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The Westchester Knicks Forming Their Identity Behind Defensive Presence

Westchester is forming their identity behind one of the top defenses in the NBA G League.

Grand Rapids Drive vs Westchester Knicks Photo by Dennis Slagle/NBAE via Getty Images

The Westchester Knicks have got off to a great start in the 2018-19 season by going 15-8 and have the second best record in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have shown to be one of the top defenses in the NBA G League through the first half of the season and have built great chemistry due to their returning players.

Earlier in the season, Westchester head coach Mike Miller stated that the team needs to be a high-level defensive team and can’t rely on an individual player to lead the offensive unit.

“I think we’re working towards it,” Miller said. “We’ve talked about we have to be a high-level defensive team that’s really connected and then we’re an execution team on the offensive end.”

Westchester has many talented defenders that include Paul Watson, Devon Baulkman and Kadeem Allen. The Knicks are connected on the defensive end and the players can hold their own on the defensive end. When an opposing player switches onto a Westchester defender, the help defense can contain the player and stop them in their tracks. The Knicks can spark their offense in transition.

The Knicks have shown where they will keep the opposition on their toes and not let them get set on the offensive end. Westchester has their best defensive game in a 131-75 victory over the Wisconsin Herd. On one possession, Baulkman didn't get stuck in a screen and came back in for a block on a Vander Blue foul line jumper. At the midway point of the second quarter, the Knicks kept on switching on the Herd and were picking up the opposing players. Luke Kornet picked up Blue, who was driving to the basket, then Kenrich Williams came in for the contest on Mareik Isom.

The Westchester Knicks rank at the top of the league in many defensive categories and are the only team to allow their opponents to shoot under 40 percent from the field.

No. 1 in opponent effective field goal percentage (45.5%)
No. 1 in opponent field goal percentage (39.5%)
No. 1 in opponent paint points (43.1)
No. 2 in defensive rating (99.1)
No. 2 in opponent fast break points (11.1)
No. 3 in opponent points per game (101.6)
No. 6 in opponent points off turnovers (17.9)

Stats courtesy to NBA G League (Stats as of Jan. 3)

While John Jenkins is the leading scorer, there has been games where Billy Garrett, Luke Kornet or Trevon Bluiett stepped up for the Knicks. With the potential departure of Jenkins via 10-day contract, the Knicks will see a collective group of Dub Knicks step up on a nightly basis.

“We can’t count on one guy to go out and then going to lead that thing, so it’s been different people,” Miller continued. “Earlier in the week, Billy didn’t have the numbers. The last two games, he’s had big numbers (against Wisconsin and Windy City). Luke had the big game the other night (against Wisconsin). It kind of moves through there. We’ve had, like all teams in the league, had some movement with our roster. That’s typical, so it makes it tough for guys to play consistently, but I think that’s what we’ve done.”

The Westchester Knicks have seen changes to their roster over the past season, but continue to be a defensive oriented team with their consistent effort and high-level play. When the Knicks excel on the defensive end, the team experiences success and the players will benefit from that.