The title of this post is a familiar refrain you’ll see Knicks fans and media members regurgitate from time to time when Amar’e dribbles a ball off his foot or commits some kind of turnover. What follows is some kind of variation on the theme that Amar’e is a player who needs to be “set up” and the current Knicks perimeter players are ill equipped to set him up properly.
Now, I’ve gone on record that I do not believe Raymond Felton is adept at delivering an entry pass. Quite the contrary. I think he is awful at delivering an entry pass. However, the fact that Felton and the rest of the Knicks perimeter players are not proficient passers is not the problem here. The aspect of Steve Nash’s game that Amar’e misses the most is his dead-eye accurate shooting. Watch how other teams guard Amar’e. They essentially pack the paint and dare the Knicks to beat them from the outside. Unfortunately, Felton, Chandler, Douglas, and Fields are not capable of consistently hurting teams from downtown (hence my calling for the half-court offense to run through Gallo.) Thus, when Amar’e played with Nash, not only did he benefit from Nash’s deft passing skills, he also greatly benefited from the respect defenses had to show to Nash’s shooting ability.
While I have been sitting on this post for a couple of games, I happened to catch John Hollinger’s appearance on Sekou Smith’s Hang Time podcast. On the podcast, Hollinger said exactly what I was thinking except he expanded my point further. Essentially, he states that the Suns had more shooters to spread the floor and give Amar’e room to operate where the Knicks lack such outside shooters, which allows teams to crowd the paint. This results in Amar’e falling victim to swiping hands he never had to contend with in Phoenix. Hollinger absolutely nails what is ailing Amar’e (and the Knicks offense) on this podcast and it is well worth a listen.