Take a deep breath, New York Knicks fans. It’s all going to be okay—I think.
I know that those guys in blue and orange have given you more than enough reason to pull your hair out and put your fist through a wall, but there’s still hope left in this team.
Chandler’s injury exposes NY’s horrendous defense
Oct 31, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) and New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) jump for the opening tip-off during the first quarter at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
First of all, Tyson Chandler is hurt. New York struggles with comprehending the concept of team defense, and losing their defensive anchor would be almost as painful to the offense as losing Carmelo Anthony. Almost.
Chandler is also the team’s only real big man. Andrea Bargnani is not an NBA-caliber center. Sure, he’s seven feet tall, but the former No. 1 draft is built softer than the sandiest beach in his native Italy. Bargnani is an effective scorer, but he simply can’t make up for Chandler’s absence on D.
ESPN NY’s Paul Willis reports that Chandler is moving towards a return from his fractured fibula in a couple of weeks.
According to Basketball Reference, the Knickerbockers have the third-worst defensive rating in the league, and much of that can be attributed to Chandler’s injury. But in addition to being a defensive bottom-feeder, New York has surprisingly had trouble scoring.
Melo needs help
Anthony is doing everything that he can to keep this team alive. In his 11th season, Melo has carried the Knicks with nearly 27 points and ten boards a night. The six-time All-Star has been the lone bright spot in an otherwise languid offensive attack, but that should change very soon.
Nov 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) on the bench against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
In a surprising turn of events, it’s clear that J.R. Smith still likes to shoot. After winning the 2012-13 Sixth Man of the Year Award last season, Smith has hit under 35 percent of his shots through the first 15 games of 2014. Where’s the good in this? Well, to be blunt, J.R. can’t get much worse. He’s been a burning hot-freezing cold type of player throughout his entire career, and he’s due for a hotstreak.
Iman Shumpert is going to be traded. I don’t like it and I think that the Knicks need to hold on to him, but after falling to 3-12 with eight straight losses, changes are going to be made. Shumpert is playing over 30 minutes a night and has failed to eclipse double digits in an alarming nine of his first 15 games. Kenneth Faried, Dion Waiters or whomever else New York manages to acquire in exchange for their struggling shooting guard will be a short-term move. While the Knicks will most likely lose in the long run with this potential deal, a new addition could help stop the bleeding.
Struggling Atlantic gives doesn’t doom Knicks
If you predicted that the Toronto Raptors would be leading the Atlantic Division with a 6-9 record after Thanksgiving and that the Knicks and Nets would combine for 24 losses through 31 games, you’re a liar.
The Atlantic has been absolutely atrocious, and the Knicks have been kings of the awfulness. However, despite sitting in last place, they’re just three games behind the division-leading Raptors. Oh, and remember that whole idea that the Philadelphia 76ers would tank for Andrew Wiggins? They’ve beaten the Miami Heat and have a better record than the Knicks after about a month of basketball.
But are we really going to say that Rudy Gay & Co. is better than a team with the 2013 scoring champion and Sixth Man of the Year?
Keep hope alive
Nov 20, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard Iman Shumpert (21) reacts to a foul call late during the fourth quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. The Pacers defeated the Knicks 103-96 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
So please Knicks fans, before totally giving on this team, let Chandler get healthy, let Smith catch fire and let Shumpert either get his game together or get traded.
If the team continues to get rolled and the Raptors continue leading the division by default, then let the water works begin.
And believe me, I’ll be right there with you.