Are the Knicks a Lost Cause?
To say that the New York Knicks are on a decline would be an inaccurate statement. Rather, it would make more sense to say that they picked up where they left off. Seven games into the season, and the team has quickly regained the title of the worst team in the East. Despite a stellar rookie in the form of R.J. Barrett, the Knicks are excessively struggling. It stands to reason if this team is a sinking ship?
Disjointed and Discounted
No one believes in the Knicks right now, and for good reason. The team is not a solidified and organized whole. Instead, it’s a jumbled mess of inconsistent players with substantial heart, but insufficient focus. This team has no identity, no structured rotation that it can rely on, and no star player to call upon in the trenches (more on this later). Besides rebounding, the team doesn’t do a single thing well frequently enough. The level of output by players like Dennis Smith Jr. and even Julius Randle has fallen far below expectations. Yes, it is early and yes a turn around could still be on the horizon, but it may never come if the Knicks don’t make a quick change.
It’s a New Age
The era of super teams is dead, partially in thanks to Kawhi Leonard. That doesn’t mean that teams can survive without elite talent. The reality of the matter is that the Knicks are under equipped to handle the competition. Every single top tier team has at least one superstar that they can rely on. The Knicks don’t. That’s not to say they never will or that someone can’t step up. However, it’s an accurate reflection that, at the moment, the Knicks don’t know who to turn to. Even aside from a singular star, there is no offensive focal point on this team. Playing team offensive basketball has apparently gone out the window for this squad. At the end of the day, this game is about getting buckets. A team that cannot do that will not go far.
An Organizational Problem
There is no value in mincing words here. From the top down, New York is not a serious franchise, let alone a contender. They have failed to acquire a single All-Star in the biggest free agency in years. The long reaching negative impact of James Dolan speaks volumes to how poor this team is at attracting elite talent. Stars from LeBron James to Kevin Durant have zero interest in playing here. On top of that, the front office has yet to make adequate moves separate from Dolan that can advance the organization. The biggest failure in recent memory was to relinquish Kristaps Porzingis in the hopes of obtaining stars that were never acquired. Instead, the team obtained players like Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, and Elfrid Payton, all of whom have been less than stellar for the most part.
Even the coaching staff shares in the blame here. The team as a whole, for multiple seasons now, has failed to learn how to hold on to the ball. The inside and perimeter defense is sub-par on the team’s best nights. There is no system of consistent offense that Fizdale has put to memory. He has yet to even settle on a reliable starting rotation. Additionally, to a varying degree, he has misallocated available minutes to players who are not as impactful as others. All of these things should have been set prior to the start of the season, subject to adjustment. The constant change up is evidence that this team has no real clue who deserves to be a starter or not, which is abysmal. In sum, this team lacks the focus to be a winning franchise and do what it takes to secure victory.
This may be a scathing indictment, but its also a wake up call. There are 75 games of basketball left to play. In the game of basketball, anything can happen. The team may prove all the negative outlooks wrong and actually surprise the league. The team may finally figure out its rotation and make the jump into playoff contention. At the moment, though, winning seems like a far off dream. Thus, fans may just have to put this season behind them already. Until there are major changes at the top of the organization, Knicks fans should not feel bad for considering the fandom of a different organization.