2010-2011 Game Preview: Knicks v. Nets

So I went to the Stats page to do some research for this game and I couldn’t find the Knicks in the Eastern Conference standings.  It took my about a second to realize that I just needed to look up.  I was scanning the bottom of the standings. Old habits die hard I guess.  Yes, the Knicks are in the top half of the Conference standings a month into the season.  How nice is that?

New York (9-9) looks to improve on their 2-5 home record as they host the Nets (6-11).  While the Knicks have found ways to beat weaker teams on the road, they have struggled at home.  Conversely, the Nets have been very bad on the road (2-7) and somewhat better at home (4-4).

Knicks Offense
109.2 51.2 16.2 25.9
8 9 23 17
Nets Defense
108.5 48.8 12.4 25.7
20 13 30 15
Knicks Defense
109.6 51 16 27.8
22 24 11.5 21
Nets Offense
104.7 48.3 15.4 25
21 22 15 21

A quick look at the Four Factors shows us that the Nets struggle to score.  The Nets play a slow game with only 88.2 possessions per game which is last in the NBA. The Nets are also in the bottom third of the NBA in offensive efficiency (104.7), eFG% (48.3) and OReb% (21).

The Knicks should not take the Nets lightly given their own struggles on the defensive end.  In spite of the Knicks success with defensive stats such as blocks and steals, the team still struggles to keep teams from scoring (109.6 Defensive Eff) and shooting well from the floor ( 51.0 defensive eFG).

What to watch for 1: Brook Lopez.

Over the 6-1 stretch, the Knicks have faced only one post player who is featured on offense, that was Blake Griffin.  I think we all remember what he was able to do against our front line. I’m sure Mozgov recalls.   The Knicks will need to focus on Lopez and prevent him from posting deep. Lopez can score 18.2 /36) but he can be forced into poor shooting nights (44.1 eFg). Lopez is somewhat foul prone (3.7/36) so attacking him on offense is a good way to keep him out of the game.

What to watch for 2: Devin Harris.

The Knicks have had trouble containing quick guards this season and Harris is among the quickest of them all.  Harris is the main cog on offense (18.2 points, 6.8 assists per 36).  Harris loves to get his man off balance on defense then take a mid range jumper or get to the hole.  The Knicks defensive effort should include fighting over screens and force Harris to create offense from deep which is not his comfort zone (0.9 attempts per 36 at 34%).

Who Is the Second Most Valuable Knick?

It’s indisputable that the Knicks have been bad in the post-Camby days. One sign of a weak team is the lack of a definitive best player. That is the team is led by a few third or fourth fiddles which allows for discussion and debate on who is actually the team’s best player. For instance, who was the best player of the 2003 team, Houston or Sprewell? Perhaps during the mid-00’s you might claim that Marbury was the Knicks best player, but I’m sure there are some that would deny it on the basis of his poor defense and non-existent leadership ability. I would say that David Lee was their best player for a couple of seasons, but at the time Crawford & Curry seemed to be the Knicks future and for the latter years some others would choose Al Harrington.

Needless to say this year’s team doesn’t have this identity problem. In 2011, Amar’e Stoudemire is unquestionably the team’s best player. For Knick fans this is probably a good sign, but for those that enjoy the debate sports affords this is less than ideal. However with the top spot spoken for, I’ll turn my attention to the next position. That is who is the Knicks next most valuable player? Here are the leading candidates:

Danilo Gallinari – The Knicks are 6-2 when Gallo scores 16 or more points and 6-1 when Gallo hits 3 or more treys. Obviously Stoudemire, like any other star in the NBA, needs a second scorer to take the load off his shoulders. Gallo is the only Knick with both a TS% above 60% and pts/36 above 17 (60.4% ts% and 17.1 pts/36). Even though he’s commonly thought of as a downtown bomber, Gallo is making his mark from the free throw line. He’s increased his attempts per 36 minutes from 4.0 to 6.5, good enough for second best on the team and almost double that of the next player.

Wilson Chandler – Has Wilson Chandler finally turned the corner? To be honest I haven’t been high on his odds on him becoming a quality NBA starter. This year Chandler is averaging career highs in blocks (2.2 blk/36), points (18.7 pts/36), 3p% (33.8%), and TS% (53.7%). Although Wilson is not as efficient as Gallo, he’s second on the team in points per minute and adds an element of defense in shot blocking that Gallo doesn’t provide. His improvement has been visible to the naked eye, and he’s been a much more exciting and root able player to watch.

Ronny Turiaf – I was doubtful that Turiaf could provide enough production to become the team’s starting center. However it appears that his lack of health that has been the only thing that has limited Turiaf. So far this season, he’s played in only 319 minutes, good enough for the 7th best. He’s first in the team in true shooting percentage (64.2%), despite his limited scoring (7.9 pts/36). But it’s his defense that puts Turiaf in the discussion. He leads the team in blocks (2.6 blk/36), and according to 82games.com the Knicks are 7.8 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor.

Raymond Felton – Admit it, if I didn’t put Felton on this list you might have forgotten him. While many concentrate on Felton’s failures in D’Antoni’s offense, his yield is far beyond what he’s produced in his career. The former Tar Heel is playing out of his mind. He’s second on the team in PER (19.4) and is shooting a robust 58.4% TS%. Felton is playing so well, that if he is having a career month and heads into a nosedive, his decline will be noticeable.

Honorable Mention: Landry Fields – I love him. You love him. I’d be curious of any Knick fan that doesn’t. He plays an extremely intelligent and efficient brand of basketball. He’s a low volume (13..3 pts/36) high efficiency (62.7%) player coupled with excellent rebounding (8.6 reb/36). It took Knick fans 3-5 years before they warmed up to David Lee, but maybe his departure has given New York an appreciation for such talents. As much as I like him, I don’t think he’s the second best Knick. At least not yet.

Who is the Knicks Second Best Player?

  • Raymond Felton (60%, 340 Votes)
  • Danilo Gallinari (20%, 112 Votes)
  • Landry Fields (10%, 56 Votes)
  • Wilson Chandler (7%, 42 Votes)
  • Ronny Turiaf (2%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 563

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Knickerblogger’s Top 25 Favorite Knicks of the Modern Era

Welcome to Knickerblogger’s Top 25 Favorite Knicks of the Modern Era poll!

I’ve been doing this bit for a few years now on my comic book blog (here‘s the latest) and I talked to Mike and he agreed that it would be fun to do one of these polls for Knickerblogger!

So it’s time to vote for your top ten favorite New York Knick players of the Modern Era (from 1979-80 until now, also known as “The 3-Point Era,” as that’s when the NBA adopted the three ball).

Here’s the deal. You folks all vote in the comments section here up until 11:59 PM Eastern time, December 14th. I’ll tabulate all the votes and I’ll begin a countdown of the winners starting December 15th! Who is more popular – John Starks or Allan Houston? Charles Oakley or Bernard King? Charlie Ward or Mark Jackson? Stephon Marbury or Marcus Camby? You’ll find out here!

Sound good?

Okay, here are the guidelines!

1. Vote in the comments section below, making sure to include the following codeword with your comment – KBTOP25. This codeword will make your post invisible to other posters (it will appear to you as though it is “awaiting moderation” – don’t worry, that’s what should happen). This is to allow for a secret ballot, so that the results will be a surprise!

2. You’re going to be voting for ten players in total here. Your ten favorite Knick players since 1980. Vote for TEN – less than ten players and I will not count your ballot.

To help jog your memory about who we’re talking about, Mike nicely made a couple of lists (using Basketball Reference’s player season finder) of notable Knicks. Here are all Knicks since 1979-80 ranked by PER. Here they are ranked by TS%. I added one here where they are ranked by Win Shares.

3. Rank your ten favorite players from #1 (your most favorite) to #10 (your 10th most favorite). I’d prefer it if you actually numbered your entry, #1-10. It’s easier for me to count.

4. Your top choice will be given 10 points, your second choice 9, etc.

5. Make sure to include KBTOP25 in your ballot. People often forget.

6. The criteria for picking players is just “your favorites.” So don’t worry about picking the best players, just pick your ten favorite players.

7. Include KBTOP25 on your ballot. I know it sounds silly to repeat this twice, but if I don’t do so, people will forget.

8. I’ll make various other decisions in the interest of fairness.

If you have questions and or requests for clarification, feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

Remember, please include the following codeword: KBTOP25 – on your ballot.

Most importantly, have fun!

Now vote!

Hawks 99, Knicks 90

New York lost 99-90 to the Hawks, but it wasn’t that close for most of the game. With 3:53 in the first quarter Atlanta led 24-14, their first double digit lead, and they would extend it to 20 with 51 seconds left in the first half. The Knicks would whittle away and went into the fourth quarter down by only 9. They would cut into the lead and a Wilson Chandler traditional 3 point play brought them within 4 with 10:39 to go. But New York ended the game just as they started, unable to prevent Atlanta from scoring.

Late in the game boos rained down the from crowd, and on multiple occasions the announcers noted a lack of effort from the men in orange and blue. Perhaps it was the turkey, as the Gothamites appeared to be overdosed on tryptophan (although scientists now believe it’s the carbs that creates the Thanksgiving snoozes). More than one Hawk errant offensive rebound was not chased down by any Knick. The offense appeared stagnant due to the lack of ball movement. It gave the appearance of laziness, although it was more likely just a bad shooting night (except for Amar’e) combined with a handful of defensive lapses. So the Knicks’ streak ends at 5 games, and New York is under .500 yet again, at least until they face Detroit tomorrow at 1:30.

What I, As A Knick Fan, Am Thankful For

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I’m going to list all the things I’m thankful for this year.

* Amar’e Stoudemire’s diversity. Yeah I miss David Lee, but Amar’e is a different player that can contribute in more areas. Take for instance tonight’s game where Amar’e had six blocks. Two of them were in the final 2 minutes. Lee’s career high was four against the Celtics in 2006 during a blowout loss. Amar’e is more well rounded, and perhaps that fits this team better.

* Danilo Gallinari’s moxie. Gallo battled with Stephen Jackson in a physical match-up, and a couple of times it seemed the two might come to blows. The franchise is hoping Gallo will play with more fire, and today he was intense despite having a poor shooting night. It’s an important developmental step to him to stay focused even when his shot isn’t falling.

* Raymond Felton’s production. The Knicks new guard perhaps isn’t best suited for the pick and roll, but he’s playing much better than expected. A true shooting percentage of 59.1% and a PER of 19.6 is much more than I or anyone else thought he’d do in New York. I don’t think he’ll particularly keep it up, but even if he ends up better than last year it’s a plus for the Knicks. His defense isn’t as good as I thought, but he does get a lot of steals. Tonight his last pick won the game for New York.

* Landry Fields’ rebounding. What kind of shooting guard averages 8.3 boards per 36 minutes? Yes he’s listed at 6-7, but he’s still playing the two. I could have said Landry Fields’ brain but I’ll save it for…

* Donnie Walsh’s brain. Yes he’s probably behind the times with stats, and he’s probably missed on a couple of decisions, but what GM has a perfect record? Team presidents are like basketball players – even the best miss 40% of the time. Go back 3 seasons and pretend the Knicks hired a random GM. Do you think for a second they’d have a team with an All Star surrounded by a handful of promising young players?

Look at who was taken after Gallo in the draft and ask who would you have taken instead? Heck the Knicks traded for the other guy they really wanted. In an interview Larry Brown couldn’t have drooled more talking about Landry Fields. Sure Jordan Hill was a bust (sorta) and every statistician in the world would have taken Blair over Douglas. But DWTDD is playing well for a late first.

So take it all together and he’s batting well over what you’d expect from the average GM. Oh and don’t forget the Knicks are going to have enough cap room to grab another superstar.

* Mike D’Antoni’s mustache. With all the criticism I give D’Antoni the average reader probably thinks I don’t like him. Heck if tomorrow Phil Jackson or Greg Popovich accepted the job I’d probably be critical of them too. No coach is going to run a team like I or any other fan would.

Yes I would still be giving Anthony Randolph some minutes, but considering his 32.3 TS% and 27.6 eFG% I can’t argue with that decision much. I’d probably give Billy Walker more run too, but if you saw the way he got around one screen tonight (my grandmother could have closed in on her defender quicker) you’d understand why his minutes are limited. Despite all the hollering he directs at Toney Douglas, TD is out there for 24 minutes a night. And Roger Mason Jr is on the bench, where he belongs.

Even if he’s a middle of the road coach with a quirky system, he’s certainly better than what you might end up with. Like Donnie Walsh he’s not the best, but with a head coach sometimes getting an average one is a win.

* Five game win streak. The Knicks are now .500. This is so beyond what I expected given their poor start, that I’m literally speechless.