The New Orleans Pelicans take on the star studded New York Knicks tonight at Madison Square Garden. Led by LeBron James, Chris Paul…
Haha, I kid. The Knicks are terrible. Considering how many times their fans told me that Chris Paul was heading their way, I can’t help but enjoy their so-far disastrous season
I caught up with fellow TrueHoopers Mike Kurylo and Robert Silverman from the esteemed Knickerblogger.com to get a little more insight into just what’s wrong with the Knicks and how tonight’s game will play out. For some reason they don’t seem to be enjoying the Knicks season quite as much as I am.
Robert Silverman: So many, many things. But briefly, the loss of Tyson Chandler has been devastating. For one he was/is the Knicks’ defensive anchor, and without his presence in the middle to cover up for the sub-par (at best) perimeter defense–especially versus quick PG’s–the Knicks are getting obliterated by pick and rolls, A fairly basic screen will inevitably lead to an easy bucket at the rim or a wide-open, uncontested trey, all of which is aided and abetted by the ‘Bockers insistence on switching on pretty much ever play. Two, on offense, without the attention he drew rolling to the hoop, Felton’s pretty much useless and the Knicks all-too-easily become brackishly stagnant, settling ISO’s from Melo or JR Smith way, way, too easily.
And it’s not like they were doing particularly well even before he was sent off to whatever horrific, medieval torture chamber that passes for a medical team. The core of the team that won 54 games last season is intact, but watching coach Mike Woodson’s clumsy attempts at cobbling together a rotation have been the equivalent of seeing a pygmy marmot trying to solve Fermat’s Theorem. He’s abandoned both the two-PG look and Melo at the four, because he felt the need to shoehorn Andrea Bargnani into the starting lineup or give vast gobs of playing time to a wholly ineffective (and possibly still injured) JR Smith, and the truly sad blight that is Amar’e Stoudemire, while sending Prigioni to MSG’s equivalent of the Siberian gulag.
Beyond the criticisms that one might have with regards to strategy or the utilization of the available talent, there’s a real sense that this team is headed for a long, painful run of futility. They’ve got two (count ‘em) two draft picks total over the next four seasons, and that’s only thanks to one of the few owners in NBA history who might rank lower than Dolan, Ted Stepien (Thanks, Ted!). Their one movable asset, Iman Shumpert, looks demoralized and seems to be regressing. The rest of the roster is littered with overpaid ‘stars’ whose talents don’t really mesh, and no fan with an operant cerebral cortex thinks the front office has the acumen to pull off any kind of a deal without literally giving away huge tracks of arable land and possibly the very trousers that they’re wearing.
In sum, like Carmelo Anthony said after the team’s 2nd players-only meeting of the season, “We are in a dark place.”
Mike Kurylo: Can you be more specific? In an immediate sense I’d say Tyson Chandler’s injury along with Mike Woodson’s poor rotation management. In the long term sense, are you familiar with the team’s owner?
2. Is it time to blow it up, or can this season be salvaged?
Robert Silverman: If I had my druthers (and I took a PS4 to the head of a few unsuspecting Black Friday hooligans at Best Buy on Friday, loading up in druthers in bulk), yes. I’d deal off every asset possible and start over. Of course, that’ll never happen. It’s one of the particularly frustrating things about rooting for the Knickerbockers (let alone covering them). There are logical solutions/ways out of this pit of despair, but there are lost tribes in Papua, New Guinea that know that Fearless Leader/Shoddy Bluesman/Dictator-for-life/Walking epitome of shameless self-indulgence and total lack of self-awareness James Dolan will never, never, never, ever rebuild. Because New York (or something).
That said, given how execrable the rest of the Atlantic Division’s been to date, there’s certainly the chance that they could right this jerry-built, leaky, overpriced ship and snag a playoff spot, and possibly even make it back to the 2nd round, where they’d be beaten ’round the head with one of their own limbs by Miami or Indiana. That’s what most wise wags thought they’d do this season even before they dug themselves this abysmal 3-12 hole
Mike Kurylo: Writing our book, We’ll Always Have Linsanity, I learned that we weren’t telling the tale of one person. The 2012 season was about how a team that was on life-support revived itself. And let’s remember that Jeremy Lin was only the spark for that, not the combustible. The Knicks just need to find someone that can aid in the areas they are hurting in, like defense and rebounding. If they sort that out, the rest of the team is likely to come around. Colesanity anyone?
3. What do you expect to see the Knicks do offensively against the Pelicans?
Robert Silverman: Pretty much what they’ve done to date. They’ll have stretches of effective offense, but once they start missing open shots (and you can practically feel their collective sphincter tightening) they’ll devolve into ISO-ball. At this point, they need a herculean effort from Anthony plus a return to form 2-3 of last year’s stalwarts to have even a glimmer of hope of reaching 90 points.
Mike Kurylo: Give the ball to one guy and wait. The Knicks have a lot of iso-happy players. Their top three shot takers are Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Andrea Bargnani. The first does and should take as many shots as possible. The second is addicted to 20 foot jumpers (among other things). And the third will do at least two pump fakes before taking a perimeter shot. You could describe the three of them for paragraphs before getting to their passing.
4. What about on defense?
Robert Silverman: Hahahahahahahahaha.
Mike Kurylo: Andrea Bargnani is good at manning up against physical centers when they have the ball. But he’s completely lost when the ball is in motion. Prigioni and Shumpert are solid on the perimeter, but foul way too often for guards. (Somewhere out there, Jerry Sloan is salivating at that front court.) Kenyon Martin commits at least one borderline-technical worthy foul per game.
5. Is Carmelo Anthony the best player on the floor? If not, who is?
Robert Silverman: It’s The Brow, by a hair (see what I did there?). Anthony’s putting forth yet another All-Star worthy campaign, but I’d rather have a 20 year old that’s averaging .257 Win Shares, a PER of 28.5 and a Wins Produced/48 of .327. Part of this maybe due to my general weariness with Melo’s inefficiencies/deficiencies or even the fact that I’m just tired of staring at his wry, Cheshire-like grin after he’s bricked another contested, mid-range Heroball shot (1 for his last 15 shots with under 30 seconds to play and the chance to either tie or take the lead), but every metric outside of PPG says Davis is better right now and he’ll definitely be better than Melo ever was in the future.
Mike Kurylo: Anthony Davis surely has the higher ceiling, and has excellent advanced stats. But if the game is on the line, who would you rather give the ball too, him or ‘Melo?
Man I am soooooo ready to see Browasaurus Rex destroy MSG tonight! It's going to be great. That said, I think Aminu should guard Melo. If we stop him and JR, get the ball in transition, and attack the rim with P&R, this should be an easy game. Or, it could collapse in a violent tire-fire of terrible 3pt defense and awful ball movement the Pels show every single time I think they are getting it together....