Tom Thibodeau doesn’t care what the stats — or a famous former Nike and current analyst — say. The Knicks’ recent defensive issues extend beyond RJ Barrett.
Although the numbers haven’t favored Barrett as of late on the defensive end, and MSG Network’s Walt “Clyde” Frazier criticized him during Saturday night’s overtime loss to the Clippers, the Knicks coach praised the young wing. strongly retreated in favor of before Sunday’s 108-97 victory over the 76ers at the Garden.
“Quite honestly, I look at some of these numbers and they’re meaningless to me,” Thibodeau said. “I have yet to see a good classification system defensively, and I think I’ve studied it for a long time. I don’t buy into it the way some people think it’s gospel. You ask them what that means, and they can’t explain it.
Barrett did not play Sunday against the 76ers due to a non-COVID-19 illness.
According to advanced stats, Barrett has struggled on the defensive end. He has a defensive rating of 116.6 on the season, second-worst on the team behind Jalen Brunson. In January, it rose to 121.0 — nearly 12 points higher than his defensive rating in December — and the Knicks were outscored by 7.4 points per 100 possessions when Barrett was on the floor. As a primary defender, Barrett is allowing opponents to shoot 46.1 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from 3-point range. As a team, the Knicks are holding opponents to 45.4 and 35.1, respectively.
In a loss to the Clippers after Kawhi Leonard was fouled on a shot by Barrett, Frazier said: “Barrett has the honor of being the worst defender on the Knicks, guys. He’s got all these stats now and he’s the worst. is a man
Asked about those comments, Thibodeau said: “I don’t usually listen to volume, to be honest with you. … I think sometimes it’s easy to pile on somebody. It’s not an individual game.’ ‘
Now, the Knicks haven’t played well defensively of late, especially after losing Mitchell Robinson to a fractured right thumb. Thibodeau has emphasized the need for improvement not from any one player, but from everyone.
“The way it works, defensively, it’s five people working together, and the people who are tracking things, there’s no context,” he said. “You don’t know whose responsibility it is to switch, you don’t know whose responsibility it is to show up, you don’t know whose responsibility it is to stay down. You don’t know any of that.”
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