(CBS Local)–The New York Knicks only won 17 games this past season, but forward Lance Thomas believes things are in a good place for the future.

“The foundation is set,” said in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “The way that Coach Fizdale and the staff changed the culture here… it’s changed. I’m telling you, the foundation is set. We’ve worked really hard to build a culture where guys are actually working hard and guys are actually there and developing each and every day. That’s set and completely different and it’s a great feeling. Now all we need is the pieces.”

Thomas was particularly impressed with the way the young guys on the team were playing at the end of the season. In addition to the coaching staff, the Knicks forward says DeAndre Jordan played a big role in helping his teammates develop.

“DeAndre is a great guy and I’m glad he came,” said Thomas. “We hit it off right from the jump. He’s also a great leader. He’s helped me a lot with keeping the locker room together and keeping our young guys motivated. He’s a tough player, embodies toughness and things that New Yorkers love. Hopefully he does come back. He’s a great piece that would definitely help this franchise.”

While the Knicks look for the next face of their franchise, Thomas is still good friends with the team’s former star player Carmelo Anthony. Melo was one of Thomas’s favorite teammates because he challenged him every practice.

“We always played one on one after practice,” said Thomas. “We went at each other all the time. I became a better defender going at him every single day. He worked on offensive talents that he already had. I guarded him a different way and was always really hands on with him. He was able to find ways to score on me. When he would go against other defenders that wouldn’t guard him as close, it was so easy for him.”

In addition to his life as an NBA basketball player, Thomas has a passion for fishing. Being out on the sea is one of Thomas’s favorite things do during the offseason.

“I went to New Orleans, which was the first team I played for in the NBA and in New Orleans, it’s a way of life down there,” said Thomas. “I threw myself into the culture and I love it. I have a group of guys I fish with all the time. I’m a competitive guy and my competitive nature kicked in. I found out that there was a tournament circuit from Texas all the way to Florida. I put the team together in 2017 and we’ve been fighting to carve out a niche in the sport.”