The New York Knicks biggest problem was supposed to be fitting new players into their weird offense. If only that were true.
Maybe if New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek channeled Robert Plant, his team would pay attention. Because right now nothing’s working.
A brutal fourth quarter Sunday against the Utah Jazz concluded another poor defensive effort and led to the Knicks fourth loss in six games.
New York entered the final period with a two-point lead before allowing Utah to shoot 65 percent from the field, leading to a fourth-quarter rout.
After the loss, Derrick Rose was critical of the defense, more specifically the poor communication on pick and rolls.
“We got to play smarter for sure when the 1-3 and 1-4 pick-and-roll comes. Am I going to switch off on the 3 and let me defend him or is he going to be a show and I get under and back in front of the point guard?”
Rose’s comments echoed Courtney Lee‘s from a week ago.
Lee questioned the way the team practices, telling ESPN New York’s Ian Begley the Knicks should “practice against more game-like situations.”
“We run the triangle, we practice against it a lot. I think we need to practice against pick and rolls, practice against other looks and whatnot and get comfortable with that because that’s what other teams are running.”
Per Marc Stein of ESPN, the Knicks made a laughable decision in an attempt to fix the problem.
NBA coaching sources say the Knicks have put assistant Kurt Rambis in charge of the team's defense, New York's prime area of concern at 2-4.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 8, 2016
The move is unnecessary and comes off like another Jackson power play. Coach Hornacek’s reaction is telling: “It could’ve been anybody. It could’ve been Jerry (Sichting), could have been Corey (Gaines).”
In the words of their coach, the Knicks are trusting just “anybody” to turn around the league’s worst defense. This should go well.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton pointed out the failures of Rambis’ defenses in his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Rambis has coached two teams for a full season. They finished 28th and 27th in defensive rating. https://t.co/vjwTwVoYcq
— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) November 8, 2016
Pelton’s colleague at ESPN, Zach Lowe, mocked New York’s decision to give a special assignment to the much-maligned Rambis.
THINGS ARE GOING GREAT IN NEW YORK CITY EVERYONE https://t.co/ZvlTesykbX
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 8, 2016
Remember the good old days when we were worried about how Rose and Joakim Noah would fit with Melo and KP?
That was before the team went 2-4 in their first six games and gave up 100 points in each contest. Before they were last in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) and defensive rebound rate (percentage of defensive rebounds grabs per game), per ESPN.com.
It gets worse. The Knicks are 28th in opponent’s three-point percentage, allowing opposing teams to shoot 37.9% from beyond the arc.
On the plus side, the sample size is small, and the roster is still getting used to being in a new situation. The downside is it doesn’t feel like the Knicks are looking at it that way.
Through six games they’ve been unquestionably the worst defensive team in the league. But they have the guy to turn that around. Joakim Noah of course.
The Knicks have been at their absolute best with their starting center on the court and laughably bad when he’s not. Per Basketball-Reference, New York is plus-9.6 points with Noah and minus-25.5 points without him (per 100 possessions).
The problem has been keeping him on the court. The 31-year-old is fifth in total minutes played behind the other starters.
Noah’s only averaging 24 minutes per game and logged 30-plus minutes just twice. The team probably just being careful with their $72 million investment. It’s early in the season, and he’s coming off a preseason hamstring injury. Another bad break for the Knicks.
Kurt Rambis getting control of the team’s defense was just another reminder that despite his claims to the contrary, Phil Jackson still wields all the power.
It’s no surprise Coach Hornacek’s team isn’t listening when he talks. Maybe he should try taking it an octave higher.