Schmeelk: More Than D’Antoni To Blame For Knicks’ Woes
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By John Schmeelk
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The Knicks have lost three straight games, and hordes of irrational fans are piling on the “Fire Mike D’Antoni” bandwagon. Like all sports situations, the easiest thing to do is to blame the coach. It gives the fan base a one-stop target to solve all their problems in a single stroke.
Unfortunately, in life and in sports, things are rarely so simple.
The inconsistencies of the Mike D’Antoni crack committee are hilarious. Before this season began, they crooned only about his lack of focus on defense and how such a style could never win a championship. So far this season, the Knicks have been far more defensively oriented, playing a slower pace with less of a focus on offense during practices. So the critics have flipped and are now railing at D’Antoni for being unable to employ his high-powered offensive style with New York’s current roster.
Like most Knicks fans, I’m tired of the constant excuses about the roster and the lowered expectations. With two legitimate superstars like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, and a real center like Tyson Chandler, renewed hopes of a run to the finals once again percolated in the minds of Knicks fans. But the fact of the matter is that the roster is still tremendously flawed.
The Knicks don’t have one real starting guard on their roster that is healthy. As much promise as Iman Shumpert has shown he is not ready for that responsibility. Landry Fields is not a starter on a championship team. Toney Douglas is best suited as a spark combo-guard off the bench that can score in bunches. Mike Bibby can hit an occasional jumper, but otherwise he is washed up. Worst of all, none of these players are real point guards that can run an offense.
Now we come full circle. How is this D’Antoni’s fault? Name one NBA team that wins with any sort of consistency without a single starting-caliber guard on its roster. Impossible. There isn’t one.
It’s not that D’Antoni is so stubborn that he can’t adjust his system. It’s not that his system is so particular it can’t function without a point guard. No system could. No coach could. The Knicks have a talent deficit in the backcourt that is impossible to overcome.
Perhaps things can get better once Baron Davis returns at the beginning of February, but pinning a season’s worth of hopes on a perpetually overweight point guard that is injury prone seems foolhardy. When healthy, Baron Davis has also shown the propensity to look for his own shot long before setting up his teammates. Is this the guy that’s going to get the Knicks offense going?
Relying on someone like Davis is the price the franchise paid when they cut Chauncey Billups to sign Tyson Chandler. The Knicks can use their mid-level exception on a point guard next season, but until then, this is what they are stuck with for better or worse.
It’s a reality Knicks fans will have to live with: firing Mike D’Antoni won’t do a damn thing.
You can follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/Schmeelk.
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