In a league seeking any marketing edge it can muster, Mike D'Antoni should be wildly encouraged.Through his first 11 games as strategic mastermind of the New York Knicks, D'Antoni and his seven-seconds-or-less calculations have cobbled six victories. The Knicks who had been shell-shocked into abject misery during the terrifying reign of the Isiah Thomas currently lead the league in scoring while providing evidence that the doomed climate inside Madison Square Garden has been eradicated.
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Here's a clue: guys who are busy coaching teams into the playoffs really don't make good personnel directors.
Eventually, Marion whined his way out of Phoenix and new GM Kerr with an alleged blessing from the inside-power-seeking D'Antoni pulled off the O'Neal deal.
Now D'Antoni works in New York while Terry Porter has had a nice opening to his power-ball tactics in Phoenix. A look at the numbers suggests that not much has changed. The Suns currently are sixth in scoring, 18th in points allowed, first in field-goal accuracy and 16th in field-goal percentage defense.
However, the means by which they arrive at these stats going inside, inside-out on offense and attempting to eliminate uncontested layups by Rodney Stuckey on defense has a definite Porter imprint.
The Suns should have enough talent, experience and finally depth to secure a nice playoff seed ... if their commitment to running a lot of the offense through Shaq is not sabotaged by his inability to stay healthy. It should be noted that the previously short bench in Phoenix may have been a function of D'Antoni's refusal to trust anyone outside the usual rotation.
Back in New York, the sharpies are wondering if the Knicks can sustain their current pace.
It's doubtful, because D'Antoni simply lacks the firepower he worked with in Phoenix.
Success of his system as it exists in New York also is made a bit trickier by a lack of overall team speed. While it's obvious that Nash and Bell weren't exactly the league's swiftest backcourt, the Suns were a collective blur elsewhere. Marion's rebounding skill allowed D'Antoni to play him at power forward while Stoudemire ran away from opposing centers.
Phoenix also had Barbosa, one of the league's fastest players, to goose the pace of the game as sixth man.
The greatest difference is at point guard, where Chris Duhon won't be mistaken for Nash with the ball in his hands.
But D'Antoni's Knicks may be entertaining enough to remain in honeymoon mode for a good portion of this season. After this time frame expires, Mike will need talent upgrades that provide more shooters and finishers.
At least he (and Thomas) won't be making those decisions.
Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 21, 2008