New Buckets writer Joshua Sage talks about how the key to the Knicks winning a championship is having two studs, and how to make that happen:
Jordan & Pippen.
Shaq & Kobe.
Robinson & Duncan.
The perception amongst the media, fans, NBA GM’s and players, the unwritten rule, is that a title team needs two stars to carry the team to victory. All three duos listed above have all won multiple titles, so maybe they’re right. To that end, teams around the league have paired players together in an attempt to create that dynamic for themselves.
Deron Williams & Al Jefferson in Utah.
Carlos Boozer & Derrick Rose in Chicago.
Dwayne Wade & LeBron James in Miami.
These are the modern day duos meant to carry their teams to a championship. The first for the Jazz, the seventh for the Bulls and the second for the Heat. But who the hell cares about them, lets talk about the Knicks!
Donnie Walsh has spent the last 2+ years attempting to sign his dynamic duo exclusively through free agency. It was supposed to be LeBron James & Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire. Instead it’s just Amar’e. The lone star attempting to carry a young team to the playoffs after a disappointing summer.
Donnie Walsh is once again attempting to sign his dynamic duo, this time targeting Carmelo Anthony, the star scorer for the Nuggets who has made no secret of his desire to move on from Denver. Once again, a disgruntled star is making waves about possibly moving from his current home to the bright lights of The Big Apple. Once again, Donnie Walsh is putting all his hopes on the ever changing whims of free agents.
Perhaps there is another way for New York to have a dynamic duo of their own, perhaps Donnie should learn a little something from championship duos of the past, and the contending duos of today. Each one of the dynamic duos listed above has at least one player that was drafted by his team, a home grown talent paired with a free agent star. The old Bulls and the Spurs are the only exceptions, because their dynamic duos were comprised of nothing but home grown stars, that they drafted and groomed from the very beginning of their careers.
The Knicks haven’t exactly been known for drafting star players these past ten years, or good players even. Thanks Isiah [Editor's Note: David Lee, Trevor Ariza and Channing Frye might want to argue that while they ain't stars, they're at least good. However, point taken.]. But maybe the Knicks lucked into a star, maybe that missing half of New York’s dynamic duo arrived on draft night 2008, when New York selected a 20 year old from Italy. Coach Mike D’Antoni called Danilo the greatest shooter he had ever seen, this from the guy who used to coach Steve Nash, a career 43% three point sniper and 90% free throw shooter. Mike might not know anything about defense, I mean really he knows nothing about defense, but the man knows his offense.
Danilo hurt his back that year and despite his best efforts to play hurt, missed all but 28 games from his rookie campaign. His absence put into focus the rookie stats of center Brook Lopez and shooting guard Eric Gordon, who were both drafted after Danilo. Lopez averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds per game his first season with the New Jersey Nets, while Eric Gordon averaged 16 points per game on 38% shooting from beyond the arc for the Clippers. Both center and shooting guard are viewed by many as positions of need for New York. Was Danilo a star or did the Knicks miss out on drafting their star when they passed on both Lopez and Gordon?
In his first full season in the league, Danilo averaged 15.1 ppg on 38% shooting from range, numbers comparable to Gordon’s 16.9 ppg, and Brook’s 18.8 ppg, even though both Gordon and Lopez had a full season more under their belt than the Rooster. After suffering a wrist injury, Gallinari struggled out of the gate this year, but he has bounced back over the last six games, a stretch in which he averaged 20+ points per contest, nearly 10 foul shots a game and played well down the stretch for a Knicks team desperate for clutch scoring. The argument over who out of the three is the better prospect from the class of ’07 is far from over.
Against Minnesota, Gallo scored 25 points, going 9-9 from the free throw line. Versus Houston he only scored 14 points, with a couple of steals, but again attempted 9 free throws. In Denver he went off for 21 points with 10 rebound and 8 free throw attempts. He was back at the line in Sacramento, hitting 16 of his 17 free throws. scoring 27 points. He only attempted 6 free throws against Golden State but still managed 23 points. When it came time to face the Clippers, Gallo was certainly feeling it, going 7-11 from the field, 13-13 from the line and 4-6 from deep, tallying 31 points and grabbing 4 steals. He had 17 points, hitting 7 free throws, in the 4th quarter alone. Could we be seeing the birth of a star before our very eyes, the second half of New York’s dynamic duo?
Perhaps it’s too soon to tell, but this is certainly a good start. If all season long Gallo can keep a 20 point per game average, or close to it, then the Knicks will be in the playoffs and the chances of Melo arriving as a free agent go way up.
A dynamic duo turning into a terrific trio. Now there’s something Knicks fans can look forward to. Now if we could only find ourselves a coach that preaches defense.