SPANISH HARLEM – The start of the NBA season is only 1 Week away and if you’re a New York Knicks fans, you don’t really have a lot to be excited about. There is no big new acquisition to look for, they added some players via free agency but they are role players that should make the team somewhat better. With that, here are 5 Things to Look For When The Knicks Season Begins.
Better Defense: This is Tom Thibodeau’s specialty. He has made every team he has coached better defensively. The one thing the Knicks haven’t had in some time is a good defense. If you have been watching the preseason games, you will see a team that is more engaged on defense. There are moments when you see the defense of old but they are definitely showing more effort in that category… and rightfully so. Everybody knows if you want more playing time, it’s best to show up on the defensive side to catch the coach’s eye.
RJ Barrett: The 3rd pick in last years draft did not make any All-Rookie Teams and though that may seem surprising, it’s something that should put a chip on his shoulder. From the start you see a stronger and bigger player than the guy you saw last season. That should help him take on more contact and finish in the rack with better efficiently. He is a good passer for his size and as he continues to learn the game should be a play-maker. What you will want to see is him becoming a better outside shooter, mainly from 3-point land. That will help better space the floor and make for more opportunities to score when defenses back off him.
Good Shooting: It’s no surprise that management decided to add players like Alec Burks, Austin Rivers and Immanuel Quickley (via the draft), who are swing men that can make threes. If there is something that this team lacked last season, it was good outside shooting. This added dimension will give guys chances to drive the ball and either get easy buckets or pass it to another open player for 3s.
Obi Toppin: Drafted this season by the Knicks, the team’s newest player should excite fans with ability to score and thunderous dunks. Toppin has a chance to become a fan favorite if he can contribute early on. He is older than some other players drafted but that should help because he has a mature body that is NBA-ready. You want to love this kid, as he is a fellow New Yorker that loves the Knicks and wants to make them good again. If he can consistently hit his open shots and gets better from beyond the arc, he could be another dynamic piece to an improving team.
Consistency: The Knicks will probably not be a good team this season. That’s okay, though, as they don’t have a star player. If you don’t have at least one star in this league, it’s hard to win. If the team can compete on a daily basis, minimize the ugly losses and plays hard to the final minute, that will be enough… for now. Ideally they’ll play an entertaining brand of basketball but still be in a decent position going into the next draft for a shot at a potential star.
Bottom Line: I want to see and feel like this team is getting better and I’ll take a consistent team over a really bad team… for the first time in what feels like a century.
Come Back Tomorrow for Different Matt and a tawdry tale of acrimonious chaos… or maybe something about MLB’s Hot Stove and the NHL.
Until Next Time…