New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek spoke about the poor offensive showing in the debut of Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee.
When the New York Knicks were blown out on opening night against the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Jeff Hornacek was forced to answer some unfortunate questions. LeBron James had a triple-double and Kyrie Irving dropped 29 points. Nothing to be embarrassed about when you’re still getting used to playing together, right?
Well, about that: See Joakim Noah only took one shot (which he missed), and Courtney Lee only took five (he missed all of his too). A poor performance from two key players led Hornacek into early damage control.
The new head coach spoke about the veteran free agent’s talents and assured the New York Post’s Marc Berman there was nothing to worry about.
“We’re not looking for Jo to go out there and make jump shots. He’s going to roll to the basket. Early, he was setting good screens and Derrick [Rose was] getting to the basket. He’ll get points off rolling and offensive rebounds. They did a good job keep him off the offensive boards. All the shots we missed, we should’ve had offensive rebounds.”
“He’s a great shooter. One of those games.”
Noah has never been a star on offense. His career high in points was 12.6 (’13-’14), and the Knicks would be thrilled if the big man came anywhere near that. The 31-year-old wasn’t looking for his shot against Cleveland anyway.
Per Synergy, Noah was last on the squad by a wide margin in usage percentage (4.2%) and his defense clearly isn’t on point yet either. Three of the four attempts at the rim that Noah defended were converted and the former Defensive Player of the Year only contested three other field goals in total. That’s very un-Noah like.
Noah did make his coach’s point by getting two assists from screens and showcased his trademark hustle play by recovering four loose balls (per Synergy). He led the team in both categories, and remember it’s the first game coincidentally against the league’s second-best team.
Courtney Lee is a great shooter. And if anyone would know, it’s coach Hornacek. You know, being a two-time Three-Point Shoot Out champion and all. Lee isn’t quite on that level, but he’s still one of the better gunners of his era.
The 31-year-old journeyman is 38.3% for his career from downtown, exactly 43% on 2-pt. FGAs 16-plus ft. from the basket, and 41.6% on FGAs 10-15 ft. from the basket (per Basketball-Reference.com). So why has he struggled with his shot since becoming a Knick?
Like coach said it’s just one of those things. Lee didn’t have a terrible game. He was New York’s best defensive player holding former Knick J.R. Smith to 3-of-13 shooting.
Shooters can always shoot. Courtney Lee will have a good season. Don’t waste time worrying about him.