The New York Knicks don’t know when Kristaps Porzingis is going to return, but David Fizdale won’t allow his team to simply wait for his arrival.
The New York Knicks are preparing for a season that most believe will yield another lottery appearance. Adding a high-level talent via the 2019 NBA Draft would certainly be ideal, but entering a season with a losing mentality is how teams destroy cultures.
Thankfully for the Knicks, the pursuit of a brighter future will not include a concession of defeat before the 2018-19 regular season begins.
One of the unfortunate truths about the 2018-19 season is that franchise player Kristaps Porzingis has an uncertain timetable for his return from the torn ACL in his left knee. That’s inevitably created the expectation for New York to miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.
According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, head coach David Fizdale understands that expectations will be low without Porzingis, but he won’t allow the Knicks to buy the narrative.
"“We don’t know what this year could be without KP. I don’t want to put any expectations on it, but I’m not going to settle to be a team that everyone dismisses. I think we got those kind of kids who want to stand up and be counted and we’re going to compete.”"
Whether or not the Knicks make the playoffs, this type of mentality will be crucial for a franchise that’s attempting to change the culture.
Fizdale isn’t expected to lead the Knicks to prominence as soon as his first season in New York. He is, however, being tasked with altering the mentality of the players from playing without direction to competing against every caliber of opponent.
Thus, while wins may be tough to come by without Porzingis, the Knicks can ensure that progress is made by embracing a new approach.
That will be centered around an increased measure of energy and intensity on the defensive end of the floor.
If New York competes on defense, it will put itself in a position where the fourth quarter is a consistently competitive setting. It’s then that players such as Tim Hardaway Jr., Kevin Knox, and Frank Ntilikina can cut their teeth and establish their legitimacy.
More importantly: New York would create a culture of accountability, as those who aren’t buying in on defense would be pulled in favor of those who will.
Playing without Kristaps Porzingis may temper expectations, but the New York Knicks won’t accept defeat in his absence.