For much of the past few years, the words defense and New York Knicks simply just didn’t go together. Watching the Knicks attempt to stop the opposition during the Mike D’Antoni era was as funny as any sitcom you could find on network television.
But that was then and this is now.
The Knicks have added the defensive minded coach in Mike Woodson, have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler and in the past year have added a great interior defender in Marcus Camby and great perimeter defenders in Iman Shumpert and Ronnie Brewer. They have also added point guards Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, who both have been capable defenders in the past.
Its official to say that these aren’t D’Antoni’s Knicks anymore as this current group has the ability to get after opposing teams on the defensive end of the floor. But that begs the question of exactly how good these Knicks can be defensively?
When that question was posed to Brewer by ESPNNewYork’s Ian Begley, he responded with “I think the sky’s the limit.”
Personally I think there are some truths and some flaws to that statement, but one thing that’s certain is that the Knicks have made huge strides to becoming a good defensive basketball team.
I always say that during the postseason, getting stops is just as important as getting baskets and that’s something the Knicks couldn’t do in the past.
However, with Chandler in the middle in 2012, the Knicks finished fifth in the league defensive efficiency (a measure of points allowed per 100 possessions), up from 21st in 2010-11. Once Woodson took over for D’Antoni, the Knicks really put forth the effort on the defensive end of the floor and allowed only 89.5 points per game the final 24 regular season games. That helped them lower their season total to 94.9 and finish 11th in the league in points allowed.
With the new additions this season, it would be common knowledge that the Knicks would improve even more in a full season under Woodson.
However, Shumpert, one of the NBA’s best young perimeter defenders is out likely until January, which will limit the Knicks a little on the defensive end, but if the Knicks are to really become a good defensive team, it is on the shoulders of Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to commit on the defensive end for an entire season, which is where the Knicks may be flawed.
Both are superstars, but are viewed as weak links defensively, mostly due to their lack of effort at that end of the floor. However Brewer feels that they will catch on and be just fine.
“With Coach Woodson being a defensive-mentality coach (and) when you see guys like Tyson, myself and Shump giving that extra effort, to me it’s contagious,” Brewer said.
“It’s human nature for a player to jump on the floor if they see their teammates doing it. … If you see somebody going hard to the boards and giving it their all, you feel like it’s your duty. You’ve got to do that.”
That seems likely from both guys as both Stoudemire and Anthony are committed to winning a championship in the Big Apple, but they both still remain question marks at the defensive end.
The effort has to be there from the two superstars. when things go bad, the first thing that usually goes is the effort on the defensive end.
One good thing this year is Woodson’s ability to put a defensive team on the floor late in the game that could feature Shumpert, Brewer, Camby and Chandler. But it’s hard to see Anthony not being on the floor late in games, which means he needs to up the effort defensively for 82 games.
I’m actually not over concerned with it as ‘Melo knows what’s at stake, but it’s also something we’ve never seen out of STAT or ‘Melo for an entire season. If they can do that, well this team can be a very good defensive unit.
Exactly how good?
Well that’s entirely up to Stoudemire and Anthony to show us.
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