The New York Knicks must continue to lose this season, however, they can continue to grow while the tank moves on.
Whether you like it or not, the New York Knicks must learn from their recent history and tank the rest of the season.
Let’s go back to the 2007-08 Knickerbockers campaign. The Knicks remain one game back of the Grizzlies for the fourth spot in the NBA Draft Lottery. The Knicks, with seven games left in the schedule, rattle off three straight wins and finish a game better the Grizzlies and take the fifth-worst record in the NBA.
After a historically messy lottery, the Knicks ended up with the sixth pick in the NBA Draft.
The Knicks ended up with a very good NBA player in Danilo Gallinari, but he certainly was and still is not a franchise guy. Although they ended up with Rose down the line, he’s not the same player he was in his prime to state the obvious.
A chance to draft Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook or Kevin Love falls just short because of a few meaningless wins to end the season.
Fast-forward to the 2014-15 NBA season. The Knicks win two of their last three while the Timberwolves close the season with 12 straight losses to finish a game worse than New York for the worst record in the NBA. Things only get worse for New York, as they fall to fourth in the NBA Draft Lottery.
The Wolves would end up picking the next great big man in the NBA, Karl-Anthony Towns. Luckily for the Knicks, this was a loaded draft class and they ended up with a unicorn from Latvia.
The Knicks have a history of winning meaningless games to close the season. With this year’s squad being in a battle with Orlando and Philadelphia for the fourth spot in the NBA Draft Lottery, the Knicks must avoid winning games by tanking.
Players are not going to tank games. First off, they are competitive by nature. In addition, many of these guys are playing for their contract.
Coaches are not going to tank games either. An NBA coach in today’s NBA has an extremely short lifespan, especially in New York. Hornacek is not going to lose games intentionally and give Phil Jackson more justification to fire him. This is unless Jackson has a heart-to-heart with Hornacek and tells him is job is safe.
What Jackson ought to be doing is tell Hornacek his job is safe and tell him to make these moves to avoid a late season winning streak.
Make Porzingis Create His Own
Kristaps Porzingis needs to get better at creating his own shot. In an isolation, where Porzingis should be able to his speed and ball handling skills to break down opposing big men, the Latvian is shooting only 28 percent from the field. In contrast, when Porzingis comes off of screens, he has an effective field goal percentage of 51.8 percent. The best way to tank is to do so while developing players simultaneously.
These are the types of shots Porzingis should be able to feed off of.
Pausing the video as Porzingis gathers the balls shows he isn’t in the best position to shoot. He is holding the ball on the side of his body as he goes up for the shot. Porzingis often does this. Oftentimes, when he is in isolation, he panics or plays the game too quickly for his own good. Here is another example:
He should not be taking this shot. What Porzingis should be doing is kicking it out and isolation against Gasol again. Instead, he panics and takes an off-balance, contested jumper. Again, look at where the ball is when he starts his jumper, off to the side of his body.
The Knicks need to get Porzingis in more of these situations. It will allow him to grow as a player and allow the Knicks to tank in a respectable manner.
Play Hernangomez At the 5
Willy Hernangomez has shown to be on the offensive side of the ball averaging 16.3 PPG and 8.7 RPG over the last three games. But many are starting to notice Hernangomez simply can not play defense yet.
The Knicks do not play Hernangomez at the center position a whole lot. When looking at five-man lineups where Hernangomez is the center, the highest defensive rating a lineup has with him at the center is 134.2 (minimum of 10 minutes played). The lowest is 114.6. With Porzingis by his side at the center position, Hernangomez’s defensive numbers look a little bit better.
It is not hard to see why Porzingis helps his fellow CB Sevilla alum. Porzingis is one of the top rim defenders in the NBA.
Hernangomez needs to grow as a rim-protector if the Knicks ever want to play him at the five when Porzingis has to rest. To do this, the Knicks need to give him more time there. There are going to be tons of growing pains during this process, and for the purposes of the tank, this is more than fine.
Play Derrick Rose in Crunch Time
The Knicks need to let their young guards see the floor, most notably Chasson Randle.
Randle has shown to be valuable in limited action. He sports a 15.6 PER in only 9.8 minutes per game.
But Randle should not be closing games.
Derrick Rose is being paid more than $20 million dollars this season. This must mean he needs to play late in games, in favor of young guys, right? Well, not really. But hey, for tank reasons, this is valid enough reason. He’s among the worst starters in the NBA according to BPM.
Here are the sixteen regular starters (min. 35 starts) who are having the worst seasons via BPM pic.twitter.com/xppxSZO4Ry
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) March 21, 2017
The Knicks have a reason to play Rose, albeit a flawed one. Rose must resume his role as the tank commander for the New York Knicks.