One example: He’s made it clear that getting the ball to Kristaps Porzingis is a top priority.
“He’s a big factor on the offensive end. So we definitely have to get him the ball,” Jennings said Thursday. “He’s 7-3 that can score and can shoot it from long distance. So if you want an assist as a point guard, that’s one of the guys you gotta get the ball to.”
Entering the season, some who pay attention to the Knicks wondered whether Porzingis’ development would be hurt by the presence of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Porzingis' minutes (plus-3.5) and shots per game (plus-1) are up, as is his 3-point percentage (plus-11) and effective field-goal percentage (plus-10). The only thing down is his usage, which is the percentage of plays he uses while on the floor. It’s dropped by 1.5 percent.
When he’s on the court with Jennings, though, Porzingis’ usage increases slightly. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but it’s also evidence that Jennings looks for Porzingis.
“I try to find him and get easy buckets for him as much possible,” Jennings said. “He’s a guy on this team that needs the ball and that has to score for us to be successful, so he’s a guy that I always look for.”
The numbers show that the Jennings-Porzingis pairing is a work in progress, which is understandable after just seven games.
Porzingis is shooting 7-for-19 on passes from Jennings thus far, including 2-for-7 from beyond the arc, per NBA.com tracking stats. For comparison’s sake, Porzingis has hit 12 of his 20 shots off of passes from Rose, including five of his nine 3-point attempts after a Rose pass.
Hornacek’s offense: Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek is still experimenting with rotations, so it’s probably a bit too early to draw any conclusions about his Knicks offense. But there are a few interesting early-season trends:
The Knicks are getting more shots early in the clock. Last season, 27 percent of the Knicks’ shots were taken within the first nine seconds of the shot clock. This season, that number is up to 33 percent.
It’s incorrect to correlate an increase in early shots to better offense, but the Knicks' team field-goal percentage is 3 percent higher than it was last season. It also seems like Noah is comfortable in Hornacek’s offense. He’s second on the team in assists entering Friday’s game against Boston. The Knicks are shooting 59 percent off of his passes (46-for-78, including 10-for-20 on 3-pointers), per NBA.com's tracking data.
No panic: Despite the Knicks’ slow start, Hornacek says that nobody inside the organization is panicking.
“Everybody thinks the sky is falling. I guess so. But I don’t think any of our guys, any of the coaches, anyone in the organization, is panicked about it,” Hornacek said before the Knicks’ victory over Brooklyn on Wednesday, which the Knicks lose, by the way, if Carmelo Anthony doesn't get hot in late in the second and third quarters. “We know these guys just got together in these last few weeks with Derrick coming back. Are there things we can do better? Sure. We will get better. Everyone is pretty positive.”
Hornacek also said that Knicks president Phil Jackson had no influence on his decision to elevate Kurt Rambis to defensive coordinator.
“Call WikiLeaks and you can look at my emails, zero. He didn’t have anything to do with it,” Hornacek said.
Rose uses medicine ball to improve shooting: Rose carries a 4.5-pound medicine ball -- which he calls a "unicorn" because of its unique weight -- nearly everywhere he goes when he's in an arena. He also practices shooting with the ball during warmups. He's had it since his Chicago days. Rose told reporters Sunday that shooting with the ball helps his shot. "I travel with it everywhere, along with my pillow," he told reporters.