Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Helping out Carmelo Anthony

Last night in the loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Knicks offense looked eerily similar to the perimeter-based stagnation that we saw during the doldrums of January. Minus Jeremy Lin, the playmaking impetus has been placed on Baron Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert, and J.R. Smith and Toney Douglas to some degree. However, with Davis operating at less-than-100%, there really isn't a natural point guard available on the Knicks, which complicates the offense.

All year, the Knicks have been far worse on offense than they have at defense, rarely - if ever - cracking even the top 20 most offensively efficient teams in the NBA. Of course, with Jeremy Lin (undoubtedly the Knicks best playmaker) and Amar'e Stoudemire (seemingly the Robin to Melo's Batman) both out for extended periods of time, the Knicks need someone else to respond and carry the load on offense the way Melo has.

Carmelo Anthony has said as much himself.

Continue reading!

From Ian Begley at ESPN New York:
"Guys got to step up at the end of the day," Anthony said late Tuesday night after the 98-86 loss in Chicago. "The guys that we need to be aggressive on the offensive end and take those shots, we need them to do that. We were passing up open shots out there that guys should have taken. We can't pass that up."
Since Lin and Amar'e were both removed from the lineup due to their respective injuries, the Knicks are 5-3. However, during that stretch only two players besides Anthony have scored 20+ points in games - Shumpert against Orlando (a win) and Atlanta (a loss), and Smith against Cleveland (a win). Some of that is negated by the fact that Melo is averaging over 30 ppg in April and has had 43-, 39-, and 36-point performances. Sometimes he has carried the load while teammates like Landry Fields, Steve Novak, Smith, and Shumpert have contributed double-digit scoring contributions.

But simply put, the Knicks won't last in the playoffs, if they even make them, if they have trouble scoring the ball like they did against the Bulls last night. Here are some things that could help New York's offense and lighten the load on Anthony's shoulders:

1.) Catch-and-shoots: As Anthony said in the quote above, the Knicks passed up opportunities last night. I can think of three specific plays where the ball worked its way around the perimeter or inside and back out to shooters and ended in made 3-pointers - twice to J.R. Smith, once to Iman Shumpert. Smith, Shumpert, and Fields (whose shooting has been abysmal) all too often catch the ball, hesitate, look to drive, and end up with nowhere to go. If they catch the ball after good perimeter movement or off of a kick-out, then they should be looking to shoot when they catch it.
  • Some of this has been hurt by Steve Novak's dry-spell (0-9 in his last two games) and that Baron Davis has had a hard time breaking down the defense off the dribble. Shumpert and Smith can all get into the paint off the dribble, but do they have the playmaking skills to then make accurate passes back out to the perimeter?

2.) Push the ball in transition - In the game against Chicago on Sunday, the Knicks dominated the first quarter by making defensive plays and running the fastbreak. Anthony, Shumpert, Smith, Fields, and Chandler are all fast, athletic players that can usually beat their opponents down the court. Fields and Davis are also both great playmakers in the open court, which benefits whoever else runs back. In the first quarter last night, the Knicks found success by doing the same thing - making strips and steals on defense and running. This very thing was highlighted over at Posting and Toasting after the win over the Magic.

3.) Attack the offensive glass - If worse comes to worse, give yourself more opportunities to score the ball. The Knicks should be inspired by the Chicago Bulls' relentless pursuit of rebounds and look to do the same thing. Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries both do this with their rebounding and tap-outs, but it should be a more concerted effort. Anthony, Fields, Smith, and even Toney Douglas can all rebound well, so they should be attack the offensive glass and trying to give the team more opportunities to score.

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