As I watched the Knicks take a trip to the Disney World state and struggle against two of the leagues premier teams, i couldn't help but realize some of the obvious problems this team is having. While it is possible that this was just a disguised vacation and the Knicks bad starts can be attributed to Amare and Co taking pregame pictures with Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdon, our favorite Monopoly Man is partially the culprit..
By no means am i calling for D'Antoni's job. Not only has he surpassed our expectations, he also has one of the most difficult teams to manage. More than half the team is new, players that were supposed to develop, haven't, a solid starting lineup that lacks size and plays too many minutes, etc. Not to mention, we aren't at practises, we don't know how far AR and Mozgoz have developed, we don't know how close Buike is to returing.
A few things though, are obviously wrong. Take the jump for a few notes
- First off, our starting line-up is WAY off and for many reasons. We may get away with beating mediocare-decent teams with what we have, but it would take an outstanding three-point shooting effort for us to beat the elite teams. Lets examine some of the problems:
1) To start off, lets examine the obvious. Size. Nene gave us fits, Dwight Howard dominated and even Ilgauskas managed a near double-double against Knicks in just the first quater. Had the Celtics had Perkins or Shaq, that one point thriller would have been a blow-out and our Christmas Day victory over the Bulls could have easily been spoiled a healthy finger on one Joakhim Noah. Idk for how long this team can get away with playing Chandler at the 4. As good of a rebounder as he is, he still at best a small forward and is too small to guard other pf/c. Thus, Amare draws the tough assignments, gets into foul trouble, doesn't play as much and our life overall becomes difficult.
2) No #2 scorer. As good as Felton has been, he's our point guard, not our shooting guard. He should not take 20 shots in a game, ever. Landry Fields clearly doesn't have the tools yet to score consistently so that leave Gallinari and Chandler to pick up that slack. With both of them starting, there aren't enough possesions to get them both going along with Amare, so one of them, usually Gallo, ends up running around aimlessly and doesn't really get involved in the game till late. Thus, we don't get the most out of our players.
3) By putting all of our best players into our starting line-up, our bench becomes more of a liability than a strength. Tony Douglas is essentially the leader of our bench, and well, the results are in front of us. Game in and game out, opponent's benchs outscore ours. Why? The problem is not any individual player, but in the bench team as a whole. TD gets a lot of crit for not being an effective pg, but honestly, who does he have to pass to? Turiaf who brings more energy/goofiness than game. How can you take a guy that does a warrior dance after scoring seriously? Easy E who's only skill is shooting the 3 ball which becomes incredibly predictable after a while. Walker? I watched him last night and kept asking myself why he's out there when he does nothing.
Now that we have established the problems, lets look at some possible solutions to our problems.
1) First and formost, I would move Wilson Chandler back to bench, not as a demotion, but rather as an upgrade. He has proven earlier in the season that he can produce as well off the bench, and now that he has had so much success as a starter, he can bring his newly found confidence and become the leader of the bench. This, in turn, would allow Gallo, to truly become that second option that he is capable of. Instead of sharing touches with Chandler in the first unit, the two won't always play together and can take turns taking away some of the scoring load off of Amare.
2) The question then becomes who replaced Will the Thrill in the starting lineup. while trading for a player like Varejao would solve this almost too perfectly, that hasn't happened yet, so we are left with AR, Mozgov, Ronny and Curry. At first glance, Turiaf seems to be the obvious choice, as he is the most groomed player of the bunch, but his energy is needed off the bench and he has very little potential to become a true starting center. I know it didn't work earlier in the year, but Mozgov needs to start again, not because he has earned the position, but because the team will continue to get dominated by bigs until he does. He practise all he wants, but until he gets more NBA experience, you really don't know how good he can be.
3) Get Azuibuike back as soon as possible. Not only is he an excellent defender, but he brings everything we need on the offensive side. Quickness, 3-point shooting, intelligence. He could join Tony Douglas, Ronny, Chandler and Easy E for one of the leagues best second units. With a couple of decent scorers around him, Douglas could easily learn to play the 1 better.
This is all for now. I need to practise writing more as im just starting to blog/post and need to get into the flow or translating my thoughts onto paper.