The Knicks’ Not So Secret Weapon
Lance Thomas has somehow become a veteran on a vastly different New York Knicks team. His rapidly increasing offensive skill-set and expertise on defense will be crucial to the Knicks this season
It isn’t perfectly clear when exactly Lance Thomas became a favorite among Knicks fans last season. It could have started on December 21 when he went 9/9 against the Orlando Magic.
Maybe it was the fact that his exaggerated, slow pump fake from the corner worked seemingly every time to either get him to the basket for a two handed flush or create enough space for an open three.
Hell, it could be that a player who didn’t even attempt a three pointer in four years at Duke, or connect on a triple until his fourth NBA season, sunk 44 of them at 40.4 percent, good enough for 18th in the NBA.
For me, it was when Thomas managed to travel, double-dribble and step out of bounds and be called for none of the three all on one play:
However, for Knicks fans who got to see the majority of Thomas’ 59 appearances last season, it was likely his ability to make plays on both ends of the ball, and his aptitude to bury open shots from all over the floor. (A concept which came sparingly for a New York team that had issues with consistent ball movement and open shot making.)
The Knicks are a completely different team than they were a few months ago. The addition of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee will obviously affect each teammate’s role, but when Arron Afflalo opted out of his contract and signed with the Sacramento Kings, Thomas became New York’s best on-ball defender. (Editor’s note: Sad!)
While Thomas’ role is poised to change, it will likely be for the better. For Thomas, the 2015–16 season was about him proving to everyone the amount of hard-work he had put in during the offseason to become a more complete player; this season will be about how Thomas can use this increased ability to accept more responsibility, hopefully helping to find a direction for a vastly different team lacking an identity.
Although this will be only his third season in New York, Thomas’ 99 games in a Knicks uniform trail only Carmelo Anthony, so this familiarity with the Knicks’ system will be crucial for both his individual and team success (via BBall_Ref).
In an ESPN interview after his July signing, Thomas made it clear that New York is where he wants to be. Also that he plans to bring his team to a better place than they sat at the end of last season.
I didn’t want my legacy as a Knick to be a loser. My first year, the team, we had not a good record. Last year was better, but as a competitor and a winner,” Thomas said. “I want more. The city wants more. And everybody that wants a Knicks jersey should want more. I don’t want to be a losing Knick. I want to win in New York. My decision to come back was pretty easy. The moves we made made it even easier. (via ESPN.com)
The decision for the Knicks to sign Lance may have came even easier than his own desire to sign with them. New York struggled mightily after Thomas went down with a set of left knee injuries and a concussion.
Thomas will be the Knicks go-to defender and the man off the bench behind Carmelo, who may begin to see less minutes as he continues to age. It would not be surprising to see Lance’s minutes rise to around 26 per game, which would be a new career high.
In just one season, Thomas earned the respect of Knicks fans and the organization. If he continues his upward trend that started when he came to New York, then he is poised for a season that may see him begin to gain the admiration of others all over the league.
— Bailey Carlin, site writer