Would the New York Knicks Be Better or Worse Without Mike D'Antoni?

Adam Friedgood@AfriedgoodContributor IIIJanuary 12, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29:  New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni gestures during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on December 29, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

After an awful 2-4 start to the season, the Knicks have won four straight games to earn a 6-4 record. This winning record has not come easy though, with the Knicks blowing big leads in three of the wins over the current four-game winning streak.

So far, the Knicks have played like a classic Mike D’Antoni coached team. 

The Knicks run the fast break whenever possible and when they are forced into a halfcourt set, the play is usually Carmelo Anthony isolating on the wing. They haven’t been scoring as many points as they did last year though and are only 10th in the league in scoring with 96.4 ppg.

The Knicks have also been playing terrible defense, like D’Antoni-coached teams usually do. Other teams are scoring 95.3 ppg against them so far this season and shooting 45.5 percent from the field. 

Many Knicks analysts and fans feel that the D’Antoni’s coaching style is crippling the Knicks and that is why they are struggling to win against less talented competition. After they started off the season with a losing record, these people were already calling for Mike D’Antoni’s job in favor of a more conventional coach who would preach defense and set up offensive sets for the team to run.   

There are many pros and cons to the Knicks firing D’Antoni during this season. The most obvious pro would be any coach, even most offensive-minded coaches, would still encourage more defense than D’Antoni does.  He is notorious for his “Seven Seconds or Less” style, which requires his team to turn the game into a fast-break game and get a shot off every possession within seven seconds.  The Knicks try and outscore teams rather than stop them.   

The Knicks would also greatly benefit from the departure of D’Antoni because most other coaches actually set up offensive sets and plays for their teams to run.  When you watch a Knicks game, it always appears like the ball goes to Carmelo or Amar’e and then the other players just run around aimlessly hoping to get the ball back.  If the Knicks had a system where players were setting ball screens or making backdoor cuts, the offense would open up and it would be much easier for everyone on the team to get open looks.

On the other hand, even though D’Antoni’s style of play may not be the most effective, the Knicks have completely grasped it and when ran to perfection leads to huge numbers and wins.  You also can’t argue with D’Antoni’s playoff experience.  He has been to the playoffs five times in his coaching career and at one point even coached in back-to-back conference championships.

D’Antoni has also proven to be an excellent teacher and has helped groom many players in this league, including Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire.  D’Antoni took over the Suns in Stoudemire’s second season in the league and helped him grow from the lanky big man he entered the league as into the beast he is today.  Another player D’Antoni helped drastically was Steve Nash.  Under D’Antoni, Nash led the league in assists for three consecutive seasons and won two MVP Awards.    

I don’t know if getting rid of D’Antoni would instantly solve the Knicks’ problems, but it may be what happens if the Knicks don’t turn this season around quickly.