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Saturday, November 1, 2014

2014 Preseason Roundtable: Predicting the Unpredictable

In case you didn’t hear, the Knicks signed some crazy guy who was born and raised in New York and plays basketball kind of alright I guess. The KnickerBlogger crew was asked to make their predictions as to what Metta World Peace will bring to the table this season.

Cronin: I am cautiously optimistic that the career rejuvenation that World Peace showed last season will continue in New York. He surely won’t be lacking for motivation in his return to New York, not to mention a desire to prove Los Angeles wrong in amnestying him. I imagine that he will be dedicated enough on defense for any possibly offensive deficiencies to be masked. In addition, at the very least he will be a perfect guy to bring in to cool down the Lebrons and Durants of the world (especially at the end of the game).

McElroy: 2 threes, 2 steals, 4 boards, 5 fouls, 82 must-see post-game interviews.

Fisher-Cohen: Hard for me to see minutes for Metta, honestly, at least not while the team is healthy. The Knicks have about a salary cap’s worth of power forwards already, so Peace is the only spot there’s room for him is as a small forward, and NY really struggled when they were unable to surround Melo with three true threats from downtown. I buy that Peace will be juiced up for the season. I just hope he’s not too juiced because MWP’s brain seems to short out on those occasions when his level of excitement flows up into the red zone.

Cronin: Don’t you think that a Knick team that finished in the bottom half of the NBA in defense will be able to find room in their rotation for a guy like World Peace who can still bring it on the defensive side of the court, Max?

Fisher-Cohen: Brian, I guess you could say the same thing about Ronnie Brewer last year. I know it’s not a perfect comparison, but despite his defense and rebounding, Brewer was +12/100 possessions on 41% three point shooting in November and -5.0/100 possessions on 15% three point shooting in December. Peace shot 32% on threes when he wasn’t in the corners and 36.8% — still below average — on corner threes. That makes him a worse shooter than Raymond Felton, probably the worst rotational three point shooter the Knicks had last year. How much will those numbers go down if he’s not playing power forward and therefore is being defended by players who are comfortable defending the perimeter?

I like Peace and think he can play as a power forward on this team and that there’s a good chance that Stoudemire will get hurt and Bargnani will struggle, making him the best option at there, so I guess i should clarify: In a scenario where the Knicks are better than last year, I don’t see Peace playing much.

Topaz: The starting power forward on the Nets is Kevin Garnett. The starting power forward on the Pacers is David West, and the backup is Luis Scola. The starting power forward on the Bulls is Carlos Boozer.

Though much has been made about the NBA becoming a small-ball league, these contending teams in the East apparently didn’t get the memo. World Peace will not have consistent minutes over 82 games, but he will be a vitally important player against bigger teams, a disproportionate amount of which will likely contend for Eastern Conference supremacy. The Knicks could really use someone to spell Melo defensively when he is at the 4 in these games, and MWP is a great guy to do it.

One more thing about MWP: Don’t confuse weirdness (and gratefulness for one’s teeth) with indifference or lack of effort. World Peace has had an industrious, long, and productive career doing things that many players don’t like to do – play great individual and team defense, bang against bigger players, and defend superstars. He was a very important piece on some very good Lakers teams for four years, and won an NBA championship.

He is leaving a poisonous atmosphere in Los Angeles to come home. He clearly is willing to take a diminished role, given that the Knicks already were forward-heavy when he signed (and that he already has done it once, joining a contender in the Lakers in 2009 knowing his individual numbers would go down.) He is now on a floor-spacing team that won’t need him to create much on offense, will give him some open threes, ask him to defend bigger guys in important spots, and keep him rested (he will soon turn 34 on my birthday, November 13.) I see no reason why he won’t be a productive, hard-nosed player for the Knicks when they really need him.

Silverman: He’s going to be fun as all git out to root for. As we’ve seen in the Preseason, his shot selection can be down right atrocious at times, leading to contested fadeaways from the low post, and put-your-head-down-charge-into-a-slew-of-defenders-and-hope-for-the-best drives, but aside from the gloriously jejeune quotes, I think he’ll be a solid, veteran presence that’ll bring plus team defense. So here’s my unpredictable prediction: We won’t see anything weird, or dumb — let alone crazy — from Metta.

David Vertsberger: Irrational technicals, scuffles, and hilarious sound bites. These I can expect. What I truly wish for? Steady defensive presence, a consistent three-point stroke. Is that too much to ask for? Also – try not to elbow anybody in the mouth. Unless it’s Paul Pierce. You can elbow him in the mouth, MWP.

 

27 comments on “2014 Preseason Roundtable: Predicting the Unpredictable

  1. stratomatic

    I think signing MWP was a good move. It’s kind of odd to hear myself saying that because I am not a huge fan of bringing problem personalities into the locker room. But in his case, I think he has matured enough and has become stable and reliable enough to take a shot at this price (JR is another story).

    It doesn’t make up for Bargnani, but it was still a good move.

    He’s not the player he was, but he’s still a decent rotation player and solid backup. He’ll get some minutes at SF and some at PF and be productive enough for the role he’ll be given to not be the reason the Knicks are not a serious contender. The Knicks have plenty of problems, but Metta is not one of them.

  2. kburt8

    Completely unrelated to this post, but I just noticed that you have the Knicks schedule in the right hand column via Google Calendar. Would it be possible for this to be updated to indicate the channel for nationally televised games? It would be incredibly helpful for us out of town Knicks fans who visit this site daily.

  3. Frank

    Max – you’re such a pessimist. There is no way that MWP doesn’t play at least 20-25 minutes/game on average. And re: his 3 point shooting – as long as he takes most of them from the corners (especially the right corners), he’s been an average-to-above-average corner 3 point shooter for his (long) career. That’ll be good enough. His major value will come from toughness, defense, protecting Melo from having to bang against the David Wests of the world, and as a defensive mentor to Shump. He’s also a very underrated passer with a career AST% of ~15. And like Topaz said — he’s a weirdo but no one has EVER questioned his heart and his commitment to winning. He’s a HUGE pickup for this team.

  4. thenamestsam

    I have very mixed feelings on MWP. In theory he’s pretty much the perfect guy here. He can shoot it well enough from the outside to keep teams honest, but he’s also happy as can be to take a lot of the physical pounding when he and Melo play together. He brings a defensive tenacity and toughness that were clearly lacking against Indy (Shump excluded).

    But from a mentality perspective, I worry. Certainly MWP wants to win and plays his ass off to do it, but he’s going to be in a pretty different situation here. He has never really come off the bench for any significant length of time. Here that will probably be a regular occurrence. He’s moving to a much more peripheral role. There’s definitely going to be plenty of minutes for him over the course of the year given the injury issues of some other guys, but if pretty much everyone is healthy, there may be nights where he doesn’t play much, if at all. When he does play, he’s mostly going to be asked to park his ass in the corner on offense and shoot open 3s.

    I see MWP as someone who has always thought of himself as a main character, not a supporting player. It’s going to be a pretty big adjustment for him, and I think it’s still a pretty open question whether he can be a guy who fits in rather than stands out.

  5. max fisher-cohen

    @Frank, show me your rotation then when the Knicks are all healthy. I don’t think my post was pessimistic. It’s just there’s going to be an odd man out in the front court rotation once JR is healthy and IF Amar’e stays healthy.

  6. custer

    I see MWP providing tough defense and some nice 3’s here and there, but I think we’re going to spend a lot of time pulling our hair out with his shot selection.

    My only (unrealistic) hope for him this season is that he helps to strengthen a culture of defensive accountability among other players. I have serious doubts about this, old dogs/new tricks and whatnot, but a small part of me likes to imagine him kicking some ass if people are slacking.

  7. KnickfaninNJ

    I hope World Peace gets significant minutes. Nothing I have seen in pre-season has suggested the Knicks will be good at defense this year. (If anyone saw differently, it would encouraging to hear about it). Also, Woody seems to be picking players for minutes more based on their offensive performance than their defensive performance. Why else would he experiment with Bargnani and center and Melo at the four? I think the Knicks are more talented and younger than last year, but preseason is not making me more hopeful about their success as a team.

  8. d-mar

    KnickfaninNJ:
    I hope World Peace gets significant minutes. Nothing I have seen in pre-season has suggested the Knicks will be good at defense this year. (If anyone saw differently, it would encouraging to hear about it).Also, Woody seems to be picking players for minutes more based on their offensive performance than their defensive performance.Why else would he experiment with Bargnani and center and Melo at the four?I think the Knicks are more talented and younger than last year, but preseason is not making me more hopeful about their success as a team.

    I wouldn’t put much stock in anything that happens in the preseason. The Pacers are 2-5 and have given up over 95 PPG. If I remember correctly the Knicks had a pretty mediocre preseason last year (and there was much hand wringing about that on this blog) and they came out of the gate with 6 straight wins.

  9. KnickfaninNJ

    You are definitely being rational about it, while I think I am just reacting emotionally to watching the pre season games.

  10. Frank

    max fisher-cohen:
    @Frank, show me your rotation then when the Knicks are all healthy. I don’t think my post was pessimistic. It’s just there’s going to be an odd man out in the front court rotation once JR is healthy and IF Amar’e stays healthy.

    Haven’t really thought it out thoroughly but here goes:

    Center: Tyson 30 min, Bargnani 8 minutes, KMart 10 min (average since I think he’ll only really play every other game)

    PF: Bargnani 20 min, Melo 8 min, STAT 10 min (average since he’ll play every other game), MWP 10 min

    SF: Melo 26 min, MWP 12 min, JR 5 min, Shump 5 min

    SG: Shump 20 min, JR 20 min, Udrih/Prigs 8 min

    PG: Felton 32 min, Prigs/Udrih 16 min

    TH Jr, Murry, Tyler, etc. get spot minutes here or there.
    But essentially we could run an 11 man rotation Spurs-style where Amare and KMart basically play every other game.

    Meanwhile, I agree with Steve Kerr re: our offense this preseason. Pretty stagnant. I would still much rather see us go Ray/Pablo/Shump/Melo/Chandler as a starting lineup than whatever Woodson is dreaming up.

    Re: Bargnani – even though he’s shot the ball like crap so far this preseason, he still has 59 points on just 46 shots — because he gets to the line like crazy to the tune of a FTA/FGA of 54% (25 FTA on 46 FGA). Not sure that is sustainable but those are Durant-like free throw rates. His last 2 years have been terrible in general, but what’s notable is that he’s averaging about 6 free throws/36. If he can just return to semi-normalcy with his 3 point shooting, he could be in for a pretty efficient year.

    Lineups with him at the 5 and Melo at the 4 are going to be suuuuper ugly defensively. If Woodson insists on that combo, maybe Shump and MWP will have to be on the floor with them.

  11. d-mar

    KnickfaninNJ:
    You are definitely being rational about it, while I think I am just reacting emotionally to watching the pre season games.

    I hear you, since preseason is all we have right now, it’s hard not to treat them like real games (except when you see Diogu and Powell in at the end of games)

    One week until the real thing!

  12. ALLANROSE

    I’ve watched Metta out here in LA, and he will be every bit as valuable as Kenyon was last February; he can do enough of everything, especially on the defensive end that Woodson will trust him to be on the court at the end of games. He’s a winner, he’s unselfish and just knows how to play Basketball. Treat him like a man and he will run through a wall for this team.

  13. JK47

    Metta is still a fine defender, and he does one thing that should have immediate, tangible benefits: he plays physical defense without fouling. I hope to see 2000+ minutes from MWP, and would expect to see a nice bump in the Knicks’ defensive FT/FGA if that happens.

    MWP is the inverse of Andrea Bargnani– he plays bigger than his size, has tremendous basketball IQ on the defensive end and plays with real heart and determination. The things Metta does are the hardest things to quantify in a box score.

  14. max fisher-cohen

    @Frank

    Sure, if we play Spurs style, but that would require that the team has a ton of success and a smart coach, two things I’m unsure of.

    Anyway, if we don’t, whom do you cut out of the rotation? To me, the 2 PG deal was too effective last year to go away from, so let’s say we stick with that for most of the game, leaving 20 mins wherein Shumpert plays in the backcourt (plus 30 mins for Felton, 25 for Udrih, 21 for Prigioni). Now, you’re looking at 144 minutes to split between Martin, Stoudemire, Chandler, Anthony, Bargnani, MWP, Smith, Shumpert, Hardaway Jr.

    Here are minimums for a team that isn’t playing Spurs style:

    Anthony: 36
    Chandler: 27
    Smith: 30
    Shumpert: 10 (+ 20 at the 2)
    Martin: 10

    Based on preseason, it looks like you can count on Bargnani playing at least 20 minutes as well, and if STAT is healthy, he’s taking another 10 mins minimum, so that adds up to 143 minutes. We have 1 minute left to split between Peace and Hardaway Jr.

    I could see Woodson playing Shumpert more like 25 mpg and Udrih for 20, leaving Peace or THJ about 10 MPG, but that’s a maximum. I won’t believe that he’ll reduce the minutes of anyone else other than Martin and Stoudemire until I see it. He’s a guy who has only taken chances when forced to. I don’t see him not playing all out in the reg season, especially with the amount of pressure that rides on this season — if the Knicks don’t advance in the playoffs this year, there’s a very real chance that Anthony leaves, so IMO if the Knicks don’t look as good as last year, there’s a good chance you’ll start to hear whispers about Woodson’s job security by the midway point, which will make it even harder for him to sacrifice short term for potential long term gain.

  15. DRed

    Frank: Haven’t really thought it out thoroughly but here goes:

    Center: Tyson 30 min, Bargnani 8 minutes, KMart 10 min (average since I think he’ll only really play every other game)

    PF: Bargnani 20 min, Melo 8 min, STAT 10 min (average since he’ll play every other game), MWP 10 min

    SF: Melo 26 min, MWP 12 min, JR 5 min, Shump 5 min

    SG: Shump 20 min, JR 20 min, Udrih/Prigs 8 min

    PG: Felton 32 min, Prigs/Udrih 16 min

    If we’re playing Bargnani 30 minutes a night we are fucked.

  16. danvt

    Fun read. No one mentioned how NYK has always been his favorite team or the Frederic Weiss debacle. I think it’s really amazing that he was never spiteful and was so excited to come home. A home town guy is a good thing for a team, Stephon Marbury excepted. It certainly means he’ll try hard I think.

  17. ruruland

    Since 2002, MWP’s raw +/- compared to Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, and Tyson Chandler, not adjusted for games or minutes played per game.

    http://www.sportingcharts.com/nba/players/3321/metta-world-peace/#Plus%20Minus$172890&3100&134&3155&3234&253975&3493$SeasonMax=9999&SeasonMin=1990

    How has MWP consistently been among the leaders in +/- metrics over the last 12 years when he’s been an average player (at best) by WP and WS?

    He’s had the same effect on five different teams and in hundreds of different lineup combinations.

    MWP +/- net rating by year

    ’13: +7.6
    ’12: +.4
    ’11: +7.2
    ’10: +6
    ’09: +6.9
    ’08: +9.2
    ’07: +7.6
    ’06: +9.3
    ’05: +6.1
    ’04: +9.1
    ’03: +8.8
    ’02: +4.3

    How is that possible is MWP is not a really good basketball player?

    By the way, might want to update our narratives around here, MWP has been the opposite of a locker room problem for years now.

  18. ruruland

    Max, there is no way Woodson leaves MWP out of the rotation behind the guys you mentioned.

    He will likely be the team’s best overall defender next year (yes, over Shump and Chandler) and more importantly (for playing time) the most disciplined team defender.

    Smith and Shumpert are not getting 60 minutes every night.

    They combined for 55 minutes last year, and I seriously doubt Smith gets 33 a game this year. Also, Martin/Amar’e are guaranteed to not play any b2bs, so no reason to pencil each of them in 10 minutes every game.

    Also, 25 mpg for Udrih? Not a chance.

  19. danvt

    If no one get’s hurt, of course there are going to be people who lose minutes. Let’s hope that we’re not doing triage all season and that someone good is sitting.

    I think MWP will both get burn and remain loyal when and if he doesn’t.

    If there’s one strength Woody has, it’s taking care of fragile psyche’s like RonRon’s. Ruru you can’t tell me he isn’t somewhat volatile still. He already went after someone in preseason, was it Hansborough? I mean, it’s kind of what we want. The other team needs to be intimidated somewhat by a physical presence.

  20. ruruland

    danvt:
    If no one get’s hurt, of course there are going to be people who lose minutes.Let’s hope that we’re not doing triage all season and that someone good is sitting.

    I think MWP will both get burn and remain loyal when and if he doesn’t.

    If there’s one strength Woody has, it’s taking care of fragile psyche’s like RonRon’s.Ruru you can’t tell me he isn’t somewhat volatile still.He already went after someone in preseason, was it Hansborough?I mean, it’s kind of what we want.The other team needs to be intimidated somewhat by a physical presence.

    Yeah, I think that stuff is real and it’s a positive. Kenyon Martin used to get into fights with teammates, but I’ve never heard of such a story about MWP.

  21. danvt

    Hopefully Garnett is made to feel somewhat uncomfortable setting illegal picks and pulling peoples shoulders out. Maybe Peace can be a solution to that, ironic as that sentence is to write.

  22. lavor postell

    I think MWP becomes an extremely valuable member of this team and I definitely think he’s one of the first three guys off the bench. He is a decent enough three point shooter that he can make teams pay for leaving him and the guy was one of the only positive players on the Lakers last season. He can play minutes at the 3 and 4 and he will be one of the only plus defenders on the team. His value will shine through when we play teams like Indiana, Chicago and the Brooklyn Celtics who have a history of challenging us physically and getting under our skin.

  23. Jonathan Topaz

    Another reason MWP will play a big role: The man is durable. His GP for the last four season: 77, 82, 64 (out of 66, in the lockout-shortened season) and 75. On a team full of Bargnanis and Stoudemires and K-Marts, the great depth that can be such an asset for this team might (and likely will) vanish quickly.

    I will now knock on wood for the next hour.

  24. Z-man

    Anyone who thinks that a healthy MWP will average less than 15-20MPG is delusional. It’s just not gonna happen. Even if STAT and K-Mart are healthy, they will be averaging at most 20MPG and will alternate on B2B’s. That will leave plenty of minutes for MWP.

    I agree with Rob, he is going to be a fan favorite at the Garden. I would love to see a front line of MWP, Chandler and K-Mart play some 5-6 minute stretches.

  25. lavor postell

    Great longform piece on SI about Bison Dele who I had completely forgot about.

    sportsillustrated.cnn.com/longform/bison-dele/?sct=nba_t12_a2

  26. max fisher-cohen

    “Iman just has to figure it out. We’ve got to help him figure out his game that coincides with what we want to do. He’s got to be able to play pick-and-roll offense. He’s got to be able to run the team with the ball in his hands, because our ‘ones’ and ‘twos’ and ‘threes’ handle the basketball.” – Mike Woodson on 10/19/13

    This to me confirms that Woodson wants to stick with the offense that worked so well last year, which means that he will try his best to keep three of the following players on the floor at all times: JR Smith, Beno Udrih, Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony, Pablo Prigioni as those are the only guys who can handle the ball in a pick and roll.

    That leaves two other slots. The stat you have about Metta’s +/- is interesting, Ruru, but if the Pacers had added Metta, I think you’d find another stat to harp on that would say the opposite. You’d probably bring up the stats I brought up when the knicks first acquired him — declining shooting percentages, dramatically reduced lateral quickness. We’re yin and yang, buddy.

    Anyway, two slots — for the rest of the gang. You saw how I filled out the minutes. Udrih has to play that many minutes if the Knicks want to have three ball handlers at once. From the sound of it, Woodson is leaning towards cutting Shumpert’s minutes rather than Peace’s. I get the argument that maybe Peace is a better fit, especially since he can protect Anthony, but I hope that Woodson isn’t going pull the rug out from under our only young player just for a slight upgrade.

    So that’s why everyone keeps talking about how baffling it is to figure out what NY’s rotations will be.

  27. Z-man

    I think Woody will mix it up early and see how guys play together.

    I’d be shocked if MWP doesn’t play 20-30 MPG for the first few games.

    I would guess that Woody will try to find a role for Bargnani and will try to set him up for success. He will also play a lot of minutes early on until Amare and K-Mart can work their way into game shape.

    I doubt whether Woody gives up on Bargnani. I am pretty confident that he will never give up on MWP, and if anything, will give him more minutes rather than less in big games.

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