Ahead of the NBA London Game 2019, the New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale answered media questions about his expectations for the second half of the season, what his team needs to improve most and more.
Q: What is the state of the Knicks at this point of the season?
DF: We’re in a good state. Guys are getting better, we’re growing every day. The guys are competing and we’ve got some guys healing up, so yeah we’re in a good place.
Q: Are you satisfied?
DF: I’m never satisfied. We’re just trying to get better.
Q: Can you tell us about Kristaps [Porzingis] and how he’s doing right now?
DF: We kept him back as we thought the flight would be too much. He’s been working hard and he’s getting stronger every day.
Q: Would you say that Frank [Ntilikina] is selfish?
DF: I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing – he’s a guy that shares the ball and takes good shots and tries to make sure he’s playing the right way.
Q: Do you want him to be more aggressive?
DF: I just want Frank to be Frank.
Q: Are you enjoying London?
DF: Fun. My wife has a lot of family here that we have fun with so we went to dinner last night, which was pretty cool.
Q: How is it with Enes Kanter not being here?
DF: Obviously we miss him, but that’s a decision that we respect and understand and we’ll be happy to see him when we get back.
Q: What is the most important thing you want to improve on in the second part of the season?
DF: I want to improve our defence. I want our guys to start recognising stuff more and not getting caught by surprise. Hopefully after going through half the season, the young players will start recognising stuff.
Q: You’re obviously rebuilding but what will make you satisfied at the end of the season?
DF: We just want to evaluate and see that every guy we invested into got better. We want to look at that group and say, ok, who can move forward with us and who can help us with our goal of becoming Champions.
Q: How’s the sleep situation going?
DF: I feel good! I followed orders though. The guys came in yesterday, we kept them up and we got them straight into yoga and tried to keep them active for as long as we could. They seemed ok at breakfast this morning, they got some rest and we’re looking forward to an energetic practice.
Q: What does Frank [Ntilikina] work on?
DF: He works on everything, his shot, his ball handling and he obviously watches a ton of film on his defence and trying to know every player in the league. We all stress team things like rebounding but he’s a tireless worker and it’s only a matter of time until everything works out for him.
Q: How much of a challenge will the Wizards be tomorrow?
DF: A big challenge – they play free, they’re very fast. Obviously Scott Brooks is a heck of a coach and it’ll be a great challenge for us.
Q: Does it change your game plan much that they’re without John Wall?
DF: Yeah he always changes the game plan! It doesn’t change the respect level or the preparation level that you put into it. They’ve got guys over there that are really capable – Satoransky is a heck of a guard, and knows how to play basketball and make people around him better. Obviously Bradley Beal is an All-Star, so we’ve got our hands full and we understand that.
Q: What do you see in Kevin Knox that makes you start him?
DF: He’s a 19 year-old that every day continues to grow and get better. He’s got all of the physical tools and it’s just a matter of him getting more strength, recognising things a little earlier but as the year’s gone on he’s got better and better and better. Hopefully by the end of the year he’ll start to find a real comfort level in this league.
Q: How would you describe Mudiay’s evolution?
DF: I think it’s been great to watch. Part of his deal was just restoring confidence and belief and now that he understands that we believe in him his game will continue to grow, as he’ll continue to challenge himself.