1. New York Knicks area of need: Defensive Consistency
Try to name a New York Knicks team that did anything of significance without playing with exceptional defensive prowess and intensity. I’m sure the temptation is to reference the New York Knicks of 2012-13, which may not have tested as elite in advanced metrics as other memorable units.
The fun fact to dispel that theory, however, is that New York went 6-0 in the 2013 NBA Playoffs when it held opponents to 80 points or fewer—and 0-6 when it didn’t.
Trace it back to the 1990s, when Patrick Ewing and the Knicks were one of the most revered defensive teams in NBA history. Go back to 1984, when New York ranked No. 1 in defensive rating and pushed Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics to seven games.
The story continues through the 1970s, when the Knicks won two championships and ranked as one of the premier defensive teams of their time.
Fast forward to 2019-20 and defensive consistency simply hasn’t been present since the aforementioned 2012-13 campaign. New York ranks No. 19 in scoring defense and No. 23 in defensive efficiency, and that only begins to reflect the inconsistency with which the team has played as far as intensity is concerned.
If the Knicks want to become relevant, let alone prominent, then they’ll need to embrace defense as the primary aspect of their identity.
It’s then, and only then, that the New York Knicks can return to relevance.