There is no surprise New York Knicks ranks in the lowest spots in the Eastern Conference of the NBA standings with only the Washington Wizards having a worse record than Knicks’ three wins in 12 games.
Both teams were expected to be bad this season as New York continues its latest rebuild while Wizards deal with the ignominy of watching its female side-Washington Mystics-win the team’s first ever WNBA title and Washington Nationals clinch its first ever World Series.
The Wizards are without All Star Point Guard John Wall possibly till next season comes around due to injury and don’t have enough talent to thrive even in the weak East. Beating Dallas Mavericks 106-103 was bound to arouse a lot of emotions for the Knicks considering the personalities involved in the game.
Former Knick Kristaps Porzingis played at Madison Square Garden for the first time since reportedly requesting to be traded last season.
The trade had Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway join Porzingis in Dallas. In return, Dennis Smith Jnr. got shipped out-DeAndre Jordan included-to New York despite getting drafted ninth overall and initially tabbed as a potential franchise player. So a lot was at stake beyond the final score and for New York Knicks this certainly was the case as the ripples of the game go way beyond the win.
Despite preaching to the entire world of its plans to take the long road to glory instead of a quick fix like the team has done and failed miserably for several years, reports indicated the Knicks were ready to blow it all up. Coach David Fizdale was the first in line to get fired with other reports angling towards an exit for Executives Scott Perry and Steve Mills.
However, beating a dark horse contender for the playoffs in the Western Conference in Dallas Mavericks gives Fizdale breathing room to see out another week in the league as Head Coach. Another win in a marquee matchup should get Fizdale in the hot seat for half the season and that’s a good thing for the Knicks.
Constantly shuffling through Coaches isn’t far from the best approach in building a team; as a matter of fact, it is pretty lame to blame the coach for all team faults when other factors especially context aren’t considered. Fizdale is a fine trainer by all standards first as an Assistant Coach and in his season and half stint with Memphis Grizzlies; Fizdale took Memphis to the playoffs before delivering the infamous “Take that for Data” line.
Because New York doesn’t have enough talent on its roster, the team has consistently fallen short in games despite competing well in most of the games. It was good to see the players’ hard work pay off in the win column against Dallas but beyond the win it gives Knicks the right foundation to build its way up to relevance. Laying down the foundation of playing hard and competing is great for a long down trodden franchise taking Los Angeles Clippers as the prime example.
Collecting good blue chip players over the years to form a solid team, the Clippers topped the cake by signing All Stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard ahead of this season. The Knicks could recreate a similar path to success by building on RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jnr. and Mitchell Robinson in the long term and the remaining few years at the top from Marcus Morris and Taj Gibson.
Finishing the season with one of the worst records is bound to happen and getting the chance or chances to land potentially franchise altering talented players high in the draft is also bound to happen. That should help Knicks climb back to respectable.
A host of quarters roasted and continue to roast the Knicks for not doing more to get Porzingis to stay, for not making the trade for Anthony Davis and for not making a concerted effort to sign a top free agent this past offseason.
However, it makes sense to not go after Davis who bought in on playing for the Lakers alongside LeBron James than struggle every night to sniff the playoffs; Davis is injury prone too. Per what transpired in Boston, Kyrie Irving isn’t the type of player of to build a franchise around and Kevin Durant is also coming off a major injury that could see his play go sideways when he returns.
There are a lot of positives in New York Knicks “futuristic” approach but the team needs needs to stick to it and the win over Dallas Mavericks gives them real reasons to do so.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter