NBA Season Wrap Up: New York Knicks

5/21/13 in NBA   |   droth   |   127 respect

The Conference finals are now underway, but for 12 of this year's 16 playoffs teams, the long offseason has already begun.  We are taking a look at each playoff team as they're eliminated, exploring what went wrong and what they need to do to take the next step next year.  You can see all of the Eastern Conference teams we've analyzed here.

New York Knicks:

The Knicks were supposed to be the team that could give the Heat a run for their money.  They had the scoring May 18, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) stands on the free throw line against the Indiana Pacers in game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sportschampion and they played great basketball during the latter part of the season.  And now, after losing in six games to Indiana, the finger pointing begins.

There's plenty of blame to go around; JR Smith, Carmelo, Mike Woodson, Jason Kidd, and the rest of the gang have some reflecting to do.  But what people will remember about this playoff run is that JR Smith went out at night and apparently used up all his energy because he hardly contributed at all on the court.  

But JR Smith missing bad shots isn't the real problem. It's a symptom of the real problem: when the Knicks don't move the ball, they're just not very good.

Jason Kidd verbalized it less than a month ago when he said, "When we move the ball we’re pretty good. When the ball sticks, we try to go 1 on 1, we become one of the bottom teams in the league."  I tend to trust Jason Kidd when it comes to matters of ball movement.

Sure, the fact that the Knicks had the fewest turnovers in the league this season is great, but they also had the fewest assists.  Raymond Felton led the team with 5.5 assists per game, which is just not going to cut it.  They went from a middle of the pack offensive pace last year to the fifth slowest this year.  

We all remember the Knicks that were supposed to contend.  They got up and down the floor and moved the ball around to a wide open shooter.  In the regular season, the 15.5% of the Knicks shots came from isolation, resulting in .87 points per possession.  In the playoffs that number jumped to 26.6% of their shots and they only scored .707 points per possession.

It makes sense that in the playoffs, against more focused defenses, you may have to revert to what you're more comfortable with.  But as long as isolation is what they're more comfortable with, each year's playoff run will end when the jumpers stop falling for some reason or another.

Despite the disappointing results, the Knicks still had a nice season.  They won 54 games and the Atlantic division.  They'll be in the hunt next year too but Carmelo Anthony needs to take it upon himself to reshape the team's identity.  He needs to do what a 24-year old Kevin Durant did going into this year: stop caring about the numbers and focus on improving his all around game and leadership skills.  We've been saying that for years, but the Knicks aren't going anywhere until it happens.
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