The Knicks Downward Spiral

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5 and 15, when you list off the players on the Knicks you wonder, how can that even be? With Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, reigning sixth man of the year J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Andre Bargnani, Metta World Peace , Raymond Felton, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Kenyon Martin, you think they’d have more than 5 wins right now, right? Well things don’t always go the way they should and a lot of things are factoring into the Knicks play on court and the number one reason right now is an injured Chandler.

When you’re missing the heart of your defense, the 2011 to 2012 defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler, you’re going to need someone to be able to step up and be the presence in the paint. But so far, no one has. Kenyon Martin has been doing his far share, but you can’t compare his play to Chandlers. In the 4 games he was able to play, before his fractured leg, Chandler averaged 9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and 1 steal. Martin right now is averaging 4 rebounds, 0.8 blocks, and 0.8 steals. Besides the steals, that’s a considerable difference. Chandler is expected to return hopefully by the end of December, which should help there defensive situation, but until that happens we’re stuck with Mike Woodson’s favorite front court combination of Melo and Bargnani. Which is problem number two.

With Melo and Bargnani being the most-used two-man combination at the moment, they’ve allowed 109.8 points per 100 possessions, which is worse than Utah’s 30th ranked defense. Seeing as they’re not defense minded players, they obviously are making it up offensively though, right? Well the -10.4 per 100 possessions these two have while playing together would beg to differ. But break up these two and you’ll see quite different numbers. With Melo it’s 91.7 points allowed per 100 possessions with a +14.9 points per 100 possessions and Bargnani with a 85.6 allowed and a +5.7. So you’d wonder why they’d ever actually see the court together, let alone have the most shared minutes. Hopefully with the return of Chandler we’ll see an end to this trend, but that still is not there last problem.

The glorious sixth man of the year has seemed to take a turn for the worse. So far averaging 34.8% from the field, 34.4% from behind the arch, 60% from the line and 11.4 points. Last season he was averaging 42.2% from the field, 35.6% from behind the arch, 76.2% from the line and 18 points. Besides the three point percentage, everything else has taken a considerable dip. We’d hope he’d be making it up though with either assists or some defense, but with 2 assists, 1 steal and 0.1 blocks averaged so far, that doesn’t look to be the case. This may just be a slow start for Smith, since he was coming off of an injury to begin the season, but we’re going to have to watch what happens in the next few weeks to see.

Though Smith isn’t the only person to be worried by, Amar’e Stoudemire has only been averaging 16.1 minutes a game which is for an all-star is just a waste. I know he’s coming off of an injury and they’re still afraid that he’ll end up re-injuring himself, but if you’re that worried, why is he still even on the team? The Knicks need to start giving Stoudemire more minutes, especially with Chandler out, and if he gets injured, he get’s injured.  Though according to Charles Barkley there’s no hope for Stoudemire anymore, “You all in trouble with Amar’e. I like Amar’e as a person, but I don’t see him doing anything in the NBA, to be honest with you. I think he has lost his skill. He lost his talent…He played the game on talent when he was younger. He played the game 100 percent on talent. And now he has lost his talent and he is in serious trouble.” And with how it’s looking, it’s hard to disagree.

So with all these problems, whose to blame? A lot of people are calling for Mike Woodson’s head, but none of who are members of his team. According to reports, all of the players still believe in Woodson’s coaching and that he’ll be able to bring this team around when all is said and done. Stoudemire was quoted saying, “It’s not his fault. We win together, we lose together as a unit. It’s not his fault.” Though with some of the decisions he’s been making some fans are losing confidence. There’s even been talk of having assistant general manager Allan Houston take over for Woodson. I’m not sure how I feel about it, cause I feel that a new coach isn’t going to really help the situation at the moment. But with a few changes, next season will turn out differently. 

There’s one thing that would definitely turn this team around, and Melo is trying his hardest to make it happen. Melo has been talking with his good friend Rajon Rondo trying to talk him into wanting to play for the Knicks. A future with Melo receiving passes from Rondo would definitely be a bright one and factor in Chandler’s defense, the Knicks would have there own version of the big three. There’s no speculation that Rondo is actually considering it, but if the right price comes up you never know. Rondo doesn’t seem to be the type of player that would want to wait for the Celtics rebuilding years, so we’ll have to see how things turn out.

But even before talk of Rondo, one thing really needs to happen and that’s all-star caliber players playing like all-star caliber players.  I’m specifically talking about Smith and Stoudemire. Smith is playing at half of what he was last year and Stoudemire seems to be injured every season. The truth is that they should be given two months, if nothing comes from it I don’t see how you can leave them on your team. I’ve always been in support of the theory that if you don’t provide, you don’t deserve to be there and that goes for the NBA. I don’t care how great you were last year, it’s about the now and the Knicks have to realize that.

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