Here are three New York Knicks overreactions and the subsequent counterpoints that will put the first two games into perspective.
The beginning of the NBA season is precious. While the offseason lends itself to hot takes, the first week of the season is perfect for overreactions. After starting off with two heartbreaking losses, here are a few New York Knicks overreactions with the necessary counterpoints.
David Fizdale needs to be on the hot seat
Let’s be real. Being “competitive” just isn’t good enough this season. The Knicks need to win enough games to be respectable in the Eastern Conference. There are positives to take away from two close losses to playoff teams, but there are no moral victories in the NBA. As it stands, head coach David Fizdale‘s career record with the Knicks is 17-67. Yikes.
Perhaps the biggest concern after the first two games lies in the Knicks’ lack of identity on offense. Although Fizdale’s squad made a valiant fourth-quarter comeback, they couldn’t deliver in the pressure-packed moments against the Brooklyn Nets.
Of course, the players are the ones taking the shots, but Fizdale’s late-game calls are questionable, at best. Calling an isolation for Julius Randle in the final seconds?
The ball went off Randle’s heel and Spencer Dinwiddie would ice the game with two free throws. For what it’s worth, Randle was shooting 5-for-15 from the floor with five turnovers when Fizdale called his number down the stretch.
Throw out everything from last season in terms of judging Fizdale. Any head coach would have struggled to win games with that roster.
Sure, there are some concerns about Fizdale after two games this season, but it’s unfair to put all the blame on his shoulders. Continuity is one of the most underrated aspects of team-building in the NBA and the Knicks are made up of mostly new faces. It’s going to take some time before all the pieces fit.
The front office is emphasizing patience at every turn. Putting Fizdale on the hot seat in his second season would throw that patience to the wayside. Barring a complete and total meltdown, Fizdale deserves to make it into year three, at the very least.
Elfrid Payton solidified his role as the starting PG
The point guard competition was one of the biggest question marks surrounding the 2019-20 season. The Knicks have a pair of third-year guards with promise in Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina, but it’s clear that this is Elfrid Payton‘s team.
The veteran floor general was initially behind RJ Barrett and Smith on the depth chart. However, when Fizdale called Payton’s number, his impact on the game was felt almost immediately.
The Louisiana native is unspectacular on both ends, but he can competently run the offense while being a pest on defense. He’s the most reliable option at point guard—by far—and that is plain to see.
Fizdale wasn’t married to the idea of starting Payton after his forgettable preseason. The coaching staff even opted to go with Allonzo Trier at shooting guard with Barrett sliding to point guard in the first game of his career.
Barrett playing point seems like it’s here to stay. The Knicks went back to the Barrett-Trier backcourt in the fourth quarter and it’s clear that Fizdale sees something in that lineup.
Additionally, it’s far too early to rule out Smith or Ntilikina. Smith’s injury-plagued preseason is likely the reason for his slow start. He’s too talented to be as bad as he’s been through two games.
Ntilikina, on the other hand, could have a difficult time working his way back into the rotation. That being said, he’s New York’s best perimeter defender without question. The Nets torched the Knicks with high pick-and-rolls all game on Friday. If Fizdale’s squad continues to struggle when defending the pick-and-roll, he may be compelled to give Ntilikina another chance.
Payton is the best option at point guard right now, but things can change quickly.
RJ Barrett is going to lead the Knicks to a championship
We’ve seen enough, right? RJ Barrett is the real deal and he’s going to be the one to finally lead the Knicks back to a championship. At the tender age of 19, Barrett is playing bully ball inside, using his length to cause havoc on defense, and his playmaking skills are far more advanced than anyone expected.
Although inconsistent right now, his shot will come around as he grows into his game. He has that smooth lefty stroke and the confidence to let it fly from anywhere on the court.
Even better, Barrett seems like he has the right temperament and personality for the Big Apple. Knicks fans have been dying for a franchise cornerstone to hold onto. Barrett could be all that and more.
And yes, he has the potential to bring the Knicks back to the mountaintop—an NBA Finals.
Take a deep breath, Knicks fans. The early returns on Barrett are excellent, but he is going to struggle at times, just like every other young player before him.
Not to mention, it takes more than one player to win a championship. Barrett and the Knicks have a long way to go. But no one will blame you for daydreaming about what could be.