Both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets have had a rough start to the season, can they turn it around and who be key in helping them do so?
With matching 2-4 records to start the year, neither New York basketball team has gotten off to a good start in the 2016-17 NBA season. As we head into the second week of November, a head-to-head date between the Knicks and the Nets is pending, and it could be a springboard to future success.
The New York Knicks have had a tough time of things. With three losses in their four games in November, only two Eastern Conference franchises currently have a worse record. The latest loss was the team’s second straight at home. Carmelo Anthony is off to a bit of a slow start, shooting very poorly from distance. As is Derrick Rose.
Across town, the Brooklyn Nets had four quick games in October before finding some breathing room at the start of November. They have split their two November games and have one more contest before the Big Apple matchup with the Knicks on Wednesday night.
Many folks had high hopes for the Knicks before the season began, but it has taken time for the new players to acclimate and for the team to get back into playing shape. The team also has depth issues beyond the big name starters. Coach Jeff Hornacek has to balance two competing forces: the need for everyone to practice more and the desire to rest his oldest players’ legs for the long season.
Hornacek’s squad is bad defensively, giving up 109.8 points per game in the early going. Last game against Utah, the substitutes had a combined plus/minus of -37 with no sub-performing better than -5. A team can’t win when any rotation brings with it a net negative impact on the box score.
Brooklyn isn’t much better, if at all, but it wasn’t supposed to be. This was pegged as the worst team in the Eastern Conference prior to the season, and it has actually outperformed those demeaning expectations. The injury to Jeremy Lin hurts this team short-term, but it may be beneficial to give a long look to players like Sean Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick had barely played at all in his two previous NBA seasons but now looks like a possible asset for the Nets. He is av
eraging 17 points per game (second on the team) and shooting a very competitive .446/.414/.857 split. Brook Lopez continues not to rebound down low, but Trevor Booker is picking up some of the slack. Kilpatrick and Booker are the types of finds Brooklyn is searching for this season when the most realistic team goal doesn’t involve the postseason. For a team with low expectations for the season as a whole, a win over the Knicks in Madison Square Garden is always nice.