Despite Slow Start Knicks Frontcourt Shows Promise

This story was originally submitted by Brian McGuire, on Thursday, November the 17th.

The New York Knicks have struggled in the early going this year. Currently, they have a 5-6 record after winning two in a row. One of the reasons that the team has a losing record in the early going is that not all of their newly acquired pieces have fit together quite right yet. The frontcourt in particular has been in flux early in the season, which is surprising when both Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson said during the offseason that the Knicks have the best frontcourt in the Eastern Conference. Here is breakdown of the Knicks’ frontcourt situation.

The Good

One of the best things about the Knicks’ season so far is the breakout of Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks center is rapidly becoming the superstar the Knicks thought he would be when they took him with the 4th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. He has been on a tear, leading the team to victory in their past two games. In their most recent game against the Pistons, Porzingis had a career high 35 points and was serenaded with chants of “MVP” from the home crowd at the Garden.

At small forward, Carmelo Anthony is the same player this year that he has been ever since he came into the league. He is a prolific scorer on the offensive end and a liability on the defensive end. One thing that he is going to have to learn to accept this year is that the Knicks are no longer his team. This is the year they transition to Porzingis’ team, and Melo needs to be able to swallow his pride and accept this if the Knicks are going to make the playoffs this season.

The Bad

The worst thing about the Knicks so far this year has been the terrible start to the season for Joakim Noah. The $72-million free agent Phil Jackson signed in the offseason is originally from New York, and many thought he would shine in his return to the city. Unfortunately, Noah has struggled immensely. While Noah has always been a liability on the offensive side of the ball, his excellent defense and rebounding have always made him a valuable player in the past.

That hasn’t been the case this year. Noah has seemed a step slow on defense. His offense has been even worse than normal. He has been so bad that he was even benched for the entire second half of the Knicks’ win over Dallas. Some of the New York media are even calling for him to lose his starting spot.

The Bench

Off the bench, the Knicks have some solid frontcourt players. Small forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas has provided a lot of energy when he comes into the game. Maurice Ndour and Willy Hernangómez have also given the Knicks some good minutes off the bench at small forward. Perhaps the greatest frontcourt asset the Knicks have on their bench is Kyle O’Quinn. He has been absolutely terrific, bringing energy and toughness whenever he is on the court.

While Anthony and Jackson’s claim that the Knicks have the best frontcourt in the East is farfetched, it does appear to be working out well with the glaring exception of Noah. If he can somehow bring his game around, the Knicks frontcourt could become one of the best in the East.

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