Saturday, December 24, 2011
D'Antoni... You're still a problem
Every one in New York is drinkin' the Tyson Chandler Kool-Aid these days. Luckily, your boi boi is keeping his mind right sippin' this Coconut Ciroc. What up Diddy?!? Recently, I've been hearing a lot of talk about how Chandler is the next KG destined to single handedly make the Knicks a defensive minded team. I'll say it one time: the Knicks are not the '07-'08 Celtics. There's no Kendrick Perkins on this roster, there's no Tony Allen, there's no Rondo, shit, there's no KG! Further, what's more important than not having KG is that we don't have Doc Rivers! Is it lost on people that Doc Rivers is one of the best defensive guards of the last 25 years? Additionally, the C's had Tom Thibodeau on the bench for the championship years. You simply can't compare the Knicks to the Celtics or Chandler to KG because that '07 Celtics team was the reflection of an entire organization committed to defense. What we have in New York is a team of big names with one defensive minded player who's never made an all-star game and a European style coach who refuses to coach defense.
Let's start with the Chandler-KG comparisons. As a 31 year old in Boston, KG pulled 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.4 stls, and scored 18.8 points with only 2.3 fouls in 32 minutes. Chandler's best statistical year was as a 24 year old in '06 - '07 where he averaged 12.4 boards, 1.8 blocks, and 9.5 points with sub-1.0 stls and assists per game plus 3.3 fouls in 34.6 minutes. While Chandler in his best year out-rebounded an aging KG, you see that Chandler he's never played the passing lanes like KG nor can he initiate offense through the high-post. The comparisons are ludicrous. Even comparing a 24 year old Chandler to a 31 year old KG, you realize that he's half the player DMX, err, Garnett is. ARF, ARF, ARF, get at me dog! Chandler may be a better rebounder than KG, but he's also doing it from the center position and has no other advantage over KG. The block differential is minimal and over his career, KG has better averages in both rbs and blks.
The better comparison for Chandler is Marcus Camby. Both are rangy centers with injury concerns that excel at defending weak-side and rebounding. When the Knicks had Camby in '98, we also had Patrick Ewing, Kurt Thomas, and Latrell Sprewell. I mean, come the fuck on! Not only was Sprewell an All-Defensive talent, but he invented spinning rims! Kurt Thomas played solid D, hit 15 footers, and cleaned the glass. I mean, even Chris Dudley could get 15 minutes a game with the 2011 Knicks. That dude was a hockey enforcer with a tank-top on. Shit, even Allen Houston who played little to no defense showed up to work every day with the illest caesar cut I've ever seen. Forget finding the next Tom Thibodeau, could someone hold me down and find Houston's barber? That dude was NICE!
But let's forget for a second that we aren't the '07 C's or the '98 Knicks, but that it is possible for the second coming of Marcus Camby aka Tyson Chandler to turn the Knicks around. A 29 year old Camby in '04-'05 pulled down 10 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3 blocks, .9 steals, and 10.3 points in 30.5 minutes with only 2.7 fouls for the Nuggets. Tyson Chandler in his best year as a 24 year old in '06-'07 only bests Camby in rebounds per game by 2.4. With Camby, we see again that defense isn't just rebounds and blocked shots, but playing the passing lanes and capitalizing on boards by starting the fast break. The really great defensive centers all know how to turn their efforts into easy buckets and it's not something Chandler has shown with a career .8 assists average. The only advantage Chandler has over Camby and KG is that he is a better on-the-ball defender against 7-footers. KG's got him with anyone under 7', but Tyson has bulked up over the years and does a good job on the block.
All that said, the biggest problem with the Knicks is the overall organizational philosophy. Last year, we had a problem with defense and we're finally understanding to address it, but one guy doesn't change the culture. KG didn't single handedly make the C's a defensive team. You had an entire organization from Danny Ainge to Doc Rivers to Tom Thibodeau to Kevin Garnett to anyone besides Brian Scalabrine that bought into defense. The C's were intimidating on and off the court from top to bottom. Does anyone realize the Knicks don't even have someone like Delonte West to smang Lebron's Mom or strike fear into people's hearts with herpes outbreaks! Who's gonna bring Carmelo doughnuts? "Planes, trains and automobiles yall better have my doughnuts!" - Delonte
The three biggest misconceptions in the hood are that Saigon popularized Entourage, 50-Cent made Vitamin Water, and that KG single handedly made the C's a defensive force. Doc Rivers throughout his career showed a commitment to defense and in his first gig as head coach took a band of misfits in Orlando to the playoffs. Prior to becoming the Magic coach in 1999, Rivers was mentored by Chuck Daly who we all know as the illest defensive coach of the late-80s. That first year in Orlando, Rivers had the vision to give a 6'9" Ben Wallace his first starting gig as a center. There was Darrell Armstrong running like a mad man around the perimeter and Bo Outlaw patrolling the base-line and high-post. With Doc Rivers orchestrating the defense and those three guys building the foundation a last-place team almost made the playoffs and Rivers won Coach of the Year without a single big name. Most Coach of the Year types walk into the award after being gifted someone like Lebron, Durant, Shaq or Penny. I'm always surprised why people don't call out the Mike Brown and Brian Hills of the world for getting those awards, but reality shows its face in the playoffs. Would a real NBA Coach of the Year type fumble around and fuck up the Russell Westbrook situation as badly as Brooks did?
More importantly, let's take a look at our own former Coach of the Year, Mike D'Antoni. This guy is the Mike Martz of the NBA except he hasn't even won a championship. He has an extreme view of the offense with little to no disregard for the repercussions of his offense. In the way that Mike Martz neglects the running game, D'Antoni neglects defense. The fact that numerous players have anonymously dropped quotes like the below, should cement the fact that D'Antoni should have never been a head coach in the first place.
"Coach knows offense... It would be nice to set plays, control pace and not jack up shots just because you're open. But that's what Coach does. You could live with it if we played defense. But obviously, we haven't done that much. Good, bad or otherwise, all I can say is that I've never seen anything like this." - Source, Stephen A. Smith
This player nailed it. You can't coach one side of the floor and expect to win games. Second, if you are going to go all-out, not control the ball, not look to take the best shot possible and just run-n-gun, then you HAVE to emphasize transition defense. D'Antoni teams don't. If they miss shots, they give up buckets, and then quickly in-bound the ball to try it once again. D'Antoni is literally coaching the Knicks like they're hookers at the point turning and burning tricks. But even the dumbest hookers play defense! Every one of those hos has mace, pepper spray, and a get away... The Knicks just have Tyson Chandler.
What we should look at is the 2000 Orlando Magic. Instead of continuing down the path that Doc Rivers carved out, the Magic blew up the team, traded Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins for Grant Hill. The Magic also signed Tracy McGrady and we see how that turned out. Despite Hill's injuries, McGrady led the Magic to 3 playoff appearances but never made it out of the first round with an explosive offense and non-existent defense. By year 3, Rivers was fired and landed in Boston. On the other hand, we all know what happened with Ben Wallace. He went to play for the anti-D'Antoni: Larry Brown. We've all heard the joke that the only person who could could keep MJ under 20 points is Dean Smith, Brown's mentor. Coach Brown's mentality has always been to start with defense, own the glass, execute in the half-court, and get back in transition. Simple, basic, basketball fundamentals that every one has heard since JCC Summer Basketball Camps. I went to Dennis Scott's but even his fat ass knew this shit. D'Antoni for some odd reason thinks that he's figured something out that the basketball gods haven't and we're dumb enough to ride this close to the sun with him. #Icarus. I'll tell you this now. I'd love to see the Knicks win it this year, but it's not going to happen if D'Antoni doesn't change his coaching philosophy. You simply can't win chucking shots early in the clock and not playing transition defense. We could have KG, Camby, Ben Wallace or Tyson Chandler. Take your pick, but the fact of the matter remains, basketball is a team sport and defense is played as a unit. There are rules to this game and D'Antoni simply doesn't respect them.