Kristaps Porzingis notes difference Knicks have become adept to defense, passing
At this time last season, the New York Knicks were in a favorable situation matching the same record as they possess at this point at 7-2, but a few things have changed.
Management has been overhauled with the removal of former president Phil Jackson and his philosophy of the triangle offense, which the team struggled to run effectively while getting acquainted with new head coach Jeff Hornacek.
There is also the trade that sent star Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder which automatically placed Porzingis in role of the team’s leader.
Saturday’s 118-91 win over the Sacramento Kings moved the Knicks up the rankings placing them as the current fifth place in the Eastern Conference, on pace to have a better record than last season’s 11-9 start.
Porzingis spoke with ESPN’s Ian Begley to explain why things are different this time and why the team won’t take the same nosedive as last years 31 win Knicks team.
“That whole first part of the season we were playing well above .500 and we played off of our talent, just based on our energy,” he said. “And we really didn’t have the fundamentals. I felt we really didn’t have the fundamentals as a team.”
The talent was there on paper to become a playoff team, there were far too many little things on the floor the team did not do to be successful consistently.
Both Anthony and Derrick Rose weren’t focused on defense, and would sometimes seemingly shun the coach’s plan of putting together a tight knit offense integrated with the triangle, where in fact most of the players weren’t fond of in the first place.
This year Porzingis is the lone star player on the team. The roster mainly consists of younger players with something to prove and looking to cement a name for themselves. The difference it makes is that the players are sticking with the coach’s schemes, and it’s paying off so far.
The Knicks have risen from 22nd to 10th in assist percentage, and while they are far from defensive stalwarts, they no longer allow the same amount of points per possession, giving a more collective effort.
“And then this year the difference is we try to play hard defense for 48 minutes, we never give up,” added Porzingis. “We’re getting a lot of assists as a team; we’re playing together, we’re sharing the ball. And then everybody is involved and everybody’s dangerous. I think we have a better connection this year as a team.”
If they’re able to maintain their current direction, the Knicks can begin to knock off their reputation for being unstable and start building around their 7-foot-3 big man who is sure to attract free agents in the future as he improves.