The New York Knicks lost their preseason opener to the Nets on Tuesday night. Here’s the good and the bad they can take away from the contest.The Carmelo Anthony era is officially over. The New York Knicks played their first preseason game without him as their franchise player in more than five years, and Anthony played his first game as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder on the same night.
The ten-time All-Star scored 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting in a loss to the Houston Rockets as Russell Westbrook sat. It is preseason after all. While the Anthony era got underway in OKC, the Kristaps Porzingis–Frank Ntilikina era kicked off in New York.
Knicks fans have been waiting for Frank’s big debut—he missed summer league due to a knee injury—and on Tuesday night they finally got it. Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Nets spoiled the debut of New York’s new dynamic duo. Brooklyn took down the Knicks, 115-107.
It’s important to take the preseason result with a grain of salt as the starters don’t play starter minutes. But 11 players saw action for New York who weren’t on the team last season. Even preseason games are essential for a team that’s so new. There’s plenty of good and bad to be learned.
A Different Team on Offense
From the start of the game, you could tell this wasn’t a triangle offense team anymore. Jeff Hornacek coached these guys up to get out and run as much as they possibly can. He wants ball movement, and that’s something Knicks fans want to see.
WATCH the 11-0 run from the #Knicks! #NewYorkForever pic.twitter.com/kxqR45y5SH
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 3, 2017
The triangle act was wearing thin, and Anthony’s style of offense was better suited on a championship contender. With Porzingis as the centerpiece of the offense, things ran much differently.
The 22-year-old isn’t the kind of player who holds the ball and calls for an isolation play. He didn’t even lead the team in FGA on Tuesday. He only attempted one three-pointer. This shows he’s working on other areas of his game on offense. That’s a great sign.
Tim Hardaway Jr’s Fit
Tim Hardaway Jr. looks like he will thrive in this offense after attempting 11 threes last night. In 281 regular season games, Hardaway has attempted double-digit threes in a game just three times.
.@T_HardJr coasts in for the bucket! #Knicks with the early 18-8 lead in the 1Q! #NewYorkForever pic.twitter.com/kG93L05cmc
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 3, 2017
He played 25 minutes on Tuesday and tied Enes Kanter with a team-high 17 points. As expected, his best moments were in the fast break. Hardaway and Frank should be a nice backcourt in that setting as the season moves on.
Hardaway will always be judged by his massive contract that he can’t possibly live up to, but if he puts up more games like last night, the fans will at least respect his effort.
Putting Frank Ntilikina’s debut under good might seem strange if you didn’t watch the game. Just by looking at the box score you see a rookie who struggled on offense going 1-of-7 from the field for only five points.
Don’t expect a lot of high-scoring outings from Frank this season. That should come later on. He’s just a teenager after all. It was his defense and passing that made his play fall on the good list.
As I mentioned, this kid is just 19 years old. You wouldn’t know it from the way he ran the pick-and-roll against Brooklyn. In his first game against NBA competition, Ntilikina showed off the essential parts of his game picking up three assists and one steal.
Guarding the Three-point Line
The Knicks gave up 100 points five times in six preseason games last year, and double-digit three-point makes three times. Those struggles continued during the regular season.
According to NBA.com, they were fifteenth in opponent three-point makes and 25th in defensive rating. On Tuesday they picked up right where they left off.
They gave up 115 points in large part due to 16 three-pointers from Brooklyn. New York allowed their crosstown rivals to shoot 50 percent from beyond the arc. Joe Harris—renowned for his sharpshooting—was able to make 4-of-7 from downtown.
Still Having Trouble With Point Guards
An extension of the defensive point is how well D’Angelo Russell—Brooklyn’s new point guard—played last night. Russell lit them up on Tuesday. The former Laker had a game-high 19 points (7-14 FG, 2-4 3P) to go along with four assists.
The three New York Knicks point guards scored a combined 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting. New York point guards being outscored is a trend that’s likely to continue all season long.
The Knicks had a lot of trouble covering lead guards in 2016-17. Between Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings, they were a nightmare. They’re hopeful the defensive effort will rise with the addition of Ntilikina.
Lance Thomas’s Offense
It’s the preseason, and it’s just one game, but it would’ve been nice to see something encouraging from Lance Thomas on offense. After struggling with injuries last season and playing poorly when on the court this is a big year for Thomas.
Instead, he played just eight minutes and didn’t record a single point. Thomas barely factored into the game at all with one FGA, one rebound, and two turnovers. If Thomas is going to help New York at all on the offensive end, it’s going to be with his three-point shot.
On Tuesday, the Knicks put up 25 shots from beyond the arc, but Thomas wasn’t responsible for a single one of them. That needs to change if the former Blue Devil wants to see playing time this season.