The New York Knicks just can’t seem to right the ship. They can no longer blame Phil Jackson or Carmelo Anthony for their troubles. There’s only one person to blame for this disaster: Jeff Hornacek. At the beginning of the year, I was one of the first to offer praise for what Hornacek should accomplish with Anthony and Jackson out the way. However, his approach to the game has just been horrendous this season. It’s time for the Knicks to make a change, and that means bringing in Mark Jackson.
Before Hornacek was even hired, Jackson should have been at the top of the list. His work with the pre-championship Golden State Warriors was outstanding. Jackson’s time with the Warriors lasted only three seasons, but it was how it went down that has drawn so many positive and negative remarks. His first two years were bad; however, it was his third that solidified Jackson as one of the up and coming coaches in the NBA. Jackson would lead the Warriors to 51 wins, and instead of receiving praise for his efforts, he was shown the door.
Now, with the Warriors labeled as the best team in the league and the Knicks in full tank-mode, it’s only right that James Dolan and Scott Perry make a change for the better. The issue with Hornacek is that his style of play does not fit with the players he has. The Knicks, even before Kristaps Porzingis went down for the season, should easily be top five in the league in terms of defense. Jeff hailed from a defensive background while with the Utah Jazz, however, since his arrival in New York, he’s not been able to channel that same mentality.
This is where Jackson would make a huge difference. For all the praise Steve Kerr has received for the Warriors titles, it was Jackson who first instilled the defensive mentality the Warriors used to make it to three straight NBA Finals. Coming out of college, no one envisioned Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson as defensive catalysts until Jackson got a hold of them. All Kerr has done is fine-tuned a few things, but it was Jackson who made them who they are today. So why can’t he do that for the Knicks?
Jackson is the Brooklyn-born kid who played for his hometown Knicks before leading the charge as one of the best defensive and assists giving point guards in NBA history. One of the main issues the Knicks have faced in recent years, including this season has been their lack of a steady facilitator, according to the New York Post. Think Curry, and one tends to only see his offensive game. However, look closer and you will see that his assists were the highest they ever been in his career (8.9) while under Jackson.
The Knicks may not have players on their roster who can match Curry or Thompson shot-for-shot, but they do have a blueprint to be better than 16th in points allowed. Adding Jackson will bring a familiar face home, one that the Knicks faithful have craved for years. Hornacek was never the top choice for the Knicks job, and it’s only right that Perry and Dolan do what’s best for the organization.
While there are no Curry’s or Thompson’s on the roster, who’s to say that Jackson can’t light a fire under Michael Beasley to become a great two-way player in the mold of Draymond Green? Enes Kanter is a monster on the boards, and Hardaway can score with the best of them. Courtney Lee is a defensive presence, but Hornacek has yet to bring that energy out of him. Then you have Porzingis, who just needs that extra push to become great.
Jackson’s first order of business will be to find the Knicks an explosive point guard. Hornacek has too many and has no idea who to play or how to play them. Trey Burke has proven, if given proper minutes, he can be that guy, but Hornacek still believes in going with a point guard by committee approach.
Time has run out on Hornacek, and the clock should just be starting on the Knicks hiring Mark Jackson.