In week three of the NBA season, the New York Knicks appear to have taken some major step forward, showing that they may be contenders in a weak Eastern Conference this year. After seasons of losses, sub-par play, and seemingly endless amounts of controversy, the Knicks are finally fun to tune in and watch again. In this New York Knicks weekly recap, we will be looking at who has made an impact so far and the main takeaways moving forward.
New York Knicks Weekly Recap: Porzingis for MVP
The MVP: Kristaps Porzingis
Every week, Kristaps Porzingis shows that he is the real deal and perhaps has the potential to average 30 plus points over an entire season. This week, Porzingis averaged 33.5 points through four games. Three of those games he scored over 35 points, and in Sunday’s comeback win against the Indiana Pacers, Porzingis set a new career-high by scoring 40 points.
There’s not much Porzingis can’t do these days. He’s rebounding, blocking shots, knocking down threes from all over the floor, and is especially dangerous from mid-range. One of the most important aspects of Porzingis’ game is that he’s able to get to the free throw line, averaging eight free throw attempts in four games last week. He’s stopping the clock and giving his team a chance to come back. With all the other things he can do, free throws are one part of Porzingis’ game people don’t talk about which they should.
Frank Ntilikina is starting to carve an important role for the Knicks in his early rookie season. He played a career-high 26 minutes in Sunday’s win against the Indiana Pacers. Ntilikina shot 28 percent from this field the first three games last week. On Sunday, Ntilikina shot four for seven from the field, while sinking in two clutch threes that helped the Knicks mount a 19 point comeback against the Pacers. Ntilikina scored a new career-high ten points in Sunday’s win.
His inconsistencies on the offensive side are expected, however, he’s showing glimpses of a great player. One important aspect of Ntilikina’s game is he’s unafraid to guard anyone. This is a good change for a Knicks team that has played lackluster defense the past couple of years.
Many fans were skeptical when Enes Kanter was acquired for Carmelo Anthony. He’s showing, however, that he’s important to the success in New York this season. Through four games last week, Kanter shot 66 percent from the field and averaged 12 points.
Kanter has also shown a commitment to rebounding this season. He has dominated the boards averaging 12 rebounds in those four games. Last week he almost tied a season-high grabbing 18 rebounds in Sunday’s win. Kanter knows his role on this team and he fits perfectly into their lineup.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is starting to find his way to the basket more as the season progresses. Last week, Hardaway averaged 18 points per game. In those four games he shot 32 percent from three point range. Hardaway averaged 30 percent from three point range in the month of October. He obviously needs to pick and choose his shot from long range.
He’s been playing aggressive and getting to the line when he can – averaging three free throws per game for the season. Sunday against Indiana, he shot one for seven from three point range and only attempted two free throws. Hardaway needs to learn that if his shot isn’t falling, especially from the three point line, he needs to attack the basket more.
Much of New Yorks success this year is gonna depend on Porzingis. He is the engine that makes this team go. Sunday’s comeback win started when Porzingis went on long scoring tears. If Porzingis can stay healthy throughout the year, fans may be pleasantly surprised by where this team ends up when the season ends. If Ntilikina’s shot can develop and Hardaway can stay consistent, this team can be sneaky good.
The Knicks still have their flaws, blowing a 20 point lead against the Denver Nuggets last Monday. However, Sunday’s win against the Pacers shows that the Knicks are capable of shutting teams down, outscoring the Pacers 34 to 11 at the end of the game.