COACH: Mike D'Antoni | 2007-08: 23-59
New York Knicks

D'Antoni and Walsh can take the Knicks nowhere but up.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images/NBAE
Can one man make a difference?

Despite averaging just 28 wins over the last four years and bringing in Donnie Walsh for a change in direction, a change in culture and a change in success rate, the New York Knicks made only minor changes to their actual roster this summer. The guys on the floor come Oct. 29 will basically be the same guys that were on the floor back on April 16.

The addition of Chris Duhon gives them a more reliable floor leader, and that is key for new coach Mike D'Antoni, but the only significant new face in the New York locker room is D'Antoni himself.

The 2004-05 Coach of the Year averaged 58 wins (that's 30 more than, and more than twice as much as, his new team) over his last four seasons in Phoenix. But while his attitude and aptitude will certainly improve the way the Knicks play, this is still the NBA. And in the NBA, the players make the coach more often than not.

And until D'Antoni gets the right personnel to work with, the Knicks will likely finish much closer to their own average than that of their new coach.

Of course, D'Antoni won't just sit on his hands until Walsh gets him the right players.

"You can't just say to wait until next year," he told the media at a pre-camp press conference. "My job is to win every night, and I'm going to play the guys that give me the best shot to win."

And until he gets more of those guys, he can make progress by getting started on that culture change thing and making the New York locker room a happier place to be. Dealing Zach Randolph to the Clippers or Grizzlies would likely have gone a long way in accomplishing that, but those deals fell through. And for some reason, Stephon Marbury is still around. The addition-by-subtraction plan is currently on hold.

So, D'Antoni will have to find another way to turn a group of talented but mismatched individuals into a cohesive team. And he insists that the roster ain't all bad.

"The thing that excites me is that there is a nucleus of good stuff that we have," he said. "There's enough stuff there where we can win some basketball games. We don't have to go get somebody. It's up to me to figure out how to do it."

He can start by getting his team to play a little defense.

Now, D'Antoni isn't exactly known as a defensive genius, but all the points that his team gave up in Phoenix were more a result of the pace that they played at than their inability to stop their opponent from scoring. When it came to points allowed per possession, they were actually an average defensive team with him at the helm.

Meanwhile, the Knicks have been one of the six worst defensive teams (per possession) in each of the last four seasons. Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy are long gone, and so is everything they taught.

Of course, D'Antoni's bread and butter is the other side of the ball. And there's no doubt that he has some offensive talent to work with in New York. He's just gotta get them working together.

To quote Norman Dale: "The five players on the floor function as one, single unit. Team, team, team. No one more important than the other."

That's easier said than done, of course. Especially with this group.

But no matter who's in the locker room, change in New York must start now.
-- John Schuhmann

Catch great NBA action all season long. 2008-09 individual game Knicks tickets are now available.

Duhon
"To be honest, I thought things would change," Mike D'Antoni told the media, "but in the NBA, it takes two to tango."

Donnie Walsh tried to make more changes to the roster. He really did. But, unless you think Danilo Gallinari is going to make an immediate impact (and you probably shouldn't), Chris Duhon is the only new guy in uniform who can help change things around at the Garden.

Duhon is certainly aware of the chemistry issues the Knicks have had in recent years, but he hasn't experienced it first hand. On second thought, things in Chicago weren't exactly rosy last season either. Scratch that.

Still, Duhon is a steady player with four years of experience under Mike Krzyzewski, the guy who brought together a bunch of NBA stars and molded them into a cohesive team over the last three summers. The new point guard should be able to bring some balance to the force.

Like he had in Steve Nash, D'Antoni needs his point guard to be an extension of himself, someone to persistently push the ball and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Duhon won't be Nash on the offensive side of the floor, but, with his ability and willingness to pressure the ball, he can be better than the two-time MVP on the other end.

"I'm going to go out, bring leadership here and help us become a team," Duhon said at his introductory press conference.

From your lips to Knicks fans' ears, Chris.
-- John Schuhmann

THE STAT
4 The Knicks have now gone four straight seasons without a playoff appearance. That's the franchise's longest postseason-less streak since 1966.
If the Knicks have any chance at all this year it will be because of Mike D'Antoni's basketball philosophy. The number of egos might be able to exist in an up tempo style as long as D'Antoni moves away from his philosophy of using a seven- and eight-man rotation.
The Knicks are very guard heavy and would be great in an offense where the guards are given the chance to penetrate and kick every time down the floor. By putting Randolph, Curry and Lee opposite the penetrating guards would lead to numerous uncontested lay-ups by the bigs.
This is not a traditional team and cannot play a traditional NBA style.
Their ability to score from the three point line as well as their ability to penetrate with any one of their guards could make this a team on the rise for the season.
Look for them to challenge Toronto for third in the division.
-- NBA Scout
At various points last season, there was some debate as to whether any member of the Knicks merited a spot on the average fantasy roster. With Mike D'Antoni taking charge at MSG, that debate is a thing of the past.

Need more? Order Rotowire's Draft Kit on NBA.com
NBA.com Fantasy Index

Record: 32-50, 13th in Eastern Conf.
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Scoring Leader: J. Crawford, 20.8 PPG
Rebounding Leader: E. Curry, 7.3 RPG
Assist Leader: C. Duhon, 6.6 APG

Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2007-08 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Chris Duhon 5.8 1.8 4.0
SG Jamal Crawford 20.6 2.6 5.0
SF Quentin Richardson 8.1 4.8 1.8
PF Zach Randolph 17.6 10.3 2.0
C Eddy Curry 13.2 4.7 0.5

F Wilson Chandler 7.3 3.6 0.9
F Jared Jeffries 3.7 3.3 0.9
F David Lee 10.8 8.9 1.2
G Stephon Marbury 13.9 2.5 4.7
G Nate Robinson 12.7 3.1 2.9
G Chris Duhon Free agent
G Anthony Roberson Free agent
F Renaldo Balkman Trade
G Fred Jones Free agent
C Randolph Morris Free agent
PPG Jamal Crawford 20.6
RPG Zach Randolph 10.3
APG Jamal Crawford 5.0
SPG Jamal Crawford 1.01
BPG Eddy Curry 0.49
Points Scored 96.9 (21st)
Points Allowed 103.5 (22nd)
Field-Goal Percentage .439 (28th)
Opponents' FG% .474 (28th)
Rebounding Diff. -0.13 (18th)
TV: MSG
Radio: ESPN 1050 AM
Web: Official site
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