"The reality is without KP, man, we're going nowhere," Walt Clyde Frazier told Sirius XM this week. "Without Porzingis, he's our future. The worst thing that could have happened to the Knicks did happen. This guy blew his knee out mid season. Supposedly he's coming back in January, but who knows. If the Knicks don't get him back to his former grandeur things are looking pretty bleak for them."
With Porzingis out, let's see a breakout of the rest of the Knicks 2018-19 squad:
It's funny to say, but on paper the Knicks most valuable players are Enes Kanter and Joakim Noah. It will be interesting to see how Kanter fits a younger team that will focus more on a higher style tempo.
Regardless of how the Knicks finish this season, Kanter is in a contract year at age 26. Kanter will have a career year... on paper.
On offense Kanter is a plus. He was ranked 4th in the league last year in offensive rebounds, and in only 26 minutes he averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds on 59% FG. He achieved this while sharing minutes with a 7 foot 3 unicorn. It's easy to view Kanter as an efficient scorer who cleans up bad possessions. If you're doing Fantasy Basketball this year, Kanter is going to be great.
Kanter's lack of quickness, even at his position, is his main flaw in a league where speed kills. Take this possession for example:
Lance Thomas, who might be one of the better defenders on the Knicks (scary to think), can't handle a bulldozer like Ben Simmons in transition on his own. Kanter was in position to help, but fell asleep. Prepare to see possessions like this throughout next season.
The Knicks get killed every season in transition, but Kanter puts them on another level. Look for opposing teams to force Kanter and Hardaway Jr. (the 2018-19 Knicks "core") to defend the pick and roll often.
What do the top defensive big men all have in common: Draymond Green, DeAndre Jordan, Clint Capela, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, (Mitchell Robinson???).... They are mobile enough to guard the perimeter. In the modern NBA, primary ball handlers are too skilled and force defenses to switch often. If you can't adapt to that, you're toast.
Why are the Warriors so deadly? Yes, they hit a million threes at an efficient rate, but that's not what makes them immortal; it's their ability to switch on defense that makes them impossible to beat. Everyone in the Warriors' rotation other than Curry can switch without causing a mismatch on defense, which is a huge luxury that other teams like the Celtics, Jazz, and Thunder are trying to mirror.
Remember the criticism against Melo? Knicks fans who hate Melo would say, "Melo is a ball stopper", "Melo doesn't get others involved", "Melo doesn't get back on defense". Kanter is an amplified version of Melo in that aspect.
It seems that Kanter will put up empty stats on a bad team. It will be interesting to see the market for him next season, as NBA teams are learning that a modern big man needs to be mobile enough to contain guards on switches.
I personally feel Kanter will be better suited as a role player on contending teams, similar to a Greg Monroe kind of situation. He can come off the bench with the second unit and be the focal point on offense in small increments, but anything more than that role has proven to be detrimental.
Robinson > Kanter
Incase you don't know who this 7-footer is, running and dunking like a guard... His name is Mitchell Robinson.
2nd rounder, Robinson, has feline quickness that the Knicks desperately need at the center position. Robinson's style favors up-tempo, while Kanter's style favors a slower pace. It will be interesting to see how Kanter and Robinson's conflicting styles mesh with the Knicks' overall success.
We're about a month away, people. Although it won't be the best season for Knicks fans, I am still looking forward to watching guys like Frank, Knox and Robinson grow.