The New York Knicks have the oldest team in NBA history. Iman Shumpert, at 22 years old, is the only player who is younger than 27. Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin have a combined 46 years of experience in the league. But right now, the Knicks are playing like a team that desperately lacks leadership.
Kidd was signed this offseason as much for his mentoring and coaching as he was for his on-court play. He helped teach Carmelo Anthony what a good shot was and how to get his teammates involved, and kept J.R. Smith from forcing up the crazy shots that have held him back for his whole career. Through seven games this postseason, though, six against the Boston Celtics and one against the Indiana Pacers, Kidd has been invisible.
Kidd hasn’t scored since Game 2 against Boston, and is averaging just 1.8 points per game in the playoffs despite playing 26.3 minutes per night. The 18-year veteran is shooting 16.7 percent from the field over the course of both of the Knicks’ series, and is no longer getting his message to resonate in Anthony and Smith.
Martin was the one who sparked the great idea for all of the Knicks to wear black to Game 5 against Boston to mourn the Celtics “funeral.” Boston won the game 92-86. This would have been kind of amusing had the Knicks won the game, but in losing they were just utterly embarrassed. On the court, Martin has played well. He scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting in Game 1 against Indiana but grabbed just three rebounds and couldn’t slow down David West and Roy Hibbert defensively.
Martin needs to be a role model for players like Shumpert and Smith, and needs to keep Anthony on track throughout the postseason. Coming up with gimmicky ideas like wearing funeral colors is not the way that he should go about doing so.
Anthony and Smith are playing the way they did back in their days with the Denver Nuggets, and it isn’t working.The duo has shot a combined 103-276 (37.3 percent) from the field in the postseason.
Anthony is a superstar in this league, and Smith is the Sixth Man of the Year, but both players need veteran leadership on the court. Far too often, one of them tries and take over and win single-handedly, but end up shooting the Knicks out of the game.
Both Kidd and Martin are good places to look for guidance, on and off the court, as they have fulfilled that role all season. But Anthony and Smith have to be willing to seek it out, too.