It seems like just a few weeks ago New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets players were exchanging barbs in the press over which team owned New York. A month into the season and both teams are still battling, but it’s largely transmogrified into a dogfight to avoid being city’s most embarrassing team in decades. Fans of both teams have every right to be upset over the debacles happening on both sides of the East River, but which team is the bigger disappointment?
With the Nets at 5-12, .294%, and 4th in the Atlantic, they are a shade better than the Knicks’ 3-13, .188%- which drops them to the bottom of the division. The Knicks weren’t expected to run through the East this year, but the Nets were regularly cited as a lock to clinch the Atlantic Division. No one takes any pride in being at the bottom of the division, but the Nets’ stumble out of the gate is perhaps a bit more alarming considering what was expected of them. Besides, Knicks fans are most likely too horrified to even peak at the standings to notice that they are currently tied for having the worst record in the entire NBA. The only consolation here is that the entire Eastern Conference looks dreadful. Believe it or not only the Heat and Pacers are above the .500 mark.
Bigger Disappointment: Nets
Both teams are facing severe setbacks due to injuries. The Nets’ Deron Williams has only played nine games, while Brook Lopez has only played seven, and just yesterday it was revealed that Paul Pierce will be sidelined for two to four weeks. For an aging team now depending on the brittle knees of Kevin Garnet and Shaun Livingston, things really can’t look any bleaker. Well actually, that is unless there was a sole player they depended on like the Knicks’ Tyson Chandler who is out for six weeks. The moment Chandler hobbled off the court, the Knicks spiraled into complete disarray both on and off the floor. Without Chandler there to roam around the paint, the Knicks’ defense has been laughable, and their team camaraderie has seemingly dissipated overnight. There has already been multiple team meetings and various players feuding, so any question about Chandler’s value to the Knicks has certainly been answered. The Nets can still spring together a couple of wins without their stars. The Knicks, however, have barely won more than one game since he was here.
Bigger Disappointment: Knicks
The Nets’ prized acquisitions of Pierce and Garnett have never looked worse while Joe Johnson and Deron haven’t looked much better. Brook Lopez has looked good when he’s played, but he’s always an injury away from missing significant time. At one point, Shaun Livingston was a nice comeback story, but that only lasted about a week. Overall, the Nets don’t look like a team worthy of leading the division or even being much of a postseason threat. As for the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony’s rebounding numbers have been terrific but his shooting hasn’t (nearly a career low of .423). Bargnani has had some impressive scoring games but has been largely absent in the second half of many games while Felton has just looked terrible. The soon-to-be-moved Shumpert showed early signs of being on pace for a breakout season, but that went away as soon as Woodson inserted JR Smith back in the lineup to shoot the Knicks out of games. On an individual level, the players of both teams just don’t look that good this year, but it’s the Knicks’ player performance which is the bigger disappointment. With the Nets, I get the sense that they need more time to grow more comfortable in a collective role, especially KG and Pierce. The Knicks all look like their talent was sucked away by the Monstars squad from Space Jam.Bigger Disappointment: Knicks
If there’s one area the Knicks and Nets are equals on it’s definitely bad coaching. Both Mike Woodson and Jason Kidd look completely overwhelmed with the holes they are in and neither of them seems to have a good handle of the locker room. Kidd obviously has an excuse as a first-time coach, and perhaps could improve with more time to work his way through job training to prove his signing was more than a cute PR move. Woodson, on the other hand, fully deserves the hot seat he is on right now and has shown no signs of curbing his bizarre loyalty to JR Smith, regardless of much it has stunted the development of younger players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Shumpert. Kidd has been criticized as doing “nothing on the bench” during games, but Woodon’s criticism comes from the active role he takes in deconstructing an entire game through shortsighted substitutions and a fierce devotion to an iso-[insert scorer here] offense that’s never quite worked anywhere he’s coached.Bigger Disappointment: Knicks
The Knicks will always be a league leader in off-the-court side-shows, thanks to the strange world of James Dolan. So far we’ve heard comical stories like Dolan’s expectation of an NBA Championship, his anger at the Knicks City Dancers for dancing, his obsession with the Eagles, his crappy band, all of which culminated in his first sit down interview in seven years which presented much more questions than answers. Mikhail Prokhorov and Nets have largely been out of the spotlight, except, of course, for Kidd’s innocuous cup-gate incident and Kidd’s recent demotion of Lawrence Frank off the Nets’ bench to writing ‘player reports’. There’s never any question which team is always the biggest side-show in New York. Never.
Bigger Disappointment: Knicks
One thing the Knicks have going for themselves is a fairly tolerable schedule over the next 10 games, so if they have reached their nadir, they will have ample games to climb their way up the division ranks. With the East looking as bad as it does, that might not be saying much, but in a league where more than half the teams make the postseason, it’s a simple fact that the regular season doesn’t mean much. What the Nets have going for themselves is an owner who isn’t James Dolan. Be warned, though, Knick fans, because a bad loss to the rival Nets can set Dolan off on a dangerous frenzy that could result in more short-sighted trades and contract extensions that can give you a migraine. The season isn’t that young anymore, but a lot can happen between now and April. Despite that, there’s no denying that the Knicks look utterly lost and show no signs of much hope unless some drastic happens- a word that should make you nervous knowing that anything drastic would have to be driven by Dolan.