The New York Knicks are now 4-4 and seem to have found a rhythm, but it has not come easy. They have struggled to get a .500 record, even though they’ve had a pretty easy schedule so far this year.
I know there hasn’t been much time for the team to gel yet, but even so, most people expected them to be playing much better than they are now.
Amar’e has looked lost at times. Tyson Chandler has struggled rebounding in some games. Toney Douglas can’t hit a shot.
This season is very young, though, and the Knicks definitely have the talent to be one of the top teams in the East. Over time, I feel they will become accustomed to each other’s style of play and learn how to play together as a team.
Here are five solutions for the Knicks' woes that will help turn this season around.
This is the most obvious solution to the Knicks' early season problems.
Everyone knows the Knicks can outscore teams. Carmelo Anthony is currently second in the league in scoring with 29.1 PPG and Amar’e is also scoring 20 PPG.
On the other hand, the Knicks defense has been absent like always. They currently rank fourth-worst in points allowed per game with 98.7.
Players like Boris Diaw and Andrea Bargnani have been scoring at will against the Knicks. They even lost to the Golden State Warriors without Steph Curry.
Unless the Knicks start to play better defense, they will struggle to win games all season.
Iman Sumpert has become an instant fan favorite since coming back from a knee injury that sidelined him for four games. I was at the Bobcats game and the cheers for Shumpert were some of the loudest I’ve heard in the Garden since “Fire Isiah.”
When the Knicks drafted him, all you heard about was Shumpert’s shutdown defense. He has definitely lived up to this reputation with over two steals per game.
Besides his defense, Shumpert’s offensive effectiveness has been a pleasant surprise. He is averaging 13 PPG, which is good for third amongst all rookies so far.
Due to Shumpert’s stellar play, he made his first career start at PG in only his fourth career game. If the rookie continues to play like he has been, expect things to turn around quickly for the Knicks this season.
The Knicks look their best when they are patient and getting open shots in rotation. Unfortunately, they rely too heavily on isolation plays.
During any given game so far this season, the majority of the plays end with Carmelo or Amar’e trying to take their defender one-on-one off the dribble. As a result, they have both been forcing up a lot of contested shots.
Also, players like Toney Douglas and Landry Fields have been taking shots almost every time they touch the ball, since they know if they pass it they most likely won’t get a pass back.
The few times they have had success moving the ball around, like during the game against the Pistons, the Knicks scored in bunches and won the game easily.
Carmelo has proved he is lethal when he catches the ball in the post. He has a variety of moves that he can use from the post position to score at will.
Carmelo Anthony is stronger than most of the other players at his position. He uses his big body to back his defender down and create space for him to then decide how he wants to finish.
Most of the time when Melo has his back to the basket, he fakes one way and then turns the other way for a fadeaway jumper. He is an excellent shooter and knocks this shot down a high percentage of the time.
His best move, however, is when he faces up and spins towards the basket. He is so strong that he almost always finishes the layup and gets fouled in the process.
When Carmelo is catching the ball close to the basket and not settling for long-distance jumpers, he is unstoppable and will continue to challenge for the scoring title and lead the Knicks to victory.
If the Knicks really want to become title contenders, they need a coach who is going to force his players to play team defense.
Mike D’Antoni is not that guy. He never has been and he never will be. That’s just not his style. He tries to outscore teams rather than stop them from scoring.
After the Knicks started 2-4, many local analysts and fans were calling for D’Antoni’s job. If the Knicks lost a few more games to easy opponents, he may have even gotten fired.
Luckily for him, the Knicks have won their past two games and now have a .500 record, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dolan is quick to pull the trigger if the team starts to lose once again. The addition to Mike Woodson, an established NBA head coach, to the staff can’t help D’Antoni’s confidence.