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Can the Knicks play any defense now?

Feb 22, 2011, 10:08 AM EDT

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors

The New York Knicks were not a good defensive team on Monday morning — they were 20th in the league giving up 106.3 points per 100 possessions (via Hoopdata). Because they like to run that means giving up an average of 106 points per game, second worst in the league. They were 21st in the league in opponent field goal percentage (using true shooting percentage, which counts for threes and free throws against).

The Knicks may be a better offensive team now, but they got worse on defense.

I can hear Knicks fans now — “It doesn’t matter, we’re going to outscore everyone just like Mike D’Antoni did in Phoenix.” Wrong. Those Suns teams were certainly not great defensive teams but they were average. Their points given up per possession were middle of he pack in the league, the points per game was just higher because of the pace. People thought they were worse than they really were. (And by the way, was that average defense ever enough to get them even to the NBA finals?)

These Knicks have not been as good at defense as those Suns teams. By Monday night, they got worse.

And that starts with Carmelo Anthony himself, as Peter Vecsey points out at the New York Post.

If they’re stationed at center and power forward and Stoudemire goes to block a shot, Anthony will be abused on the switch to the five.

“Worse yet,” explained a GM, “when ‘Melo plays three, he’s not a willing chaser. All his man has to do is run him through picks and he immediately yells ‘switch.’ “

The Knicks may try to start Ronny Turiaf — a willing defender — at the center spot, but with Mozgov now traded the Knicks are woefully thin at the five spot. Amar’e Stoumemire has been playing some five but he will need to play a lot more of it now.

And from that vantage point Stoudemire will see why the Nuggets liked having Nene, Chris “Birdman” Anderson and Kenyon Martin along their font line — three big bodies to block shots and defend the paint because Anthony could get abused defensively on the perimeter.

One guy that can defend and may get some run — Renaldo Balkman. Knicks fans may laugh, but the guy can run the floor and keep up with the pace, plus he is a pretty good defender at the three. Because he can’t shoot a jumper to save his life — he has yet to make a shot from beyond 10 feet this season according to Hoopdata — he may not get a lot of run from Mike D’Antoni.

The Knicks know they need a big center to defend the rim, they had made inquireies about getting one before. Now that has to be priority number one. They need someone to play defense. Because their new superstar does not.

  1. dcipher80 - Feb 22, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    They can have thabeet for a wooden nickel and stale popcorn.

    • eazye76 - Feb 22, 2011 at 4:56 PM

      Sadly for Knicks fans that might be something they will talk about.

  2. leearmon - Feb 22, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    You are correct, Carmelo doesnt play any defense, but one of New York’s biggest problems (maybe even bigger than defending) was its poor rebounding. Part of the Knicks issues were after getting those rare stops often times they struggled to seal the deal and gave up offensive rebounds to the other team. So while on ball defense is still a huge issue, one cannot ignore that rebounding is still part of the defensive assignment. Which brings me to Anthony, he’s an exceptional rebounder. That can’t be denied. He is in a completely different league than Chandler, Gallinari, and even STAT when it comes to boards. Also, Brewer is a very good defensive player, but just like Balkman, he struggles on offense. Im interested in seeing how Dantoni uses his new pieces because they can help this team, but the same can be said for Anthony Randolph, and we all know how that ended up.

  3. leearmon - Feb 22, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    One MAJOR correction. Looking at the Stats, Brewer is an awful defensive player. Ouch

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