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Friday, January 27, 2012
What's wrong with the Knicks?

By By Justin Havens and Alvin Anol, ESPN Stats & Info

Expectations were high for the New York Knicks this season, with a full season of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler playing together.

But a little more than a month into the season, the Knicks sit at 7-11 and are 10th in the Eastern Conference, already five games behind the surprising Philadelphia 76ers in their division.

The Knicks are 21-25 since trading for Anthony. At the time of the trade last season, they were 28-26.

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets, the team that gave up Anthony, have gone 30-12 since the trade, the third-best record in the NBA behind the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder in that time.

The question now is where have the Knicks gone wrong?

Carmelo Trade a Mistake?
The Knicks are much the same team in terms of points allowed, points scored and field goal percentage before and after the Anthony trade over the past two seasons.

So it begs the question of whether trading for Anthony was a mistake, and if the Knicks would be better off with Danilo Gallinari.

This season, Gallinari ranks 10th in the NBA in Win Shares per 48 Minutes and his Player Efficiency Rating has risen from 15.7 to 21.2 this season.

Meanwhile, Anthony’s PER is a 20.8 this season, and his Effective Field Goal Percentage is 10.3 percent lower than Gallinari’s.

Overreliance on Isolation
This season, 15.8 percent of the Knicks offensive plays have come in isolation, the highest percentage in the NBA.

But the results haven’t been there, as, in isolation, the Knicks average 0.67 points per play, 25th best in the NBA, and shoot 30.3 percent, 29th in the NBA.

Two of the main culprits have been the Knicks superstars, Anthony and Stoudemire. 101 players in the NBA have run at least 20 plays in isolation this season, and of those, Anthony ranks 79th in points per play (0.65) and Stoudemire 84th (0.62).

D’Antoni’s Offense Didn’t Travel
In his last four seasons with the Phoenix Suns, current Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni led the Suns to the best offensive efficiency in the NBA in each season.

However, that offense has yet to be discovered in New York.

In D’Antoni’s first two seasons with the Knicks, New York ranked 17th and 15th in offensive effiency. Last season, the Knicks were an impressive fifth, but this year, it’s slipped to a paltry 24th out of 30 teams.

Unfortunately, the same porous defense that plagued D’Antoni in Phoenix has traveled to New York.

The Suns were 16th or worse in defensive efficiency in D’Antoni’s last four years. In his first three years with the Knicks, they ranked outside the top 20 in all three years. This year, however, New York has just cracked the top 10, a tie for ninth.

The key to D’Antoni’s sparkling offense in Phoenix might not have been D’Antoni himself, but the players running the offense. In the first two seasons after D’Antoni left, the Suns still led the NBA in offensive efficiency, and their mark rose from 97.1 in D’Antoni’s last season to 111.2 the next season.