With training camp less than two months away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the New York Knicks.
Today’s question: Will the Knicks' defense be an issue again?
I think the Knicks’ defense will have its challenges again this season. I also believe that Derek Fisher will get the Knicks to play better D by installing a better scheme.
Last season, the Knicks were often confused on defense and all the switching did not go smoothly. They also looked completely unmotivated at times on that end of the floor.
While Fisher may have some growing pains in his first season as a head coach, he should be able to get the Knicks to be more motivated on defense.
However, the personnel’s strong suit isn’t on the defensive end. And Phil Jackson’s biggest trade thus far involved sending the team’s defensive anchor, Tyson Chandler, to Dallas. The Knicks got a defending big back in Samuel Dalembert but the key piece in that deal, Jose Calderon, isn’t exactly known for his defensive prowess.
Let’s start at point guard with Calderon. He clearly will help the team with his outside and locker room presence. He averages just under one steal a game for his career and the 6-3 point guard, like his predecessor Raymond Felton, will have difficulty keeping speedy and athletic point guards in front of him. The same thing goes for Pablo Prigioni. Shane Larkin, the other point guard that came in the Chandler trade, will have to prove himself in order to get minutes. Even then, he’s 5-11 so his size hurts defensively.
The Knicks need Iman Shumpert to be their best overall defender. Jackson had success with an athletic swingman creating offense off of steals much in the way Scottie Pippen did for the Bulls. Shumpert is no Pippen, but he will have to be a sparkplug defensively for this team.
J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony are not great defenders and will have to step up when their opponents have the ball. Anthony can help on the boards with Chandler gone. Tim Hardaway Jr. showed great promise last season but defensively he has much to improve on.
The Knicks do have some capable shot blockers in Amar'e Stoudemire, Dalembert and Jason Smith. Even Andrea Bargnani can block shots, averaging 1.2 blocks in 42 games last season. But can all those bigs stay healthy? None are intimidating on the back end, especially with Stoudemire's knees keeping him from playing the way he did when he was younger.
The Knicks will have to find a way to replace Chandler’s defensive presence and IQ inside. Chandler blocked 1.1 shots a game last season but often affected other shots with his length and he was a good help defender. Somebody will have to hold the last line of defense, communicate and make sure everybody is on the same page. Kenyon Martin could help in that department a bit but he's a free agent and he also was limited by injuries last season.
Defense was an issue last year. Even with a new coach and some new blood on the team, it looks like it will be an issue for this team again.
Question: Do you think the Knicks' defense will be an issue this season?