I've been one to bash MDA pretty heavily last year and this year. I was happy to have him coaching from 08-10 especially since his brand of coaching adds value to some players and potentially got us more in return for them. However the flip side to that was us losing good players for next to nothing because of his infamous doghouse. After seeing him last year I was done with him, our total lack of defensive effort and the same old MDA mistakes had me thinking we desperately needed a different approach. Right now I might be willing to change my tune though.
The Knicks overall this season have played great defense. In part this is down to Tyson Chandler who obviously brings a solid defensive presence, the addition of Shumpert who is amongst the league leaders in steals, and you can't write off Mike Woodson's influence.
However we can certainly attribute the amazing play of Jared Jefferies somewhat to Mike since most other coaches in the league would probably not even play JJ. We've also seen an amazing increase in Landry Fields defensive effectiveness, finally putting his physical tools to great use at the defensive end.
Our offense clearly has gone from awful to amazing mostly due to Jeremy Lin but I'm not writing off MDA here either. The kind of offensive plays we are running, the floor spacing, the way Tyson is running the floor and our guards getting up court in seconds is in a big way down to the way Mike likes to play the game and also how he conditions his players. The fact we had enough physical energy to stick it out and eventually pull out a win in MIN has to be partly due to the amazing fitness of our players from running running running in practice every day.
I also like the way our coaching staff is dealing with our players. Tyson Chandler adding a 10-12 footer would be golden. In fact Tyson has been making shots you'd never see him attempting a year ago, hooks and layups from 5-8 ft away. Jeremy Lin in the space of a week went from being a sketchy jump shooter to being able to knock down clutch 3's in big games. Shumperts jump shot has come a long way this season. And I know people have bashed MDA for getting Jorts to shoot 3's but actually making the defense respect him from range makes him an even more deadly player inside where he is already prolific.
Lastly even his game management has come along leaps and bounds during our win streak. He's rotating as best as possible with the personnel we have available (with the exception of Balkman who quite frankly has been an NBA bench warmer his entire life and a couple of good preseason games doesn't change that). Even in the MIN game where we were not playing from a winning position he got Lin plenty of rest at the start of the 3rd and 4th quarters.
He has been taking TO's when we need them and not jumping the gun when we don't. In the MIN game Clyde said it best that "the Knicks don't play well out of time outs" which is why we let them go on that potential final possession.
It's going to be interesting to see how our team fits together and if Mike will keep a 10+ man rotation with the return of Melo and Stat but I actually believe he will.
Someday soon I might even be willing to say MDA is a good coach again!