Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pointing Fingers: Knick Scapegoats

The Knicks have been a below .500 team since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony back in last year's trade-deadline move. Despite making it to the playoffs, it was fair to say that the Knicks had a disappointing season, as they failed to win a single post season game. At the time however, many could point to the injury of Chauncey Billups as the main reason behind the post season struggles. Since the need for a point guard has been filled with the emergence of Jeremy Lin, and the roster has been vastly improved, what lingering factor is to blame for the consistent struggles of the Knicks?

As the superstar of a team, credit is often given in successful times. Unfortunately, criticism is also a part of stardom, especially when the team fails to succeed. In this situation, Carmelo Anthony is guilty of being unable to spark a successful run with this team. As a leader, his play hasn't been able to elevate the play of others, nor has it been enough to individually take this team to another level, with the likes of a Derrick Rose. For a talent who was acquired in exchange for three good players who contributed to a winning effort, Melo hasn't been able to surpass that level of success, or at least maintain that level. He also hasn't been able to adjust his game to fit the system and the talent around him, like LeBron was able to do last year with the Heat. His recent return from injury has taken away the pick-and-roll offense that successfully sparked a run during the Linsanity era; this has led to a stagnant offense full of confusion. For these reasons, he is blameworthy of the Knicks' failure to succeed.

Management took a big risk by shipping away multiple valuable pieces that had contributed to the success that the Knicks were experiencing in the first half of last season. Although Melo is a superstar with the ability to make many game winning plays, I felt that the Knicks gave up too many assets for a player who had the power to change the game in only one dimension: offensively. The risk of starting fresh when the Knicks were already on the right track was one I didn't believe was worth taking, and judging from the results to date, I seem to be right. Although the Knicks went out and acquired Tyson Chandler in the off-season and claimed Jeremy Lin off waivers, I believe that they have put together a roster who's pieces aren't compatible. Amare's game has been on a decline ever since the arrival of Melo; that is a clear sign of incompatibility. Acquiring another big man to clog the paint certainly doesn't help either, especially since Stoudamire is at his best when he starts at center. Picking up JR Smith was a good pick up in terms of the need to acquire some extra offensive fire power, however JR Smith's off-court distractions haven't helped out the Knicks' losing problems. The failure of management to acquire compatible pieces with winning attitudes can be blamed for the struggles of this team.

If this was a multiple choice test, I'd have to circle this choice because it seems to be the best answer to this question. Mike D'Antoni might be known as an offensive genius, but even he hasn't been able to find a way to incorporate Melo, Stoudamire and Lin into a productive system. His inability to make defense a major priority also contributes to the struggles of the Knicks. Superior defense would make it much easier for the Knicks to get out in transition, as they would like to. D'Antoni has also not done a good job of putting his key guys into positions where they are comfortable. Much like the Heat when the big three first got together, the key players on the Knicks seem to have to settle for taking turns isolating to try to make something out of nothing. It is the job of the coach to run plays which involve all players working with one another to create havoc for defenses. His inability to utilize his pieces and implement a system that fits all three of his key players makes him blameworthy of the struggles of the New York Knicks.

Every player on the Knicks can be held accountable for their struggles. From the stars to the bench warmers, everyone can be blamed for not helping to create a winning attitude. Amar'e Stoudamire for example can be blamed for settling for mediocrity this whole season. Nothing about his play has been worth the $100 million contract he signed two summers ago. Tyson Chandler can also be blamed for not changing the defensive culture of the Knicks, as he was expected to. Injuries could certainly be considered a factor, however every other NBA team endures some sort of injuries, therefore it isn't a liable excuse. Regardless of what the reason might be, the Knicks have a limited time to figure out their problems, because the Milwaukee's acquisition of Monta Ellis ultimately makes the Bucks a threat for that number eight playoff spot in the East.

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  1. What are you talking about Lin and Stoudamire are great in his system especially in pick and Roll. You completely make no sense with Stoudamire was with him in Phoenix in the Same Season and 50+ wins every year

    1. Stoudamire's numbers are no where near the stats he put up in Phoenix. I did however mention that the pick and role was a key factor in the run they made while Melo was hurt.

  2. The reality is this team won without Melo... They played inspired ball and not they just look chaotic and indecisive with the return of Melo... That all points to one factor and one factor alone...