Jerome James, Good & Bad

Earlier today, the Knicks announced the signing of Jerome James, and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the deal. It’s like watching a dramatic movie. If the ending is happy, you rail against it because they took the easy way out. If the movie ends tragically, you’re upset that things didn’t end up the way you optimistically hoped.

The first thing Knicks fans are going to wonder is what James will bring to New York this year? He’ll give the Knicks their first defensive minded center under the age of 50 since Marcus Camby. Opposing guards who get past Crawford and Marbury will have to watch themselves in the paint, because Jerome blocks a shot just about every full quarter he plays. In fact over the last 4 years, James is 6th in blocks per minute. When he decides to shoot the ball, he’s a decent offensive player. His career FG% is 49%, and his free throw percentage has improved every year of his career to a passable 72% last year. James’ rebounding has slipped, but that could be due to playing next to Dangie Fortvans.

However there is a dark side to Jerome James’ game. The FAMU alumnus has three huge weaknesses that will drive Metropolitans nuts. First is that he’s turnover prone. Since James’ never played in high school, his basketball IQ is somewhere around Forrest Gump’s. Second is James’ propensity to foul. Again looking over the last 4 years, James has led the league in fouls per minutes. The last thing that will turn the fans against James is his weak work ethic. The laziness tag is something that has followed him since college.

You don’t need a crystal ball to see what’s going to happen. One cold day in New York, Jerome James is going to turn the ball over, and then head to the bench with two quick fouls. The opposing team is going to have a double digit lead by the time the Knicks center checks back in. James is going to turn the ball over twice more, on the last one he’ll loaf back on defense getting there in time only to inbound the ball after another score. And that’s going to be the end of the love affair between Jerome James and the New York fans. You have to remember that this is the city that openly booed Patrick Ewing near the end of his career (something I’ll never understand).

New York will see the duality of Jerome James. Some days will be like the fantastic playoff series he had last year & others will be like the scenario above. On one hand New York desperately needs a center, but on the other James is more apt to be a backup than a starter. While $6M a year is reasonable for a player of his caliber, 5 years at the age of 30 doesn’t exactly fit in with Isiah’s rebuilding creed. Although signing James will allow Sweetney to move back to PF and flourish at his natural position, did we pay too much for such a flawed player?

As I said before I?m not sure what to think about this deal. I?m not crazy about James, but there are some things about his game that I like. Of course with his foul problems, I?m not even sure that James can average more than 25 minutes a night. But I feel more comfortable going into this season with him, than have to rely only on an unproven Frye every night. Finally I have to wonder, if Jerome James couldn?t get significant minutes on the Sonics, a defensively starved team, how much can he help the Knicks? We’ll have to wait until the season starts to see how this turns out.

Liked it? Take a second to support Mike Kurylo on Patreon!

Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

18 thoughts to “Jerome James, Good & Bad”

  1. congratulations on your new “indispensible” website :)

    after reading your jerome james posting, i thought you might like to read this. i wrote it just after the sonics were knocked out of the playoffs, but its pertinent now with the knicks having signed him…

    someone emailed me just after the sonics lost to the spurs in the playoffs saying james was a young, improving, and possibly up and coming center who could possibly help a team if signed as a FA, and here was my response:

    1st off when looking comparatively at the ages of nba players jerome james is not young. his birthday is 1975/11/17 making him 29 years of age, so he will be 30 years old when the 05-06 season starts. he will have played just 4000+ minutes in nba regular season games before his 30th b-day, and very, very few players have contributed significantly to an nba team having played this few amount of minutes before the age of 30 (one who did was arvydas sabonis center for portland, another was dean garrett who played center for minnesota and denver, but off hand i can’t think of many others)…

    2nd off jerome james has not improved alot over the last few years, nor has he improved somewhat – as a matter of fact, he has not improved at all. on the contrary jerome james has not only not improved, he has regressed over the past two seasons…

    3rdly, before getting into any statistical analysis, the key reason why jerome james should be avoided, unless you can get him at much less than his current 3 year, $5,000,000/yr contract, is the exact same reason why players like stanley roberts and jim mcilvaine never should have gotten the large dollar contracts they received – there was more than ample statistical evidence available at the time these players were signed that they would never play the significant minutes to warrant their high priced (for their time) contracts…

    jerome james and these other players commit fouls at not just a high rate, but at an exorbitantly high rate. these 3 players all commit(ed) fouls at the rate of 18, 19, or 20 fouls per 100 minutes played, and thus would never contribute significantly to an nba team regardless of the dollars paid to them. jerome james committed 21 fouls per 100 minutes played this past 04-05 season, and his career rate is 20 fouls per 100 minutes played…

    as a matter of fact, of the 432 players in the nba in the past 4 seasons to have played at least 1000 minutes total over that time span, his rate of 20 fouls per 100 minutes played is the absolute worst. read that again – the absolute worst…..

    from a historical perspective, only one player in the past 27 years in the nba has ever averaged 30 min/g while committing fouls at the rate of 15 fouls per 100 minutes played (shawn kemp, 1999-2000, sea sonics)…

    only one player has averaged as many as 25 min/g committing fouls at the rate of 18 per 100 minutes played (darryl dawkins, 1982-83, nj nets). only 4 players did this committing fouls at the rate of 17 per 100 minutes played…

    only 1 player has played as many as 20 min/g committing fouls at the rate of 21 fouls per 100 minutes played (steve johnson, 1981-82, kansas city kings)…

    so as you can see, from a historical perspective, your ROI on the dollars spent on a player such as jerome james (if you have to pay him as much or more than he’s currently getting) committing fouls at the rate of 20 per 100 minutes played – while knowing from history he won’t be playing even 25 min/g – will be significantly reduced because plain and simply he will be on the bench most of the time…

    jerome james is playing well in the 1st 3 games of the sonics/kings series, but here are the facts:

    in the 3 sonics playoff games jerome james has played 34, 29, and 36 min. however in the 80 regular season games he played this year for the sonics he played 29+ minutes in a game just 3 times. that’s 77 games where he played less minutes. check his game-by-game log at:

    here is a list of the number of fouls he committed in games and the minutes he played in each:

    fouls minutes played

    6 24, 25, 19, 20, 24 – 5 games avg 22 minutes

    5 12, 24, 19, 20, 9, 10, 19, 13, 25, 27, 27, 23, 18, 13, 13, 20, 13 – 17 games avg 18 min

    4 23 times, you get the picture…

    jerome james has been in the nba for 5 seasons and has averaged just 3 min/g, 17 min/g, 15 min/g, 15 min/g, and 17 min/g, and this season got $5,000,000 for playing 17 min/g…

    here are jerome james’ rabounding rates per 48 minutes over the past 4 seasons:

    year reb/48min

    0102 11.7
    0203 13.5
    0304 11.2
    0405 8.7

    so as you see his rebounding has regressed since the 0203 season. 8.7 reb/48min for a 7’1″ 270 lb center is quite poor…

    here are jerome james’ shot blocking rates (shots blocked per 100 opponent FGA) over the past 4 seasons:

    year BS/100oppFGA

    0102 5.4
    0203 6.4
    0304 3.7
    0405 5.0

    again as you can see there is no improvement here. the rate of 5.0 BS per 100 opponent FGA would put him as one of the league’s best (top 6-8) shot blockers, but because he only played 1330 minutes he blocked only 111 shots…

    jerome james, because of his low touches/min on offense (0.5 in 04-05, 0.6 in 03-04), will never be a factor on offense, and because of his extremely high rate of committing fouls , will never be a major factor on defense…

    also, his rate of committing turnovers on 15% of his touches (15 turnovers per 100 touches, same as his teammate danny fortson) was the league’s worst for players playing at least 1000 minutes in 04-05…

    so he will never be a factor on offense, commits way too many fouls, and turns the ball over on 1 out of every 6-7 touches. you could shoot 70% from the floor but if you commit a turnover on every 6 or 7 touches its not worth getting you the ball in the 1st place….

    and anyone thinking that a 30 year old in this league will improve on these numbers after having being in the league for 4-5 years is only deluding themselves. jerome james is not all of a sudden going to start fouling significantly less over a large number of games, or turning the ball over much less per touch. why? because in the history of the past 27 seasons of the nba no player has fouled at this high rate for as many minutes that james has played (4000+ minutes), and then reduced that significantly in the next year or two, or reduced their turnovers per touch from 15% down to significantly less than 10% in just a season or two…

    i could actually see some team signing jerome james to a smaller contract than the one he had previously (3 yrs, $15 mil total) knowing he was going to be only a backup center, but some team is going to sign this free agent to major dollars because of just his play in this year’s playoffs and be regretting it in no time, quicker than the mavs are regretting the signing of erick dampier…

  2. wouldn’t steven hunter have been a better sign? he’s younger, more athletic and with a little more upside. he can run the floor and still shot block. and he probably would’ve come cheaper.

  3. This move is pretty good because jerome james can be a solid player on the defensive end and just block the basket with his big body and on offense he can just catch some of the passes from marbury and dump it in.

  4. Wally is right…Steven Hunter would have been a much nicer, cheaper fit in Thomas’ “younger more athletic” vision of the Knicks. While looking green on the court at times, Hunter played Duncan with zeal and finished strong when he had to against the Spurs. James wilted enough against Duncan for the Virgin Island native to sautee and stir fry him. We’ll see

  5. the knicks better have 3 centers worth of fouls, thats the only way the sonics played it. advice from a sonics fan: pick up 2 more hacks at center to share the fouls.

    If your going by the sacramento series, people at seattle center were SHOCKED. we’ve been watching this guy for years do nothing. having brad miller on a broken ankle really made him look good. sorry, not sure why the knicks have such bad luck & payroll. cripes you guys even ended up with vin baker somehow

  6. Oh quit whining!!!
    Jerome James is going to be the best thing that has ever happened to the Knicks. Nobody asked him to score 50 points a night!! He is going to set the massive picks he is known for, block at least 4 shots a game, pull down 10 rebounds, and score atleast 8 poimts. With Jerome James on the floor, that will allow the knicks to be able to control the tempo of the game. That will open up the floor for the knicks sharp shooters. Also Jerome will play a huge part in the pick in roll because of his huge frame.

    Come On!!
    Did’nt you all listen to what was going on in the Sonics locker room? They were not getting along so Jerome James decided he was not going to give it his all most of the season. However when they got to the playoffs the Sonics put everything behind them and Jerome was unstoppable in the Kings series. I believe this will be his mentallity for the rest of his career.

    Isahah knew what he was doing and will make this guy play with the right staff.

    Peace: Buy my Album you will love it.

  7. Thank you for being one of the few intelligent basketball sites on the web. As a Sixer fan, I am just glad that Isaiah signed Jerome James before Billy King decided to pursue him. Thank God. As the excellent analysis by bob chaikin above shows, the James signing looks like a disaster in the making.

  8. Did?nt you all listen to what was going on in the Sonics locker room? They were not getting along so Jerome James decided he was not going to give it his all most of the season. However when they got to the playoffs the Sonics put everything behind them and Jerome was unstoppable in the Kings series. I believe this will be his mentallity for the rest of his career.

    Being into the sonics all year, i never heard one thing from James saying he was unhappy with his teammates. If your theory of him stepping up in the playoffs is true, where the heck did he go when it was all on the line against the Spurs and a real power forward/center?

    He didnt have issues with the lockerroom. Allen just said he thought the loss of James was worse than losing McMillan –

  9. Being into the sonics all year, i never heard one thing from James saying he was unhappy with his teammates.

    I did not say James was unhappy with his teamates. However James teamates were unhappy with him most of the season. They had arguments for the whole season about James’ mentallity saying his head was never 100% in the game. In an article in the middle of the season Ray Allen beeged him to step his game up along with the other centers. The reason why James is a big loss to Ray Allen is because Allen saw what James was capable of in the playoffs and they started to get something going. Nate McMillian was more of the problem in the Spurs series than James and he even admitted he had no awnsers. I always believed McMillian never knew how to use James the right way because James does have talent and good moves. How is someone going to learn if you don’t give them the ball until they playoffs?

    James left Seattle because he wanted to start somewhere fresh with his new look. When James becomes a star, I am going to come back in this chat room and say “I told you so”. I know what he is capable of watching him play since FAMU here in my hometown of Tallahassee.


  10. This will be remembered as the absolutely worst signings of 2005. In terms of money, New York is paying Jerome James primarily for stringing together a couple of very good games at the expense of Sacramento. Mever mind the fact that the Kings couldn’t box out anyone and made a good Sonics club look like the the Magic-Worthy-Kareem Lakers.

    The simple fact is that James is 7-1 and despite this, managed a paltry 3.0 rebounds in 16 minutes a game last year. That’s only three more than I had, and I don’t even play. He did however, balance this rebounding prowess with 3.5 fouls a game.

    James didn’t deserve anywhere close to the money the Knicks offered. Oh, he will show flashes of brilliance, but it will be tempered with nights where he gets one defensive rebound with two points in 20 minutes and commits five fouls. And the brilliant moments will be the exception, rather than the rule.

  11. Pingback: CourtsideTimes.Net

Comments are closed.