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Pre-Game Reconnaissance: Knicks at Thunder—10/19/17

Prepare yourself for Knicks-Thunder!

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports


The Knicks are getting their regular season going Thursday night in Oklahoma City. That game is going to be on national TV which seems like a very bad idea. Thank goodness the preseason is over because after New York’s 0-5 finish, it can really only go up from here, right?

There are so many storylines tonight. Knicks against Melo! Frank Ntilikina’s real debut. How will OKC’s new big three look? Will a ball dominant Melo coexist well with the ball dominant Russell Westbrook? How badly will I flunk my midterms because I’ll be watching this game instead of studying? Will New York’s defence look encouraging despite being so, so bad? Some of those questions will be answered tonight!

Either way, this game will be important because Ntilikina is going to be playing, and that’s big for the future.

But also, Carmelo Anthony (rightfully) feels slighted and is looking for closure. Not at all worried about how many points he’ll score tonight, nah.

Am I such a jaded Knicks fan that I forget how Joakim Noah was a legitimately good defensive player for close to a decade and this may be good news? At least he’s making good use of his time off!! And at this point, Kanter can’t get any worse so I’d figure that anything helps.

Ahhh, so excited for basketball to be back. Let’s meet our contestants!

The Foe:

To give us a primer on the 2017-18 Thunder, I have asked J.A Sherman from SBNation’s OKC affiliate Welcome to Loud City! Here’s what he thinks:

It's funny how much can change in a year, isn't it?

Two summers ago, the Thunder organization appeared to be ready to get ripped apart. A key player had left town, and Russell Westbrook had a decision to make. Stand in the gap, or move to greener pastures? Westbrook stayed, and in the process recorded one of the most ridiculous and historic statistical seasons in NBA history. But through it all, in today's landscape, it wasn't enough, and would never be enough.

Fast forward to this past summer. Was adding Paul George enough? It certainly made things more interesting, as once again Westbrook had in front of him another decision to make. Would he sign an extension? Or would he play out his contract, explore free agency, and (as many suspected) bolt for Los Angeles?

And that's when the Carmelo trade went down. I don't know how you all felt about it, but for Thunder fans, it was a ray of hope, not just that OKC might actually be able to compete with the other elite teams in the league, but that the message sent from the front office to Westbrook - loud and clear - was that they'd do whatever it took to climb the mountain and compete for a title, and they would do what was necessary to retain his services for the next 5 years.

It was enough. Westbrook signed the largest contract in NBA history, Thunder fans breathed a collective sigh of relief, and the 'OKC 3' era is about to begin.

We do hope you enjoy the Enes Kanter experience, truly. He can't play a lick of defense, but he's a good soul, he'll embrace your city, and he'll play hard for you every night. Also, McBuckets has a snappy haircut, so there's that.

The Knicks:

This might be one of the most interesting Knicks season opener in a while. To help me explain that, I have asked a familiar voice to help make sense of all of this!

Folks, here’s Seth Rosenthal:

Q: What will the new-look Knicks’ season look like?

A: I think the season will look ugly, and might include some of the worst defense known to our species. I hope that ugliness is somewhat contained, and that the Knicks grow into one of those bad-but-happy, we-suck-but-we-understand-why-and-we’re-having-fun-and-learning-lessons-and-making-lovely-art-out-of-popsicle-sticks kind of teams. That would include Kristaps approaching All-Star status and staying healthy, Frank Ntilikina demonstrating his potential and staying healthy, and some other of the young Knicks proving some long-term worth. And staying healthy. All of the above will test Jeff Hornacek’s calm and his patience, and by proxy that of the new management. And the media. That’s a lot of layers of patience, and a lot of reason to doubt that the Knicks can suck quietly. I reckon they appear pretty well built for a gentle, thornless tank, but we’ll find out.

Q: Who will be surprise us or disappoint us this season?

A: I expect the surprise/disappointment response to Ntilikina will depend entirely on the viewer’s perspective. If you want him to equal the point guards drafted around him this year, I think you’ll be disappointed. If you’ve heard people call him “raw” so much that you anticipate an unskilled, unbridled colt, I think you will be surprised by how steady the kid is. As far as other guys go, I could see Doug McDermott shooting well enough and bringing enough else to the table that fans stir in favor of keeping him. This is the best opportunity he’ll ever have.

Q: Will the Knicks even be a threat in the terrible Eastern Conference?

A: No, I do not think the Knicks will be a threat in the shitty Eastern conference. I think they’ll be deeply, sweetly mired in the shittier half of that shitty conference.


Please no injuries please no injuries please no injuries please no injuries please no injuries please no injuries please no injuries.


Game tips at 8 PM ET on TNT! The Oklahoma City Thunder are a very good team and you should not be insulted when tonight goes very badly. And now you’re ready for Knicks-Thunder!