The Knicks' increased pace this preseason has given the team a jolt of confidence. This round of new players seem to have integrated much more comfortably with the Triangle. Pushing the tempo off of misses and makes has allowed them to power through some of the more rickety half-court moments. Basketball is much more pleasing when you rely on instincts. Marc Berman has the scoop-ah!!
"They taught it a little differently,’’ Early told The Post. "They decided this would be a better way to teach us. I think it’s helping. There’s a whole new philosophy of how we can get into it. All the options we were taught last year of setting up is still implied, but they gave us different variations and bunch of ways to forming and getting into it and understanding it.
Youngsters like Cleanthony Early and Jerian Grant speaking free and easy about how they feel is a strict departure from last season when guys seemed to think they'd figure it out -- oh, who knows -- one of these days. Maybe before the All-Star break or something. So what's so different exactly?
|Stat||2014-15 Reg Season (Rank)||2015-16 Pre-Season (Rank)|
|Pace||91.2 (28th)||99.2 (10th)|
|DRtg||110.0 (28th)||94.8 (4th)|
|BLK%||8.0 (13th)||10.6 (4th)|
|AST%||60.6 (9th)||60.1 (11th)|
|TOV%||14.0 (T-22nd)||14.7 (T-11th)|
|Def. Reb %||73.1 (26th)||75.6 (18th)|
|eFG%||.470 (27th)||.480 (16th)|
Obviously this is small sample size theatre, and should be taken quite lightly. But some of the early trends suggest there are key differences which should help the Knicks improve. The ability to clear defensive possessions can help you push the ball in transition. Robin Lopez, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O'Quinn have helped the Knicks protect the rim with blocks and boards. That begets transition opportunities.
Now that we're running- we've already seen Derrick Williams, Jerian Grant and Cleanthony Early be killers when they can catch and attack defenses on the move. Carmelo Anthony is one of the most imposing characters in the NBA when it comes to scoring above the break and Jose Calderon is no slouch when he lets it fly. Then the bigs fill the lane, and now we can start looking to set up something clever. The main difference of course is being in attack mode.
"That’s where the game is going — a faster pace, transition basketball,’’ said Anthony, who pointed out his score on a rare fastbreak layup in Thursday’s preseason finale in Boston. "That’s what we’re trying to improve on, trying to implement this preseason. I’m sure you’ll see more of it.’’
Last season the Knicks weren't even sure if they were supposed to bring the ball up the floor. Shane Larkin, easily one of the fastest players in the league, played deliberate and forced basketball, trotting it up the court and rotting into static sets. Then, as the best penetrator on the team, he was more than a smidgen undersized, never becoming a reliable finisher or playmaker around the rim. That's the guy who led the team in minutes played, by the way. We'll miss you, Shane.
In our season preview, yours truly prognosticated that the Knicks might be able to be a top-5 team in blocked shots. The early returns make me feel as cool as a dad. Creating turnovers and sparking fast break opportunities will be key to the Knicks getting a few easy buckets game by game. It's not dress rehearsal anymore, though. The Knicks still have a lot of improving to do and changes to make.