Ahead of tonight’s Brooklyn Nets vs New York Knicks game, we wanted to give you a slightly different type of preview.
We were lucky enough to get Jeffery Bellone — the man behind Knicks Film School — to break down three things you need to know about the Knicks in his own words.
Tonight’s home opening game tips off at 7:30 in Barclays Center, be sure to tune in!
Frank Ntilikina is a small forward
Well, kind of. After David Fizdale hinted all preseason that he would reward the best players from Training Camp with a starting position, he had to shake things up to keep that promise.
Kevin Knox, who thrilled in Summer League, struggled throughout the preseason, nearly turning over the ball as often as he made a shot (shooting 16-49 from the field with 15 turnovers). Fizdale decided at the last minute to start the season with Knox coming off the bench, leaving an open spot for the starting small forward position. Since Fizdale likes to have length at this position, he tapped on Frank Ntilikina’s shoulder.
A quick breakdown of the little things Frank Ntilikina does on defense to impact a play 🎬 pic.twitter.com/TYzVVCrwil
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) October 13, 2018
Just because Ntilikina is playing small forward when the starters line-up for tip, it doesn’t mean he won’t track opposing point guards at times, like he did in the first game against Trae Young.
The Knicks are hoping they can leverage the size, length, and defensive IQ of Ntilikina to have him guard multiple positions.
The Knicks are going to run
It seems like everyone in the NBA wants to push the pace, adding as many possessions as possible to the ledger. For the Knicks, playing fast, taking advantage of confused defenses in cross-matches, is essential for an offense that will need to find its way without Kristaps Porzingis leading the charge.
Hezonja with the steal, and then count how many times the ball touches the court to go all the way down the court
Fizdale basketball: pic.twitter.com/XfALOwVURP
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) October 18, 2018
In the first game against Atlanta, New York played in transition on 17.5% of their plays, which would be their highest average since 2011-12, if it somehow kept throughout the season.
Noah Vonleh is doing things
The Knicks scored a franchise record 49 points in the second quarter vs Atlanta. While there were plenty of highlight dunks (looking at you, Allonzo Trier), there were also some subtle plays that sparked the run.
Noah Vonleh, who essentially replaced Joakim Noah on the roster, had a sneaky good preseason, and his solid play carried over into the first game. He didn’t do anything that will jump off the screen, but for a young team, with many players, such as Mitchell Robinson, still learning the basics of setting a proper screen, it was Vonleh who provided a stable force to get the Knicks offense rolling in that second quarter against the Hawks.