New York Knicks: Jeff Hornacek on Joakim Noah's Struggles
Nov 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks center Joakim Noah (13) brings the ball up court during the first half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After Tuesday’s practice New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek talked about the struggles of his starting center Joakim Noah.

It’s easy to criticize Joakim Noah. The New York Knicks (8-9) paid him $72 million to shore up their horrible defense and that hasn’t happened. At this point during 2015-16 the Knicks had better defensive numbers than they do right now.

They’re currently 27th in defensive efficiency and 30th in defensive rebound rate. Per Basketball-Reference, the Knicks were allowing fewer points per 100 possessions and had a higher defensive rebound rate through 17 games last season. They had a lower opponent’s field goal percentage too.


New York’s rebounding in Monday night’s loss to Oklahoma City was so atrocious it cost them the game. Noah only had three rebounds in 26 minutes.

But Jeff Hornacek told Fred Kerber of the New York Post that there’s no reason to worry about Noah.

“He’s had some ups and downs with the injury and the hamstring so the conditioning hasn’t been there. Then he got sick. But I thought his energy was good [Monday],” Hornacek said. “Offensively he’s trying to figure out, trying to get under a low spot a little more so when our guards penetrate they can kick it to him and get him some dunks. We keep emphasizing for him to roll to the basket, for our guards to hit the rollers, because we still believe he can get eight, 10, 12 points just off rolling hard to the basket or getting dump-off passes. If you’re in the right spot a lot of those will happen.”

His teammates have his back during this tough stretch.

Kristaps Porzingis talked about the influence Noah has had on his game.

“He has helped me tremendously, especially defensively,” Kristaps Porzingis said. “It’s hard for me to see him struggle. I know he wants to play better, he’s 100 percent committed. He’s the type of guy who always wants to win.

“So it’s hard to see him not playing at the level he can play. But with the type of guy he is, the type of focus he has, he will find himself soon and we’ll be a much better team.”

Courtney Lee says that the former Defensive Player of the Year is still getting used to his new team.

“Obviously it’s a new team, new system, new role and he’s still trying to get accustomed,” Courtney Lee said. “He’s a guy that anchors the defense. He’s going to protect the rim, get deflections, rebound and he’s also a guy that likes to get assists on the offensive end. He’s going to help us in the long run.”

Joakim Noah is currently averaging 22.5 minutes, 4.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.9 blocks, and 0.8 steals on a slash line of .466/.000/.286.

The Knicks begin a home-and-home set with the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night in Minnesota.

Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.

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