Last season, the New York Knicks showed a lot of promise and, for the first time in years, fans were hopeful that better days lie ahead.
After a relatively quiet free agency, the expectation was that the team would keep building upon what they built in the last season.
So far, that hasn't really been the case. After dropping their third straight game on Saturday, Knicks big man Julius Randle couldn't help but call out his guys:
"We gotta look ourselves in the mirror and decide what we want the season to be. I know what I want it to be. I know what the guys want it to be. But we have to commit to it, and that's just really what it is."
The Knicks lost by double digits to a short-handed Nuggets squad, and are now 11th place in the standings.
According to Julius, it's on the defensive end where the team has lost their identity the most, and it's a slide they can't afford given the nature of the roster.
"We're going to win games with our defense," said Randle. "That's who we are. We're not the superstars, three, four superstars on the team like Brooklyn or all these other teams. We're a team. How we were last year, how we have to be this year as well, we have to win games with our defense.
I just think we gotta understand that in order to win games we gotta play really hard, extremely hard. We gotta have game plan discipline, and we gotta win games on defense. If our offense is great, great. That's just a bonus. But who we are as a team, how we built this team and this culture is just fighting defensively, the togetherness, just the effort, the hustle plays. I feel like that's what the city of New York loves. That's what the fans love -- when they know we're out there giving it our all."
Only 23 games in, it's not too late for the Knickerbockers to turn things around. If they can recapture their edge on defense and work continue to work through some kinks on offense, they could make an impressive run this season.
Until then, the pressure for this rising organization will continue to mount. Needless to say, these struggles are going to be a major test for Randle and this Knicks team.