Many teams have weaknesses, but for the New York Knicks, they come in bunches.
The New York Knicks have suffered from different situations throughout the season; effectiveness in free throws, turnovers, lack of concentration, team play and all other aspects of the game that you want to add, but one of the most obvious and dramatic has been the lack of competitiveness against dominant players in the paint. Simply, those of the big apple are no competition when they face players with the ability to dominate the paint.
Last Thursday’s game against the Suns is the most recent example of this weakness because it didn’t matter who they put in front of Deandre Ayton, he made them look bad and finished with 26 points and 21 rebounds, both being season highs for him.
But as I said, that is not something new, just take a look at the following numbers:
• LaMarcus Aldridge 22 pts | 8 reb
• Nikola Vucevic 21 pts | 13 reb
• Andre Drummond 27 pts | 12 reb
• Joel Embiid 23 pts | 12 reb
• LaMarcus Aldridge 23 pts | 6 reb
• Joel Embiid 27 pts | 17 reb
• Giannis Antetokounmpo 29 pts | 15 reb
• Nikola Jokic 25 pts | 10 reb
• Giannis Antetokounmpo 22 pts | 11 reb
• Montrezl Harrell 34 pts | 6 reb
• Paul George 32 pts | 4 reb
• Giannis Antetokounmpo 37 pts | 9 reb
The clearest example is undoubtedly the production of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has averaged 29.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per game against the Knicks this season. I’m not trying to argue that guarding the former MVP is an easy task, but what if I told you that to get those numbers he only needed to play 23 minutes per game? A dramatic situation for the Knicks, right?
Of the 17 players that the Knickerbockers have in their roster, only Mitchell Robinson is a natural center, and although we are all excited about the future he may have, it is a fact that today, physically, he does not have enough to fight the best in the league. Although the Knicks have tried to cover that hole with power forwards like Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis and sometimes even with Julius Randle, the results have been the same.
Recently Kenny Wooten was added to the team through a two-way contract, a player who has stood out for his defensive game protecting the hoop during his participation with the Westchester Knicks, but although he could be very helpful, it does not seem enough to cover the need for a dominant player in the paint.
Having said that, there is no doubt that the Knicks urgently need a player who is able to intimidate in the paint, the question is, will that player arrive before the trade deadline?
A few days ago the news was released that New York was looking for Andre Drummond, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but everything seems to indicate that that will not happen. James Dolan stated that he does not intend to yield first-round picks to bring a player to the big apple, which further complicates any negotiation that may be had, either to bring Drummond or any other player of his level.
Unless a miracle occurs, this will be for the Knicks their seventh consecutive season with a losing record. It might not be a bad idea to try to amend the road before the trade deadline, bring an impact player in that is willing to stay for several seasons, and try to consolidate a squad that is full of young players, many of them with promising futures like RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.
There are less than three weeks left until the deadline and we will have to wait for the decision made by the team, because they may want to wait until the end of the season, let the free agency period begin and the Draft arrive, but as we realized some months ago, although it seems that the universe fits in our favor, an unexpected turn can leave us empty-handed… once again.