The New York Knicks have dropped their last two games to sub .500 teams, the Portland Trailblazers and Oklahoma City Thunder. Oklahoma City had lost five consecutive games before traveling to New York, posting 127 points and winning in overtime.
On paper, the Knicks have a far more proficient team with better playmakers, but they are simply playing out of whack due to bad coaching strategy and lackluster chemistry.
The perfect storm is currently hitting the Knicks after an exciting 2020 campaign where they secured the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, thanks to impeccable defense. The Knicks have the 15th ranked defensive rating this season after posting the fourth-best last season.
While their interior defense remains strong, allowing just 42.7 points per game from inside the paint, they’ve been an awful perimeter guarding team. Their lack of positioning and communication has plagued them all season long.
Once a target in the 2021 NBA draft, OKC point guard Tre Mann recorded 30 points, shooting 4-of-7 from deep and 9-of-16 from the field. Mann, who is currently a rookie, is averaging 8.3 points per game this year, so nothing astronomical.
In addition, they allowed 28 points to Josh Giddey, another rookie from the most recent draft class. When first-year players are torturing experienced veterans, you know a systemic issue impacts the team.
It goes far beyond the players, though, as head coach Tom Thibodeau completely wasted a time-out at the end of the game, attempting to use a second challenge when he already exhausted his opportunities.
“That was my fault,” Thibodeau said. “I screwed that up.”
The Knicks can’t afford to be having mental issues from their coach, let alone playing abysmal defense day-in and day-out.
The New York Knicks may need to make some changes after this season:
The perfect storm connects to three team factors: the coaching, players, and front office. Leon Rose and upper management can’t be given a pass, considering they whiffed so hard in free agency with Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker. They should’ve been more aggressive at the trade deadline, at least trying to get rid of some big contracts, but instead retained Mitchell Robinson, who’s in the final year of his rookie contract (they should extend him), and remain steadfast with Fournier, who has been wildly inconsistent this season. Walker simply had zero value, so a team would’ve had to acquire additional compensation just to take his contract off the books.
Once again, the Knicks find themselves residing in the laughingstock category, losing winnable games against bad opponents. They’re currently on a stretch of 12 losses in their last 15 games. The schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Brooklyn Nets coming up on Wednesday, Miami on Friday, and Philadelphia in back-to-back games on Sunday and next Wednesday. If matters couldn’t get any worse, they will take on Phoenix and then the Clipper after Philly.
By the end of this six-game stretch, the Knicks could be so far out of playoff contention that ownership considers firing people.