The New York Knicks ended the 2018 season at an awful 29-53 record which left them in a no-man’s land where they weren’t bad enough to have any real shot at the top of the NBA Draft and they didn’t come close to the playoffs. They were just mediocre trash. Not great.
You can obviously point to the fact that Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL to the exact moment that the Knicks realized things weren’t going well but it’s not like they were running the Eastern Conference up until that point.
There is a belief that coaching in the NBA doesn’t matter. Did Phil Jackson reallyyyy make Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal better? Tyrone Lue can’t tell LeBron James nothing. Steve Kerr is great, I’m sure, but you know what’s also great? Having Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, the best 3 shooters ever. That’s pretty great.
But you can’t look at the playoffs and not notice the awful rosters that Gregg Popovich and Brad Stevens dragged into the postseason. The only thing the separates the 2018 San Antonio Spurs and the 2018 Atlanta Hawks is Popovich. I guarantee Popovich would transform Dennis Schroeder into an All-Star.
Brad Stevens is making Terry Rozier look like Kyrie Irving right now. They’re literally interchangeable players under Stevens. We are a few months away from seeing the impact of Stevens when the Boston Celtics let Marcus Smart hit free agency and Smart becomes the worst player on the Los Angeles Clippers.
So when you look at the New York Knicks opening day roster and you look at their final record, there is a clear disconnect between the players and Jeff Hornacek. Kristaps Porzingis led the NBA in back-to-the-basket post-ups. The fuck?
Porzingis is the most athletic 7-foot tall big man I’ve ever seen and he was slowly backing down Nikola Vucevic instead facing up and taking his slow defender off the dribble or standing in the corner for a short 3-pointer.
But besides the opposite lack of x’s and o’s by Hornacek, there is a huge benefit to the New York Knicks moving on to David Fizdale as their next head coach.
Here is what Kyle O’Quinn had to say about the new coach:
“I wasn’t close enough to either [Hornacek or Jackson] to understand if they understood me or not, or any other player,’’ O’Quinn said. “I never got close to either one on the basketball side, but [Fizdale] is a younger coach, championship coach and he’s done it recently. That speaks about the relationship he may have with the players more than the relationship coach Hornacek and Phil had with the players.’’
Kyle O’Quinn is alluding to the fact that Jeff Hornacek had no real connection to the players. There was no way that he and Frank Ntilikina had any actual real conversations about basketball or any functional communication at all.
It’s allllll about communication and making the guys on the bench feel like you have their backs and Hornacek was looking out for number one. He wanted to keep his job and that showed when he and Joakim Noah got into the fight that led to Noah being kicked off the team. Sure, you can blame the front office for not giving Hornacek the freedom and job security to implement his system but like, what system?
David Fizdale is a ‘player’s coach’ which is a sneaky way of saying ‘good coach’. The man got hired and the first thing he did was fly to Latvia to meet Kristaps. Fizdale might actually call a timeout and turn to Tim Hardaway Jr and say ‘hey, you’re struggling from three. But keep shooting, my guy.’ It’s strange how much players tend to perform better when they are given confidence. Strange.
David Fizdale >>>. Jeff Hornacek.
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