The Runner Sports

Knicks News And Notes (10.09.17)

The Knicks are winless in three preseason games. Downed by Brooklyn twice and Washington once, New York has not been able to put together four consecutive quality quarters. Of course, preseason success, or a lack thereof, is not always an indicator of what is to come in the regular season, but surely Knicks fans would like to see their team take home a W as soon as possible. The Knicks will get another crack at a victory Monday night against a very good Houston team.

Kristaps Porzingis missed the Washington game on Friday night to rest before returning for Sunday’s contest, but the Knicks’ franchise player managed a mere 16 minutes against Brooklyn before exiting with a sore hip. The big man downplayed the injury, and his removal from the game could very well have been nothing more than a precaution. The health of Porzingis is paramount for New York this season and beyond.

Rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina has missed the last two preseason games with a sore knee. After a solid showing in the team’s preseason opener, Ntilikina may also simply be in precautionary mode. He needs all the playing time he can handle this season as New York eyes him as the lead guard of the future.

Jeff Hornacek has used three different starting lineups in three games. The Knicks head coach said to expect some experimentation with starting lineups early in the preseason, so this is not a surprise. The battle for the starting center spot is probably the most interesting, with newcomer Enes Kanter and fan favorite Willy Hernangomez in the mix. Joakim Noah could also factor into this positional battle, but it’s more likely that the team wants to limit his minutes early in the year after an injury-plagued 2016-17 campaign. Hernangomez posted 17 points and 12 rebounds in 22 minutes on Sunday evening, but Kanter is still likely the frontrunner for the gig as of now.

Speaking of, Joakim Noah has played in two preseason games and looks healthy. Hornacek has sung the praises of Noah and his physical condition this preseason, and Noah looked solid in limited minutes against both Washington and Brooklyn. It was just a few years ago that the big man earned All-NBA First Team honors, and while he certainly won’t be returning to that form, the former Chicago Bull could give the Knicks valuable minutes down low as a defender and passer.

Narrowing down the rotation will be a challenge. Sports writer Jonathan Macri said it best: “ The Knicks have about 10 guys who would be between the 5th and 9th best players on good teams.” Porzginis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, Ntilikina, Ramon Sessions, Jarrett Jack, Ron Baker, Damyean Dotson, Doug McDermott, Lance Thomas, Kyle O’Quinn, Michael Beasley, Hernangomez, Noah, and Kanter are all players that could conceivably earn minutes. That’s 15 players, which obviously will not work. Hornacek needs to find a dependable rotation of eight or nine guys and stick to it, which will surely ruffle some feathers in the locker room.

New York’s defense may be a serious issue this season. New York lacks great individual defenders, which means they’ll have to commit to team defense to have any success on that end of the floor. Outside of a solid start in the first preseason game, the results have not been good thus far. Hornacek has made it clear that assistant Kurt Rambis won’t be solely in charge of the defense, but that doesn’t automatically result in a major change in the on-court product.