The Knicks sit with a record of 12-48 through 60 games. With just 22 games left in the NBA regular season, the Knicks own the second worst record in the league being just percentage points better than the Phoenix Suns.
As the Knicks fully prepare themselves for a franchise altering offseason, let’s take a look at five keys the team needs to focus on to finish out the season.
1. Play Mitchell Robinson close to 30 minutes per game
Acquiring Deandre Jordan to help mentor Robinson was a smart move by the Knicks front office. Jordan came into the league a raw talent and developed himself into becoming a 2x All Defensive First Team Player. Robinson has even more potential than that.
Mitchell Robinson is blocking 2.20 shots per game which ranks him third in the NBA. Best part? He’s third in the league while playing just 18.0 minutes per game. Robinson is an incredibly raw talent but his athleticism and his ability to swat shots with both his left and right hand makes him a feared rim protector. Per 48 minutes, he’s averaging 5.87 blocks a night which is a full block ahead of Myles Turner who’s second.
Robinson has issues with foul trouble and his best offensive skill is finishing lobs around the rim but his defense is already elite. More minutes and exposure down the stretch should only enhance his development.
2. Get Dennis Smith Jr and Frank Ntilikina minutes together
Smith Jr has played in nine games with the Knicks and has yet to see the court with Ntilikina who is still recovering from a groin injury. The two will always be linked by their draft class and it’ll be interesting to see the dynamic with the two sharing the court. Smith Jr would handle most of the offensive responsibilities while Ntilikina can guard the oppositions best ball handler. The skill sets are so opposite it may benefit both if they played with one another.
3. Daymean Dotson develops into a solid 3 and D type player.
Dotson’s name was floated around in trade rumors around the deadline before the Knicks decided to hold on to him. The trade of Tim Hardaway freed up minutes for Dotson to receive a larger role in the rotation. In two games after the All Star break, Dotson has averaged 23.5 points, 4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and has knocked down 13 of his 22 three point shots. It’s a small sample size but Dotson has the type of talent to develop into a key role player.
4. Let the young guys close out games
The Knicks aren’t going to have many opportunities to win games to close out the season but when they do, players such as Dennis Smith Jr, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, and Daymean Dotson should be on the court closing games out. During the first game out of the break, Fizdale rode with Mudiay over Smith Jr to finish out the game. That just can’t happen anymore. Let the young guys figure out the learning curve of trying to close out an opponent.
5. Finish in the top 3 of the lottery
With the new lottery rules, it’s so important the Knicks finish with a bottom three record. The bottom three teams are ensured an equal 14% chance of winning the lottery. The Knicks have the second worst record in the league and are in prime position for Zion Williamson or R.J Barrett. Time to keep playing hard while the losses rack up to ensure a franchise changing type talent is drafted for next season.