BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)
We reached the first quarter of the NBA season (WOW! Times flies, eh!), and your New York Knicks are 11-12 heading into Tuesday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.
Bill Parcells offered the best quote that a coach in our town ever said about you are what your record is. And the Knicks are what their record is.
No one should be surprised at where the Knicks are. This was a mediocre team at best when the season started. They don’t have a playmaker and they don’t have a star. They don’t have a point guard who can facilitate the offense. They lack a guy who will make the big shots in the fourth quarter.
I didn’t think the Knicks were a playoff team when the season started. Sure Tom Thibodeau will coach the dickens out of the team, but he can only do so much. In the NBA, stars win games. The Knicks lack that player.
Last year, Thibodeau coaxed a lot out of his roster by having them play defense and got guys to produce offensively. One can say it was the best coaching performance of his career. Of course, the Knicks got exposed by the Atlanta Hawks come playoff time. They had no one to match Trae Young.
They did nothing to improve the roster this offseason. Yes, they signed Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, but neither made much of an impact on this team so far. Walker recently got benched for his poor play, and for one good game Fournier offers, he gives four bad games in a row.
No one could have been surprised Walker performed awful. He is coming off years of knee injuries, so eventually, it would affect his game. He can’t push the ball up the court and he sure can’t shoot. He is averaging eight points fewer this season (11.7) with the Knicks than his career average of 19.7 points per game with 3.1 assists. He can’t play defense. It’s no wonder he received his DNP-coach’s decision for the last three games since Thibodeau announced that he would not start.
According to Bleacher Report’s A. Sherrod Blakely, the Knicks will try to find a suitor to trade Walker. Good luck with that. Knicks president Leon Rose took a leap of faith in him considering Walker looked like a washed-up player last year with the Boston Celtics.
As for Fournier, he’s a nice role player. That’s it. To think he was going to come in and be Ray Allen was unrealistic. He is who he is. A nice role player that would give the Knicks a spark. On Thursday night’s Knicks’ 119-115 loss to the Chicago Bulls, he scored 16 points, but he failed to make an impact in the fourth quarter by scoring no points.
That’s the problem with the Knicks in a nutshell. Too many role players, and not much star power.
Julius Randle is a nice complementary player, but he will never be confused with Patrick Ewing, There are questions about his ability to play in crunch time. On Thursday night, he missed two free throws, and then he turned the ball over which played a role in the Knicks’ loss to the Bulls. Plus, if he does not have the ball, he tends to drift from playing.
RJ Barrett continues to be inconsistent. Immanuel Quickley gives a nice spark off the bench, and nothing more.
There isn’t much athleticism on this Knicks team. It’s more of a stationary-to-stationary team that needs to shoot 3s just to score points. This could be a problem when the Knicks have to play athletic teams such as the Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is what the roster is. There’s no changing now. Thibodeau can make changes in the lineup, and it likely won’t matter. If the role players such as Obi Toppin, Alec Burks, Derrick Rose and Quickley start, they lose the effectiveness in the end, which is why it’s risky to start them.
The Knicks failed to get Damian Lillard this offseason. Granted, they had nothing to offer, and the Portland Trail Blazers were determined not to trade their star player. But still, that was the guy to get to take them to the next level, and they didn’t get it done.
It shouldn’t be surprising they are what they are.
Don’t expect anything to change from now until the end of the year.
The Knicks may go on a winning streak at some point. That’s just part of an 82-game journey.
But one thing is for sure: They likely will not do much come playoff time, and playoffs may not be a sure thing for this roster.
They don’t have a star to take them to where they want to be.