Twenty-four games into the season, the Knicks are 11-13. Two years ago, the Knicks were also 11-13 after 24 games when the general consensus around New York was that Tom Thibodeau nailed a basket of peaches to the balcony of the Springfield Y with Jimmy Naismith.
Now, of course, there’s a constant rumble — which sometimes turns into a louder rumble — maybe Thibodeau hasn’t forgotten basketball more than we know (as the old hoops used to joke), but how he forgot it. coaching.
The longtime NBA insider shook his head at that.
“If this is a players’ league,” said an insider who has focused on the Knicks this year, “how often do the Knicks put their best player on the court?” How many talented quarterbacks do they have in their rotation? I am amazed by it [the fans’] “Wanting the Knicks to be better, thinking they’re better is going to wear them down.”
In the 24 days since Oklahoma City beat them 145-135 at the Garden, the Knicks have seen a significant uptick in action, but that hasn’t been reflected in the record yet. Beating Cleveland on Sunday night was a definite positive step. Wednesday would have been good against their sudden nemesis, the Hawks.
“They’re talented,” Thibodeau said of Atlanta on Tuesday. “They are long. They’re athletic.”
They are exactly the type of team the Knicks have been for the last two years because of those three qualities, and they have the added pleasure of having Garden anti-hero Tray Young around. This would be a great time for the Knicks to back up Sunday’s effort and 90s defense with another, especially with winnable games between now and New Year’s.
And Thibodeau is working tirelessly. His new nine-man rotation currently includes Miles “Deuce” McBride and excludes Derrick Rose, one of Thibodeau’s all-time favorites, and Cam Reddish. Evan Fournier has been stuck on the bench for 11 games. The notion that Thibodeau was stubborn and set in his ways gave way to what always seemed like a Penn Plaza meritocracy.
“He said he wanted to take care of Deuce,” Rose said Tuesday. “I get it.”
Reddish’s thoughts on the matter are unknown at this time, but what is clear is that minutes will no longer be allocated based on status, but based on earning them. Thibodeau was no more willing to keep starters on the bench than before. It’s all part of trying to find a rhythm and pattern that works for the team.
That’s exactly what happened two years ago, going from 11-13 to 41-31 by the end of the year. After 24 last year, 12-12 melted to 37-45. It came at a time when both of Thibodeau’s previous teams were figuring out who they were and who they were going to be. You understand that we are about to receive a similar message from this group.
“Relative to their competition,” a league insider asked, “how do you think their record should be?”
Right now the answer is 11-13 or something like that. Let’s check that number on New Year’s Day.