The New York Knicks dropped their second preseason game to the Washington Wizards. Here’s what was good, bad, and ugly about it.
The NBA preseason isn’t about wins and losses. It’s for the team to evaluate strategy for the regular season. New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek is taking advantage of the exhibition games to experiment with different starting lineups.
The eclectic group of players produced some unusual results in Friday’s loss to the Washington Wizards. New York was without franchise player Kristaps Porzingis or rookie sensation Frank Ntilikina in their second tuneup for 2017-18.
Hornacek went small with Michael Beasley replacing Porzingis at power forward and Courtney Lee taking the small forward spot. Enes Kanter supplanted Kyle O’Quinn at center, and Tim Hardaway Jr. and Ramon Sessions were still the backcourt.
The Knicks had some good, bad, and ugly moments trying to keep up with John Wall on Friday. Here’s a look at each category.
Knicks fans are unfairly harsh on Lance Thomas. It was good to see him play well last night, scoring nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. The most impressive part is that none of those points came by way of the three-point shot. Thomas didn’t attempt a long ball on Friday.
There were minutes to be had without Porzingis and Ntilikina, and Hornacek used them wisely. Beasley was able to log 30 minutes, and rookie Damyean Dotson saw the court for 24 minutes. Both players have unspecified roles, so it’s important to define them.
Dotson looks like he can be a reliable three-and-D wing off the bench. Beasley is hopefully a stretch four/small forward hybrid. The Knicks will look to him for offense. He’ll be their Carmelo Anthony lite.
#Knicks on ? from deep!
(7-11 3-PT in the first half) pic.twitter.com/Yq394Tvsq7
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 7, 2017
The offense didn’t miss a beat without KP. Kanter and Hardaway stepped up in the absence of their best player. Kanter put up 16 points while Hardaway notched 15. New York made ten more threes—even without KP—in large part to four threes from Lee.
The Knicks outscored the Wizards by 16.3 points per 100 possessions in the 24 minutes their sharpshooter was on the court. Apparently, the switch to small forward didn’t impact his offense one bit. Hornacek needs to consider that.
Joakim Noah made his preseason debut, and yes that’s under the good category. He played 12 minutes, and despite only putting two points on the board, he still looked good. The former Defensive Player of the Year grabbed five rebounds and notched two assists.
The turnovers were brutal on Friday. It is the preseason, so it’s expected that teams will be sloppy with the ball. They’re learning new offenses and getting used to playing with new players. But what New York did against the Wizards was unacceptable.
They turned the ball over 29 times. 29! They only had 22 assists in comparison. Kanter’s team-leading usage percentage (29.4) led to five turnovers from the new Knicks center. Hardaway, third in usage himself, had five turnovers of his own.
The Knicks were sloppy with the ball on Friday, but their defense let them down again. For the second straight game, New York allowed their opponent to score 100 points and make ten attempts from three-point range.
If John Wall and Bradley Beal had played more than 24 and 22 minutes respectively the score would’ve been a lot uglier than 104-100. The Wizards dynamic duo managed a combined 32 points and 6 assists.
Jeff Hornacek will have an uphill battle building a solid defensive unit. The Knicks have a lot of poor individual defenders who will have to come together as a team to form a good defense. That’s a lot easier said than done.
They weren’t able to do it last season as all of their focus was learning on an offense that didn’t work. Now they appear to have the offense under control. The defense is far from it, though, and you can’t win if you can’t get stops.