The Knicks have played two preseason games so far and have two more to play. There is a lot to recognize and critique from the first two and there is a lot to look forward to in the next two.
What have we learned?
So far it seems Fizdale is going to play mostly big lineups and give the veterans a good amount of minutes. Fizdale has tried out different schemes on defense thus far and playing around with how much switching the Knicks should do on defense. It seems that he will run the frontcourts of Morris, Randle, and Robinson along with the combo of Knox, Gibson, and Portis Jr.. However, Knox and Portis Jr. haven’t both been healthy on the same night to see that second group in action. When Robinson went into foul trouble early in the last game, it was Portis Jr. who replaced him and not Gibson which was a little surprising. This means Portis Jr. will likely be the first big off of the bench in the next two games, however I’m not sure if Fizdale will continue this in the regular season. Morris and Randle control the ball a lot on offense when they are on the court and so does Portis Jr. making the three of them not mesh well. Taj would likely compliment those two better if Mitch were to get into foul trouble early in the regular season. I think Fiz just wanted to test the waters and see what Morris, Randle, and Portis Jr. looked like on the floor together, and give Bobby Portis Jr. more minutes to see what he has in him as he mist the first preseason game with an injury. Morris and Randle seem to be the two big scorers for this years Knicks along with the help of Barrett and Knox. Portis Jr. certainly will get his as he didn’t look reluctant to shoot the other night. It will be interesting to see how Smith Jr. looks in his first game back as he worked on his jumper all off-season and is known for attacking the basket.
What should we look for?
Fizdale has consistently played Payton with the starting five and brought Ntilikina off of the bench. It will be interesting to see how that changes with Dennis Smith Jr. coming back from injury and with ayton having an abysmal last game where he shot 0-9 and was worst on the team in +- with the Knicks being outscored by 24 points while he was on the floor. Also, with Barrett being a great compliment for defensive point guards, perhaps he would slide into the 2nd unit and play with Payton or hopefully Ntilikina while Smith Jr. gets paired with a 3 and D guard like Ellington or Dotson who was hurt the first two games, but has been a full participant in recent practices and should be available for their game Wednesday against the Hawks. Trier has been a sark for the Knicks but doesn’t seem to be in line for consistent or heavy minutes. It will be worth monitoring how he is used in these next two preseason games. Fizdale with hopefully a healthy roster for the rest of the preseason, will likely manage and use similar rotations to what he intends to use come opening night. We shall see what exactly those strategies and rotations are.