The New York Knicks have hit a bit of a rough patch, but don’t forget how promising this roster is. The future is bright for New York.
Happy Holidays, everyone, Lets take a moment to speak about one of our favorite topics of any given day or year: The New York Knicks. The future is looking bright for the first time in a while.
Although young, the newly formed core of Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Frank Ntilikina has potential. There are other young players on today’s roster who can one day help bring New York back to the finals.
Although the players have different games, they mesh well and complement one another well both on and off the court.
That may be no more true than with the sharpshooter, Hardaway, who’s playing sidekick to The Unicorn. These two are complemented by a dirty work kind of big man in Enes Kanter.
Kanter plays aggressively and strong down low, much like the Knicks of the 90s. Kanter’s game is something that has been missing at the Garden since Phil Jackson traded former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler back in 2014.
Ntilikina is a pass-first, defensive-minded point guard, cut from the same cloth as the likes of Rajon Rondo, Mark Jackson, and Mike Conley. The bench can consist of young players such as Willy Hernangomez and Damyean Dotson.
Together, this group of players have helped create a brighter future for Knicks basketball.
Kristaps Porzingis is a 7’3″ freak of nature on the court. He’s able to do things with the basketball that your average big man can only dream of doing. He has the height to bang down low with the frontcourt, complemented by the shooting touch of a backcourt player.
There has only been one big man in the last decade with an offensive game similar to Porzingis: Future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki.
Porzingis is aiming to reach Nowitzki’s level offensively, but when it comes defense, Porzingis has shown he can reach levels that Dirk was never capable of.
Porzingis is currently the leading scorer on the Knicks, averaging 24.6 points to go along with 2.1 blocks per game.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
The second player in the Knicks’ newly formed core is Tim Hardaway Jr. A familiar face, Hardaway was drafted by the Knicks back in 2013 with the 24th overall pick. He came in as a scorer, but not much else.
Hardaway was traded a few years later to the Atlanta Hawks, where he went through a roller coaster of events. Hardaway himself is on record as saying that his time with Atlanta humbled him.
At one point Hardaway found himself in the D-League. At that point, he knew he needed to take things more seriously by refining his defense and learning to take better shots.
When Hardaway signed a four-year, $71 million dollar contract, it was met with scrutiny. He isn’t able to determine the contract that the front office offers him, but he’s able to determine whether or not he lives up to that standard.
At the moment, he’s been doing just that. There’s much to come in terms of growth, but he’s already showing the potential of a No. 2 scorer.
Enes Kanter has quickly become a fan favorite due to his hard-nosed defense and aggressiveness down low. So far in 2017-18, he’s averaging 14.1 points and 10.1 rebounds in 26.1 minutes per game.
Last season, he was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate for the Thunder. This season, Kanter has slid into the starting lineup beside Kristaps Porzingis, and has done an admirable job.
He’s the heart and soul of the Knicks, much like what Dennis Rodman was for the ’96 Chicago Bulls and what Tyson Chandler was for the Knicks during his tenure.
Kanter is a walking double-double.
The rookie. The “French Prince” himself: Frank Ntilikina. Ntilikina has surprised many of the people who serenaded him with boos on draft night. He’s shown that he’s able to hold his own defensively at the ripe age of 19 years old.
His offensive game is still trailing a bit, but you can see that as he gets more comfortable, he’ll thrive.
There’s a bit of Rondo in Ntilikina due to his pass-first mentality and defensive potential. What makes this comparison more vivid was how Rondo played as a young player alongside three All-Stars.
That’s not to say that Hardaway and Kanter have the ceiling of a Kevin Garnett or a Ray Allen, but instead acknowledging that there’s chemistry. Ntilikina can elevate the Knicks’ game, just as Rondo did years back for the Celtics.
Moving away from the obvious four players on the Knicks, we move towards the hit or miss prospects on the roster.
Willie Hernangomez had an outstanding season in 2016-17, making the All-Rookie First Team at season’s end. Due to the added depth in the frontcourt and his inconsistent defense, however, Jeff Hornacek has left Hernangomez out of the rotation for most of the 2017-18 season.
Hernangomez is still as dynamic as any player in the league when it comes to playing his back to the basket. Without a reliable presence on defense, though, playing time will continue to be tough to come by.
Hernangomez has the potential to be sixth man for this young Knicks squad, and dominate benches across the league—much like Kanter did for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season.
Let’s hope Hernangomez improves his defense and receives the opportunity to return to Hornacek’s rotation.
The last player mentioned is Damyean Dotson, the rookie from the University of Houston. Dotson was a second-round draft pick in 2017 with a ton of upside. Although Dotson hasn’t seen much court time, very few will disagree when it comes to his potential as a 3-and-D player.
Dotson is comparable to former Knicks standout Iman Shumpert. Dotson can be the type of glue guy that Courtney Lee has been for New York this season. Both Lee and Shumpert would be the ideal mentors for a player of Dotson’s style and caliber.
Dotson can be instant offensive off the bench to go along with his lockdown defensive potential. Some believe we could see Dotson back in the starting lineup in the near future.
All I can do is quote the words of the man who previously returned the Knicks to relevance: Amar’e Stoudemire.
The New York Knicks are back.
It’s only a matter of time and development before the results firmly prove that as true.