With their 102-96 loss to the Bucks last night, the Knicks, currently on a five-game skid, are obviously slumping.
The box score doesn't do how poorly the Knicks played justice, either. Not only did the Knicks never once the lead, but they were again spurned by Brandon Jennings, who continued to taunt them during his young career (even while going through a sophomore slump of sorts), for a season-high 37 points as he propelled his team to a win.
This should have been an easy win for the Knicks, especially considering how the Bucks routed them last week.
The new-look Knicks should be stomping on, let alone simply beating, many of the worse off teams they've been losing to. Everyone continues to understand that, but it'll continue to be said until the team starts winning again.
Instead of beating a dead horse about this, let's take a look at why this skid is occurring.
It's ironic that while the Knicks' defensive intensity has been lack luster as of late, more glaring has been the team's lack of ball movement down the stretch. The Knicks aren't so poor with the ball that they turn it over as much, but are simply unproductive.
The Knicks need to come to a point where there's fluidity in their offense again. Right now, when their point guard has the ball, be it Billups or Douglas, the rest of the team becomes stagnant during the half-court set. It's up to the floor generals to take charge.
Billups has been the leader of a championship winning team before as point guard of the Pistons. He has the intelligence and experience to help a team click. Though Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony may be the Knicks' bookends, Billups is at the center of the situation, as his success is crucial to that of his team's, much like has been the case with many more of D'Antoni's point guards.
Is Billups' true value to the Knicks at point guard, though? During much of his time on Team USA, where D'Antoni served as assistant coach, Billups was used often at shooting guard. Though much cannot be done at this point to move Billups over to the two (with no strong other point guard options except for Toney Douglas, who can tend to be more of a shooter himself), perhaps Billups rightful place in the Knicks' offense is as shooting guard.
If that's the case, however, Billups should be attacking the basket more for easy hoops, rather than setting up at the top of the key looking for an open teammate. Should he become that much more of a pressing threat, it could really open up things for the Knicks on offense.
While Billups may not be the fast-paced, pass-first point guard D'Antoni has been used to, it's up to the coach to recognize each of his players strengths. Highlighting Billups' scoring abilities and creating a three-headed monster on offense for the Knicks should ultimately be the goal.