will find themselves in May praying for the lottery to fall in their favor once again.