Everyone has analysed the New York Knicks during the Carmelo Anthony era, in which the team is has a record of 7-12, including a current six-game losing streak. Despite some flashes of excellence, the defense has been consistently poor, with the team giving up just under 104 points per game during the losing streak. The offense, surprisingly, has been inconsistent at times as well, with quarter totals in the teens, and even in the single digits, since the Carmelo Anthony Trade, on a regular basis. The Knicks are scoring 96.1 a game during the losing streak, down almost 10 points from the 105.9 they average on the season. One aspect of the blockbuster trade, and the lack of success since the trade, hasn’t been mentioned often, and that is the health of “Mr. Big Shot” Chauncey Billups.
In his first four games as a New York Knick, Billups averaged 23.3 points, 6.0 assists, and 1.8 steals, while the Knicks went 2-2. He left the game against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, March 1, 2011, and missed the next six games, as the Knicks went 4-2. He returned Sunday, March 13, 2011, and in the 9 games since he has returned, the Knicks are 1-8. He has averaged 14.8 points, with 5.0 assists and 0.8 steals, along with 2.8 turnovers. Clearly, he has been a different player. What the statistics won’t tell you is how poorly he has defended since coming back from the injury. One of the reasons Toney Douglas was inserted into the starting lineup Saturday night against the Charlotte Bobcats was to help defend opposing point guards, a night after Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks torched the Knicks for a season-high 37 points.
The Knicks need Chauncey Billups to be 100%, or as close to it as he can be, by playoff time if they are going to experience any kind of success. Otherwise, they may be swept in the opening round, if not worse. If the Knicks continue to play this way, there is a slight chance they may miss out on the playoffs completely. That would be a crushing blow to the New York Knicks organization after making the biggest trade of the NBA season. Chauncey Billups is a former NBA Finals MVP, a five-time all-star, and “Mr. Big Shot.” What he is not right now, is healthy, and until he is, it would be best for him to sit and recover.