As a first-time head coach, Kenny Atkinson had a win/loss record of 118/190. Not too bad for a coach that was handed a team in disarray. When he was let go by the Nets in March 2020, Atkinson’s Nets were eighth-best in the league in defense.
Is he what the team needs?
Kenny Atkinson’s strong suit is his player development. For a young team such as this, it is like water to a thirsty man. D’Angelo Russell is now an All-Star, Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Caris LeVert are now star players.
In Twitter postings last Summer and again this Summer, Mitchell Robinson has been showing his outside shooting prowess. What happened this season? Why was Mitch on the sidelines and getting into foul trouble? Maybe if he were out spreading the floor that would not be the case, look at Jarrett Allen.
I believe that right away every young player on the Knicks has the capacity to be developed as Atkinson did with the Nets. He took D’Angelo Russell and made him a superstar, and I believe the same could be done for Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith jr., and Elfrid Payton.
I think he can turn Mitchell Robinson into a center who can shoot from three (he’s working hard at it this Summer) and spread the floor. Small forward Kevin Knox and power forward Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, or Kenny Wooten could be Joe Harris or Rodions Kurucs.
Mike Budenholzer, coach of the first-place Milwaukee Bucks really wants Atkinson to get this job. He told Mark Berman of the New York Post in a June 11 interview:
"…he’s so unique in that he is so true to player development and can really help players improve. The league has gotten a lot better with [development], but he’s one of the first – his ability doing it at a super-high level… …a guy who has a great feel for the entire sport – five on five, game concepts defensively and offensively. He has a very rare high ability to execute being a good player-developmental coach."
Two coaches. Two different coaching techniques. The Knicks say they plan to interview 8-10 coaches before coming to a decision. The next two coaches we’ll look at are already or once were Knicks coaches. What is going on here? What is Rose up to?