NYK Weekly Report: Melo is Melo, Ray can play, and three is key
The Knicks made it through the first week of the season with a 104-84 win over the Heat, and a 100-84 win over the 76ers. With dominant wins over a championship team and a playoff team, the grade I give the Knicks for their first week is an "A" - only because I'm saving "A+" for weeks that include dominance on the road. Here are some notes from the Knicks' first two games:
Critics of Carmelo Anthony just need to stop. He's not the problem and never was the problem. Now that he has some decent point guard play - a topic I'll get to in a moment - alongside him, he can be himself and take over games scoring the basketball. He's averaging 28.5 points per game on 20-46 shooting (5-12 from three) with 7.5 rebounds. He only had three assists through the first two games, but that is not a problem - the Knicks don't need Carmelo to rack up assists. The Knicks need Carmelo to score within the flow of the offense, along with rebounding and playing defense, and he has done that very well.
The additions of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd have been huge so far. The biggest problem with last year's team was that the ball didn't move. People took pleasure in blaming Carmelo, but it wasn't his fault - he's simply not a facilitator, so to blame him was unfair. The two new point guards are only averaging a combined 9.5 assists per game, but it's not the numbers that matter. They are constantly moving the ball throughout the offense, which keeps the opposing defense moving, in effect tiring them out, which ultimately results in a man coming open to knock down an easy shot.
One of the brightest and scariest results of the first two games is the exceptional three-point shooting. The Knicks have gone 30-63 from behind the arc. The bright spot is that the team is finding open shooters, and that they have several guys who can knock down the deep ball. The scary part is that they have no shot at maintaining such a high percentage, and once that percentage goes down, they can't continue to take such a high volume of threes.
A few other notes: Ronnie Brewer has been great, providing a little bit of everything and fitting into a small, but important role... Kurt Thomas can't put up numbers, but can still give the Knicks quality minutes off the bench with defense and rebounding... Pablo Prigioni has been a good facilitator on offense, but has struggled to stay with the younger, quicker guards on defense... Rasheed Wallace looks like he can still play in extremely limited minutes... The Knicks are -2 in rebound margin, but will hopefully see Marcus Camby return by the end of this week to improve that number... Head coach Mike Woodson has the team playing exceptionally smart team defense.
This week's Knicks games: Monday @ PHI, Friday vs. DAL.