Skip to content

Trying to reassemble the Knicks

Nov 15, 2010, 4:05 PM EDT

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks Getty Images

It was supposed to be different. It really was. With the roster expunged of the mess outside of Wilson Chandler who is still serviceable and Eddy Curry who at least keeps the bench firmly weighted to the ground, things were supposed to be different for the New York Knicks. They had a superstar in Amar’e Stoudemire, a winning coach in Mike D’Antoni that had made the mess win an underwhelming but decent number of games, and the GM at the top to get them the moves for the next level.

It was supposed to be different, but it’s not.

There they sit, at 3-7, the eleventh best team in the Eastern Conference, losing to the Timberwolves before a loss to the Rockets put them on a five-game skid. Amar’e Stoudemire is blasting the team. It’s an abject disaster ten games in, as much as a ten game sample can constitute a disaster.

Here’s where I’m supposed to talk about how Mike D’Antoni’s defense once again proves that his run and gun style can’t win in the NBA. I’m supposed to discuss how soft the Knicks are, and how it’s only a matter of time for this team to fall apart like all the others. According to script I need to throw out cliches about toughness and determination and the chemical makeup of champions. That’s the standard sportswriter script. Good news, though: I hate stuff like that.

Thing is, it’s not the defense. Kind of.

If you look at the Knicks they’re currently 14th in defensive efficiency. That’s about four spots outside of good, and it’s a solid six outside of bad, and about 11 outside of where most people tend to think of them, which is “terrible.” So, no, they are not defensive stalwarts, but they’re also not sieves for you to plunge the knife through. And lest you think that those estimated figures don’t reflect real world results, Synergy Sports has the Knicks giving up an average of 1052 points on 1118 possessions for an average of .94 points per possession allowed, which is 18th in the league. That’s not good, obviously, but it’s also not bad. The Knicks are also average to good in transition, isolation, post-up, and pick and roll defense. They’re really only suffering in spot-ups. So they don’t close out well but it also means teams are simply shooting really well in those situations (51.5% eFG compared to 42.3% FG% which means a lot of threes). The Knicks’ defense isn’t the problem.

Like I said, kind of.

In the span of two weeks, the Knicks gave up 24 assists to Rajon Rondo and 31 rebounds to Kevin Love. Those aren’t just statistical outliers, they’re gigantic spikes through the roof of the chart. But we’re not talking Earl Boykins scoring 42 or Andrea Bargnani rebounding 25 times, things which you simply can’t predict. The Knicks take good players with phenomenal individual skills and turn their production into some sort of nuclear, “TMNT-ooze” like monster version of it. It’s stunning and bizarre and yet wholly predictable.

Meanwhile, the rebounding, which you’d assume sucks, doesn’t. They have a zero differential in offensive rebound rate produced and allowed. So, it’s not the defense. And it’s not the rebounding. And it’s partially psychotic outliers, but not totally. So what is it?

The answer, of course is the offense. Which is wholly dysfunctional. Amar’e Stoudemire not having terrific numbers every night, Raymond Felton very much not looking like a point guard, an early shooting slump from Danilo Galinari, and below average PERs from every bench player. The Knicks can’t function on offense, and that’s why they’re losing.

Sure, chemistry is off. Sure, the formula hasn’t come together. But it’s not failing in the way you’re expecting. And if we’re giving Miami some time to get it together, maybe we should do the same for New York. Oh, wait, I forgot, we’re not doing that because everyone hates them. Got it.

Latest Posts
  1. Carmelo Anthony on his free agent decision: ‘It was pretty much always Chicago or New York’

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Anthony reportedly strongly considered the Lakers too, but he says that wasn’t really the case.

  2. Report: Kevin Johnson no longer part of search for new head of players’ union, vote expected Monday

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Kevin Johnson

    The union for the players continues to struggle to get some competent leadership in place.

  3. Joakim Noah is happy for LeBron, but hopes Bulls ‘can kick his a– as many times as possible’

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Joakim Noah continues to be brutally honest when speaking about his team’s competition.

  4. Top 10 dunks of Las Vegas Summer League (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins AP

    The Andrew Wiggins spin and dunk is a thing of beauty.

  5. Report: Hawks sign Shelvin Mack to three-year, $7.3 million deal

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    He is a solid backup to have while Dennis Schroder develops.

  6. Report: Will Cherry drawing interest from Cavaliers, Raptors

    Jul 25, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Will Cherry was fun to watch at Las Vegas Summer League.

  7. Tom Thibodeau considers Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson starters

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bulls also must make room for Nikola Mirotic in frontcourt

  8. Dirk Nowitzki plays baseball (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Dirk Nowitzki Dirk Nowitzki

    Dirk Nowitzki presents a big strike zone.

  9. Report: NBA wants to avoid massive salary-cap spike

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    New TV deal expected to drastically increase revenue

  10. Newspaper seeks LeBron James beat reporter

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat - Game Two Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat - Game Two

    Not a Cleveland Cavaliers beat reporter. A LeBron James beat reporter.

  11. Report: Bulls promised not to trade Nikola Mirotic

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

    Nikola Mirotic, Gar Forman Nikola Mirotic, Gar Forman

    Rookie big man has been mentioned in Kevin Love trade rumors

  12. Report: Cavaliers leading Kevin Love-trade sweepstakes

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Kevin Love Kevin Love

    Timberwolves reportedly come to their senses, prefer Andrew Wiggins to Klay Thompson

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. T. Warren (4094)
  2. K. Love (3782)
  3. L. James (3668)
  4. R. Allen (3301)
  5. A. Wiggins (2822)
  1. J. Nelson (2673)
  2. K. Bryant (2556)
  3. D. Rose (2503)
  4. E. Bledsoe (2394)
  5. C. Anthony (2227)