As the Knicks prepare to take the court at the New Orleans Arena tonight, perhaps one of the thoughts going through Chris Paul's mind is, Imagine if I played in the Knicks' fast-paced offensive system.
While Paul is averaging 16.1 points, 10.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game and the Hornets are putting up 95.7 points a night, Knicks point guard Raymond Felton's numbers are 18.2 ppg, 8.1 apg and 4.1 rpg -- all increases from last season -- and the Knicks are third in the league in scoring at 107 points per game.
"I'm a huge fan of Coach [Mike] D'Antoni’s, and he really has those guys going right now," Paul said (ProBasketballTalk). "And any time you have a personality like Amare [Stoudemire] on your team and Raymond running your show, you're going to be tough."
Of course, that will get some Knicks fans thinking, Imagine how much tougher the team will be with Paul -- literally, tougher.
While Felton and Stoudemire are rolling right now off the pick-and-roll and the rest of the starting five is contributing, the Hornets are one of the best defensive teams, holding opponents to the second-fewest points per game (91.3; the Magic are first at 91.1). Paul, who will be guarding Felton, has very quick hands -- he leads the league in steals per game (3.1) -- and Emeka Okafor, who will be on Stoudemire, is a mobile and aggressive defender, and is tied for fifth in the league in blocked shots (2.2).
With Paul and Okafor anchoring the Hornets' defense from the perimeter to the paint, respectively, they started the season as the one of the NBA's hottest teams, going 11-1. While the Knicks have been better lately, going 5-1, and the Hornets have dropped four of their last six, Paul has to realize his team wouldn't be 13-5 without its shutdown defense. Tonight, each team will have a major challenge: the Hornets stopping the league's best scoring team on the road (109.6 ppg) and the Knicks getting past the wasps, which have the ability to mobilize the entire nest to sting in defense.
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