Thursday, February 23, 2006

Larry Brown may be in a time warp

Apparently, he's stuck in 2001 or some time in close proximity to that year. Considering how forgetful older folks can get, I'll admit that it could be confusing -- the President is still the same, Nelly is still making god-forsaken hit records, and Larry has convinced himself that he hasn't yet won an NBA championship and thus is still trying to put together the formula. His forgetfulness must truly have him thinking he's on to something by acquiring Jalen Rose and, as of yesterday, Steve Francis to start alongside Stephon Marbury in the New York Knicks' backcourt -- 3 guys who were in their primes in the wake of the 21st century, and have since proven themselves unable to lead a team far into the postseason (though obviously, Larry hasn't picked up on this yet; and to Jalen's credit, he did lead the Pacers in scoring in '99 when they made it to the Finals).

Pardon me for taking the alternative approach to this situation, as everyone seems to be bashing Knicks GM Isiah Thomas for making the trade, as if Coach Brown didn't give Isiah the go-ahead to do it as well. I mean, they seem to get along well enough. No Brokeback.

Regardless of who made what decision to further ruin the Knicks future, there is suddenly a renewed interest in the League's 2nd-worst team. I've been a NBA fan for some time and can't personally recall such a collection of trigger-happy players being put together -- Stevie Franchise, Starbury (don't those nicknames alone imply that playing them together won't work?), Jalen, Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson. The humanity! Not only does each love to shoot, but each has their own approach to how they love to shoot:
  • Francis -- Your prototypical "shoot 1st, pass 2nd" player. Though he does rack up assists, playing with big men like Yao Ming (who's still soft as puddy, but does have a good post game) and Dwight Howard means you don't have to pass too much to get assists. Plus he has yet to average less than 3 turnovers in a season; something like that is somewhat acceptable for a Kobe or AI who'll put up 30 on any given night, but not for someone who's put 30 points only TWICE this season.
  • Crawford -- Your prototypical "shoot 1st, shoot 2nd" player. He loves to shoot so much that he has allowed it to carry over to his atrocious defensive ability; perhaps he's confused as to why the guys wearing the different-colored jerseys don't pass him the ball. As streaky of a player as they come, JC will have a couple games a month where he'll consistently make his consistently ill-advised shots and actually affect the outcome of a game, usually one he has a personal stake in, like against Seattle (his home town) or Chicago (the team that traded him to New York and has since improved). Just the type of growth and production you'd expect from a player due over $9 million in 2010.
  • Marbury -- Marbury, for all intensive purposes, is a true point guard, but having played for 4 teams in his career, being traded twice in his career during the season, and having minimal-at-best playoff success keeps him from shedding the "ballhog" image. In order words, he's the "shoot 1st" guy that everyone sticks up for. This time around, looking at his teammates, it's no wonder his assists are down, considering that once he passes the ball, he's less and less likely to get it back. The fact that he's a Brooklyn native will assure him that he never falls out with the hometown fans, though.
  • Rose -- The fakest of the "point forwards" in the league, Jalen put up 11 assists in his Knicks debut and hasn't put up more than 5 in a game since. Playing for considerably poor teams these past few seasons, he's become accustomed to jacking up shots thinking that he's a team leader, ignoring the fact that they often don't go through the hoop. His occasional productive game where he passes the ball usually acts as a reminder to his fans that he can play the team game, before they all want to kill him.
  • Richardson -- Like Marbury, you can't really be mad at Q-Rich for being a "shoot 1st" player, because he's always trying to put himself in a position to get open. Playing in Phoenix last year, with Amare Stoudemire drawing double teams and Steve Nash running the point, he was always open for 3's, and proved himself a shooter by winning the 3-Point Shootout at All-Star Weekend. Playing with the Knicks this year... well, not quite the same, is it? Q-Rich's tendency to roam around the 3-point line and try to get open seems to have affected the promising inside game he had with the Clippers, as he has visibly struggled in New York.
So how will all these pieces fit into the puzzle? I have no clue, and fortunately, it ain't my responsibility. Hopefully, Larry Brown doesn't end this season with an imprint of the palms of his hands on his face, since he'll be crying into them so much on the sidelines.