Feel free to use this space to discuss what will almost certainly be the Knicks’ 42nd loss of the season (Really? Malik Rose is going to start over David Lee? Really?). Or, if you prefer, you can use it discuss whether Lebron James will be robbed of the MVP this season.
Unfortunately for Knick fans there’s little to say this Monday morning. With the trade deadline passed, talking trades is nearly pointless until the season ends. There probably won’t be any major changes until the offseason, because if Isiah Thomas lasted this long he’ll finish off the season as the Knick head coach. As for on the court action, there isn’t much to watch. While I’d love to see what Balkman, Chandler, and Morris can do with real playing time, Isiah seems intent on letting them rot on the bench. There’s such a lack of creativity from the coaching side that when Randolph was unable to play Thomas chose the rail thin Jeffries to start at power forward. There’s really nothing to say about that move without expletives.
So with no reason to watch the Knicks, I’ve started to turn my attention to the rest of the NBA. I caught parts of two games this weekend: Hornets vs. Jazz and Mavs vs. Lakers. There’s one thing that really stuck out at my about both teams, the defensive play of two point guards.
Watching Jason Kidd and Chris Paul play reminded me on why both are considered to be among the best point guards in the game. It wasn’t so much their offensive game, but watching them on defense was a treat. Kidd’s assignment for some critical plays in the game was Kobe Bryant. And although Kobe blew past him at least once, Kidd was able to harass him off the ball. With a few ticks in regulation and the game tied, the Lakers tried to inbound the ball to Kobe, but Kidd was able to deflect it to force overtime. Additionally the former Net was active on the glass grabbing 6 rebounds, 5 on the defensive end. Although Kidd is no longer able to play great man defense, he contributed with ball denial and rebounding.
As for Chris Paul there was one play that stood out in my head. Paul and his man were isolated on one side of the court. The Hornets guard made sure to stand in a position where he could see his player and the rest of the court. As the Jazz guard held the ball and the play was developing, Paul was constantly turning his head from his man to the rest of the players behind him. Despite standing in the same spot, Paul was playing excellent defense by preparing for what might occur.
These plays were a joy to watch, because the Knick guards in the Isiah era have been particularly lacking on the defense. I couldn’t imagine Crawford, Marbury, or Robinson being as active and aware on defense as Paul or Kidd were. As for rebounding, only Nate Robinson likes to clean the glass. The last time Crawford had 6 or more rebounds was in December of last year. And this despite playing nearly 42 minutes a night. I think watching players like Kidd and Paul are the reason why I find myself wanting to see more playing time for guards like Mardy Collins and Frank Williams. It’s not because I think Collins and Williams are/were particularly valuable (that’s especially true in Collins’ case), but because they bring an element that has been missing in New York for some time.