Friday, December 30, 2011

Dear Panicking Knicks Fan

Dear Panicking Knicks Fan,

The Knicks are 1-2. They've suffered back-to-back losses to the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. Toney Douglas can't play point guard, Amar'e Stoudemire can't shoot jump shots or drive the lane, Tyson Chandler hasn't helped the defense at all, Carmelo Anthony is a one-man team. There isn't any bench help. The Knicks are doomed.

Last night after the loss, I curled up in a ball in the corner of my bedroom and rocked back and forth with a devilish glaze in my eye. I eventually sprang from my house and terrorized the streets with some neighborhood racoons, rabidly ravishing through trash cans and bags. I woke up this morning naked in a public park, and then returned to my home to write some harsh words about the Knicks. And then I calmed down and accepted the reality of the situation:

This is not the end of the world, nor the end of the Knicks season as we've dreamt it to be.

This current Knicks team is not the future Knicks team. This is a team playing without a starting point guard, or their high-energy, athletic, multifarious rookie who is expected to play a big role this season.

This is a team playing without their first forward off the bench, who was brought back to make the small hustle plays and stabilize the defense, no matter how terrible he is on offense.

This is a team with major new pieces who have never played together before, and have only spent 4 weeks together.

When Baron Davis returns to the court, he will be a huge addition to the Knicks because he is a real point guard. With all due respect to Toney Douglas, he does not have great court vision, he cannot attack defenses, and he does not set up teammates well. Baron Davis does all of those things.

Iman Shumpert, while only a rookie, has NBA athleticism, provides tough defense, and a diverse scoring game. Jared Jeffries fumbles and stumbles his way around the court, but he was brought back for a reason: he is a great communicator on defense, and provides stability when the rest of the team is fumbling and stumbling.

Mike D'Antoni has no job security and is trying to coach a team with major new pieces, knowing full-well the rotations and plays are going to change in a few weeks when the missing players are expected to return.

The history of the Knicks and D'Antoni-coached teams bears similar trends as to what we're seeing now:
  • Last year the Knicks began 3-8 and lost to teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, and the Warriors, among others. The team struggled to gel; Amar'e Stoudemire was forcing the offense, Danilo Gallinari couldn't throw a rock into the ocean, and the Raymond Felton signing looked like a mistake. What followed was a streak where the team won 13 of 14 games.
  • In 2006-07, the Phoenix Suns started 1-5, before winning 61 games.
  • None of these guys have played NBA basketball since April (except for Tyson Chandler who played until June). They're rusty and are still getting their legs back. The Warriors and Lakers didn't play well this week, the Knicks just played worse.
  • Amar'e Stoudemire's game is based on rhythm (as Alan Hahn points out). Until the offense gets figured out, he'll have trouble finding his offense. Not to mention he'll have to adjust to being played by power forwards as opposed to the bigger, slower centers he faced for the majority of last season.
So before we all head for the nearest bridge, wearing Quentin Ricardson jerseys and pining for the days where we expected the Knicks to be bad, let's take some deep breaths. This team still has a lot of growing to do, and frankly, they only needs to get it figured out by March and April. As far as January and February go, they need to win, don't get me wrong, but we shouldn't expect championship-level ball.

The coming game against the Kings has a chance to be another loss. Historically, young, athletic teams with lots of confidence like to pounce on the Knicks when they're struggling; it's just the way it goes.

But this current Knicks team, the team that can't score or defend; they're not the team. They're not what the front office planned to build, and not what Mike D'Antoni or any Knicks players or fan wants them to be. They're simply in a holding pattern until they get back to full health and become familiar with one another.

Stay strong.

Sincerely,

Scott; A Caring Knicks Fan

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