New York Knicks: A glance at where the Knicks stand after 13 games

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Tim Hardaway Jr.
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Tim Hardaway Jr. /

The New York Knicks find themselves with a surprising 7-6 record as Jeff Hornacek has coached his team into better playing style.

The New York Knicks had short expectations coming into this season and an even shorter leash from a fanbase that has been bumped and bruised having their team referenced with the circus and trash references left and right.

But now? They have already overachieved in the aspect of not being the team most predicted and pegged them to be — already bad, with the potential to be worse. Kristaps Porzingis is on the verge of averaging 30 points a game while he currently stands at 29.5 per game and leads the team in blocks with 2.2 per game. He is shooting an absurd 49.8 percent from the field and is fifth-best on the team from 3-point range, shooting 41.0 percent from beyond the arc.

This team is winning by playing as a cohesive unit and KP proving he has the capabilities of being the clutch player he has been put on trial for since last season.

A trade that many felt was either lopsided or considered generally awful in giving up Carmelo Anthony for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second round pick now actually sounds like an excellent deal these days.

As for the draft pick that was made on Phil Jackson‘s watch before he came to his “mutual agreement” with James Dolan? Frank Ntilikina is slowly coming out of his shell offensively, but is everything the New York Knicks could have wished for defensively for years to come.

Ntilikina is currently averaging 4.6 points, 4.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game, but is struggling on offense with a slash line of .345/.238/.600.

Nonetheless, here is why the Knicks are winning and should continue to become a better team as the season carries on.

Jeff Hornacek‘s coaching and players having faith in each other

With the exception of the blowout suffered from the Houston Rockets, the New York Knicks have been quite entertaining. It should not be sold as anything less than one of the most exciting starts to a season in years for the Knicks, and one of the most surprising of this 2017-18 season so far.

Jeff Hornacek likely began this season on the hot seat if some sort of positive results did not materialize. Most nights, Hornacek has utilized a nine-man rotation for the most part, and it has paid dividends thus far.

To many fans’ despair and confusion, Willy Hernangomez has appeared in just seven games, usually in garbage time and without the starters. Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn have left little to no wiggle room for Hernangomez to play any early or exciting minutes alongside his close friend KP.

Kanter is averaging a double-double through 13 games, with 14.1 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, including 4.2 offensive rebounds per game. He is currently shooting 63.6 percent from the field and 86.4 percent from the free throw line. For any casual NBA fan not currently “in the know,” Kanter is showing all signs of being highly undervalued as a big man.

Kyle O’Quinn has received almost all of Hernangomez’s minutes off the bench and thriving. He is shooting 53.4 from the field and averaging 6.3 points and 1.2 blocks per game.

A quick overall statistics breakdown

The New York Knicks are getting the most out of their offseason signings and current roster predicament, and are doing a fairly underrated job as far as the production of teams that are currently in rebuild mode.

Here is a quick breakdown of where the Knicks stand with the rest of the league:

  • As far as offensive production, the Knicks are fifth in field goal percentage, ninth in assists, 22nd in 3-point percentage, 15th in points per game and 12th in free throw percentage.
  • On defense, the Knicks rank 15th in total rebounds, 23rd in steals, 16th in blocks and 14th in opponent points per game.

The overall big picture here is that Kristaps Porzingis is playing like a true unicorn, while Frank Ntilikina is currently third in the league in steals per game. Another story not talked about nearly enough is Courtney Lee shooting an alarmingly efficient slash line of .449/.458/.938. The surprising story is how badly Tim Hardaway Jr. is struggling from beyond the arc, ranking sixth in the league among all players in attempts, but hitting just 29.8 percent of his attempts.

The Knicks statisically look right in the middle of the pack in the league right now, and if a few particular adjustments on defense can be found, this team has potential to grow.

Next: 2017-18 Week 5 NBA Power Rankings

Where they may end up is anybody’s guess, but the Knicks are certainly a much better team than first perceived heading into the season.