NY Knicks: 2 Things we learned from Tom Thibodeau’s 1st season

Tom Thibodeau, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Rich Schultz/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Thibodeau, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Rich Schultz/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports /
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Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, Mitchell Robinson, Tom Thibodeau, NY Knicks. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

NY Knicks: Tom Thibodeau’s defense is legit

Let’s once again time travel to the summer of 2020 and the outlook for the NY Knicks’ upcoming season. Was this a roster that screamed “one of the top defensive teams in the NBA”?

Even today, just looking at the personnel on the floor, is this a roster that features a lot of “known” defenders?

It’s remarkable to think about what Tom Thibodeau and his defensive scheme has done for this roster. Not many coaches can simply inherit a forgotten roster and make them into a unit of hardworking defenders.

New York finished last season 4th in the NBA in defensive rating behind the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Utah Jazz. They were 23rd in their previous season, with largely the same roster.

We saw numerous Knicks grade out among the top defenders at their position. Thibodeau’s intense, heavy-rotating, immense-pressure, ice-coverage defense is exhausting for opposing offenses to go up against, and it requires supreme attention to detail from his players. 

There’s a lot of high-risk moves in Tom Thibodeau’s defense that can make you look bad if the players involved aren’t focused, and he was able to get a pretty outstanding level of defensive commitment from this roster.

There should be some strong hope among Knicks fans that this style of play will stick throughout the Tom Thibodeau era.

New York may have lost arguably their “best” defender on the perimeter in Reggie Bullock, but I tend to believe it isn’t going to affect their defense too much. Bullock certainly showcased his strength and technique against some prominent NBA wings, but in no way was he ever considered a “stopper” against opposing star players.

There’s a pride in playing good defense that Tom Thibodeau has firmly entrenched into the fabric of this Knicks roster. He’s laid a strong foundation after just one season, and his defense has been just as good as advertised.

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