Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau said it best after the Knicks 121-107 loss to the Pacers last night when he commented, “You either win or you learn.”
And we did learn some things about this Knick team. And not all of those things were negative. Certainly, this was a game of two halves and in this league 24 minutes of solid play never cuts it on the road, But RJ Barrett gave us a glimpse of how hard he worked in the off-season with a 26 point effort that included 8 rebounds and 5 assists. My feeling when the Knicks drafted Barrett was he might take time to develop on this level but his skills were obvious.
He showed me a confidence on the floor I rarely saw last year and Julius Randle had a solid night as well pouring in 17 points coupled with 8 rebounds and nine assists nearly executing a triple double. Obi Toppin gave us a glimpse of what he could provide with a trio of three pointers and after the game he said, “We have a lot of games in front of us and have much to learn.”
That is certainly the case especially from a defensive standpoint as the team hit a wall in the third quarter after a terrific first half both offensively and defensively. This team has more pieces than most experts think but it will take time to put those pieces together into\ a winning formula.
The limited training camp time could hurt all NBA teams but for the Knicks they missed valuable time both perfecting their game plan and conditioning players for the 48 minutes of grueling play teams experience on the road in this league.
Down the road the Knicks will absolutely need to add to this roster but they picked the right coach to lead the existing cast of players. He will stress defense and they will learn from last night’s second half defensive breakdown.
So an opening night loss is nothing than anybody wanted to see but in this sport it is how you learn from nights like this and that is so key in developing this squad into a winning team. It will take time to accomplish that but some real positive pieces are here. Developing those players will be the biggest goal I see from this Knick team this season and those pieces in my humble opinion will be key pieces when this team turns into a winning group of players.
Notice Knick fans I said when not if.