Currently in the midst of a 1-7 stretch, there's reason for the Knicks to be concerned about their season. No longer looking like a contender, their playoff hopes are in serious doubt.
After spending big on players like Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and others last summer, this season was supposed to be different. Instead of remaining patient and building around a budding star in Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks instead surrounded Carmelo Anthony with the talent necessary to make a competitive push sooner than later.
Unfortunately, despite many new faces and a seemingly much higher ceiling, many of the same problems that New York has struggled with in past years have come creeping back. Here's a look at some of the things that have been plaguing the team as of late...
Carmelo Anthony's shoulder
Clearly not himself on offense recently, Anthony recently revealed that he has been getting "around the clock" treatment for his ailing shoulder. The Knicks have been here before, as Anthony has battled shoulder injuries in the past. There's always a question of how long to prolong the agony in hopes of keeping the team afloat. He wants to play through the pain but is that really the best course of action?
While it would create a big void, sitting Anthony for the necessary amount of time (and then having him return at 100 percent thereafter) may be a much smarter move than risking making it worse going forward. After all, it's not as though Anthony is currently serving as the saving grace through New York's struggles.
Their defensive effort
There's no denying the Knicks' struggles on defense. Earlier in the season, the second unit provided more energy, but they've failed to maintain a consistent level of energy as of late. And Noah's ability to assert himself against some of the more physical big men in the league has wavered. Heading into the season, the Knicks knew Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings weren't going to be lockdown defenders, but they've failed to stop just about any opposing floor general through the team's recent skid.
Is it a matter of effort or ability for the Knicks? At this point, it looks as though their failure to perform on that side of the floor could be due to a combination of both. An acquisition may be necessary. Otherwise, head coach Jeff Hornacek will need to continue tinkering his underwhelming rotation, much like he did when turning to Ron Baker for a boost last week. Something has to give.
When a team gets too settled into their losing ways, it could be very difficult to snap a streak, regardless of how talented or motivated they might be. New York has proven this in past years. At this point, doubt and frustration are mounting as the Knicks begin to question whether or not they are capable of turning things around.
Anthony and Noah have individual hurdles to climb at this point, and haven't been able to stand tall as the necessary veteran presences to light the fire under their teammates. All the while, Porzingis seems to be getting discouraged.
The team has all the talent in the world, but that won't matter if they don't believe they have what it takes to win. With such a stumbling rhythm becoming somewhat of a seasonal pattern, perhaps such doubt is justified with Anthony and Phil Jackson at the center of it all year in and year out.