One of the questions that surfaced in the Knicks’ Chandlerfest (since Melodrama every major move to New York has to have its own punny name) is who will play the point guard for New York if Chauncey Billups is jettisoned? From my perspective there are three options.
1. Toney Douglas/Iman Shumpert
You don’t need to be a disciple of Paul Ekman or Ray Birdwhistell to read D’Antoni’s body language when Toney Douglas is running the point. It’s pretty obvious to any observer that Mike D. is not happy with how the former Seminole sets up his teammates. On the other hand he may not have much of a choice given New York’s lack of acquisition options post-Chandler. I’m sure Anthony Carter would come back for a 13th year if asked, but you have to think that starting him or even giving him major minutes is beyond D’Antoni’s big blind spot for passing point guards. Shumpert was drafted for his athleticism and doesn’t have good shooting instincts, which means he isn’t likely to pass D’Antoni’s high criteria for point guards. Besides how bad can the offense be with Douglas and Shumpert at the point considering Amar’e and Carmelo would be taking a majority of the shots?
2. Carmelo Anthony
Why does it have to be a point guard that runs the offense? Averaging 3.0 ast/36, there’s no reason that Anthony can’t run the show. What Knick fan isn’t dying to see more pick & roll plays featuring ‘Melo and Amar’e? Besides Carmelo seems most comfortable in the offense with the ball in his hands.
3. Amar’e Stoudemire
Remember David Lee’s last year in New York where D’Antoni made him the point-center? Lee racked up 3.5 ast/36 and laughed his way to an $80M deal with Golden State. New York had a respectable offense that year (17th overall) considering they gave nearly 5000 minutes to Chris Duhon, Jared Jeffries, Larry Hughes, and Tracy McGrady.
Amar’e is capable of hitting an 18 footer, so having him run the offense from the perimeter doesn’t seem so far fetched. The Knicks wouldn’t be giving up their rebounding with Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony, and Landry Fields in the mix. And having Stoudemire play ball handler doesn’t preclude him from diving to the basket either. Lee averaged the same amount of shots at the rim and from close range during the 2010 season.
Obviously there are other choices as well. New York could sign a veteran like Delonte West, Baron Davis, or Mike Bibby. They can re-enact their Chris Duhon experiment and reach into the reject bin for a Ben Uzoh or Chris Quinn. Neither method will likely come up with a better player than a Douglas/Shumpert tandem.
And perhaps the bigger question isn’t who will run the offense but how will the team improve. Giving minutes to stout defenders Douglas, Shumpert, and Chandler will certainly improve the team’s defense. Last year the team was 22nd on defense, and if they can have a league average defense (while keeping the same offense) that should translate to something like 7 extra wins (during a normal length season). Even a small slip in offense (from 7th to 10th) and a top 10 defense (certainly obtainable) would still mean a .600 win percentage. Personally I think the Knicks will go with a combination 1 & 2 and a sprinkle of 3, until D’Antoni figures out which one suits him best.
[ED NOTE: D'Antoni said that Douglas would be the PG, but 'Melo run the point. Don't think that for a second we won't see a healthy portion of Douglas or Amar'e running the show, especially when 'Melo hits the pine.]