I was mad after the knicks bulls game, so i wrote this in an email to theknicksblog.com in the hopes that they would let it rock as a fan submission. Unfortunately, I am not a writer, so in case they don't...i'm putting it here. It is about how Amare blows, and why he blows. check it out.
warning: it's a bit long, and a bit of a basketball nerd blackout, so you will not hear descriptions of "lack of heart and hustle" as much as precisely why Amare sucks at rebounding and defense, and the effects of said suckitude.
This is brief analysis of one HUGE problem. I am not going to get into anything about Melo, or about Coach D. This is about Amare and his flaws. Melo has some bad nights and some good nights, and is the lightning rod for attention, but the bigger problem is Amare. People say he is bad at defense and rebounding, but the problem is much bit deeper than that. It is not just any defense that is the huge problem, but help defense (i.e. the most important defensive skill to possess in the NBA) . Likewise, it is not just an ordinary lack of rebounding, but a disinterest in ensuring that opposing players do NOT get a rebound. Let me elaborate on the defense first.
There are 3 ways to play GREAT defense in the NBA:
1. is to have a hall of fame center like Dwight Howard
2. is to have a power forward who can quarterback the defense and defend C's and PF's, with help from a C. this is what we see in OKC, CHI, Boston and the Lakers when they play well.
3. is to have a team loaded with great athletes who are quick and long with good instinct ... this is Miami and Philadelphia, and to a lesser degree, the Bucks.
OKC is actually a bit of a hybrid between 2 and 3 when they play well, and so was Boston from 2008-2010, as was Detroit in 2004. Occasionally, you have teams that win championships despite not one of those three, and they win almost certainly because of an incredible run of offense (see Dirk's Mavs, where Dirk, Kidd, Barea, Terry, Marion, and Chandler all gelled offensively and made hardly any mistakes, and see the D Wade Takeover of 2006)
Successful NBA defense -- teams have to fit into one of those categories. Notice how during the Linsanity win streak (albeit while facing a bunch of horrible teams) the Knicks resembled a sort of category 2 lite with Jeffries and Chandler, winning low scoring games? This is not a coincidence. The Knicks with Amare obviously do not fit #1, can fit #2 for short periods when Jeffries and Tyson play simultaneiously, and are far too slow to fit #3.
Other teams realize this, and realize that the reason is Amare, despite the excellent defensive play by stalwart center Tyson Chandler. Accordingly, the opposing team's offense tends to be something like this, give or take:
(Before reading this, think about how many incredible point guards are in the NBA)
1. Opposing team has good PG. opposing team runs 1 - 4 PnR. Opposing PG gets by Amare, who cant play a lick of help defense on PnRs.
2. Opposing PF outrebounds out hustles Amare, out moves, gets O Boards, allows opposing PG to do #1 again.
3. Opposing PF gets by Amare on isos, Tyson helps. Even if Tyson alters shot and causes a miss, Tysons man is now free to rebound and put back, and certainly bigger than anyone who picks him up (say, Melo). Worse: Tyson helps, Tyson gets in foul trouble, opposing PG gets to rim where no help exists bc Tyson is out. Tyson is out, Rebounding suffers, #2 therefore happens even more, because now the other team has the PF AND the C dogging for rebounds freely, and #1 happens more as well.
The severity of the problem increases as the cycle is repeated, as Tyson picks up more fouls, opposing team gets more momentum and energy, and Amare gets even more tired. This is why the Knicks defense and rebounding consistently trends worse in the second half, by the way, in this 6 game losing streak.
I won't even speak on how the defensive mixups and missed rotations increase after O boards, leading to 3 pointers...it is not a coincidence that so many dagger threes and open lane dunks come after offensive rebounds, when the defense is no longer set.
Go back up there, and picture the Bulls when reading through that 3-step sequence of Amare's failure. See how Rose, Gibson, and Noah fit this narrative? How Jennings and Ilyasova fit the narrative? Insert any halfway decent quick PG and hustling PF in this script, and you have the recipe for what we so often see versus the Knicks in the last two years: opposing PGs and PFs having career games...due mostly to Amare, not really to Lin or Davis (not excusing them completely, just explaining the truth here).
By the way, this is why it is a bit of a misconception to state that "point guard X gave point guard Y" so much trouble. Defending ultraquick NBA PGs, in this era of pro-guard refereeing, is nearly impossible 1 on 1. The HELP DEFENSE is far more important in defending point guards. This is why defenses have been able to flourish despite having defensively lacking point guards. Evidence? The Spurs Dynasty with a 5 foot 11 and thin Tony Parker, negated by Tim Duncan. The recent Laker championships employing 76 year old Derek Fisher at the point, negated by Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The Bulls now with Rose -- who was never a great defender -- with Noah and friends.
Anyway, it is not just that Amare doesn't rebound. Even when he gets 9, 10 rebounds, he usually misses his "defensive assignment" and fails to box out his own man on defense, leading to offensive rebounds. That does not show up on his particular stat line, instead it shows up on the stat line for the entire Knick team, which serves to hide the true degree of how bad a defender/rebounder he is from casual fans.
He also fumbles catches on rebounds (and passes on offense too) much more than he used to, because he is less mobile. Once a game we see Tyson catch a PnR pass from Lin (not a Lob) where the catch itself is impressive. Never happens with Amare.
We hear analysts talk about how he is a weak rebounder and defender...but they do not convey, to the casual fan, the severity of his weaknesses. The Media, and to a lesser extent, the blogsophere, loves to talk about Heart and Grit and Hustle, which all matter but are over-rated. In reality, the problems do not stem from intangibles, they are identifiable. Just ask opposing coaches.