Mike D'Antoni: Knicks Realized Defense-Less Coach Would Never Lead Them to Title

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Mike D'Antoni: Knicks Realized Defense-Less Coach Would Never Lead Them to Title
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have made the move I knew was inevitable. Parting ways with Mike D'Antoni was necessary if the team ever hopes to reach the NBA Finals with this core.

For all the talk of a spat between he and Carmelo Anthony, none of it would have mattered if the team had been winning.

If they defended better, they would have won more.

Take a look at the top teams in the NBA and you'll notice one common theme: they all play better than average defense.

The Bulls, Heat, Lakers, Sixers and Pacers all are among the top 12 teams defensively.

D'Antoni's philosophy on the game is just successful enough to become a hot candidate, but as it has already been proven, it will never lead to an NBA title.

In his 10 years as an NBA head coach, D'Antoni's teams have averaged less than 100 points per game only once. On the strength of the Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire-led Phoenix Suns, he has a sparkling coaching record of 727-388.

That of course is the regular season, and that record is how he became a hot candidate for the Knicks' job.

What apparently was overlooked was the fact that his teams allowed less than a 100 points per game average in only two seasons.

This lack of defensive focus is the main reason behind D'Antoni's teams' playoff struggles. His postseason highlights were two trips to the Western Conference finals in Phoenix.

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In 2004-2005, the San Antonio Spurs' defense and overall balance was too much as they defeated the Suns in five games.

In 2005-2006, the Mavs simply outscored the Suns in six games.

Those two seasons were the pinnacle of D'Antoni's coaching career. That team had every element his system needed to function. Nash at the point, a young and explosive Stoudemire and a do-it-all forward in Shawn Marion.

With everything in optimal place, D'Antoni still could not get it done.

The Knicks gave him another shot, but without the players to run the system, the mirage never even appeared to mislead us.

In almost four seasons, D'Antoni was 121-167 in New York with one playoff appearance. His teams surrendered an average of 104 points per game.

No team has won an NBA championship allowing that many points in over 20 seasons.

D'Antoni is the definition of a one-dimensional coach, and that hasn't worked out for Phoenix or New York.

That brand of basketball will never win an NBA championship, finally, the Knicks realized that as well.

 

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