The Knicks are playing .500 basketball since Carmelo Anthony came to the Knicks last February and .500 basketball since acquiring the most prized free agent, Tyson Chandler, this offseason.
That’s unacceptable. Here’s three reasons why the New York Knicks need a new head coach.
1) Defense Wins Championships
Of the last ten NBA champions, nine have finished in the top ten in defense during the regular season. Five have finished in the top three. Mike D’Antoni is notorious for his “All Offense, No Defense” coaching system. D’Antoni’s Suns lead the league in scoring from 2004-2007, but never made it further than the Western Conference Finals. While “the best defense is a good offense” is a popular aphorism, it doesn’t work in the NBA.
In the nine full seasons Mike D’Antoni has been a head coach, he has finished in the bottom three in defense six times. His teams have never allowed fewer than 102.8 points per game, yet no NBA champion since the 1995 Rockets has allowed more than 97.2 points per game.
2) Too much indecision
In a less objective argument, the Knicks have no fluidity right now. In their embarrassing loss two nights ago to (ironically) the Phoenix Suns, I saw a lot of stuttering instead of playing, watching instead of moving, and thinking instead of reacting. The Knicks are playing like they have too many superstars – a 60 minute game of roullete, “OK lets give it to Amar’e in the post, then Carmelo on the wing, then Amar’e for an elbow jumper…”
Before Carmelo came to the Knicks, there was more motion. The Knicks let the game come to them instead of trying to force the action. They need to get back to those fundamentals, and I think D’Antoni is too lost to do so.
3) Amar’e and Carmelo do not fit into the “seven seconds or less offense”
D’Antoni preaches shooting the ball – every shot is a good shot. It works when Steve Nash is your orchestrator, but not with the Knicks’ inexperienced backcourt. Telling Carmelo Anthony to shoot! shoot! shoot! is like letting a bull loose in a china shop. D’Antoni’s system fails to regulate Anthony’s shot selection – hence we see Carmelo pulling up for contested 18 foot jumpers instead of working off the ball for the better shot.
Carmelo is shooting 41% from the field this year, his worst output since his rookie season.
Comparably, Amar’e is best off the dribble or when he’s open for an elbow J. For either one of those things to happen, you need to let plays develop – you need to settle into the half court offense, which the Knicks rarely do.
Lastly, Amar’e’s knees will give out. I don’t know when, but he won’t be playing basketball at 35 (in 2019). Amar’e Stoudemire is a beast of a man, yet injury prone. He wears goggles every game because of a retina injury he suffered in Phoenix, his knees are weak and his lower back is a time bomb. In a system that requires constant running, a more relaxed offense would mean more minutes for Amar’e and more effective play from the Knicks’ superstars. In this condensed season, this point is magnified.
Hopefully the Knicks will be getting Baron Davis back soon. His experience at point guard and ability to shoot the three are just what the Knicks need, but I’m not convinced he’s the savior of the franchise. The Knicks will win more games with Baron Davis than without him, but they won’t be a better team – they’ll be a less worse team. As mentioned earlier, Mike D’Antoni does not have a winning system. Even if Baron Davis stays healthy (he won’t), the Knicks are destined at best for the four seed in the Eastern Conference, and if they’re lucky a second round exit.
Why not promote defensive specialist Mike Woodson to the head coaching position? Anthony and Stoudemire are elite on the offensive side – it’s their defense that needs work. If Woodson can round off their game on the defensive side, then you have a realistic chance to compete for an NBA title.