One of my colleagues and I were discussing the New York Knicks earlier today, he brought to my attention that the Knicks were 7th in Defensive Efficiency. Mike D’Antoni and “defense” in the same breath? Hard to believe as a Knicks fan or just as a basketball fan, taking that into consideration it’s even harder to accept that the Knicks problems are actually on the offensive end. D’Antoini was the architect of the 7 seconds or less high powered offense he implemented in Phoenix ran by Steve Nash. Nash had Amare Stoudamire, Shawn Marion and a plethora of lethal 3point shooters.
Looking at the current Knicks roster it’s not hard to see that it’s not a great fit, the system doesn’t fit the players. Unlike in Phoenix were there was only 1 Big, there are two in New York in Amare and Tyson Chandler. Neither of the two are true back to the basket post players, they both are outstanding pick & roll players. Unfortunately the Knicks only use Chandler in those situations, Amare has only been in 17 Pick & Roll opportunities this year where Chandler has been involved in 40 P&R plays. Chandler is ranked 2nd in the league as a roll man in the P&R, he’s shooting 77.8% in those situations. Amare is by far the more offensively gifted player of the two, for him to not be put in as many P&R situations doesn’t make sense. Amare has had 39 post up opportunities this season, he’s only converted 10 of those chances. D’Antoin SHOULD know how to use one of his former players, but from the numbers we see that is not the case. One of the other problems for the Knicks is rebounding, Tyson & Amare are both averaging 6 rebounds a game. That HAS to improve, so much attention has been put on the defensive end that EVERY other part of the game has drastically regressed.
The BIGGEST issue for the Knicks may be at the Point Guard position, there is no true floor leader. Toney Douglas is averaging 13 points & 4 assists this season, he is not a very good P&R player at all. Douglas turns the ball over 14% of the time in P&R situations, only 29% of the time does a P&R situation involving Douglas result in a made basket. Douglas is 19 of 59 in P&R opportunities, overall Douglas is shooting 32% from the field and 26.2% from beyond the arch. He’s taken 84 three pointers this year, he’s only hit 22 of them. The Knicks have Rookie Iman Shumpert, but he splits time between both guard spots. They need to figure out if he’s their future at point guard or not, he does need to be on the floor because of his defensive ability.
Lastly Carmelo Anthony, he’s shouldering much of the blame for New York’s struggles. Melo is playing hurt, but what’s hurting Melo more is his new responsibility of being the sole playmaker on the floor. Outside of Melo, no other Knick can truly create for others. Far from what most believe, Melo is having a good year. He’s averaging 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. Melo has been much more involved in P&R situations this year as the ball handler rather than the roll man. According to Synergy Sports, Melo is in fact the best P&R ball handler on the Knicks as those situations result in made baskets 57.3% of the time. Melo is also the best post up player on his team as well, he shoots 48.4% in from that area which is far better than his teammates Tyson & Amare. The problem for Melo this year? Far too much responsibility, Melo is an assassin on the offensive end. There is a drastic difference between someone who CAN pass and someone who is a DISTRIBUTOR, Melo has had to be a distributor this year rather than himself. He’s done an admirable job shouldering the load this year; the problem is not him, but the lack of a floor leader on the Knicks roster.
If the Knicks wish to turn this around, it may be time to go acquire a point guard that can DISTRIBUTE the ball. The other option is fully implementing Shumpert into the starting line-up and grooming him to be THAT guy at the position. Either way a change needs to be made and D’Antoni needs to be replaced. It’s his offensive philosophy, it doesn’t fit his current roster and he hasn’t made any adjustments. It’s still early in the season so a change can be made and not derail this season’s goals. The bottom line being the Knicks aren’t utilizing there players correctly, it’s truly hurting them.
What do you think the problem with the Knicks are?? Leave your comments below!!