“Here we go again. Same ol’ shit dog, just a different day.” – DMX, Here we go again
This blogger is feeling more and more like Bill Murray in Groundhog day. We reach .500, we are below .500. We are in the playoffs, we are out of the playoffs. And so the blogging goes. Pessimism is exchanged for optimism only to be hit in the head with head scratching pessimism yet again.
Forget about everything you know about life as a Knicks fan the last 10 years and imagine that any random team – let’s say for argument’s sake, the Philadelphia 76ers – had the following roster.
PG – Jeremy Lin
SG – Landry Fields
SF – Carmelo Anthony
PF – Amar’e Stoudemire
C – Tyson Chandler
G – Baron Davis
G/F – Iman Shumpert
G/F – J.R. Smith
F – Steve Novak
F – Josh Harrelson
F/C – Jared Jeffries
Wouldn’t you be absolutely shocked if that team was out of the playoffs with an 18-24 record?
You’ve got two players that have subscribed to being All-Stars and All-NBA players for the last decade. You’ve got one of the best defending centers of his generation coming straight off a Finals win against the Heat. Right there, I would expect a 4th seed. And in the Eastern conference, that is probably selling your expectations short.
What is starting to bother me immensely is all this talk about “the system” that I’ve had to endure for the last 3,5 seasons. Granted, if the system is predicated on speed-ball offense and movement, I can understand that the Zach Randolph’s of the world is a clear situation where his skills are not being put to best use on the fast break. And for several years, D’Antoni had to live with salary cap killers not fit for his system. Not anymore.
- Amar’e Stoudemire made a career in this “system”.
- Tyson Chandler should be the system’s dream in just lobbing it in there for alley-oops or bounce passing through a pick and roll for an easy finish at the rim.
- Jeremy Lin himself has praised D’Antoni for his offensive strategies and quite frankly probably could only create Linsanity under the offensive freedom D’Antoni has provided him with.
- Novak is a lights out shooter and clearly thrives in this “system”.
- Fields is the type of player that takes whatever offense is handed to him, not very different from what Shawn Marion did in Phoenix in this very system.
- J.R. Smith is all about shooting, shooting, shooting, which is something that D’Antoni gives the green light to any player that is open.
- Harrelson is a big man who can stretch out the defense and drain the three.
- Baron Davis
isused to be extremely capable offensively and has said he’s always dreamed of playing in D’Antoni’s system.
- Shumpert is a super athletic player that gets the green light to take risks on defense to get the fast break started.
- Heck, even the offensively challenged Jared Jeffries is a D’Antoni favorite.
That covers more or less every player on the team getting minutes. Except for the fact that one player is conspicuously missing: Carmelo Anthony. To me though, one of the absolute best scorers of the 2000s should work in ANY system. Carmelo is a shooter, he can drive, kill you one-on-one or pull-up for a J, he can post-up and he can run the break (although hardly like Lebron or Durant). Kobe Bryant played in Phil Jackson’s triangle his whole career and how did he respond this season when Jackson was replaced by the defensive-minded, and from his Cleveland days offensively criticized, coach Mike Brown? By leading the league in scoring at age 33 with 28.8 PPG. Oh and by the way, for the D’Antoni haters out there, you may have noticed that Steve Nash is leading the league in assists at age 38 with 11 APG. (I just had to put that in there.)
Today, Marc Berman of the New York Post is reporting that there is friction between Anthony and D’Antoni. I’d be surprised, and even somewhat disappointed, if there wasn’t friction after a 6-game losing streak in an overall terrible year for both the franchise player and the coach. It’s obvious that if things continue the way the Knicks are playing lately, D’Antoni is gone next season (or sooner) and rightfully so. Then finally, hopefully, all this talk about “the system” can stop and the players can be held accountable for their play without any cop-out excuse as to why they’re gravely underperforming.
If on paper this team did not have so much god damn potential, I’d trade them all including the coach and the management. Only problem is, the way the team is playing the value of the players are at an all-time low. And there goes the last defense of the D’Antoni backers (myself most notably included): You remember when D’Antoni actually increased his players value by juicing their stats?