Tom Thibodeau’s flaws on full display in utterly pathetic Knicks effort

Nov 2, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks head caoch Tom Thibodeau coaches against the Atlanta Hawks during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks head caoch Tom Thibodeau coaches against the Atlanta Hawks during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

In their third loss in a row, the Knicks blew what was once a 23-point lead and were defeated by the Hawks, 112-99. This marks yet another poor game played by the team’s starting lineup, causing many fans to want a change made to the rotation.

As much as I want to remain optimistic about the Knicks, it is hard to watch the starting lineup perform so poorly in nearly every game they have played and think that this is going to work out. In addition to this, it has become very clear in the last couple of games that head coach Tom Thibodeau clearly is not the right coach for this team for a multitude of reasons.

Knicks must make some sort of change after blowing lead to the Hawks

Before the season even began, I had a feeling it could be a long year. Outside of it being very clear that this Knicks team was not built to contend, we all know how poor of a coach Thibodeau can be.

To start, we’ll talk about the poor play of the starting lineup and why Thibodeau has to make a change, and soon.

In the first seven games, the Knicks starting lineup has been – to put it frankly – bad. This game against the Hawks was no different, as outside of Mitchell Robinson and Jalen Brunson, the remaining trio of Julius Randle, Evan Fournier, and RJ Barrett shot 13-for-35.

In addition to this, the defense in the starting lineup has been putrid all season, which when looking at the lineup, should not be surprising. This is why whenever Quentin Grimes is off a minute restriction, Thibodeau should highly consider starting him over Fournier, as the defense Grimes provides will be extremely valuable to the starters.

After the first three games, it seemed as if Randle finally got his groove back, however, in the Knicks’ last four contests, it looks like Randle is back to his old inefficient self. This is the worst-case scenario for the Knicks, as they really need him to improve his level of play if they want to find success this season.

Over the last four games, Randle is averaging 15 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 3.2 RPG while shooting 35.1% from the field and a horrific zero percent from three. Obviously, there is still time to turn it around, but considering what we have seen out of Randle in the last year, I find it difficult to see that happening.

As for RJ Barrett, he is also going through a bit of a slump, however, he usually starts off slow and heats up as the season goes on. I’m not saying that this is a good thing, but it is something to look forward to. In the first seven games of the season, Barrett is averaging 17.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.5 APG while shooting 40.6% from the field and 23.6% from three.

Both of these players need to step up their game big time if this team wants to see any amount of success. If they do not improve, some serious changes will need to be made.

The current starting lineup of the Knicks has not been working together at all so far. If this keeps up, Thibodeau will need to put his big boy pants on and make some changes himself. Personally, I feel that right now the best move to make would be to replace Randle and Fournier with Toppin and Grimes. Not only does Grimes provide good defense compared to the practice cone that Fournier is, but he has also proven that he can hit threes at a similar rate. As for Toppin, not only does his play style make the offense run a lot smoother, but he has also been a much better shooter than Randle.

Despite this, we know the kind of coach that Thibodeau is, which brings me to my next point…

Thibodeau needs to be better or the Knicks must fire him

At this point, I’m growing very tired of watching Thibodeau coach this team. His rotations don’t make sense, he runs an offense that not only doesn’t work but doesn’t fit the play style of this team. He is just far too stubborn to make any needed changes.

Forget last season, the start to the season for Thibodeau thus far has not been kind, and fans are growing very tired of it, including myself. Don’t get me wrong, I respect Thibs a lot. However, as a fan, I cannot sit back and watch him coach.

I have already said in the past that if the Knicks are underperforming by around midseason that Thibs must be fired. However, if the team continues to lose, this could happen a lot sooner.

This could change, though, if Thibodeau decides to make some much-needed changes to the starting lineup. I’m not saying that Toppin needs to start, but I think most of us agree it’s a no-brainer that Grimes should be starting once he is ready to go.

I really don’t want to see another season of losing considering how much money New York put into this core. Who knows who the Knicks would hire instead of Thibodeau, but personally, I would not mind seeing Johnny Bryant as the interim head coach.

For now, though, all we can do is wait until the front office either fires Thibodeau or he makes a positive change.