Watch the way the Celtics get after it on defense. Then go look at the way the Knicks allowed open three-pointer after open three-pointer against the Bucks on Wednesday night, acting as if rotation on defense was suddenly against the law.During Kevin Garnett's time in Minnesota, the Wolves managed to finish in the top 10 in defensive rating just one time. That year they were 6th and made it to the Western Conference Finals. The 06-07 season, KG's last in the Twin Cities, they won 33 games, mostly because Garnett had to spend too much time at center, which he often did, but at least when the Wolves were shocking the western conference Flip Saunders in 2005 he found 20 minutes for Michael Olowokandi and 15 for Mark Madsen. Madsen's roll and minutes declined as the Wolves played journeyman Mark Blount heavy minutes at center. Blount's presence didn't have the impact they hoped.
You don't think stars set a tone in sports? Watch the way Kevin Garnett plays both ends of the court every night, watch the way his defense filters down through the whole team. Watch the way Rajon Rondo gets up in the face of the other team's point guard now.- Mike Lupica today.
Ray Allen was widely considered nothing short of a terrible defensive player considering that his Sonic teams were always one of the top 3 worst defensive teams in the league for his entire stay there. They were actually dead last 2006.
The 2006-07 Celtics, even with Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce, were an average defensive team finish 16th.
Then the trade happen where all the stars aligned. The Celtics hired Tom Thibodeau who helped Jeff Van Gundy's Rockets maintain a top 5 defensive rating during his tenure.
Getting back to Garnett for a second, I truly believe that the Knicks thought long and hard about doing the trade because of Timofey Mozgov, which was something that was laughed at around the league. Amazing, though, that there have been fewer players laughed at harder than Mad Man Madsen and Ervin Johnson has been the source of a few "Magic" punchlines as well. Neither the best players, but those who helped Garnett's workload. It works both ways, however, in the case of Blount who didn't really help.
The Knicks know they have to pair Amar'e with an effective big player or players moving forward yet are going to have to hope that a quality one lands in their lap via the mid-level if that's still allowed, or if they can fleece a team like the Celtics fleeced Memphis for the rights to Kendrick Perkins. Amazing, also, that Glen Davis, a second round pick actually ended up with the Celtics ALONG WITH Ray Allen in the draft day deal a few years back.
This is how the Celtics' roster developed. They also drafted Rajon Rondo. Sheed took the MLE.
The Knicks will have to be creative through the draft to surround their stars with good, solid role players and current have two in rookie Landry Fields and Toney Douglas, who is only in his second year. But what it will ultimately come down to is this. How do they make Carmelo Anthony a better defender? How do they make Amar'e Stoudemire a more effective situational rebounder and defender?
It isn't just coaching, even though everyone's focus now turns in that direction. This is about the building of a team. And the Knicks hope that they've kept enough assets and flexibility to continue to take great strides to success.