The Knicks have been a mitigated disaster so far this season as they delve deeper and deeper into the abyss. Below we take a look at five observations that make you question whether the Knicks can rebound from this 3-13 start:
Play of Iman Shumpert
Entering this season many predicted that in order for the Knicks to take that next step and improve without adding a major piece, then the maturation of Iman Shumpert’s game would be paramount. Well Shumpert has struggled to reach those expectations as he has averaged an underwhelming 7ppg, even recently posting a “triple zero” in over 20 minutes of play against the Trailblazers.
After pushing so many of the right buttons last season, Woodson has repeatedly pushed all the wrong ones this year starting with the decision to keep an undeserving Chris Smith on the roster. It just reeked of nepotism and sent a message that winning wasn’t above cultivating relationships with agencies such as CAA. His decision to reward rather than discipline JR Smith for his offseason indiscretions has been unexplainable. His reasoning for benching productive players for struggling players has been laughable but worse of all has been his handling of Iman Shumpert, who literally was benched in the 4th quarter against the Pelicans for calling out Carmelo Anthony for a blown defensive assignment.
What happened to JR Smith?
Ever since his ill-advised elbow against Jason Terry in last year’s playoffs, JR Smith has been on a steep decline while failing to find the form that earned him the NBA’s Sixth Man award. Since returning from his 5-gm drug suspension Smith has been dreadful shooting 33% from the field, 60% from the FT line, 29% from three, recording 2 turnovers per game while averaging 12ppg down from 18ppg last season! It’s unfathomable that Woodson continues to play Smith 32mpg even though the player himself recently admitted to being clueless out there defensively, a trait he seems to share with both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.
Carmelo Anthony arrive in New York with the reputation as a lethal closer and almost immediately demonstrated those skills by hitting a memorable game-winning shot against the Memphis Grizzlies but really since then those moments have been almost non-existence. He has missed 15 of his last 16 game winning or game tying shot attempts with the most recent coming this season in losses against Chicago, Indiana, Denver and New Orleans.
Home Court Advantage?
Mike Woodson made a comment to the team prior to the preseason finale against Charlotte that the Knicks needed to go 42-0 at home this season. While Woodson might have been a bit overstated, his point was home-dominance would guarantee another successful season and position the team to contend for a title! Well after opening the season with a home win against the Bucks, the Knicks have preceded to drop seven consecutive home games. More alarming has been the fact the three losses have come against non-playoffs teams such as New Orleans, Minnesota and Charlotte.
As the losses pile up you sometimes get the feeling watching post game or listening to player interviews that the embarrassment of losing doesn’t appear to be all that concerning to the players. We’ve gotten the standard response from Carmelo Anthony that he needs to remain “positive” and the standard response from Mike Woodson that the team needs to “keep working” and that he has to do “better”, but until more players are as dejected as JR Smith after a loss, this misery may last for quite a while.