New York media don’t believe it. Knicks fans are not convinced. But Mike D’Antoni knows it down the core of his being.
His system can win.
And because he believes it, he is not changing the coaching staff or the system. Not one thing.
“We’re not throwing anybody under the bus,” D’Antoni said. “That’s not going to happen.”
The real question is what team president Donnie Walsh believes.
However, sources close to the Knicks president say that Walsh is concerned about the team’s defensive woes. The best way to solve the problem is to acquire defensive-minded players. But the culture also needs to change, and yesterday D’Antoni, who has a reputation for being rigid, made it clear that his system works.
With the Knicks on pace for a second straight 50-loss season under D’Antoni and the team struggling defensively, the assumption is that the defensive-minded Walsh will want to address the issue during the off-season.
You have got to love the way this glosses over the crappy Knicks roster to get to the “real problem” of the system. As if there is a system out there that could make this roster good.
Let’s be clear — the Knicks defense does suck. The best measure is points given up per possession (look at it this way: at the end of the game each team is going to have had the same number or trips up and down the court, it’s the team that is most efficient with them that wins). The Knicks are 24th in the league in points surrendered per possession. (Their offense is a middle-of-the-road 18th in the league by this measure).
D’Antoni’s teams have never been great defenders, but they have been okay. His 06-07 Suns team was 13th in the league in defense by possession. His teams continually lived within a few spots of the league average. They were not good, but they were not bad — and with an overpowering offense that was good enough.
Good enough to win a title? Maybe, maybe not (Steve Kerr ended the experiment prematurely). But the defensive problems stem from a roster of terrible athletes and the fact they have to start 6’9″ David Lee at center. It’s about matchups, about players. Bring in a defensive coach if you want — you give John Wooden these players and their defense will suck.
Fix the roster and then you can fairly judge the coaching staff. Right now, how can you tell?