For years, the knock on Mike D'Antoni has been that his teams do not commit to playing defense. When I look at the Knicks lineup, I can't see talent carrying the Knicks to victory. The seven seconds or less offense will have them better conditioned and playing at a better pace than most of the competition, but talent will rule in the end.
How can the Knicks improve incrementally on defense to eke out a few extra wins? My solution is to selectively bring back the Full Court Press.
Here's why it can work:
Lack Of Ball Handling League-Wide
Look around the league and specifically the Eastern Conference. Which teams have enough ball handlers on their first or second units capable of consistently beating a press?
A complete team commitment is required in order for the press to work. The lack of a true superstar makes this easier. Coach D'Antoni only needs to convince Harrington and Hughes. The rest should fall in line.
If the Knicks are finally able to bring in a superstar, the press can be reserved as a skill set for the second unit.
Selective Use of the Press
If and when Curry is on the floor, the Knicks can't run the press. The reason is obvious.
Where I think this gambit would be particularly effective is with the second line. Douglas (guard), Chandler (small forward), Hill (power forward) and Jeffries/Sene (center) are the long and athletic players that can execute this strategy. Chandler and Hill would thrive in this environment.
The starting lineup can also spring this on teams out of set pieces, like made free throws or during the final two minutes of the first half. There is length with Milicic, Harrington, Gallinari and Hughes to make the inbounds and initial pass difficult.
Oddly, a Better Rested Team
Because of the amount of effort required to execute a full-court press, the Knicks will need to use the entire bench. This should curtail the minutes of Duhon in particular, who was completely spent two thirds of the way into the season. More minutes for the younger players can only improve the Knicks chances for victory.