Inside the Landscape of the NBA, there have been a few surprises. One of the surprises Knicks fans should pay attention to is the team’s overall defense. Between Ntilikina and Robinson, it was known that they could potentially cultivate a great defensive culture. That potential, considering the supporting cast, has been met to this point.
Starting things off, the Knicks are not without room for improvement across the board. Offensively, specifically out of timeouts or out of bounds plays, NYK is right around the back of the pack. Free throw efficiency with how much this team gets to the line, overall the offense has been a struggle since out the gate.
This piece will be looking at the other side of the ball that isn’t getting as much deserved attention league-wide outside of UTA, LAL, and ORL.
|Points Allowed PG
|Los Angeles Lakers
|Oklahoma City Thunder
|Los Angeles Clippers
|New York Knicks
|Portland Trail Blazers
|San Antonio Spurs
|Golden State Warriors
|New Orleans Pelicans
Above we see that while teams have come varying games played-to-date, on a per-game basis, we’re right around the middle of the pack when it comes to points allowed per game. Each team has their reasons and excuses but even being 14th on this list is misleading. In over half of the Knicks losses (six in particular), there’s a trend that will define the defense over the season. If the problem is identified properly and addressed, this team could be a top 10 defense in the league. On the flip-side, this issue can flatten the team’s morale and effort defensively if it isn’t addressed or players aren’t held accountable.
The six games that highlight this issue in order to start with the home opener against BOS. The issue arises again in the concurrent losses to SAC and DET. After the first win against Dallas things could have turned for the better but both of the next games against CLE and CHI, the same problem has a bright light on it. Lastly was the first game of the season verse the surprising Hornets. The main issue is the Knicks PnR defense on quick perimeter shooters. Adding to it, they were usually one of if not the best shooters for their respective teams.
The numbers above were pulled on 11/18 prior to any games being played. What it illustrates is along with the reoccurring defensive lapses on defending three-point shooters is defensively capable despite the problem. Objectively speaking, if that issue can be addressed then the earlier belief about the team being a potential top 10 defense in the league becomes less far-fetched. It is also just one thing to present a problem but another thing entirely to fix or propose a fix.
Basketball is a game of emotion, one of the runs and who is hot and who isn’t and whats working at the moment. “The best defense is a good offense,” is a common enough phrase heard from a bevy of coaches at all levels of the game, whether professional or recreational. The term is often used to describe a team outscoring another opponent without playing much real defense themselves. Words can have different interpretations and phrases that can be looked at from a plethora of varying ways and this phrase applies to the Knicks in a way some may haven’t thought of before.
“The best defense is a good offense.”
One of it’s least used “basketball truths” from that phrase is that playing well on offense can energize and stand to invigorate the team’s defense. Defensive players like Frank, Mitch, and Morris rarely need a push to give it their all on the defensive end, but some of their teammates do. Their defensive efforts, for better or worse, are going to be more reliant on how they or the team is doing offensively. Indulging a little more offensive talk in a defensive post, NYK has been nothing short of bad as far as an offense this season which was expected due to 9-10 new teammates coming together for the first time.
Whether its Portis, Randle, or DSJ, they’re going to need to feel comfortable on the other side of the ball before giving more of their effort defensively. Some players are bad defenders due to effort and some are unfortunately not gifted on the defensive end.
The beauty of both of these kinds of defenders is they rise as a team becomes more cohesive on offense. Their lapses aren’t going away, if fact their lapses may be more frustrating to see when you see their respective defensive ceilings. The flip side of that is if this team can lock in to play team defense, they can punch with the best of them defensively.
The answer to the problem is abstract and it will be hard to measure growth or improvement, but the offense should trend to be more cohesive the more games that are played together. The more roles are established, the better the team feels among each other, and the better offense that comes from it should stand to improve our top 15 defense to at least a top 10 level.