5 Reasons to Worry About Carmelo Anthony and the 2011 Knicks:
I know. I know. You're right. It's early. Just three games. Still 63 games to go.
There are high expectations for Carmelo Anthony and company this season, so much so that I've heard a few pundits on TV and radio exclaim that they feel New York will advance all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Wow.
I'd sign up for that in a second. However, before Knicks fans can dream of that potential high octane matchup, there are some ominous clouds appearing as New York trudges into Sacramento for the final leg of their disastrous 0-2 West Coast swing.
So far, Carmelo has been tremendous, as expected. That said, here are five things that have me somewhat worried about New York in the early going.
Can Landry Fields Step Up His Game?
The former Stanford product must step up his game as the team's starting shooting guard. Fields has wonderful athletic ability but he slumped badly in the second half of last season and needs to revive his game quickly.
The 6'7", 215-pounder is averaging a scant 8.7 points per game while shooting just 42 percent from the field. Fields excels more on the break where his quickness and athletic ability are a real asset. He struggles more in the half-court offense.
The Long Beach, CA native is only in his second season and is still growing. However, on a team with very high expectations, he needs to improve quickly for the Knicks to excel.
Amar'e Stoudemire Needs to Regain Form
Hello Amar'e, Carmelo Anthony is calling. He needs your help.
It's been a rough start for the Knicks power forward/center so far. His numbers are down across the board and he had an awful night vs. the Lakers, missing 13-of-17 shots from the field and grabbing just two rebounds in 32 minutes of play.
Stoudemire also injured his ankle late in the contest and is listed as day-to-day but expected to suit up vs. the Kings on Saturday.
Anthony needs someone to take some of the scoring pressure off his shoulders and Stoudemire has to be that player.
Not only does he have to stay healthy (Knicks fans are always holding their breath about that) but he has to drive to the basket more and stop settling for perimeter shots.
The 10-year veteran is a career 21.9 PPG scorer and shoots 54 percent from the field. The Knicks need to see some of the old Amar'e, not a player that's performing like an aged Amar'e.
The Bench: Where Is the Help Coming From?
Every great team has some solid contributors off their bench, key players in the coach's rotation. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni is scratching his head trying to figure out how to get some solid production off his lackluster bench.
14-year veteran Mike Bibby, the backup point guard to Toney Douglas, looks old and slow. You have to wonder how much the Cherry Hill, NJ native has left in the tank.
In a perfect world, the Knicks would love to have Bibby's experience really pay off. But in the early going he looks shot, truth be told.
New York needs to get better contributions from Renaldo Balkman, Josh Harrellson and Bill Walker while they wait for Baron Davis to get healthy (more on that later).
Balkman is especially key because he serves as a backup to both Anthony and Stoudemire and is averaging a meager three points a game, albeit in limited minutes. He needs to be productive when he gives the dynamic duo some rest.
If the Knicks are to advance far in the playoffs, their bench has to play a more significant role, especially in a constricted season where teams will play back-to-back games more often.
When Will Tyson Chandler Wake Up?
Tyson Chandler's signing was the Knicks' biggest move of the post-lockout offseason. It gives them a huge body down low and an intimidating shot blocker. Knicks fans are waiting for the 7'1" center to show some signs of life on a consistent basis.
After two very lackluster performances in New York's first two contests, Chandler finally displayed the skills that made him an integral part of Dallas' championship run last season when he tossed in 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against the Lakers Thursday night.
After not blocking a shot in the Knicks' loss to Golden State on Wednesday, Chandler rejected two shots against the Lakers.
The Knicks are going to need Chandler to be a fierce rebounder and shot blocker because he offers very little on the offensive side. He is slow afoot and looks stiff when he tries to make an offensive move. If it's not a dunk, Chandler contributes little offensively.
That's fine though if Carmelo and Amar'e produce as expected. That's a big "if."
My Kingdom for a Point Guard
It comes as no surprise to any Knicks fan that the team's No. 1 issue beyond a doubt is their point guard situation. After losing Chauncey Billups, the Knicks are left with former Florida State product Toney Douglas to run Mike D'Antoni's offense. Yikes.
The 6'2" Douglas works very hard and has some nice attributes, but is best suited in a backup role.
He's averaging just 10 PPG, but more importantly is dishing out just 3.7 assists per game while shooting an awful 34 percent from the field. As stated earlier, Mike Bibby is certainly not the answer.
So when is the cavalry coming? Hopefully in a month or so, when Baron Davis rides in on his white horse and hopefully saves the Knicks from their inept offensive ways.
Davis is currently recovering from back surgery to repair a herniated disc and the Knicks can desperately use him right now.
When healthy, Davis is one of the best point guards in the league, as his career marks of 16.5 PPG and 7.3 APG attest. The Los Angeles native is no spring chicken at 32-years-old but still had plenty in the tank with the Cavaliers before he got hurt last season.
The Knicks are holding their breath in the meantime until Lord Baron steps on the court.