It was a slow-moving first day of practice for the New York Knicks under new coach Tom Thibodeau but the main focus revolved around teaching and improving.
More than half of the Knicks’ training camp roster is new, and so are the whole coaching staff. The effects of the long layoff were evident with players reporting to the training camp at different points of their conditioning.
But this revamped Knicks roster — while still wanting in star power — hopes to turn around the corner.
“I think it’s always you’re excited about getting started. The first day of anything, there were some good, some bad, but it gives you a baseline where you are and hopefully you can concentrate on the improvement. A lot of teaching on the first day, of course, so it’s slow-moving so we got to try to get up to a game-like pace,” Thibodeau said on his zoom call with reporters Sunday.
Thibodeau underscored the importance of the first day of training camp by setting the tone for the season. As always, the 62-year old Thibodeau, who is on his third team as a head coach, holds the first day of the training camp as one of the most important parts of the season.
“That first meeting is a critical meeting,” Thibodeau said. “Youâ€™re setting the standards and goals of the organization for the year. I think thatâ€™s the most important part of the season. Obviously, itâ€™s a long season with a lot of different challenges weâ€™re being faced with, but the biggest thing is how quickly we adapt to everything. That holds true for every team in the league.”
With such a young team (no player above 30s), the Knicks are at a disadvantage to start the season.
“Certainly, there’s a challenge with your younger guys from the standpoint of they’ve missed the Summer League, ball practices. So their adjustment is quite big. So each and every day, I think not only about what we’re doing on the floor, but in terms of film study, individual work that sort of thing would be critical for them,” Thibodeau pointed out.
The Knicks could have used more games to get used to each other and develop chemistry among their holdovers and newcomers.
But it is what it is.
Thibodeau has a knack for finding ways and maximizing whatever hand he’s dealt with. And he plans to take advantage of the obvious strength that they have.
â€œOne of the strengths of our club, we are young, and we are athletic,â€ Thibodeau said. â€œI want to take advantage of that. When youâ€™re younger, hopefully, you can take advantage of your legs and athleticism.â€
They will certainly count their youth when they start the truncated season with five games on the road in their first seven.
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