Consistency is a word that has been disregarded in the world of the New York Knicks. Furthermore, thanks in part to the lack of consistency, there is the absence of chemistry. This year, the Knicks have done two things well: be inconsistent and lack chemistry.
A suspension here, a tweet there and rumors everywhere has this team not only disappointed, but also straight up irritated. The Knicks fans and owner are not enjoying the start either, as the 3-7 Knicks fell short to the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.
The Knicks have the talent, they have the superstar and they have the swagger needed to compete at a high level in the NBA. No one thought this team was truly a championship team (James Dolan not included), and no one expected them to start 10-0, but when a team that finished with 54 wins the year before loses seven of its first 10 games, it is a problem.
The team has had many issues, but no problem may be more blatantly obvious than the lack of basketball chemistry. It may simply be some of their players, or it could be the frustration, but the Knicks look like a bunch of individuals on the court together, as opposed to a team.
Basketball is a team game for a reason. Teams win you championships, and as cliché as it may sound, it could not be truer. The Knicks are not a team. Their team offense is an abomination, their team defense is atrocious and their lack of leadership is frightening.
After Tuesday night’s loss to the Pistons, the issues were as apparent as ever. Carmelo Anthony, the team's star and supposed leader, played terrible. While star players are allowed to have terrible games, it was Carmelo’s lack of personal control that might have been the biggest problem. ‘Melo became very frustrated with the refs quickly on Tuesday, and it led to one of his worst games in a long time.
Anthony shot 8-of-20 from the field and had just one assist compared to seven turnovers. Add that to five personal fouls and a technical foul, and you have his night. Whether it was Anthony committing low-IQ frustration fouls or simply not passing to wide-open teammates, he was awful.
We’ve seen it before from Anthony, where he loses control of his temper and simply becomes the opposite of a leader. When the team is in as much trouble as the Knicks are, that just can’t happen.
In part due to their lack of leadership, the injury to their best defender and the players’ distrust in one another, their defense has suffered. Amar’e made headlines last night with one of the most mind-boggling defensive sequences of all time.
For someone who feels he deserves more minutes, he really isn’t proving it. Just because he had three vintage Stoudemire dunks does not mean he deserves more minutes. When someone plays defense the way Stoudemire plays it, bench time is the only thing warranted.
J.R. Smith has, of course, been a reason for the horrible chemistry because, well, he does things like this:
As a Knicks fan, there is no worse moment then when J.R. gets that "no way I'm passing this ball" look in his eyes, and then throws up a terrible shot.
Smith and Anthony both need to get their teammates involved. They need to move the ball around and be able to find open shooters. If they can start to do this, it will allow them to find open shots. Everyone knows how capable the two of them are on offense, but without ball movement they will not be able to achieve that productiveness.
The Knicks players also need to work together on defense as well. They have to trust one another to cover the open man and to rotate to cover opponents. The lack of togetherness that they have on defense now leads to countless open layups and dunks from opponents.
The Knicks are not a team that can tank. Why? Because they have no draft picks. The Knicks are not a team that can host a Miami Marlins-esque fire sale and get rid of all their players. Why? Because no one wants their players.
New York's one appealing asset, Iman Shumpert, has been brought up in trade rumors, and while a Shumpert trade seems inevitable at this point, there is just no realistic way the team can improve by trading him.
So while James Dolan may trade Shump and bring in a new player, while Melo may score 50 on any given night and get the Knicks a win, the Knicks will not win and contend consistently until leadership and chemistry are found.
There is one option for the Knicks at this point, and that is to turn it around. Becoming a true team on the court is a must, and ‘Melo and J.R. maturing is essential. Unfortunately for the Knicks, the chances of these things happening look about as poor as Amar’e’s defense.