By John Schmeelk
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The Knicks’ first week of training camp has been relatively peaceful, but a few narratives have come up that should be addressed. What better way than to play a little “Fact or Fiction”?
The Knicks are still going to run the triangle.
Fiction x 1,000. I cannot stress this enough. This is not going to happen. The Knicks are not going to run Phil Jackson’s triangle in 2017. Might some of the plays they run have some common elements of the triangle? Of course. Nearly every team in the league has “aspects of the triangle” in their offense, including the Spurs and Warriors.
This is similar to the foolish argument people made in the past when defending the triangle. They said “see the Warriors and Spurs are running it!” They weren’t. They just had some plays (usually run through the post) that had triangle style spacing and cuts. They were not running the offense that it appeared Jackson wanted the Knicks to run. They are completely different animals.
The Knicks are not going to slow it down, rely on midrange shots and shy away from the 3. If what coach Jeff Hornacek is saying is true, they will be doing the opposite of those things. This, potentially, could be a very fun Knicks team to watch this year, at least on offense.
Frank Ntilikina will remind people of Kyrie Irving.
Fiction x 10,000. Ramon Sessions, a veteran point guard in the league who has been playing against Ntilikina in camp, made this point, so I understand why people would take it seriously. The evidence, however, is not in Sessions’ favor here. If you watched Ntilikina overseas, his skill set is nearly the opposite of Irving’s.
While Irving struggles mightily on defense, it is Ntilikina’s strength. Where Irving might be the best isolation scorer in the league with a wicked handle, those are the areas that Ntilikina still needs to work on. Where Irving looks to score first, Ntilikina looks to pass first. Knicks fans should not have Irving in mind when they start anticipating what Ntilikina will be on the floor this year.
Kristaps Porzingis’ knee is a big problem and terrible sign of things to come.
Fiction, for now. Obviously, you never want to see a team’s young franchise player deal with a knee injury, but by all accounts, it is minor. He dealt with a knee bruise in Europe over the summer. One common complaint about Porzingis over the past half-year or so is that he is injury prone.
Porzingis missed 10 games in his rookie season and 16 games in his second season. You would obviously want him to play in every game, but missing 26 games over the course of two seasons is hardly being injury prone. It also remains to be seen that if the Knicks had been better and fighting for a playoff spot whether he would have fought through some of the stuff toward the end of the past two years. He missed the final seven games of his rookie season and the final five of his second year. The Knicks were wisely conservative with their young star.
One legitimate risk of drafting a 7-foot-3 player is injury risk. Players that height often deal with lower body injuries, specifically with their feet (see Yao Ming, Bill Walton). In his two years in the NBA, Porzingis hasn’t had a major injury that required surgery. He has had some strains, bruises and other minor aches and pains, but nothing that would be considered a big deal.
That’s not to say those minor injuries don’t add or up or can’t be debilitating. His sore Achilles tendon clearly affected his play in the middle of last season. But as a player who is constantly working out to get stronger, all the while getting used to the rigors of an NBA schedule, things like that can be expected.
Anthony Davis missed 33 games in his first two seasons. Irving missed 54. Dwyane Wade missed 26. Kevin Love missed 23. Porzingis is not unique. As he ages and gets his body to where he wants it, he might grow out of these nagging injuries. He might not. That’s why we have to wait and see.
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