Knicks Don’t Have Game, They’ve Got Problems
Before I go right into the numbers, let me just explain to you why the New York Knicks are not any good at basketball. First of all, their coach, Mike D’Antoni, doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing. He lets his players take whatever shots he wants, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how the ball gets distributed, and he doesn’t play the right players.
Speaking of the players, they aren’t any good either. Just looking at last year, when they were actually better than they are this year, Amare Stoudemire and the Carmelo were not top 10 players. Yes, Stoudemire had a stretch where he was on fire, as did Carmelo, but those stretches did not result in some huge stretch of wins, and those stretches were merely powered by their scoring totals, not much of anything else they did on the court. Additionally, using 82games.com simple rating, which is “too” simple, but a good starting point for ranking players, neither Stoudemire nor ‘Melo was among the NBA’s top 20 players. In fact, guys like Ray Allen and Manu Ginobili had better seasons than them.
Of course, that was last year, when they actually were winning games. Now the Knicks find themselves with a 6-9 record, which is worse than that of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Amare has been awful, averaging just 18.1 points on 41% shooting. He’s only pulling down 7.8 rebounds per game, which would be great if he were a small forward. Then there is Carmelo—yes, he’s averaging 25 points. Yay for him! But at an equally woeful 41% shooting, each point hurts the team’s ability to win games.
Those are the basic numbers, but a closer look sees even bigger problems.
As the shooting numbers from their two best players would suggest, the Knicks aren’t even good defense—which is all D’Antoni is allegedly coaching. How on Earth LeBron James has a better field goal shooting percentage than Amare Stoudemire is beyond me? Yes, LeBron is a better player, but he takes jump shots. Amare should only take jump shots when they’re falling. If they aren’t falling, he should go to the rim and be a man in the paint. Instead, he has visions of grandeur, and he looks more like Josh Smith this season—if not worse. The fact that the Knicks are getting 41% shooting from their power forward and the Miami Heat are getting 53% shooting from their small forward should tell you all you need to know about the difference between these two teams just in terms of their basketball IQ.
On the flipside, the Knicks aren’t as horrible at defense as they are at offense. In fact, the Knicks rank 13th in defensive efficiency, as they allow a “respectable” 98.9 points per 100 possessions, which is better than the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder. That said, they are merely being helped by the play of rookie point guard Iman Shumpert. Sadly, he’s just a rookie and doesn’t play enough minutes, because as soon as he comes out of the game, Toney Douglass (alleged ACC Defensive Player of the Year in college), let’s points guards do whatever they want to. Just switching from Shumpert to Douglass causes the Knicks to give up 0.19 more points per possession, which is 19 points over 100 possessions. Of course, having Stoudemire and Anthony on the court doesn’t help, but they play too much to single their defensive atrocities out.
The other sad thing here is that Amare and Anthony just do not seem to work well together. The Knicks stats, with limited sample size, are better when it’s just Melo and not Amare on the court. And Amare isn’t nearly as good when he is on his lonesome.
Listen, could this be the ill effects of a prolonged offseason? Maybe. But if it is, we should start to see a change in the next 7 days. The Knicks will have played 20 games by then, and that should be more than enough to have things together. Problem is, however, that Baron Davis may be ready to return the following week, which could slow down the Knicks progress for another month. Thus, it’s likely that improvement is nowhere in the Knicks immediate future, and that pieces need to be moved. Maybe we can’t make the decision based on 15 games, but at some point, long before we reach 66, the evaluation on this New York Knicks will be complete, and it’s not likely to be a good one.
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