If Kevin Garnett had hit that last second shot against the Knicks on Christmas then this season would have been an absolute disaster so far. Instead, the Knicks are 1-2 and we are all comforted by the thought that, “hey, it has only been three games.” Yes, the season is young but I think the Knicks need to take their problems very seriously or this season could get out of control really fast and by February we could all be speculating as to what lottery pick the Knicks will get in next year’s draft (assuming they have not traded this pick away which is very possible).
Last night, in their loss to the Lakers, it seemed like the Lakers had quite a number of easy looks while the Knicks seemed to have to work hard for every basket. The Lakers shot extremely well last night especially in the first half where the Lakers seemed like they never missed a basket. The Knicks, on the other hand, managed to stay in the game despite an awful shooting night. This may make you think that if the Lakers did not get so lucky with their shooting and if the Knicks had a little more luck last night then the outcome would have been different. The problem with this thought process is that you are missing why the Lakers were having more “luck” shooting and the Knicks lacked “luck”. Teams can make their own “luck”. The real difference is that the Lakers shot a lot more easy shots than the Knicks and that is why they shot the ball much better last night. The Lakers were hitting lay-ups and short, open jumpers while the Knicks were focusing on 3s and almost always taking contested shots. It is very understandable that the team taking the easier shots will more times than not shoot better than the team taking harder shots. If the Knicks want to improve their offensive performance they need to really focus on taking easier shots, or what you would call higher percentage shots (and if they want to improve their defense they may want to focus on forcing teams like the Lakers into lower percentage shots by say having everyone stick with their man). The Lakers were able to shoot a lot of easy shots last night because they did some very important things like moved the ball around, found open cutters, used screens and basically worked as a team. These things sound pretty basic but maybe D’Antoni, the Offensive Genius may want to work on these things with his team. He may also want to try basic, youth league rules like you have to pass the ball twice before anyone is allowed to shoot so at least this team thinks about passing (Toney “I shoot way too early” Douglas in particular should never be allowed to shoot before having passed the ball at least once).
The common collective response to the Knicks’ offensive woes is that we do not have a true point guard and once Baron Davis gets back everything will be fine. First off, it is not as if the Lakers have a bunch of all star point guards in Derek “I am over the hill” Fisher and Steve “I will never be more than a back up” Blake. Second, people are acting like our big signing in the off season was Baron Davis and not Tyson Chandler. Baron Davis is only here because one of the worst teams in the NBA decided to eat his contract and use the amnesty provision on him. Baron Davis can be a great point guard but he can also be a lousy, shoot first point guard. We really do not know which one we are getting. Things may not get much better when Baron Davis arrives…though it is hard to see how they would get worse. It will also be some time before Davis or Shumpert comes back and the Knicks need to address their problems now.
The Knicks need a coach who is going to emphasize ball movement, screens, pick and rolls and just fundamental team basketball to get the offense moving. I have trouble believing that the Knicks woes are due to a lack of talent or just a lack of having a natural point guard. I refuse to believe the Lakers second unit last night could move the ball so well while the Knicks first unit does not have ability to move the ball. Come on D’Antoni, please get your act together and show you have some goddamn value as a coach!!!!