New York Knicks: How would P.J. Tucker change the defense?
Nov 25, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 98-85. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

According to Ian Begley of ESPN New York, the New York Knicks are considering a trade for defensive help, Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker.

New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek admitted a hard truth after his team’s tough loss to the Orlando Magic on Monday night. The roster they have isn’t good enough defensively.

The 2016-17 Knicks are 26th in points allowed per 100 possessions, 27th in turnover percentage, and 27th in defensive rebounding percentage. They need help, and according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York, they are considering bringing in a noted defensive stopper via trade.

P.J. Tucker has been regarded for his physical on-ball defense throughout his career and would be an instant upgrade to New York’s Charmin-soft approach.

In 2015-16, Tucker was one of the league’s best one-on-one defenders. Per NBA.com, opponents shot 27.5 percent on 69 isolation possessions, and he finished in the 81st percentile of efficiency.

He’s kept up that dominance through 55 possessions in 2016-17. Opponents are shooting 24.4 percent on isolations against Tucker, and he’s currently in the 89th percentile of efficiency.

Going one-on-one with P.J. Tucker is typically something you try and avoid.

Carmelo Anthony learned that the hard way.

Tucker put his skills on display while guarding Anthony back on Dec. 13.

Anthony consistently challenged Tucker one-on-one and lost, finishing the game with 13 points on 3 of 15 shooting. Let’s take a look at some of the scenes from that matchup.

In the first clip, Anthony catches the ball outside the three-point line and goes to his right. He needs four dribbles to free himself up for a tough 22-footer that he obviously didn’t want.

This second clip is vintage Melo. He isolates in the mid-post but instead of a signature jab step to create some space Tucker sticks with Anthony and creates a difficult miss.

Then there was the airball that Anthony threw up with eight seconds left in overtime and the Knicks down one. Melo took two dribbles to the left and pulled up for another tough fadeaway jumper. Tucker was on his hip the entire time.

Tucker’s talents are being wasted on a rebuilding Suns team. The 31-year-old is out of place on a team with an average age of 24.9 that sports a record of 11-25, good for dead last in the Western Conference.

The Suns are likely to trade Tucker sooner rather than later, but a defender of his quality will have plenty of suitors. Acquiring a P.J. Tucker-type player would go a long way towards making the New York playoff dream a reality.

He’s not going to fix everything that’s wrong with the defense. That falls on the coaches and the players. But Tucker will definitely be a big help.

 

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