The New York Knicks were in a very dark place on December 6th when they fired their head coach David Fizdale. They had lost by 30+ points in their last two games, they were last in the Eastern Conference, and quite frankly were an absolute laughing stock. They were getting booed at their own home games and many fans and followers, including myself citing back to an older article, understood that there was action that needed be taken.
Since his firing, they chose former College coach and G-league head coach, Mike Miller to fill in as the interim coach for the remainder of the season. Miller has already begun making a legitimate case to become the full-time head coach of the team. When Fizdale was fired the Knicks were 4-18, with Miller in charge they are 6-6 and just dismantled the defending Western Conference runner-ups, the Trail Blazers at the Garden.
The Knicks have been winners of 3 straight games for the first time all season. Although Fizdale coached teams hung their hat defensively, the Knicks were still struggling defensively under his lead. That has not been the case as of late. The Knicks have held their last three opponents to 100 points or less. They had only held 2 opponents under 100 points at all this season prior to these past 3 games.
As I had mentioned in my older article that is linked above, the Knicks had the worst offensive rating in the league, their previous ten performances have them placed in the top-10 in the league. They are also taking advantage of their athleticism and in their last 10 games they have jumped from 27th to 12th in the league in pace, which has them currently 24th in the league for the entire season. I am willing to bet that they will be ranked much higher in that department by the end of the season.
Individually, the team has also shown growth. Randle has been averaging 24 points per game and 10 boards a game as well. Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton have played very well as of late, and held Damian Lillard to only 11 points in their last game. If their perimeter defense can continue to clamp up other team’s guards, paired Mitchell Robinson’s rim protecting ability is going to make it tough for other teams to put up points on the Knicks.
The team has taken some meaningful strides with Miller at the helm. Why it is very much unrealistic that the Knicks will be in the playoffs, they have shown significant improvement on both sides of the floor that the fans have been longing for and what might be most important of all, they have actually been competitive.
Meaning, naming Mike Miller the interim coach was certainly the correct call. The sooner the Knicks can maximize on this success and make Mike Miller the full time head coach, the quicker the Knicks can build the bridge from this season’s triumphs to the next. Throw in another lottery pick and maybe even a free agent or two, things might finally be looking up in New York. A off-season for younger players to continue to improve and a coaching staff to implement their systems, they can continue steering this ship to the path of NBA success.