The Knicks in an identity crisis | NBA

The issue was raised in our summary after the loss to the Nuggets. The Knicks are looking for an identity this season. That’s a problem because the franchise had one strong and assertive one last season: defense.

Except that the latter has fallen heavily, going from one of the five best in the league in 2020/2021 to the second part of the standings (19th) since the start of the season.

« Everyone must do better, too », says Julius Randle for ESPN. “I take responsibility for it, for the team, for me, it doesn’t bother me. We have to look in the mirror and decide what we want to do with our season. We just have to get started. We will win our matches with the defense. This is us. We don’t have several superstars on our team like Brooklyn or whatever. We are above all a group, we saw it last season. To win, you have to play hard, very hard, you have to be disciplined. Our culture is to fight defensively, to be tough. « 

“Defense is just effort. It’s up to us to have this intensity, this sense of urgency and to make stops ”

The arrivals of Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker were supposed to reinforce a limited attack, to take a step forward for the playoffs. Except that the leader, constantly targeted, had quickly become a weight in defense and he is now sidelined, when the French also has limits in this area. In the end, the Knicks have progressed a little offensively, but especially regressed defensively.

« It is a question of effort », says RJ Barrett. “Defense is just effort. Thibodeau is focused on defense, so it’s up to us to have this intensity, this sense of urgency and to make stops. We have to fight together and all the teams have matches like this, so I’m not worried. We are going to find. « 

However, after 23 matches, efforts are still lacking in New York and frustration is mounting. Julius Randle, who explains that « New York City and the Fans » adore defensive identity, the boos of the Madison Square Garden audience were bound to be heard during the loss to Denver.

« There is no secret: we must do it together, the players, the coaches, everyone », recalls the coach of the Knicks, when he speaks of the defense. “Where does this intensity come from? With maximum concentration and a lot of effort. We must have these two elements. If we are not performing well, perhaps changes are to be expected in the future. But I love our group. « 

Tom Thibodeau already made a strong choice by removing Kemba Walker from his rotation, which was « Best for the team » The coach had justified himself, without obtaining a significant reaction (three defeats since the announcement at the end of November). What other decisions can he make to reaffirm the defensive identity of the Knicks?

Answer in the coming days, very important, with the « road trip » of Evan Fournier and his teammates, with trips to San Antonio, Indiana and Toronto, before the perilous receptions of Milwaukee and Golden State.

Julius Randle2235.443.132.574.31.98.310.
Rj barrett2131.239.732.
Evan Fournier2228.641.539.576.
Derrick Rose1923.745.740.696.
Kemba walker1824.542.941.380.
Alec burks2224.041.943.481.
Immanuel Quickley2220.839.836.491.
Obi toppin2215.354.317.675.
Mitchell robinson1925.678.
Nerlens Noel924.151.90.0100.
Taj Gibson1118.648.
Quentin Grimes106.333.338.
Kevin knox53.740.033.350.
Jericho sims86.7100.
Miles Mcbride61.411.
Wayne selden11.

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