So what is the state of the Knicks as we get ready for All-Star weekend? Well, clearly it’s a lot different than it was during the first month of the season. Their dynamic has changed and sometimes change is not always for the good…
For openers, and because the trade deadline (Feb. 21st) is rapidly approaching, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if somehow the Knicks can pull off a trade. What they need is a a guard. The faster PG’s in the league have run circles around their tandem of Felton, Prigioni, and Kidd. Felton has already missed a dozen games this season and is prone to injuries given the way in which he plays.
Kidd, turning 40 soon, has had chronic back issues and cannot keep up with the Westbrooks and the Walls when he IS on the floor. Prigioni, the 35 year old rookie, made his bones in Europe where they’re really not sure what defense even means.
The stout defense that the Knicks paraded around courts throughout the league during their first 15 to 20 games has become a distant memory. Rasheed Wallace who has missed 26 games since going down with a sore left foot injury back on December 17th, hasn’t helped. He played a huge part on the defensive end in the beginning of the season and has been sorely missed.
Marcus Camby hasn’t played much as well, and Iman Shumpert who recently returned after recovering from knee surgery, has not been the same defensive juggernaut that endeared him to the team and the fans alike last year. Amare Stoudemire has been coming along nicely on offense but has never been known for his defensive ability.
So that just leaves Tyson Chandler, last year’s defensive player of the year. He is simply not enough to keep opposing players from driving the lane. Yes, he can rebound as well as any center in the league, but he doesn’t intimidate like he did last season. On offense, he doesn’t create at all and rarely puts the ball on the floor to post up. He, instead, makes his living off of pick and rolls and alley-oops from Raymond Felton.
And finally, there’s the recently self-proclaimed MVP of the league, Carmelo Anthony. As fans, it’s okay that he takes a lot of shots; he currently takes more per game than any other player in the NBA…yes, including Kobe Bryant! However all these ISO’s coupled with the fact that J.R. Smith, the second leading scorer on the team who is more inconsistent than Melo, begs the question, “Where does the offense come from when Melo isn’t connecting or on the floor? “
The Knicks, which the league has now caught up with, is essentially a perimeter shooting team that lives and dies with the three-pointer. Any team that can defend the perimeter takes away the majority of the Knicks game. And of course, any team that can slow down or stop Carmelo,(look at the Clippers game over the weekend and what Grant Hill did), make the Knicks vulnerbale especially if J.R. is not “on”.
So what do the Knicks have to do in order to have their best opportunity to get past at least the first round in this year’s playoffs? Besides, “all of the above”, they were doing one other thing in the beginning of the year that they have gotten away from… Ball movement! It was crisp passing and making the ‘extra pass’ that helped spur them to the fast start this season. Lately it seems that all too often the ball ends up in Carmelo’s hands while four other guys just stand around and watch him create shots.
Change is not always good, but good coaches and good teams find a way to make adjustments if what they are doing needs tweaking. Mike Woodson and the Knicks need to do just that in the second half of the season if they would like this to be a successful one, and given the ages of a lot of the team’s players, there aren’t a heck of a lot of seasons left in which to do so.