At 8-13 the Knicks are still not out of play of contention and have 45 games left this season to make a run. Now while many appear to be waiting for Baron Davis, I believe that there is enough here without Davis to make a run and get the team firmly in playoff position. Now if Davis comes back in time to shake off the rust for the playoffs great, but the Knicks cannot wait for Davis to save their season, they need to act and now.
1. Carmelo Anthony needs to buy in: It is one thing to publically support D'Antoni, it is another altogether to allow himself to be coached by him. A large part of the Knicks problems since the trade have been linked to Carmelo's lack of buy in to D'Antoni's system. When one guy is doing his own thing and the other 4 are doing something else, it doesn't tend to work in the NBA. Carmelo says he supports D'Antoni 100% as coach. Prove it by following his coaching on the court.
2. Carmelo needs to play better: This post is not about Carmelo but he does get the first two points. Even the biggest Carmelo fan around can admit that their hero has played like garbage for most of the early going this season. When a team invests in stars it is with the assumption that those players will play like stars. Carmelo has to play better and be consistent at it. To date his play puts him more on the level of Monta Ellis instead of Lebron, Kobe, Rose, or Durant. Not even Dolan would trade half a team for Monta Ellis. The offense runs through Carmelo, so he needs to be more efficient in getting his points in order to draw the defense and create spaces for his teammates to get scoring opportunities. It is not the number of shots he takes but how efficient he is with those shots that will open the floor and create high percentage scoring opportunities for Amare, Chandler, and Fields.
3. Shumpert and Douglas need to play in the paint more. While they do not have the same responsibilities in this offense that say Steve Nash or Raymond Felton had when they ran D'Antoni's offense, they still need to do a better job playing their roles. Douglas and Shumpert have to push the pace, and as often as they can get into the lane to disrupt the defense. Both have struggled to do this consistently and as a result the are taking far too many jumpshots. By getting into the paint even if they are doing so looking to score rather than distribute, they will draw defenses and create natural passing lanes that will be easier for them to exploit. Another advantage of looking to get into the paint more in order to score, is it makes it harder to block out which will allow Chandler and Amare to get some work in on the offensive boards.
4. Continue to make Fields a priority early in the games. The Knicks need to get consistent production out of Fields. With a player like Landry the earlier you get him involved in the offense the better. Fields is not a guy you are going to look to consistently in the fourth quarter so you need to get him his touches early in the game. Also by getting him going early you boost his confidence and get better play form him throughout the games.
5. Run more pick and rolls: I know that the Knicks ball handlers are not good at it, but by showing pick and roll it will help get those guards to play in the paint, and will create some disruption in the defense. D'Antoni last season against the Heat, Bulls, and the Spurs used the pick and roll largely as a decoy to get the defense to react. Amare would roll and then flash to the strong side low block. There he would either look to score, work a give and go with either Fields or Chandler, or draw the defense and kick out to a spot up shooter. While D'Antoni is not running the spread pick and roll offense this year, more PNR even if used just to create motion in the defense should open up the floor more. Also it forces player movement and allows Amare to get into the low post without having to dribble.
6. 30 pts per game for Amare and Tyson. Carmelo is the number one option and will take the most shots and score the most points. But he needs to make sure he gets help from his Lieutenants. In order for D'Antoni to get those extra points that will allow him to get to 100 on a consistent basis, he needs at least 30 pts a game out of his front court duo. Secondly, I do not know if you guys notice this, but when Chandler and Amare are both active and getting touches consistently, they seem to rebound and defend better.
I believe that if the Knicks can accomplish these 6 things on a consistent basis, their offense will improve and if they continue to play defense decently, they will be able to get on a run..