Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Based on what we've heard from players at Knicks training camp, defense has been a priority this week. You'll get your first look at the Knicks' defense in action on Monday when they open the preseason in Washington.
Something to expect? Ball pressure. That's been a point of emphasis during camp.
"Me and all my teammates, we pay a lot of attention to pressuring the ball on defense. And not letting the opposing team be comfortable offensively," Frank Ntilikina, one of the team's top defenders, said Sunday. "So yes, you will see that from the Knicks."
Last year's Knicks ranked 20th in opponent turnovers per 100 possessions and 27th in defensive efficiency.
You can make a strong argument that Ntilikina and Mitchell Robinson are the Knicks two top defenders. We know Robinson will have a spot in the rotation and will get significant playing time this season. Ntilikina's situation is less certain. He will compete with Dennis Smith Jr. and Elfrid Payton for minutes at point guard.
Smith Jr. will miss Monday's game due to a back issue (more on that below). So Ntilikina should get minutes on Monday.
He's said that he's feeling healthy and confident after his strong play for the French National Team in the FIBA World Cup last month. And he's gotten praise from Fizdale and others for his play in camp.
"I thought (Payton) and Frank both did an excellent job of organizing us (in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage), pushing the pace, defending, making plays for other people. They both did a really good job of that," Fizdale said.
Here's Payton on Ntilikina: "Frank is very talented. I think he's been given a bad rap as far as the league goes. He's very talented, extremely long arms, especially on the defensive end. He had the chance to run the point yesterday he ran it well and throughout camp. I can learn from him, he can learn from me."
'Tough' to manage depth: With Smith Jr. out, Payton is probably starting at point guard against Washington. Obviously, you can also pencil in Julius Randle at power forward. Fizdale said he'll likely announce his starting lineup for the Wizards game on Monday morning. He plans look at several lineups throughout the preseason.
"I really like to mix it up and look at different combinations of guys and different lineups," he said. "Experiment a little bit and just see who works well together."
The challenge for Fizdale will be finding lineups that win games while developing the Knicks' younger players. If the Knicks' young core is a part of lineups that help the Knicks win games, that's great. But there's a chance that some young players are out of the rotation; Fizdale has several veterans on short-term contracts who will earn minutes. So several players who entered the season expecting to play will be out of the rotation on a nightly basis.
"You never want guys to feel they are not getting their due, but I'm not thereto make everybody happy," Fizdale said Sunday. "It's always going to be about who is getting it done and competing and the highest level. I do feel my depth gives me a tough task. We have a lot of guys that's capable (of contributing). So juggling that and getting the right guys and the right combination on the floor is something I have to work out."
Knicks to visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland
The Knicks may visit with Georgetown coach and legendary big man Patrick Ewing while they're in Washington D.C. Ewing gave the club a pep talk last season and was on the dais during the NBA Draft Lottery. The club is also scheduled to visit with wounded veterans at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Tuesday.
What does Fizdale hope his group gains from the visit?: "Perspective. Perspective. Some of those guys are younger than (the Knicks' players). The stuff they sacrificed and lived through, I'm hoping that gives our guys perspective and gratitude for where they are," Fizdale said.
Cautious approach with Smith Jr.: Dennis Smith Jr. missed several games at the end of last season with a back ailment. He will miss Monday's game with what a back strain. No one seems overly concerned about it. Fizdale reiterated on Sunday that the club was being cautious with Smith Jr. It would be a surprise if he didn't play in the Knicks' next preseason game (Friday against the Wizards).
Heights/weights: the Knicks released their official heights and weights for players this season on Sunday. Kevin Knox is listed at 6-8 after being listed at 6-9 last year. Mitchell Robinson is 7-0 after being listed at 7-1 last season. Frank Ntilikina went from 6-6 last season to 6-5 this year. According to a New York Times report, the NBA listed the players heights without shoes this season.