Knicks paying price for misusing “Unicorn” in Kristaps Porzingis

Second-year forward Kristaps Porzingis has excelled on the offensive side of the ball through the first six games of the 2016-17 NBA season: 18.8 points per game on 49.3 FG% and 43.3 3P%. 

Yet the Knicks’ new head coach, Jeff Hornacek says he is justified for not curtailing his offensive gameplan around the 21-year-old emerging superstar.

You don’t want to put that on a — what did he, just turn 21; second year in the league — when you have players like Carmelo Anthony and now Derrick Rose, guys who have proven it in this league for years. We try not to make [Porzingis] the focal point, but we’re trying not to make Carmelo necessarily the focal point or Derrick the focal point. We want everybody to be involved.

Jeff Hornacek

As it stands today, the Knicks’ reluctance to make The Unicorn (I wonder if this nickname sticks?) the focal point of their scoring attack has resulted in them limping out of the gate to a 2-4 record, while the team is ranked No. 18 in scoring at 102.2 PPG.

Yes, it’s early, and should Porzingis continue to average four points per game more than his career average, then he’ll inevitably force his way into being the go-to option. But it remains to be seen how long it takes this team to gel on the court. We’ve already heard Phil Jackson’s is unimpressed that his latest hire at head coach (Hornacek) doesn’t use the  triangle offense enough to his liking.

So as long as the Knicks continue to drop games, Jackson will unflinchingly voice his distaste for Hornacek’s style of playcalling. In Jackson’s defense, he is slowly adding pieces to the puzzle, especially by sticking to his guns in 2015 and drafting Porzingis. But the truth is, he’s doing Hornacek is a disservice by undermining his basketball acumen whenever he sees fit.

The bottom line is that if Jackson truly feels that the Knicks will only ascend to the top of the Eastern Conference standings by using his antiquated offensive system, then he should have been the one to teach it by naming himself head coach of his beloved Knickerbockers this past offseason. While he was at it, perhaps he should have whispered to Anthony and Rose that this team will only go as far as Porzingis, not they, take it.