Why are the New York Knicks struggling so much after acquiring Carmelo Anthony from Denver?

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Answered by: Raymond, An Expert in the NBA Basketball Category
When Carmelo Anthony was dealt from Denver to New York in a trade that saw Raymond Felton leave the Knicks, New York lost a good playmaker (i.e., someone who can create good shots for his teammates and run an efficient offense), but gained an above-average playmaker in Chauncey Billups. However, upon the start of the 2012 season, the New York Knicks used their amnesty clause to waive Billups in order to make room (in regards to salary) for defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler.

The Knicks thought that Chandler would increase the level of their overall defense, and perhaps he has-- the Knicks are allowing 10 fewer points per 100 possessions in 2012 than they did in 2011. Unfortunately for New York, they now have no solid point guard to run their offense. Their only potential playmaker, Baron Davis, is not only out of his prime, but has yet to play a game in the shortened 2012 season, as he has been sidelined with a back injury. Carmelo Anthony was never regarded as a quality playmaker, and for good reason. He specializes in isolation plays, which can cause the offense to stagnate, and this is almost completely contrary to playing winning basketball as a team.

Amare Stoudemire, as well, is not nearly the player he has the potential to be unless he's paired with a point guard who has exceptional passing ability. His 2012 PER (player efficiency rating-- an approximate measure of how productive a player is while on the court) is the lowest it's ever been in his career, whereas when Stoudemire was in Phoenix, with future Hall-of-Fame point guard Steve Nash, his numbers were through the roof. Even when paired with Raymond Felton, a good passer in his own right (but no Steve Nash), Amare was a very efficient offensive player.

Many critics of the Knicks' style of play and coach Mike D'Antoni, who is notorious for his lack of emphasis on team defense, would be quick to claim that New York doesn't play good enough defense, and that is the cause of their underwhelming 7-10 record. Despite the reputations of the Knicks and D'Antoni himself, they may be wrong. The New York Knicks are 11th in the league in Defensive Rating (points allowed per 100 possessions), and an abysmal 23rd in Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 possessions).

As simple-- perhaps too simple-- as it may sound, when a team's two best offensive weapons are forced to create nearly all their shots on their own, without the help of a good point guard, their offense will struggle. As such, due to the fact that the Knicks go as Anthony and Stoudemire go, New York's offense appears much worse through statistics than on paper, and it shows in the win-loss column.

When New York traded Raymond Felton and waived Chauncey Billups, they essentially doomed their offense by forcing them to ride the backs of two ball-stopping superstars and an aging, injured point guard. Whether one wishes to say that Carmelo Anthony's and Amare Stoudemire's inefficient styles cause the offense to stall, or that the stagnant offense causes the two players to be inefficient, each feeds the other in a twisted, and surely unwanted symbiosis of perpetual disappointment for New York.

A healthy Baron Davis, who is set to return soon, may be the answer. If he's unable to produce at the level necessary for a championship-caliber offensive team, however, the Knicks' front office and coaching staff will have no one to blame for their troubles except themselves.

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