What is happening?

The Knicks have been mediocre for a while since their hot start. It’s nothing to panic about – good teams, even championship teams, have mediocre stretches. The Heat looked kind of mediocre to start the season. To my eyes, teams have learned how to attack the Knicks and successfully score on them. Meanwhile, Kidd is banged up and gassed from his stint as the point guard in Ray’s absence, and he’s no longer punishing teams from behind the arc. I suspect he’s no longer playing the D he was playing either. And Felton seems to have lost a step defensively from the last time he was here. Ronnie’s shooting ineptitude started to hurt them offensively, and he was benched, but that eventually hurt them defensively once Kidd slowed down a little. Offensively, teams have learned to take away, or at least partially take away, the Felton / Chandler pick and roll. We really need to develop some more tricks, but that comes with time. Meanwhile, we have come to rely on Melo a bit too much. Basically it’s this: The Knicks have some weaknesses, and teams have learned how to exploit them. So what can be done? Glad you asked – it turns out I have an opinion (shocker)

Time to take Kidd out of the starting lineup

They’re not starting games well. I think Kidd’s age is catching up to him. He played great to start out the season, but he’s not the future, and in his current state, he’s not the present either. I think Kidd is still going to provide you those intangibles, but use him as a bench player you put in when things are getting out of control. I say, if things don’t get out of control, rest him for the whole game.

Stop playing undersized

Now that Shump is back, they want to start him (I guess it’s better for his knee rehab?), but they don’t want to sit Kidd, so they play Shump at the 3 and Melo at the 4 and start the game undersized at 2 positions. Plus, Kidd’s a little undersized for a 2 himself, so they’re undersized at 3 positions. I understand that the Knicks are a little thin up front right now…. Wait a minute, this is the Knicks, they’re frickin’ DEEP, they’re not really that thin anywhere.

Start Felton, Shump, Melo, Amar’e and Chandler. Why give the other team an exploitable size advantage?

Limit the number of crappy defenders or crappy outside shooters on the floor at the same time.

The key to this is getting Brewer some minutes, because the Knicks’ perimeter D is in trouble. Specifically, you want Brewer at the 3 and either Chandler or Kurt/Rasheed/Camby at the 5 when Novak’s in the game. You don’t want Novak at the 4 and Stoudemire at the 5. Maybe Novak at the 3 if you’ve got Prigioni, Shump, Thomas, and Chandler out there with him. If that means less minutes for Novak, then so be it.

Stoudemire plays with Thomas or Chandler, (or Camby or Sheed when they come back). Maybe you can get away with Melo/Amar’e at the 4/5, but only if you’ve got Shump/Brewer at the 2/3.

That means more minutes for Kurt Thomas. Give him the minutes – ride him hard now. Sheed and Camby can take over for him later.
One more thing: It wouldn’t be a fuhry fanpost without another fuhry rebounding assessment!

There are a couple of remarkable things here: First of all, the Knicks MISSED EXACTLY THE SAME NUMBER OF SHOTS IN THEIR FIRST 25 GAMES THAT THEY DID IN THEIR SECOND 25 GAMES. What are the chances? This is a team of destiny, I tells ya.

Also, their rebounding has improved markedly in the second half. And their record has unmproved. What does that mean? Well, their record when they outrebound folks is slightly better than when they get outrebounded, overall. But what they really want to try to do in the second half is exactly match their opponents rebounding acumen. If they can do that, they can easily win out.

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