The New York Knicks right now are the best defensive team in the league. Through three games they are averaging 85.33 points allowed vs Miami and a home and home with Philly who blew out the Knicks in the first 4 minutes of Monday's game.
The Knicks defense is extremely scary right now. They currently play an extremely aggressive, team oriented style of defense which with the correct players is proving highly effective.
Mike Woodson is well known for his dedication to defensive basketball and here in NY, with the roster he has, the stars are aligning. The fact that he's so far got Melo buying in and fully committing on defense is a feat on it's own.
All around the Knicks you can see his influence. Check out the #Knickstape movement to see the way this team has come together. This team is no longer a team it's a family. This kind of attitude is breeding the trust and camaraderie that underlies all great defensive teams.
Credit CA7 for linking this, great insight.
The way the Knicks defended in the last three games has been superb. This goes down from the coach to the players. Every player on our team bar Amare and Novak is now playing great defense. Melo is playing at an elite level. Felton is playing great. JR Smith is playing great! Who would have seen this coming?
The rest of the team are well known elite defenders.
This style of switching defense has proved potent thus far.
The main cog in the middle, Tyson Chandler plays the biggest role in our team defense.
When you watch this man play D, it's scary. He has the paint on total lockdown. The no layup rule is back in effect at MSG. One second he's patrolling the paint, the next he's on the perimeter, facing up a long range big or using his huge frame to disrupt passing lanes, blink and he's back in the middle stuffing a weak bigs shot back down his throat. The true captain of this team, a vocal leader from the middle of the floor. He orchestrates the defense even from the bench.
Behind Tyson, Carmelo Anthony is the Knicks most important defender. Why? Because he is the best player on the team. He could be one of the best players in the league. If he plays at this level all season he could be a legit MVP candidate.
However I don't think Melo will win the MVP. Not because he won't deserve to, but because he's matured. Yeah, you heard me right. Melo appears to have completely bought in to the team basketball that Woody is preaching, and with that his all around stats probably won't be quite as high as Lebron or Durant who stuff the stat sheet every night. I do think Melo is a legit candidate for scoring title this year though. Anyway, I digress.
As the best player on the team, we need Melo to continue to set the example he has to start this season. Perhaps even STAT will follow his lead.
Most of the rest of our team doesn't need discussing. I will touch on a few players... *cough* Felton, the man is not known as a great defender but he does have agility, quickness and energy which allows him to be very pesky especially on the perimeter but all over really. JR Smith now devoting equal amounts of his talent and energy on the defensive end is awesome to see. Prigioni and Novak are both playing well. All these players who were big huge defensive question marks are proving themselves throughout these first three games.
As I referred to earlier the Knicks play a switching style of defense. With the general agility, quickness, strength and size of our starters this is potent. Melo, Brewer and Felton can get across to open guys in an instant. Tyson disrupts and protects. Kidd relies on his veteran savvy.
This is strong however when the scouting reports start to come in this will get exploited more. Miami looked lost against us on offense but when the gametapes come in they will know what to do next time. A team like Miami with its explosive athletic ability and so many good passers will be able to break down this switching style until they get mismatches like D Wade on Felton and Lebron vs Kidd.
This is nothing to fret about, they will just give us a harder time next time. I'm not saying we will lose to them but we have to be aware of this kind of thing. A lot of teams do not have the ability to effectively and constantly break down this level of team defense but elite teams like the Heat, Lakers, Spurs, OKC can all do this to you. We have to look to our meetings with these top teams to get a true barometer on the ability of our defense, come crunch time (playoffs).
The biggest questions left for the Knicks to answer this year are how will Amare's return affect the team and how good is he going to be this season?
I don't believe his return will be a detriment like many doomsdayers are suggesting. At the very least Coach Woodson is a smart man and he will not allow Amare's inabilities hurt us. Woody does have plenty of options with Amare and it will be interesting to see which route he chooses to go down.
Amare could come back in as the starting PF, or split time between both units, or play heavily with the second unit switching between the C/PF roles. I kind of like the idea of Amare playing C, especially if he can link up with Felton some of the time.
I think the main issue is that while we can hope that Amare will put in 110% effort on the defensive end, he's not just going to immediately learn how to defend after so many years in the league. I am hoping under the tutelage of some of the best and most experienced defenders in the league he will slowly develop his understanding of defense and in the mean time give effort and listen to what Tyson is yelling in his ear on the court.
Heavily team reliant defense does require intelligence and this is the biggest X factor in Amare's return to the team. Does he have the brain to switch effectively? Can he earn the trust of his teammates on the defensive end?