5 Glaring Weaknesses of the New York Knicks
1. Bad Team Defense
While it may be simple to single out Andrea Bargnani for his lack of defensive prowess and rebounding ability, defense is a team concept. Yes, Bargnani has not helped the cause, but the Knicks have struggled defensively as a team. The defensive inability starts right from the top with Raymond Felton. After pronouncing a loss of 15 pounds during the offseason, Felton has struggled mightily keeping opposing point guards out of the paint. When a point guard is able to get into the paint and create for others, everyone else is forced to help, opening up opportunities for wide open shots. This has been a problem dating back to last season, and has not improved to start this campaign.
Iman Shumpert, who has been labled as a lock down defender, has also not been at his best to start the season. Shumpert has found himself repeatedly gambling for steals, resulting in wide open lanes to the basket. This is especially an issue with the absence of Tyson Chandler and a shot blocking presence in the paint. With nobody to protect the paint, it becomes even more important to keep your man in front of you.
Another lingering issue has been the Knicks defense of the pick-and-roll, and the switches caused by it. Dating back to last year, the Knicks have been burned constantly switching big men onto guards in the P&R. Switching a guy like Andrea Bargnani onto opposing team's point guard is just senseless. A receipt for disaster every single time.
2. No Set Rotations
As early as the opening day of training camp, Mike Woodson made it a point to shorten his rotation and play consistent lineups. Unfortunately, 6 games into the season, the rotations have been inconsistent. Players like Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni constantly find themselves lost on the bench for long stretches. Beno Udrih, who has been disappointing thus far, finds himself in and out of the rotation on a game to game basis. To be a winning team, it is important to distinguish roles on a team. The longer the lineups and rotations continue to change, the longer it will take to find cohesion on the floor. How is a player supposed to get into a rhyme playing sporadic minutes on a nightly basis? Going forward, it is important for Woodson to shorten his rotation to 8-9 players and stick to the game plan.
3. Lack of veteran leadership
After the conclusion of last season, who would have thought we would be missing the presence of Jason Kidd? Kidd brought a sense of calmness and leadership to the Knicks team that is surely missed. His ability to pick up a teammate and make a key play in a time of need was a major piece to the Knicks team. Before Kidd's body broke down, his ability to run the offense was a thing of beauty. The offense was in sync and the ball was moving constantly.
Who can fill the void left by Jason Kidd? The only real option is Pablo Prigioni. Pablo brings the same sense of calmness to the Knicks team and his basketball smarts are second to none.He needs to be the leader on the floor and control the ball movement when he is on the floor.
4. Stagnant Offense
It is no secret that the Knicks offense is based primarily around isolating Carmelo Anthony. Whether you agree with this or not, it is the reality of the Mike Woodson offense. As gifted an offensive player Carmelo is, he cannot carry the offense every single night. On the rare occasion Melo draws single coverage, he is able to score at will. The problem is, when he is doubled, he must find the open man and trust his teammates. Far too often the other 4 players on the floor have been caught watching Melo operate, and not moving to the open spot.
The other signature staple in the Knicks offense has been the 3-point shot. When shots are falling, the Knicks offense can look invincible. On the flip side, if you live by the 3, you will eventually die by it as well.This is a lesson we all learned during the post season last year. Solid offense is based around an inside-out concept. The Knicks lack of a post-scorer, makes the team extra reliant on the 3-ball.
This past Sunday, the Spurs put on a clinic in their route of the Knicks. The Spurs may have been labeled a "boring" team, but their offensive is flawless and consistent. The ball is continuously moving and each player's offensive strength is on display. Raymond Felton should have been taking notes on how to properly run an offense. Time and time again, Tony Parker found himself attacking the paint and opening up the offense for teammates. The Knicks offense is at his best when Felton is creating havoc and not settling for jump-shots. He needs to be more aggressive off the dribble and find ways to create easy shots for his teammates.
5. A Flawed Roster
For a second consecutive season, the Knicks roster is filled with far too many one way players. No matter what lineup Woodson throws on the floor, the team will be sacrificing something on either end. The lack of complete players makes Mike Woodson's job even more difficult. Take a look at the 7-0 Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are an extremely balanced roster, with the ability to give you fits on either side of the ball. If the defense is struggling, the offense can pick up the load. And Vice-Versa.
The injury to Tyson Chandler has exposed another issue of the Knicks roster. Where is the backup center? With Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin on minutes restrictions, the team is extremely slim on big men. I'm a firm believer in the notion that you can never have too many big men on your roster. Why the Knicks cut Ike Diogu and Josh Powell, and never seriously considered Earl Barron is beyond me. Watching the Knicks get decimated on the glass really makes you wonder why another big man has not been added. Jeremy Tyler could be added to the Knicks roster in the coming weeks, but how much of an impact will he have? He has very little NBA experience, and is coming off an injury that held him out of training camp and the preseason.