The New York Knicks have Stephen A Smith “very excited” and he is enjoying it. In his usual fired-up manner, the sports analyst shared his thoughts about the team during Tuesday’s episode of First Take on ESPN. What makes life even better for Smith, who is a Knicks fan, is that the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets have been struggling recently.
The Nets have an all-star roster that includes Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Knicks, on the other hand, are made up of up-and-coming players and veterans who have bounced around the league.
“I’m very excited. I’m very excited,” Smith said with a smile on his face about the Knicks on the show. “… I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but over the last five games the New York Knicks have won four of their last five. But, the Brooklyn Nets have lost four of their last five. … I know, I know the Brooklyn Nets got all the talent. I get it. They got all the talent, but I’m watching (Knicks player) Julius Randle here – 22, 11 and 7 on 50 percent shooting, 40-plus percent from three-point range. He’s playing like an all-star. That’s right, I said it. … Julius Randle is playing like an all-star.”
In addition to praising Randle’s play for the Knicks, Stephen A Smith also praised Austin Rivers, who joined the team prior to this season. “He’s shooting about 46 percent from three-point range,” Smith said of Rivers. “He’s come off the bench. Hit some big shots Saturday night against Indiana. Hit a couple of big shots last night against Atlanta.”
Smith also likes what he sees from rookie guard Immanuel Quickley. “The brother can play,” he said. “I like him.”
Smith was also impressed with who the Knicks have defeated this season. The team has beaten Milwaukee, a top contender in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, Cleveland, Indiana, and Atlanta. Atlanta has beaten Brooklyn this season.
Stephen A Smith Praises Coach Thibodeau
Smith also credited first-year Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau with the team’s surprising start to the season.
“I like the effort. Tom Thibodeau got them boys playing hard,” Smith said. “They are a top-five defense in the NBA. … I’m just looking at the Knicks right now, as hard as he’s got them playing, the way that they’re competing – I’m pleased … As a native New Yorker and a New York Knick fan, I am very pleased thus far with the job Tom Thibodeau and his coaching staff has done. I’m happy.”
Smith also said he believed the Knicks winning about 50 percent of their games this season would be a success for a franchise that has struggled in recent memory.
Criticism for the Brooklyn Nets
In addition to his praise for the Knicks, Stephen A. Smith shared words of criticism for the Brooklyn Nets.
“I’ll tell you what I notice about Brooklyn,” Stephen A Smith said on First Take Tuesday. “I see Kyrie shooting more shots than K.D. I see Kyrie shooting definitely more in the fourth quarter than K.D. And, I see a team that is struggling defensively. …”
Smith also said that some analysts have argued that the Nets are “soft.” He also said there “is some trouble in Brooklyn” and that it would be possible for the season to be considered a disappointment for Brooklyn if they don’t make it to the NBA Finals.
The Knicks and the Nets will face off on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at Madison Square Garden. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Watch Stephen A Smith talk about the Knicks and Nets below.