The New York Knicks need to move on from Smith Jr.

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is not having the year fans thought he would.  Smith has had a lot of hardships this season both on and off the court.

This off-season Smith tried to revamp his shot.  He tucked his elbow in more and it appeared like he was making some waves.  The Knicks were excited to see what Smith could bring to the team this season.  However, his shot is anything but improved.

Over the last ten games, Smith is playing 20 minutes while averaging 5.1 points, shooting 26.7% from the field.  Not what fans would’ve expected after seeing all the promising videos from the work he put in this summer.  Maybe he needed to work more on his shot instead of impromptu dunk contests.

He has been greatly under-performing, partly due to a loss in his family.  Smith was away from the Knicks for several games coping with the sudden loss of his stepmother.  Words can’t make any death situation better and one can’t imagine trying to get back to playing basketball after losing someone close.

Smith’s play has been lacking this season.  He has spurts when he looks like he might be regaining some old pep in his step but that has been rare.  Smith still came to camp out-of-shape and it can still be seen by his lackluster, slow transition defense.

The New York Knicks have moved more towards Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina has a primary backcourt under Mike Miller.

Since returning from his hamstring injury, Payton has been playing extremely well.  He pushes the pace and the team has been responding to this effort.  Ntilikina continues to impress on both sides of the floor, especially defensively.  Miller likes what these two bring together as it finally seems they may be onto something.

Smith didn’t play the last two games due to a ‘coach’s decision’.  As Ntilikina and Payton continue to impress, it is clear that Smith is taking a backseat to them.  It may be time to move on from Smith which would be one less player in the crowded backcourt.  New York might not be the place Smith.

How the New York Knicks roster is constructed this season

New York Knicks

The New York Knicks have talent on their roster.  However, David Fizdale needs to find a way to properly use it on the court because it has yet to be seen.  Fans have seen that the talent is there but the execution is not.

Their roster was something to get excited about this off-season.  With 10 new players, there is a good balance between young and veteran players.  But, each player likes to stick to what’s comfortable for them and shy away from the team aspect.

Here’s how the Knicks roster is constructed this season.

The Knicks don’t have an offensive scheme.  It’s all isolation, despite what anyone says.  The main culprits are Julius Randle, Marcus Morris and Allonzo Trier.  These three players always try to take the game into their own hands and away from the team.  Randle and Morris, especially, ruin the flow of the game, most of the time, trying to take their man one-on-one.

Randle tried to take Giannis Antetokounmpo one-on-one early in their last game and that didn’t go well.  That bully isolation isn’t going to work, this isn’t pick up.  Giannis came back taking Randle one-on-one and bullying him.

When it comes to playmakers, there’s a few.  Frank Ntilikina is the one stand outs when it comes to that.  He is always looking to make something happen on both sides of the floor.  Ntilikina is sort of one as sometimes he goes missing on the floor.  Elfrid Payton was one until he got hurt.  He likes to push the pace in transition but there hasn’t been much since his injury.  In time, RJ Barrett will be an even better playmaker as he remains aggressive and attacks the rim.  He and Ntilikina are the lone bright spots in the first 21 games.

Some would say that Randle and Morris could be playmakers.  But they try to do that too much and hurt the team more as compared to helping them.

The one thing the New York Knicks do have is a rim protector in Mitchell Robinson.  The only thing is he needs to stay out of foul trouble.  When Robinson can be consistent, he’ll be a problem.  Taj Gibson had a good stretch at setting the defensive tempo since being inserted into the starting lineup but he’s older and not as quick as he was.

Finally, the Knicks don’t have a go-to shooter.  Daymean Dotson and Kevin Know try to be shooters but you can’t rely on them.  Both are inconsistent, especially Knox, and Dotson needs more minutes.  Again, Randle and Morris try to be shooter but they do too much and turn into gunners when they think ‘they’re feeling it’.

The main thing is that there’s too much isolation.  The Knicks aren’t that good of a team to continuously try one-on-ones.  There needs to be more pick-n-rolls and ball movement because it has worked when they utilized it this season.  It all comes down to being consistent and finding their rhythm, which has yet to be found.

A healthy Daymean Dotson is great for the New York Knicks

New York Knicks, Damyean Dotson

The New York Knicks are finally seeing the healthy Daymean Dotson they hoped for.  Dotson has been coming off off-season shoulder injury and now is 100% healthy.

Dotson is starting to get more minutes but head coach David Fizdale needs to be more consistent with his minutes.  He should be playing Dotson 15-20 every game.  Dotson is only averaging 12.9 minutes this season for the Knicks.

Since he has been healthy and in his last 5 games, Dotson has been averaging 19.6 minutes a game.  That’s exactly what he should be playing for the Knicks.  He provides the Knicks with positives on both sides of the floor.  He is a excellent defender and has the ability to shoot the ball anywhere on the court.

Monday’s game, Dotson played 18 minutes but was able to contribute 11 point while shooting 50% from the field.  However, he was only 1-5 from beyond the arc.  Which is fine because even if his 3-pointer is off, he can still contribute shooting the ball elsewhere.

The New York Knicks don’t have a true shooting guard yet.  RJ Barrett, you can say as been the shooting guard for the Knicks despite being listed at a small forward.  In the Knicks starting lineup, officially, there is no player listed at shooting guard.

The other shooting guards on the team are Wayne Ellington and Allonzo Trier.  Ellington hasn’t been shooting like he has in the past and Fizdale has soured on Trier hasn’t appeared in a game since 11/12 against the Bulls for only 5 minutes.

If Dotson is able to remain healthy, he can be a solid bench player for the Knicks.  Down the road, Dotson could be the starting shooting guard once they figure out their long-term plans at point guard and small forward positions.

Eventually, Barrett will be at small forward for good and the Knicks will need a permanent shooting guard.  Can Dotson be the guy that steps into that role and be the shooter that fans think he can be?  It depends on how the rest of the season and coaching situation goes.  Right now, Dotson is in the right place to succeed.

New York Knicks: Dennis Smith Jr. falling out of favor with David Fizdale

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

The point guard position for the New York Knicks was filled with doubt and uncertainty heading into the regular season, and veteran Elfrid Payton proved to be the top option among the three, despite only scoring 11 points in the season opener. His impressive defensive attributes allowed him to take control of the games and help the Knicks come close to victory, and he earned the start against the Brooklyn Nets in a hard-fought game.

Payton finished the night shooting 4-for-10 with 10 points and two assists. His -7 +/-was the lowest on the starting team, and his defense fell off a cliff after a stellar first game performance in the facet. However, the player that seems to be falling out of favor with head coach David Fizdale is Dennis Smith Jr., who played five minutes and shot 0-for-4 with one assist. Smith finished the game with a -8 +/-, the lowest on the team.

The New York Knicks could leave Dennis Smith Jr. in the dust:

Frustration could be setting in for Smith Jr., who has been emotional in the past over playing time and usage. If he continues down this path of low percentage field goals attempts and lousy defense, Fizdale could forget about him altogether.

One exciting thing we saw on Friday night was how Fizdale approached the point guard position. He initially used Payton as the first option, but then inserted Allonzo Trier and RJ Barrett into the position due to the struggles from Smith and Frank Ntilikina.

Ultimately, Trier had a stellar game working out of PG and his natural guard position, putting up 22 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from downtown. He also connected on 7-11 free throws. I expect to see plenty more from the formerly undrafted player in the Knicks starting rotation.

Trier made it a priority to increase his three-point attempts this season, and he has ‘so far, heaving up four in his second game of the season. Connecting on 75%, we will see plenty more from him in that regard.

New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina went backwards in his progression

New York Knicks, Knicks

The battle for the New York Knicks point guard position got a little clearer Wednesday night.  Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton were all trying to “earn” their time.  However, one guard took steps forward and the others took a few steps back.

Coach David Fizdale said that “no one has earned” the starting job yet, in regards to the point guard position.  RJ Barrett was the man running point to begin the game then Payton took over, playing extremely well, despite careless fouls.

Payton was able to push the ball up the floor and give the team a better fast break then the rest.  He ended the night with zero turnovers, 11 points on 44% shooting, eight assists, two rebounds and five steals.  The Knicks looked like a competent team with him leading the charge.  Therefore, Payton is the current leader in the clubhouse.

Despite Payton’s strong performance, Ntilikina’s game was anything but.

Ntilikina was making progress from his summer playing for France in the FIBA World Cup and just took a few steps backwards.  Some of the plays that Ntilikina had stopped any momentum that the Knicks had.  He had two careless passes which led to turnovers and easy buckets for the Spurs.  The Spurs were shook offensively before that and swung the momentum, ultimately winning the game.

Some may call the errors Ntilikina had ‘JV plays’ and they were painful to watch.  The turnovers he had were passed right to Spur defenders.  The Knicks showed their trust and confidence in Ntilikina by picking up his fourth-year option but he squashed that quickly.  Yes, it was only one game but that alone wasn’t going to earn him more minutes.

Again, yes it was one game but Payton has to be the clear favorite for the point guard job now.  Barrett can’t be the guy because he’s too valuable to put in that position.  The Knicks can’t afford to run him into the ground this early in his promising career.

Smith Jr. showed that he’s still not 100% in all aspects of his game.  Health, shooting and defense wise.  In time, he’ll be back to his normal self, but for now this Payton’s job to lose.

New York Knicks: Allonzo Trier asking to be left behind be coach Fizdale

New York Knicks, Allonzo Trier

When New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale released the starting lineup on Wednesday night, today anticipate second-year player Allonzo Trier featuring in the opener.

Trier played all by seven minutes before being yanked from the game. He missed three consecutive shots and failed to gain a second opportunity. His scoring ability disappeared, and his isolation moves seemed to transform into a team-first attitude, which backfired in a strange yet resolving way.

The former undrafted guard couldn’t make an impact on the Knicks’ 2019-20 opener, and that surely doesn’t spell the end for Trier this season. He might end up playing a pivotal role in future contests, but his performance on Wednesday was disappointing.

Walking away with a -6 +/- on the night, Allonzo will look to bounce back on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets. Fizdale utilized Allonzo in a point-guard role, which isn’t his most influential position. It seemed as if Fiz wanted to inject the point guards into the game in similar functions, giving them equal time-slots to prove their worth.

Veteran Elfird Payton blew Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina out of the water. The combination of Frank and Dennis put a hefty two points on the board over five attempts. They also totaled an impressive one assist. Payton finished with 11 points, eight assists, five steals, and four rebounds.

Payton’s excellent defense was the highlight of the night beyond the three dismal performances listed above. Fizdale will undoubtedly go with Elfrid moving forward as the starter, and their assumptions became a reality after telling the former Pelican he would be in line to receive ample playing time.

Should the New York Knicks let Allonzo Trier revert to his usual self?

The Knicks have tried to amend Trier’s style of the play, forcing him to be more of a team/pass-first player, instead of utilizing his legendary iso moves. In the grand scheme of things, this development benefits the team, but Trier will need to adapt to his new role and find a rhythm as a more generous player on the floor.

EXTRA:

“This year he hasn’t done it,’’ Fizdale said of Trier holding the ball and going in iso mode. “I think he’s [had] two possessions where he had maybe taken multiple dribbles in a possession. He doesn’t want the nickname and he wants to change that perception of him as a guy that holds [the ball]. He wants to be just Allonzo Trier. He’s been going about it the right way and he’s been showing that in practice.”

“He doesn’t like that nickname anymore. He’s done with it.”

 

The New York Knicks season began with an intriguing loss

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks kicked off their season in San Antonio last evening.  The team supported their new statement uniforms on the road against the Spurs.

The game was interesting to say the least.  The Knicks started the game with lackadaisical defense as the Spurs jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter.  Their defense was sub-par as the Spurs were manhandling them on the glass for the entire game.

However, the Knicks were able to make things interesting going on multiple double-digit runs to get back into the game and take the lead.  At one point, the Knicks were up 7 points in second half, having total control of the game.

But, as all Knicks fans know, that doesn’t last.  The Spurs continued to dominate the boards and got to the basket seemingly at will.  Their shooting was something else as well, as it seemed like every big shot went in.

Despite the awful rebounding, help defense and careless fouls and passes, the Knicks played better then expected.  The refs were not on the Knicks side, they never are.  The fouls were 32-12 in favor of the Knicks.  Horrendous.

Point guard situation 

RJ Barrett and Allonzo Trier was the starting back-court with Barrett running point.  He is not a true point guard, but coach David Fizdale had enough confidence in him to be the guy.  This comes after Fizdale saying that none of the three true point guards on the roster earned the starting spot.

After an initial rocky start, the offense got grooving.  Everyone was pushing the ball up the floor and it was paying dividends. Elfrid Payton helped greatly.  Payton had a very strong showing running the offense when Trier when out.  He ran the offense well and was able to push the tempo and his teammates followed.  Payton’s performance, despite his fouling, made him the clear favorite for the starting point guard job.

Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina did not make things easier on themselves trying to get that job.  Smith Jr. couldn’t contain Dejounte Murray or Bryn Forbes, as they ran circles around the rusty Smith Jr.  His shot still needs loads of work.  Ntilikina had careless passes which led to easy Spur baskets in big situations.

Despite the negatives, the New York Knicks play was captivating.  Barrett, Julius Randle and Marcus Morris stole the show.  Those three provided the Knicks with big time offense when needed.  Kevin Knox, too, had huge back-to-back threes for the Knicks.  Even though it’s only one game, his shot looks stronger then last season.

Randle, Barrett, Payton and Morris sparked the team to have a lot of energy and cohesiveness.  The teams defense was ‘tenacious’ as Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier would say.  They got steals when needed, leading to fast breaks led by Barrett and Payton.  The rebounding was atrocious but they can work on that.  Getting Mitchell Robinson will be a big boost.

However, the Knicks had a decent showing.  A lot of positives and negatives but the Knicks played hard and like a team.  It’s an encouraging start for this young squad.

Allonzo Trier Might Be The Natural Closer The New York Knicks Need

New York Knicks, Allonzo Trier

The New York Knicks completed the 2019-20 NBA Preaseason with a 117-116 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Allonzo Trier almost singlehandedly won that game after scoring 17-points in 24-minutes. Trier missed a couple potential game winning three-pointers late in the fourth quarter. However, Allonzo Trier is a deadly offensive weapon and the Pelicans really didn’t seem to have an answer for him during the preseason finale.

Allonzo Trier’s natural scoring ability might catapult him into a closer for the New York Knicks. It will be difficult for Fizdale to take Iso Zo off the basketball court due to the problems he gives opposing defenders especially in isolation situations. RJ Barrett and Allonzo Trier playing together seemed like it could potentially become prosperous. Don’t rule out a starting position for the former Arizona Wildcat.

SNY’s NBA Insider Ian Begley states,

Allonzo Trier is under consideration for a spot in the Knicks’ starting five, per SNY sources. Members of the organization liked how Barrett and Trier looked together during preseason and training camp, per league sources.

It’s unclear if Trier starting would knock one of the potential starting point guards —Dennis Smith Jr., Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina — out of the starting lineup. Fizdale could put Barrett at small forward and Trier at shooting guard while starting one of Smith Jr., Payton or Ntilikina. Or he could put both Trier and Barrett in the backcourt together

RJ Barrett and Allonzo Trier seemed to compliment each other better than most expected and members of the Knicks organization are noticing it firsthand during practice scrimmages and actual games.

There’s no denying that Allonzo Trier has the “It Factor”. The ruthless scorer doing what he does best at the end of games may take the pressure off other teammates and add more wins to the win column for the New York Knicks.

The New York Knicks 2019-20 season preview and prediction

The 2019-20 New York Knicks season is finally here.  It has been one roller coaster of a summer.  The Knicks were suppose to be the big winner this off-season in free agency and we all know how that played out.

The Knicks did make moves to get the right players for this team.  They’ve added the likes of Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington and Elfrid Payton.  GM Scott Perry thinks they added to correct players for what the Knicks are trying to accomplish.

The New York Knicks will be battling up-hill all season long.  No one is expecting much out of them this season.  Las Vegas has put the Knicks season win total at 27.5.  The main goal for this season is to continue developing their young core.  This consists of RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Dennis Smith Jr.

However, that is not going to be the overall goal for this team.  Morris, Portis, Ellington and Payton are on the record talking about their “dog” mentality.  That mentality was present for the first preseason game then absent for the following games.  Maybe that is going to change once the season begins?  Because the Knicks are looking to “shock people.”  They got to back up all their talk from this summer, that’s maybe the biggest thing of all.

If the Knicks do play to their potential, as a team, they are capable of winning at least 30 games.  The playoffs is a gigantic stretch this season.  Anything over 30 wins will be considered a win of a season for the Knicks.

The Knicks also still don’t have a official starting point guard, it’s expected for be announced today.  It’s between Smith Jr. Payton and Ntilikina.  It appears it’s leaning towards Smith Jr. but he isn’t 100% healthy to begin the season.  Not the smartest move throwing him out there.

Coach David Fizdale also mentioned that he will be going with a 10-man rotation.  It makes sense to do that once the season gets rolling but not right off the bat.  The Knicks talked about having one of the deepest benches in the league.  Why would you not rotate everyone and see what works the best?  Some of Fizdale’s decisions are questionable.

The Knicks will be better then what they were last year.  They just can’t play down to opponents or get down on themselves.  Fans already got a glimpse of that in the game against the Washington Wizards at the Garden.  The Knicks didn’t starting really playing hard until the fourth quarter was nearly over.  All we can say was it was preseason but that look like the old Knicks.

The season should be different and better than last season.  The Knicks have to play as a team and grow together.  Fizdale needs to coach to his strengths and have an offensive scheme if they want to make any progress this season.  Our prediction for the New York Knicks, 31-51.

New York Knicks: Is Allonzo Trier bound for a life on the bench?

New York Knicks, Allonzo Trier

Averaging just 16.0 minutes per game during the preseason, New York Knicks second-year player, Allonzo Trier, as found himself in a sticky situation. After showing great potential in his rookie campaign, averaging 10.9 points, 1.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per contest, head coach David Fizdale has elected to put him in a backup/reserve role.

Trier’s lack of playing time and overall influence is concerning, and that is undoubtedly a consequence of signing numerous veteran free agents who can contribute more efficiently. Trier was a one-person show last season, resulting in his nickname “Iso Zo.” His ball movement lacked, but he showed spurs of elite scoring potential.

It’s certainly possible the Knicks’ coaching staff already know what they have in Trier and wanted to test out different veteran combinations to shake out the starting team, but it’s also possible they don’t think the sophomore guard is ready to a be a key contributor.

The New York Knicks needed to work some kinks out of the rotation:

If the Knicks brass is using this time as an experimental one, Trier shouldn’t be worried about his playing time come the regular season. It is expected that he will make an impact with his tenacious defense and scoring abilities. Trier’s three-point shot will be more of a focal point during the 2019-20 season after averaging only 2.1 attempts last year. He hit on 0.8 of his 2.1 efforts, suitable for a .394 percent conversion rate.

Allonzo can be a great sixth-man off the bench if given the opportunity. He will have to battle with established veterans for consistent playing time, but he can serve a valuable purpose. First things first, though, he wants to eradicate his nickname.

“This year he hasn’t done it,’’ Fizdale said of Iso Zo Mode. “I think he’s [had] two possessions where he had maybe taken multiple dribbles in a possession. He doesn’t want the nickname, and he wants to change that perception of him as a guy that holds [the ball]. He wants to be just Allonzo Trier. He’s been going about it the right way, and he’s been showing that in practice.”

The perception of Trier can be selfish at times, and this is a good step towards changing that narrative.