There is no denying that the Knicks have amped things up on the defensive end, hovering between a top 10 and top 15 defensive squad through the first thirteen games of the young NBA season.
Tyson Chandler's presence has been key, helping propel the Knicks to victory due to their defensive effort a few times already this season. What's more, with former Hawks coach Mike Woodson on the bench, and Carmelo Anthony committing to clamp down on defense all throughout the lockout, it's safe to say an elevated defense has certainly become the expectation from Knicks' brass.
MSG Network's Alan Hahn notes in the clip above that as the Knicks' defense has improved, their personnel has also changed, so much so, that they have no longer been able to spread the floor on offense effectively.
The likes of Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Shawne Williams were utilized to spread the floor last season, knocking down corner threes as well as drawing out to defenders in order to free up Amar'e Stoudemire down low.
With Tyson Chandler now manning the five position, there is one less player to place behind the three point line. Furthermore, the Knicks are now left to use out of place players Josh Harrellson and Landry Fields, among others, beyond the arc.
Though Harrellson has responded well, converting on 14 of 38 three-point shots (good for 37%), he was never known to be a prominent long-range shooter at Kentucky. In fact, the rookie was originally drafted due to his ability to bump and bruise opponents on the defensive end. His natural ability and expertise is certainly not on offense. Though the Knicks have been criticized for their lack of defensive effort over the years, the new lack of long-range shooters has created a new yet unfamiliar void for the team.
Fields is clearly not the one to fill that void, appearing out of whack that far away from the basket. His strengths come from playing without the ball, not from firing bombs away beyond the arc.
Whether the reason for such struggles be the Knicks' lack of a floor general to set up teammates properly, or simply not the ideal personnel to execute on long-range shooting, it's clear this is a first for a Mike D'Antoni led team.
How (and if) the Knicks will overcome such shortcomings remains to be seen, but in any event, it appears as though the team could use a healthy balance of both defense and long-range shooting if they plan on becoming being recognized as a contender.