The Knicks defense is bad. Everyone knows it. The only way it could get more attention is if Donald Trump tweeted about it. The Knicks are 25th in the NBA for the season defensively, allowing 107.7 points per 100 possessions. They actually do okay defending shots (teams shoot 50.5 percent eFG%, which is middle of the NBA pack) but they don’t force turnovers, are the third worst defensive rebounding team in the league and allow 14.6 second chance points a game to opponents, plus they are bottom 10 in things such as points allowed in the paint or points given up off turnovers.
The Knicks know it’s their problem, too.
Derrick Rose — who has had his strained relationship with coach Jeff Hornacek of late — wants the Knicks coach to push them harder on that end. Here’s what Rose said, via Al Iannazzone of Newsday.
“We were just talking about defensive schemes, what I see with our defense, what he thinks our problems are,” Rose said. “I just told him, it’s defense. Our defense triggers a lot of things. And I told him he has to be on us hard about defense every day. Like, beat it in our heads where we get tired of hearing him talking about it.”
“It’s not just one element,” Rose said. “It’s all of it — effort, schemes, decision-making, personnel, communication. It’s everything.
“You can tell when we’re out there. You have some games where we have everything clicking. It’s no middle ground with us. It’s either we look good, or we look quite different than that. I wanted to say another word, but quite different than that. We got to have an in-between. Then right when we’re slipping, we got to be able to let everybody be aware of that and try to fix it — not after the game, but during the game.”
I like that Rose is stepping up to be a leader on this issue. If you’re thinking about Rose going AWOL and that impacting his credibility, know that he is still respected in that locker room.
The Knicks turned their defense over to Kurt Rambis early in the season, and Rambis is a lot of things but defensive coach like Tom Thibodeau — who Rose has spent most of his career with — he is not. The Knicks are not getting better on that end, the overall defensive numbers the past 10 games mirror the season numbers (they are ranked higher because other teams slipped below them).
Those defensive issues for New York start with Rose, who has been solid navigating the pick-and-roll and sticking with his man, but once rotations kick in he floats and gets lost. Pair Rose with Carmelo Anthony (never a great defender) and the Knicks allow 109.1 points per 100 possessions. But Hornacek needs to play those two together.
The Knicks did hold the Sixers and Bulls under 100 points recently, and although there were mitigating circumstances there, maybe it is something they can build upon. Amazingly, New York is just two games out of the playoffs in the East, and if they could solidify that end of the court, maybe they could climb in.