Basketball is about balance. Different from football, where there is the defensive team and the offensive team, the roster only holds 15 players and the ones on the court have to work on both aspects of the game. Many great teams were offensive forces and something beautiful to watch on TV, but great championship teams had it all balanced. Michael Jordan was the league MVP, Finals MVP and scoring champion for a number of years, but he was also the defensive player of the year. MJ could drive to the hoop, shoot his fade-away jumper and still get steals like anyone else. A lock-down defender, he was the match-up nightmare for whoever was selected to go against him on any given night.
The problem is, there was only one MJ.
The New York Knicks are a regular team. After the roster moves made by Phil Jackson, the team looks stronger than last year but nothing spectacular. For the triangle system to work, everyone needs to be involved and perform. Carmelo Anthony (if he comes back) is a great scorer but not as much a great defender. With Jose Calderon and Anthony on the floor, the defensive end becomes a little weak, so Amar’e Stoudemire and Samuel Dalembert would need to pick up the slack in the frontcourt. Here is where JR Smith comes into play.
Smith is a great scorer himself, but he only defends well when he is motivated. With Dalembert being a limited scorer and Stoudemire on the downhill of his career, the role of shooting the ball lies on Melo and the backcourt. Having Iman Shumpert on the floor would put a lot of pressure on opponent’s offenses, but it would make the team weaker in this lineup considering Shumpert hasn’t improved his scoring abilities to a high level yet and most importantly would leave the team even more vulnerable when he needs to take a break. The ideal starting lineup for the Knicks would be having Smith committed on the floor, with Shumpert coming off the bench when either Stoudemire or Dalembert were resting.
These players might be gone before the season even begins, as a reported possible deal involving Stoudemire and Shumpert has been reported, but as of right now Smith is going to need to put his game face on and be the two-guard the Knicks need him to be.