The pre-season has concluded; the Knicks went 3-2. Thank goodness it’s over! Wednesday night the Knicks will officially start the 2018-19 campaign. As for their final game here, the Knicks had loads of issues. Fouling, taking a barrage of mid-range pull ups, confusion on defense. It wasn’t until the ever-tumbling Emmanuel Mudiay got in with about eight minutes left in the fourth that the Knicks went on a rampage. Luke Kornet was canning and labeling triples and the Nets (who had their starters in) looked like a team that wasn’t certain how to close out a game. Luckily for them, they had a big enough lead and were able to fall into a revenge win after the Allonzo Trier pulsar game.
Alley Oopsies... Mitchell Robinson is apt to make highlight plays and some dimly lit mistakes. He got the start tonight and had some OK production. Nice to see him getting three assists and two blocks. Not nice to see him barely wisp a defender’s jersey when setting screens. He also tossed up an outrageous 17-foot airball. It almost felt like the shot you take at the park when you realize at the last second — oh, crap, this ball was dribbled in bird poop. Here he is unable to oop some alleys.
But let’s talk about this. Obviously Robinson can go get it. Float these babies a little further out than up and you might be on Broadway. Huge wingspan and leaping ability lead me to believe that he can guide the ball in from the far corner of the backboard more easily than he can with it 3 feet below the jumbotron. On the positive side, how can you not love that this is considered a passing lane? Let’s hope he and his teammates just need more reps.
Because if you give him the requisite space?
This is a good stuff. But if D’Angelo Russell is giving Ron Baker a hard time getting the ball across half court, we have problems. Of course, the Nets had problems too because right after that dunk, Robinson... well...
Neither Trey Burke nor Allonzo Trier found their rhythm. That’s a concern for these two. It’s OK if they don’t have it on a given night but they’ll need to stay connected and energetic defensively to deserve minutes. This transition clown car has got to drive the coaching staff crazy.
After Trier misses a middie, he takes a moment to observe the Nets collect the rebound. Doesn’t find his man (Joe Harris) or pick up the open man (Ed Davis) and makes a lazy half-exchange with Burke at the top of the key. He directs Ntilikina to pick up the bigger Davis, but then neglects to close out on Treveon Graham, who lines it up and nails a corner three.
Maybe Noah Vonleh needs to bump Rodions Kurucs and scream on Trier to recover out to the corner. They might be able to switch Trier and Hezonja. Vonleh is way out in the corner though. Maybe Frank needs to direct traffic a little more there but Ntilikina shut down a few Net possessions almost single handedly. He also helped Trier as instructed, so he gets a pass. Whatever the case, this stinks of not sticking with it because you didn’t get yours on offense.
Defensively Frank is a freaky, scary wolf stalking prey and walling off the escape routes — sometimes controlling an entire side of the floor by himself. Contrary to Burke and Trier, Frank’s offense is where the coaches need to see him take some strides. Thankfully he did just that. Look at these beautiful strides with Ntilikina attacking off the catch.
Nice movement and spacing off ball to stay open too. He’ll be able to get these looks. If he can keep getting to the teeth of the defense and force help to at least shade him, he certainly has the vision, creativity and accuracy to hit the open man. Need evidence?
Rough game for Kevin Knox and a typical game for Vonleh, who is positively a brute. Both guys had four fouls in their first eleven minutes. They also both finished the game with five fouls. I’m loving Vonleh, and he brings a toughness and energy that the team will need. I mean, they’ll specifically need near the ends of first and third quarters when they have managed to stave off foul trouble. But I love the edge he brings. It’s not all peachy though. I think their game was summed up in this one play:
A little rebound argument. Vonleh says, “I’m taking this damn ball, man.” Cruises up the court. Dribble hand off for Knox as he totally crunches Harris. Knox takes off from 6 feet too far away. Vonleh goes full wooly mammoth. Most other occassions it turned into an offensive foul for Knox or Vonleh, depending on the play.
David Fizdale says the Knicks are going to analyze the point guard situation - look at tape, analytics, lineup numbers, ect - before making a decision on who will start the season at PG.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 13, 2018
If that’s the stuff that matters I would hope Ntilikina gets the nod. As pre-season has gone on, Frank has looked increasingly comfortable. But if you want to be truly frightened before we reach Halloween: Emmanuel Mudiay had the second-highest net rating of the preseason behind Enes Kanter. However, Mudiay did look atrocious on all the tape that’s been made public and shot a paltry 15 eFG% and 22 TS%. Blech!
If Coach David Fizdale believes Kevin Knox has to go through the stumbling blocks, why should that be any different for Ntilikina? No one else has shown that measure of consistency or stability on defense. Mudiay’s two-way worthlessness seemingly played him out of contention! Trier and Burke don’t seem to have anything sewn up. Certainly there will be struggle, no matter who gets the nod. That’s this team’s prospectus. Live in it, learn from it and do very specifically what I want. Start Frank Ntilikina!
Anyhow. There’s really no better way to close out the pre-season than to drop a classic fake comeback on a Friday night. Falsifications abound though because that game didn’t even count. Knicks will see the Nets again in one week if they want retribution and the official season opener against the Atlanta Hawks is on Wednesday!