The Knicks ranked last in the NBA, allowing, 110.9 points per 100 possessions through six games, when they put assistant coach Kurt Rambis in charge of defense. New York has allowed 107.7 points per 100 possessions, the equivalent of 25th, since.
Apparently, that climb from horrendous to ordinarily bad hasn’t satisfied some players – and they’re pointing fingers.
Some veterans have begun to privately express frustration over the club’s defensive schemes, per sources. The defense is led by associate head coach Kurt Rambis and entered play Tuesday ranked 27th in defensive efficiency.
Surely, the coaches designing those defensive schemes would say the disgruntled veterans could give better effort on that end of the floor. And so it goes.
The Knicks’ defense has actually looked less discombobulated under Rambis, though it was due for regression to the mean after just six games anyway. Still, the Knicks foul too much without actually forcing turnovers or grabbing defensive rebounds. They’re physical when already beat, not when it can make a positive impact.
New York’s fundamental issue defensively is personnel, which falls on Phil Jackson. Derrick Rose is a defensive minus at the point of attack. Anthony usually cares little about that end. Joakim Noah is a shell of his former self.
Could the schemes improve? Yes. Could the effort improve? Yes. But as long as the roster stays the same, the defensive upside is limited. There’s only so much blame for the players and coaches to place on each other while Jackson looks down from on high.