The New York Knicks have hit a long funk in their season. After a fairy tale beginning, things have slowly begun to spiral downhill. Expected to do nothing, they overachieved in the first three months of the season, sporting a 17-14 record after a 102-93 win over the Boston Celtics on December 21st. Throughout much of the first quarter of the season, the Knicks had a serious problem holding leads. They were able to stay afloat building large leads. Although as the competition got stiffer and the toll of the season dragged on, the losses started piling up.
The Struggling New York Knicks
Unable to Close
The Knicks are almost 10 games below .500 and their grip on securing an eighth playoff seed is slowly slipping away. Their 23-31 record does not reflect what they could have had if some of their close games had gone differently. The Knicks record in games decided by six points or less is a lowly 8-11. They cannot be a winning team when they are losing close games more than winning them. The Knicks last two losses came in heartbreaking fashion and were easily preventable. Then again, you can say that for most of their 11 losses in close games.
Unicorn in Regression
It seems like a long time ago Kristaps Porzingis was the talk of the NBA. He would score 30 points every game. As the season went on though, those 30 point games became harder to come by. After averaging 29 points in the month of October, he dropped to 24 points in November. Each month his point average progressively went down. Now he is only averaging 20 points between January and February. This is a frightening trend that does not have any signs of stopping.
The Point Guard Problem
After recalling break out guard Trey Burke from the G-League, the Knicks have a dilemma on who to run the point. Frank Ntilikina has regressed somewhat since completing a positive December. He averaged eight points and shot 38 percent from field goal range and also three point. January told a different story; Ntilikina’s point average was cut in half to only four points and his field goal percentage dropped way down to 32 percent.
Burke has shined in his small sample of play for the Knicks. In 12 games since being called up, Burke is averaging 11 points while only averaging 17 minutes of playing time. He has also been extremely efficient, shooting 58 percent from the field. Burke was never intended to be the future of this team, however management should rethink that plan.
Jarrett Jack has more or less been that consistent veteran the Knicks can turn to, averaging 6 assists and 10 points in the last two months. Jeff Hornacek has stated that the Knicks will continue to start Jack over Ntilikina and Burke.
No Veteran Leadership
The Knicks young core of players is fairly young. Besides Jack, every player in their rotation has less than ten years of experience. The Knicks record this time of the year last season is almost identical to what it is now. If this team is to succeed in these late and close games, management has to sign some older veterans who can lead this team by example. It is too late for the Knicks this year. Even if they manage to get into the playoffs by some miracle, they are not going far. They need to save their assets and look towards free agency next summer. They need to look towards next year because this fan base is beginning to get restless.
Tim Hardaway Jr. New York Knicks, during the New York Knicks vs Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Basketball game at Madison Square Garden, New York. USA. 15th March 2014. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)