Nearly every New York Knicks player has stepped up with a few stellar performances this season. But sometimes the breathtaking skills they flash Tuesday are to distract you from their lackluster effort Monday.
Energetic starters are sluggish, fluid bench units are erratic.
Inconsistency has been the Knickerbockers’ key trouble in their 7-7 start to the season. If New York is going to power into the playoffs, it’ll need more reliable performances—from three men in particular.
Lance Thomas has actually been quite consistent: consistently disappointing.
In fairness, Thomas has been harassed by injuries. A bone bruise in his ankle and plantar fasciitis in both feet kept him sidelined the past five games. He’s only clocked into eight of the team’s 14 games so far, and what we saw in them was not encouraging.
His scoring has dropped sharply from his breakout offensive season in 2015-16: 3.9 points on 37.8 percent shooting, down from 8.2 points and 44.2 percent. That’s just a quibbling issue, though.
The main problem is that Thomas’ greatest contribution was always how he improved the overall performance of the team around him. He was Mr. Intangibles, always setting screens, providing help defense, deflecting balls, making hand-offs. That’s why he had one of the best on-court plus-minus stats on his team last season.
They struggled to win without him when Thomas was injured; the Knicks won 42.4 percent of their games when Thomas played, and only 30.4 percent without him. They were simply better with him on the floor.
Not so this year. Thomas has, instead, been a liability. New York is 2-6 with him, 5-1 without him. Because of his sloppy ball-handling, bad shot selection, ill-timed fouls and squishy defense, Thomas’ on-court plus-minus in 2016-17 is a dismal -16.5. The Knicks are now simply better with him not on the floor.
Lance Thomas: The …