BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)
I watched three of the Knicks’ 11 games, and I was underwhelmed.
Knicks fans can honestly say the team’s performance in 11 games hasn’t been impressive.
After losing five of seven, the Knicks are 5-6 heading into their weekend games against the Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder at Madison Square Garden. A five-game road trip follows, with games against the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Things will only get worse before they get better.
The Knicks are a bad basketball team. They don’t play defense, and their offense is a dysfunctional mess with terrible guard play. There is so much to be desired about the coaching.
In their 112-85 loss to the Nets at Barclays Center on Wednesday night, the Knicks played awfully. Edmond Sumner was the Nets’ go-to shooter against the Knicks. Every time, they needed a basket, they got it without any resistance. The Knicks offense couldn’t keep up.
How bad was it? The visitors trailed by 16 points after 12 minutes to the game, 25 points after halftime and 35 points in the fourth quarter. No one had the impression the Knicks were ever coming back against the Nets. Even the Nets were not worried about it.
This is what the Knicks have become. They were never a good team, and at their best, they are an average team. They don’t have either a legitimate point guard or a go-to guy. Consequently, young players, such as Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes are not being given a chance to develop into stars.
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has failed to elevate the Knicks following on from their success two years ago when they made the playoffs in his first season with the team. This team has been stagnant offensively, and they have worsened in defense, as they are unable to defend the 3-point shot. He hasn’t exactly been the solution to the team’s problems lately.
This team has been lifeless from the start of the season, and there is a good chance this is how the team will remain.
Signing Jalen Brunson was supposed to change all that, but it hasn’t. Yes, he averages 19 points and dishes out 16 points a game. But the problem is the offense does not flow even when he is orchestrating the offense. His defense leaves so much to be desired. He hasn’t exactly had any great games when he has played against elite teams.
His problem could be that he does not have a true playmaker to play off him. This is where the Knicks blew it by not acquiring Donovan Mitchell. If they were willing to overpay for Brunson’s service, they needed to also acquire Mitchell to make it worthwhile. They decided not to pay a ransom for Mitchell, so the Utah Jazz traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not surprisingly, the Cavaliers are now 8-3 with Mitchell.
RJ Barrett has not elevated himself in being the guy at all. He is so inconsistent. There are nights he struggles to generate any offense, including scoring 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting against the Nets the other night.
Julius Randle’s defense has been nonexistent, and he just jacks up shots when he has the ball.
You can’t say this team has yet to get a chance to be cohesive. The roster has been the same for two years. It has nothing to do with that. It could be that the personnel are not good.
Someone will pay if the Knicks continue to underachieve. It certainly won’t be Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose since James Dolan likes him. It will likely be Thibodeau since the head coach often gets fired for the team’s underachieving performance. It’s easy to fire him since he has a tendency of losing his players after awhile, and he has failed to achieve the organization’s mandate of developing players.
According to WFAN’s Boomer Esasion, Knicks owner James Dolan is not happy about his team. He shouldn’t be since the team has not made any progress after making the playoffs two years ago. The team has shown him that they are not in a good place and that it’s not going to get better.
It would be nice if the reclusive Rose would say something just to say he shares the fans’ pain, but he does not want to speak to the media that serves as a conduit to the fans. Dolan despises the media, so he will never say anything.
It probably won’t make a difference if Thibodeau gets fired. Every move Dolan makes turns bad. Executives such as Isiah Thomas, Glen Grunwald, Phil Jackson and Steve Mills bombed, and head coaches such as Larry Brown, Mike D’Antoni, Mike Woodson, Derek Fisher, Jeff Hornacek and David Fizdale flopped.
The Knicks should likely do well this weekend, but this does not mean they are back. Anyone that believes that they have now got it together after beating two lottery teams is simply stupid. They will likely get exposed out on the road trip because they are not at the level of those teams out West.
The truth of the matter is that they are still not a good team.
As Bill Parcells would say, you are what your record says you are.
This writer can be reached on Twitter: @LeslieMonteiro6
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