Carmelo Anthony faces immense pressure to win after missing the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. Derrick Rose needs to stay healthy and prove he can compete at a high level again. Joakim Noah must stay healthy and prove he's worthy of the lucrative contract he received to come home.
But while there's plenty of pressure on the trio, there's just as much pressure on new coach Jeff Hornacek to help his team see things through and have everything come together.
It's not going to be easy. Much like team chemistry on the court, Hornacek's relationship with the players will take time. Anthony has seen a revolving door of coaches during his time in New York. It's up to Hornacek to earn the trust of his star and prove that he'll be here to stay. The coach needs to show Anthony they can achieve success together.
How does he go about doing that? For starters, it's well known Hornacek likes his teams to run. Playing a more up-tempo style will produce additional opportunities on offense for everyone, Anthony included. Playing at a faster pace will keep opposing defenses on their toes. If the Knicks can get after it and attack the basket quicker than the defense can react, that'll lead to easier opportunities as well. Surely, the team could opt to slow things now and put the ball in Anthony's hands as games come to a close, but for the first three quarters and then some, keeping things moving should ease the pressure off of Anthony to be the hero all the time. Hornacek has to help him see that.
A surprising pick by triangle-maven Phil Jackson to coach this team, Hornacek is now faced with not only incorporating specific triangle concepts into his own system, but teaching it to others. For Anthony and other returning players, they know how coaches likes Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis approached this, and have something to compare Hornacek to. New faces are learning these concepts for the first time. Either way, it's up to Hornacek to convince them all that he can convey it in a way that's easy enough to understand how they can work such concepts seamlessly into a successful offense.
In past seasons, players have allowed this perception of a complex system get in the way of just going out and letting things flow on the court. Hornacek needs to show his players the triangle isn't complicated, all while embracing it so prominently for the first time himself as a coach.
As the Knicks open their preseason, things should be taken with a grain of salt. Developing chemistry and understanding one another on the court, especially with so many new players, is a process. Ensuring that the players believe in Hornacek's philosophies (and his ability to teach) will be no different. An open mind will be key for the players. Patience (at least right off the bat) will be key from everyone else.