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Saturday, September 20, 2014

2013 Report Card: Pablo Prigioni


PlayerID FLName Year Tm PER TS_P eFG_P PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
0 Pablo Prigioni 2013 NYK 13.0 .595 .575 7.8 1.2 4.1 6.7 2.0 0.1 2.5
0.331 Danny Ainge 1995 PHO 14.3 .596 .552 15.0 0.7 2.9 5.5 1.2 0.2 2.1
0.336 Jason Kidd 2009 DAL 16.9 .550 .522 9.1 1.1 6.2 8.8 2.0 0.5 2.3
0.396 Scottie Pippen 2001 POR 15.3 .541 .505 12.2 1.2 5.6 5.0 1.6 0.6 2.6
0.414 Anthony Johnson 2010 ORL 12.4 .543 .500 11.5 0.7 4.3 5.6 1.0 0.1 2.3
0.453 Jon Barry 2005 TOT 13.4 .570 .534 10.9 0.6 3.8 4.0 1.4 0.2 1.6
0.458 Jeff Hornacek 1999 UTA 17.8 .575 .514 14.7 0.8 4.0 4.8 1.3 0.4 2.1
0.464 Anthony Carter 2011 TOT 9.2 .502 .481 8.6 0.5 4.0 5.4 2.1 0.5 3.0
0.466 Tiny Archibald 1984 MIL 10.6 .526 .495 11.8 0.6 2.6 5.5 1.1 0.0 2.7
0.475 Darrell Armstrong 2004 NOH 15.6 .525 .487 13.5 1.0 3.6 5.0 2.1 0.3 2.5
0.494 Derek Harper 1997 DAL 12.9 .516 .488 12.3 0.5 2.2 5.2 1.5 0.2 2.2
0.518 Brad Miller 2012 MIN 10.7 .542 .463 8.6 1.0 4.7 5.9 1.0 0.5 3.0

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 10.33.57 PM

The Kennedy killing. Beatles on Sullivan. Neil and Buzz ride the spacerock. Challenger’s loss. An Iron Curtain’s collapse. Our first black President. A bullet to Bin Laden’s brain.

If you were 1) alive, and 2) not extruding food straight into your diapers during any of these, you remember where you were. Unless, of course, you’re me: someone who couldn’t tell you his own mother’s birthday, how many stripes are on the American flag, or whether he drank coffee or lighter fluid at breakfast this morning.

And yet: I know exactly where I was when ¡Pablocura! struck me.

October 25th, 2012. New York’s final preseason tune-up against the rechristened Nets. My couch. Two-buck Chuck. A terrifying storm cell named Sandy splayed like a throwing star tumor across every screen in America.

And this. (Scroll down to first video)

I cannot say all the secrets.

He remembered me that, now.

I tried to read every offense.

Instead of to shoot over one guy to block me for sure I find open guy.

The key is to try to find open man.

It was shit straight out of Twelfth Night, sung with a sunshine smile by some sinewy Spanish siren. It made no sense at all, and yet I wanted everything he said tattooed across my freshly-shaved scalp. I’d never heard anything like it.

Three month’s earlier, the signing of Pablo Prigioni had been met by the Knick fanbase with something resembling relieved indifference. That’s what happens when your second point guard drives gin-pickled into a Cablevision telephone pole. Sure, we could recall through a fog of failure the mechanical mastery with which he’d helped conduct Argentina’s 2004 gold U.S.-urpers. Then again, we were equally underwhelmed by his comparatively muted – and injury-plagued – bronze showing in London. Which averaged out to merely appreciating the pickup precisely how Prigs himself appeared to: as an extended vacation in roundball Valhalla; the Disney epilogue to an autobiography the Buenos Aires publishing house probably wouldn’t even bother translating into English.

So when he suited up during the Knicks’ preseason slate, and the court vision and understated virtuosity started unspooling in meaningless spurts, the collective reaction was that of a parent who realizes their twelve-year-old kid is pretty good at skipping stones across the ditch puddle: it’s cute and all, but you’re sure as shit not banking on rearing the next Eckersley. Once the real season started, logic went, basketball robotics would be all we’d need – or expect – from our barrel-aged import. That, and maybe the occasional wide open three, sent aloft with all the grace of a nursing home caber toss.

But a funny thing happened on the way to garbage time chants: Pablo Prigioni still knew how to ball. He played 16-plus in the season opener, tallied 11 points, six assists, and a pair of steals in an early thrashing of the hapless Sixers, and wouldn’t tally a sub five-minute outing until two days before Christmas, presumably because the Minnesota winter caused his calves to seize up like frozen engines. His flapless chops and calming influence belied a team dynamic dominated by misfits, cast-offs, and well-meaning knuckleheads; his impact, beyond box scores.

By midseason, Pablo’s play had become a mixtape within a #knickstape: slowly midwifing the ball past half-court in spite of defenders weirdly bent on raking and humping poor Prigs at every dribble-reversing pivot; making peeps pay after one too many desert-clear looks from deep; batting, tapping, and outright snatching the ball out of the narrowest of baseline passing lanes; stubbornly refusing to convert one-foot layups with nary a defender within two city blocks; but always, always making the extra pass – the Hadron exchange amongst mere metal gears.

As the slate wound on, Pablo’s unique brand of efficient, mostly mistake-free stewardship would eventually compel Mike Woodson – beyond exotic beard juices, seldom a trafficker of the creative – to turn what had been something of a goofy anachronism into a staple of the season’s stretch: two-point guard lineups. What the Knicks gave up in size, speed, and general athleticism, they harvested by the hectare beautiful basketball: 1.189 points per possession with the two on the floor, compared to 1.05 when both Prigs and Felton were bench-bound, and 1.1 as a team.

On July 25th, after a fortnight or so of coy back-and-forths, the Knicks inked Prigs to a fresh, three-year tender for just a Smart Car under $5 million. Had the same deal been struck one year ago, most would’ve taken it as a sure sign that the team’s brain trust was skull-deep in some kind of cocaine psychosis – the necro-pangs of an organization so desperate for stability that they’d gladly pay for their own execution.

Now? Let’s just say there was much rejoicing. And rightly so. At 36, Prigs is no studding bull fucking his way through Pampas heifers. But nor has he clocked the heavy mileage of many an NBA peer. Given his first-year success, a summer of solid rest, and relative roster stability, there’s no reason to believe Prigs can’t replicate, or even improve upon, last season’s showing. The signing of Beno Udrih — a steal in its own right — could muddy the rotational waters a bit, but it also signals that Woodson may well be committed to parlaying last year’s two-point guard success into a consistent long-term strategy. Which inevitably means beaucoup burn for Prigs and — if there is a God — that charming, incoherent post-game poetry as spare and lovely as what he reads on stage.

Grades (5 point scale):
Offense: 3
Defense: 3
Teamwork: 5
Rootability: 5
Performance/Expectations: 4
Final Grade: B+

19 comments on “2013 Report Card: Pablo Prigioni

  1. Nick C.

    Am I allowed to say it was an enjoyable article? I would think until JR gets back and up to speed, that we will see a fair amount of Prigs and Felton on the the court together. Last season that was, as noted, a good thing.

  2. johnno

    I read yesterday’s “Protecting Tyson” thread and the tone of the entire thread seemed to be along the lines of — the Knicks’ front office sucks, Bargnani is the worst player in the history of the NBA, Copeland is a borderline all-star, and the front office made the stupidest of stupid decisions in choosing not to use the full MMLE to retain him. (Shocking, I know.) Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Copeland had played for the Raptors last year and that the Knicks used their full MMLE to sign him. I am not certain about too many things in life, but I can honestly say that I am 100% sure that, if that had happened, the general tone of this board would be, “WHAT!?!? They couldn’t sign Prigioni and MWP because they blew their MMLE on a guy who took 7 years to get to the NBA, is too small to play the 4, too slow to play the 3, doesn’t defend at all and is the worst rebounder in the history of the NBA!?! And he had to have knee surgery a week after they signed him!?! I swear our front office sucks and that was the stupidest of stupid decisions in the history of professional sports!”

  3. Frank

    johnno:
    I read yesterday’s “Protecting Tyson” thread and the tone of the entire thread seemed to be along the lines of — the Knicks’ front office sucks, Bargnani is the worst player in the history of the NBA, Copeland is a borderline all-star, and the front office made the stupidest of stupid decisions in choosing not to use the full MMLE to retain him.(Shocking, I know.)Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Copeland had played for the Raptors last year and that the Knicks used their full MMLE to sign him.I am not certain about too many things in life, but I can honestly say that I am 100% sure that, if that had happened, the general tone of this board would be, “WHAT!?!?They couldn’t sign Prigioni and MWP because they blew their MMLE on a guy who took 7 years to get to the NBA, is too small to play the 4, too slow to play the 3, doesn’t defend at all and is the worst rebounder in the history of the NBA!?!And he had to have knee surgery a week after they signed him!?!I swear our front office sucks and that was the stupidest of stupid decisions in the history of professional sports!”

    lol this is 10000000% true.

  4. Jim Cavan Post author

    Light blue tee shirt. Pablo’s suspended, smiling face in the center. “I cannot say all the secrets” wrapped around it.

    I’d buy five of these. Just throwing that out there, Mike.

  5. ephus

    I am really happy with Priggy Smalls. If he finished slightly more often in the PnR, he could be even more effective. But, I will sign up right now for a carbon copy of last season.

  6. DRed

    Jim Cavan:
    Light blue tee shirt. Pablo’s suspended, smiling face in the center. “I cannot say all the secrets” wrapped around it.

    I’d buy five of these. Just throwing that out there, Mike.

    Now that’s some good analysis.

  7. KnickfaninNJ

    Looking at the comparables in the table, I am kind of surprised by the list. It suggests there’s no one like him in the NBA, now and also for some years in the past. Even Jason Kidd, who I thought was similar to him with the Knicks before he slumped doesn’t have a very good match up score. Am I interpreting this table right?

  8. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    DRed:
    I loved Prigs last season.I only wish both he and I were younger.Sigh.

    WP48 superstar, that dude. His comparisons list, despite the high error in the first box, looks nice too.

  9. KnickfaninNJ

    But I will also add, those are very nice names to have in your comparable list, especially for someone to do that when they are 35. Maybe he should have gotten more than a B+

  10. Nick C.

    I think comparisons, if they are done like baseball ones, have age as a major factor.

    came across this assuming it links:
    Why Pablo Prigioni Is NY Knicks’ Most Underrated Player …

  11. KnickfaninNJ

    I didn’t realize the comparisons above were all to players of the same age. He doesn’t really match up with any of them, maybe because there aren’t that many players his age playing in the NBA. I would be curious to see who he matches up with independent of age.

  12. Keniman Shumpwalker

    Jim Cavan:
    Light blue tee shirt. Pablo’s suspended, smiling face in the center. “I cannot say all the secrets” wrapped around it.

    I’d buy five of these. Just throwing that out there, Mike.

    I wish I was still in high school so I could make “I cannot say all the secrets” my senior quote. Also I will buy that shirt should it ever be made available to the general public. And I will stain it with grease from an Argentinian empanada.

  13. Jack Bauer

    johnno:
    I read yesterday’s “Protecting Tyson” thread and the tone of the entire thread seemed to be along the lines of — the Knicks’ front office sucks, Bargnani is the worst player in the history of the NBA, Copeland is a borderline all-star, and the front office made the stupidest of stupid decisions in choosing not to use the full MMLE to retain him.(Shocking, I know.)Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Copeland had played for the Raptors last year and that the Knicks used their full MMLE to sign him.I am not certain about too many things in life, but I can honestly say that I am 100% sure that, if that had happened, the general tone of this board would be, “WHAT!?!?They couldn’t sign Prigioni and MWP because they blew their MMLE on a guy who took 7 years to get to the NBA, is too small to play the 4, too slow to play the 3, doesn’t defend at all and is the worst rebounder in the history of the NBA!?!And he had to have knee surgery a week after they signed him!?!I swear our front office sucks and that was the stupidest of stupid decisions in the history of professional sports!”

    +1

  14. hotdamn

    Been a Prigioni fan from the jump. The girlfriend surprised me with a Prigioni jersey for my bday. She had to order it custom cause they don’t sell them on the website. He’s the perfect example of a player “playing the right way.” Hope his legs hold up, cause this guy is a winner.

  15. dtrickey

    Solid analysis. I got pretty excited about Prigs watching some of his dimes and link up work with Copeland in the pre-season. Also loved how he had teams looking over their shoulders in the early part of the season when inbounding after a bucket.

    The B+ grade I think is pretty spot on. For as well as he played off the bench (and as a starter for a while), what hurts his overall performance in my mind was his reluctance to finish on drives. Whilst he is a great distributor, for the sake of the offense I would like to see him just be a little bit more selfish and finsih off those open drives. Spot on with the 5 for rootability. Easily a fan favourite and solidified that in the playoffs with his hussle play.

  16. RicanKnick

    Ok…how can I say this? I was nervous (sh*ting in my pants nervous) that our beloved NY Knicks wouldn’t bring back the one and only PRIGGY SMALLS. I would have been (by far) more upset to see Pablo leave than to see JR leave. That’s how vital I think his game and presence is for our team. In terms of the grade, I would have given him a 4 on defense because of all his steals. But I’m ok with the grade. Great article….

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