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This was supposed to be the year of the fast break, Cirque du Soleil Knicks. Yes, they are a young team and are bound to lose some games, but the consensus seemed to be that they’d finally be a D’Antoni team: fast paced, in-your-face, relentless. They’d shoot a bunch of threes and make a bunch, too. They were going to run the pick and roll down your throat, just like in the Phoenix days. Maybe my perception was wrong. If not, what’s happened?
Rebounding was going to be an issue with the team, but they’ve managed pretty well, statistically: 46 per game with a differential of only -0.67%. Shooting has been another story, however. Yes, we are only three games in, but they’re averaging 43% from the field and 29% from deep on 79 attempts. Yes, that’s 29% on 26.3 threes per game. Yikes. Sure, we could delve into the struggles of [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] to find a reason or excuse for the poor shooting percentage, but what if there’s a different angle here? Did anyone think shooting was going to be a big problem? Is this roster not what we thought it was?
I don’t think it’s clear, yet, when Azubuike will return. Roger Mason has been atrocious, and, for all the great things he’s done so far, [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] is not a three point shooter. Toney Douglas is only 3-12 from deep. Landry Fields will hit one every now and then, but he’s more of a cutter, and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] just doesn’t seem consistent enough to be getting solid burn to shoot. So, please, someone explain why D’Antoni continues to allow the main point of the offense to be the spread pick and roll? Is that seriously all he knows? Why not draw up some offense to get these guys some midrange jumpers? I really bought into the Olympic line that he was offensively talented in the X’s and O’s department, but, so far, he’s proving that wrong. Slowing the Blazers game down with five minutes to go but not running many set plays was a mistake. Their pace gave them the lead, so if you’re not going to run specific plays to get certain guys shots, why bother to milk the clock? It backfired. Then, the last two plays – both the same play – were designed to leave a spread pick and roll set at the top of the key. Um, had that worked at all this game? Felton does a good job of penetration, but he doesn’t seem to be a pick and roll guard, so why not throw some dribble-drive sets in there? The players will still learn similar concepts from that set, like how to see open lanes to cut to and where to flow for open threes. STAT should, also, be quite capable of reading the defense off of penetration and cutting to an open spot where he can then work an iso. Is D’Antoni just trying to get them to learn this offense on the fly? Leave that for practice; it’s time to win games.
But it could be something else. Leading up to “The Decision,” I found myself going through hundreds of counter-scenarios for the roster, and one phrase always came up in my head: “shooters and athletes.” This system needs two things, and those are shooters and athletes. The athletic part is certainly there, both statistically – the Knicks lead the league in blocks per game, at 8.33, and are third in differential, at +4 – and in personnel. So, where are the shooters? It looks as if the moves made to shore up the perimeter game just weren’t good enough, especially in a system that thrives so much on hitting shots. (We all know that annoying D’Antoni phrase by heart, now, right? “We just didn’t make our shots.”) Maybe we can look to the Golden State trade, if it’s true that the Warriors made everyone but Curry available, and wonder why we didn’t get Morrow added in. Maybe Ridnour was the better point guard because he’s more of a shooter and looks like he can run the pick and roll some. Maybe some can even complain that we focused too much on LeBron and not enough on contingency plans, aside from maximizing value on a [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] deal. Maybe using cap to acquire extra assets (see: Randolph, Anthony) instead of system players just wasn’t the right move. I mean, with what we’ve seen so far, does Anthony Randolph’s skill set really fit the spread pick and roll? It could in the future, but I’m not sold.
Now, going into the summer, I felt like we were sold a bill of goods that said, “Playoffs or bust.” I might be wrong on that. This piece might not even be necessary; the Knicks could get hot and start making threes and life would be good as a fan. But for those of us who have been weathered by the past, these early issues seem to be a warning shot across our bow. “Get ready, just in case,” the warning screams. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m heeding it. Be prepared. Just in case.
This is good stuff.
Last night was a perfect example of how a coach can win/lose you a game.
Knicks were faltering, played poorly, but were certainly in it to win it late in the 4th. Sure, the players crumbled in crunch time, but so did Mike D'antoni. He butchered this game, and his final 2 designed plays were worse than what a JV hoops coach draws up in High School.
Sure, we lost b/c we can't shoot and we missed 11 free throws. Still, what did D'ant do to win this game (other than bench his Italian pet)?
Maybe the blame goes to Walsh. Donnie should have signed Luke Ridnour to run the pick and roll, and should have asked for Morrow. He should have found a better shooter (or two). Mason is a complete waste.
But, like the blog post suggests, why is MD still running his spread p-&-r offense.... when we don't have a guard to run the p-&-r and we can't hit wide open 3s?
AND PLEASE.... SOMEBODY TELL CHANDLER TO STOP SHOOTING THE 3!
Wilson Chandler is shotting 26 percent from downtown (5-for-19). The dude is our 2nd best player, but please stop shooting the 3-pointer. Sure, on occasion to keep your defender honest, hoist one up when open and in the flow of the offense.... But he's settling too often now (as defense steps it up and looks to lock him down). Against TOR is was 3 attempts, then 7 in BOS, and now 9 last night? NINE? Wilson Chandler should never shoot 9 threes in a game, unless it goes to 4 OTs.
He's getting lazy and relying on the 3.... KEEP DRIVING.
See B-Roy, Wilson? He feasts and lives off the 15-foot jumper. Penetrate, juke and pull up!