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Knicks players praise new offensive shape, which is not triangle


The Knicks are off to a 7-6 start and it’s their offense that is clicking — Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter are rim running in a system that has the team playing faster than a season ago (although they still only get 13.1 percent of their offense in transition, 23rd in the league), and the result is an offense that is 12th in the NBA overall according to However, remove garbage time from the equation, as Ben Falk does at Cleaning The Glass, and the Knicks are fifth in offensive rating. Their core rotation guys are getting buckets. By those numbers, the Knicks are scoring 2.2 points more per 100 possessions than a year ago, when they were a slightly below average NBA offense.

What’s different? No Carmelo Anthony stopping the ball, for one. More importantly, no triangle offense forced down from on high so coach Jeff Hornacek can run what he wants,. With that, players are much happier. Look at what Kristaps Porzingis said recently on ESPN Radio. (Hat Tip Chris Mannix at Yahoo Sports.)

“This year you can feel that Jeff has more, he’s running his own stuff without anybody coming in and telling him what to do or how to do it, so I think from the top down you can feel that there’s more confidence in what we’re doing. It’s a better feeling this way.”

Three games into the season, Tim Hardaway Jr. said a bunch of the Knicks players didn’t know the plays, but he told Marc Berman of the New York Post that has changed.

“It’s a full 180,’’ Hardaway said. “It’s great. A lot of guys are taking each possession in practice very serious. We’re building our game. We’re building a culture here. When we step in this practice, we are all ears and minds are open. Everyone is giving their input and everyone is locked in on both ends of the floor.”

Hornacek still wants to run some triangle elements in the half-court — most teams do — but the goal now is more pace and more pick-and-roll shot creation. Hornacek said the guys like it.

“Our guys are feeling comfortable with what we’re running. We’re going to get better at that. It’s a style most of those guys like to play. It makes it easier for them. Even in this system, there’s a lot of teaching we have to do. We have to continue to learn the little things that will make it easier especially in pressure times like (against the Cavaliers).”

The Knicks have a long way to go before they are all the way back, but this season fans can see the steps in that direction. Finally Porzingis has been made the focal point of the offense, and finally they are running modern NBA sets. It’s a long season, but the Knicks look like they could be a playoff team in the East, and that would be a big step forward.



Giannis Antetokounmpo to tell his story on 60 Minutes this week (preview clip)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.

Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.

Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.

This is the best missed free throw to game winner you will ever see

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We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?

Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.

Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.

Damn. That’s impressive.

(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo doubtful with ankle injury for Bulls game

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MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.


Anfernee Simons declares for NBA draft straight out of high school (kind of)

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Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.

Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.

Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation

Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.

By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.

As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.