“This is Amar’e Without Steve Nash”

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.

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2 Responses to “This is Amar’e Without Steve Nash”

  1. Andrew In Atlanta says:

    Well, there may be some truth in what you note, but I stand by my opinion…Nash is a set up first, shoot myself 2nd PG. We need that if we are ever going to get the max money out of Amar’e. I will continue to argue for CP3 before Melo and that a PG will make that much difference. No doubt all the Mello lovers will disagree with me.

    • There is no denying that Nash is a pass first PG, however, a big reason why he is so good on the PnR is because the defender has to show because Nash is such a good shooter. I guess the general point that I’m making is that Amar’e would probably be having more success had the Knicks signed Steve Blake as a stopgap PG rather than Felton. Blake is a superior outside shooter and would have done a better job at keeping defenses honest. And after seeing the way Blake has played for the Lakers (granted, he’s basically playing on an All Star team,) he might have been a better choice to bridge the gap than Felton, considering the system.

      I’m with you on preferring CP3 to Melo because I actually think CP3 is the better player, regardless of position. Throw in the fact that he’s basically a better version of Nash (a version that plays D) and he’s a no-brainer.

      The problem is the Knicks aren’t able to choose which player they want. Like most Knicks fans, I’m tired of waiting around for players. If Melo becomes available today, then they should trade for Melo. Ditto for CP3 or whomever else qualifies as a star player.

      So if Melo becomes available, the Knicks should swoop in and nab him. They obviously weren’t sure Felton would be the answer at PG since they only signed him to that short contract. Acquiring Melo wouldn’t preclude them from adding Paul, but there are plenty of ways to improve the PG position should Paul stick around in NOLA. Heck, if they landed Melo I wouldn’t be opposed to making a play for Nash, since I am pretty sure he isn’t making max money.

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