While it came before Free Will and the Draft in late September / early October, the Knicks and the so-called “Remove 8” hosted almost two weeks of organized team activities. Van Gundy said the Knicks have kept most of those players who participate in OTAs.
Van Gundy, who like his brother Jeff is a friend of Thibodeau, said the 2019-20 Knicks’ season was marred by early shots from David Fizdale, ruining the continuity.
This Knicks’ campaign could not have been more different from a stability standpoint and continued to roll with their fourth straight win, 116-106, over the Pelicans on Wednesday.
“Tom had that little extra training camp one summer with the bubble to start putting things together so he had a little more time,” Van Gundy said. “So they stayed doing the same thing all year. It really helps, guys, when players are playing the same system all year round. Continuity is a useful thing and Tom is a great coach and they were able to learn the system and play with the system from summer in training camp until season. “
As a new coach, Van Gundy didn’t have that time because the Pelicans were in the Orlando bubble with former coach Alvin Gentry. Van Gundy made it clear that it was fair for “Delete 8” teams to have these OTAs because their seasons were being cut short.
Thibodeau said OTAs are useful for building “relationships” between new coaching staff, the front office and players more than anything.
The Knicks are 29-27, and Van Gundy said they “play as well as any team in the East.” He is not surprised by the record or that they have become “a throwback to the 1990s with low scores.” games. Similar to his brother’s squads when Thibodeau was his assistant.
“I’m not really surprised,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t know why everyone is surprised. If you look at the East, their talent certainly matches the middle of the East. I don’t look at the team and say they don’t have anyone. Their talent is certainly quite good compared to the middle of the peloton in the East. I’m not sure why everyone is surprised, but whatever. “
Julius Randle continued his dominance with 32 points, making five 3 points. Van Gundy said he has gone from “a great goalscorer to a great all-rounder, one of the best forwards in the league.”
“It was his five 3s that hurt us,” he said. “The difference in the game is the 3-point shot. Our 3 point shot was not good enough. “
Nerlens Noel was a late scratch with a sprained ankle, forcing Norvel Pelle to reinforce the center. He performed well, blocking a shot from Zion Williamson and scoring his first two baskets in 14 minutes.
Thibodeau said he was not troubled by the play-in tournament, which was recently attacked by Dallas owner Mark Cuban. The 7-10 seeds must organize a mini tournament to qualify for the playoffs.
“There are a lot of benefits to that,” Thibodeau said. “It depends on the perspective from which you look at it. We have to let it play first and then evaluate it. A lot of teams are involved in important games, which is good for the league. “
The Knicks will face the Mavericks and Kristaps Porzingis next on the two-game road trip on Friday.