The New York Knicks are hosting the Detroit Pistons. Pau is talking triangle. Porzingis and Hernangomez are bright spots in a dark season.
- New York Knicks (27-46)
- Detroit Pistons (34-39)
- Monday, March 27, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, New York City
With the playoffs out of reach, New York is best served to tank for the best draft pick possible, and as of now, they’re in a three-way tie with Philadelphia and Orlando for the fourth-worst record in the league.
The Knicks shouldn’t have a problem losing to Detroit. Willy Hernangomez has struggled on defense, so he’ll have his hands full with Pistons center Andre Drummond.
The young big man has posted a combined 48 points and 37 rebounds in three games this season against New York. The Pistons won two of the three matchups (both at home). Monday is the final meeting of 2016-17. The Knicks will try and finish the season series with a split.
The Pistons are one of the worst offenses in the NBA since the All-Star break. Per NBA.com, they’re dead last in field goal percentage and three-point percentage, and 27th in offensive rating.
Tobias Harris has been a Knicks killer this season. In the three matchups, the Long Island native has posted averages of 35.7 minutes, 24.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists on a slash line of .543/.400/.842.
Always a pleasure to play against you, every game I learn something new, thanks @paugasol ???? pic.twitter.com/Npm9kzjFWg
— Willy Hernangómez (@willyhg94) March 26, 2017
Ex-Laker Pau Gasol, who won two championships playing under Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, spoke to Marc Berman of The New York Post about the struggles that Jackson’s new team is having with the system.
The 36-year-old stressed the same principles as all other triangle truthers out there in the world. The offense can work if the players buy in. It’s not Phil’s fault.
“It depends on the personnel,” Gasol said. “Everyone has to buy in for any system to work, not just the triangle. The triangle has won championships. But it’s up to the players and coaching staff. ‘This is the route we’re going to go. We’re going to work at it, make it work or not.’ It can’t just be because Phil wants it to work.”
The Knicks have already talked about structuring their roster this offseason based on the kind of player that fits in the triangle offense.
Based on Gasol’s comments, that sounds like a good idea.
“Everyone has to be on the page,” Gasol said. “And it does take a specific personnel, with the approach to the game and skill set to have a better chance for it to work. If the players are in, great. If not, run something else the players believe in and allows them to play at their best.”
The six-time All-Star is saying pick an offense and stick with it. That part should be obvious, but it hasn’t been since Phil Jackson took over.
According to Gasol, he had no contact with his old coach about joining the Knicks as a free agent this summer. A fact that was surprising to him.
When Phil Jackson drafted Kristaps Porzingis two years ago, he compared him to Gasol and Knicks fans scoffed. Now they’re hoping he can be better than Kobe Bryant‘s former partner in crime.
New York is nearing the end of the third season of the Jackson era with very little to show for it. Except, Porzingis and Hernangomez. The two youngsters were teammates overseas, and close friends before Hernangomez came over to the league this year.
The unicorn talked about his good friend. Apparently, the transition to the Association has been smooth for Hernangomez.
Via Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News:
“(Hernangomez) was able to adapt very quickly,” Porzingis said. “I thought the same way people thought it was going to take me a long time to adapt, the same way they thought about him.”
“But he was able to transition real easy in the locker room and the floor. I’m happy that he’s out there on the floor with me playing 30-plus minutes.”
Hernangomez, 22, and Porzingis, 21, are both still learning the NBA game, so the sky is the limit on their talent level. Porzingis especially.
Hernangomez continued by talking about the opportunity he’ received after Noah’s injury.
“(Noah) got injured a couple weeks ago and I tried to use this change to start games and play hard and I think I have to take advantage of that,” Hernangomez said. “And next year, I would say I feel more ready from the beginning of the year, for sure.”
Hernangomez’s main concern should still be defense.
He was routinely muscled on this most recent road trip by DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert, Jusuf Nurkic, and Dewayne Dedmon.
Even the youngster admitted that he’s been bad this season. Fortunately, his scoring and rebounding have made up for it and then some.
“I have to be way more focused on defense. I tried to improve. I think from the beginning of the season, I improved my defense. But it’s not enough,” Hernangomez said.
ESNY’s Matthew Castillo wrote about who the Knicks should target in free agency this summer if they want to continue running the triangle.
What point guard can run Phil Jackson’s system the best?
What big man can handle that type of responsibility?
Names like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are just a couple of the possibilities.