We’re three games into the NBA season and it appears as though the New York Knicks will never win a basketball game again after three brutal losses to the San Antonio Spurs, Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics.
Now, before I go any further, it’s safe to say that this wasn’t about to be the year the Knicks sneak into the playoffs.
This year should be used to develop their young players like RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox while building the trade value of some of the players they signed in the offseason like Marcus Morris and Wayne Ellington.
Wins and losses don’t really matter this season yet three games in and it appears as though this team is being coached as if…wins matter. Which is a problem.
The biggest indication of this problem is the point guard situation that shows that glaring hole in the Knicks philosophy.
Dave Fizdale came to New York with this attitude that everyone needs to earn their spot. No playing time was guaranteed for everyone.
“Roll that ball out and whoever takes the spot, takes the spot” is what David Fizdale said when he was hired to coach the Knicks in 2018 and after a year and a half it appears as though that mentality only affected Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox, two lottery picks who absolutely deserve more playing time than the players getting more minutes than them.
In 3 games, Frank Ntilikina has played a combined 3 minutes. All of those 3 minutes were opening night before he proceeded to record to consecutive coach’s DNP.
Meanwhile, Dennis Smith Jr continues to play even though he is nursing a legitimate back injury that shut him down for the final 14 games of the season last year.
DSJ started the year with a layup.
And has missed every shot attempt since.
My man is shooting 17% from the field and defensively, you might as well throw a cardboard cut out at the top of the key then have Smith Jr getting beat off the dribble.
Some might be able to conclude that there is no fucking way that Dennis Smith Jr has earned his playing time over Frank Ntilikina, a point guard who also struggles with his shooting but can lock up anyone on defense.
It’s even more glaring when you look back to just last month in the FIBA World Cup when the French Prince put Kemba Walker in the torture chamber as France beat Team USA.
Sooo it’s interesting that literally a month later when the Boston Celtics come to town, Frank Ntilikina doesn’t play a single minute against Kemba Walker.
Kemba scored 32.
Frank played zero minutes.
Are we sure David Fizdale knows how to coach?
If Frank Ntilikina can look like the best point guard on the floor a month ago against Kemba Walker then why is he suddenly trash when he puts on a Knicks jersey?
In 2016, Fizdale took over the Grit N Grind Memphis Grizzlies and instantly ruined that team’s dynamic.
In the 2014-15 season, Memphis won 55 games and finished 2nd in the West but fell to 42 wins the following season which led to the firing of Dave Joerger.
David Fizdale came in and won approximately one more game than Joerger before losing in the first round to the Spurs which wasn’t a great look for the new head coach considering this team lost in the first round to the Spurs the year prior.
What a fantastic coach coming in and maintaining status quo. So safe.
What made Memphis so unique was the frontcourt combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, two offensive masterminds whose games paired so well with one another as Marc liked to operate above the foul line and run pick n rolls with Randolph at the top of the paint that was impossible to defend because Gasol was such a talented passer and Randolph was an incredible finisher for a guy who was so earthbound with absolutely no vertical leap.
David Fizdale saw that dominant and frontcourt and decided to split them up because dumb coaches do dumb shit.
Here’s what Zach Randolph said about not playing with Marc Gasol back in 2017:
“I think teams are happy with the way we’re playing, taking pressure off of them honestly,” Randolph told ESPN. “Some guys told me on that other teams: ‘Shoot, we’re happy y’all guys aren’t playing together anymore. It gives us a break.
When the other team is excited about your coaching decisions then you’re making terrible coaching decisions.
If you’re still unsure if Fizdale is dumb, here is his response to Randolph:
“I’ll make a deal with them,” Fizdale said. “I will say, ‘Hey, if you guys show me you can defend the 3-point line when you are out there together, then I will play you together more.”
This Memphis Grizzlies team had Mike Conley and Tony Allen guarding the perimeter, two of the best perimeter defenders in the entire NBA but he was somehow blaming Zach Randolph for not being able to defend the 3-point line.
A good head coach would recognize that Randolph and Gasol’s scoring was too valuable when they played together so separating them because of perimeter defense doesn’t make any sense at all, especially with Conley and Allen defending the perimeter masterfully.
By the end of his time in Memphis, Fizdale decided to wage this strange war with Marc Gasol by benching him in 4th quarters for absolutely no reason outside of the fact that he knew it angered Gasol.
It’s almost as if he randomly picks fights with players and when he’s questioned about it, he doubles-down and fucks with them more. You know, like never playing Frank Ntilikina last season and then benching him on Christmas Day when his entire family is flown in from France even though there is no point guard on the team that’s far and away more talented than he is.
Marc Gasol was the best player on the Grizzlies and was reduced to a role player because he was mad about being reduced to a role player.
It’s hard to not point out the obvious contradictions of saying that players need to ‘earn’ their minutes when 19-year old rookie, RJ Barrett, is averaging 36.3 points a game and leading the team in total minutes played. Weird how Barrett didn’t have to sit on the bench behind Mario Hezonja like Kevin Knox did a season earlier.
Before I continue shitting on Fizdale, it’s worth noting that the Knicks front office put an awful team together and it’s very possible that they are making some decisions on who gets to play.
I don’t believe this conspiracy but it’s possible that the new front office doesn’t value Frank Ntilikina because he was a Phil Jackson draft pick and they are overvaluing Dennis Smith Jr because they traded Kristaps Porzingis for him and Porzingis is currently balling out of his mind in Dallas while DSJ has made one layup in 3 games.
Buuuut Steve Mills was in the front office then and now so he also was involved in the selection of Frank. It doesn’t behoove him to let Frank rot on the bench.
What’s way more likely is that Fizdale has a specific type of player that he likes more than others and if you don’t fit that mold, he isn’t a good enough coach to figure out a way to maximize your potential.
Oh, it’s probably worth bringing up that the Knicks won 17 games last season and had the worst record in the NBA. They were tanking but like, damn.
Fire David Fizdale yesterday.