While Tom Thibodeau might not win Coach of the Year, I believe there is no coach more important to their team than Thibs. This is how we got there.
When Thibedaou came to the Knicks, it was met with tons of disapproval. Thibs heard those comments and acted quickly. In a quick period, this team went from laughing stock to a serious playoff contender. If you look at games with David Fizdale, he looked just happy to be there. There was a game last season against Milwaukee, the Knicks were losing by thirty-nine, and Fizdale was on the sideline smiling, just not seeming interested. Fast forward to this season, the Knicks were up on the fourth by thirty-nine, Thibs showed why he was hired. Instead of the usual coach letting the players get sloppy, he held them accountable. You would have thought the Knicks were down by that much. It’s the little moments like that, that prove Thibedaou is the right guy.
Knicks Instant Success
Julius Randle was almost booed out of town last season. Every Knicks fan said, overpaid, overrated, waste of space. What did Thibs do? Immediately reach out to Randle, and he gave him a vote of confidence. Randle has improved in most offensive stats and has cemented himself as the leader of this Knicks team. What held Randle back last season, was his selfishness. For the majority of last season, Randle was a shoot-first player and didn’t think to pass. This year, he rounded out his game and led the Knicks in assists.
Another example of success is, RJ Barrett. The sophomore went from being a player fan were close to regretting, to showing the killer instinct we’ve all craved. In year one with Thibs, Barrett had 3.3 more points per game, shot eight percent better from three, and almost four percent better from the field. Ideally, Barrett will be the first option, but the improvement from last season is immense, and fans should feel comfortable with RJ being the second option.
Similar to what I said earlier, Thibs holds all fifteen players on this team accountable. Too many previous Knicks coaches seemed to be afraid to get in player’s faces. In every game this year, the Knicks fought until the end. There was no mailing it in, and there weren’t any uninspired performances. This team went throw the longest winning streak they’ve had in years, and they also endured some rough patches. Never did Thibs seem defeated, and never did he give up. Every player on this team respects him and gives their all to him. It’s incredible in a short amount of time, how Thibs’ presence has worn off. There’s something to be said that Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson were brought in. Those two have been a part of Thibs teams and can help convey his message to others.
Tom Thibodeau may not have been the Coach a lot of people wanted, but he is the perfect fit. In one year, the turnaround is remarkable and one of the best coaching jobs in recent memory. With a similar roster to last year, the way Thibs turned this team into a top-five defensive machine is a testament to him and his players. With the playoffs looming, seeing the Knicks and Tom Thibodeau back in the playoffs will be an awesome sight.