Many of us stated it, and most of us realize it, but the reality is this 2010 New York Knicks team will go as far as Danillo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler take them.
Regardless of their particular roles at the moment, we know that this duo is being counted on to serve 3 functions:
-One starts and serve as a legitimate scoring option to offset the Felton-Stat dynamic. In essence, serve as the #3 option. To soften the paint for Amar'e, reduce the triple teams defenses want to throw at him, and to be there as a safety valve when Felton drives and kicks out.
-One serves as the leader of the 2nd unit. Provide that scoring punch off the bench. Bring energy, hustle and leadership and take it to the other team as they begin to dip into their reserves.
-BOTH need to close out games, be there after the 8-minute mark in the 4th and help Felton-Stat (and whoever) finish things off.
After 7 games... both have been near epic failures in this regard.
I'll give credit to Wilson, who started the season off with a bang, but after 3 solid games he's reverted back to his prior inconsistent form (averaging 11 ppg). He's also been a ghost in the 4th quarter of most games.
Wilson is also 9-33 on the year from 3-point range. Taking (and settling) for far too many threes. When you shoot 27 percent from downtown, you shouldn't be shooting more than 3 a game.
Chandler also has 4 games without an assist. This is unacceptable. Chandler's game should be slash and drive or slash and dish. Like B-Roy, he should master the art of penetrate-juke-pull up for the 12 foot jumper. He's our best attacker, and he should get into the lane and create easy buckets (open shots) a few times a game for somebody.
Right now, WC isn't making anybody better. And he's not a reliable option for NYK when we need him most.
MOVING ALONG to Gallo. He's played 1 good game in 7. He's had 2 decent games, and has been a virtual waste in the other 4. More than anyone, he's directly responsible for 2 loses. Had he showed up and scored like 12 points we win the BOS and POR game.
Gallo has taken 65 shots this year. 32 of them from 3-point range. Like Chandler, Gallo has 7 assists on the season. SEVEN!
In essence, Gallo and Chanlder combine for 14 assists in 7 games. This is totally unacceptable. It's not like either is scoring 24 ppg. So, not only are these two clowns not scoring, but they aren't making it easier for any of their teammates. At least Chandler plays solid defense, but Gallo is basically nothing more than a 3-point sniper who can't make a 3-point shot even if left wide open (on most nights).
To their credit, both have kept their turnovers low. Wilson has 10 in 7 games, and Gallo only 3.
WHAT WE NEED from both of these players is for them to play baseketball. Work a little and create a lot more. Easier said than done, but still.... This team will only go as far as the play of these 2 players takes them. They have to understand what teams are doing to force things away from STAT, and start attacking weaknesses. The holes are there for them to expose.
FELTON is an above-average, savvy-gritty PG. He'll struggle against lightining quick PGs, but for the most part he'll be good enough.
STAT is a force to be reckoned with but he's not a franchise player, where he'll carry a team on his back night in and night out. He needs help, especially with the triple teams he's seeing every game.
Felton and STAT are fine. Both have yet to really dominate and take over games. Both have really come up small late in the 4th quarter of games. BUT, it's early and the pressure is making them try to hard and do to much. They'll be fine.
MOZGOV and FIELDS have potential, and have been pleasant surprises, but they are complimentary role players doing the little things. As rookies, there will be growing pains.
DOUGLAS is improving as well and his importance as the 1st G off the bench cannot be understated.
TURIAF has been a godsend, but health has always been the issue with him. He does the dirty work and gives us presence in the interior.
Walker has made some big buckets, and we could use him to grow into that role of another scoring threat off the bench.
SURE COULD USE AZU but he may not be 100 percent all year.
ANTHONY RANDOLPH is a major poject. He's trying way too hard as well. With the injuries and the fact Nelson had him in the doghouse, this is almost like his rookie year. He's really raw. BUT, he should mature into a real player, and he might even grow into a role this year. Rebounding, blocking shots, getting easy put-back off missed shots and finishing on the fast break.
BUT.... this team depends on, relies on, NEEDS Gallo and Chandler to DELIVER, and they need it now.
Gallo recently turned 22 and Randolph recently turned 21. By 24, both players might be bona fide borderline all-stars. Who knows. It's clear they wont be that this year.
STILL, while we can afford to endure growth and incosistent play from Randolph, we absolutely cannot from Gallo.
Our offense will continue to struggle to find points b/c teams will clog the lane. This limits what STAT can do, and hurts Felton b/c it takes the drive away from him.
If Chandler and Gallo don't release that pressure and open things up... we're doomed to live at the mercy of the 3-point shot, and we wont thrive if that's the case.
My advice to BOTH players would be to work on their mid range game. Chandler can beat most off the dribble, but must learn the pull-up game. Gallo must learn to pump fake and step in to a few shots. BOTH need to get hot close to the basket THEN MOVE OUT FOR THE 3.
BOTH have let us down so far, and both have this team heading toward mid-30 win season. The only way to make the playoffs is for BOTH to start playing basketball. Anyone have faith?