Jon is joined by Ashwin Ramnath (@ShwinnyPooh) for a deep dive on all things David Fizdale nearly halfway through his first season as Knicks coach, getting into his lineups, decision-making process, offensive system, hits, misses and everything in between. Then they flush out a fun Anthony Davis-related hypothetical.
As I sit here on New Year’s Eve after one of the most embarrassing games in Knicks history, it’s a great opportunity to take the time to reflect on what I thought was going to happen this season, what has happened, and what I want to see happen for my beloved Knicks in 2019.
What I thought would happen
As an overly optimistic, highly hopeful, extremely supportive (and always disappointed) Knicks fan, I decided this year was going to be different. I was ready to go into this season with no expectations and somehow find even more patience than I had ever given before. As if the last 24 years of my fandom were not enough.
With KP out of the lineup and nobody worth the excitement, I had no choice but to hop on the rebuild train packed with lots of patience and optimism. Yes, it was going to be another long season, but I was ready for it…or so I thought.
After watching our rookies in a few Summer League games and learning more about coach Fizdale and the front office’s plans for the future, I was all in. I was ready to support this team through the ups and many downs ahead.
A rebuild is not supposed to be exciting, extreme patience is necessary, and lots of alcohol helps, too. As Knick fans, we know better than anyone else what shortcuts can do to a supposed “rebuild.” But I was excited for the process.
I attended this year’s open practice with an open mind, and it was hard not to get excited for the young talent we had just acquired. Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson looked like they were going to be studs! Allonzo Trier totally shocked me. Was it possible for my Knicks to get this lucky in the draft?!?! We got steals in Robinson and ISO Zo! At that point, I was even rooting for Ron Baker! He looked ready for the season, and so did Frenchie! I wasn’t sold on Mudiay but hoped for the best.
What has happened so far
After a few wins and close defeats to start the season, the Knicks were exciting to watch again. It’s like they were our child’s team, and as fans, we were those extremely supportive and encouraging parents sitting on the bleachers, watching and cheering. No harsh tweets, no blaming the coach, we were looking for the positives, even after a loss.
The Knicks went on a short-lived winning streak after a heartbreaking loss to the Trail Blazers; they went on to beat the Celtics, Pelicans and Grizzlies. That was where I made the mistake of going off the tracks and not trusting the process. For a second, I was about to revert to my old ways and have hope the Knicks can make the playoffs this year. They were right there, almost at .500, and if they could have held on until KP came back, I was sure it was possible. At least the delusional Knick fan in me thought so. Boy, was I wrong… and in denial for what was about to come.
The Knicks went on to win two more games after that win streak, a great win over the Bucks (which cost us later) and an overtime triller against the Hornets. Recent games have been horrible. So horrible that I, out of all people, have jumped on the tank train! At this point, it’s what’s best for the rebuilding process and for the future. Especially for Zion Williamson, if the basketball gods can finally be on the Knicks side! We are due for a #1 pick.
What I want to happen for the rest of the season
What I want to see for the remainder of this season is for the Knicks to continue to compete and show signs of development. Recently, we haven’t seen this at all. It’s almost like the young players have run out of gas, already. To be fair, there have been a few injuries. And there are a few notable exceptions. Kevin Knox is really giving it his all for the Rookie of the Year award. He is slowly adding himself to consideration; it makes you wonder where he would be if he didn’t injure his ankle early in the season.
Noah Vonleh has made a tremendous impact on both ends of the floor. I would like the Knicks to find a way to keep him next season, especially if we are trying to build an identity as a defensive-minded team, plus he’s the Greek Freak’s kryptonite.
I have apologized to Emmanuel Mudiay several times! I really appreciate a player that makes you eat your words. He has done an amazing job and will be a great backup point guard next season. Yes, deep down I still question his consistency. I hope he proves me wrong.
I am so over Enes Kanter and his unsportsmanlike attitude! Yes, Enes we know you like double doubles, but like your friend in OKC, we want more than an impressive stat line from you! I’m so glad Fizdale is not afraid to sit him. His lack of defense is what the Knicks should keep in mind before they even think of re-signing him this coming summer. I think his Knick days are done after this season.
I really hope we continue to develop and give meaningful minutes to our young players, especially Frank! After all, the youth represents the future of this team.
I think we need KP to come back around March to show free agents that he is back and the team is building toward something good at the World’s Most Famous Arena, which is an attraction on its own, let alone if the team is stocked with promising young players.
However, for all the free agent talk, I’m ok if they don’t land one of the superstars in July, which seems unlikely anyway. I just want the team to do what they told us they were going to do.
Stick to the process.
There’s no need to rush the plan by spending money this offseason, just because they have money to spend. Hopefully, we get Zion or the #2 pick and keep grinding. What’s another year or two! We’ve waited this long. Knicks fans can wait a little longer to build the team the right way.
I’m mentally preparing to get though the rest of the season with tequila and my Knicks thread. We can do this Knicks fans, we’ve been through worse. Wishing you all a happy, healthy New Year… and the #1 pick for 2019 😁
Make sure to follow me on Twitter where I will be keeping the conversation going about the Knicks all season long!
First, watch the beginning of the play above.
Then, imagine, instead of of a dinosaur, that’s a 7’3 Unicorn catching at the top of the key. Imagine him stepping into a 30-foot bomb and scoffing at his defender for giving him so much room. Imagine him pump-faking when his defender remembers, “Oh sh**, that’s not Kanter! This guy can shoot,” and closes out too hard. Imagine one dribble to the basket. Imagine a long, lean arm rising toward the clouds before hammering the ball through the rim.
Imagine this Unicorn does nothing extraordinary. Instead, simply imagine the impact of his presence. Imagine his defender, the opponent’s rim protector, fearing his range. Imagine the defense extending well beyond the arc rather than sitting in the circle. Imagine the extra space for cutters and drivers.
Imagine the Unicorn in the near corner. Imagine him moving to the mid-post, catching the entry, and turning to shoot an effortless fadeaway, uncontested despite his defender’s best contest. Imagine it off one foot like Dirk. Imagine it kissing the glass before falling through.
Imagine he doesn’t shoot from the post. Imagine he engages Timmy in the dribble-handoff. Imagine the confusion when the defense can’t just sit on the roll. Imagine, instead, a fade to the three-point line for a quick flick of the wrist. Then imagine a few possessions later, the Knicks run the same action. Imagine the defense, fearing the three, anticipates the pop. Now imagine the roll. Imagine his long strides toward the rim. Imagine him leaping to catch the lob, handling it with such ease and grace that even road fans must applaud.
Imagine the opportunities in transition. Imagine him setting the screen for Mudiay, drifting to the top of the key, catching and shooting. Or imagine he doesn’t get it. Is Thaddeus Young anywhere near Mudiay’s release? No. He’s blanketing the Unicorn, giving Emmanuel any number of easier options. Just imagine the impact of his gravitational pull, what it could do for everyone else on the floor.
Imagine him catching the inbound. Imagine him taking his man off the dribble – one bounce, maybe two – and drawing the foul. Or imagine he executes the handoff to Lee, and…they switch? Maybe this worked in the past, but not anymore. Not with this better, stronger Unicorn. Imagine a patient Lee pulling it out to exploit the mismatch. Imagine the mouse being walked into the post and dominated. Or imagine Lee inexplicably shooting it anyway. Missing. Yet you don’t scream at the television, because there it is – a vintage Unicorn tip-slam. Imagine his glare. I’m back, it says.
Imagine the two-man game with Frank. Imagine the collective length of this duo, neither of whom can legally rent a car. Allow your mind to drift to the other end of the floor, even as the offensive possession continues, and imagine the devastating defensive impact they could have together.
Not now. We’re still trying to score. Imagine the Unicorn fading, catching, and…well, you know the result. Or imagine, again, his gravity. Imagine his defender can’t thwart Frank’s baseline drive. Imagine his man must sprint toward the hash mark, full speed, everything he has. Imagine how different Frank’s life would be. Imagine how much easier it’d be to play with controlled aggression, to find room, to create off the dribble. Imagine Frank getting all the way to the rim. Imagine him flushing it with two hands.
Imagine the help coming from the baseline, with the Unicorn being blanketed out by Fizdale. Imagine Frank taking an extra dribble before throwing a dart to Knox in the corner. Imagine Knox rising up and releasing. Imagine the ball doing what it’s been doing for Knox lately.
Imagine, now, the wing helping down to the corner. Imagine the extra pass to Lee.
Imagine a top-ranked defense playing helter-skelter, desperate to recover, but always one pass, one move, one step behind. Imagine the open jumpers. Imagine clogged lanes parting like some sort of biblical event. Imagine a frustrated timeout. Imagine a baffled opposing huddle. Imagine futile adjustments. Imagine increased continuity, percentages rising, teammates filling more suitable roles and young talent inching closer to potential fulfillment, all made possible by the return of a truly unique talent…
Sometime soon, you won’t have to imagine anymore. Sometime soon, this will be your reality.
Just imagine how you’ll feel then.