The New York Knicks have lost 8 of 10 games and are currently sitting outside the Eastern Conference playoffs. My how things have changed. While everyone is still paying attention to the Warriors, Mr. Triple-Double and MVP James Harden, the Knicks are losing and their problems are plentiful.
Kristaps Porzingis is wearing down. Porzingis played nearly 35 minutes a night and didn’t take any nights off during the first 32 games of the season. After playing 80 minutes in two games in three nights, he’s missed two straight with a sore Achilles. The thing is, he needs to play a lot for the team to win. Otherwise…
Joakim Noah is playing. A lot. This needs no further explanation besides Joakim Noah cannot play big minutes for a legitimate playoff team.
They can’t play defense. New York surrenders 108.5 points per game – 6th worst in the NBA. After giving up 115 to the Magic on Monday, Jeff Hornacek had this to say (via ESPN):
“I don’t think our guys aren’t trying. Maybe we’re just not capable of it. I don’t know,” Hornacek said. “That’s what we’re going to have to figure out. Maybe you have to play some of these other guys. We might have to mix the lineup up somehow.”
Questioning effort is one thing. Saying the team just can’t is somehow worse. This defense won’t improve because it can’t. You can mix that lineup however you want, it’s still the same bad defensive ingredients. So they need to score more. That’s also bad news because…
Derrick Rose, the point guard, is shooting too much. In the last 5 games – all losses – Rose has taken 21.2 shots a game. In games where Rose plays and the Knicks win, he averages 13.6 FGA. In losses he averages 17.7 FGA.
They’re stuck with Phil Jackson. The architect of this defenseless team, the man who signed Joakim Noah to a 4-year $72 million deal, offended LeBron James, and refused to get rid of Kurt Rambis, recently broke up with his girlfriend. Now he’s got nothing better to do with his time than try and run the Knicks.
Things are so bad that Carmelo Anthony’s knee injury isn’t even one of the franchises five biggest problems right now. The good news is that the Hornets, Hawks, Bucks, Pacers, Bulls, Wizards, Knicks, Pistons and Magic are all within 3.5 games or less of each other. The bad news is the same. If Melo and Porzingis get healthy, they can certainly make the playoffs, lose in the first round and start striking out with the next crop of premiere free agents. Same as it ever was.