Are The Knicks Buyers After 2nd Straight Win? Yes, But Not Why You Think They Are! Knicks 103 Kings 101 Recap and Trade-Season Outlook

Photo via Sergio Estrada- USA Today Sports and posting and toasting

Recap

New York jumped out to a brutal start, displaying the same errors that have plagued them all season. Buddy Hield erupted in the 1st Quarter, scoring 14 points on an efficient 6-7 shooting, and grabbed 7 rebounds. The Knicks careless three-point defense, often times being held up or sagging under screens, allowed Sacramento to shoot 5-7 (71.4%), from three in the 1st. Ball movement and shooting were struggles for the Knicks on offense, shooting 37.5% from the floor, not making a single three-pointer, and only recording 2 assists in the quarter. Julus Randle (9 points) and Mitchell Robinson (6 points), combined to score 15 of their 20 points as a team. Trailing by 12, New York stepped it up defensively and moved the ball more. The Knicks forced 4 turnovers, held the Kings to shoot 42.9% from the floor, and tallied 7 assists on offense. The Kings still managed to shoot 4-8 from three in the quarter. Both teams amazingly, had only recorded 4 free throw attempts respectively in the 1st Half! Down by 9 at the half, it was clear the Knicks needed to guard the three-point line better and get to the foul line more often in the 2nd Half, to win the game. The 2nd Half was filled with unrelenting defense and much better offense for the Knicks. New York forced 7 turnovers, surrendered only 4 free throw attempts, and held the Kings to shoot 8-24 (33.3%) from downtown. Most importantly, the Knicks smothered Buddy Hield, who shot 5-13 (38.5%) from the floor and 2-9 (22.2%) from three, in the 2nd Half. On offense, ball movement and shooting way key for the Knicks turnaround, racking in 15 assists, while shooting 52.2% from the field and 42.9% from three. Although the Knicks only attempted 6 free throws in the 2nd Half, their shooting and defense was enough to propel the team to a 2 point victory. Julius Randle was magnificent in this game, finishing with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, while shooting an efficient 10-17 (58.8%), from the floor.

Why The Knicks Won

New York pulled out this 2 point victory, due to hard-nosed defense, a fantastic assist/turnover ratio, and commanding the paint. Effort certainly couldn’t be questioned in this game for the Knicks who held Sacramento to only 101 points (21 in the 4th Quarter) and recorded 34 box-outs (15 more than the Kings). The Knicks posted a team assist/turnover ratio of 2.67… that is easily better than the league-leading, assist to turnover ratio, held by the Phoenix Suns (2.05), this season. Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, and Elfrid Payton dominated the paint, scoring inside all night. These three Knicks combined for 36 of the Knicks 56 points in the paint. New York held the Sacramento to only 32 points in the paint. Perhaps the Knicks are beginning to find their identity (tough defense, ball security, and interior scoring).

Outlook

Today is December 15th, marking the date that all players who signed this offseason, are eligible to be traded. New York is still clearly desperate for shooting (last in the NBA in FG%, 42.2%). The Knicks are at a really tough crossroad right now, and no it isn’t due to their 2 game win streak. Yes, the Knicks find themselves only 5.5 games back from the 8 seed and have won back to back games. However, New York defeated the Warriors (without Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) and the Kings (without De’Aaron Fox). Although both victories were nice, the big picture needs to be the focus moving forward. The Knicks lack talent and it appears they need to cash-in on their veteran players, who can help playoff teams. Marcus Morris Sr. clearly has the most value, but is also the heart and sole of this Knicks roster. Culture has been a major point, talked about a lot by Steve Mills and Scott Perry. It is hard to say you are building a culture, when you trade one of your best players and leader, for draft picks. The Knicks’ Front Office has a lot of tough decisions to make with their jobs possibly, most likely, being on the line. Should they sell low on struggling players such as Dennis Smith Jr. and Allonzo Trier? Should they trade veteran leadership, moving Morris Sr., Taj Gibson, and Wayne Ellington? Could they possibly try and make a big splash and consider moving Ntilikina or Knox? Everything will be in play for the Knicks at the right price. Mills knows this may be his last shot and I doubt he elects to trade assets without acquiring young talent back. Mills knows that if he elects to move players for draft picks, the Knicks play on the court will suffer and his job will likely come to an end. The Knicks clearly need to display improvement as the season progresses. I’d expect trades that involve some new faces, sooner rather than later. DO NOT BE SURPRISED IF THE KNICKS TRADE FOR TALENT! 

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