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David Fizdale tweaked Knicks’ defensive schemes


New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale is entering his second year with the team after losing a league-worst 65 games last season and falling into the lottery for the sixth consecutive year.

In the middle of the Knicks’ second 17-65 finish in five seasons, Fizdale’s 2018-19 team, devoid of talent mostly, was the tied for fourth-worst defensive rating, at 112.9.

Per The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov on Twitter, the former Memphis Grizzlies head coach has “tweaked” the Knicks’ defensive scheme.

“We experimented a lot last (year). We looked at a lot of different stuff, what fits best for our team. We feel like what we’re doing now is really the best package for them.”

The Knicks saw their offseason as a total overhaul of the team’s roster, signing seven new players in free agency and selecting two more at the 2019 NBA Draft last June. New York also lost players in free agency like Emmanuel Mudiay, Mario Hezonja, Noah Vonleh, and Luke Vonleh. Additionally, the team will get their first full year of Dennis Smith Jr., the NC State point guard who went one spot after them in the 2017 draft and who they later acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis trade with the Dallas Mavericks last January.

The young Knicks with the most upside on defense include second-year center Mitchell Robinson, who landed on the All-Rookie second team this past season, third-year French guard Frank Ntilikina, who is coming off a summer where he won bronze with Rudy Gobert and Team France at the FIBA World Cup, and third-year swingman Damyean Dotson who could grow into a reputable 3-and-D man on the wing.

The Knicks also signed known players who pride themselves on defense in Marcus Morris and Taj Gibson in free agency to better enhance Fizdale’s defensive identity this season.