2015 Season Preview: Optimist vs. Pessimist

Pessimist: Hey buddy, it’s my favorite time of year!

Optimist: Yeah.

Pessimist: Oooohhh boy!!! We’re on the cusp of a new Knicks season, or as I call it Pessimist Christmas.

Optimist: I know.

Pessimist: We’ll I’m ready for you, Optimouth Prime. And I’m going to convince you that this team is going to Suuuuuuck ITTTTT this year.

Optimist: I bet.

Pessimist: I know what you’re thinking. “Hey Pessimist this team is going to be awesome. Blah Blah Blah per minute stats. Blah Blah Blah defensive efficiency.” Well I researched and I am ready for you this year.

Optimist: Uh-huh.

Pessimist: So your first argument is going to be “Phil Jackson is transforming the team. He’s set a pick right in front of Jimmy Dolan, and that 5-foot-zilch pipsqueak can’t mess things up anymore.” Amirite?

Optimist: Nope.

Pessimist: Oh. Well it wouldn’t have worked on me anyway. Dolan has been sticking his guitar calloused fingers into the Knicks business since day 1 (remember when Jeff Van Gundy bolted?). He’s made a mockery of the front office hierarchy. This is the guy that out muscled Donnie Walsh. Remember Walsh was a native New Yorker, the architect of the hard-working and crafty Pacers teams that gave the city fits for a few summers. How did that end? Donnie was forced to sign off on the Carmelo Anthony trade (with that juice heaping of extra pork) that was all but penned by our lead vocalist. And for his capitulation Donnie was demoted and eventually shot out of MSG’s circus cannon.

Optimist: Well I wasn’t going to bring that up.

Pessimist: Ahhhhh I’m onto you. So you’re going to talk about Derek Fisher: new coach extraordinaire? Well buddy, let me tell ya, he ain’t all that. Need I remind you that he was the Knicks’ second choice. Remember when LeBron was our first choice? Well our Plan B was to throw endless amounts of cap space at Amar’e Stoudemire. How’s that working out?

The Knicks front office, in chess form.
Black to move, and find Plan B.

You know why the Knicks have sucked so bad over the last few years? Because they’re like a chess player thinking only about his next move. And when someone forks your king and queen, you wonder why you didn’t think of that before you moved her to that cursed square. The truth is there is no real Plan B with these guys. They think the LeBron Jameses of the league are just going to show up at their doorstep. And after they’ve spent the rent money at the track on that old limping mare, there’s just no Plan B that is going to make that situation work.

Anyway, Fisher has been talking tough about defense. Have you watched the preseason? He’s made a mockery of the word. Sure play STAT at center, but keep Aldrich glued to the bench — that’s a defensive coach? Fisher doesn’t actually care about defense, he just has to say he does. Change “defense” with the word “veterans” and he’s ready to run for Congress.

Admit it, that was your next rainbow?

Optimist: Nope.

Pessimist: I got it! Jose Calderon and Sam Dalembert. Yup there’s the difference in 2015! You’re going to convince me that Dalembert is Tyson Chandler’s equal, and the Knicks get a huge upgrade over Felton. Well there’s a reason that Dalembert is on his 6th team in 6 seasons while Chandler brought home a DPOY. Meanwhile Calderon is a better offensive player, but on defense he’s going to give it all back and then some.

Optimist: I wasn’t going to mention that.

Pessimist: Ah-ha so you’re keying in on our youngsters. Let’s see Iman Shumpert, is finally going to break out? Yup right after Mike Sweetney. Iman’s career TS% is 48.9%, which to put into perspective, is right above Larry Hughes’ Knicks’ mark.

The fans were all over Dolan for wanting to trade Shumpert, but honestly it might be the one time he’s right. Maybe we should get something for Iman now before he Landry Fields (v. to go from high ceiling in New York, to anonymity in Canada).

And as for Tim Hardaway, he’s got a nice shot right off the bat. If that sticks around he’ll be a good 6th man for as long as he can stroke it. However that’s probably his ceiling given his defensive ability. After a season of Hardaway and Calderon sending happy drivers to the paint, Dalembert will be looking to extend his streak to 7 teams.

Optimist: Wasn’t thinking of them.

Pessimist: Uhhh… Uhhhh… It’s the triangle offense right? ‘Melo’s gonna share the ball…

Optimist: Nope.

Pessimist: Cole Aldrich! He’s going to save…

Optimist: Nope.

Pessimist: Amar’e Stoudemire revival! J.R. Smith matures! Bargnani learns to rebound!

Optimist: Nope.


Optimist: We finally have our own first round draft pick, and our team is going to suck this year!

Pessimist: Meh. We’ll find a way to fuck that up, too.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

36 thoughts to “2015 Season Preview: Optimist vs. Pessimist”

  1. Nice, Mike. (It reads kind of like a post-modern comic strip. Cool.)

    As a resident pessimist, I have to say that though the Knicks are far from a title contender, I think it is possible that they improve their record from last year and maybe make the playoffs (though I don’t think that’s really a good thing for them (pessimist!).

    Also, as someone that has been hyper-critical of Dolan and his fiscal strategy over the past 15 years, I was surprised by the negative reactions a few threads back to the Outlaw trade. I would think anything that shows a departure from Dolan’s “business as usual” should be received as a good thing. Fiscal responsibility on small matters like the 15th roster spot is a good place to start, and hopefully it is a sign of things to come over the next 4 years. (Optimist!?)

  2. Also, as someone that has been hyper-critical of Dolan and his fiscal strategy over the past 15 years, I was surprised by the negative reactions a few threads back to the Outlaw trade. I would think anything that shows a departure from Dolan’s “business as usual” should be received as a good thing. Fiscal responsibility on small matters like the 15th roster spot is a good place to start, and hopefully it is a sign of things to come over the next 4 years. (Optimist!?)

    Who has ever complained about Dolan’s willingness to spend money? That’s been his one good trait all of these years.

  3. As for the piece itself, very funny stuff, Mike. I think Pessimist Mike hand waves Calderon’s impact off a bit too much, though. His defense is horrendous, to be sure, but he is such a good offensive player that I think he is a solid improvement on Felton, who was a negative on offense and defense.

  4. Well last year we basically did nothing well. This year it seems like we might do offense well, even if defense is still bad. Our record might not be much better, but it will be nice to have one strong point for the team instead of no strong points.

  5. @1 as Z’s optimistic bizarro-brother, I am finding myself drifting to the darker side about this season. Our lack of 2-way players will kill us vs. good teams and lack of overall athleticism will kill us vs the young, up-and-coming teams, e.g. Milwaukee, Detroit, Utah. I’m thinking that unless all the current question marks break in our favor, we’re a 35-37 win team. To make the playoffs, guys like Shump, TH2, JR and Jason (and/or maybe Cole? Larkin? Acy? Cle? Wear? Not happening.) will have to step up big time, or some unanticipated trade/FA signing will have to come out of the blue.

    Melo, Calderon, STAT, Dalembert and Prigioni are what they are at this point. Only Melo is a 2-way player (I like his D better than most.)

    If we go 3-4 or better in the first 7 games, I’ll feel a LOT better about the season.

  6. Butler being out tonight is huge, at least. If they could beat a Butler-less Bulls team tonight then they’d be playing with the house money tomorrow night with a Cavs team who will have a lot of pressure on them. Okay, odds are the Cavs win by a lot, but hey, crazier things have happened!

  7. I like the chess board. A lot like the Knicks: totally forked.

  8. Think about the team in terms of the Four Factors.

    One area where the 2014-2015 Knicks could really improve on last year’s performance is FT/FGA. They were horrendous on both sides of the ball when it came to FT/FGA last year, and a lot of that was because of Woodson’s lamebrained strategies. The constant switching led to tons of mismatches and tons of free throws for the opposing team.

    On the downside, I expect the 2014-2015 Knicks to turn the ball over quite a bit more, as Circle Goatee really fetishized a low turnover rate. This would offset some of the presumed gains of an improved FT/FGA situation.

    Rebounding-wise, the Knicks will probably be about the same. They could improve a little bit if the Cole Train gets some burn, but it seems like that ain’t happening.

    That leaves eFG%. On offense, you could definitely see the team’s eFG% improve simply by removing Ray Felton’s 608 FGA at a putrid .446 eFG%. They’re replacing him with a guy who is an eFG% machine, so assuming nobody falls off a cliff, the Knicks should probably be able to improve on their 12th-ranked eFG% from a season ago. On defense, I don’t expect their eFG% prevention to improve.

    So overall, I guess I can see a slight improvement if I squint a little bit. I predicted 33-35 wins yesterday, and I’ll amend that to 39 wins and a possible #8 seed. Which of course would mean no lottery pick, which makes perfect sense because Knicks.

  9. I like Phil Jackson, and i think Woodson was a horrible coach ……….. but i think the offense we ran two years ago was a great offense, we just didn’t have the personnel to run it i.e raymond felton. Everyone was complaining about the iso offense at the end of games last year and rightly so. But the reason was because felton couldn’t execute the pick and roll, every team we went against wanted him to shoot. I am only bringing this up because i think we should go after marc gasol and dragic. Then run back our pick and roll offense with melo getting touches in the post and kicking out to shooters. If we could bring back shump too, i think a dragic, shump, jr, melo, gasol lineup to close out games would be a pretty good team and our best chance at winning a title in the melo era which is higly unlikely with lebron in the league. I think that durant is a pipe dream. We should have made the east finals two years ago, we just needed a better pg. Woodson only started doing stupid stuff cause felton couldn’t get it done and he had no backup plan. But again I don’t think there was any solution to that series once Indiana decided it would let felton try and beat them. I think melo at the four with a good center and point guard, is the only way we have a chance at the finals.

  10. It doesn’t look like Dragic is leaving Phoenix, though. But even if he was, the Knicks don’t have room to get more than one max player next offseason.

    Gasol is a legitimate option, though, and he would be a great addition. One of the relatively good things about the new shorter contracts is that even if you commit to 30 year old players, it’s only for four years. So going with a 30 year old Gasol and a 31 year old Melo for the next four years gives you a pretty short window to win but at least you’re not locked in to a 35 year old Gasol or a 36 year old Melo, ya know?

  11. OH no you didnt …Melo will be a Knick til hes 45 lol. But yes thats a good thing. I wonder if we could wrench one of those BK pics from Boston.

  12. Brian i was hoping to trade calderon for like a pick and if jr bounces back this season i was thinking he would opt out? I was also thinking the exact same thing about the contracts, unless we trade melo it doesn’t matter if we get two older guys, we got a 5 year window to try and win with him. I don’t know if you can get it done with the triangle unless you get some really good big men. What I am really worried about is if we strike out with gasol and we end up with like robin lopez and greg monroe ……

  13. Who has ever complained about Dolan’s willingness to spend money? That’s been his one good trait all of these years.

    Dolan’s mentality is “the spending rules don’t apply to the Knicks”, which hasn’t resulted in anything except for horrible contracts and huge luxury tax bills for a relatively paltry trove of wins. It led NY to Amar’e, Bargnani, Houston, Marbury, Curry, James, Francis, Rose, Rose, Crawford, Jeffries, Eisley, Anderson, (shall I go on?).

    Spending has not been Dolan’s “good” trait all of these years. It has been his “well at least he’s trying to use his money to the Knicks advantage” trait, which may be better than all of his other traits, but it’s been bad for the Knicks. What he should have done is gotten somebody that understands how regular market teams have success in the league (like Donnie Walsh) and left it to them to realize that healthy payroll and low tax bills are the keys to long-term viability on the court.

    Jackson’s success has been in big markets, but it’s been for owners that have played within the confines of a spending budget. Jerry Buss won ten titles while being very cautious and reluctant to spend unnecessarily.

    But that’s the Lakers. The Knicks have Dolan. He is rich. That hasn’t proven to be a good thing. So it’s good to see the Knicks trying something different this year (at least with regard to the 15th roster spot:)

  14. Great post Mike. Made me laugh.

    I’m the optimist (but there’s no rational reason for that). I feel, in my gut, that the triangle will make a difference and that we’ll have a healthy team, for once. I blame a lot of last year on bad coaching and injuries that crippled the team. Losing Chandler, K-Mart, JR Smith playing hurt, Bargnani really put the team behind the 8-ball.

    What makes me worry is that some of our players are not the sharpest knives in the drawer (see JR Smith) and can’t change their habits.

    Oh, and yeah, we have that 1st round pick next year as well as cap space. So, I’m hopeful.

  15. We were 16th in preseason defensive efficiency. 16th! Put that in your pipes and smoke it, pessimists!

  16. Re: optimism due to not having an imbecile head coach via espn article…

    “Head coach Derek Fisher came into town with a new defensive philosophy this season. He wants to force the opposing ball handler to the sideline. Last season, Mike Woodson wanted to force the ball handler to the middle of the floor. The results were disastrous, with the Knicks finishing 24th in the league in points allowed per possession. Forcing the ball handler to the middle of the floor invariably led to many shots in the middle of the floor, a death knell for any NBA defense.”


  17. I remember in AYSO soccer that all kicks by defenders toward the center of the field were met with swift rebukes from coaches, parents, teammates and internet commentors alike. Naturally, I did it as often as possible, just to see how it affected our team’s stats.

    But Mike Woodson is (or, thankfully, was) a professional basketball coach. There is no fucking excuse.

  18. It makes some sense if you’ve got prime David Robinson in the middle, but no so much if you’ve got Amare and Bargnani protecting the rim

  19. Woodson had Chandler in the middle (or thought he did). My biggest complaint about Woodson is that he planned to use Bargnani as a 4 and when Chandler went down, Bargnani moved to the 5 but had NO CLUE how to defend that position in his system because they never worked on it in camp. Simply irresponsible.

    BTW, what make is worse is when your point guards can’t keep pace with opposing penetrating guards. Felton and Prigioni are not speed demons.

  20. I guess forcing the ball to the middle is not a capital crime in and of itself but when you couple that with incessant switching so that every on ball screen leads to a mismatch you get a frustrated former DPOY and a penguin arguing every call.

    Anyway, really looking forward to not watching the WS game 7 tonight.

  21. THCJ – Same bet as last year, but with the under over set at 40.5 wins. Loser is limited to +1 of the winner’s comments on the game threads and wrap-up for games throughout the playoffs. If I lose, and the Knicks don’t make the playoffs, I will limit my comments to +1 of your comments until the end of the first round (which is when the Knicks likely would have been eliminated if they had made the playoffs).


  22. By the way, anyone waiting for James Dolan to develop humility shouldn’t hold his breathe. With the announcement of the split of MSG into two companies, the value of his stock holdings just went up by 25%. That’s over $1 billion in gain for him.

  23. That’s over $1 billion in gain for him.

    Or $1,007,000,000 when you factor in the savings from the Travis Outlaw contract.

  24. That’s over $1 billion in gain for him.

    And the taxes he’ll pay to the U.S. government will be the inspiration for his next album. He’s just so relatable.

  25. 44-38, 7-seed. Melo averages 28pts, 7 rebounds, 4 assists. Stat averages 14, 6 in 24 minutes. Shump 12, 6, 3 with 3 steels. JR is worst JR much of the season (lost on offense, out of position on defense, benched). Calderon has a career year. Jason, Sam and Bargnani combine to avg 12, 8, 3 blocks. Prigs has a solid year. Larkin falls out of the rotation. Timmy knocks on the all-star door. Early enters/leaves early most games. Wear/Aldrich DNPCD most nights barring injury/extensive garbage time.

    Mostly hoping for an entertaining team to watch (for a change).

  26. I know we were all prepared for it, but it still puts me off that once again we see the severity of an injury downplayed.

  27. No Calderon really sucks. Im not that down about Amar’e starting though because Id rather him play alongside Dalembert and with Shump on the floor too rather than off the bench as the backup C.

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