Jake Brown | Twitter |
You may not be sure anymore if you're watching basketball or you're on the Superman roller coaster at Disney World. If the Knicks season so far hasn't taken at least a few years off your life, well you're stronger than most people. If you have any hair to turn grey or lose, unlike me, it probably would have happened at this point. You have had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in just 35 games of basketball. And there's still another 37 games to deal with...
* After 0-3 start, Knicks win 3 straight and 6 of 7, Porzingis is 30-plus point machine
* Kanter stands up for Ntilikina against LeBron, Cavs
* 28-0 run catiputles Knicks 3rd quarter comeback against Raptors
* Knicks win 4 straight, ends with win in Melo's return to MSG as Michael Beasley scores 32.
* Knicks lose first three games, look terrible, can't score
* Knicks lose three straight Thanksgiving weekend, then lose Tim Hardaway, Jr.
* Knicks lose four straight, including three straight heartbreakers Christmas week
* Hardaway has missed 14 games, Kristaps Porzingis has missed 6 games
These are just some of the ups and downs. There is more that go in between those lines, but we would be here all day if I kept going. After these four straight losses, now at 17-18, 2-12 on the road, and 14 of 19 coming up on the road, it's time for the Knicks to make changes.
Those changes begin with Jeff Hornacek making adjustments. They aren't going to fire Hornacek and there's a chance he maybe doesn't even get fired after the season. This team so far has exceeded expectations in some ways, but in others, they have been a disappointment. When things don't work out and a team is losing, it falls on the head coach. And a good coach in a spot like this makes lineup changes, rotation changes, and figures out how he could better his team. Here's a couple of things that can be done:
1. Call up Trey Burke from the G-League
With Hardaway still out and nobody knowing when he's going to be back, the Knicks could really use another scorer in the backcourt. They are not getting much production at all offensively off the bench. Frank Ntilikina hasn't lit up the scoreboard ever, neither has Ron Baker, and Jarrett Jack hasn't done a ton of scoring as the starter.
Burke is averaging 26.9 PPG and 5.5 APG in 37 MPG in 22 games in the G-League. There's not much more he can do down there. He's also shooting almost 43 percent from downtown, where the Knicks continue to struggle mightily. What's the worst thing that can happen if you replace Ramon Sessions with Burke on the roster and give him some minutes? We have seen the upside of Burke with the Jazz, and he can give this team a much-needed spark off the bench.
2. Play Joakim Noah and Willy Hernangomez
Having Noah and Hernangomez on the roster is pointless if they are rotting away on the bench. They aren't the best guys on the bench, but what's the issue with giving them some playing time? Noah at times can be a spark, and is pretty good defensively and on the glass. Enes Kanter has been tremendous, but it's always Kyle O'Quinn having to carry the load in the paint. Why not have Noah and Hernangomez get some minutes, give the other guys a breather, and give them more of a presence in the paint? They will never get a chance to get into a rhythm if they aren't getting at least some time on the floor that isn't garbage time.
3. Change the starting lineup
There's a couple changes that can be made to the starting lineup. First off, it's time to start Ntilikina over Jack. He needs to continue to grow as a player, and it's time for him to get time with the best players on the floor over the second unit. He's shown more confidence at times, but starting him would give him more juice, and have him look at the basket more when he is open.
Why is Lance Thomas continuing to start? He's a very nice defensive player, but with Hardaway out, you can't be sacrificing offense. Thomas is a good guy to come off the bench and play defense, but the Knicks need another scorer in the starting lineup. Beasley should really be starting at the three, but you can also live with Doug McDermott starting there. Beasley makes sense at the three because you aren't making him guard biggers guys in the paint, and you make him guard the perimeter more. He's shown us offensively that he could put up 30 on any given night if he is in a rhythm. Why not try something different and have him out there more?
These are all shifts that can be made in-house without having to go and make a trade. It's frustrating to see a coach accept losing and not do anything about it. Throwing the same guys out there on the road every single time only to lose is just failing to do your job. These moves may not make the Knicks win on the road, but I guarantee you it's not going to make them worse.
Hornacek has been awful at making changes, and last year the team quit on him and he admitted it. He says it won't happen this year, but do you really trust that? Let's see something different out there so this team doesn't have a tailspin at the exact same time as they did last season.