New York Knicks: 4 attainable goals for the 2019-20 season

David Fizdale, New York Knicks. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
David Fizdale, New York Knicks. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks
Marcus Morris, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

3. Improve as a team Defensively

Last season, the Knicks were one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. Aside from center Mitchell Robinson, the team struggled immensely on the defensive end. Last season, they ranked 22nd in opponent points per game (113.8), 24th in opponent three-point percentage (36.3%), 16th in personal fouls per game (20.9), 26th in defensive efficiency (1.101), and 21st in opponent offensive rebounds per game (10.7).

Overall, they were lacking in most categories defensively and were towards the bottom end of the league when it came to defending. This year, however, they have an opportunity to turn themselves from one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA to one of the best. It will take hard work, but the pieces are in place.

With the additions of Morris, Gibson, and Payton, the Knicks are adding three solid defensive players that can easily turn them into a better team. Morris is a big factor on defense and because of his grit, and ability to make it tough for anyone to score.

Something that many people remember Morris for was when he played elite-level defense on LeBron James during the 2017-18 Eastern Conference Finals when he was on the Celtics. He’s known for his great defensive play against the NBA’s elite small forwards in the NBA. That is an invaluable piece to any franchise, especially winning ones.

Elfrid Payton is one of those players who has bounced around a little bit over the last couple of years. Coming into the league in 2014 with Orlando, Payton was known as a guy who could pass the ball well and push the tempo on the fast break. He was a pretty decent scorer with a below-average three-point jump shot. To say that he made strides since moving from Orlando to Phoenix to New Orleans is a drastic understatement. Additionally, his defensive improvement is definitely worth noting.

Although he’s not going to blow you away with overly impressive numbers or dominate on a nightly basis, it’s his overall IQ on the defensive end that makes Payton a great pickup for the Knicks. His ability to read passing lanes, close off on shooters, switch on and off the ball, not to mention he helps his teammates find the open man to help force turnovers are underlooked and underrated.

Something that this Knicks team didn’t have much of last year was a defensive leader in the backcourt. Among the guards, Barrett/Smith might be able to lead the offense. Payton will certainly be the leader for the others on the defense.

Much like Payton, Gibson isn’t going to blow you away with his defensive statistics but what sets him apart from other great defenders is his passion and heart. Never giving up on the play and coming up clutch for a massive block, closeout or rebound is Gibson’s strong suit.

Gibson’s ability to fire his teammates up afterward is unmatched in the NBA. He’s a true veteran in the sport and is the type of player that younger guys can look up to and take an example from. His overall grit and willingness to never give up will help elevate the power forward position defensively when he’s on the floor.