NY Knicks Training Camp – 9/25/2018-10/8/2018
Madison Square Garden Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y.
NY Knicks Preseason schedule:
Date Opponent Arena Time
10/1/2018 @Washington Wizards Capital One Arena, Washington DC 7:00 PM
10/3/2018 @Brooklyn Nets Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY 7:30 PM
10/5/2018 NO Pelicans Madison Square Garden, NYC 7:30 PM
10/8/2018 Washington Wizards Madison Square Garden, NYC 7:30 PM
10/12/2018 Brooklyn Nets Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY 7:30 PM
This is the time of year when all NY Knick fans become a little anxious. September can only mean that NBA training camps are just around the corner. This is when us Knick fans start scouring the websites, and news outlets for New York Knicks news, or just NBA news in general. There has been a lot of changes to the Knicks since the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season. The changes started with the purge of Phil Jackson and the triangle right after the 2017 draft. Phil didn’t seem too interested in putting in the work to help the Knicks contend. He doled out one of the all-time worst contracts in franchise history when he gave an injury prone Joakim Noah a 4-year 72M deal. Noah’s best days were obviously behind him, and Phil was essentially bidding against himself, as there were no suitors willing to even come close to signing Noah for that kind of money.
Fast forward to the 2018 Knicks, and you can see that the franchise has taken the steps to operate as a successful NBA team. We are tired of the quick fix mentality. All we’ve done for the last decade is sign high priced free agents that we expected to carry the team, but in reality, should have only been complementary pieces. This season will probably yield the same results as the past few seasons, but I think the optimism is real this time around.
There were some good moves and some questionable moves made this past offseason, but I believe there were more sound basketball decisions made by Scott Perry, and Steve Mills than any Knick front office in the recent past. Let’s examine some of the moves that were made this past offseason.
2018 NBA draft: The Knicks got it right.
The 2018 NBA draft may turn out to be the most important draft in quite some time for the Knicks. The best thing about this draft was that we were actually participating in both rounds. This was especially sweet because this draft was so loaded with talent. There was no way they could screw this up right? The list of available players was ridiculous. Just look at the prospects that were available.
|1||PHO||Deandre Ayton||University of Arizona|
|2||SAC||Marvin Bagley||Duke University|
|4||MEM||Jaren Jackson||Michigan State University|
|5||DAL||Trae Young||University of Oklahoma|
|6||ORL||Mohamed Bamba||University of Texas at Austin|
|7||CHI||Wendell Carter||Duke University|
|8||CLE||Collin Sexton||University of Alabama|
|9||NYK||Kevin Knox||University of Kentucky|
|10||PHI||Mikal Bridges||Villanova University|
When the time came for the Knicks to select at #9, the pivotal decision to choose Kevin Knox over Michael Porter Jr. was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned. Porter has the potential to possibly be the best pick in the draft, but the questions surrounding his health (back surgery), made that decision too risky. The Knicks couldn’t afford to swing and miss with this pick. The front office did the right thing and chose the prospect with the highest reward with the fewest risk.
The 2nd round provided the Knicks with the opportunity to solidify the center position for the foreseeable future, with the selection of 20-year-old, 7’ 1” Mitchell Robinson. This pick is the steal of the draft. Robinson slipped in the draft because he didn’t play a single minute of college ball. He chose instead to prepare for the draft on his own by training in Dallas under the tutelage of Marcell Scott, founder of M. Scott Experience. Robinson could very well prove to be the steal of the draft. Overall I would say the Knicks nailed the draft.
The prospects: The future is here
Round 1 Pick # 9
Kevin Knox-(SF) Kentucky 6’ 9” 212 lbs
It seemed like the entire Knick contingent at Barclays center were hoping the Knicks picked Michael Porter Jr. when he fell in the draft. They booed when Kevin Knox’s name was called. I’m sick of seeing that kid and his dad boo Knick draft picks. It looks so staged and ridiculous. It may have been a little funny, and even considered New York Knicks news when he did it at the 2015 draft when the Knicks pick was a little known 7’ 3”slick shooting unicorn from Latvia named Kristaps Porzingis. I think that pick turned out OK. Memo to the kid and his old man, your 15 minutes are up, thanks for participating, now go have a seat.
Knox is the prototypical combo forward that today’s NBA teams covet. He is physically gifted at 6’ 9” 212 lbs, with a 6’ 11” wingspan, and at age 19 still growing. He is a terrific finisher on the break and displays that same finishing ability in half-court sets (lobs). He has the ability to defend multiple positions (2, 3, and 4’s) if coached properly. His shot is a work in progress, but he has the mechanics to become a decent shooter at the NBA level. He has a nice arc on his shot and gets good rotation on the ball when he’s not rushed to take the shot. The one overlooked aspect of his game is his rebounding, (11.0 per 40 mins). He’s quick off his feet and can jump out of the gym, so I think he will be a very good rebounder as a pro. He proved he’s not afraid of the moment with his performance at the 2018 Las Vegas summer league. I don’t put a lot of stock in summer league performances, but you could tell, he was head and shoulders above 95% of the competition when he was on the court. He showed a lot of poise during the games, which isn’t a surprise considering he spent the past year under John (pro day) Calipari at the University of Kentucky basketball factory.
Knox’s upside is what Knick fans should be most excited about. The Knicks need to make sure he’s developed the right way, which means not putting him in situations where he can’t be successful, like leaning on him to carry the scoring burden too early in the season. Considering the offensive ineptitude of the current roster, it will be tempting to throw him out there and have him chuck up bricks early on. I think Coach Fizdale will make sure that doesn’t happen. Knox has all the tools to be very successful at the next level, It’s up to the coaching staff to make sure he’s developed and utilized correctly.
Round 2 pick # 36
Mitchell Robinson-(C) 7’ 1” 225 lbs
This pick was the steal of the draft. Mitchell was a top 10 recruit coming out of Chalmette high school in Louisiana. He flip-flopped on the Idea of going to college (Western Kentucky), before finally deciding to forego the whole college experience (which probably cost him a few million) and train in Dallas under Marcell Scott. Robinson’s measurables and athleticism are elite. He looks like the blueprint for today’s NBA center. His 7’ 4” wingspan enables him to challenge every shot on the court, which will be a detriment to him early on. He thinks he can block every shot (and he did in summer league play). In the NBA that translates into a fouling machine, and he will find himself sitting on the bench (or a G league demotion), instead of getting valuable playing time. He is a beast on the boards, and his lob game is sick. He needs to work on his shot because as of now, all he has in his offensive arsenal are put backs, and dunks.
His lateral quickness and jumping ability enable him to cover real estate on the court faster than most bigs, so he’s gonna give other bigs fits trying to keep up with him. He needs real coaching because he’s just getting by on his freakish athleticism. He is going to have to figure out how to play the game of basketball at an elite level consistently. Fizdale and his staff have a lot of work to do with Robinson, but he is a coachable kid, and he will figure it out, and when he does, believe me, he will be an elite big man in the NBA for many years.
Hiring David Fizdale: The right choice:
Hiring David Fizdale to be the coach of the Knicks had many fans divided. A lot of fans wanted to see Mark Jackson get the job. Jackson is a homegrown talent who understands the New York basketball culture and has had success as an NBA coach with the Warriors from 2011-2014. He led the Warriors to the playoffs in consecutive seasons (2012-2013) for the first time since 1992. His resume as a player and a coach seemed the ideal fit to become the Knicks head coach. Fizdale also has had success at the NBA level, as an assistant on the Lebron James led Miami Heat teams that won the NBA championship in 2012, and 2013. He became head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2016 and led them to a playoff berth with a 43-3 record. He was fired the following year after a 7-12 start.
His benching of All-star center Marc Gasol in the 4th quarter of a game against the Nets (of all teams) sealed his fate with the Grizzlies. The NBA is a star-driven league, and you can’t afford to alienate your star players. This can be chalked up as “lesson learned” for Fizdale. He has acknowledged that he could have handled that situation differently, and he has learned from that experience. I don’t think Mark Jackson’s ego would have allowed him to admit to any shortcomings about his coaching style, whether true or perceived. That is why I think the Knicks made the right decision in hiring Fizdale.
David Fizdale has the reputation of being a player’s coach, who relates to today’s NBA player (This ain’t your daddy’s NBA anymore). The game is played much differently today than it was 10 years ago. The 3 point shot changed the way a lot of coaches prepare for games, both defensively and offensively. The spacing requires teams to have elite athletes at every position in order to be successful. The Knicks are building a team with those athletes in mind. The young core of the Knicks needs to be adaptive to the philosophy of positionless basketball. Coach Fizdale is the right choice at the right time.
2018 Free Agent Class.
The 2018 free agent signing left the Knicks on the outside looking in, due to their lack of cap space. That turned out to be a good thing, as they were forced to dole out only 1-year contracts.
This enables them to become a major player in the talent-rich 2019 free agency period. 2019 will see the likes of Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Demarcus Cousins, and Kemba Walker hit the free agent market. The Knicks have a realistic shot of signing 1, or perhaps 2 of these stars to pair with their own All-Star Kristaps Porzingis (if they can clear some existing contracts off the books). The buzz around the NBA is that the Knicks are an up and coming team, with a young talented core, a bonafide All-Star (Kristaps Porzingis) already on the roster, and a young and innovative head coach in David Fizdale. Let’s take a look at the 2018 Knicks free agent class.
Mario Hezonja-(F) 6’ 8” 218 lbs.
Hezonja has not lived up to his lofty draft position (Round: 1 / Pick: 5).
since entering the league in 2015. He has shown glimpses of his talent only in spurts. He averaged a paltry 9.6 pts on a slash line of 44.2/33.7/81.9 in 22 minutes per game.
He is a very good athlete, who can shoot, run the floor, and play above the rim. He is a good enough athlete to make an impact defensively if he works at it. Let’s hope David Fizdale can bring out the talent that made him a lottery pick just 3 short years ago.
Noah Vonleh-(PF) 6’ 9” 245 lbs.
Vonleh has also been a disappointment since coming into the league as the 9th overall pick in the 2014 draft. He is a decent rebounder, with very little to offer offensively. The Knicks will be his 3rd team since being drafted. He is already a journeyman at age 23. He is merely a placeholder until Porzingis returns from offseason ACL surgery. He is a good player to have on a contending team, but the Knicks are far from being a contender.
The outlook for the 2018 season.
The 2018-2019 NBA season will be a turning point for the New York Knicks. This begins with training camp. This is when the culture starts to change from being a franchise that has no patience for the rebuild while admitting they need to rebuild, to a franchise that is actually committed to a rebuild. There will be plenty of growing pains for this Knick team. They will probably lose, and lose, and lose some more this season. They are building for the future, and Knick fans don’t mind that, as long as we can see sustainable growth and improvement in the future.
The young core of this team, Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke, and to a certain extent Tim Hardaway Jr. needs coaching in the worst way. Coach Fizdale and his staff have their work cut out for them, but I think if the foundation is laid this year, it will reap the many benefits that are only a year away. The New York Knicks news flash of the day should read “Patience, Patience, Patience”.