The Knicks are bad. Let’s not split hairs about this. They’re awful. They need a savior, someone who can rescue them from the Eastern Conference doldrums.
Good thing two superheroes in Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani, neither of whom has played this season, are on their way back.
From the New York Post‘s Marc Berman:
The Knicks’ 115-99 blowout loss to the Timberwolves on Wednesday night could be the last time they play without Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon.
The Knicks are laying the groundwork not only for Bargani to make his season debut Saturday against the winless Sixers but also for Calderon to join him.
There have been so many setbacks along the way, Knicks coach Derek Fisher is being cautious about penciling them in for Saturday. But it’s in the designs.
The Knicks won’t officially practice Thursday, but Calderon and Bargnani are expected to conduct a 3-on-3 scrimmage with Fisher bringing in some younger players to participate. Friday’s practice will feature a full-blown scrimmage after which it will be determined if Calderon’s calf injury and Bargnani’s hamstring injury are history.
Calderon said he expects to be cleared for contact by doctors Thursday.
NBA Finals, here the Knicks come!
Why, yes, I am being facetious.
Calderon and Bargnani aren’t going to save the Knicks. The latter especially. Bargs has been a statistical detriment since joining the team. If he helps the Knicks in any way, however slightly, it will be crazy shocking.
Running with Calderon won’t help much either. He’s a great three-point shooter, but the Knicks don’t shoot nearly enough threes. He’s also not a defensive upgrade over Shane Larkin or Pablo Prigioni. He’ll help the Knicks most as someone who ensures they don’t deviate from the triangle too frequently, like they’ve been wont to do thus far.
But it’s defense that has killed the Knicks. They’ve been torched in consecutive games by the Bucks and Timberwolves—two of league’s worst offenses, the latter of which was missing both Ricky Rubio and Thaddeus Young.
Until the Knicks start playing more consistent defense—or get any help at all—they’re doomed to follow their current path all season. Worse still, it’s not like the triangle has been spectacular. Though the Knicks are scoring for stretches at a time, they’re shot selection is archaic. They’re shooting too many mid-range jumpers, failing to shoot enough threes and proving inept at getting to the basket. Their system needs to be manipulated and contorted and butchered and reinvented to include more threes. A passing-savvy big man who can also score in the post without dribbling for 18 seconds also wouldn’t hurt.
Yes, the Knicks can point to injuries as the bacteria behind their early-season malaise. But the problems they have won’t disappear with the returns of Calderon and Bargnani. Rather, they need a full 48 minutes of effort on both ends of the floor from everyone—seriously, the slow starts have been ridiculous—they need to take more efficient shots and, perhaps most importantly, they need better players.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com.