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Monday, September 22, 2014

2010 Season Preview: Optimist vs Pessimist

Optimist: Ready for another year of exciting basketball?

Pessimist: Ready to get another beating this year?

Optimist: What do you mean?

Pessimist: Well every year you make these wild predictions about the Knicks, and every year I kick your butt in.

Optimist: The last time we did this 2 years ago I predicted 43 wins, and the Knicks won 23, but that’s ancient history. I’ve learned from my mistakes, and feel confident about this year. Don’t you?

Pessimist: Um, never.

Optimist: Look at it from the bright side. Last year’s team won 32 games, and this team has a lot more going for it. The roster alone is deeper. Milicic, Hill, and Douglas are new additions, then add in a healthy Gallinari and a trimmed down Eddy Curry and you have to admit the team is a lot deeper, no?

Pessimist: Darko Milicic? He’s 24 and has been on 4 different teams already. Can anyone tell me what Jordan Hill does well? From what I saw this summer, he’s a power forward that’s shies from contact and likes to shoot hooks & jumpers. Douglas is a combo guard that shot 28.8% eFG in the summer league (including an arctic 9.1% from downtown). Gallo already has back problems, and a “trimmed down” Eddy Curry? Isn’t that like a suped up Ford Tempo?

Optimist: Easy there Pessy. Listen Darko will protect the paint. Hill will give some rebounding and outside shooting. Douglas can defend too and run the offense. Gallo is going to be the next Nowitzki. And Curry is going to score a ton in the paint. And anyway those 5 guys aren’t the core of the team, just some extra help. Lots of bench players in the league have faults.

Pessimist: Faults? The Knicks’ bench is like San Andreas. Which reminds me I have update my earthquake insurance.

Optimist: Earthquake insurance in New York City? With those kinds of prediction abilities, how do I lose to you every year? Anyway, the Knicks had lots of guys shuffling in & out last year. Crawford, Randolph, Collins, Roberson, Rose, Tim Thomas, and Jerome James, not to mention all the NBDL guys (Crawford, Sims, Nichols, Samb, and Sene). Certainly this year’s roster will be more stable.

Pessimist: Perhaps. But who is to say that Donnie won’t pull the trigger to shed some more contracts. Curry and Jeffries will be gone if Walsh receives a half decent deal (at least you’d hope so). And the Knicks don’t have a draft pick to sweeten the pot, so they’ll have to throw someone in like Chandler, Gallo, or Hill.

Optimist: Wait a second, you’re saying getting rid of Curry or Jeffries would be a bad thing? Let’s just see how things pan out before dumping on Walsh. Donnie has been pretty shrewd with deals so far.

Pessimist: Like Balkman & Von Wafer?

Optimist: No like getting rid of Randolph & Crawford. You have to admit he’s been good with regards to shedding contracts & having a long term plan.

Pessimist: How about not getting the #5 pick for Jeffries & Chandler? And not sending Jeffries and Nate to Sacramento?

Optimist: Those are just rumors. Nobody really believes those.

Pessimist: *aheam*

Optimist: OK almost nobody.

Pessimist: I think the knock on Walsh is whether he’s a good evaluator of talent. Say what you will about Balkman, but there’s no doubt that Von Wafer could have helped this team last year. The Knicks were starving for a shooting guard last year, had Wafer on their summer league team, and the next thing you know Wafer was starting for the Rockets. This year the team still needs a shooting guard, they had Morris Almond on their summer league team, and … need I say more?

Optimist: C’mon, you’re killing Walsh for Balkman, Wafer, and Almond? I’m not too concerned with the end of bench guys. D’Antoni isn’t likely to play them anyway.

Pessimist: What about Jordan Hill? He didn’t look all that great in summer, and I don’t see him breaking the rotation this year.

Optimist: That just shows how deep the team is. See you’re making my point for me. Anyway, Let’s move on to the offense. You have to admit that the Knicks will be better on offense this season. It’s the second year of D’Antoni’s offense so the players will be more acclimated to the system…

Pessimist: … Got any proof that players do better in the same offense?

Optimist: No, but it sounds right. Add in a full season from Gallinari. The guy hit 44% from three and 96% from the line. Give him more than 400 minutes and scoring will increase.

Pessimist: That’s the teenager with the bad back, right?

Optimist: Actually he’s 21 now.

Pessimist: You know Crawford played almost the same amount of minutes last year as a Knick, and hit 46% of his threes? Anyone can put up eye-catching numbers in limited minutes.

Optimist: He’s still young, and it’s realistic to think he’ll improve as he matures. The offense will improve this year?

Pessimist: And the defense?

Optimist: Darko Milicic, Jordan Hill, Toney Douglas are all defensive players …

Pessimist: First off none of those players are likely to see a lot of minutes. Curry, if he ever gets in shape, could push Darko for time so the Knicks can showcase him. And both of them will keep Jordan Hill on the bench. Toney Douglas will likely see time, but not if he’s shooting 20%. You have to admit the defense will be just as bad as last year.

Optimist: It won’t be worse and is likely to be better. Will you admit the offense will be better than last year?

Pessimist: Of course not.

Optimist: Time to put your money where your mouth is – how many wins are the Knicks getting in 2010?

Pessimist: I’m skeptical of the improvements. Hill shot pretty bad in the summer, Douglas shot worse, and Milicic has shot pretty bad his whole career. Eddy Curry is a turnover machine who doesn’t rebound on the defensive end. There’s still no true shooting guard. Number 8 overall pick Jordan Hill can compete against Wilson Chandler to see who shoots less free throws. I’ll go with 32 wins again.

Optimist: The team has definitely improved. They’ll top last year’s total and then some. The additions to the roster will help D’Antoni mix & match and won’t leave the team helpless when the inevitable injuries occur. Better seasons from Gallinari & Curry will only help the team. Continuity with the coaching staff is a plus as well. I’ll go with 38 wins.

Pessimist: Next you’re going to tell me they’re going to make the playoffs.

Optimist: 8th seed, which will be good enough to attract that kid from Ohio!

40 comments on “2010 Season Preview: Optimist vs Pessimist

  1. KnickfaninNJ

    I’m an optimist, but I have to say the pessimist in you made the better argument. There is no doubt Walsh’s end of bench picks haven’t contributed that much and neither has Hughes for that matter, leaving the Knicks short at guard. On the other had Douglas looks like a very nice pickup and I think it’s too soon to tell about Hill. I personally think that fans tend to overrate the average impact of draft picks and how soon the average draft pick contributes, so I think this performance in talent picking on Walsh’s part is average or better. But this still means the Knicks will have to work really hard to do well.

    Nonetheless, I am optimistic they will do better than last year for three reasons. One, the team is actually a little deeper than at the end of last year with the additions of Darko and Douglas. Two, the Knicks were a young team last year and the age of many of the players was such that they should be better players this year. Three, my judgement of D’Antoni is not that he is just a great offensive coach, he is also a flexible coach who thinks about what he has and tries to take advantage of his players strengths. This year he has less offense and more defense than last year, since Crawford and Randolph were basically replaced by Chandler/Nate/Douglas and Harrington respectively. He seems to be thinking this way and emphasizing defense. And the Knicks were number one in defense in the preseason. So I think that some teams that play the Knicks are going to be surprised and very frustrated on offense and this will get us a few more wins. Playoffs? It could be close.

  2. BK

    I’m an optimist…sort of. I’ve been a broken record on this, but the guard depth still sucks. The brutal end of season schedule will break the team unless reinforcements arrive somehow, or someone massively overachieves. And yet I still hold hope…

  3. Jafa

    I’m an optimist, but not because I think we have the talent, depth and coaching to make it to the playoffs, but because I think a team like Chicago, Toronto or Miami will falter and leave an opening for either ourselves, Indiana or Charlotte to snag a playoff spot.

    In other news, ESPN reports that Rajon Rondo will not sign a contract extension and will become a restricted free agent in 2010.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nba/news/story?id=4598072

    Maybe this is our second chance to get a player we should have drafted? Would he fit into Mike D’s system?

  4. tastycakes

    I’ve always been a big optimist when it comes to the Knicks, but I find very little to look forward to this year. I project optimism about signing LeBron, but realistically, I believe he will stay put. Can’t look forward to a lottery pick, because there is none. Afraid that we will blow next year’s cap space on a second tier talent like Bosh.

    This is the first time in like 8 years I haven’t run a fantasy league. Something about the league as a whole this year feels very unexciting and flat. It’s never felt quite so predictable. I was actually depressed to hear about Griffin’s injury!

    But I guess I’ll buy the league pass and start watching soon. Maybe the Knicks’ll be better than expected for some unknown reason and we’ll trade Curry and Jeffries and sneak into the playoffs and upset Cleveland and sign LeBron. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

  5. cgreene

    Always been an optimist at the beginning of every season my whole life. I do not believe this team wins 30. And I dont think this is DW’s fault. Who knows whether he could have had the #5 pick or shedded Jeffries w Nate (what would this team look like without them? 18 wins??) or that Eric Gordon or Ty Lawson would be worth ANY more wins. It shows what an absolute destruction this has been since 2000. Not even all on Isiah (except those 2 first rounders for Curry may be the worst trade in NBA history). The Knicks have 1 legitimate NBA starter in Lee and MAYBE a 2nd in Al. This has the chance to be the worst season ever. Not from lack of coaching or effort but simply there is no talent. BUMMED and trying not to get hooked on watching games.

  6. d-mar

    Really don’t quite understand why some people are saying we’ll have less wins than last year. Is it not having Crawford and Randolph for 1/2 a season? I don’t think that’s legit, Harrington/Randolph is a wash IMO, and you can replace Crawford’s gunning with Nate’s gunning. And we added Mlicic and Douglas who can contribute. Finally, you’ve gotta believe D’Antoni can do a better job coaching when the personnel isn’t changing every week.

    I’m not a blind optimist this season, but I do think we can win 35-38 games, barring injuries.

  7. Robert Silverman

    Great article Mike!

    And you’ve exposed what may prove to be a serious public health threat – prolonged exposure to the Knicks may cause individuals (such as yourself) to show symptoms of multiple-personality disorder.

  8. Ted Nelson

    The Knicks have plenty of stars, Dan… ;) I mean Darko and Larry Hughes have inspired websites, Eddy Curry inspired balance ball makers to produce stronger products, and Nate Robinson beat Dwight Howard in the dunk contest which basically makes him the best center in the NBA…

  9. d-mar

    I guess as a season ticket holder, I’m hoping they save their stinkers for road games and at least entertain the fans at home with competitive b-ball.

  10. Robert Silverman

    1. The ’99-’00 Magic. Finished .500 with a starting lineup that included John Amaechi, Tariq Abdul-Wahad and Bo Outlaw. Best player was Darrell Armstrong (& a young Ben Wallace)

    2. The ’01-’02 Pistons. Started Chucky Atkins, Michael Curry, and a 35-yr. old Cliff Robinson. Stackhouse shot 39% from the floor. Won 50 games.

    3. The ’03-’04 Miami Heat. Yes, they had a nascent D-Wade in his rookie year. But their best players were an over-the-hill Eddie Jones & Brian Grant plus a solid year from Lamar “I’m a perpetual tease” Odom. Won 42 games.

    4. This year’s Rockets. No Yao. No T-Mac. Starters include Chuck Hayes and Aaron Brooks. They’re making the playoffs this year. Book it.

    Yes, I am in the serious optimist camp, Dan. But it’s doable. If Ill Will and Gallo take a step forward, if Harrington & DLee repeat last year’s efforts, if they get anything out of Jared Jeffries & Eddy Curry, they could make the playoffs. That’s a lot of “ifs”, w/o a doubt – but as of today’s date, their tied for the best record in the league (0 – 0). Keep hope alive!

  11. jon abbey

    some of your best work, Mike. I’m thinking 30-32 wins, but they should at least be entertaining. nevertheless, I just dropped $170 on the League Pass yet again, in case they’re not. :)

  12. Kikuchiyo

    37 wins. That makes me an optimist.

    And you, Mike K, are a formidable opponent. [The Knicks, less so.]

  13. Z

    I’ll say 36 wins.

    And the optimist in me says the Jazz get the #9 pick…

    But the pessimist in me says they move into the top 3.

  14. Z-man

    40 wins. Nate avgs 20+, is an all-star and sixth man of the year. Douglas finishes 4th in rookie of the year voting. Gallo has a great 2nd half. Chandler posts a 55% TS and avgs 4 fts per game. Jeffries and Curry are traded early in 2010, putting Hill in the rotation where he thrives. Lee is Lee, Harrington is Harrington, Duhon is Duhon. It’s all good.

    Slightly less likely:

    Nate wins his third slam dunk contest by dunking over Sultan Kosen.

    Jared Jeffries wins 3-point shootout.

    Eddy Curry returns in December at 195 lbs and becomes a wing in the SSOL scheme.

    Jordan Hill wins rookie of the year and finishes with more double-doubles than David Lee. Minnesota offers Flynn and Rubio rights straight up for Hill and are refused.

    Darko Milicic wind league MVP

  15. Dan Panorama

    Holy crap, how did those Magic and Pistons team do it? I take it back. Good memory Silverman…..

  16. BigBlueAL

    How about the great Cavaliers 1-on-5 offense tonight!! Plus late in the game playing both Z and Shaq together with the Celtics running PNR’s all day. Mike Brown, you could be the reason Lebron leaves town.

  17. TheDA

    Yeah this is coming from a real die-hard Knick fan living in Arizona…but a renewed focus on defense and familiarity with the offensive scheme will make this team better.

    Don’t be surprised to see: 50+ wins this season!!!

    Never underestimate TEAM CHEMISTRY! All you “fans” that see the same team as last year really don’t have a clue….Just my opinion.

    The DA

  18. Nick C.

    34 wins. No playoffs. Of the newcomers Douglas does the best. Darko is OK at times but a vapor otherwise. Hill has a lost year.

  19. ess-dog

    I’m sorry, but I just have to mention this… Q-Rich starting at small forward for the Heat??? Are they trying to get D-Wade to leave? If we win one game this year, I hope it’s the opener against the Heat in a big way… send a message to Wade, “Hey, your team sucks! Come to NY.”

  20. d-mar

    BB Al, I watched that game and also couldn’t believe he went with Z and Shaq for most of the 4th qtr. Let’s hope the Shaq experiment fails miserably, he sure looked awfully slow last night. On the flip side, the Celts look really strong, and deep for a change. If they stay healthy, I don’t see anyone stopping them in the East.

    Ess-Dog – watch Q hit 50% of his shots (as opposed to his Knick avg. of 30%) and burn his former team. Oh wait, half the NBA is his former team!

  21. mase

    d-mar,
    i never thought id say this but not having Zach and Crawford to start the season is gonna hurt. they are still our better 2 players(zach was lights out for d’antoni and crawford was solid enough, a lot better than hughes and nate)…I kinda wished Mobley hadn’t been eliminated from the equation)

    i hope im wrong but i have a bad feeling going into the first 20 games=5-15….i guess im a pessimist.

  22. mase

    ” Harrington/Randolph is a wash IMO, and you can replace Crawford’s gunning with Nate’s gunning”

    i disagree on both counts….if anything harrington/gallo/chandler is the same player at this point…like it or not crawford/zach were the mainstay of the offense

  23. d-mar

    Mase – Zach was a strong offensive player, good rebounder (which was amazing since he never left his feet) and poor defender. Harrington is a strong scorer, poor rebounder and poor defender. So what did we lose really? Lee probably picks up all of Zach’s gimme rebounds anyway. I’ll give a little on Crawford, probably the best on the team at creating his own shot, but man, how many 5 for 18 nights were there? He’ll be better as a 6th man for the Hawks where he won’t have to take as many shots.

  24. Nick C.

    Mase I picked 34 so close enough to your mark, I hope, I meant the wistfulness regarding Crawford and Zach.

  25. mase

    “Harrington is a strong scorer, poor rebounder and poor defender. So what did we lose really?”

    harrington is timthomas improved…i dont see the Zach comparasion…zach is a big who can shoot out to 20 ft

    “I’ll give a little on Crawford, probably the best on the team at creating his own shot, but man, how many 5 for 18 nights were there? ”

    d’antoni’s system allowed crawford to go 5-18 and not suffer a loss…we didnt replace either of those 2 players production

  26. steveoh

    36 wins. Noticeable defensive improvement. Big games from Nate, Lee and Harrington. Gallo becomes a much bigger weapon as the season goes on. We challenge for a playoff spot until the final weeks. And, most importantly, our team and organization comes across like a fun place to play, and the system proves to be one which can succeed with the right players, especially one involving a 6’9″ 270 lb. point forward.

    If we can manage that, I’d be ecstatic.

  27. Ted Nelson

    “Holy crap, how did those Magic and Pistons team do it? I take it back. Good memory Silverman…..”

    They were both top 10 defensive teams. So were the Heat. The Magic weren’t even in the top 20 offensively; although, the Pistons were #12 on O and the Heat 15th. If the Rockets make the playoffs this season (Barkley called them the worst team in the West last night, I tend to agree with Silverman personally) it will also be due primarily to defense.

    In a league where scoring is put at such a premium, the “Money-Ball” approach is to build around defense. It takes better scouting, but less money.
    This is the real value of advanced stats, in my opinion. It’s a whole way of thinking about the game… Looking at the game in terms of possessions, and realizing that there are two equally important sides of the ball.

  28. Ted Nelson

    Mase,

    You’re right that the Knicks effectively made a two for one trade (especially after sending Tim Thomas for Larry Hughes). Of course, I would say there’s no doubt that the cap space is worth it. However, you’re being irrationally pessimistic on Harrington and optimistic on Crawford/Randolph.

    4 of the Knicks 6 early wins came against Charlotte (who started the season 3 and 9), Washington, Memphis, and OKC… A 5th against the Jazz w/o Deron. So, it’s convenient to say that Crawford and Randolph were great in D’Antoni’s system, but that overlooks the fact that the Knicks had a soft opening schedule. They beat Washington, Charlotte, and Memphis again last season without Crawford or Randolph.

    “zach was lights out for d’antoni and crawford was solid enough”

    Zach had a TS% of .517, while Jamal put up .571 in his 11 games. I would say Jamal was lights out, and Randolph was solid enough. Jamal had already cooled off in his last two games with the Knicks, though.

    “if anything harrington/gallo/chandler is the same player at this point…like it or not crawford/zach were the mainstay of the offense”

    Crawford/Randolph played in 13.41% of the Knicks’ games last season (18.75% of their wins), I would hardly call them the mainstays of the offense. Certainly they were for 11 games, but there were those other 71 games too.

    Harrington is definitely a comparable scorer to either Crawford or Randolph. A better scorer than either, I would say, though clearly an inferior rebounder than Randolph and passer than Crawford by a wide margin. I would say that Harrington is a decent defender, and better than either of those two (at least during their Knicks tenures).

    Last season Chandler had a usage rate of 20.5 and a TS% of .515 compared to Harrington’s 26 and .555. Maybe Chandler improves, but I think it’s too early to call them the same player. Outside of scoring and shot blocking they are pretty similar, but they are both primarily scorers so that’s an important category.
    We don’t even know what Gallinari can and can’t do yet, but his game doesn’t look too similar to Harrington’s.

  29. Robert Silverman

    You’re right, Ted. As in most team sports, the quickest way to move out of the basement/maximize your assets is via defense (Look at the NJ Devils for the past, I dunno, 20 years).

    W/r/t Crawford/Randolph – whether or not their skills were replaced by the players on the current roster, I think that of greater importance was shedding as many players as possible from the previous regime. Psychologically, it was necessary to instill the belief that things would be different from the Bush…er, I mean…Isiah Thomas years (Sorry. I tend to conflate the two). Cap ramifications notwithstanding, both for the team and their fans, the slate needed to be wiped clean.

  30. Ted Nelson

    I think you have a point Robert, but at the same time Crawford and Randolph came in pretty motivated last season. If they weren’t making so much bloody money (and past 2010) I don’t know that Walsh is in a rush to move them.

    By the way, there’s still a big “Curry” stain on the slate with a 6’11″ string bean on the side… haha

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