The New York Knicks finished the preseason with a somewhat disappointing 2-5 record. On one hand, there were discouraging signs like the inconsistent offense and overall lackadaisical defense. The Knicks also dealt with several injuries to rotation players that changed the dynamic of the team game-in and game-out, and we never really got see this team function as a whole.
However, while preseason is important for teams to get their reps and get adjusted to real NBA action, for many teams it is just that. For a mostly veteran team like the Knicks, preseason is really just extended practice. Surely the players and coaching staff value getting to try out new plays and get adjusted to one another; however, it’s indisputable that regular rotation players don’t put forth the same effort into preseason. After all, the games don’t matter — there’s nothing on the line.
With these ideas in mind, it’s quite possible that we haven’t gotten a true look at the 2013-14 Knicks. However, here are three encouraging signs from the preseason:
Oct 25, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (5) shoots a three-point shot against the Charlotte Bobcats during the fourth quarter of a preseason game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1.) Three-Pointers: The Knicks didn’t quite shoot the lights out from downtown in preseason — they shot an average of 32.6% in the seven games. However, there were some trends to be excited about. For one, the Knicks are still taking a lot of three-pointers, which was one of their best traits from last year as they set an NBA record in most made treys. While there are clear flaws in launching too often from beyond the arc, it would also be foolish to abandon the strategy.
Additionally, the Knicks’ preseason 3FG% was weighed down by two extremely poor performances in which they shot below 17%. Without those two games, the Knicks would have shot 39.1%. Teams are prone to slumps, and those two poor shooting games are cause for concern, surely, but through seven games, the Knicks still seem like a dynamic shooting team.
2.) Solid Depth: While this may seem like a structural thing, the Knicks actually used their depth in preseason and they looked all the better for it. Glen Grunwald assembled an impressively deep team over the summer, and the Knicks looked like it during their seven preseason games. From the point guards on the team — Beno Udrih and Pablo Prigioni handled Ray Felton’s absence well, and the Knicks now have Toure’ Murry on the bench — to the numerous big men that can be sent out, the Knicks look like a team well protected from injuries this season.
3.) The World Peace Effect: Metta World Peace is a whirlwind on the court. I admittedly hadn’t watched much of him the last few years, so I was a little bit unfamiliar with his style of play. Thus far, on the Knicks, at least, that style could be best described as “unleashed.” There are plenty of things to be bothered my: pull-up three-pointers without his feet set; fade-away, contested jumpers; bring up the ball by himself after a rebound, etc.
However, when World Peace steps on the floor, the Knicks’ energy goes to new heights. He scrambles around the court, hawking for steals and blocks, hassling opponents. All of the Knicks seem to up their intensity, whether it’s fighting over screens, going for rebounds, or just running hard up and down the court. “World” — as our beloved Clyde Frazier calls him — might not have a starting spot as of now, but if he continuously brings this type of effect to the team, there will be plenty of minutes for him.
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