“Yeah. Yeah, I’m up at Brooklyn, now I’m down in Tribeca. Right next to DeNiro, but I’ll be hood forever. I’m the new Sinatra and since I made it here. I can make it anywhere, yeah, they love me everywhere.” – Jay Z
Ahhh, the feeling is back in the garden. Madison Square, that is. James Dolan, the lead singer of JD & the Straight Shot, is still the owner of the New York Knicks, unfortunately. However, the feeling of winning basketball has been revived in New York once again, and we have the 7’3 Latvian Dirk Nowitzki running on iOS 17 to thank for that. You’ll have to excuse my enthusiasm after a 3 game win streak.
Are the Knicks going to win a championship in the foreseeable future? Are they going to even make the playoffs? My mind is telling me “No”, but my body, my body is telling me ye….it’s too early for the R.Kelly reference. But let’s just say Knicks fans across the globe (myself included) are feeling like it’s the remix to Ignition hot and fresh out the kitchen. You catch my drift.
Anyways, the days of tanking are behind us (I hope, and although the thought of drafting Michael Porter Jr. has me salivating). The Knicks are finally winning games! Yes, the Knicks and winning in the same sentence and I’m not talking about the early 70s. We’re posting and toasting, we got the power of Squarespace on our side, we got the Turkish delight Enes Kanter forcing Tim Hardaway Jr. to try since Pre-Season & the many remixes of “Despacito” on Willy Hernangomez’ iTunes playlist. The Knicks are not only a melting pot in the locker room (hence the title), but they’re a cohesive bunch that love to rebound, space the floor and shoot threes at a rate that only leads to success in this new NBA we’ve grown to love and hate.
Kristaps Porzingis, the Senior Three Point Correspondent, Director of Rim Protection and Unicorn Extraordinaire, is the focal point of the team and the franchise player we’ve been waiting for (Sorry Hoodie Melo. It’s not you, it’s us). In only his third year, we’re witnessing the growth and development of a superstar in the making. I’m sure he’ll be an All-Star this year without a doubt, given the landscape of the Eastern Conference, but there’s definitely room for improvement (insert Biogenesis scandal here).
Exhibit A. He can’t pass out of the double team and find the open teammate. With a plethora of snipers on this roster (no seriously, we have shooters now) such as Ron “My mom cuts my food for me” Baker, Dougie McBuckets, Tim “How much?” Hardaway Jr. & Courtney “I don’t have a nickname” Lee. While the supporting cast doesn’t scream “Championship” or “effort on defense”, and it definitely doesn’t even whisper “Playoffs”. Either way, Kristaps has players that can put the ball in the basket without stopping the offense or jab stepping a thousand times (I’m so sorry Melo).
Exhibit B. As strong as he is for his frame, it’s almost like watching Calista Flockhart grab rebounds and dunk on people. This guy needs to bulk up and I know it’s still early, but let’s revisit this conversation in a few years. If he doesn’t put on the same mass Dirk Nowitzki did over the years, then we might have something to worry about. The good thing is he can shoot the three and that’s what everyone’s doing nowadays anyway, so one could argue that he won’t need to put on all that muscle. But eventually, he’ll have to cave in and be the stretch five the Knicks need, yeah you can keep shooting threes, but don’t get hurt in the post boxing out for rebounds.
Defense will forever plague this team until they can get some players on the wing and the perimeter to really help out.
DISCLAIMER: This doesn’t apply to the French Prince aka Frank Ntilikina, this kid is 6’5 and has so much potential. Finally, a point guard that can pass, shoot & play defense. I say these things like it’s too much to ask, but as a fan of the Knicks, you would know that it kind of is. I could go on and on but anyways.
Ultimately, it comes down to how much they want to buy into coach Hornacek’s “high octane offense”. Considering he has never really emphasized defense at all. It’ll be fun to see how this team gels over the course of this season because it is too early to tell what’ll happen right now. But it will be hilarious to see how much points Enes Kanter allows in the paint every night because I can see him lose complete hope by mid-season and start practicing his three-point range.
But in all seriousness, with Melo and Phil gone now (imagine beating two types of cancers and living to talk about it, then it becomes a NY Times Best Seller and now you don’t have to work at Chipotle anymore) Knick fans can rejoice now that we can rebuild & get back to being a perennial playoff team. With the right nucleus in place, competent people in the front office and the rights to their first-round picks moving forward. I think it’s safe to say they’ll be fun to watch and they’ll compete for a chance to go far in the playoffs for years to come.
As far as when that’ll happen, we don’t know. But I’m sure Spike Lee and everyone else on Celebrity Row (the ones that care) are hoping it’s soon. Fingers crossed.