Seven seconds or less was the perfect Steve Nash offense. It was Joe Montana in a West Coast formation.
Nash is quick up the court, the best decision maker in the game, can shoot almost as well as he can pass. The offense was designed for him. It’s as close as turning a player loose to do what he wants as can happen in the NBA.
Chauncey Billups is not Steve Nash. Not better or worse, but different. More deliberate. He’s not nearly as quick as Nash. He is not suited for the classic Mike D’Antoni offense.
Nor is Carmelo Anthony, really. ‘Melo likes to work out of isolation sets, which clashes with a system designed on the idea of constant ball movement.
Howard Beck at the New York Times lays all that out and notes D’Antoni is the one that has to adjust his playbook to the talent he has been given.
“Probably,” D’Antoni said Thursday. “Really, there’s all kinds of different ways you can play it, and we’re going to try to maximize just what the players do….”
“We’re always going to be a little bit of an iso, one-on-one kind of a team, which, to be honest with you, is pretty good,” D’Antoni said, a declaration that would have made jaws drop in Phoenix.
He followed with some important qualifiers: that the Knicks cannot “totally fall into” a one-on-one game, that the ball still needs to move, that the floor should be spaced and that the scoring should be shared.
D’Antoni is bending his principles, but he is not about to shatter them.
“I think we’ll meet some place halfway in between,” he said Thursday, “because we don’t want to lose what Melo and those guys do the best. A lot of it is going one-on-one. They’re the best in the league at it.”
Beck breaks out the numbers — the Knicks are averaging 5 more possessions a game that are isolations or post ups now than they did before the trade. But they are actually averaging nearly one more possession a game than pre-trade. So maybe everyone is finding a compromise.