Enes Kanter proves his value without even being on the court

Enes Kanter has sat the last three games for the New York Knicks due to back spasms. During that three game span the Knicks have not win a game, and that includes an ugly loss to the 4-16 Atlanta Hawks. Kristaps Porzingis has missed a game as well during this three-game losing streak, but what has been the one constant? No Enes Kanter.

Kanter is known for his offense and rebounding, while not being a very good defender. However, I think he plays a bigger role on the defensive end than he is given credit for and what the statistics say. Including the last three games, the Knicks are allowing 104.7 points per game. During the three-game losing streak without Kanter, the Knicks are allowing a whopping 112 points per game. That includes 116 points to the Hawks, who are averaging only 102.2 points per game. The reason may not be because of the absence of Kanter, but I would say it has at least a bit to do with it. When looking at the offensive side of things it is obvious that the Knicks are dearly missing Kanter. The Knicks are averaging 104 points per game through 20 games this year. However, during this three-game losing streak, they are only averaging 99 points per game, which is tied for 4th worst in the league over the last three games.

Let’s take a look at Kanter’s rankings among NBA Centers who have played at least 300 minutes through November 27th.

  • 90.6 FT% (1st)
  • 24.26 PER (4th)
  • 63.5 FG% (5th)
  • 3.7 Offensive Rebounds Per Game (5th)
  • 3.0 Estimated Wins Added (7th)
  • 90.7 Value Added (8th)
  • 10.2 Rebounds Per Game (11th)
  • 13.6 PPG (13th)
  • 105.3 Offensive Rating (15th)

Kanter has been playing very well for the Knicks this year, but he has really proven how valuable he is to this team in his absence. He adds not only production, but leadership and a spark whenever he is on the court. In the first 20 games this season, it is looking like Enes Kanter will be a cornerstone for this franchise moving forward. Kanter has resumed basketball activities today and he hopes to play Wednesday against the Heat. Knick fans are praying that he does as it is becoming clear that the Knicks need Kanter to win.

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Winning On The Road: A Christmas Gift That Can Make Or Break The Knicks!

The (8-7) Knicks return home to Madison Square Garden tonight where so far in this early season, seem to play their best ball. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Clippers (5-10) come reeling in losing 8 in a row. If there’s a game the Knicks need to win, its tonight and here’s why.

As you may have been noticing, the Knicks have been playing an abundance amount of home games to start the season. Out of the Knicks first 15 games, they have played already 10 at home where they have gone 7-3. Starting tonight, 11 out of the next 18 games will also be at MSG. When the December 25th home game against the Philadelphia 76ers concludes, they will have played a stretch of 21 home games in their first 33 games………….And this Knick fans might hurt them if they can not take the same intensity they show at home, on the road.

In this early season their struggles, besides one win in Cleveland, have come when they have to play away from the Garden. They have looked like a completely different team posting a 1-4 record. Yes it might still only be a small sample size, but in these games they have lost, they have shown to lack that tenacity to win. Some players have come out saying that the home crowd gives them an extra boost of energy to keep pushing. Well I say, the Knicks need to find it in themselves to get that will power to win on the road or an upcoming stretch will be a “Recipe for Disaster!”

After the Christmas Day game, the NBA and the Grammy’s have gifted the Knicks a stretch run that includes 16 road games in a 20 game span. The Grammy Awards, who are returning to New York for their 60th anniversary show, will take place at Madison Square Garden on January 28. With that being said, the Grammy committee will need the venue for two weeks prior to the event, which is why there has been an unbalance in the Knicks schedule with all the home games.

Now the Knicks will have 7 road games in which hopefully are enough games for them to get it together. Another thing, they have not been away from Madison Square Garden for more than one game so far this season. In fact this upcoming weekend will be the first time they play two road games in a row, when they go up against the Atlanta Hawks and the Houston Rockets, in back to back games Friday and Saturday.

But before all that, there is a home game tonight and a home game Wednesday night!

The players love being at home. The fans are enjoying this gritty Knicks team. There is a buzz around New York City. Which makes picking up a win in tonight’s game and any upcoming home games important. And hopefully by the time Christmas Day comes, the Knicks will have notched a few more wins on the road. Because to go into this stretch not having confidence to win on the road, and then to make matters worst having to play 16 of 20 away, this can make or break their season.

The New York Knicks are definitely on the come up. Will they make the playoffs this season? Who knows. At home they look great. On the road, not so much. By the end of January, I believe we and the rest of the NBA will definitely know where this Knicks team, led by Kristaps Porzingis, ranks among the Eastern Conference.

When this time rolls around, with more than 50% of their games being completed, will the Knicks be in the top 8 defending a playoff spot? Or will they be on the outside looking in? One thing’s for sure, the Knicks must learn how to win on the road to stay relevant.

3 Centers and Joakim Noah .. What should the Knicks Do?

The Knicks have a problem on their hands, but it’s a problem Jeff Hornacek doesn’t seem to mind having. Joakim Noah, who just finished serving a 20 game suspension, is now on the bench along side his teammates…..but in his street clothes. With an abundance of centers on the Knicks roster and how well they have been playing, Hornacek basically said there is no room to play him right now. Hornacek and the organization couldn’t be any more right with this decision.

So now what about that atrocious Joakim Noah contract? A player in street clothes making about $18 million a year with 3 years left is just going to sit and not suit up? Well, maybe the Knicks organization is considering looking at the stretch provision. You might ask what is that? In the NBA, the stretch provision allows the organization to waive a player and stretch his remaining salary and cap hit over a number of years equal to the years remaining on his contract plus one. So by doing this with Noah, he would receive about $7.5 million per season for the next 5 years. This also gives the Knicks about $11 million in extra cap space for next year and $12 million for the year after that.

Right now with Noah’s contract, the Knicks have no cap space. Waiving him outright or finding a compatible trade suitor will not help the Knicks because that money would still be on the books. But by this “stretch” provision that the NBA provides, this in my opinion is best long term for the Knicks. It also gives them the opportunity to pursue a big free agent next summer when Lebron James and Paul George look to headline the free agent class.

Again only my opinion but this is what I feel the Knicks should do. The Knicks also have time in which to come up with a plan since they won’t have to make a decision til September 1, 2018 based on the stretch rule. Right now Noah will be looked to serve as a mentor to the Knicks young centers during practice until they ask him to dress. On a positive, the team did vote him this year the defensive captain so you can tell he is well liked by his teammates.

Also with Noah gone, the Knicks have themselves above .500 with Kristaps Porzingis at the helm of this new look team. It’s so rough with the abundance of centers, and the team playing so well, that Hornacek doesn’t look to get the fan favorite 2nd year center Willy Hernangomez into the in-game rotation. At this time Enes Kanter (acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade) and Kyle O’Quinn (Brooklyn Native) have provided everything the Knicks need from the center position.

What happened to the Knicks on Monday against the Cavs?

The Knicks were leading by 23 points at one point in the second half on Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was all down hill from there. The Knicks wound up losing to the Cavs 104-101 as they let up 43 fourth quarter points. The Knicks were playing great defense all night before then as they allowed 25 in the first, 13 in the second, and 23 in the third. So what changed in the fourth? Let’s take a look.

1. They let LeBron get hot

When LeBron James gets going, there is just no stopping him. Courtney Lee was playing great defense on LeBron through the first three quarters, but it was all downhill in the fourth. LeBron wound up with a double-double, which should have actually been a triple-double if it were not for Madison Square Garden taking away a rebound late. LeBron is the best in the world and when he wants to take over there is nothing that a team could do.

2. Kristaps had an off night

Kristaps Porzingis has been great so far this year, especially down the stretch when the Knicks need him most. Monday night was opposite of that. Porzingis did score 20 points, but he was 7/21 from the field and missed three key free throws late in the fourth quarter. If he hits those free throws the game may end in at least a tie and they go into overtime, then who knows what happens. Porzingis is just 22-years old and he is going to have off nights. It happens.

3. Jeff Hornacek mistakenly took out Enes Kanter

Jeff Hornacek took out Enes Kanter with about 3 minutes remaining in the game so he can put in his defensive group, but it backfired. Enes Kanter was having a great night as he finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds. Kanter was actually playing some solid defense on Monday night. There were a few times that Jae Crowder tried driving baseline on him and Kanter was able to shuffle his feet to cut him off. Kanter seemed to have his best defensive game the other night, but Hornacek did not see this. It also hurt because the Knicks gave the Cavaliers chance after chance as they were getting too many offensive rebounds. If Kanter was in there is a chance that he could have stopped some of these offensive rebounds from happening.

Even though the Knicks took the loss in this one, it is one to build off of. They already beat the Cavs once this year and they had this one in the bag before letting it slip away. They are proving that they can hang with anyone in the Eastern Conference this year. As they mature and continue to play with each other they will become better at closing out games. This is a very young team that has a lot of growing to do, but so far this year things are heading in the right direction.

Eric Bledsoe to the Knicks?

Eric Bledsoe has expressed his frustration with the Phoenix Suns and has demanded a trade. There are a few teams that are in talks with the Suns to acquire the 27-year old point guard and the Knicks are one of them. I take a look at the possible trade, why the teams do it and how it impacts them.

The Scenario

Phoenix Suns: Courtney Lee, Kyle O’Quinn, 2018 Bulls Second-Round Pick
New York Knicks: Eric Bledsoe

Why They Do It

Phoenix Suns

The Suns are going to trade Bledsoe somewhere, whether it is the Knicks or not. Bledsoe is not happy and even took to Twitter to express his frustrations.

bledsoe-tweet.jpg

There is one reason why. Another is that I think the Knicks can give them one of the best packages possible. The Suns reportedly asked for Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez for Bledsoe, but that is not going to happen. The Knicks would be stupid to give up two of their future players for Bledsoe. The Knicks package of Courtney Lee and Kyle O’Quinn actually fits in Phoenix nicely. The Suns are off to a bad start and need some scoring off the bench. Lee will not start for the Suns as they have a budding superstar in Devin Booker, but Lee can slide right into the 6th man spot in the Suns’ rotation. Lee provides solid scoring with his 3-point shot, solid defense and a veteran presence that the Suns seem to desperately need. Right now, the Suns back up shooting guard is Tony Daniels. Courtney Lee would be a huge upgrade over Daniels. The Suns do have a good amount of solid front court players, but O’Quinn builds up that unit even more so. He may be an upgrade over an aging Tyson Chandler as well. O’Quinn can provide the same amount of rebounding, toughness and defense as Chandler, while spacing the floor out just a bit more. That can open up the floor for some of their younger scorers.

On top of those two players, the Suns will be getting the Bulls’ 2018 second-round draft pick. That pick is projected to be within the first five selections in the second round. It is basically a late first round pick.

New York Knicks

The Knicks have been talking about trading O’Quinn and Lee for a while now. Both of their names came up in trade rumors last season as the deadline, but they remained with the Knicks. Eric Bledsoe is a clear upgrade at point guard on their roster. The Knicks are also looking for a second scoring option behind Kristaps Porzingis. KP has been getting off to hot starts in the first two games, but the defense keys on him in the second half and forces the Knicks to look elsewhere. There has been no elsewhere so far. Tim Hardaway Jr. has looked atrocious in his first two games and he is supposed to be the second option. Bledsoe would be a great fit with the Knicks who want to push the ball up the court quickly.

Bledsoe can be a nice bridge before Frank Ntilikina is ready to takeover in two years, when Bledsoe’s contract expires. Bledsoe can also be the future point guard for the Knicks if Ntilikina does not pan out. On top of that, Bledsoe has played with Knicks’ head coach Jeff Hornacek, so the two know how to handle each other.

Kristaps Porzingis has said he wants to see the Knicks continue to build for the future before he signs a contract extension. I think this is exactly what Porzingis wants to see. Bledsoe and Porzingis will mesh greatly together. I see all the alley-oops from Bledsoe to Porzingis already. Bledsoe may love New York so much that he may eventually re-sign with the Knicks once his contract is up as well. Bledsoe and Ntilikina may eventually be able to play alongside each other as well. Ntilikina is a bigger point guard who reportedly has a very good three-point shot.

Knicks New Rotation

PG: Eric Bledsoe
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr.
SF: Doug McDermott
PF: Kristaps Porzingis
C: Enes Kanter

If the Knicks can pull off this move without giving up a first-round pick, their future is looking brighter and brighter. Bledsoe brings a veteran presence and much needing scoring help to this Knicks team. He is also a better defender than many realize. The Knicks can look to their future with Bledsoe, Ntilikina, Porzingis and Kanter with top first-round picks on the way. They also have a real shot to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference with the addition of Bledsoe.

Will this happen? Not sure. Can it happen? Definitely. Will the Knicks fuck this up somehow? Oh, I am sure they will.

New York Knicks Season Preview

The NBA season is just around the corner and the Knicks are going to be a bad, bad team. However, they should be a fun and young team to watch, which is something they have not had for years. The rebuild in in full effect and Knicks fans should not be expecting much from this upcoming season.

Additions

C Enes Kanter
SG Tim Hardaway Jr.
PG Frank Ntilikina
SF Doug McDermott
PG Ramon Sessions
PG Jarrett Jack
SF Michael Beasley

Losses

SF Carmelo Anthony
PG Derrick Rose
SG Justin Holiday
SG Sasha Vujacic

Projected Depth Chart

PG: Ramon Sessions, Frank Ntilikina, Ron Baker, Jarrett Jack
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee
SF: Doug McDermott, Lance Thomas
PF: Kristaps Porzingis, Michael Beasley, Mindaugas Kuzminskas
C: Willy Hernangomez, Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, Joakim Noah

Strengths

Youth

This is the first time in a long time that the Knicks can talk about youth being a key part of their team. Porzingis, McDermott, O’Quinn, Kanter, Hernangomez, Ntilikina, Hardaway and Baker will all be 27 years old or younger to start the season. On top of that, the Knicks will be assigning some good, young player to their G-League team. That list includes: Damyean Dotson, Nigel Hayes, Jamel Artis and Xavier Rathan-Mayes. As you can see, there is a whole lot of youth in the Knicks’ organization. They are going to be a fun team to watch this year. There is going to be a lot of movement all over the floor, a lot of energy and a lot of effort as the young kids try to prove themselves. The Knicks will find who this season which players they will build around for the future.

Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis is now “the guy” in New York. All eyes will be on him to be this team’s leading scorer and the go to guy in crunch time situations. However, I think this is a good thing for him. This will give him the opportunity to grow and take the next step. It will give him the chance to go from upcoming star to superstar status. He will have free reign over the offense. There is no one else to share the ball with. He is the leader of this team and as a Knicks fan, I cannot be more excited to see what he is capable of. Will he be “the piece” to build our future around? We will finally find out this season.

Weaknesses

Making up for the losses

There is going to be a bit of a different looks to the Knicks this year. They have lost two of their top three scoring leaders from last season. Carmelo Anthony, who was the leading scorer averaging 22.4 points per game, was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder recently for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and the Bulls’ 2018 second round draft pick. Derrick Rose, who was the third leading scorer averaging 18.0 points per game, signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent this off-season. As mentioned, Kristaps is going to be relied heavily on to score. However, he was already the Knicks second leading scorer last season. He averaged 18.1 points per game, but I expect that number to go up to around 21-24 points per game. Besides that, who else is going to score? Tim Hardaway has proven he can score the ball so far in his career and I expect him to be the second leading scorer on this team. I think Hardaway will average somewhere around 17-20 points per game this year since he will be given more of an opportunity. After that? No one knows.

Defense

The Knicks were not a good defensive team last year and it does not seem like they are going to be much better on that end of the court this year either. Kristaps Porzingis is a great shot blocker, but he was not quick enough last season to defend on the perimeter. If he can increase his quickness, he can become one of the best big men defenders in all of basketball. The newly acquired Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway and Doug McDermott are not very good defenders either. Enes Kanter was sat by the Thunder in the playoffs because of his lack of defense. However, reports have it, that he has been shedding close to 30 pounds this off-season to increase his quickness so he can become a better defender. Tim Hardaway had his best defensive season last year and showed he is definitely working on improving on that end of the court. If he can continue this improvement, he has the potential to become one of the best “3 and D” guys in the game. Doug McDermott is a bad defender plain and simple. He will get torched every single night on the defensive end.

Overall Projection

It is going to be a tough year for Knicks fans, but the future seems bright. They are not going to be very good this year. However, they have some nice pieces to build around. If Kristaps can take the next step, Hardaway and Kanter can improve their defense, and Ntilikina can translate his game over to the NBA level then they have a tremendously bright future. They will most likely have top 7 draft pick in next year’s loaded draft as well.

Record: 27-55, 13th in Eastern Conference

 

Photo Credits: NBA.com

Melo to OKC Hurts the Lakers

Carmelo Anthony is now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder! Many did not see this blockbuster trade coming, including myself. The Thunder are now a legit title contender. But, what does this mean for the Los Angeles Lakers now in the 2018 offseason? Did this trade hurt the Lakers? The answer is absolutely!

Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and LeBron James may have their eyes set on looking to join the Lakers in 2018. With Carmelo leaving the East, this gives LeBron more of an incentive to stay in the East. The Cavs only really have to get by the Celtics to go back to the Finals, so LeBron leaving to go to the tougher conference is maybe not the best idea. By adding Melo, it incentives Westbrook and Paul George to stay in OKC because it is a team that can compete for a championship for several years. The Thunder could just be the second best team in the West now. Westbrook and George may decide to give it more than one year to try to take down the Warriors.

The Lakers may not have enough other weapons to help lure any of these three away from their current situations. The Lakers are more than likely going to miss out on all the big names again in 2018. The New York Knicks hurt the Lakers chances even more of landing big name free agents in 2018. The Pacers and Celtics previously hurt it from all of their trades and transactions, but the Knicks may have just put the icing on the cake. The Lakers may get left out again.

There is still a full season to play before anybody decides where they will hoop in 2018, but the Lakers chances of becoming a contender in 2018 keep dwindling as the season approaches. It will be interesting to see if Magic can bring in some big name free agents over the next few off-seasons because of the emergence of many super teams in the Western Conference.

 

Photo Credits: Lakers Nation