Thoughts from the Knicks/Magic game.
(K)nickles for Your Thoughts
- I know I talk about this a lot, but Doug’s defense really is great. He plays great off-ball defense rotating where he’s supposed to, excellent playing ball-denial defense, and is very good in straight up man-to-man. The shooting efficiency is there and every shot that goes up I think is going in, but the defense doesn’t get talked about that much.
- Knicks are running a bunch of floppy / flex action to get Doug open looks. Gotta think that the flex stuff is coming from Jeff’s days playing for Utah.
- THJr needs to play like he did tonight every single time he steps on the court (minus the turnovers, of course…way too many turnovers that were his fault even if he wasn’t the one in control of the ball – such as Jack’s pass to THJr at the angled 3 and THJr not going to the ball to get it, allowing for Simmons to reach in and steal it). He was crashing the boards, playing good defense, and he was being aggressive on offense and not just playing as a shooter. Instead of using his shot to set up his drive, the last 5 quarters he has done a great job of using the mid-range/threat of attacking the rim to set up the open looks.
- KOQ keeps showcasing his passing ability. I know Knicks fans see how great his passing is, but I’m still waiting for others to take note. He really is an elite passing big. I’ll keep yelling this from the site, but KOQ’s value to this team cannot be understates. Aside from KP, he’s been the Knicks’ most consistent and impactful two-way player this season.
- Lance Thomas needs to limit himself to spot up shots, off-ball cuts, and pump-fake one dribble in moves. It seems like whenever he tries to do too much on offense, something bad happens. When nothing bad happens, it just looks awkward and painful to watch.
- Beasley’s minutes should all go to Doug or Dotson. Dotson plays defense HARD, can shoot a bit (even if he hasn’t hit a three this year, he was a great shooter in college) and loves running the break, and every move he makes serves a purpose – no wasted motion. Doug is Doug (see above and basically every other game analysis I’ve done).
- Added thoughts to remove any confusion – Doug and LT can handle minutes in second units as small ball 4s. Dotson and Lee can handle the 2/3. The idea is to remove Beasley’s minutes, while maximizing the effectiveness of other players. The 19 minutes Beas played tonight, I think, should have gone ~6 each to LT, Dot, and McDermott. Part of it is getting Dotson minutes, who can be a nice 3/D wing, but the other part is to limit LT’s minutes when he’s forcing it (like tonight) and keep Doug fresh – he’s always running around on offense and hustling on defense, and I’m not sure giving him many more minutes will be best for him or the team.
- Ever since Vogel moved Gordon to the 4, he’s been killing it. Not sure why the Magic ever played him at the 3, but it’s nice to see them making the right move. Credit to AG for taking a MASSIVE jump in his shooting, as well. The three to end the 3rd quarter was a thing of beauty. Perfectly balanced, catch and shoot.
- Willy got minutes! Had a nice follow up to a Doug missed layup (Willy missed the tip, then got the second attempt) to start his time on the floor. First defensive possession, Ross uses Biyombo pick and roll to get into paint – Willy’s caught on his heels, moving slow backwards, and unable to contest…he just looked really off balance there. Received high pass from Jack in paint, kept ball high, nice finish over Biyombo. Payton gets into paint and Willy does a good job helping once Payton got to the block – forced Payton to kick it to the corner (made 3, but good help defense). Slipped PnR with THjr and cut to the rim for a nice lay in. Fournier comes off screen and Willy does a GREAT job helping once Lee falls…unfortunately, he also left Fournier wide open, leaving him an uncontested jumper (miss). No help from team on the offensive glass for his man (Biyombo). PnR with THJr, nice pass from THJr, Willy gets ball and tries to finish over defense – fouled instead. Nice lead pass from THJr and strong take from Willy. Nice lefty hook over Vuc in the post – he missed it, but followed the miss and finished on the second attempt. Vuc/Fournier PnR, Willy late on contesting it…bad. Vuc/Fournier PnR, Willie took a terrible angle…Fournier takes advantage and finishes in paint with the dunk. He also missed a couple of boxouts.
- Kanter did the same stuff he does eery game – scored in paint, but was completely exposed on defense. A nice sum of his defense was a PnR with Vucevic and Payton in the first half where Kanter sinks to the FT line…leaving Kanter, a 40% three point shooter, wide open. No surprise that he was a -17 in the game.
- Knicks lived in the mid-range today, which is not a good way to play. 12 attempted threes…also, not good. Threes are more efficient than mid-range 2s…and yet the Knicks kept taking the mid-range jumpers.
- Tonight’s game was going to be hard going in – second night of a back to back after a hard-fought game vs the Hornets last night and no KP. There were more mental mistakes then effort mistakes, which is both concerning and understandable, but this game showcases how important KP is to this team. There was never a point in this game where I was thinking that the offense (or defense) was moving fluidly for more than a few possessions at a time. KP is the hub on offense and defense, and playing without him creates a huge hole that requires multiple players to help fill.
- Turnovers KILLED the Knicks this game. Poor passes (entry to post, weak passes on perimeter, passes that simply shouldn’t have been made because the look was bad, etc) and other careless mistakes…not a good look.
- The Knicks were unable to defend the three. They were getting lost off ball and were late closing out on some threes (Willy and Enes in the PnR…). Need to chase off line and force into long 2s.
Frank Ntilkina – Grade: A. His passing was on point today, leaving some awesome passes in the PnR. Defense was pesky, and continues to show flashes of confidence in his jumper (baseline and 15 foot jumper in the 4th when Vuc dropped too far back).
- First play, PnR pass to KOQ was kicked by defender
- Orlando pushing ball, Frank first one back and fouls Simmons to prevent layup
- THJr misses jumper, Frank tips ball over AG box out – Mack picks ball up, Frank comes over to strip and ends up with a jump ball. Great hustle.
- PnR with Thomas – perfect pass leading Thomas to the rim for a layup and foul
- Guarding Fournier 28 from basket, got caught with the hand-check…stupid foul
- Frank gets by Mack, waits for defense to jump by and hits KOQ with a pass for the dunk
- Fournier (? missed who it was) passing to Mack – Frank hedges at him, Mack feels rushed, ends up tipping ball and getting called for backdoor. Smart play by Frank, but meaningful.
- Trapped mack in corner with Thomas- lead to turnover
- Ball tipped on missed shot from Ross, Frank gets rebound
- Frank pulls up from 20 as clock winding down
- Frank on side, PnR going back to middle – ignores pick and pulls up from baseline. He makes the jumper, but had the lane.
- Frank PnR with KOQ, Frank gets to FT line and takes jumper – hesitates before taking the jumper. Should have been a smooth jumper coming off his left handed dribble. I’m sure the confidence to take that shot will come with more playing time.
- Payton uses screen to get Frank off of him, Frank recovers and contests shot – Payton’s shot is WELL short.
- Down screen for Doug, Frank hits with pass for easy jumper
- Payton/AG PnR. AG left wide open. Not Frank’s fault – appears to have been a miscommunication between Beas and Frank, as it was Beasley’s man who hit the jumper and there was no reason for Beas to go help on Payton.
- Knicks set baseline screen for Lee – Le comes up for angled mid-range jumper (made)
- Frank turnover trying to make entry pass into Kanter – should have taken a better angle on the pass, or just not have passed it at all. Was pressured on the look, and Orlando was playing good post-denial defense.
- Frank gets back to Payton after a switch, but recover wasn’t quick enough. Payton gets into paint and kicked to corner three (miss). This is one of the first delayed plays on defense Frank has made this season.
- Frank drives on AG for a floater with time running out. Nice recognition of the shot clock winding down, even though he missed the look.
- Frank had his hand on Payton and Payton pushed it off. What does Frank do? Puts it back on. Love this attitude.
- 3:15-3:00 left in quarter, he does a great job of staying in front of Payton and hedging over to Vucevic once he gets the ball – forces him to put the ball on the floor and make a move he clearly has no interest in making. Great help defense.
- Frank/KOQ side PnR. Nice lead pass from KOQ (behind Vuc’s back) to Frank leading to a layup from KOQ. It seems like every time they run the PnR, Frank finds him for a good look. I’m curious what the stats are there…
- Frank gets pass from Lee at the FT line on the secondary break. He’s open for the floater / jumper from ~12, but hesitates again. Second time he hesitated within 12 when he has the good look.
- Frank pass to Doug for the angled / top of the break 3 (make).
- Frank, KOQ, Lee all run the break. Lee hits Frank with the pass about 8 feet away, who shuffles the pass to KOQ for the layup. Nice look, even if the spacing on the break was terrible.
- Picked up dribble on wing with AG guarding him and forced an entry pass again (this time to Lance) – turnover. Second time this game he’s done that. If he’s in that position, he should look to call a timeout (if the Knicks have some remaining) or yell for help. He should never, ever, force the pass there. Allows for an easy fastbreak for the opposing team.
- Ball deflects off ref, Frank recognizes that ref is part of floor, runs after ball, picks it up, starts fast break, nice little back pass / no look bounce pass behind him to THJr for the lay-in.
- Willy/Frank PnR. Vuc drops too far back in defense and Payton caught behind – Frank pulls up for the 15 foot jumper with no hesitation.
- Hard drive into the paint, but blocked by Isaac. Even though he was blocked, I like the aggressiveness. As he gets more comfortable driving, I’m looking for some more drive and kicks for three.