The season is only two games young, so it should be no surprise that Knicks are still a work in progress.
They’re coming off a stretch where the expected happened – a season-opening loss at defending league champion Cleveland Cavaliers and a home-opening win over the undermanned Memphis Grizzlies. As the season continues, though, look for the Knicks (1-1) to start to gel and really get a grasp of new head coach Jeff Hornacek’s program.
But until that time comes, New York will look jumbled and a bit off rhythm at times.
The Knicks faced a hyped Cavs squad that was receiving its rings, and a Grizz team that was without Tony Allen, Brandon Wright, and prized free-agent pickup Chandler Parsons – not to mention point guard Mike Conley, who was on a minutes’ restriction. But the Knicks did what they had to do – and should do – whenever they’re facing an inferior opponent. This roster is built to challenge the likes of the Cavs, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and Indiana Pacers. And while they failed their first test against Cleveland, Knicks fans should reasonably admit that this team’s chemistry is still under construction.
Derrick Rose, who missed a lot of time during the preseason while in the middle of his sexual assault civil case, admits that his time away threw off any budding team chemistry. He also slightly, if not inadvertently, dissed the Triangle following their loss to the Cavs. But when he talks about building that camaraderie and gelling, he’s mainly talking about the time lost and the team’s ability to get used to one another on the fly.
“They have to get used to how I play,” Rose said following Monday’s session, adding it’s mutual. “And I’m trying to get used to them, too.”
Rose’s criticism of the Triangle is much about nothing, he noted, because it’s more about him wanting to highlight his skill set as a traditional pick-and-roll point guard, rather than any uncomfortable moments running the Triangle. The difference between the 29-point loss to the Cavs and the opening win at the Garden over the Grizz, though, was a stark contrast in what makes Rose effective.
When Rose worked the pick-and-roll on Saturday in the Memphis game, it was still evident there’s much work to get done. A case in point is the mesh between Rose and Kristaps Porzingis. The second-year phenom was open on more than a few occasions on pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops involving Rose, and was also seen cutting to the basket with very little resistance in front of him, but rarely saw the ball. In fact, in the two games so far, Porzingis has taken just one shot off a Rose pass. This will naturally sort itself out in due time, but it just goes to show that this will be a long process, despite the talented pieces on the floor.
Porzingis himself has noted that patience will be a virtue for everyone, ranging from the fans, to the players, and even himself. Coming off a 21-point performance on Saturday, Porzingis said it’ll take some time for everyone to feel comfortable. He even admitted that he’s still a work in progress, even after coming off a rookie campaign that had him runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting.
The Latvian sensation said he and the team are on its way, just give it some time. The Memphis game showed that he’s coming along just nicely.
“I wasn’t as anxious as I was last year,” he said when asked about his maturation process. “I knew I had to calm myself down. I was still hyped. I was ready to go. But I was more relaxed.”
The Knicks are slated to go far this season, and at the very least, end its four-year playoff drought. But before they can do all of that, they know the process needs to be trusted and all the moving parts need patience so as to grow and gel.
- The main Knicks’ cog, small forward Carmelo Anthony, is enjoying this new-look roster and feel. A noted gunner, Anthony said he’s enjoying the process of allowing others to carry the load on a different night. He admitted that sharing the spotlight – and shot attempts – has been “something I embrace.” He said being patient and allowing others to shoulder the load will actually help the team in the long run.
- “Whoever has it going – [whether] Derrick [Rose], Kristaps [Porzingis], or whoever – has it going. And when it’s on me, it’s on me. I’m not going to try and force the issue if I don’t get the touches that I normally get … every game is going to be different. I just look forward to being out there with guys who can control the game and make plays. And when it’s my time, it’s my time.”