Tag: Kristaps Porzingis

David Fizdale: The Player’s Coach

Learning the ropes as an Assistant Head Coach in the NBA isn’t always easy, but being able to do so under Erik Spoelstra and a Miami Heat team that won two championships in four years from 2010 to 2014  made it that much easier for David Fizdale. Among players in the league, Fizdale is known as a humble, personable coach who actually cares about his players’ best interest both on and off the court. Chris Bosh, one of Fizdale’s former players and a member of the “Big 3” with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, is extremely appreciative of Fizdale’s style and coaching abilities.

Fizdale received such high praise and recognition from around the league that he began to make a name for himself and was hired by the Memphis Grizzlies as their head coach for the 2016-17 season. Leading the team to a 43-39 record and a playoff berth, players like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley loved the culture and attitude that he brought and ultimately embedded into the organization. In Conley’s case, he signed the NBA’s biggest contract (five-year / $153 million) to date during the summer in the free agency before Fizdale was hired.

Conley articulated how grateful he is for Fizdale’s impact on his playing career. After signing such a huge contract, Fizdale was able to unlock parts of his game that allowed him to be worth the over $30 million per year that the Grizzlies were giving him. Unfortunately, the start to the 2017-18 season was not one that the Grizzlies had expected, starting the year with a 7-14 record which led the Grizzlies to cut the cord quickly on Fizdale. On the other hand, this opened the door for his opportunity with the New York Knicks where he resides today. Having the 3rd youngest team in the league with an average age of 24.6 and their franchise player still sidelined with an ACL injury, Fizdale’s task as the Knicks’ leader would definitely not be an easy one, and his main objective would be to develop the young players rather than attempting to make a playoff push. As Fizdale put it a few days ago:

“It’s about, are these guys staying in the trench to get better every single day? That’s our focus. We know the win-loss category is going to change when we become a better basketball team. So we’re not putting all our stock in wins and losses right now and our group understands that.”

Developing over winning is a tough motto to resonate with, but Fizdale’s track record has proven that he is up for the task and is in it for the players and their development as young men and NBA players. Although he has yet to subtweet Joel Embiid’s infamous “Trust the Process” quote, Fizdale is definitely embracing the process and understands that the Knicks are a project, one that may take years to come to fruition.

 

Featured Image via Flickr/ Michael Tipton

Noah Vonleh Vows to Bring Rebounding Prowess to the Knicks

Noah Vonleh signed with the Knicks on July 24th, adding some much-needed height to New York’s roster. With star power forward Kristaps Porzingis expected to miss extended time with an ACL injury and the impending release of Joakim Noah, Vonleh offers a short-term solution to this gap in the depth chart.

So what exactly does the former top-ten pick in the 2014 NBA Draft add to this Knicks team? The answer is rebounding ability.

“Rebounding has always been the biggest thing for me. Since I was a young kid, I was always able to rebound. I got a good eye for what angle it’s coming off and just going after it. That’s my skill that got me in the NBA. That’s what I get myself going with,” said Vonleh. “I think I can definitely bring a lot. They lost guys like Kyle O’Quinn, and Porzingis is hurt right now. Enes Kanter is a great rebounder, but I think I can help with that and bring energy.’’

This assertion is substantiated by his stats. Last season, he averaged a career-high 5.8 boards (17.1 rebounds per 48 minutes), including 6.9 rebounds a game as a member of the Bulls in just 19 minutes of action. Vonleh was particularly effective on the defensive glass, posting a career-high 30.2 DRB%.

During his lone season at Indiana, he was a menace on the boards as well, averaging 9 rebounds per game as a freshman before forgoing his eligibility to enter the NBA.

His numbers have improved with each passing season, and Knicks fans have every reason to believe that this trend will continue.

He has been working hard this offseason to improve upon his skills including his participation in training sessions with NBA All-Star Draymond Green, who knows a thing or two about pulling down missed shots off the glass.

Hopefully, a change of scenery is exactly what Vonleh needs to unlock his true potential.

 

Featured Image via Flickr/Bryan Horowitz