State of the Knicks:
The New York Knicks started off the season on a hot streak, winning twenty-one of their first thirty games. Everything seemed to be working well for them. Carmelo Anthony was playing like an MVP, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler were putting on a show with their constant pick-and-roll plays and the Knicks were getting great production from their veteran players Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace.
All the good fortune surrounding the Knicks seemed to change rather quickly. However, injuries had a lot to do with it; Raymond Felton was sidelined with a broken finger and Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby were both sidelined with foot injuries. Jason Kidd’s play began to decline greatly, as he lost his shooting touch, especially from long range. This was most likely a factor of his increased minutes and handling the ball in the absence of Raymond Felton.
The Knicks went into the All-Star break losing three of their last four games, with losses to Washington and Toronto, two teams outside playoff contention. On Wednesday night, they lost to the Indiana Pacers by 34 points, without ever having a lead in the game.
Right now, the Knicks simply are not looking like a team with championship aspirations. There seems to be a lack of focus and effort on the court. While many analysts are pushing the “panic button” I still believe that this Knicks team could be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference come playoff time. After a few changes, I think this team could challenge Miami to come out of the East.
What The Knicks Must Do:
1. Sign a reliable forward. On Thursday, the Knicks signed the veteran power forward Kenyon Martin to a 10-day contract. This was a good move for the Knicks, as they needed a reliable forward, with Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace still out with foot injuries. Remember that Kenyon Martin hasn’t played in the NBA this season, so there is no guarantee that he will be in good enough shape to help the team out at all. If the Knicks find him unfitting for the role, they could go after free agent forward Louis Amundsen, or even call up Henry Sims from the Eerie Bayhawks.
2. Start Iman Shumpert over Jason Kidd. Iman Shumpert has recently been starting at small forward for the Knicks, a position he hasn’t had much experience with. When Shumpert came into the league last season, he saw most of his minutes at shooting guard or point guard. Shumpert has not been playing well this season since his return from a torn ACL and the position change could be part of the reason why he hasn’t lived up to expectations. In his rookie year, Shumpert was selected to the All-NBA Rookie First Team as a shooting guard. His production last season at shooting guard was far superior to his production so far this season at small forward. If Shumpert becomes the starting shooting guard, Jason Kidd can get more rest, which will be helpful come playoff time. Stoudemire could return to a starting role, thanks to his great improvement in play recently, while Carmelo Anthony could return to his natural role as starting small forward. The new starting lineup could be Felton, Shumpert, Anthony, Stoudemire, and Chandler.
3. Be more disciplined. In Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, J.R. Smith was ejected, Amar’e Stoudemire received a technical foul, and several Knicks were in foul trouble for most of the game. One could argue that the officiating was bad, but the Knicks cannot use that as an excuse for a bad loss. There have been several games this season, especially the 110-106 loss to the Bulls on December 21st, in which the Knicks have let bad officiating and physical play by their opponents ruin their chances of winning. The Knicks need to play defense “with their feet instead of their hands” to stay out of foul trouble. This phrase was reiterated several times by Knicks legend and broadcaster Walt “Clyde” Frazier during the broadcast of Wednesday’s game. They also need to ignore “wrong” calls by officials and stay out of fights with opposing players to avoid technical fouls and possibly ejections, fines, or suspensions.
If the Knicks can change their ways, they can be a championship contender. It all starts with head coach Mike Woodson. He must take charge of the team and steer them in the right direction, as he did at the start of the season.
Matt Tomaszewsky – www.facebook.com/