Sunday, January 22, 2012

Knicks Continue to Confuse

Knicks basketball still isn't up to New York standards. The Knicks have started the season 6-10 and that record is indicative of their level of play. Defense has been nonexistent, the offense isn't too pretty and the construction of team (from the coach to the players) isn't right.

Mike D'Antoni coaching tells a front office a ton about how to build a team. D'Antoni is known for his fast paced, offense-heavy teams. His system is predicated on ball movement, three point shooting and scoring quickly. While defense does matter, it's second on the priority list. This isn't Mike Brown, Gregg Popovich, or Doc Rivers. D'Antoni had huge success leading Steve Nash and the Suns. That success happened due to Steve Nash keeping the ball moving, three's falling and running being a constant.

The Knicks are a team with ball stoppers and three point shooters. Carmelo and Amar'e are the ball stoppers. They need the ball in their hands to do anything. They inhibit D'Antoni's system. The Knicks don't have a passing guard. Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, and Mike Bibby just fill the PG minutes (Shumpert is not really a PG).

What pieces fit for the Knicks? Steve Novak, Landry Fields, and Tyson Chandler. Steve Novak is a shooter, which is perfect for a D'Antoni system. Landry Fields, while his three point shot is off (about 21%), is a hustle guy who provides intangibles. Fields would fit on any team, but especially the Knicks. Chandler (though overpaid) provides the defense the Knicks are deficient in. D'Antoni's teams are score-first, so having a guy who specializes in defense is logical.

The way the Knicks are built makes no sense. They cannot play to the style of their coach. It's like having plumbers do flooring. While they may have rudimentary knowledge, they aren't experts. While the Knicks roster understands how D'Antoni operates, they cannot unlearn their old habits enough to create new habits. The roster isn't 100% to blame for the lack of wins.

The front office is perplexing. Investing about $50 million this year in Chandler, Anthony and Stoudemire (and more for the next couple years)? Surely some of these guys are talents and worthy of their pay. Bringing them all together and trying to get D'Antoni to propel them to success? That's ludicrous. The Knicks need a team, not a cast of stars mixed with whatever else they could find (all due respect to the Knicks roster).

How can the Knicks fix some of the bad moves? Seriously considering trading Anthony, Stoudemire, or even both. Down size in order to build a unit. If D'Antoni is going to coach, don't give him a team like this. Cultivate offense and effort above all. Develop young guys like Shumpert and Jeremy Lin. Don't just throw money at guys you've heard of. Bring together players who fit the system and can contend within it.

The blame doesn't solely lie within the front office. The play has been horrid. If the front office and coaching staff get on the same page, things can be less confusing. They can work hand in hand, building a team that can run. D'Antoni should be questioned, but not axed due to this team. They aren't a team built for him. Hopefully the Knicks can begin building more productively.

What are your impressions of the Knicks?