When you see a New York Knicks fan on the street these days, they’re probably walking with swagger. But hold the phone and pump the brakes, as this team may be headed back to earth relatively soon.
Check Twitter and the back pages of any local paper and it’s easy to see that New York Knicks fans are more than excited about their team’s recent start. Sitting at 6-5 with key wins against the Pacers, Nuggets and the Lebron James-led Cavaliers; these Knicks have played an inspiring brand of basketball during the first 12 games of the season.
But if you’re like me, mired in cynicism and jaded from years of false hope and empty promises, you’re waiting for and expecting the other shoe to drop.
It wasn’t too long ago, that the Knicks started 14-10 with Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony playing iso-ball, fooling fans into thinking we could be playing meaningful games in April. Subsequently, after one tough loss to the Celtics on Christmas day and the beginning of the Melo-Phil Jackson feud, the wheels came off and the Knicks fell back into mediocrity.
Truthfully, this team seems far from that. The brain trust of Steve Mills, Scott Perry and Jeff Hornacek seem to be on the same page and have delivered on part of their vision, including an emphasis on young, athletic talent that plays hard on both ends of the floor every night.
Despite this, this “sharing is caring” version of the Knicks has developed some bad habits early on. Turnovers and defending the three-point line have been consistent weaknesses that may bring the Knicks back to earth and keep the orange and blue from becoming a good team in the eastern conference.
Bombs Away From 3-point Land
Every team, whether it be on the road or in the Garden, has shot the three-ball well against the Knicks. Currently, as per NBAstats.com, the Knicks rank 21st in the association at defending and are currently letting opponents shoot 37.6% from the three-point line.
Some low lights from this season include at Boston, where the Celtics shot 48% (3PT) as they dominated the Knicks. The Nuggets, despite losing to the Knicks, shot 43% (3PT) and the Pacers shot 48% (3PT) when they came to the Garden.
Using a video from theknickswall.com you can see that although the Knicks have looked better this year on defense, they are still giving up too many open three-point shots and are not rotating properly when the ball gets swung out to the wings from opposing guards driving into the paint.
Jeff Hornacek needs to make this a point of emphasis at practice before the Knicks start to lose games. Luckily, the Knicks have plenty of home games in November and likely more time in practice to address this issue.
Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
You simply can’t win games by turning the ball over and the Knicks have done that consistently during the first 11 games of the season. The Knicks rank 24th in the league averaging 16.9 (TO) per game.
So far, the Knicks have committed at least 15 turnovers against the Thunder, Nuggets, Rockets, Hornets, and Magic. The Knicks won two out of those five games, largely due to great comebacks and stellar situational defense.
In a postgame interview via SNY.com, Jeff Hornacek credits the turnovers as a big reason that the Knicks got embarrassed on their home court by the Houston Rockets. Specifically, he feels that the Knicks are lobbing in passes too easily when they pass half court.
Again, if the Knicks plan to compete for a playoff spot, they need to protect the ball and defend the three-point line way better than they have through the first 11 games. If not, we can stop dreaming of future ticker tape parades down the canyon of heroes and instead settle for dreams of ping pong balls at the Lottery in June