At this point in the year, games are no longer judged by whether or not the Knicks win or lose a given contest. Instead, it's time to focus on player development. This is an opportunity for New York to explore and see which pieces may flash some worthwhile potential as a means of auditioning for a role for next season.
During a campaign in which the Knicks have struggled mightily, changes will be necessary heading into next season. That said, playing the teams younger and/or more promising players at this time provides the organization with a taste of the positive glimpses next season may boast. There are certainly still players on this season's squad that can be utilized for the better as the team looks to improve moving forward.
With that in mind, here's a look at who stood out, despite a loss to the Hornets:
- The Knicks are using this opportunity to run their offense through Jeriant Grant, and so far, he hasn't disappointed. Grant is gaining more confidence through being more aggressive around the rim. Scoring 14 points and dishing out three assists, he clearly isn't dropping a boatload of dimes. Still, his ability to penetrate not only results in more opportunities at the charity stripe, but also opens up chances for his teammates to score around the perimeter as he draws multiple defenders inside.
- With a $5 million player option for next season, New York should be hoping Derrick Williams opts in for next season. He's proven his value all season long, but certainly more so in this most recent string of starts he's received. Like Grant, Williams has no problem attacking the basket. His ability to get to the line is special. He's not shy about creating his own scoring opportunities, and the Knicks could certainly use such confidence off the bench. He's vulnerable on defense, but should he be slotted in the lineup next to a Robin Lopez more often than not, Williams can focus on providing New York with a necessary boost.
- Speaking of Lopez, it was nice to see him still display a bit of fire following a questionable foul call late in the game. Ejections are a part of the game, and though his departure created a void, such expression is good. A guy like Lopez still has pride in what's going on, and it shows.
-As the likes of Grant and Williams excelled on the offensive end of the floor, it's clear many of the Knicks' issues still revolve around their lack of defensive intensity. There's also a lack of awareness as to where each player needs to be at a given time.