On Wednesday night, they visited Oakland and lost to Mark Jackson’s Warriors, 92-78. And Thursday night’s showdown in Los Angeles saw Kobe Bryant and the Lakers defeat them, 99-82.
During Thursday night’s telecast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, TNT’s Reggie Miller and Kevin Harlan, while calling the game, had the following exchange:
RM: “What kind of basketball is this we’re seeing from the Knicks?”
KH: “It’s… Uh…’hard to watch’ basketball.”
Ain’t that the truth.
So far this season, Amar’e Stoudemire has looked slow and lazy. Iman Shumpert—injured in Sunday’s victory over the Celtics—has looked on from the sidelines. And Toney Douglas has looked for nothing but his own shot.
The single bright spot has been the individual greatness of Anthony.
Is it time to panic? Certainly, the team has gone through some awful stretches during games, but it’s still early.
So which do you prefer? The glass half full or half empty?
The glass half full says that the Knicks are a team with tons of new faces. New faces plus an early cross-country road trip equals early season losses. In fact, Knicks fans saw exactly that last year. They’ll be OK after they develop some chemistry and have more practice time. Just like last year.
But for those that are closer to the living-on-the-ledge type, the glass is—and always will be—half empty. Amar’e and Carmelo can’t co-exist, Tyson Chandler is overpaid, and Toney Douglas and Landry Fields should be traded while they still have some value.
Half full or half empty? Go ahead and decide.
I’ll take neither.
Although we’re dealing with a 66-game sprint to the playoffs, it’s sometimes difficult to keep things in perspective and realize that the season is long. But in all honesty, none of the Knicks’ three games thus far have definitively taught any of us anything about this team that we didn’t already know.
It is true that the Knicks shot 9-20 (.450) from behind the arc in their first game against the Celtics. But it seems that they left the shooting touch behind in New York after converting just 4-21 (.190) against the Warriors on Wednesday and 6-22 (.273) against the Lakers on Thursday.
What’s worse is that after beating the Celtics with just 17 total team assists, the Knicks managed only 15 team assists in each of their games against the Warriors and Lakers.
Yes, these numbers are alarming, but what new conclusions can we possibly draw after seeing the Knicks play just 4.5 percent of their season?
Obviously, the Knicks are not a good defensive team. This is true despite the fact that they added a defensive anchor in the middle in Chandler. The absence of Shumpert over the course of the next three weeks hurts, as well. But most Knicks watchers already knew that Douglas’ reputation for being a good defensive player was overblown. And while Stoudemire’s newfound propensity to turn his back on the ballhandler has been troubling, it certainly isn’t surprising. His defensive ineptitude is well documented.
The widespread panic and surprise, to me, suggests that some Knicks fans unrealistically expected Chandler, by himself, to turn them into a great defensive team. Au contraire. A defense is really only as good as the five man unit. If one gets broken down and another has to cover, the entire unit becomes compromised.
Fields simply lacks the lateral quickness to stay in front of NBA shooting guards. Meanwhile, Douglas has been overplaying passing lanes gambling too much. Together, their transgressions have contributed to the overall defensive deficiencies.
So it should come as no surprise that the Warriors and Lakers were able to run layup lines on the Knicks.
Offensively, the team has been a mess. Instead of timely cuts being rewarded with crisp passes and layups, the Knicks’ offense has become a spectator event for the four guys that don’t have the ball. There’s no motion. But worse than that, there’s no transition buckets or easy hoops. All of that can be traced back to the fact that there is no floor general and nobody to push the ball up the court. Granted, pushing the ball requires stops, rebounds, and forced turnovers. Those have been rare. The net effect has been that the Knicks have been getting scored on and have become a half-court team.
That is, a half court team with no reliable post presence. Your end product is an offense that is nothing more than a stagnant and uncreative isolation watch-a-thon. The cure to all of this? A good point guard that can push, penetrate, and pass; someone who can create plays for Amar’e and ‘Melo to finish will pay huge dividends.
Until that person (Baron Davis?) emerges, we’ll continue to see pick-and-rolls resulting in passes going from the free-throw line extended area back to the top of the key and not down onto the box. That’s a result of Mike Bibby and Douglas’ inability to create a passing lane off of a pick, or get to the basket and finish. Having a pair of point guards that can’t pass or get into the paint particularly well is kryptonite to a Mike D’Antoni coached team. And that explains why ‘Melo and Fields have been pick-and-roll ballhandlers so often.
Like I said, it’s a mess. The Knicks are simply trying to run a system that depends on a good point guard without a good point guard. It’s as absurd as attempting to make a pizza without mozzarella.
Davis can be the guy that the Knicks need to man the ship, control the tempo.
Yes, the Knicks have a serious point guard issue, but didn’t we all know that from the moment they decided to amnesty Chauncey Billups?
Didn’t we see this coming?
The Knick roster is a go-cart that’s missing a steering wheel and a driver. Think it’ll get better once the product is finished? You should.
As it stands, the roster is fairly talented and should expect to contend for the division crown if Davis can be who they need him to be. Yes, the Knicks are depending on someone whose best basketball is probably behind him, but they believe he has something left in the tank.
And mind you, Glen Grunwald has preserved his $2.5 million room exception. And although I’m hearing that the money is being earmarked for Kenyon Martin, it’s a tool that the Knicks can use to improve their team sooner if need be.
We’re three games in. For your sake, chill.
If history has taught you anything, it should be that the NBA season—even the abbreviated kind—is long.
At this point, the Knicks haven’t taught us anything we didn’t already know.
Want to win two free tickets to an NBA game in your area? Click here to learn how.