|Tyson Chandler will give N.Y. some much needed defense and heart.|
Though this squad won't be nearly as dominant defensively as their predecessors, they've got great overall potential. What kind of team is this though?
Given the news that N.Y. will acquire Chandler via sign-and-trade, I'm going to assume Chauncey Billups still becomes an amnesty victim, leaving Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Landry Fields, and presumably Toney Douglas as New York's starting five. Coach D'Antoni has indicated that Douglas will bring the ball up the floor while Melo acts as a Larry Bird-type of facilitator. Obviously this is mere Twitter fodder, words Mike came up with for some lulz, because Melo has never shown himself to have the type of court vision Larry Bird had. Different players, different skill sets.
So how does this offense work? How should it work? Where will the new Knick fit?
Well, Chandler has already proven himself to be one of the best role player-centers in the entire league offensively, combining ultra-efficient catch-and-score paint offense (so low role- no ball domination necessary) with elite offensive rebounding and no turnovers (so he gives his team more chances to score). He's had his greatest offensive successes with either a superb playmaker in Chris Paul giving him gimmes or elite spacing in Dallas, mainly through the game of Dirk Nowitzki.
New York doesn't have Paul - let's see where the U.S. Supreme Court says he should end up in the coming months - but they do have some sweet spacing of their own. Amar'e is one of the great off-ball big men in NBA history. Not only is he great from mid-range, but he also gets into the paint through dives from the perimeter and off curls at the high-post. Melo, Fields, and Douglas are sufficient threats from range. Chandler is primed for another efficient year offensively- as long as his minutes are handled correctly and New York slows their pace down. These two caveats are integral.
Chandler had a big year in 2008, then two injury-filled years. Last year was a big year, but in reduced minutes (less than 28 per game) and on a slower, methodical team. N.O. in '08 ran a methodical style of play as well, capitalizing on Paul's efficient use of Chandler and shooters. That same methodical style should apply to New York this year as well, and not just for Chandler's sake.
It'd serve Melo and Amar'e well to slow the pace down as well in my opinion. Although they are great iso scorers, they are at their best as finishers, especially Amar'e. Without a true distributor, using Douglas to get the ball to these scorers in a frenetic offense seems like a recipe for bad half-court offense and lackadaisical transition defense. Instead, slow it down. Put Amar'e in pick-n-rolls with Douglas and Melo and put Melo in the mid-post. Execute.
More importantly, make Amar'e and Melo more aware of their defensive responsibilities, especially in transition.
I liked Ian Thomsen's article on how Chandler can change the defense and the culture of New York like a KG-lite, especially with Mike Woodson preaching defense, too. What Thomsen didn't mention was that 2008 Boston had Kendrick Perkins serving as the brick wall supplying backup to KG's motion-sensor horizontal mid-range defense system- basically, KG played help D all over the floor, but if anybody got to the paint, KP laid wood on them or blocked their shot. Chandler's PF is Amar'e, and his backup is Amar'e. What has to change?
One is Amar'e's defensive intensity, and two is N.Y.'s backup C plan. Even Chandler had big ole' Brendan Haywood last year backing him up. The Knicks just need another big body to spell Chandler and move people around in the paint. Anybody but Eddy Curry...
So, New York needs another big frontcourt body and league-average point guard who concentrates on distributing and can hit open 3's. That sounds doable.
New York fans deserved the Chandler signing, and they deserve the feeling of happiness that comes with it. People love to spew vitriolic rants aimed at the Knicks, but they had to suffer through the Isiah Thomas-era and the crap that came along with it.
In the middle part of last decade, Thomas obtained Curry, the wrong Baby Bull- the one that only added to his considerable baby fat. Now they're counting on the mature, achieving one to be that key component to fully transform them.