Ho-hum, the world is falling! We’re all doomed and Armageddon is here! Derrick Rose disappears, the team is collapsing and these are the Knicks of old.
I’ve been yearning to fire up a Knicks specific thread (starting with this here Episode 1) for a while now, and what a perfect time. The Knicks have lost 9 out of their last 11 games, and have slipped from 3rd to 10th in the Eastern Conference. Everything has been said from trading Derrick Rose to blowing up the entire roster. None of which was said a week before Christmas when the Knicks sported the 3rd best record in the conference and looked like the offense was clicking. I literally heard ESPN’s Jalen Rose and Chauncey Billups say last night that they expect the Pistons to make the playoffs. The same Pistons who sit a game behind the Knicks at 11th in the conference, who probably had a hotter start than the Knicks.
Let’s get right to it. CALM DOWN! The Knicks offense with Derrick Rose is just fine.
As always, you would like to consistently see smooth ball movement. The Knicks have averaged 105 PPG in their last 11 games. Derrick Rose himself is averaging 17.5 PPG, good for 46th overall in a league of 450 players. Rose provides a rim attack that the Knicks have not seen from the point guard position since Stephon Marbury. The entire offense just has a different look, and cannot impose a paint threat when Rose doesn’t play. He’s proved that he’s clutch on multiple occasions thus far this season alone. He’s the only guard that can wave Melo off and create a play for himself or for a teammate. For all those clamoring to trade him or not re-sign him next season, my question to you is FOR WHO??
At this point in his career, Rose may not be worth that alleged $150M max contract he is seeking next season. But for his talent level there may not be many other options.
Now to the elephant in the room, Carmelo Anthony. I’m sure those of you who don’t believe in Carmelo’s talent or ability are the same ones that think Stephen Curry has fallen off this season. They may miss shots and/or be less aggressive, but if you don’t understand that their mere presence on the court is a benefit to their teammates then you should probably watch another sport.
Melo can be lethal when he is hot. For all those that want Porzingis to flourish, look at the attention the defense must give to Melo when KP makes his moves. Spacing is a key factor to a successful offense. When Melo is on the strong side of the court and KP has the ball, his drives are defenseless. For one of the few times in his career, Melo has a team full of shooters and has shown his willingness to pass the ball. We need to see quicker offensive moves. Catch, jab, fake pass, spin, drive, whatever. The offense dies when he takes 4-5 dribbles before he makes his move. The quicker the move, the quicker the help/double, the quicker the pass and the shot.
Melo continues to express his desire to remain in NY but everyone else keeps expressing their desire to get rid of him. Unbelievable. He’s A-Okay in my book.
From disappointment on draft night, to excitement 2 years later. Kristaps Porzingis has been nothing short of a bright light in NY. He exudes professionalism and the improvements on his game are widely noticeable. The Knicks need to do a better job of running the offense through him (especially with the second unit); and let good things happen. His 1 on 1 moves against opposing bigs leave them in the dust, and his open 3s come a dime a dozen. One area KP can improve is his post dominance. That’s going to come with time and a little muscle. I’d like to see him be able to back down a defense at least to the low post and go up strong from there. Other than that, he can just continue his normal routine and we should see a multi time all-star.
The Knicks biggest issue is defense. They can score with the best of them, but they can’t stop anyone. That’s a HUGE problem. They rack up blocks near the rim with the KP, Noah, O’Quinn combo, but attacking guards cannot be stopped. The Knicks have a hard time keeping slashers on the perimeter and do not get many deflections during the game. As such, they are 4th in the league in blocked shots, but 23rd in steals. The balance of the roster leaves much to desire. When a defensive unit is on the floor they sacrifice offense and vice versa. Questions that need answers from the President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson. Let’s see if there are any moves to be made before the deadline, or if the squad just needs to give a hellacious effort on a nightly basis. It can be done.
With 8 out of the remaining 10 January games being against playoff contenders, the Knicks need to show up and finish the month strong. A 6-4 record to finish the month will put them at .500 and give them a shot to get a winning streak moving forward. Surely it can be done, but it will take focus and a concerted effort from them all. We’ve seen the flashes earlier on this season, and I’m certain they’re tired of losing.
Stay tuned for weekly progress reports on the Knicks, and here’s to hoping they make the playoffs!