More often than not, we constantly ask ourselves as basketball enthusiasts and as people, “What if so-and-so player didn’t make that pass?” or “What if so-and-so player never got injured?” There are so many events that have derailed championship aspirations and the end result usually includes the question, “What if?”
If you’re a Knicks fan, the biggest “what if?” of the year has to be: “What if Steve Kerr decided to coach the New York Knicks instead of the Golden State Warriors?
It has to be heartbreaking to see the Golden State Warriors headed towards the winner’s circle as the Knicks’ playoff chances were quickly sent to oblivion. I mean, remember the 2009 NBA Draft?
New Yorkers are still haunted by David Stern’s announcement, “With the 7th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select… Stephen Curry from Davidson College.”
It’s natural to think that if Steve Kerr had decided to join the Knicks instead of spurning them for greener grass, the standings this season would look significantly different. The potential Steve Kerr signing had all the makings of a rebirth of New York Basketball. The triangle offense under Kerr would have shed an old light in the new NBA and would have been awfully fun to watch.
Instead, Derek Fisher became New York’s head coach and well… gently put, New York has been bad. Through 47 games, New York only has nine victories. Minnesota is the only other team in the NBA with single-digit wins with eight. To highlight New York’s inability to perform this season, certain statistics need to be brought in to the discussion. New York is ranked 28th in points per game, 29th in rebounds per game and 29th in total points per game. However, there is a silver lining as they are ranked 12th in assists per game, proving that they are committed to running the triangle offense.
Golden State on the other hand is 1st in points and assists, 7th in rebounds per game, 1st in FG % and 2nd in 3-PT made and 3-PT %. Kerr has the Warriors firing on all cylinders as they have a 36-8 record, good enough for tops in the tough Western Conference.
Obviously, these two teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum and the question, “What if Steve Kerr went to the Knicks?” has to be brought back into the discussion. First, let’s look at the opening roster for the New York Knicks.
Their roster consisted of: Quincy Acy, Cole Aldrich, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Cleanthony Early, Tim Hardaway Jr., Shane Larkin, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Jason Smith, J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Travis Wear.
Dalembert, Shumpert and J.R. Smith are no longer parts of the current New York Knicks roster.
The discrepancy in talent is obvious compared to that of Golden State as they sport four former and current All-Stars (Curry, Thompson, Lee and Iguodala) while New York has two (Anthony and Stoudemire). This discrepancy is the biggest reason why Kerr to New York would NOT have worked. Not to the extent of Golden State’s success anyways.
Yes, Kerr inherited a great team when he signed with Golden State, which directly propelled him into the status as one of the better head coaches in the league. The decisions he has made, such as starting Barnes in place of Iguodala and having former All-Stars Lee and Iguodala come off the bench, has tremendously boosted Golden State’s winning.
Kerr’s coaching style, a combination of his mentors throughout the years (Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, etc.), has convinced Golden State to buy in and play team basketball. Would this have translated to the Knicks roster? Carmelo Anthony doesn’t think so.
“I think if it was anybody else in his position, I think this probably would’ve crumbled already. I think he’s doing a great job of keeping everybody focused on the task at hand and believing in what we’re trying to do.” –Anthony, days after Knicks loss against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Or is that Anthony just sticking up for his coach? The Knicks haven’t played well all season, especially in games that were close. The Knicks are an abysmal 2-12 in games that have been decided by five points or less. Would Kerr have made the difference? His Warriors are currently 6-1 in games decided by five or less. That speaks tremendous volumes of Kerr’s late game coaching techniques. It also helps when you have MVP candidate Stephen Curry as one of your players.
It doesn’t take an astrophysicist to understand that the New York Knicks have a severe lack of talent. It has shown throughout the season. However, this is a typical case of “the grass is greener on the other side,” as New Yorkers will continue to be engulfed with jealousy towards Golden State. In all honesty, Kerr probably would have made the difference by a couple of wins as evident by the games decided by five points or less. It still doesn’t deter from the fact that the Knicks are a bad team.
A 2-20 record in games decided by 10 points truly illustrates the talent or lack thereof amongst the Knicks roster.
The reality is Steve Kerr is not the New York Knicks coach; that title belongs to Derek Fisher. New York has bigger issues to worry about than to wonder how they would have fared if Kerr was the head coach. Their talent is severely lacking and major roster changes must be made in the offseason.
For the meanwhile, New Yorkers can continue run the highlights of Warriors games and imagine what could have been.