Some things in the NBA are going just like everyone thought (Miami Heat starting 3-0, Kevin Durant playing like an MVP) and some aren’t (New Orleans at 2-0, Boston 0-3). What’s happening to the Knicks, though, was a matter of some debate.
A lot of people thought the Knicks adding Tyson Chandler would raise their defensive intensity, create fast break opportunities, and propel the Knicks to the Atlantic Division lead. Others, and I’m in this camp, thought they gave up too much to land Chandler, leaving them not only with no point guard or bench, but also without any real flexibility to acquire anyone to fill those gaps.
Now, the Knicks are 24th in the league in scoring, 16th in fast break points (behind San Antonio, and Boston, two of the oldest teams in the league) and they own the 9th worst defense. And to top if all off, Amar’e Stoudemire rolled an ankle last night, and is listed as day-to-day.
“I have it wrapped up, I’ll get an assessment (Friday) on it and see how it feels,’’
If he can’t go, the Knicks are looking at more Renaldo Balkman and Steve Novak.
That can’t make you feel good in New York.
Aside from an opening day win over a Boston Celtics team that is struggling mightily to find its own way, the Knicks have looked terrible in their two straight losses. Their flaws are on display as if the games were being played under a jeweler’s monocle. And it’s clear that a banged up Stoudemire shouldn’t be New York’s biggest concern.
Knicks management whiffed in its signing of Chandler. Not because Chandler isn’t good. It’s because he’s not the right fit. The Knicks already had a big man who needs to be set up by someone else to get his points. In Chandler, they added a second. Now the Knicks have two big guys who, two different degrees, struggle to create their own shot. Stoudemire is most effective when running a pick and pop or pick and roll. Chandler benefits from ball movement and slashers who force bad rotations. Neither is gong to post up to create his own offense, even though that’s what the Knicks desperately need in this current configuration.
Without a competent point guard to control the game, distribute shots and create opportunities for Stoudemire and Chandler, Carmelo Anthony has been asked to play the role of point-forward. Last night against the Lakers, it resulted in five turnovers and a night of mockery from observers across the web. And as the night went on, thing just got worse.
The Knicks have asked all three of their best players to do things they’re not comfortable, and not good at doing. Baron Davis is waiting in the wings and he can help, but only if the Baron Davis from a few years ago shows up. If the Baron Davis we’ve seen play in Cleveland becomes the Knicks hope of salvation, then they will be in a lot of trouble. As it is, Davis has never been a double-digit assist guy. He’s always been a scorer. And unless this old dog has learned new tricks, his instinct coming off the Stoudemire pick will be to shoot it, leaving Amar’e frustrated.
The Knicks may get a little more acclimated to each other over the next month or so, but they’ll find their share of struggles along the way. Davis won’t be in uniform until late January at the EARLIEST. By then, the Knicks could be barely floating along in the Atlantic. Their best hope at this point would be for Boston to continue struggling too, leaving the division up for grabs for months until someone gets their act together.
But if the Knicks don’t find a new approach soon, it won’t be them.