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Friday, October 31, 2014

2014 Preseason Roundtable: All of the Bigs, All of the Bigs

Today, the KnickerBlogger crew looks to stand in Coach Woodson’s shoes and determine one maddening question as the season approaches: how should the Knicks’ big-man rotation be handled?

McElroy: First, give Chandler as many minutes as his body can handle. Let’s call it 48 40 36 shit, 33 a night. I don’t want to see a single important minute of Stoudemire or Bargnani at center which I suppose means I’m giving 15 a night to K-Mart, which sounds about right anyway. That leaves 48 minutes of power forward to be shared between STAT and Bargs, so I think that….wait…what’s that? We have the defending NBA scoring champ on our team and he’s at his most dangerous when he plays the four? Give Melo 28 PF minutes (with the balance of his time at the three), give Amar’e the other 20, and tell Bargnani you’ll find minutes for him during the 77 games when one or more injuries renders everything else I’ve written in this paragraph moot.

 

Kurylo: To answer the first question, Chandler, Stoudemire, Martin, and Bargnani, by health. Yes — I would love for Chandler to get lots of rest. But I don’t see a situation where the Knicks can survive without him. Even if Stoudemire is healthy, he is (and should be) on a time limit. Martin is small for every day center duty, and he’s also old and potentially brittle. I don’t think Bargnani should be playing center much or even at all.

Honestly I have my money on Jeremy Tyler, as long as he doesn’t shoot. From best I can tell he’s a poor man’s Reggie Evans. Zero offensive game, good rebounding, not so much with the blocked shots. And that I’m talking about Tyler, tells you everything you need to know about the state of the Knicks bigs.

 

Fisher-Cohen: This might be the most important question here. Every one of these players has the potential to be a disaster if misused or overused, and thanks to the size of other Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls, the effectiveness of New York’s bigs is critical to their hopes of making any sort of playoff run.

The starting point for me is considering which one of these players have the most potential to positively impact a Knicks playoff run. I say there are three of them: Chandler, Martin and Bargnani.

Stoudemire has immense offensive talent, but even if he’s healthy, the main value New York will derive from him will come in the ten minutes a game that Anthony rests. He and Anthony play the same position, like the same spots, and have similar weaknesses. Fortunately for New York, Stoudemire’s body probably won’t tolerate more than token minutes, so limiting his minutes is doubly good. Strictly playing as a backup to Anthony should keep STAT fresh for the regular season while allowing the Knicks to develop chemistry between lineups that are more likely to do damage in the playoffs.

Fun fact about Tyson Chandler: Before joining the Knicks, he had only played over 30 minutes a night three times in ten seasons. It’s no coincidence that his championship season was one of those wherein his minutes were limited. Chandler has a history of injury problems and is not getting any younger, so I say his cap should be 27 minutes. Sure, cutting him down to 27 minutes a night might cost the Knicks a few games in the regular season, but the regular season don’t matter — just ask Rick Carlisle, who learned that the hard way.

Most of the above about Chandler applies doubly to K-Mart, so I’m capping him at ten minutes a game, all at center.

That leaves eleven minutes at center and another fifteen minutes for bigs if we slide Melo to the three when Shumpert rests. In order to not get destroyed on the boards, I give the rest of the center minutes to Tyler, who at least appears to be a rebounder and try to protect him defensively by playing Shumpert and Prigioni alongside him.

Really though, it gets nightmarish trying to build a balanced lineup without Martin or Chandler. I hope Woodson has the brains and testicular fortitude to sacrifice some regular season wins for playoff health.

 

Cronin: I would really love to see Chandler get more rest, but I just don’t see it being realistic. Winning the Atlantic division and therefore more or less guaranteeing avoiding having to play either Miami, Chicago, Indiana or Brooklyn in the first round is huge so I don’t see Chandler getting significant rest. Let us at least hope that his minutes decrease to 30 minutes per game. I don’t think anything under 30 is realistic with the way Woodson has been treating him since he began coaching him. I think Martin is probably best suited to roughly 12 minutes a game but I bet he plays closer to 15-16 minutes a game. Let’s say 16. That’s 46 minutes right there. So 2 minutes to STAT and then STAT can get at least 15 more minutes at the 4 with just Melo’s time on the bench. 17 minutes for STAT is not unreasonable, right? Bargs, meanwhile, I believe will be slowly worked into things, given the chance to play some 5 against centers that the Knicks would prefer to draw away from the rim (guys like Hibbert). Then he just has to prove he can reliably nail the three when he is a tertiary option. If he can, then you essentially blow up the minutes and begin playing Bargs as the stretch 4 with Melo playing more minutes at the 3 and Bargs as the stretch 5 at the expense of Martin’s minutes.

 

Topaz: In a recent piece for KB, I wrote extensively about the Knicks’ precarious situation at the center position. To summarize in a couple sentences, the Knicks need to protect Tyson Chandler, a 13-year NBA veteran who has posted serious minutes (33 MPG the last two seasons) and seriously wore down last season. In other words, the Knicks need to keep Chandler fresh for big games and the postseason by reducing his minutes. Unfortunately, despite having a fairly loaded frontcourt, the Knicks are unfortunately thin backing him up, carrying several poor-rebounding and/or injury-prone forwards who aren’t really suited for the task – Bargnani, Amar’e, and KMart (and an unproven Jeremy Tyler.)

Chandler needs to come down to 28-30 MPG, at least as long as everyone is healthy. And I agree almost completely with McElroy when he says that all non-Chandler minutes must feature KMart on the floor. So Martin should be used almost exclusively as a center and play anywhere from 18-20 minutes a night.

Power forward becomes far trickier, and I’ll have to hedge (hopefully with far more dexterity than Bargnani and Amar’e on pick-and-rolls.) The Knicks have four players who are at their best when they play power forward. Much virtual ink has been spilled at Melo’s terrifying offensive prowess at the 4, and the efficiency of those small-ball lineups in general. Amar’e and Bargnani’s defensive deficiencies, and Bargnani’s comically awful rebounding (worst among all qualified centers last year in rebounding rate), make them incapable of playing center without defensive chaos reigning supreme. And while World Peace remains a very valuable defender, at this stage in his career he is far better-suited to guarding bigger, slower forwards than typical small forwards. Will Bargnani and Amar’e stay healthy? Will the former be effective when healthy? Will MWP continue to find defensive success against power forwards? Will the Knicks stick with small-ball lineups? All those unanswerable questions make figuring out the power forward situation is a headache, for now. It’ll be easier when (and I do mean when) Amar’e and Bargnani get hurt.

 

Silverman: I agree with Lord Jonathan of Topaz. Asking Chandler to log more than 28-30 MPG is practically begging for him to get hurt. Actually, considering his career arc, he’s probably going to miss 15-20 games no matter what. The problem is, while Kenyon Martin was surprisingly effective in the 18 regular season games he logged upon returning to the NBA last year, I don’t think you can expect 20 MPG for a full season without more than a few trips to kindly ol’ Doc Roger Hinds medical practice/glue factory.  I think you have to assume there’ll be 20-odd evenings when he too finds himself on the inactive list, and that’s with keeping his playing time at 15 MPG or so.

By my back of the napkin math (I’ve got an iPhone app that gives you a napkin to do calculations), that leaves three MPG for for the nights when Chandler and Martin are both hale and hearty and 20 games where you’re going to need a full evening’s work from other individuals. That’s where things get a interesting, to put it mildly. It’s partly why Woodson recently stated that one of the Aldrich-Powell-Diogo troika has a good shot of making the roster. And that’s assuming that Jeremy Tyler, regardless of the fact that he’s going to be MIA for a tad longer, is probably already assured of a spot. But the idea of a smallball unit and a grab bag of retread bigs playing significant minutes has to be downright scary. Hell, I think I’m going to go as “Starting Center, Cole Aldrich” for Halloween this year.

 

David Vertsberger: I’d like to give Chandler a good 35 minutes a night, but that’s me being overly optimistic that he’ll be able to handle that load. Whatever minutes he gives up at the center should go to K-Mart. As for the power forward spot, I really couldn’t care less who plays more minutes off the bench between Stoudemire and Bargnani – so long as neither plays more than 15 a night. Go with whoever works there as the season progresses, keep Metta at the 3 for the most part and Anthony at the 4 always. Jeremy Tyler can be the Knicks towel waving human victory cigar.

64 comments on “2014 Preseason Roundtable: All of the Bigs, All of the Bigs

  1. johnno

    I think that all of the Bargnani bashing is getting a little ridiculous. I understand his weaknesses but he has played center most of his career. Suddenly, the entire Knicks season is going to go into the toilet if he plays 15 minutes a game backing up Chandler at center (against the other teams’ backup centers — alongside MWP and/or Kenyon Martin to take up some of the defense/rebounding slack)? What do we think is going to happen? The Ian Mahinmis of the world are suddenly going to light the Knicks up for 20 points a game? Or is Chris Anderson suddenly going to become an offensive force? And those are the good teams. Are we really worried about the backup centers on the lousy teams? I think that we should look at it a different way — if he is playing backup center for 15 minutes, what backup centers in the league are going to have any chance of guarding him when he is more than 10 feet from the basket? Is Mahinmi going to be able to chase HIM around the perimeter?

  2. Frank

    I’m going to go ahead and predict that Bargnani has a very good year for us. No, he’s not Dirk, but I think he’ll play about 24-26 minutes/game and eventually have a per-36 line like 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and have a TS in the mid-high 50s. I think he’ll shoot in the high 30s from 3 point range, especially if they run some sets that allow him to camp in the corners like Novak used to (literally 99% of his 3 pointers in TOR were from above the break – that can’t be anything but by design).

    I think he’ll play D no worse than Amare would have. I think he’ll start along with Felton, Shump, Melo, and Chandler, and that the combo of Shump and Chandler will keep that unit respectable on D. And I think if Shump can operate at all as a 2nd PG, that unit will be very very good on offense.

    Like Johnno wrote, I think everyone has gone a bit overboard with the Bargnani-bashing.

  3. Jonathan Topaz

    Frank, I suppose it is possible. And I hope you are right. But Bargnani had the worst rebounding rate among all centers last year, and has not averaged 7 rebounds per 36 in his entire career (his closest was 6.3 in 2009-2010.) He has shot 30-31 percent from 3 the past two years, and hasn’t shot above 35 percent since 2009-2010. His highest-ever TS percentage was 56, and that came 6 years ago.

    Bargnani is still young, is a pretty good volume scorer and might benefit from a deeper team and change of scenery. But while I hope I’m wrong, his career statistics point to a legitimately horrendous rebounder, a bad defender, and a guy whose floor-spacing reputation is out of line with his middle-of-the-road shooting percentages and efficiency numbers.

    A lot of digital ink, perhaps too much, has been spilled on Bargnani this offseason. But there’s a difference between bashing a guy and evaluating him based on his track record. And his track record is a bit unsettling.

  4. Frank

    Jonathan Topaz: Frank, I suppose it is possible. And I hope you are right. But Bargnani had the worst rebounding rate among all centers last year, and has not averaged 7 rebounds per 36 in his entire career (his closest was 6.3 in 2009-2010.) He has shot 30-31 percent from 3 the past two years, and hasn’t shot above 35 percent since 2009-2010. His highest-ever TS percentage was 56, and that came 6 years ago.

    OK first of all, according to 82games, he played fewer than 50% of his minutes at center. Considering his game, it is far more appropriate to call him a stretch 4 type and not get bogged down with his height. And if you call him a stretch 4, then his defensive rebounding is bad, but not that terrible — at a career DRB of 15.2 he’s in the Rashard Lewis and Brandon Bass territory.

    Second, he was injured the last 2 years – with a calf injury in 11-12 and a shooting elbow injury last year. Last I checked, you need your calves to jump, you need to jump to shoot a jump shot, and you need your elbow to shoot the ball.

    So the question is — do we believe the statistics from when he was healthy or from when he was injured? Do we use his days playing second banana to Chris Bosh as a guide for what to expect playing next to Melo, or do we use his injured #1 option years as a guide? And do we think a career 3P% of 36% is average or do we take into account that in Toronto he shot almost exclusively above the break? Do we think it will be better here when he’s not injured, might have more space to shoot because of Melo and the system we run, and because maybe someone will let him shoot from the short corners?

    I’m not saying that all you piler-ons are wrong — just that it’s just such an easy narrative to pile on him. I choose to think we’ll see the best of Bargnani this year — that’s a harder narrative but way more fun.

  5. max fisher-cohen

    Worth noting is that this article was written before the acquisition of Cole Aldridge, who may be the better option over Tyler.

    Also, my answer was extremely long, so I had to cut a bit about Bargnani, but IIRC it went something like this: For the Knicks to be conference finalists, they need Bargnani to be a deadly three point shooter and to upgrade his rebounding at least to Carmelo levels. This will allow him to defend 4s, sparing Melo abuse, while not destroying the Knicks’ rebound differential (if Melo’s guarding 3s, he’s not going to have as many rebound opportunities). His shooting would make lineups with Melo at the three as potent from long range as the lineups with Shumpert or Smith at the 3, allowing NY to sustain the offensive prowess of their best lineups.

    For that reason, I think NY has to be extremely patient with Bargnani almost as though he is a rookie or second year player in the hope that even if he struggles early on, he becomes the player the Knicks need him to be because IMO the Knicks aren’t going anywhere unless he’s playing the best ball of his career come playoff time.

  6. Jonathan Topaz

    A) Bargnani is a horrific rebounder, compared to 4s or 5s. This, unfortunately, is not up for debate. The best rebounding rate of his career was in 2009-2010 (10.4 percent), and he ranked 66 out of 73 qualified PFs. Power forwards, not centers. And that’s his best season. His rebounding rate last year would rank him in the bottom 20 percent of small forwards. So, it’s a bad all around.
    B) It is possible some of his poor performance the past two years is due to injuries. But we don’t know that. What we do know is that he has suffered a lot of injuries and he has played 66 games over the last two seasons. Having injuries problems is a problem, not a saving grace.
    C) johnno’s comment about Bargnani-bashing was saying that people were overreacting to Bargnani getting minutes at center. If that is indeed an overreaction and the Bargnani-bashing is over-the-top, we must evaluate his rebounding abilities at center. Those are distressing.
    D) Again, no one is piling on. Six people have evaluated a player’s seven-year career and thousands of minutes and come to a reasonable conclusion based on that data. Like I said, I might be wrong, and I hope I am. But the arguments in his favor all require a bit of a leap of faith.

  7. Unreason

    I think the model should be TD. He was fresh at the start of the post season. He’s no less important to the Spurs than Chandler is to the Knicks. I see Bargnani’s value almost exclusively as a buffer against wear and tear on Chandler and Amare. I hope he doesn’t suck so he can do that a fair amount. Contributing anything beyond that will be a nice surprise.

  8. Frank

    Unreason: B) It is possible some of his poor performance the past two years is due to injuries. But we don’t know that. What we do know is that he has suffered a lot of injuries and he has played 66 games over the last two seasons. Having injuries problems is a problem, not a saving grace.

    Derrick Rose didn’t score a single point or hand out a single assist last year. It is possible some of his poor performance last year is due to injuries. But we don’t know that. What we do know is that he suffered an injury and played zero games last year. Having injuries is a problem, not a saving grace.

  9. steveoh

    Thanks, Max, for noting that this was written before Cole Aldrich was signed. I don’t think, for a moment, that he’s any sort of savior. But he is fundamentally sound at defending the pick-and-roll, is a good rebounder and generally gets in the way of offenses, which is an art. Basically, he is what Amar’e and Bargs is not. And there’s value in that.

    At some point, Woodson’s gonna realize (hopefully) that he can’t play Amar’e or Bargs consistently at the backup 5 when Kenyon can’t. There’ll be too many defensive breakdowns, too many extended possessions.

    And considering there’s no reason to wear down Chandler during the regular season, I think Aldrich might get 5-7 minutes a night.

    Melo 34 min
    Chandler 28 min
    Bargnani 22 min
    MWP 20 min
    Amare 18 min
    Martin 16 min
    Aldrich 6 min

  10. Frank

    Jonathan Topaz: D) Again, no one is piling on. Six people have evaluated a player’s seven-year career and thousands of minutes and come to a reasonable conclusion based on that data. Like I said, I might be wrong, and I hope I am. But the arguments in his favor all require a bit of a leap of faith.

    And I’m not just talking about in this article. Bargnani and the whole trade have been piled upon ad nauseum everywhere.

    Let’s just see how it goes. I think there’s at least a 50/50 chance that he plays very well for us. If not, then we have tons of depth on this team and Bargs can sit on the bench.

    And also re: his rebounding. His DRB is bad but not super awful. His ORB is abysmal. No doubt about that.

  11. Robert Silverman

    Frank: Let’s just see how it goes. I think there’s at least a 50/50 chance that he plays very well for us. If not, then we have tons of depth on this team and Bargs can sit on the bench.

    I wouldn’t call it piling on, I’d say the analysis of Bargnani’s career has been pretty even handed. Yes, the Knicks got ripped for the trade, but not because of any bias or mob mentality. Many people thought it was a bad move.

    But 50-50? That seems very optimistic. It’s incredibly rare that a player with a set skill/performance level makes a jump in his 8th year of pro ball.

    We’re all hoping Bargs has a boffo year — something along the lines of 13 ppg, 4 rpg and 47/40 from the field in 25 mpg. As a Knicks fan, I certainly hope all of the wise wags are proven wrong, but the odds are against it.

  12. johnno

    Robert Silverman: But 50-50? That seems very optimistic. It’s incredibly rare that a player with a set skill/performance level makes a jump in his 8th year of pro ball.

    Who is saying that they expect him to make a “jump” this year? If you accept that his performance was hindered the last two years due to injury, it is reasonable to assume that, if he is healthy this year, there’s an excellent chance (i.e., much better than 50-50) that he will revert to what he was in his third through fifth years in the league. That’s what I’m hoping for. If he does that, he will be very productive offensively. Re: defense and rebounding — weren’t there a whole bunch of people screaming on this site last year that Copeland should be getting minutes at the five because it would create so many favorable mismatches? How come Copeland’s obvious deficiencies in defense and rebounding would be acceptable, but Bargnani’s would be totally intolerable? Re: all of the “wise wags” — are you referring to all of the experts on the ESPN website who picked the Celtics, Nets and 76ers to with the division last year — or the none who picked the Knicks?

  13. Nick C.

    The issue I have with Bargnani is that the optimistic approach seems to be built on a lot of ifs, shoulds, coulds and performance at a level above where he has been at any point in time. On the other hand it seemed there was a time he used to kill the Knicks, so maybe but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    As to the topic at hand back when the lineup question was first posed I thought starting Bargnani made the most sense. Woodson is just going have to get his head out of his ass about playing youngsters and give Aldrich 5 minutes a night so coupled with a few minutes of Amare/Bargs Tyson-Kenyon as playing 40 a might combined at a maximum.

  14. max fisher-cohen

    @Johnno

    Let’s add up the “ifs”:

    If Bargnani’s struggles were due to injury: 70% chance
    If Bargnani stays healthy: 70% chance
    If Bargnani benefits a lot from being a 2nd or 3rd fiddle on offense: 50% chance

    If all of these things are true, then Bargnani will be a good rotation player, but you the odds off all those things happening are 25% (.7*.7*.5) if you take my percentages as reasonable, and IMO they’re pretty generous.

    We could add more ifs, too: How about if Bargnani becomes a smarter and more focused player on defense, further dropping the odds.

    As far as the Copeland thing goes, I think most of the yells for more Copeland came during the Indy series when both Martin and Chandler were playing like dweebs. Woodson needed to take a risk because the rotations he was playing weren’t working, and trying Copeland out with more minutes at center seemed like the only reasonable one to take.

  15. Robert Silverman

    johnno: Who is saying that they expect him to make a “jump” this year?If you accept that his performance was hindered the last two years due to injury, it is reasonable to assume that, if he is healthy this year, there’s an excellent chance (i.e., much better than 50-50) that he will revert to what he was in his third through fifth years in the league.That’s what I’m hoping for.If he does that, he will be very productive offensively.

    That’s the problem — he was not “very productive offensively”. Even during his “good” years, Bargnani was an inefficient volume scorer. And that’s before you get to defense/rebounding

  16. EB

    Everyone knows he’s replacing Kidd or prigs in the lineup, right? For that job bargs will do fine at rebounding.

  17. Robert Silverman

    EB:
    Everyone knows he’s replacing Kidd or prigs in the lineup, right? For that job bargs will do fine at rebounding.

    Actually, last year Kidd was a better per minute rebounder than Andrea Bargnani.

  18. Frank

    Robert Silverman: That’s the problem — he was not “very productive offensively”. Even during his “good” years, Bargnani was an inefficient volume scorer. And that’s before you get to defense/rebounding

    The average TS% in NBA in Bargnani’s last 3 Bosh seasons (07-08, 08-09, 09-10 – the period we’re talking about) were 54, 54.4, and 54.3. The average USG% those seasons were 18.83, 19.01, and 18.8.

    Bargnani’s TS those years: 49.5, 55.9, 55.2
    Bargnani’s USG those years: 22.5, 22.6, 22.3

    so yes his 2nd year in the league he had a bad TS year – but the next two years he had an above average TS on well-above average usage. A whole team with a TS of ~55.5 would have been a top 5-9 offense those years. So what’s inefficient about that again?

  19. chrisk06811

    I agree with whats-his-name. But, I have two points.

    First, Chandler should play as few minutes as possible. I don’t care if he averages 30 a night; but a bunch of those should be 22 minute nights in blowouts. I don’t want to see him on the floor at garbage time, ever. His game doesn’t need reps. Amare and especially Bargnani do……let them play center then.

    Second, when not in the game, instead of sitting on the bench, I”d like to see our bigs do like baseball DH’s do…..go practice your friggen free throws. You never saw Chili Davis sitting in a little metal chair waiving a towel.

  20. Nick C.

    Not for nothing but that maybe as useful a bit of info as you could look for. I always was curious as to what league averages were as a pint of reference but never so curious as to check.

    Frank: The average TS% in NBA in Bargnani’s last 3 Bosh seasons (07-08, 08-09, 09-10 – the period we’re talking about) were 54, 54.4, and 54.3.The average USG% those seasons were 18.83, 19.01, and 18.8.

    Bargnani’s TS those years: 49.5, 55.9, 55.2
    Bargnani’s USG those years: 22.5, 22.6, 22.3

    so yes his 2nd year in the league he had a bad TS year – but the next two years he had an above average TS on well-above average usage.A whole team with a TS of ~55.5 would have been a top 5-9 offense those years. So what’s inefficient about that again?

  21. Frank

    Nick C.:
    Not for nothing but that maybe as useful a bit of info as you could look for. I always was curious as to what league averages were as a pint of reference but never so curious as to check.

    go to hoopdata and go to the player stats –> advanced tab — at the top of the list of names is the row for the league average values…

  22. Robert Silverman

    Frank: The average TS% in NBA in Bargnani’s last 3 Bosh seasons (07-08, 08-09, 09-10 – the period we’re talking about) were 54, 54.4, and 54.3.The average USG% those seasons were 18.83, 19.01, and 18.8.

    Bargnani’s TS those years: 49.5, 55.9, 55.2
    Bargnani’s USG those years: 22.5, 22.6, 22.3

    so yes his 2nd year in the league he had a bad TS year – but the next two years he had an above average TS on well-above average usage.A whole team with a TS of ~55.5 would have been a top 5-9 offense those years. So what’s inefficient about that again?

    You’re right. For two years, he had an above-average TS. I think the other five years provides a clearer picture of what Bargs is going to do, but if he can approach those numbers, he will be an effective offensive player.

  23. EB

    Robert Silverman: Actually, last yeabr Kidd was a better per minute rebounder than Andrea Bargnani.

    te>
    I know but I didn’t make that claim. I said bargnani would do fine replacing Kidd or prigioni, not that bargnani had better rebounding numbers last year. These two claims are fundamentally diffferent. You took my general claim and acted as though it were specific, this is a logical fallacy. And bargnani has a career Reb rate around the mark Kidd put up last year. But even 1 reb less per 36 would be an adequate replacement in my opinion

  24. johnno

    Robert Silverman: You’re right. For two years, he had an above-average TS. I think the other five years provides a clearer picture of what Bargs is going to do

    OK, for the two years AB (after Bosh), his TS% dipped only slightly below 54% despite his usage jumping from 22 to almost 29%. The only year in the last five in which he had a really bad TS% was last year — a year in which he missed more than half of the year with an injury to the elbow in his shooting arm — kind of a bad joint for a shooter to injure. Based on four straight years — 2 with Bosh and 2 without, I think that it’s an excellent bet that, if his elbow is healthy, he’ll return to a TS% of above 54%. If so, he’ll be very useful. By the way, for what it’s worth. his PER has been above league average for his career and well above it in several years. Also for what it’s worth (admittedly not a whole hell of a lot), the “expert panel” at espn.com had him ranked as the 58th best player in the league going into last season. Now that he’s on the Knicks, it is apparently a league rule that everyone has to say that he stinks but that was not the prevailing wisdom a year ago.

  25. Z-man

    Robert Silverman: You’re right. For two years, he had an above-average TS. I think the other five years provides a clearer picture of what Bargs is going to do, but if he can approach those numbers, he will be an effective offensive player.

    I really don’t get why you and others think this. Bargnani has been playing for essentially dogshit teams with no on-the-court or of-the-court leadership for his entire career. He never lived up to the completely unrealistic expectations of being the #1 overall pick, but he has also never been in a situation that was a good match for his skillset.

    I think it’s a mistake to conclude that he will suck for the rest of his career, or to focus on his lack of rebounding per se. Many stretch 4’s of his ilk were highly effective players for very good teams…Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Peja, to name 3. It’s also wrong to consider his contract at this point. The only thing that matters is whether he can do the stretch-4 thing better than whatever else is or was available.

    I personally think that he will have a better year than Copeland and Novak COMBINED. He is a more talented player than either of those guys could ever hope to be. Again, what were their stats at age 27? They were playing basketball, getting scouted, and building a track record. Copeland couldn’t even sniff the league and Novak was a the ultimate one-trick pony fringe guy. These guys come out of nowhere at age 27 and become Knicks legends (never mind that the subject of your avatar couldn’t get off the bench in the playoffs because of his complete inability to get open, or to do any other basketball thing at an NBA level.) Why doesn’t Bargnani get the same benefit of the doubt that they did at age 27?

  26. Z-man

    “It’s incredibly rare that a player with a set skill/performance level makes a jump in his 8th year of pro ball.”

    This is what I’m talking about. Copeland and Novak just did that, didn’t they? Weren’t they playing “pro ball?” What about Blatche?

    The fact is, it may be more the exception than the rule, but to say that it is “incredibly rare” is a gross overstatement.

    I think that Bargnani’s backstory is incredibly compelling and will find it easy to root hard for him. It’s not his fault that he was drafted much too early, or by a shitty team/organization. He has been scapegoated and demoralized, and for the last 2 years, injured. He hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in 5 years. He was essentially run out of town and made out to be a lazy, dumb primadonna, a malingering locker room cancer.

    I’ve read tons of articles since the trade, and nothing I’ve read has given me a reason to conclude that Bargnani is too dumb or lazy to learn how to utilize his size and talent more productively, or to worry that he will be a bad teammate or insidious locker room influence, or a injury-plagued afterthought. I see no reason to believe that he won’t be as important to us as Blatche was to the Nets last year.

  27. Robert Silverman

    Z-Man:

    1. Yes, Bargs has played on some tepid Toronto teams. That said, Chris Bosh was on that team as well. And having no “on court/off court leadership” didn’t seem to effect him that much. Also, I’m not sure how you definitely state what ‘leadership’ he might have/have not received during his career, unless you’re connected to the Raptors Org. in some way.

    2. I’m not saying “He’ll suck”. I’m saying he’s established a level of play after 7 years in the league. In his best years, he’s been a (better than I’d thought) scorer, and an awful defender/rebounder. I’ve been trying to think of high draft picks who improved after that amount of defined play and the only name I’ve been able to come up w/ is Jamal Crawford. Of course, his efficiency did spike under Woodson, FWIW. So yes, it’s possible he’ll be better. I just think it’s not really very likely.

    3. Peja was never a stretch 4. He was exclusively a SF. And except for the 2-3 years in Orlando, neither were Rashard or Turkoglu. They have rebound rates similar to Bargs, but in that instance they were playing next to Howard, who was gobbling up 15 RPG. If you want to compare, look at Ryan Anderson, Thaddeus Young, Ersan Ilyasova or even Channing Frye and Patrick Patterson, actual Stretch 4’s, all of whom have a better TRB% than Bargs.

    4. Who said anything about his contract?

    5. I’m not sure what Novak/Copeland’s stats at age 27 have to do with this, unless you’re suggesting that Bargnani is young enough to reach the potential that his talent suggests. Again, I’d say that it’s very rare for players to make a jump after seven years in the league getting serious PT. If there are other examples I’m forgetting, I’d love to hear them

    6. Novak’s my avatar because it’s a drawing I did.

  28. Robert Silverman

    Z-Man,

    1. Novak didn’t make a leap — he had a good shooting year for him but his #’s in NY were more or less in line with what he’s done in sporadic minutes. And Copeland was playing in Europe, not the NBA. If you’d rather I say, “Exception that proves the rule” fine. It’s not a regular occurrence. Teams take fliers on high draft picks all the time, b/c when it does work out, you’ve got a cheap asset. But it is rare.

    2. Blatche definitely improved in BK. That’s one I forgot. He vastly improved his shot selection/efficiency. That’s the hope w/Bargs — that he’ll stick to open shots off ball movement and not be forced to create for himself.

    3. What about his backstory is so compelling? The fact that he played for some bad Toronto teams? Seriously, I’m asking.

    4. Yes, he was depicted as lazy. There are two reasons why. A) He’s lazy. B) The organization was consciously trying to ruin the confidence/trade value of a player. Which do you think is more likely? I hope it’s the latter, but if it’s the former, that his work habits have improved. We’ll see.

    5. I’m rooting for Bargs too. The fact that I don’t think he’ll have a great year doesn’t change that. I certainly didn’t think Blatche would be an asset as a Net last year, but if I was a Nets fan, I’d have been tickled chartreuse that he was. Same thing goes here.

  29. johnno

    Going into last season — before he had an injury-plagued season and before he was traded to the Knicks and therefore must be ridiculed by the media — ESPN had Bargnani as the 58th ranked player in the league. Here’s the list of players ranked just ahead of him and right behind him — Nene, Paul Millsap, Gallo, John Wall, David West, Marcin Gortat, David Lee, Brook Lopez, Nicholas Batum, Brandon Jennings and Mike Conley. What would the reaction be on this site or in the media if the Knicks had dumped a couple of bad contracts, two late second round draft picks and a pick that is destined to be in the mid-20s in the draft in the distant future (2016 is the distant future in sports) for any one of those guys?

  30. SeeWhyDee77

    RE: 4/5
    I think if we go into the season with a C rotation of Tyson-Aldrich-Tyler and with guys like Kmart-STAT-Bargnani who can play C for some stretches we are fine at the 4/5 with guys like Melo and MWP who can play some 4. I think out frontcourt is fine. The training staff and coaches just have to find a way to keep those guys on the floor. That’s a pretty diverse group of guys and my biggest hope is we can get away with 20 or so minutes a night at the C out of the guys backing up the 4/5. All the while not overworking Tyson and STAT. I agree that Woodson has to keep Tyson at 28-30 mpg max. If he does that, he should have no problem maximizing Tyson’s contributions efficiently. If guys can stay healthy I can see that happening. I mean..whoever plays C behind him, whether its one or 3 guys, only needs to give 20 solid minutes tops. With Kmart being the 1st option because of his defense, I think Woodson can squeeze 20 solid C minutes out of his bench a night. And if Leslie makes the roster that’s another body to throw in the PF rotation to keep guys fresher up front if necessary. Woodson can use him at the 3 as well. The great thing about this roster is there are so many guys that can play multiple spots so coach has alotta toys to play matchup with.

  31. johnno

    Robert Silverman: Yes, Bargs has played on some tepid Toronto teams. That said, Chris Bosh was on that team as well.

    If your point is that Bargnani isn’t as good as Bosh, you’re probably right. That doesn’t mean that he sucks. Besides, I realize that I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet that Bosh wasn’t available for the package that the Knicks gave up for AB. You are right — after 8 years in the league, he has established who he is. In the four years prior to last year, he was pretty darned good — at least offensively.
    A disclaimer here is appropriate — as I have stated here in the past, I am very much a glass half full type of sports fan. For example, I was really looking forward to watching the Giants this season and… well, never mind…

  32. SeeWhyDee77

    One thing that kinda irks me when we discuss this roster is sometimes the desire to see the best talent top to bottom gets in the way of things. Talent goes a long way but lets not forget how important coaching is. For instance, Larry Brown’s Philly and Detroit teams weren’t the most talented top to bottom..but he coached to those guys strengths damn near perfectly. Phil Jackson had a HOF starting five in LA once and couldn’t win. So if coaches and players are all on the same page and the team has enough talent to make things happen..they can be successful when they come together in the right way. I would say the bigger onus is on Woodson this season because he does, flaws and all, have more talent than he’s ever had on any NBA team he’s coached.

  33. Z-man

    @27
    1. Bargnani played fairly well alongside Bosh during Bosh’s last 2 years there. Bosh left when Bargnani was 24. Bargnani was moved to C and became the go-to guy on a truly terrible roster.
    2. His first 2 years were as a 21-22yo newbie to American basketball and with the inflated expectations of a #1 overall pick. His last 2 were injury plagued. The only years that matter to me are years 3-4 that he played with Bosh, and that player was pretty good for a 23-24yo. And that wasn’t anywhere near as good of a situation for him as the one he’s in now. Neither team made the playoffs.
    3. All of these guys played exactly the same role…shoot 3’s and defend the other teams worst 3-4. I won’t bother duplicating the search I did over the summer based on height, shot-selection, usage, rebounding, etc. IMHO, role trumps position.
    4. My post ws directed at “you and others.”
    5. Yes, that is essentially what I’m saying. Players can reach their potential at or after age 27 in a dramatically better situation. The real question is, what is his potential? Where is his ceiling? You feel we already know the answer, I don’t. The reason I bring up Copeland and Novak is because they received a lot of hype yet their very limited ceiling was exposed right when we needed them most. Novak became a huge liability in the playoffs, even though his stats actually improved.
    6. I know. The question is, of all the Knicks players, why did you choose to draw him? Why not Melo? And isn’t he on an opposing team now? :)

  34. johnno

    Robert Silverman: Novak’s my avatar because it’s a drawing I did

    You may be confused about basketball, but you are a very good artist. All kidding aside, it’s really, really good. It looks just like him — I thought that it was a photograph.

  35. ruruland

    Jonathan Topaz:
    A) Bargnani is a horrific rebounder, compared to 4s or 5s. This, unfortunately, is not up for debate. The best rebounding rate of his career was in 2009-2010 (10.4 percent), and he ranked 66 out of 73 qualified PFs. Power forwards, not centers. And that’s his best season. His rebounding rate last year would rank him in the bottom 20 percent of small forwards. So, it’s a bad all around.
    B) It is possible some of his poor performance the past two years is due to injuries. But we don’t know that. What we do know is that he has suffered a lot of injuries and he has played 66 games over the last two seasons. Having injuries problems is a problem, not a saving grace.
    C) johnno’s comment about Bargnani-bashing was saying that people were overreacting to Bargnani getting minutes at center. If that is indeed an overreaction and the Bargnani-bashing is over-the-top, we must evaluate his rebounding abilities at center. Those are distressing.
    D) Again, no one is piling on. Six people have evaluated a player’s seven-year career and thousands of minutes and come to a reasonable conclusion based on that data. Like I said, I might be wrong, and I hope I am. But the arguments in his favor all require a bit of a leap of faith.

    Hey buddy, you and the panel aren’t the only evaluating the Knicks. Frankly, everything you brought to the above discussion is surface level stuff we’ve gone over countless times and fails to address any of the counter-arguments we’ve made in this space.

  36. ruruland

    johnno: Who is saying that they expect him to make a “jump” this year?If you accept that his performance was hindered the last two years due to injury, it is reasonable to assume that, if he is healthy this year, there’s an excellent chance (i.e., much better than 50-50) that he will revert to what he was in his third through fifth years in the league.That’s what I’m hoping for.If he does that, he will be very productive offensively.Re: defense and rebounding — weren’t there a whole bunch of people screaming on this site last year that Copeland should be getting minutes at the five because it would create so many favorable mismatches?How come Copeland’s obvious deficiencies in defense and rebounding would be acceptable, but Bargnani’s would be totally intolerable?Re: all of the “wise wags” — are you referring to all of the experts on the ESPN website who picked the Celtics, Nets and 76ers to with the division last year — or the none who picked the Knicks?

    Correct. It’s not really a jump.

    It’s simply using the skill-set he’s already demonstrated, at times quite consistently prior to injuries, in a new environment.

  37. Z-man

    @28
    1. No, it’s not a regular occurrence. But it is not exceedingly rare either. It’s still a case-by-case thing for me. In this case, I believe it’s a low-risk, high-reward kind of gamble. Situation-wise, I see a very strong similarity between Bargnani and Blatche. Maybe that’s just me.
    2. Totally agree.
    3. I dunno, a total bust of a #1 pick getting run out of town after 7 miserable years, getting a chance to turn it around as a pivotal role-player on a contending team?
    4. I’m not suggesting that he was a gym rat, but Toronto has had lots of problems during the last 3 years. I didn’t notice him dogging it in any of the Knicks-Raptors games. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now.
    5. If this happens, I expect an Andrea portrait directly.

  38. Z-man

    ruruland: Correct. It’s not really a jump.

    It’s simply using the skill-set he’s already demonstrated, at times quite consistently prior to injuries, in a new environment.

    Well put, ruru.

  39. SeeWhyDee77

    It’s funny..how folks (mainly analysts) look at the Knicks offseason an compare it to other teams’ offseason like there’s some abstract collection of scrubs an YMCA lifers on this team lol. Our guys have faults..as all NBA teams do. But the bottom line is still this: Melo, Tyson, Shump, Felton, JR, MWP, Bargnani, and STAT (when healthy and probably with his 20 mpg limit) can all start for a few teams in the league. Udrih, Kmart, Prigioni, and TH2 (by default and draft status and pedigree) can all play major rotational roles for a few teams. Leslie has potential and Aldrich and Tyler, to me, are right on the cusp of being solid rotational pieces. Unfortunately for them, especially Aldrich, teams are not gonna wait forever for guys like that to figure the NBA game out. But the ability is still there and maybe (*fingers crossed* hopefully) they just need a certain type of coaching to get them there. Coaching that I pray Woodson can provide with help from Kmart, MWP (incredibly high BBall IQ..well higher than people would like to believe), Tyson, Udrih, and Prigioni. This team is pretty good and as a Knick fan, I’m not in fear of Brooklyn or Indy or Chicago..and really not even Miami. The Clips and Warriors scare me as do the Spurs and OKC with a healthy Westbrook. Houston maybe with that Harden-Howard combo with Lin and Parsons..depending on McHale’s coaching. Damn the West is top heavy..

  40. ruruland

    As I’ve written previously, over the last four years, Bargnani has been one of the best pick and roll (pick and pop) and spot-up big men in the NBA.

    When you combine his shots in both categories he is only behind Dirk Nowitzki and Ryan Anderson in PPP. He is ahead of Kevin Love in both categories.

    We can look closer. The last two years he’s battled injuries that have clearly affected his shooting: he’s shot 30 percent from three the last two years.

    He was a 37 % 3-pt shooter going into 2011. And he was a 37.5 % 3-pt shooter in the Chris Bosh era, prior to becoming the number one option and seeing his usage climb from 22 to 28 percent, and his true shooting percentage drop by about 30 points.

    What are the differences in skill and utilization between Novak (career 15.6 usage) and AB (career 24.1 5 usage)?

    Isolation/post-up play percentage and PPS between 2009-2013

    AB 2013
    Post-ups 14.9 %, .86 PPP. Isolation 10.2%, .79 PPP
    Novak 2013
    Post-ups ZERO, Isolations .9 % (91 percent of Novak’s possessions were spot-ups/transition/off-screen).

    AB 2012
    Isolation 16.7%, .94 (ranked 18th). Post-ups 9.7 %. .93 PPP
    Novak 2012
    Isolation/Post up 10 plays. (86 percent of his shots were spot-ups/transtion/off-screen)

    AB 2011
    Isolation 19.2% .92, post-up 19.4 % .95 ppp

    AB 2010
    8.7% .81, 16.1 % .91

    AB’s PPP on spot-ups, off-screens, transition and pnr/pop

    2009: 1.03 pnr, 1.11 spot-up, .91 off-screen, transition .9
    2010: 1.1 pnr, .93 spot-up, .94 off-screen, 1.06 transition
    2011:.98 pnr, 1.04 spot-up, .81 off-screen, .92 transition
    2012: 1 pnr, .92 spot-up, .52 off-screen, .84 transition

    True, Bargnani at his best is not as good as Novak as a spot-up shooter.

    But with a change in shot distribution, AB can certainly improve his shooting efficiency and still have a much higher usage than Novak.

  41. Jack Bauer

    johnno: Who is saying that they expect him to make a “jump” this year?If you accept that his performance was hindered the last two years due to injury, it is reasonable to assume that, if he is healthy this year, there’s an excellent chance (i.e., much better than 50-50) that he will revert to what he was in his third through fifth years in the league.That’s what I’m hoping for.If he does that, he will be very productive offensively.Re: defense and rebounding — weren’t there a whole bunch of people screaming on this site last year that Copeland should be getting minutes at the five because it would create so many favorable mismatches?How come Copeland’s obvious deficiencies in defense and rebounding would be acceptable, but Bargnani’s would be totally intolerable?Re: all of the “wise wags” — are you referring to all of the experts on the ESPN website who picked the Celtics, Nets and 76ers to with the division last year — or the none who picked the Knicks?

    Agree 100%. Keep in mind who AB is replacing when all the bashing starts :.Novak – I can’t get my shot off if guarded at all and is useless at anything else + Camby – DNP for about 77 games (the picks would not be helping for several years if ever). Playing with better teammates on a winning team will bring out the best in Bargs which is good enough to improve the Knicks next year. Not to mention his contract ends a year sooner than Novak’s . Well worth the risk – don’t tell the experts at ESPN…..

  42. Brian Cronin

    Bargs obviously theoretically could be good, I certainly allow that. What I don’t like, though, is the idea of just appointing him as a key player right off the bat. If he earns it, then great. But the notion of just giving him minutes on a team this deep seems foolish to me. As of right this second, he’s the Knicks’ sixth best big man after Melo, Chandler, STAT, MWP and K-Mart. If he proves that he deserves minutes over the bottom three guys on that list, awesome. That would be very good news. But to go into the season with him just getting those minutes? That’s not a good idea.

  43. Z-man

    Brian Cronin: But the notion of just giving him minutes on a team this deep seems foolish to me. As of right t

    I don’t think he’s going to be “given” anything but an opportunity. If he doesn’t play well, he will sit. I just think that the definition of “playing well” may be something about which many here will disagree. Do you really think he stinks so bad that he can’t adequately replace at least Novak and Copeland’s roles, at the very least? I really just don’t get that.

    Let’s also keep in mind that STAT and K-Mart will both be on minutes/game restrictions, and that MWP is not really a big. K-Mart and Chandler are very limited offensively, and MWP really isn’t a scorer. It’s not always whose “better” but who is best for a given situation.

  44. Brian Cronin

    Woodson is already talking about starting him! That’s what I’m talking about.

    You’re going with “he’ll at least be as good as Novak and Cope” (which I agree with) and Woody’s going with starting the guy!

    I don’t think he should be starting until he shows that he can do what we hope he can do during the game. If he can. then sure, start pumping his minutes up. But he shouldn’t be starting out of the gate, not with a team this deep in quality big men. It’d be like starting Copeland with a healthy STAT and MWP available – not a good idea.

  45. iserp

    Brian Cronin: Woodson is already talking about starting him! That’s what I’m talking about.

    But then, you have to look how was the team composed last year to this year. We are not playing smallball, at least for the start of the season, because we have lost Kidd, JR Smith and Ronnie Brewer, and we have only added Beno Udrih to make up for it (THJ notwithstanding)

    Of the other bigs, you want one of Tyson or K-Mart always on the court for defensive reasons. Since both are on a minute limit, you should not start both. STAT accepted a bench role last year, is on a minute limit, and you want him to play all the time that Melo is in the bench, so it is reasonable to keep him on the 2nd unit.

    So the final answer is that our starting PF (or Melo’s company at the forward spot, don’t care too much about how you label it) must be either Bargnani or MWP. Neither is a great rebounder. MWP will be better on D. Bargnani will provide more to the offense. MWP can make the corner 3, so he is not without value at that end.

    I think we can let Woodson try a little bit with the lineups, and see in practice which one is better. Personally, i am skeptic on what MWP can provide to this team; i am not even sure if he is gonna be a good bench player at his age… but i think i am alone in that camp.

  46. Brian Cronin

    Woody was talking up Bargs as a starter before they even began scrimmaging. It seems like it’s not something he’s trying out but rather something he wants to do and he’ll have to be convinced not to do it, and that’s what I don’t get. I get Bargs as a replacement for Copeland with upside to be much more, but Woodson’s opening with him as if he’s already hit that upside!

  47. johnno

    You know who started 50 games for the Knicks at forward last year? Ronnie Brewer (34) and James White (16)! Aside from a couple of people who stubbornly cling to the notion that Brewer created a lot of wins last year, is there ANYONE who doesn’t think that Bargnani would be an upgrade over those two guys??

    SeeWhyDee77: MWP (incredibly high BBall IQ..well higher than people would like to believe

    I think that MWP is a very smart guy period, not just a guy with a high basketball IQ.

  48. Brian Cronin

    Neither of those guys should have been starters either. Both only started because of injuries (well, that and Woody’s weird “JR can never start” thing).

  49. johnno

    Brian Cronin: Neither of those guys should have been starters either.

    I agree but the fact remains that they started 60% of the team’s games (hard to believe, isn’t it?). Is Bargnani really not going to be an upgrade over those two guys?

  50. SeeWhyDee77

    For some crazy reason, I believe as a starter (if he gets the gig)playing alongside Tyson-Melo-Shump-Felton mostly, that it’s not much of a stretch for Bargnani to put up 15-7-3apg-1bpg. He’s never played with this much collective talent overall and definitely not with the starting 5’s he’s been a part of. I’m with most people who think he should have never been drafted #1. Certainly talented enough to go in the lottery, but that was a screwy draft. We hafta remember that every team wanted a Dirk. And we hafta remember that for some odd reason that if a big can move, shoot, or dribble, then scouts go ape shit bananas. Hell, The ‘Stache went 3rd, Tyrus Thomas went 4, Shelden Williams went 5, Foye went 7, and Patrick O’Bryant and Mouhed Sene went 9 and 10!! Hilton Armstrong went FRICKIN 12!! Screwy draft man. Going 1 was the worse thing to happen to Bargnani, but it’s understandable why he went 1 considering the times.

  51. iserp

    Brian Cronin:
    Woody was talking up Bargs as a starter before they even began scrimmaging. It seems like it’s not something he’s trying out but rather something he wants to do and he’ll have to be convinced not to do it, and that’s what I don’t get. I get Bargs as a replacement for Copeland with upside to be much more, but Woodson’s opening with him as if he’s already hit that upside!

    MMmmph, OK, i agree that starting should be something earned, and it looks a bit as Bargnani is the shiny new player and we have to try and use it right away.

    However, i am with Woodson. I feel comfortable with the starting lineup he is trying. Bargnani has his pros and cons, but in this context, he will bring balance to the team and result in a net positive. And if it doesn’t work out, we can always fall back to what was working last year. It is better to experiment early when everyone’s healthy rather than in april, when injury hits, and we have to make up something for the playoffs.

  52. Z-man

    Z-man: Do you really think he stinks so bad that he can’t adequately replace at least Novak and Copeland’s roles, at the very least? I really just don’t get that.

    Brian, I used the words “at least.” Meaning that this is the absolute floor. The ceiling? That’s where we differ. Woodson is going to try to put Bargnani in a position to succeed. Why shouldn’t he? Because the likes of K-Mart, STAT and MWP are ahead of him? Each one of those three have a lower theoretical ceiling at the 4 than Bargnani (STAT mainly due to health implications reflected in the minutes restrictions.) Why not find out what that ceiling is early on by throwing Bargnani in as a starter? Especially now, when STAT is compromised?

    K-Mart and MWP don’t need to have their roles defined at thi point, they will adapt. K-mart needs to back up Chandler for 15-20mpg unless Aldrich/Tyler show something.

    I was never a fan of the Melo at the 4 lineup. Melo is essentially Paul Pierce, and should be at the 3, especially with bruising teams like Indiana, Chicago and Brooklyn all competing for the critical 2-3 seeds. The 4-5 seeds are going to have to play those teams in the first round. If Melo gets worn out by banging with 4’s all year, and then we have to play big after going small all year, that is not a recipe for success. MWP is not a 4 either. If Bargnani doesn’t merit starter’s minutes, the effect will surely be felt down the road. Woody knows that, as does Melo. I think it’s a no-brainer to force-feed Bargnani the starting role and teach him how to adapt to a complementary role.

    CAN”T WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW PM!!!

  53. Z

    Z-man:
    5. Yes, that is essentially what I’m saying. Players can reach their potential at or after age 27 in a dramatically better situation.

    I think this has truth, in theory, but has NY ever really been a better place for anybody, ever?

    Xavier McDaniel is an example of somebody who was a high draft pick with great tools and high expectation coming into the league. His production stalled out as he reached his peak and it was assumed a change of situation would be better. He came to New York and was, for the most part, pretty terrible. Even worse than he had been in Phoenix. He certainly didn’t benefit from his habitat change.

    And he’s not the only one. All of these players came to NY in what should have been their primes and proceeded to play immediately worse:

    Charles Smith
    Chris Childs
    Larry Johnson
    Chris Mills
    Latrell Sprewell

    Even Allan Houston took a significant step back during his first year in NY. Charles Oakley too. In fact, can you name anybody of any significance who came to NY in their prime and was done good by the change of environment?

    The reason players play worse after coming to NY is mainly because it is horrible environment to play sports in. If ya can’t hack it in Toronto because there’s “no leadership”, how the heck can you survive the media scrutiny and dysfunctional leadership of the organization. Players that need a habitat change are typically fragile or damaged players. You can hope that MSG is a “dramatically better situation” for them, but history certainly doesn’t support that wish.

  54. Nick C.

    Most but not all of those guys came to NY and were at best the second option to Patrick after being 1 or 1a where they came from. I don’t think your premise is wrong necessarily, but on the current team we have Melo, Tyson and even Amare as counterexamples.

  55. SeeWhyDee77

    Z: I think this has truth, in theory, but has NY ever really been a better place for anybody, ever?

    Xavier McDaniel is an example of somebody who was a high draft pick with great tools and high expectation coming into the league. His production stalled out as he reached his peak and it was assumed a change of situation would be better. He came to New York and was, for the most part, pretty terrible. Even worse than he had been in Phoenix. He certainly didn’t benefit from his habitat change.

    And he’s not the only one. All of these players came to NY in what should have been their primes and proceeded to play immediately worse:

    Charles SmithChris ChildsLarry JohnsonChris MillsLatrell Sprewell

    Even Allan Houston took a significant step back during his first year in NY. Charles Oakley too. In fact, can you name anybody of any significance who came to NY in their prime and was done good by the change of environment?

    The reason players play worse after coming to NY is mainly because it is horrible environment to play sports in. If ya can’t hack it in Toronto because there’s “no leadership”, how the heck can you survive the media scrutiny and dysfunctional leadership of the organization. Players that need a habitat change are typically fragile or damaged players. You can hope that MSG is a “dramatically better situation” for them, but history certainly doesn’t support that wish.

    That is all true. The only thing that gives me trouble is saying Spree played worse. Maybe his first few games as he got acclimated. But I think he played better as a Knick than he did as a Warrior. He didn’t put up the same numbers but he sacrificed that and became a better defender and facilitator than he ever was before. KVG could have used him differently but he wouldn’t have fit in as well

  56. Z-man

    Z: I think this has truth, in theory, but has NY ever really been a better place for anybody, ever?

    Xavier McDaniel is an example of somebody who was a high draft pick with great tools and high expectation coming into the league. His production stalled out as he reached his peak and it was assumed a change of situation would be better. He came to New York and was, for the most part, pretty terrible. Even worse than he had been in Phoenix. He certainly didn’t benefit from his habitat change.

    And he’s not the only one. All of these players came to NY in what should have been their primes and proceeded to play immediately worse:

    Charles Smith
    Chris Childs
    Larry Johnson
    Chris Mills
    Latrell Sprewell

    Even Allan Houston took a significant step back during his first year in NY. Charles Oakley too. In fact, can you name anybody of any significance who came to NY in their prime and was done good by the change of environment?

    The reason players play worse after coming to NY is mainly because it is horrible environment to play sports in. If ya can’t hack it in Toronto because there’s “no leadership”, how the heck can you survive the media scrutiny and dysfunctional leadership of the organization. Players that need a habitat change are typically fragile or damaged players. You can hope that MSG is a “dramatically better situation” for them, but history certainly doesn’t support that wish.

    I disagree with just about every point made here. X-man played 1 year here, had a great playoffs (terrorized Pippen) and went to Boston. Most fans (and Riley) were pissed that he left. He was fighting injuries anyway. Smith was a softee PF in the rugged ’90, bad fit on Knicks. LJ had a bad back. Spreewell, Oak and Houston became all-time Knicks faves. Mills and Childs? Who cares? Their situations are not analogous to Bargnani’s at all. Think role and…

  57. Z-man

    Think role and fit. Bargnani is not coming in as a savior, or as a round peg in a square hole. He is going to be asked to do what he is best suited to do. He is playing alongside a guy with a usage% of 36 and a recent DPOY. If he has a bad night or several, there are several back-up plans. He is young and healthy for now.

  58. Z

    Z-man: I disagree with just about every point made here.

    Yes!

    Z-man: X-man played 1 year here, had a great playoffs (terrorized Pippen) and went to Boston. Most fans (and Riley) were pissed that he left. He was fighting injuries anyway. Smith was a softee PF in the rugged ’90, bad fit on Knicks. LJ had a bad back. Spreewell, Oak and Houston became all-time Knicks faves. Mills and Childs? Who cares? Their situations are not analogous to Bargnani’s at all.

    But one point that you can’t disagree with is that every one of these guys came to New York and played immediately worse than they did in their previous stop. You can’t disagree because it is a fact. And that one point is the only point I was making.

    The only players of any significant role that came to New York in their prime and played immediately better over the course of their first full season were Carmelo Anthony and Stephon Marbury. Everybody else played worse. Everybody. McDaniel. Randolph. Smith. Curry. Francis. Johnson. McDyess. Vendeweghe. Mills. Crawford. Childs…. even guys that eventually clicked in NY, like Sprewell, Oakley, and Houston, took over a year to “acclimate”.

    Sure, not all the cases are the same. Some struggled with injury. Some struggled with role. Some struggled with pressure. But the one thing that they all have in common is that they all struggled.

    Point is, I think reclamation projects do work. A change of habitat can help. Change of role. Change of expectation. But it never has for the Knicks, and I wouldn’t expect Bargnani to be the first.

  59. Keniman Shumpwalker

    SeeWhyDee77:
    For some crazy reason, I believe as a starter (if he gets the gig)playing alongside Tyson-Melo-Shump-Felton mostly, that it’s not much of a stretch for Bargnani to put up 15-7-3apg-1bpg. He’s never played with this much collective talent overall and definitely not with the starting 5?s he’s been a part of. I’m with most people who think he should have never been drafted #1. Certainly talented enough to go in the lottery, but that was a screwy draft. We hafta remember that every team wanted a Dirk. And we hafta remember that for some odd reason that if a big can move, shoot, or dribble, then scouts go ape shit bananas. Hell, The ‘Stache went 3rd, Tyrus Thomas went 4, Shelden Williams went 5, Foye went 7, and Patrick O’Bryant and Mouhed Sene went 9 and 10!! Hilton Armstrong went FRICKIN 12!! Screwy draft man. Going 1 was the worse thing to happen to Bargnani, but it’s understandable why he went 1 considering the times.

    “Screwy” is one way to describe that draft. “Putrid”, “God awful”, “terribly sad” would be other apt descriptions.

  60. Z-man

    Z: Yes!But one point that you can’t disagree with is that every one of these guys came to New York and played immediately worse than they did in their previous stop. You can’t disagree because it is a fact. And that one point is the only point I was making.The only players of any significant role that came to New York in their prime and played immediately better over the course of their first full season were Carmelo Anthony and Stephon Marbury. Everybody else played worse. Everybody. McDaniel. Randolph. Smith. Curry. Francis. Johnson. McDyess. Vendeweghe. Mills. Crawford. Childs…. even guys that eventually clicked in NY, like Sprewell, Oakley, and Houston, took over a year to “acclimate”. Sure, not all the cases are the same. Some struggled with injury. Some struggled with role. Some struggled with pressure. But the one thing that they all have in common is that they all struggled. Point is, I think reclamation projects do work. A change of habitat can help. Change of role. Change of expectation. But it never has for the Knicks, and I wouldn’t expect Bargnani to be the first.

    You just said that Marbury and Melo played better. Stoudemire played virtually as well until he started getting hurt. Many on your list had marginal differences which could have been attributable to things such as pace, role, etc. None of them, however, were picked up because they were underachieving and in a terrible situation for their skillset. And that you would even include Kiki (in physical decline, stats inflated in Denver) or McDyess (immediately injured) or Oak (played essentially the same, didn’t need to improve) or Francis (essentially washed up) tells me that you are just being argumentative and not really considering each case. Who are you gonna mention next, T-Mac? Sheed? JKidd?

  61. BigBlueAL

    Using Oak, Houston/LJ/Childs and Spree as examples of “struggling” with the Knicks in their 1st seasons is odd considering how much the Knicks improved in those seasons. Oak came and the Knicks improved from 38 to 52 wins (he was the only significant addition). The LJ/Houston/Childs trio came together and the Knicks went from 47 to 57 wins then LJ and Houston played great in the postseason until the stupid suspensions killed the season. We all know what happened in Spree’s 1st season with the Knicks.

    Heck in X’s first (and only) season the Knicks jumped from 39 to 51 wins although that was all due to Riley’s coaching and X did have a bad regular season. But still whats the point in lamenting their personal “disappointing” regular seasons when the team was alot better with them and they all improved in the playoffs.

    Im just surprised Z didnt use Anthony Bonner as a positive example :-)

  62. Z-man

    My point is that the particulars here are quite different than they were elsewhere. The need we have is a good fit for Bargnani. Just like it was for Lin, Novak and Cope. Houston, Smith, Crawford, Randloph, Smith,etc. were expected to be stars and #1-#2 options. That’s not true for Bargnani. He is expected to be a more complete player at the stretch-4 role than Cope and Novak, and healthier than Amare. Anything beyond that is a bonus, and I’m optimistic that there will be a bonus.

    Also, let’s not forget that Felton played trememdously right off the bat until D’Antoni ran him into the ground, and played well last year before and after he was hurt. Camby played like a monster in the playoffs in his first year here. Then there’s a guy named Bernard King.

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