It occurs to me I’ve never exactly told you about my Clark Kent job. I don’t know if there’s such a profession in the USA; but my trade is essentially facility management for condos, accounting for expenses for common areas, negotiating between home owners, and generally acting as the guy you call if you’re an home owner and you’re having some sort of building-related problem. In short, I’m sort of a commissioner of condos. At the end of the year, you have to report in a public meeting with the owners about expenses, works in progress, etc.
Historically, in Italy there have been two ways to do this sort of job: treading water, with minimum effort, and bullshitting your way through every meeting, thinking that the owners will easily be manipulated by the guy they feel is in a position of authority, or being very meticulous and transparent, putting as much effort as possible into making data available to every owner in real time so that by the time of the meeting your work is almost entirely done and you just have to negotiate the disputes between owners.
After a new law about condos was approved in 2013, the first category has seen its ranks slowly but steadily depleted, while new blood (like me) has been inserted in the profession with both eyes towards transparency and accountability. That’s all well and good until you actually have a guy from the first category managing your condo (by law, every condo has to have one of such managers). When that happens, it’s amazing to see how a lot of people fall for their bullshit (“Mr. Rossi, but why did we spend 6k euros just for the cleaning service when last year we spent 3k?” “Eh, you see, growing interest rates have an effect on cleaning materials, so the company has to charge more to every customer, also Mr. Bianchi on the second floor has a dog who suffered from diarrhoea all year and your building needed a lot of extra services”) without even blinking an eye. That’s at the same time discouraging for honest guys and mesmerizing to watch in real time. Of course, as soon as one of the owners sees through the blatant lies, the “bad” manager knows his days are numbered, but ignorance and fear of the “supposed” authority makes it so that “bad” managers last a few years more than they should.
I think you know where we’re headed.
Listening to Fizdale lament a lack of defensive players and attribute the many defensive shortcomings to that, and seeing for the umpteenth time a starting five that clearly doesn’t care at all for defense, I couldn’t take my mind off the thought that he actually makes up things on the go. “Oh god, I have the press conference, I have to survive this, what can I say? Yeah, defense! Even if I don’t pay that much attention to gameplan or rotations, those fools will certainly fall for it again!”.
I mean, Toronto is a really good team, and the standings speak for themselves. But there’s no need to make things easy for them by playing from the start two atrocious defenders in Knox and Mudiay and a very suspect one in Hezonja, while forsaking (at least for the moment) our best available defenders in Kadeem Allen and Mitchell Robinson. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we started the game falling behind by 13 (25-12) before Knox and Mudiay got subbed out of the game. By the time Mudiay came back in to the game in the second quarter, Knicks had cut the deficit to seven and the team was humming playfully, with a clear monster performance in the making by Mitch. The second quarter went on to end with the Knicks behind by 19, and there was the game. I don’t think we would have had a chance even with Kadeem running the show from the beginning (especially because tonight he was particularly turnover- and foul- happy) and Mitch and Lance (!) playing from the start, but at least we wouldn’t have been subjected to this dreadful start for the umpteenth time this season. I’m tired of watching no-defense ballhogs and chuckers play freely without any kind of dungeon in sight. We’re near the end, but I can’t help thinking about how there were chunks of this season that were lost due to the fact that we didn’t really put our money where our mouth was, as the full moniker of Stratomatic has been suggesting for a few months.
After that, the game was just a cool Mitch showreel and a reminder that Pascal Siakam is everything you should want in a player.
Onto some notes:
– Let’s start with the huge plus from this game: Mitch blew a chance to nab his first career 20/20 Nick Andersoning two free throws with 3.6 seconds to go, but his box score was still more than majestic: 19 points, 21 rebounds, 2 blocks (I counted 4, but whatever) and a steal in 31 minutes of play. For reference, I give you the full list of rookies who reached those thresholds: Mutombo, Mourning, Shaq, David Robinson, Terry Cummings (guy was good for a while), Hakeem, DeJuan Blair (huh), Ralph Sampson, Derrick Coleman, Greg Anderson, Clark Kellogg, Bill Walton and Earl Williams. It’s not entirely a murderer’s row and Mitch registers the lowest scoring performance, but I think it’s something else to add to his impressive resume. He’s also the third youngest ever to post such numbers. He’s also rocking the second highest WS/48 in the list. Right now he’s posting the sixth highest ever WS/48 season for a rookie. He surpassed MJ. I really, really, really don’t get why he doesn’t start. It makes no sense.
– But, well, in a game like this maybe not starting was a boon, since he didn’t have to play with Mudiay a lot. Mudiay is like Mitch’s kryptonite, on behalf of the fact that he never passes the ball like it’s supposed to. Late in the fourth, Kornet and Ellenson were able to find Mitch twice in the low post. Result: a bucket and a foul. If Luke freaking Kornet is able to do that, shouldn’t everyone be encouraged to do the same? Isn’t “pass the ball to the tall, high jumping guy” a good enough strategy, if we’re trying to keep things simple?
– About Mudiay’s night and the general shortcomings of our lead guards: tonight the Knicks recorded as many assists as turnovers. You know who led the team in assists? You’ve guessed
wrong right (I guess, by this paragraph and at this point): DeAndre Jordan, with 4 assists in 20 minutes. Tied at 2 apiece after DAJ there are Kadeem, Mario and Kornet. This team is soooo bad.
– I saw the Knox-as-Novak gain some traction in the comments in the last days (and some weird speculation about trying to foresee how good a player will be based on the number of threes taken in his rookie season – but I think we need team optimism more than ever, so it’s ok), and I stand by it. Shooting open threes is probably the only real NBA skill Knox has. It’s not much, but it’s something. Also two blocks and a steal today! But don’t let them fool you: he played defense like my mom would if I put in her hands a NBA2K controller for the first time and didn’t explain her which button does what.
– I didn’t like Kadeem’s performance that much, but at least he was scoring efficiently (18 points on 9 shots) and trying on defense. These days, it’s enough, even with his 4 turnovers.
– Fiz tried to play Jordan and Mitch together. While I commend the fact that we’re trying weird things, it’s evident from the fact that they tried to defy the principle of bodies compenetration in a few offensive possessions, where they both stood in the same exact area under the rim, that they aren’t receiving even a modicum of effective coaching. That’s, uh, not how you should play, you know? At least one has to stand a bit further from the rim.
– DSJ came back and was terrible. Not Mudiay terrible, but still terrible. 7 points on 11 shots and just one assist are horrible numbers, but he looked like he was playing with a bit of fire on defense.
– How is it even possible to airball a layup and a 5-footer in the same game? Well, the Knicks were able to do that, thanks to DAJ (layup) and Lance (5-footer). Veteran leadership, yay!
So, I think I won’t be able to recap Saturday’s game because I have a friend’s graduation party incoming and we’re planning on getting real wasted, but who knows, I might surpise myself and not wake up with a tremendous headache just to watch Knicks basketball!
See you guys!