At the beginning of this NBA season (as awkward as it was) the New York Knicks seemed to have all the pieces required to make a legitimate run at a title, so what happened? Was it injuries? Was it the “Carmelo curse”? Was it the switch in coaching styles right before the playoffs? Or was as it the fact that they just happened play the Miami Heat, who feature a player having one of the greatest statistical seasons since Michael Jordan?
Lets take a look at the positives and negatives the Knicks should evaluate in order to make a better run next season.
The Knicks have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
The experience gained in the last two seasons, that both led to playoff appearances, should not be under valued. With chemistry and teamwork developing between your core players it is easy to see that they have a good system in place. Plus this past shortened season forced teams to have minimal practices and shorter training camps, which should only bode well for teams next year when they have sufficient time to prepare for the season.
Why look outside when the secret could lie with-LIN.
Nothing caused more excitement this year then the rise of Jeremy Lin. The player nobody wanted, going from team to team, and all he needed was a legitimate chance to display his talents. Jeremy Lin is not a super star point guard, he is not a player you can put on any team in the league and expect a post season run. What he is, is a solid guard that can energize a team and be the key to keep the big names happy by distributing the ball.
There is a lot of talk in New York about making the necessary adjustments to bring in Steve Nash. This is not what the Knicks need, they need to show their young guard that they trust him, that they are willing to let him lead this team, and that they trust in him to consistently produce positive results enabling them to win. Instead of taking a chance on an aged veteran why not take a chance on a youthful point guard that knows his role on this team.
The loss of Mike Dantoni
Mike Dantoni is a great coach. He is known for his fast paced offense and huge lack of defense. He would much rather outscore his opponents then out defend them. This style of play is great for the regular season, but once the playoffs start the game slows down dramatically and this has never been good for Dantoni’s teams. The Knicks needed that coaching change the second that team lost faith in him and when your team losses their trust in you, that’s the kiss of death in the NBA today. The Knicks have a great defensive team (ranked 5th in the league) they just need to run an offense that doesn’t focus on two specific players, and now that Dantoni is gone they can look to change that.
Lots of unhappy/unhealthy players
J.R. Smith (12 ppg in the playoffs) has spoken out recently that he is not sure if he will return to the team or not due to the reception Knicks fans gave him after some poor shooting in the play offs.
Tyson Chandler is not very happy with the lack of offense that is run through him. He wants to be a bigger part of offensive flow. He understands that he is a stronger defensive player then he is offensive, and has acknowledged the fact that he needs to work on his offense this offseason.
Mike Bibby and Baron Davis both look as though they should have retired two years ago. The money spent keeping these guys and the spots they are taking up on the bench could be used on some very intriguing free agents (Ray Allen, Antoine Jamison).
Ok, so maybe he isn’t a negative but let me explain. Carmelo Anthony is easily one of the elite players in this league, and if the Knicks think they can land a player of his caliber again they a sorely mistaken. But Carmelo is an isolation player, he plays best in one on one situations, which isn’t bad but he needs to be more trusting of his teammates. Not to mention he has only been to the second round once! He has the worst playoff record of any player who has been to the playoffs as much as he has. The Knicks need to achieve a more balanced offense so that once they get to the playoffs they aren’t relying on him as their soul source of offense. He is a great clutch player but when he has to carry the entire team and be their main source of offense/defense they will be lucky to make it to the second round.
The Knicks, like a few other teams, have serious issues when it comes to money. They have their big names under such large contracts other teams fear to accept trades from them so they don’t end up picking up the check after the new collective bargaining agreement kicks in. So at the end of the day they are pretty much stuck with their big three. That’s not to say that they have no pieces to trade but really, how much can you get for Baron Davis. They have options by letting a few free agents go but their best bet course of action may be, to just be patient. Let this group continue to gel together. With a full training camp and more time off between games the Knicks can be expected to make a deeper run into the playoffs. Will this team win a championship? Um… No. But at least they have the potential to make an Eastern Conference Finals appearance and then adjust from there.