Coach Mike D’Antoni coming to New York was a pretty big deal. The Knicks were coming off the Isiah Thomas era (or should I say error). The Knicks had only won 23 games in 2007-08 and had not made the playoffs since 2003-04. The team had become a joke and that is tough to do in one of the biggest markets in all of sports. The Knicks needed a big time coach who was going to bring respect back to New York basketball and his name was Mike D’Antoni.
Coach D’Antoni was a star coach coming to a star town. He had a ton of success in Phoenix and was considered one of the best coaches in the NBA. While there was always a knock on him that his teams played little defense, no one could deny that his teams had a lot of success. His Suns averaged 58 wins a year for a four year stretch where they were contenders every year and may have won a title if Joe Johnson does not break his face or Amare does not get suspended.
Despite all his former success in Phoenix, is D’Antoni overrated? Was he a really a great coach in Phoenix or did he just have a ridiculous amount of talent? The same question can be asked about Phil Jackson, is he a great coach or is he just lucky to have spent his career coaching Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant? D’Antoni did have the only MVP at PG (and he was a two time MVP) in the last 20 years on his team in Steve Nash. Nash was also a PG that was perfect to execute the D’Antoni style of offense. The Suns also had an explosive Amare Stoudemire. They had great role players like Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, Quentin Richardson (when he was good), Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa, Grant Hill, Raja Bell and Shaquille O’Neal. In his first full year they had 5 players average double figures, his second year 6 players, 5 players his third year and 7 players his fourth year. D’Antoni’s Phoenix teams all had deep rosters with a great deal of balance. My argument is that while D’Antoni did a great job with this team, he gets too much credit for their success. They had a loaded roster and D’Antoni just proved that he can coach well when he has a loaded roster. He can coach well when his roster fits well into his system. Just like Phil Jackson can lead your team to a championship as long as your roster includes the greatest player ever (Jordan) or the greatest player since Jordan.
Coach D’Antoni came to New York and success did not follow. His teams won 32 and 29 games in his first two years, barely distinguishable from from the lack of success Isiah had with this team. It would be hard to argue that Isiah would have had a worse record with the team during the 08-09 and 09-10 season. The Knicks where a team in disarray and playing solely for the summer of Lebron/summer of 2010. They changed their roster over dramatically and did all they could to free up cap space. D’Antoni clearly did not make these teams better. They played little defense and were not very good on offense. D’Antoni did nothing to adapt to the talent he had around him and seemed convinced that those first two years were lost years.
So this brings us to 2010-11 and the team we have with Amare and Carmelo. I am not advocating that we should bring back Isiah but I doubt we would have a much worse team with Isiah. A coach is supposed to make a team better. Make the sum of the parts better than the individual parts. The D’Antoni system can make a player look better on offense and below average on defense. Is that what we need with Amare and Carmelo on our roster, a coach that will make us look better on offense?
D’Antoni has done nothing to truly distinguish himself as coach of the Knicks. He is still riding high from the four great years he had in Phoenix. Maybe he made those teams better but I have yet to see even the potential that D’Antoni will make these Knicks teams better now or going forward.
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“New York basketball is about defense,’ Marbury said. “You got to know New York to coach in New York. That’s why they should’ve hired Mark Jackson. Mike (D’Antoni] doesn’t adjust. Great coaches adjust. Phil Jackson adjusts. He will tell you I don’t coach basketball, I coach people.”
Sometimes Marbury actually makes sense. Too bad Dolan only listens to Isiah.
Anthony Randolph played 19 minutes last night and had 15 pts, 5 rebounds, 3 steals. I guess this is the kind of production D’Anton really DOESN’T want from his bench. Or, maybe Randolph only plays this well because sitting on the bench for most of the season made him a better player.
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NO, NO SHELDEN IS NOT. But, Shelden Williams is 6’9 and 250lbs. The dude is wide. He takes up space and PATHETICALLY he is our best option at center for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. He is bigger and stronger than Jarred Jeffries and Shawne Williams. He is healthier than Ronny Turiaf (who is more fragile than a 3 year old girl). He can get rebounds and play defense. And, if you get him the ball down low he could throw it down like he did last night. So, Mr. Stubborn D’Antoni, as painful as this is to say, I IMPLORE YOU TO START GIVING SHELDEN WILLIAMS SERIOUS MINUTES.
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The Knicks were absolutely atrocious in the first half. Their offense looked fine but their defense was flat out offensive. My throat hurt after the first half from screaming at the tv. The Knicks literally did not play defense during the first half. Boxing out was a truly foreign concept. They gave up 68 points to the New Jersey Nets in the first half. I repeat they gave up 68 goddamn points to the offensively challenged Nets in the first half. If I had to drink a shot of beer every time the Knicks blew a defensive assignment during the first half I would have drank so much that my future grandkids would be drunk.
THEN SOMETHING CHANGED. I do not know what the Knicks coaching staff said at halftime but I assume it was something like this, “We have kidnapped your wives and children and we will hold a mass execution at the conclusion of this game if you lose.” The Knicks played intense in the second half. They only allowed a reasonable 48 points from from the Nets in the second half. Carmelo was ferocious on defense. Jared Jeffries and Shelden Williams proved their pay checks were not just some form of charity. The Knicks hustled and worked together. It was awesome!!!
- Billups, Amare and Carmelo combined for 95 of the 120 points scored tonight. Do we rename this team the New York Heat?
- Shelden Williams had three huge dunks in a row and Anthony Carter fed him the ball every time. If you told me one player would have three dunks in a row tonight for the Knicks, Shelden would have been my 13th guess.
- Speaking of Anthony Carter, apparently he is the only PG on this team that knows how to run the D’Antoni offense.
- Carmelo is flat out an all star. He played awesome tonight with 39 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. This may not be Amare’s team anymore.
- Does anyone know what Roger Mason did to play himself back out of this rotation? Does anyone know how many players have to suffer season ending injuries for Derrick Brown to get playing time?
- Did you know that Kris Humphries has been in the league since 2004? I do not know how he suddenly became good after floundering for so long.
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We discussed this on the show last night. I think this is a no-brainer. If you can get Dwight Howard you give up Amare or Carmelo but the preference would be to give up Amare. Howard is a game changer on both offense and defense. The Knicks really have something strong to build on with Carmelo and Amare but they would be a fool to not make this trade if it were available.
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Of course, the Knicks did not play tonight but, hey, you have to get your celebrations in when you can as a Knick fan these days. And hey, the Cavs beat the Heat tonight which is pretty awesome.
So the Knicks have 8 games to go. I would like to see more winning and grinning so I have some requests for the Knicks upcoming opponents. The Knicks should be starting to adjust to each other and finding chemistry. Since they are not really doing that, I would like to request that their opponents adjust to the Knicks style of play in order to give the Knicks a better chance to win those games.
Dear Upcoming Opponents,
- Please do not use the pick and roll against us. We do not understand it. Switching on defense is like calculus to us and we do not understand calculus, especially Amare, who did not even go to college.
- Please drink half a bottle of NyQuil mid-way through the 3rd quarter so we have the same energy level to start the 4th quarter.
- When we go to isolation on offense (and that is about 70% of all plays we run) could you please not cover Amare or Carmelo with more than two players. It is not fair when you cover them with three or four players because you know they will not pass the ball.
- If we start a possession, especially a fast break with an incredibly ill-advised 3-point attempt (by say Billups or Douglas) could you please give us the rebound and let us have a do-over?
- If you are on offense against us please do not stand under the basket wide open and wait for someone to pass you the ball. We would have a much better chance in games if players would stop doing that against us.
- We get it, your big men can out rebound us and you can get second and third chances on offense. But, please limit yourselves to just second chances. It was like when I was a kid and my Dad kept getting all the rebounds on his missed shots. You are taller and it is not fair.
- If Carmelo and Amare think they were fouled on offense and no foul was called, please hold up your offensive possession until Carmelo and Amare are done arguing with officials.
- Please have a player on your team cover Jarred Jeffries. It is unfair that you do not have to cover him on offense.
- Please do not hurt Chauncey or any of our other players. We are fragile and barely have enough to have a normal rotation.
- And, if you have an extra 7 footer you are not playing, can we borrow him for the playoffs?
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