Jake Brown | Twitter |
Accountability. Accountability. Accountability. That is something David Fizdale is ready to hammer down. And It's something that Jeff Hornacek failed to do in his two forgettable seasons coaching the Knicks.
According to Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry, current NBA players, coaches, and executives all spoke highly of Fizdale, calling him someone who holds people accountable. That attribute, mixed with being a "tireless worker" and an "innovative basketball mind," all add up to what the Knicks have been missing.
Also, a high character head coach is something the Knicks badly needed. Fizdale fills that void. Nobody used the words "high character" when speaking about Hornacek. The 43-year-old Fizdale is a dozen years younger and can get into the ears of these players. If someone is playing poorly, Fizdale will sit them.
Fizdale is a coach that will make changes when needed, whereas Hornacek didn't make enough adjustments. By the time he made any, the season had already slipped away. Two years in a row, the Knicks season took a complete 180 at nearly the exact same time. The team went from playoff contender to pretender almost overnight, and that falls directly on the coach.
Holding guys accountable is essential when you have a young roster like the Knicks do. Look at the youth the Knicks have:
Frank Ntilikina, 19, Kristaps Porzingis, 22, Emmanuel Mudiay, 22, Luke Kornet, 22, Troy Williams, 23, Damyean Dotson, 24, Enes Kanter, 25, Trey Burke, 25, Ron Baker, 25, Tim Hardaway Jr., 26.
At 25, Kanter is considered a "leader." That shows you how young and inexperienced this team is, especially when it comes to meaningful games and playoff games.
Fizdale is going to get in a guy like Mudiay's ear if he isn't hustling back on defense. He's going to get on a guy if he isn't moving the basketball, getting around screens on defense, or for that matter, playing defense. That is especially important when the Knicks' backcourt is young and needs someone to get on them when needed. You saw almost no progression over the year from Ntilikina, and that will be different under Fizdale.
Fizdale started coaching at 23 years old and has been doing it for 20 years now. He comes into the job with a passion for this city, and always wanting to be a part of it. Well now he's got his chance in New York City at Madison Square Garden.
Let's be real, though. It's May. The season is a long ways away, and the Knicks have a lot of work to do on this roster. Everything sounds good now, and Fizdale is saying all the right things, but in the end he's going to need some more playmakers if he wants anyone to take this team seriously.
There are pieces in place to build around and some good young talent, but now the front office needs to make the right pick in the draft, and make the trades and free agent signings to give Fizdale the tools to work with. But Knicks fans should be excited this time around with the coaching hire, and it's been a long, long time since that has been the case.