The Knicks' opening night loss to the Cavaliers looked like a preseason game for many reasons. The contest served as quite the wakeup call. New York subsequently displayed better behaviors and an increased level of communication in their game two victory over Memphis.
Plenty of players --- Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Kyle O'Quinn among them --, showed great improvement from one game to the next. That surely gave the Knicks a big boost, but head coach Jeff Hornacek should be praised for a key conscious decision he made as well. He hasn't gotten enough credit for it just yet.
Three fewer players took the court for the Knicks against the Grizzlies, shoring up what should develop into a consistent ten man rotation. Game one was treated much like a preseason contest because the minutes were divided up relatively evenly and everyone was given a shot. When it's time to compete and something more substantial at stake, that's not an efficient strategy. The better players should receive the bulk of playing time.
Lee and Co. benefitted from more minutes and the extra votes of confidence. Four of five starters (Noah fouled out) played 32 minutes or more. Four of five reserves saw between 16 and 19 minutes of action. Each starter had a positive/minus rating, and no reserve shot less than 50%. The positive results continue from there.
The tighter rotation helped all around, because it gave players a more consistent opportunity to find their respective rhythms. They were given chances to dust off more rust and shake out of any cold streaks they may have been experiencing. What's more, it was also good for chemistry because teammates were able to get more comfortable playing alongside the same sets of guys. On top of all this, Hornacek's choice to shorten things up shed more light on the Knicks' most talented players, and squeezed out the couple that may have been more of a liability on the floor.
As far as the actual players, Hornacek seems to have a good feel for who deserves to be on the floor. While Mindaugas Kuzminskas sat out on Saturday, he's arguably the closest on the outside looking in. It would make sense for him to rotate and compete for minutes with Willy Hernangomez and perhaps even Justin Holiday for that tenth rotation spot, depending on the matchup.
Either way, a shortened rotation figures to continue benefitting the Knicks moving forward.