3 Things The Knicks Should Look At In The Off-Season


As is New York tradition, after showing glimmers of hope at the beginning of the 2015-16 season, the Knicks have once again bumbled to a losing record. Was it really only a few months ago that the narrative in New York looked like it would have a happy ending? The 21-year old Latvian rookie defying all expectations of young, European players by balling out from day one? The surprisingly-good (Derrick Williams in particular) play of the bench crew? Dad Melo? 

What in the Five Boroughs happened to cause the 2016 Knicks to swirl the drain so quickly when they had initially shown so much promise?

As it turns out, a couple of things. Porzingis hits the rookie wall, hard. Melo's lingering knee problems resurface. Coach Fisher's bizarre turn as Mr. Steal Yo' Gurl. A regime change occurs as Knicks President Phil Jackson gives Fisher the boot only to give the head coaching job to his good friend, the bafflingly incompetent Kurt Rambis. The team slides out of playoff contention (and by playoff contention I mean maybe we could've grabbed the 8th seed) and back into irrelevancy; ho hum, same ol' Knicks, pass the salt.

In saying that, this season had some bright spots and did give the NY faithful some things to look forward to in the future. So put away those cyanide pills, Knicks fans, cos today we'll be examining these bright spots in the context of the pending off-season, and what the NYK front office can do to keep improving the team.

1. Fire Rambis

This should really go without saying. When he was made interim coach following Fisher's firing, I was naive enough to think that he would be exactly that: an interim coach to have on the floor during games while the front office hammered out the fine print of Tom Thibodeau's 3-year contract. Nope, just like Sasha Vujacic getting serious playing time, this was classic Jackson nepotism. To some degree I can understand his thinking; Jackson wants to have the Knicks run a triangle offence, so he brings in guys who played for him to implement it. Thing is, this kind of tunnel vision can obviously hurt the team in the long run. As the game continues to change, how relevant will the triangle be to a functioning, high-level offence?

Not only that, but Rambis can't coach. I'm not saying that to be insulting or derogatory, either. I'm saying Kurt Rambis knows coaching the way I know about piloting 1920's-era German zeppelins. He doesn't seem to grasp rotations or switches, he plays Melo 40 mins in losing games, he benches Porzingis for 20 mins at a time, the game has passed him by.

With that being said, the controversy about his Twitter 'likes' was and is all bullshit, no man should ever be shamed for appreciating great asses on a daily basis.

2. Get more shooters

This season, New York was one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league. As the game embraces the three-point shot as an offensive focal point, it logically follows that the Knicks should too. Now, i'm not saying that New York should straight up copy the Golden State blueprint, but it would be at best arrogant to eschew this method in favour of the old-school method of big-men scoring 2 points at a time. Furthermore, we already have a PF who can defend AND hit 3's at a decent clip; the kind of player who, in the post-Draymond NBA landscape, are worth their weight in gold in today's market. Wouldn't it make a bit more sense to at least crib SOME of the concepts that made Golden State such an offensive juggernaut? 

Looking at our starting five, it's easily the guards that are the weaker players in this system. Jose Calderon can hit 3's and so can Aaron Afflalo, but their weaknesses and inefficiencies are glaring at this point. Calderon plays defence like a pair of swinging saloon doors, and Afflalo's propensity for mid-range post-ups kill all ball movement. In my uninformed opinion, Knicks FO should target a JJ Redick-type off-ball shooter or a 3-and-D Pat Beverly-type in the off-season to get their 3-point shooting back to league average. 

3. Porzingis needs a bigger role

This is a hard one to convey, because how can Porzingis take on a bigger role while the season is over? What I mean by this is that KP should prepare to become a bigger part of the Knicks offence and defence, spend more time on the floor in general and do everything he can to be prepared for the 2016-17 season. I think even the most optimistic Knicks fan (like there's any of those left) was expecting this year to be a down one. We had no idea what to expect from Porzingis yet, nobody knew how Afflalo, Galloway, Grant etc. would perform together. 

Fortunately our pick from Latvia, who so many were already predicting as a bust, performed well above expectations. For a while, the Rookie of the Year was looking like a race between Porzingis, Anthony-Towns and Okafor. Unfortunately, reality set in. KP as a teenager had barely played a dozen games in the Spanish league before coming to the States for a full 82-game NBA season. In short, he hit the rookie wall. But next year he won't be a rookie, teams would've had a full year of gathering footage to learn how to play against him. At the risk of sounding like a horrible cliche, this is the kind of situation that separates the special players from the merely good ones. Kawhi Leonard is an example of a present-day superstar who started as role-player and has improved every year to reach his current level of play; there's nothing wrong with not being perfect immediately. Put on muscle, work on your shooting, whatever it is. Porzingis has demonstrated at this point that he is the future for the Knicks, but it's up to him to reach that level.

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