Rather than write another post game on last nights debacle, I decided to give some perspective into how bad a shape the Knicks truly are. Unlike most Knick fans, I will remain patient with this team. I am as frustrated as any fan but I understand that this is still a long NBA season and this team still has a lot of kinks to work out. They’ve been horrid this season but this Knick team still has the potential to have a great season. Hopefully this helps the reeling Knick fans reading, I’m trying my best to help, here is some perspective on the 6-9 Knicks:
At this point last season, the 15 game mark, the Knicks were 7-8. After their 3-8 start, the Knicks won 13 of 14 games to propel themselves into playoff contention. This years Knicks team started 6-8. While the fans were angry last season, the sky seems to be falling right now. D’Antoni’s head is being called for, Melo and Amar’e can’t work together, Chandler is not worth the money, etc. I do not however take any of these stances. What Knick fans need to realize is that there was a lockout shortened off-season. I understand that all teams dealt with this but few teams, if any, have to make adjustments like the Knicks do. This is a flawed roster, there is no doubt. Carmelo and Amar’e are not a perfect fit together but they can work. It just takes time. The offense can adjust to integrate Chandler more. It just takes time. The guards on this team should be able to hit jump shots, they have started the season cold. They should improve with time. There are 66 games in this season, the Knicks have played about as poor as they can and they are 6-9 and if the season ended today they would be the 8th seed in the east.
Where do the problems lie on this team? I believe everybody on the team, including the coaching staff, deserves blame for the recent struggles of the team. The Knicks offense has been stagnant and too Isolation oriented. That falls on both the coaching staff and the lack of a point guard. As this team continues to play together, they have the potential to fix this problem. There will always be isolation sets with Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire but as this team plays together, especially with Baron Davis returning, this team should become better and moving to open spots and moving the ball. I do not necessarily believe Davis will be an all-star savior for this team but I do not think this team needs him to put up 20 and 10 per night. Baron Davis needs to come onto the floor and lead this team. He needs to get the Knicks in their sets. He needs to get Amar’e and Melo and Chandler the ball in spots they can be successful. He must be the anti-Toney Douglas and I believe he will be. The Knicks shooting must improve as well on this team. Landry Fields has shown signs of busting out of his space jam-esque slump the past two games. Toney Douglas has been horrible but given his history as a Knick, it is not farfetched to believe that at some point he will start hitting his shots. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire have shot far worse this season than they have shot historically. With time and a better point guard, everybody on the team should improve their shooting.
How bad is this team? They have been pretty bad as of late but there have been some upsides to be realized. The defense, impacted by assistant Mike Woodson, center Tyson Chandler and guard Iman Shumpert, has been pretty good this season. Although ranked a pedestrian 18th in defensive efficiency, before the last 5 games the Knicks were ranked in the top 10. The struggles of the offense, especially against Milwaukee in which the Knicks had 24 turnovers, have hurt the defense as of late which has resulted in the slide of their defensive efficiency rating. Point is, the defense has not been the problem this season which is a great sign because that was the big criticism of the Knicks coming into the season. With Mike D’Antoni coaching this team, I am confident the offense will improve. The Knicks currently are ranked 24th in offensive efficiency. That will not stick, the Knicks really have nowhere to go but up offensive since the offense has killed the Knicks this season.
Should D’Antoni be fired? No. No. No. No. No. What good will firing D’Antoni do? There is no suitable replacement right now. The most likely replacement would be Mike Woodson, creator of the “Iso-Joe” offense in Atlanta. People complain about the offense now? The offense under Woodson would be twice as stagnant as it currently is now. Jeff Van Gundy? Too many burned bridges. Jerry Sloan? He will never want to deal with the New York media, especially cause he made his money as a coach in Salt Lake City. People think that the Knicks can get Phil Jackson. They are wrong. Phil Jackson historically, coaching teams with Jordan and Kobe, only will coach teams with superior talent. This Knick team currently has two isolation-minded offensive stars that haven’t learned to play together. This Knick team currently has no semblance of a bench. This Knick team currently has no point guard. Phil Jackson will not touch this team as it is currently producing/built. If this team finishes with a second round playoff loss then maybe Jackson comes but right now Jackson will not come within miles of Madison Square Garden.
In conclusion while this team has been pathetic as of late, there is still plenty of time to turn this team around. Despite all the struggles they have had, the Knicks would still be the 8th seed in the east. A loss tonight would put the Knicks as close to rock bottom as possible. Given that Baron Davis doesn’t blow out his back when he returns to the lineup, his leadership and presence should make a big difference on this team. I still believe this is a playoff team with the potential to make a run. They have not played well to this point and they have holes to patch up but the ceiling on this team is high. D’Antoni historically has shown the ability to take teams deep into the playoffs and I believe he should be given a chance with this team. I am as frustrated as any Knick fan but I hope this helps to give some perspective into how much trouble the Knicks truly are in.Follow @tarmosino