Revealed: Why Knicks Had the 23rd Worst Defense in the NBA Last Season

Jeff Hornacek
Jeff Hornacek at TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, January 18. Maddie Meyer/Getty

As the Knicks prepare to begin their preseason on Wednesday, there seems little to be excited about in New York.

The team lost Carmelo Anthony last month, traded to the Oklahoma Thunder in return for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round pick for the 2018 draft. There isn't much optimism over the deal.

And that comes after a season in which the Knicks had the 23rd worst defense in the league, with a points differential of minus 3.7. But coach Jeff Hornacek is pretty certain he knows why.

Last year, Hornacek left the defensive organization to the veteran players in his team, giving them the opportunity to determine the opposition. That didn't work out so well, so Hornacek and his staff have learned from their mistakes.

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"We're not doing that this year," Hornacek said, as quoted by ESPN. "When we go to shoot around that (defensive) plan will be in place. We'll know the adjustments, instead of trying to give the guys the idea, 'Hey, you guys play, you guys know these guys. What's the best way to do it?'"

Hornacek suggested the errors last season may have been down to him, but insisted the Knicks have spent this summer focusing on defensive work.

"I played on teams that had great veteran players," he added. "We had a basic thing, but most of the time it was, 'Okay, I'm going to be doing this, you're going to be doing this and we worked it out.' That's maybe what I thought we'd be able to do last year with the guys. But that's, we found out that didn't work the best for us. This year we worked all summer to try to figure these things out."

The Knicks launch their preseason at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, with the Brooklyn Nets traveling to New York for the first warm-up game of the campaign.

They then face the Wizards twice, Nets again, Rockets, and Thunder before starting the regular season in Oklahoma where Anthony will face his old team in his first competitive start for the Thunder. The defense, by then, may not be as easy to beat as he remembers.