Knicks vs. Houston (Kanter, KP, Dot, and Frank analysis)

Knicks / Houston thoughts.

Enes Kanter – 12 points, (6/6), 6 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 turnovers, 0 steals, 0 blocks). Kanter does a damn good job making contact on his screens, but he needs work on defensive awareness. As you’ll see below, he either left his man completely or didn’t rotate properly on multiple occasions. He is a great paint scorer and is a great rebounder, but he keeps the big defenders so close to the rim that it’s hard to get paint drives from the ball-handler coming from perimeter. He had a couple of solid rotations on defense, but some of them were pretty bad – the activity on that end of the court is definitely better this year than in previous year’s, but it’s clear he needs work on that end.

  • Contested Harden’s drive at rim, didn’t make basket
  • Ariza drove past jack, ENES stayed too close to Capela who was 17 feet away – didn’t bother helping, just stuck with man; next possession contested drive
  • Setting strong screens
  • No activity on offense boards through 7:36 left in 2nd (had offensive rebound blocked away by Capela)
  • inside position on Tarik Black, forced black to foul him on o-reb
  • contest ally oop from Harden to Capela, ran court and got ally oop
  • screen in PNR for Jack to mid-range jumper
  • comes down on same possession, doesn’t get into Anderson and doesn’t contest an easy jumper…opposite side, travels on rhino in the post…just lower shoulder and use strength, man.
  • great rotation on Ariza drive, nobody came down to help his help defense
  • ran to defend paint, leaving thin open for shot (missed). completely left him alone…
  • soft shot in paint from THJr (great passing so far) – floater went in
  • left PJ Tucker wide open from the corner…not good
  • goes middle on Anderson on block – help from harden – Enes forces shot up through double team…open guy at 3.
  • playing defense on PNR to start 3rd quarter with Harden. Enes stuck in no-mans-land more than 6 feet away from Harden. Bucket for Houston. He left WAY too much room there
  • gets offensive rebound on KP miss, makes basket. aggressive position there
  • Defends PNR initiated by Harden, Enes backs WAY up, Lee not quick enough to get out. Harden missed, but Enes horrible defense – stuck in no man’s land…again
  • strong weak side offensive rebound, kick to THJR missed , but Enes fouled on another o-reb
  • slip screen, make layup
  • beat by Capela, Capela dunk. hands down. terrible transition defense

Kristaps Porzingis – 19 points (7-18, 0-3), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, -7). This was an interesting game from KP. I thought he showed that he can be a full time 4 (even if I think he can be even more effective from the 5, at least defensively – he’d be closer to the rim where he is an ELITE rim protector, instead of chasing 4s at the 3-point line). He looked comfortable and light on his feet when he was switched onto Harden on the perimeter (Coach, why are we switching everything…even when there is no need?), looked good shooting right over defenders (he knows he’ll have a harder time backing guys down, so he uses his length), and he’s getting better at using his length on perimeter also by backing up far enough so he won’t get beat BUT still being able to contest with his length. There were a few players on offense where had either forced a shot or took a bad shot when he had another available and this definitely wasn’t his best game offensively, but he was aggressive, which is always nice to see. I also saw him being more physical (the offensive foul on Harden was the right call, BUT KP didn’t let himself get pushed out of position – he pushed back). I’d like to see him kick it out more when he sees the double, but this is his first year as a true number one option and he’s already showing he can read the defense and hit the open man better than last year (perfect example was when double team came and he hit Enes for an easy score).

  • weak side help block when EG got past Jack and Kanter
  • KP forced shot over Anderson —> no good; should have taken off dribble, because Anderson was in face
  • KP left Anderson on perimeter to help stop drive when THJr let him get by (missed shot); nobody rotated to help. THJr overplayed EG and allowed him o go right
  • posting up Harden, went baseline didn’t make it but went up strong. had a little room to go to right
  • KP beautiful pass to Enes after double team came to him – last year he wouldn’t have seen that
  • next possession excellent defense on Harden – back up enough so he can play for drive, but was quick enough to contest
  • next possession post up Harden, shoots right over him
  • Anderson hit 3 over KP – not close enough and hands were a little lackadaisical
  • KP forced 3 from harden – contested 3 again, used length to perfection
  • shot right over PJ Tucker instead of trying to take off dribble with Tucker in his face
  • mid-range jumper driving left on secondary break
  • got position against ticket on secondary break from 12 feet, aggressively ran into him, got ball, took contact and hit jumper while being fouled
  • contests Harden drive, forcing kickoff to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (LRMAM) but didn’t have enough time to get out
  • KP beat backdoor by Anderson off ball, forced to foul
  • tried backing down Tucker @~7:00, help came and was doubled, forced shot up…but was stripped
  • stayed in front of Harden, forced to pass off. aside from one play where he was turned around, he’s done a great job when switched onto Harden
  • KP shot from 12 feet over defense
  • KP switched onto Harden; Harden fake drive, step back jumper, well contested, went in
  • comes back next possession, faces up on LRMAM shoots right over him  – went in and fouled
  • LRMAM gets long rebound, KP not out far enough to contest, LRMAM 3 – didn’t run after the contest, just kind of jogged…no effort there
  • missed jumper over Harden. went up for fadeaway instead of going up. Harden was giving him baseline too, so if he had taken his time (or recognized the positioning, he could have had a layup/dunk/easier shot
  • didn’t contest perimeter shot on other end
  • contest full court pass from Harden, pass too long, forced turnover
  • posts up Harden, picks up offensive foul. grabs jersey. easy call, but i love the aggression. he’s being physical this game
  • Zhou has ball 4 feet behind line, contests it
  • doubles Zhou with Frank (weird a double team came…but it did work). forces jump ball (Frank jump)
  • chases Zhou off line WAY too hard – lackadaisical effort, should have had short choppy steps. Zhou drove right around after pump fake, got fouled by willy

Frank Ntilkina – 2 points (1-7, 0-4), 8 assists, 1 rebound, 5 steals, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, -14. Right now, Frank is an awesome defender. Usually defense takes a little longer to get used to playing in the NBA, especially for point guards, but he looked as good / if not better than he looked last year in France playing for Strasbourg. He uses his length to really pester the ball handler on the perimeter, has quick feet that are never stagnant (stays balanced in mid-foot), and he really knows how to use his length. The best example of this was his defense on Harden at the end of the third quarter. Harden was trying to get by, but Frank stayed right there and forced a miss. Even his defense on an Eric Gordon 3 point make (pump fake, slide right, took 3) had Frank playing great defense. Right now, I think he’s one of the top perimeter defenders in basketball (at least on guards – needs to get stronger to better guard 3s). Oh yeah, he also stopped a 2 on 1 fast break by himself and another secondary (?) break by tipping the ball out of bounds. He closes out better than 99% of the NBA because of his short steps and his use of his long arms. The defense we all knew about from last year, but his passing today was the best it’s looked this season (not a slight at all). He was hitting guys right in their shooting motion and had some great paint passes (to KOQ, hit Willy a couple of times, etc), but my favorite passes were the ones involving him simply passing the ball up the court instead of dribbling. I think the Knicks scored 3-4 easy times just because he kicked the ball up to Dotson instead of Frank dribbling the ball up the court. For something so simple, so few players do this. It gets the offense started faster (especially on fast breaks), but it also gets the defense way out of position. Lonzo Ball made a killing of this last year at UCLA and now we see Frank has that same basketball IQ – he makes the right read, the smart read, and successfully completes the pass. He still needs work on his shot, but he didn’t let his misses affect him – he kept looking aggressive and took good shots.

  • first defense possession forced Harden right – stopped him from driving
  • switched onto LRMAM
  • first one back on defense when Houston runs break – stops Nene and hits him at the FT line to stop momentum and the rim run
  • allowed Harden to get strong hand drive on secondary break; didn’t get position quick enough to draw charge (Harden had an extended elbow)
  • endless wingspan leads to Harden turnover
  • beautiful hesitation @:50 leading to pass to KOQ (should have reverse pivoted to center, but Kyle O’Quinn (KOQ) lifted pivot foot and traveled)
  • perfect closeout on Tucker @:40
  • handoff from Dougie, Nene under screen, Frank no hesitation with the jumper at the end of the quarter (miss, but like aggression)
  • disrupted drive from EG by reaching a bit – stayed close enough to defender to make sure kickoff wasn’t possible but came in enough to help
  • pressures LRMAM right after crossing half-court…that wingspan is so long
  • catch and shoot three on secondary break, no hesitation, missed but great shot
  • rotated out to EG, forced kickoff to rhino (made 3)
  • entry pass to Beasley, went to screen away but might have had the room to cut …I’d like to see him fake the screen and cut HARD to the basket
  • PNR with Beas, got Anderson on him, passed instead of trying to attack
  • took Anderson off dribble, didn’t beat him –> he got Anderson under basket, came back to side he drove from, threw up layup and missed – badly forced shot that time
  • got over screen from Anderson while guarding EG, but Beasley switched allowing them to drive and kick for three
  • single-handedly stopped secondary break – stayed perfect position between Anderson (and EG?) – deflection, Houston ball
  • gets over screen, Anderson cuts on KP with KP fouling (see above) – great defense from Frank, though. kept EG from taking floater @10ft
  • screen at top, Frank hedges in – ball doesn’t come to his side, but he’s watching ball but staying in great position on defense. splitting court in half. defensive IQ is insane
  • comes in to help on drive, gets back out to EG, contests pump fake, EG puts ball on court steps right and hits 3 but he really knows how to use his wingspan. that was great defense. didn’t overcommit on the contest and was still with him the entire team. great defense, better shot
  • poorly run fast break – low pass on what looked like a layup alley-oop to Lee? knicks end up turning the ball over.
  • passes to KOQ, soft cut – id like to see him make a more decisive cut off ball
  • pass to Lance Thomas (LT) – but he wasn’t looking, fouled called (i think?) on ariza
  • per – has Nene on switch, no move made – passes to THJr who takes off balance fadeaway
  • Harden goes under screen, Frank decisive in his move and shoots right away. I like the aggression
  • nearly saves Knicks’ possession, only knick running back on defense on break, kicks ball out of bounds on a 2on1 break. great reaction / defense there
  • pick on Frank, goes under, Harden hits shot from 5? feet beyond 3
  • comes back right after long Harden 3, attacks right off dribble, gets into paint, half shot / floater (with two hands) – should have used natural 1-handed floater
  • got ball after rebound, instead of dribbling ball up, he passed it up, Dotson passes to KOQ for foul – SUPER smart. ball moves faster up court if passed; knows he doesn’t need to dribble it every time up court
  • strips Harden of ball, gave up dribble, jumped, and tried passing…felt pressure from Nene. should have held it or waited for nene to run into him to draw foul
  • switched onto Anderson, Anderson dribbles hard, gets a little separation, hits jumper. looks like Frank might be a little tired – footwork was slower
  • sees mismatch with Harden on KOQ, gets ball to KOQ but nothing happens
  • soft closeout on Harden corner 3 off of out of bounds play. no help on that side so couldn’t chase off line ?
  • beautiful (no look!) bounce pass to Douggie cutting backdoor — made basket and foul
  • Harden tried taking him off dribble, Frank stays with him for ~10 seconds in PERFECT position. hands reaching ever so slightly to keep him honest with the dribble and make sure Harden keeps ball on string. forces harden to take fadeaway 3. missed it. AWESOME defense right there
  • Frank passes to ball on LT slip screen. quick pass from Frank. LT missed it, but that goes in if its KP. great passing read
  • switched onto Tarik, EG misses floater, picture perfect boxout from Frank
  • again, passed ball up to get break started earlier. led to Dotson layup and foul
  • bad pass into Willy’s post up. didn’t have position
  • pin-down for Douggie – good pass, Douggie easy 3.
  • gets over screen, gets hand in lane and appears to have tipped the pass
  • drives to paint on break, sucks defense in, LT open 3, missed. KP makes it?
  • pass up to Dotson to beat Houston’s defense. layup for Dotson. so smart pushing ball up and not dribbling
  • contest long 3
  • passes ball ahead to dotson who hits EG with the hesitation dribble, Tarik falls, dotson hits jumper
  • takes handoff from Willy, comes off dribbling hard. ref calls foul, but he came off strong and was looking to shoot. love that
  • PERFECT rotation on Capela’s roll. Frank had great position, could have tried to take charge but didn’t. Capela got ORB and scored but, again, position was great. 3(?) Knicks near Frank and none of them come down with ball. nobody wanted it enough…terrible effort
  • comes off aggressive off a screen to shoot. misses shot but thats the aggression we’re looking for
  • doubles Zhou with KP. forces jump ball (frank jump)
  • Willy inside position. Frank a little floating pass. Willy turns and dunks. perfect pass.
  • hit Willy on another slipped screen (Willy needs to make contact sometimes on his screens). again great pass – Willy to Douggie for 3 (missed)

Damyean Dotson – 9 points (4/5, 0/1, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, +/-0). Dot runs the court harder than any wing the Knicks have had in years. Every move he takes on offense has a purpose – comes hard off screens every time he has one set, runs hard up the break to get the offense started faster, etc. He gives it his all with every move he makes, and it’s awesome to watch. There was only one shot he took I didn’t like (the three off the dribble on Anderson), and that was it. Had a smart read off a pin-down hitting Willy for the pass, but it was a bit too far ahead. He was smart after getting the ball from Frank attacking the rim / getting to his spot (that hesitation he put on Tarik was awesome). You can also tell he wants to defend and is good at it, too. He had a couple of mishaps (one time trying to read Harden’s movement to the rim, which ended in Harden getting an open 3 – Dot thought he was cutting), but aside from that he was solid. He can get a little too over-zealous on defense with his hands, but he plays with energy on that end – which, at worst, is always a very good base to start with. Dot runs off screens / moves harder / with more purpose than any shooting guard the Knicks have had in a while (harder than THJr, who also is great at this). Once he gets more playing time and continues to work on his shot (which, as evidenced by his film at the University of Houston last year, is definitely going to come), I think he’s going to be at worst a hard defending – 3/D guy off the bench. He has a bright future.

  • let Harden get inside position on rebound — he scored on offensive glass
  • receives pass from Frank on break, quick pass to KOQ who was fouled
  • crossover right into 3 in Anderson’s face. looked super comfortable doing that
  • pin down screen, had defender behind him ran hard, didn’t get ball. hard strong cut. he moves with purpose
  • attacks d glass. uncontested, but, again, he did it with purpose
  • missed jumper off dribble. defense was right there in his face – not a fan of that shot
  • ran to corner hard, Frank passes up, hard attack baseline for layup AND foul. nice take
  • ran up, Frank passes up, layup for Dot
  • ran up, Frank passes, Dotson hesitation dribble, Tarik falls, Dotson hits jumper
  • gets Capela on switch, hits willy in post bc he has Ariza guarding him. Willy travels, but that was great recognition from Dot hitting the guy with the mismatch
  • came off curl from Willy, gets pass, tries to hit Willy but pass is a little bit too far in front
  • Dot got over aggressive – thought Harden was cutting to basket but Harden faded and got an open 3 (missed it)
  • Dot pulls Ariza as he gets screened. silly foul…he got lazy
  • Harden had Dot behind him on his hip while dribbling, dot still used length to contest harden into a missed shot
  • aggressive on ball defense but too much hands. its obvious he wants to defend.
  • Had a step on Zhou (on switch), kicked it back to KP for an open 3
  • kicked ball up to KP – scores ball on EG. Dot kept running hard to the rim (in case miss, no call, etc)
  • KP setting screens for Dotson – two of them on same possession – dot runs HARD off of them. he keeps running with a purpose off screens.

10 minute highlights from game (*NOTE, the times above do not correspond to times below – they are the times during the game when a specific play happened*)

Knicks vs Rockets Highlights


2 thoughts on “Knicks vs. Houston (Kanter, KP, Dot, and Frank analysis)”

  1. Excellent article. A thoughtful event based breakdown that only a trained eye could deliver. Hope to see more of these deep dive analysis of NBA and Knicks in particular.


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