The New York Knicks lost their first three games of the 2017-18 NBA season. After their loss to the Boston Celtics, Knicks players like Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. spoke out about players not knowing the plays and not being in the correct spots on offense. It looked like the season would trend down the same losing path that it has in each of the past four seasons. However, the Knicks have turned the season around quickly. They have become something that no one thought was possible this year – this young New York Knicks team is fun to watch again.
Young New York Knicks Are Fun to Watch Again
After losing in Toronto last week, the Knicks got their revenge against the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night at the Garden. This game was a perfect example of why the Knicks are fun to watch.
New York was trailing in the first half. The game was following the same flow as last week’s game in Toronto. The Raptors were up eight and controlled the game for the majority of the first half. The Knicks looked like they were going to lose to the Raptors for the second time in three games.
However, coming out of the half, the Knicks turned up their defensive intensity. They listened to their coach, Jeff Hornacek. They got down to business on defense and began making smarter plays on offense. This resulted in a 28-0 run, during which a 10-point deficit became an 18-point lead. The Raptors made a run in the fourth quarter, but the Knicks got timely baskets from both Hardaway and Kristaps Porzingis to seal the victory.
Over the last couple of years, if the Knicks got down and their opponent controlled the game, there was little to no hope that New York would come from behind and win. Offensively, the Knicks were stagnant, and they had little resistance on defense.
However, this win was their sixth win of the year when trailing by double digits. This team is sharing the ball on offense. The ball movement has allowed them to get more easy baskets than before. Jarrett Jack and Frank Ntilikina are leading the way with a better offensive approach. Their ability to facilitate on offense motivates everyone to play because they know they have a chance of getting the ball.
Defensively, the Knicks have been putting effort. Porzingis is becoming a rim protector. His presence alone forces guards who drive to the basket to change their shot. Opponents are not getting free layups against the Knicks anymore. Even Enes Kanter, a player who is known for struggling on the defensive end, is banging on the boards and showing effort on that end of the floor. And the rookie, Ntilikina, is using his wingspan to create problems for opposing guards.
The Youth Movement
The Knicks are fun because their young players are performing. Porzingis is becoming a star. His low-post moves are nearly impossible to guard. His shooting release is too high for most defenders, but the big men who do guard him usually do not like to close out to the three-point arc, or they’re too slow to keep up once they get there.
Hardaway is becoming a legitimate second option behind Porzingis. He is not only scoring, but he is grabbing boards and finding his teammates. He’s also driving to the basket more and using his quickness. His first step is quick and settling for fewer jumpers is allowing him to become a dual threat.
The two young players who the Knicks received from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kanter and Doug McDermott, are playing well. Kanter plays possessed on the offensive glass, while McDermott is shooting the lights out from downtown.
Ntilikina has also shown good poise. He has been a part of many comeback wins. His defense is already above average and will help him in the league for years to come. On offense, he looks to facilitate and find his teammates, which is creating open looks when he penetrates to the basket.
The Knicks’ young core has made the team fun to watch again. They are playing with intensity and showing how hungry they are to win. Stocked with these young players, the Knicks might overachieve this year.