Schmeelk: Knicks In Need Of Guards
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By John Schmeelk
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With the addition of Tyson Chandler, the Knicks have perhaps the best frontcourt in the NBA. Of course that meant losing Chauncey Billups, which leaves a huge hole at point guard the Knicks need to fill if they want to be considered true top tier championship contenders.
Mike Bibby has already been added for the veteran’s minimum but he is far from the answer. At the ripe age of 33, Bibby’s gas tank is just about empty. Offensively he is little more than a spot up shooter, with absolutely no ability to get to the basket. At the end of last season playing for the Miami Heat, he looked just about done. At best, he can spread the floor as a good three point shooter. Defensively, he is an absolute liability and might be the worst defensive point guard in basketball. Ideally he would play 15 minutes a game, at most.
That means Toney Douglas will have to step up and be the starting point guard for the Knicks. So far in his tenure, he has been much more of a shooter than a playmaker. He is not someone that can run the team successfully and get the ball where it needs to go. At the end of last season he did show that he is deadly when open behind the arc, and isn’t afraid to take big shots. No one knows what Iman Shumpert, the Knicks first round pick, can do. He is supposed to be a good defensive player and a great athlete but it remains to be seen.
Assuming the Knicks can’t add a top notch point guard, which at this point is unlikely, Mike D’Antoni is going to have to adjust his system. With no point guard that’s able to control the ball and run the pick and roll with Amar’e Stoudemire to any success, the offense has to change. Speaking to the media earlier in the week, D’Antoni indicated he would run the offense through Carmelo Anthony but he hasn’t shown any ability to make plays for anyone but himself. He has shown passing ability in passes but nothing that would make anyone think he could control the ball and spread the wealth.
The other option is to ditch the ball movement and pick and roll offense completely and go to more of an isolation system. Running through Carmelo Anthony on the wing and Amar’e Stoudemire in the high post will force teams to collapse and double-team, leaving their Knicks teammates open. Toney Douglas has proven he can stretch the floor with his good shooting. Mike Bibby can still hit an open shot and Landry Fields has sworn to improve on his 39% from three point land last year. Iman Shumpert’s primary weakness is supposed to be his shooting. The potential return of Shawne Williams would also help spreading the floor.
With Stoudemire and Anthony carrying the bulk of the offense, the three most important things for the guards to do will be to hit the open shot, defend and get the ball to Stoudemire and Anthony. Douglas, Shumpert and Fields should be able to provide the first two, but finding a passer in that group is the problem. Even including Bibby, I’m not sure any of those guards will react well to heavy ball pressure from the likes of Rajon Rondo. For Knicks fans holding onto the Iman Shumpert pipe dream, I think he’ll play more shooting guard than point guard in his rookie year. Who will initiate the offense? Can Carmelo fill that role?
That might be the biggest question the Knicks have to answer heading into 2012. A shortened training camp will make it even harder for Mike D’Antoni to teach someone his offense. I find it hard to believe Carmelo Anthony will turn into a player that can run the offense as a distributor and a scorer. So where does that leave the Knicks? With one large hole to fill at point guard.
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