The Memphis Grizzlies will host the New York Knicks Sunday night at FedExForum. Jonathan Schulman from SB Nations’s Knicks affiliate Posting and Toasting answers a few questions regarding the Knicks and their season so far. A special thanks for Jonathon and Site Manager Joseph Flynn for helping out.
What have the Knicks done well this season?
Jonathan Schulman - Not a ton, honestly. The one unifying force has been effort. For years the lack of continuity has left guys unclear about their roles and whether they even have a future with the team. As a result play has been selfish, lazy and unenthusiastic. David Fizdale has made it quite clear that that ain’t cute and it’s certainly not rewarded. So camaraderie and going full bore is the one thing that- even in failure- has not been an issue. Shooting comes and goes, skills are flashed. But this young team gives it what they got regardless.
2. Who has been the Knicks MVP so far this season?
Schulman - Tim Hardaway Jr. has been that dude. Leading the team in charges drawn and not taking any plays off. He’s turned himself into a legitimate leader and first option to where, even if he isn’t scoring well, he commands the amount of attention that can spring leaks for other teammates to get it going. He is doing everything he can to be the consummate teammate and pro.
And for all the blowback about him getting a healthy payday, he is earning his money these days.
3. How do you see the Grizz vs. Knicks matchup tonight?
Schulman - Oh it’s going to be gruesome. The word is out that the Knicks cannot defend the pick and roll for the entire game. Every second Enes Kanter is on the floor, a smart pick and roll combo can headhunt him and attack for as long as they like. He sags so deep into the paint that if the roll man pops out, he’ll have time to read a book, stoke a pipe, align his chakras and let it fly. Conversely the ball handler can attack the rim relentlessly because Kanter doesn’t drop coverage to protect the rim, he drops to collect rebounds.
On the flip side if Memphis can match the Knicks’ effort and force them into tough isolations, with the proper attention to detail you’ll claim enough battles to win the war.
4. How surprised are you at the Grizzlies early season success?
Schulman - My only concern for the Grizzlies was whether or not Marc Gasol and Mike Conley would be healthy. They are downright fantastic players and that’s not up for debate if they can stay on the floor. I thought they added really smart complimentary players in the offseason. Jaren Jackson was my second favorite rookie prospect behind Luka Doncic. So I’m not very surprised because everything falls in line nicely behind their top two guys.
5. How excited are you about the near future of the NY Knicks?
Schulman - The immediate future is bursting at the seams with failures. The good news is that they will be small failures that these young players can learn from. Frank Ntilikina is a magnificent defender who needs to take more initiative on offense. Mitchell Robinson is a great defender who wants to study the game and just needs time to add muscle and get reps. Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier look like they have some very exciting games, they are just in the brining stage before they start cooking. Damyean Dotson and Noah Vonleh are another pair of youngsters that are talented and just need to exact their roles. The Knicks could very easily start to look like one of the top defenses in the league by season’s end.
Once Kristaps Porzingis gets back, assuming health, this locomotive turns into a bullet train and then there’s a high draft pick and plenty of cap space to work with.