After coming off a win on Friday, the New York Knicks seemed like a rejuvenated team. However, all the positives from that game vanished against the Pistons on Sunday. The game ended with the Pistons winning 99-91. Here are the takeaways.
RJ Barrett Is Being Held Back
Barrett had a strong performance, finishing off with 25 points, and 58% from the field. The Canadian forward was the leading scorer for both teams and dominated offensively. Despite how well Barrett played, there’s still one factor holding him back: Julius Randle. Although he played more minutes than Randle, he was on the ball much less. Since coming to New York, Randle has played a point/forward role where he controls the Knicks’ offensive game. This role leaves RJ Barrett in an awkward position where he isn’t able to get on the ball much and play a bigger role for the Knicks. Fans will hope Barrett is given a larger role on the team so he can unlock his full potential.
The Knicks Can’t Afford To Play Iso-Ball
The Knicks showed flashes of brilliance against the Pistons, however, they only played this well when there was good ball movement. Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, and even RJ Barrett were at times guilty of playing too much iso-ball throughout the game. Often, when the team made good passes without forcing a shot, they were able to put up an uncontested shot that usually went in. Thibodeau will have to enforce this style of play if he wants to coach a potentially playoff-bound team this year.
The Knicks Are In Desperate Need Of A Guard
Both on Friday and on Sunday, the Knicks offensive woes continued. They lacked a guard who could handle the ball and direct the offense. Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. both attempted to play that role without success. Players including Julius Randle, Obi Toppin, and Mitchell Robinson are all players that need a good point-guard to succeed. As long as the Knicks don’t have someone to manage the offense, many players won’t reach their full potential.
One player that stood out who could do so is rookie Immanuel Quickley. Quickley was an energetic player on the court and showed he can have become a top-class player if the Knicks management plays their cards right. However, it is too early to tell if Quickley is the point guard that can mesh this team together. Over the offseason, it was clear that the Knicks’ main priority was to sign or trade for a guard. However, they failed to do so, and they’ll be punished for this over the course of the season.
Overall, this was a very disappointing game for New York as they were outplayed completely; and their intensity wasn’t at the level it should have been at. The Knicks continue the preseason on Wednesday, as they host the Cavaliers in what will be an interesting matchup.