(It’s just a week into the 2013-2014 NBA season and the New York Knickerbockers absolutely stink. At 1-3, the Knicks are somehow worse than their record suggests: center and defensive anchor Tyson Chandler broke his leg in Tuesday’s game against Charlotte, putting him on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. The fan base, already a pessimistic lot, have gone into a full-fledged panic…though it’s hard to classify their anger as “panic”. “Panic” would assume that they had faith in this team to begin with.
I corresponded with MAMBINO co-founder BockerKnocker regarding this turn of events, and how it affects this year’s Knicks)
KOBEshigawa: Just to set up everyone with some context, how did you feel about YOUR…New York Knickerbockers before Tyson Chandler’s injury?
BockerKnocker: The major players in the Eastern Conference had all improved their standing, save for two teams. The Miami Heat didn’t get better, but they are still unquestionably the league’s premier team. The New York Knicks, on the other hand got worse.
I was an Andrea Bargnani detractor from the get-go. He can’t do anything that the average NBA player can do, aside from perimeter shooting. To justify the absurd price that Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri posted for Il Mago, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson would have to play him big minutes. A big uh-oh.
Anybody who pegged New York to finish higher than 4th in the East was engaging in wishful thinking.
KOBEsh: ….and now even your “lofty” expectations have to have taken a huge hit with the news that Tyson Chandler will be out for 4-6 weeks following a non-displaced fracture in his leg. For the uninitiated, this is the very same type of injury that knocked Steve Nash out of most of last season–the effects of which are still affecting the Lakers point guard to this day.
How much will Chandler’s absence hurt the Knicks? How, in your estimation, was he affecting the team before his injury?
BK: Let’s be perfectly clear: Tyson Chandler is a fantastic individual defender. You can’t be a DPOY without being such. However, the way you phrased this specific question is perfect for how I’ve been feeling.
Chandler’s impact is lessened by both Mike Woodson’s defensive philosophy and the sieves who employ said philosophy. Switching on every screen is not only maddening to the intelligent viewer, but it creates far too many efficient mismatches for the opposition. Just this past week, Knicks fans saw Kenyon Martin checking Kemba Walker and Bargnani trying to keep up with Ricky Rubio. Additionally, using this philosophy discourages the screened defender to be on his toes and play defense in a reactive way.
The individual defense is awful and exacerbates the problem. Raymond Felton gets consistently beat off the dribble due to laziness and lack of IQ. What Pablo Prigioni makes up for in both of those facets, he gives away in lateral quickness and overall athleticism. Carmelo Anthony and Bargnani get criticism for defensive performance, and with due regard. But the point guards are the main cause of New York’s defensive breakdowns.
Iman Shumpert is a brick wall on the perimeter, but he gets neutralized when offenses use picks to isolate him away from the ball (because everybody knows about the “switch” philosophy). He also is immaturely aggressive too often, which has resulted in early foul trouble. This gives the opposition’s best player a free pass.
Chandler can’t make up for all the defensive inadequacies to which his teammates have become accustomed. Nobody can. When he won DPOY, he jokingly said, “I’d like to thank my teammates for getting beat.” (Author note: not exact quote). But he wasn’t kidding.
Chandler going down won’t really affect the team. They’re that bad. Minnesota put up 40 in the first 12 minutes if play. Charlotte, the lowest scoring team in the league, put up 60+ in one half. It’s a damn shame that Chandler has to deal with this.
KOBEsh: It will come to the surprise of no one reading this then that you’re really down on this Knicks team. Just how unlikeable are the 2013-2014 Bockers? When is the last time they reached these depths of fan support?
BK: Likeability depends heavily on how hard a player or a team works. So in this case, this Bocker team is very unlikeable. I hated Mike D’Antoni, and I still do; his teams, however, bought in, regardless of whether they were brainwashed into thinking that a no-defense system would actually work. David Lee and Wilson Chandler were never cut out to be primary options. But they cared. Those teams weren’t unlikeable.
Taking a look at this roster makes me want to vomit. Shumpert, Metta World Peace, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Prigioni are the only guys who try on every single play. And their combined salaries barely eclipses $10 million!
In my lifetime, this franchise hasn’t been as unlikeable as it is now. These jerks are selfish and lazy. They’ve been bad before, but they haven’t been as much of a product of owner James Dolan, as much as they are right now. They deserve to suffer.