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How Do The New York Knicks Improve After The NBA All-Star Break?

The All-Star break in the NBA season has come upon us and at this point of the season, many teams are starting to look forward to the playoffs and possible match-ups that they will encounter. For many other teams like the New York Knicks, just getting to the playoffs could be a struggle.

At 23-32, the Knicks are currently five games behind the Charlotte Hornets for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They have lost six games in a row and are 1-9 in their last ten games. There was a time that Knicks was 22-22 and was looked at as a surprise team in the East, a team that could give could give teams trouble in the playoffs. Now they are lucky to not have a high lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

During the first half of the season, three things have become prevalent for the Knicks and their up and down play. When they were winning games, these three things were clicking but when they start losing, those things are become magnified as a detriment. It got Derek Fisher fired earlier this week, although I’m pretty sure he lost the locker room and fighting with an active NBA player (Matt Barnes) didn’t help his cause either. Let’s look at the most important thing for the New York Knicks.

The Helter Skelter Defensive Play

Defense has been an issue for years for New York. Giving up more than 90 points a game has been the norm for this team and it has continued this season. At the break, the Knicks are giving up over 101 points per game to opponents this season. When you are allowing over 100 points per game, you are going to lose games and the Knicks are only proving that theory correct.

But there are games when the Knicks do play defense and shut down their opponents but it is not often enough. Carmelo Anthony (while not playing James Harden matador defense) is a defensive liability at the small forward position and at the power forward spot, where he is undersized. Robin Lopez was signed to be an anchor in the middle and while he is rebounding well, players are still getting inside and scoring with ease. Unless their defense tightens up under Kurt Rambis, the Knicks will not sniff the playoffs this season.

No Plan Late In Games

For some odd reason this has been happening over the last three weeks late in games: Anthony playing (when he plays), no Kristaps Porzingis and Jose Calderon on the floor. It was another criticism of Fisher where late in games, his inexperience kicked in and he was inept at putting a plan in place. That was also one of the things that led to his departure.

One of many things that Rambis needs to do is to figure out what the Knicks can do inside the final minutes of a game. That must include keeping Porzingis on the floor and finding a way to keep Langston Galloway in the game as much as possible. It has been shown that Calderon is one of the biggest wastes of money in the NBA at over $15 million over the next two years so until he shows his worth, you sit him down and make him watch. With so many late losses, it’s imperative that they figure out a plan and stick with it in the second half of the season.

Early Game Droughts On Both Sides

A major issue the Knicks has faced is early game lapses on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. This has led to New York being down big and forced to make frantic comebacks, which leaves them gassed by late in the fourth quarter. Those comebacks lose steam and they end up losing the game. Across the board early in games, the Knicks have to tighten up everything they do in order to stay in games from start to finish in order to take the next step as a team.

It starts with shot selection which seems to be a constant theme year in and year out. Making the extra pass to find the best shot possible is something the Knicks did early in the season but it seems that those same passes are not occurring and players are just taking their shots. Rambis mentioned in his introductory press conference that he wants to get Porzingis inside more as opposed to just staying behind the arc and that is what needs to happen with everyone. The paint is not going to bite you, it is your friend so go inside and look for the high percentage shot.

This is just three things that I have noticed during the Knicks first half of their season. This will not solve every issue the team has but I believe that it could be a start for New York to at least make a run at the 8th and final playoff spot in the East. Unlike Derek Fisher who said he “didn’t think making the playoffs would be disappointing,” I believe that Phil Jackson, his team and the fans think differently. You work for the playoffs and that work begins after the All-Star break.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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