Today NBA.com published their power rankings for the first week of the season. The Denver Nuggets ranked first, the Milwaukee Bucks were second, and the Boston Celtics came in third.
The New York Knickerbockers placed seventh on the list.
Last season, the Knicks were a bottom-middle-third team on defense. Their 2022-23 defensive rating was 114.2, good for 19th overall. In four exhibition games, the team took a step back, not forward. In ranking New York, John Schuhmann observes, “The Knicks ranked last defensively in the preseason, allowing 120.2 points per 100 possessions over their four games.”
Clearly, the Knicks have a mandate to shoot more three-pointers, though the results have been underwhelming. Schuhmann writes, “[In four preseason games] they took 48% of their shots, the league’s fifth highest rate, from 3-point range.”
One player who put up a lot of threes—and a generous amount of bricks—was RJ Barrett. Of his 39 shot attempts this preseason, RJ attempted 21 three-pointers . . . and sank only six. If this continues into the regular season, it’s a strategy that will need re-evaluation.
There were positive takeaways from the preseason, however. “Their starting lineup allowed just 48 points on 49 possessions (98%) in its 23 total minutes, outscoring their opponents by a point per minute,” writes Schuhmann, who also praises the team for looking to move the ball faster in transition and throwing more outlet passes.
In a nutshell, the starting five performed well but received little help from the reserves. Surprisingly, Schuhmann points out that the team didn’t play well during Immanuel Quickley’s limited minutes. IQ’s extension deadline is today, if you haven’t heard.
The Knicks face Boston at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night to open their season. After that, they will travel to Atlanta and New Orleans for back-to-backs this Friday and Saturday. They have a tough schedule early on, and could quickly find themselves in a hole if they don’t tighten up those preseason concerns.