Things haven’t started exactly the way New York Knicks management envisioned things to be; a lackluster start, a myriad of complications with the offensive system, and a hollowed out roster that was barely put together this offseason.
After appointing Kurt Rambis as the team’s new defensive assistant, an interesting idea came from one of the players, Courtney Lee.
The shooting guard suggested that instead of practicing defending against the triangle — a system that no other team in the league uses — they practice against the pick-and-roll, a much more popular offensive set.
On Tuesday, the Knicks spent the majority of their practice time working on defense against a variety of pick-and-roll sets, a shift-in-gears the players seemed to believe was much overdue.
“Now we have a legit way of doing it and we’ve got to stick to that script,” Carmelo Anthony told Howie Kussoy of the New York Post. “The foundation was laid. We went through it, we had a two-hour practice and a long film session. We went over the schemes and the foundation. That’s all you can ask for is to work at it. It was a good day of laying something down.”
Head coach Jeff Hornacek said the staff stressed that players need to switch off fewer screens, which has resulted in too many open looks for their opponents. The Knicks rank 27th in points allowed (109.8) and opponent’s field goal percentage (.464) per game, while ranking third-worst in the NBA in opponent’s three-point percentage (.379).
“We want to try and be more aggressive on our man,” Hornacek said. “I think we’re probably switching too much. It’s not like we won’t ever [switch], but we’re relying on switching. We want our guys to guard the guy that has the ball, not expect help. Try to guard the guy like you’re not gonna get any and then the help will be there. It puts a little more responsibility on the guy that has the ball.”
“We felt going into the season that switching might’ve been a strength of ours and maybe it’s not.”
The Knicks have a lot of rough edges to polish and defense is only the main one to start with. Time will only tell if they can figure out those issues before it starts costing them wins.