One and done for the run ’n’ gun
The Carmelo Anthony trade was supposed to save a struggling New York Knicks franchise from mediocrity and help it rise into an elite group in the NBA.
With a team that features Anthony along with fellow superstar Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks were two-thirds of their way to an NBA Dream Team, much like the Miami Heat have done with their “Big Three.”
However, since the Carmelo trade, the Knicks are 7–12 in their 19 games with the superstar, sending the ever-anxious New York faithful into a frenzy of taunts and boos.
So, what is happening with this New York Knicks team? First of all, it is their unwillingness to play defense, which has been a problem ever since head coach Mike D’Antoni came in from the Phoenix Suns.
Taking a look at the Knicks’ overall defense from the beginning of the season, they are 26th out of 30 teams in points allowed, obviously the most telling statistic when it comes to defensive abilities.
They are surprisingly ranked lower in defensive efficiency than the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have possibly the worst team in history. With a defense this bad, a team cannot expect to be extremely successful, especially when the offense runs mainly through two players.
When one of these players has an off day, you might as well chalk it up as an automatic loss for these Knicks.
This defensive problem highlights the biggest problem with this Knicks team: a lack of all-around coaching. D’Antoni has forever been known for his “run ’n’ gun” offense, an offensive game plan that is based off of shooting the ball very quickly and trying to get transition points whenever possible.
However, D’Antoni has never made it to the NBA Finals, even with his former team, the Phoenix Suns, who had a much more talented roster than the Knicks do right now.
A huge problem with D’Antoni’s philosophy, especially with the Knicks, is that the game plan is based on the quickness of the point guard, along with teammates who are able to shoot the three.
With the Anthony trade, the Knicks got an aging point guard in Chauncey Billups, who is well known for being a mainly half-court offensive player.
In addition to this, Anthony does not necessarily have the skills to be in this offense, as he is a player who runs his game through isolations in the half-court as well.
Billups and Anthony brought their previous team, the Denver Nuggets, to the playoffs multiple times because their team employed a half-court offense philosophy, one that utilizes the team’s strengths.
In addition to the rigidness of the offensive system, D’Antoni clearly does not feel defense is an important part of the game, as he has never coached a team that has given up less than 100 average points per game, which is terrible. It’s pretty clear that the Knicks head coach has never heard the cliché “Defense wins championships.”
Looking forward for the Knicks, it looks like they will be entering the playoffs as the seventh seed, which would most likely pit them against their rivals, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics do everything that the Knicks do not, such as playing defense, listening to their coach, and running an offense suitable to the team needs. If the Knicks do end up playing the Celtics, I would expect a quick one-and-done series for New York as it prepares for next season.
Speaking of the future, many Knicks fans seem to be adamant that New York will lure another high-profile free agent, such as New Orleans point guard Chris Paul or Orlando center Dwight Howard, to the Big Apple.
However, these fans are uneducated in the financials of basketball. Assuming a salary cap cut, the Knicks would not have enough to reach the maximum-level deal in the summer of 2012, leaving them only enough money to fill the team with role players instead of making a huge splash like the 2010 Miami Heat.
If, by some miracle, the salary cap stays the same, it is possible that a scenario like this happens. Unfortunately for the Knicks, it looks highly unlikely at this point.
So as of right now, the Knicks have lost six in a row, and eight of the last nine. The most disappointing statistic of this streak is that seven of the last nine teams have had records below .500.
In fact, the Knicks are 1–6 against such teams, meaning they just aren’t taking care of business on the weaker teams in the conference, or just aren’t good enough. It is sad how far this Knicks organization has come from the competitive years in the late ’90s.
If Carmelo Anthony cannot bring this franchise out of the dumps, New York basketball fans may just have to pray that Jay-Z moves the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn so they at least have another option. I hope they begin their path to contention by firing the main culprit, head coach Mike D’Antoni.