After a busy off-season, the New York Knicks had a lot of optimism coming into this season. With Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings coming to New York, the Knicks built a new identity; however, they’ve gotten off to a slow start. They’ve come out of the gates slowly, recording only two wins in their first five games. These five games have been telling for this Knicks team, and there are key takeaways – both good and bad – from their slow start.
New York Knicks Takeaways: First Five Games
Poor Bench Play
Despite bringing in Jennings, the Knicks bench didn’t look so good on paper coming into this season. However, it has produced worse than some expected. Outside of Jennings and Kyle O’Quinn, New York’s bench hasn’t been too productive. Lance Thomas has struggled with his jumper, some of their rookie big men have struggled to get minutes and produce, and they’ve received poor play behind Courtney Lee at the off-guard spot.
The Knicks have struggled on the defensive end thus far this season. Although Noah has been an asset in the paint, New York’s perimeter defense has been poor. Lee was signed to be a lock-down perimeter defender, but he hasn’t been that player so far. He has been worked by Dwyane Wade, Eric Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and James Harden. Lee has struggled to keep up with opposing guards, but the Knicks’ defense as a whole has been poor. In all five games, they gave up over 100 points, and the fewest amount of points they’ve given up has been 104. They clearly have to improve on that end of the floor.
While the Knicks have struggled defensively, they have been effective offensively, but only in spurts. There have been times when they’ve looked atrocious, and there have been times when they’ve looked lethal. So far this year, they have recorded 88, 111, 89, 99, and 117 points. Their offense has been inconsistent, so if they want to improve going forward, they need to prioritize their offensive consistency.
Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee’s Impact Offensively
Despite not scoring a point on opening night, Courtney Lee has been productive offensively. He has scored sixteen or more points in three of the last four games, and he has been shooting well from the outside. Derrick Rose has also played very nicely. He has been in double figures every night, and has been a reliable facilitator, including an 11 assist night in his return to Chicago, which was New York’s last game. Lee and Rose have been good contributors to this offense, but it’s the veteran presence of Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah that has stood out.
Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah’s Veteran Presence
Carmelo Anthony has been the definition of consistency so far this season. Anthony’s point totals have fallen between 19 and 25 in every game; he has been a consistent offensive force. Noah, on the other hand, while not a great offensive presence, has made an impact on the defensive end.
While the Knicks’ defense has been struggling, Noah has been a bright spot. He has been holding guys accountable, and has, for the most part, shut down opposing big men. His presence has helped aid Kristaps Porzingis‘s rough start on the defensive end. Noah has also been a facilitator on the other end of the floor. He has started fast breaks by getting rebounds, and he also leads the team in assists. Anthony and Noah have been veteran presences for this team, and have been key to holding the team together.
The Knicks have started the season with a win-loss record of 2-3. While this isn’t a great start, the Knicks have picked up some solid wins. They beat the Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls, but they’ve been plagued by poor bench play, inconsistent offense, and weak perimeter defense. The Knicks must improve in these areas going forward to put themselves in the playoff conversation.