Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Examining the Knicks’ Defensive Downfall

Defense wins championships.

It’s been the mantra for the copious amount of winners in the sports world for decades, and should be treated as more than just an ordinary cliche. Especially so in the National Basketball Association, where none of the past ten champions finished lower than ninth in Defensive Rating in their respective seasons and the average ranking was fourth.

It was a defense-first mentality that took shape as the theme of the New York Knicks of the 1990’s, where from the 92′ season up to the 99′ year they never finished worse than 4th in the league in DRTG. (Above stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference) Two of these teams made the NBA Finals, and none of them went home sooner than the second round of the Playoffs. These rugged teams are still a favorite of Knick fans fortunate enough to have witnessed them (I hate being young) — because of their toughness, resilience, and propensity for winning on the basketball court.

Two seasons ago — the first featuring Carmelo Anthony on the squad when training camp arrived — found a Knicks team struggling to claim Eastern Conference dominance. The silver lining of the Knicks’ season (a season that ended in a first-round beatdown at the hands of the Miami Heat) was that they had somehow replicated the defensive strength personified by their 90s forebearers. This helped fans believe a return to lockdown defense — and more importantly, winning — was nigh. The 2012 New York Knickerbockers finished fifth in the league in DRTG, led by Defensive Player of the Year award-winning center Tyson Chandler.

This season, the Knicks faltered somewhat on D, finishing ranked 17th in the association under DRTG rankings. This came as something of a surprise — there was plenty that went wrong, and a few things that should have gone right. More importantly, there are things that can be done — tangible things — to fix all this.

Let’s consider these fixable things, shall we?

During the 2012 offseason, the Knicks surrendered a bevy of individual defensive talent. Landry Fields, Toney Douglas and Jared Jeffries — for as laughable as those names are to the common basketball fan — were key pieces in the Knicks’ surprisingly stingy defensive system. None of the three returned, but Glen Grunwald did still managed to replace them with three very capable defensive players: Pablo Prigioni, Ronnie Brwer, and Marcus Camby.

Still, there were problems: Pablo Prigioni wasn’t given nearly enough playing time all season; Ronnie Brewer slipped out of his starting spot and the rotation early on, eventually getting traded for a second-round pick; and Marcus Camby appeared in just four games all season. (We can applaud the signing of Kenyon Martin, though he was brought onto the team near March.)

In addition to this, the 2012 versions of Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler were miles above their levels of play this season. In Shumpert’s case, it was a combination of injury and rust (note: even with Shumpert back into the swing of things and comfortable with his healed body, Mike Woodson failed to play him as many minutes as he should); while Tyson Chandler’s backslide from defensive anchor to passable rim protector came seemingly out of the blue. Look no further than the Knicks’ DRTG with Chandler on/off the court, courtesy of NBA.com/Stats: the Knicks were actually better on defense with Chandler on the pine this season, which, of course, wasn’t the case the season prior. Down the stretch, Chandler even found himself sanctioned on the bench in favor of Kenyon Martin, who makes 50 times less money (salary information from StoryTellers) than Tyson does this season. Yowza.

Clearly, losing players that can defend well hurts. But is there more to this?

Head coach Mike Woodson took over the team late last season, but it was his defensive schemes being run even with Mike D’Antoni at the head coaching helm. The key to Woodson’s defense is that it’s — as we all know by now — predicated on lots and lots of switches, which ostensibly helps compensate for the team’s lack of athletic defenders. Last season Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire were playing big minutes, and were big liabilities on the defensive end. While Fields and Douglas were athletic, they were still of little experience guarding at the NBA level. Jeffries was a veteran, but wasn’t the nimblest athlete on the court. Thus, Woody went with a defense that would switch nearly every pick placed on the court.

Why was this so successful last year while being a trainwreck this season? Once again, it boils down to the players on the roster. Not only did the Knicks get older and slower (why did Mike Woodson turn to a full-court press so often?), they also had less versatility and — more importantly — less depth. Last season the Knicks had three players that could guard three positions on the floor, while this year the Knicks had just one: Iman Shumpert, who missed half of the season recovering from his ACL tear and spent another quarter of it finding his defensive rhythm.

One enormous difference between the Knicks of 2012 and 2013 was in their choice lineups. New York was nothing if not a traditional PG, SG, SF, PF, C team a year ago. Following some late season success with Carmelo Anthony playing the power forward, the tone was set for the 2013 season, where the Knicks were one of very few teams to adopt small-ball as their identity. This major revision helped spur the Knicks to their best offensive year in team history, tying the Bockers of 1989 with an ORTG of 111.1.

However, this could also be looked at as a factor in the Knicks’ defensive collapse, as such a pattern is prevalent in small-ball teams. From a Zach Lowe article on small-ball posted in October: “The evidence is scattered, but in general, smaller lineups score more efficiently than traditional units but give up more points per possession on defense…”

All this being said, how were the Knicks able to win fifty games during the regular season with these defensive issues? In short, their pace of play: The Knicks rank 17th in DRTG this season, a defensive stat that is pace-adjusted, pinning every team’s defense to it’s performance per 100 possessions. The Knicks played at a pace of 92 possessions per contest, fifth-lowest in the league. Take away the adjustment for pace and the Knicks are allowing the eighth-fewest points per game in the NBA.

The Knicks have more than a few problems to solve this offseason, only one of which is attempting to improve their lot on the defensive end. The team desperately needs versatile defenders who won’t spend the entirety of the season in a suit or riding the bench, and to that end a possible return to prototypical lineups may be something to consider. Having Iman Shumpert set to go in full health will be huge, and we can only pray that Tyson Chandler returns to his beastly defensive form of just a year ago. The Knicks’ snail-like pace bailed them out during the regular season, but eventually it proved useless against the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the Playoffs. New York won’t need to step back to square one to solve their defensive problems, but a good amount of change is needed if a return to dominant — or at the very least solid — defense is to be in play.

123 comments on “Examining the Knicks’ Defensive Downfall

  1. Hubert

    I don’t get the logic here:

    “All this being said, how were the Knicks able to win fifty games during the regular season with these defensive issues? In short, their pace of play: The Knicks rank 17th in DRTG this season, a defensive stat that is pace-adjusted, pinning every team’s defense to it’s performance per 100 possessions. The Knicks played at a pace of 92 possessions per contest, fifth-lowest in the league. Take away the adjustment for pace and the Knicks are allowing the eighth-fewest points per game in the NBA.”

    So the question was how were they able to thrive despite a poor DRtg. How does taking away the adjustment for pace answer that question? If anything, it clouds the answer.

    Our slow pace didn’t bail us out. If we played at a slow pace with a terrible DRtg we’d still suck if we weren’t excellent in other areas. We won 54 games (not 50) with those defensive issues because our ORtg was 111.1 and we led the league in TOV% by a lot. Not because, if you look at non-pace-adjusted defensive numbers, we had a much better points per game record.

  2. DRed

    Hubert:
    I don’t get the logic here:

    “All this being said, how were the Knicks able to win fifty games during the regular season with these defensive issues? In short, their pace of play: The Knicks rank 17th in DRTG this season, a defensive stat that is pace-adjusted, pinning every team’s defense to it’s performance per 100 possessions. The Knicks played at a pace of 92 possessions per contest, fifth-lowest in the league. Take away the adjustment for pace and the Knicks are allowing the eighth-fewest points per game in the NBA.”

    So the question was how were they able to thrive despite a poor DRtg.How does taking away the adjustment for pace answer that question? If anything, it clouds the answer.

    Our slow pace didn’t bail us out.If we played at a slow pace with a terrible DRtg we’d still suck if we weren’t excellent in other areas.We won 54 games (not 50) with those defensive issues because our ORtg was 111.1 and we led the league in TOV% by a lot.Not because, if you look at non-pace-adjusted defensive numbers, we had a much better points per game record.

    Exactly. Defense doesn’t win championships. Winning 4 games before the other team does wins championships. You can do that in more than one way. The Knicks won with our offense this year, and when we stopped hitting shots we lost.

  3. thenamestsam

    DRed: Exactly.Defense doesn’t win championships.Winning 4 games before the other team does wins championships.You can do that in more than one way.The Knicks won with our offense this year, and when we stopped hitting shots we lost.

    Agree, but the level of the elite NBA teams is such that it’s basically a requirement that you be at least very good in both phases of the game to be a true title contender. The Knicks were mediocre on d all year and it’s the main reason they were always more of a fringe contender than a real contender. If the Knicks are going to have a really good shot to win a title they’ll need to maintain their level of offense while getting back to being a top 10 type defense. The biggest key for me is finding a way to protect the rim better without consistently compromising the spacing of the offense. Melo was certainly better on D this year, but his back line rotations are always going to be a weakness when he plays the 4. Hopefully Amare can be a part of fixing that. If not they probably need to find somebody capable of providing some rim protection on D who can also provide spacing. Not an easy task.

  4. Hubert

    DRed: Exactly.Defense doesn’t win championships.Winning 4 games before the other team does wins championships.You can do that in more than one way.The Knicks won with our offense this year, and when we stopped hitting shots we lost.

    That wasn’t really what I was saying, though I don’t disagree.

    My point was that that if your defense is poor, reducing the number of possessions in a game won’t make it any less of a factor. If I read Mr Vertsberger correctly, I believe he was implying that we got away with having bad defense by slowing the pace down.

  5. Vinny L.

    Having a good coach, a smart, cohesive, and healthy team with a powerful offense and defense wins championships.

    If Tony Mitchell ain’t there at 24 Knicks better draft the only proven NBA ready player in the Draft: Glen Rice Jr. (D-League Champ, played with Shump @ Georgia Tech)

    http://www.espn.go.com/nba/story?storyId=9398312

    JR Bricks (and Melo) might be leaving.

    Use the TPE to buy  Mike Muscala in the 2nd round draft.

    Sign PF Gani Lawal (Shump’s friend from Georgia Tech)

    Bring back Nate Robinson. If you can’t get Nate, Will Bynum is fine.

  6. Hubert

    If we lose Copeland I would like to see us bring that James Singleton guy we all got excited about for two hours in. Actually, I’d like to see us bring him in regardless.

  7. Hubert

    How is Glen Rice Jr a “proven NBA ready player in the draft”, let alone “the only proven NBA ready player in the draft”? (I assume you meant to add “that could be available to us at 24″.)

  8. Vinny L.

    @Hubert

    These people hate Dolan so much. Every player that’s on the Knicks’ radar they do a report on the player, then said players stock increases: Tony Mitchell, now Glen Rice.

    I wonder Ricky Ledo’s workout for the Knicks went.

  9. DRed

    For SF I like this James Ennis kid out of LBSU. Good numbers (granted, at LBSU) and he’s an absolutely ridiculous athlete. For a guy who was much more of an athlete than a basketball player he shot well from downtown. He’d be a steal if we could buy a second round pick.

    And Vinny, everyone hates James Dolan, because he’s a tremendous asshole.

  10. Keniman Shumpwalker

    Vinny L.:
    @Hubert

    These people hate Dolan so much. Every player that’s on the Knicks’ radar they do a report on the player, then said players stock increases: Tony Mitchell, now Glen Rice.

    I wonder Ricky Ledo’s workout for the Knicks went.

    Bringing up the totally justified hate for Dolan doesn’t answer the question about how you came to the conclusion that Rice Jr. is a “proven NBA ready player” in the draft, let alone the “ONLY proven NBA ready player in the draft”. If you are saying that his success in the D-league proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is NBA ready, I offer you the following list of past D-leaguer MVPs:

    Austin Sesay
    Devin Brown
    Tierre Brown
    Matt Carroll
    Marcus Fizer
    Randy Livingston
    Kasib Powel
    Courtney Sims
    Mike Harris
    Curtis Stinson
    Justin Dentmon
    Andrew Goudelock

    Now, I’m not saying that Rice Jr is or isn’t NBA ready, just that success in the D-league should not be your primary criteria for evaluating a potential draft pick.

  11. Frank

    Interesting numbers on the PG prospects from Draftexpress:
    http://www.draftexpress.com/article/Just-By-the-Numbers-the-2013-Point-Guard-Crop-4269
    http://www.draftexpress.com/article/Situational-Statistics-the-2013-Point-Guard-Crop-4268

    Based on these numbers, it sure seems like Erick Green and Nate Wolters are being undervalued. Their excellent shooting, skill off the PNR, and low TOV% (and bad defense!) seem like excellent fits for our style of play.

    THCJ – where does one find PAWS40 for this year? I’ve google searched and come up empty.

  12. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, Nate Wolters is definitely starting to seem intriguing. The Knicks don’t have any money to buy a second rounder to try to get Wolters, right? Although I suppose it could be a “You draft him and we’ll pay you $1 million for him after the draft,” right?

  13. David Vertsberger Post author

    Hubert:
    I don’t get the logic here:

    “All this being said, how were the Knicks able to win fifty games during the regular season with these defensive issues? In short, their pace of play: The Knicks rank 17th in DRTG this season, a defensive stat that is pace-adjusted, pinning every team’s defense to it’s performance per 100 possessions. The Knicks played at a pace of 92 possessions per contest, fifth-lowest in the league. Take away the adjustment for pace and the Knicks are allowing the eighth-fewest points per game in the NBA.”

    So the question was how were they able to thrive despite a poor DRtg.How does taking away the adjustment for pace answer that question? If anything, it clouds the answer.

    Our slow pace didn’t bail us out.If we played at a slow pace with a terrible DRtg we’d still suck if we weren’t excellent in other areas.We won 54 games (not 50) with those defensive issues because our ORtg was 111.1 and we led the league in TOV% by a lot.Not because, if you look at non-pace-adjusted defensive numbers, we had a much better points per game record.

    Hubert, you misunderstood me. What I was asking was, for such an awful team at defending the ball, why were the Knicks able to win so many games? DRTG measures a team’s defensive ability, but as bad as the Knicks are there, their opponents weren’t getting many possessions on offense to take advantage. Thus, we weren’t allowing the high nineties to teams nightly, so our slower pace did bail us out from our terrible defense. And I’m aware we won fifty-four games, I rounded down to fifty just for the sake of simplicity.

  14. JK47

    I could see James Southerland from Syracuse filling the Copeland role if Copeland bails. Southerland is a pretty good shooting threat and also is decent finishing at the rim. I’m a Cuse grad but I’m usually not all that bullish on Cuse players as pros, but I do think Southerland could have a bit of an NBA career.

  15. DRed

    Brian Cronin:
    Yeah, Nate Wolters is definitely starting to seem intriguing. The Knicks don’t have any money to buy a second rounder to try to get Wolters, right? Although I suppose it could be a “You draft him and we’ll pay you $1 million for him after the draft,” right?

    Assuming Wolters is enough of an athlete to play in the NBA I’d have no problem drafting him late in the first round. With his level of production in college it’s well worth the shot.

  16. DRed

    David Vertsberger: Hubert, you misunderstood me. What I was asking was, for such an awful team at defending the ball, why were the Knicks able to win so many games? DRTG measures a team’s defensive ability, but as bad as the Knicks are there, their opponents weren’t getting many possessions on offense to take advantage. Thus, we weren’t allowing the high nineties to teams nightly, so our slower pace did bail us out from our terrible defense. And I’m aware we won fifty-four games, I rounded down to fifty just for the sake of simplicity.

    Being 17th out of 30 is not awful. It’s mediocre. We won 50 games by mitigating our defensive weakness by not allowing teams extra possessions and by playing well on offense. The slow pace may have helped us not turn the ball over, or kept our older players fresh enough to play well on offense, but I don’t think it has much to do with the effectiveness of our defense.

  17. Hubert

    David Vertsberger: Hubert, you misunderstood me. What I was asking was, for such an awful team at defending the ball, why were the Knicks able to win so many games? DRTG measures a team’s defensive ability, but as bad as the Knicks are there, their opponents weren’t getting many possessions on offense to take advantage. Thus, we weren’t allowing the high nineties to teams nightly, so our slower pace did bail us out from our terrible defense. And I’m aware we won fifty-four games, I rounded down to fifty just for the sake of simplicity.

    Fair enough on the rounding.

    I still don’t agree with your argument, though. It seems like NFL logic. Limit the other team’s possessions by shortening the game. Or 1983 NCAA Tournament logic (when you NC State could hold the ball for 3 minutes). It works in those situations because you can drastically alter the time of possession. Pace doesn’t do that in the NBA, though.

    I think TOV% (we were 1st on offense, 4th of defense) was a much more important factor than pace when judging why were thrived with a mediocre defense. And I fear that may not be something we can easily replicate next year.

  18. flossy

    Hubert: I think TOV% (we were 1st on offense, 4th of defense) was a much more important factor than pace when judging why were thrived with a mediocre defense. And I fear that may not be something we can easily replicate next year.

    I agree this is going to be hard to repeat, as will hitting more 3FGs than any other team in NBA history.

    That’s why I think it would be well worth trying to play more of a conventional line-up if Amar’e is healthy as well as signing or drafting a desperately-needed back-up center, so we can manage Tyson Chandler’s minutes and allow him to play without fear of fouling. A healthy, assertive Tyson Chandler can be the foundation of an elite defense (’11-’12); an overworked and injured Tyson Chandler playing without other real bigs (’12-’13) cannot.

  19. David Vertsberger Post author

    Hubert: Fair enough on the rounding.

    I still don’t agree with your argument, though.It seems like NFL logic.Limit the other team’s possessions by shortening the game.Or 1983 NCAA Tournament logic (when you NC State could hold the ball for 3 minutes).It works in those situations because you can drastically alter the time of possession.Pace doesn’t do that in the NBA, though.

    I think TOV% (we were 1st on offense, 4th of defense) was a much more important factor than pace when judging why were thrived with a mediocre defense.And I fear that may not be something we can easily replicate next year.

    Not turning the ball over and stealing the ball from the opposition lessens the amount of possessions in the game. This gives us a lower pace. We’re saying the same things here haha.

  20. flossy

    David Vertsberger: Not turning the ball over and stealing the ball from the opposition lessens the amount of possessions in the game. This gives us a lower pace. We’re saying the same things here haha.

    How does stealing the ball from your opponent lessen the number of possessions in a game?

  21. johnno

    Z: You can’t use the TPE to buy draft picks.

    Can you trade a TPE for the rights to a guy drafted in the second round? Also, can it be combined with another asset (such as cash — a few days after the draft) in a trade for a guy drafted in the second round.

  22. Z

    johnno: Can you trade a TPE for the rights to a guy drafted in the second round?Also, can it be combined with another asset (such as cash — a few days after the draft) in a trade for a guy drafted in the second round.

    No and no. Trade exceptions can’t be combined. And they can’t be traded for draft picks either because the salary has to match up and draft picks have no salary value. I suppose the scenario you paint could feasibly happen, but as soon as draft picks are signed they can’t be traded for a defined amount of time (it used to be 1-3 months under the old CBA), so time would have to pass well past the FA period. (New CBAers, correct me if I’m wrong please!)

  23. Vinny L.

    Knicks could also save the TPE and give cash ALONG with James White whose under a team option…. For all those who don’t know….We CAN’T buy a 2nd rd pick with ONLY cash this year…

    Mike Muscala

  24. flossy

    David Vertsberger: For the opposing team.

    A possession that ends in a turnover is still a possession. When the Knick force a turnover, it doesn’t lessen the number of possessions, it ends the possession without a FG attempt (which is good, obviously, but would seem to have no impact on the total number of possessions).

  25. David Vertsberger Post author

    flossy: A possession that ends in a turnover is still a possession.When the Knick force a turnover, it doesn’t lessen the number of possessions, it ends the possession without a FG attempt (which is good, obviously, but would seem to have no impact on the total number of possessions).

    Yep. Major brain fart on my part.

  26. Donnie Walsh

    Vinny– how old are you?? (If that is too personal a question, how about this: were you alive during the Ray Williams era? The Herb Williams era? The Frank Williams era? The Shawne Williams era?)

  27. max fisher-cohen

    David Vertsberger: Hubert, you misunderstood me. What I was asking was, for such an awful team at defending the ball, why were the Knicks able to win so many games? DRTG measures a team’s defensive ability, but as bad as the Knicks are there, their opponents weren’t getting many possessions on offense to take advantage. Thus, we weren’t allowing the high nineties to teams nightly, so our slower pace did bail us out from our terrible defense. And I’m aware we won fifty-four games, I rounded down to fifty just for the sake of simplicity.

    Pace doesn’t matter in terms of evaluating a team’s efficacy. I think maybe you’re confused about how a possession is defined when calculating d/o-rating. When calculating defensive and offensive rating, a possession is defined as when a team loses the ball by scoring, turning the ball over, or missing and not retaining possession either through an offensive rebound or because the defense tips the rebound out of bounds. That means that the only way to get a possession advantage in o/d rating calculations is by getting the last shots at the end of quarters.

    To say then that lowering your pace gives you an advantage would be the same as saying that if some baseball team shortened all their games to six innings they would have an advantage due to allowing fewer runs per game. Or by the same token, you point out the Knicks gave up the 8th fewest points? Well, because of their lower pace, they also only scored the 11th most points a game whereas ORtg shows they really had the 3rd best offense.

    The knicks won so many games not because of pace but because their offense was good enough to overcome their mediocre defense. All pace tells is the style of play the Knicks played. It says nothing about their offensive or defensive abilities.

  28. jon abbey

    yeah, turnover differential was the story of the 2012-2013 Knicks, that and Tyson and JR disappearing at the end.

    someone said above they thought that would be hard to replicate, but I disagree. any offense built around Melo and JR (assuming he returns) isn’t going to pass much and so will keep turnovers down. also a full year of a healthy Shumpert should greatly help our perimeter defense.

  29. DRed

    Dont forget about Kidd and Mr. Superstar vanishing at the end as well. We’re going to miss Kidd’s production next season (at least before he turned into a zombie)

  30. Brian Cronin

    My problem with Shumpert’s defense is that I don’t think he really will help the perimeter defense all that much if they keep playing him at the 3. At the 2, Shump is an elite defender (like, one of the very best in the game). At the 3, I don’t think he is.

  31. massive

    Brian Cronin:
    My problem with Shumpert’s defense is that I don’t think he really will help the perimeter defense all that much if they keep playing him at the 3. At the 2, Shump is an elite defender (like, one of the very best in the game). At the 3, I don’t think he is.

    Somewhere, Paul George and Paul Pierce disagree.

  32. Brian Cronin

    Sorry, what I should have said is that Shump at the 2 is an elite defender since Shump at the 2 prevents penetration, which is key to a good team defense. Shump playing his typical excellent man-on-man defense doesn’t help the team defense as much when the Knick guards are letting the opposing guards waltz to the basket unimpeded. I’d rather have Shump stop the penetration, and I think that would have more of an effect on team defense. Since they are not going to be doing that next year, I don’t think team defense will be helped as much by Shump being here all year long. So long as the Knicks allow teams to attack the basket willy nilly, things are not going to improve much.

  33. Loathing

    massive: Somewhere, Paul George and Paul Pierce disagree.

    So he defends well at the three against guys named Paul. Any others out there? Any way we can convice the Clips or whoever gets him to play Chris Paul at the three?

  34. jon abbey

    yeah, of course NY still has the same problems that they did going into last year if Woodson refuses to play Melo at the 3.

  35. Loathing

    The only reason Woody went with the smallball is because of injuries…if we have a fully healthy squad with a real training camp gone through, then he will probably go back to a more traditional lineup, which this roster is more built for.

    FWIW, the Knicks should draft Schroeder at 24 if he’s still there. Euro PGs are more pass-oriented, which is what this offense needs. If not, then going for a draftable version of JR Smith would be best, in case he doesn’t re-up. Potentially, WCS, we could be looking at two total guards on this team (Felton n’ Shump).

  36. massive

    Brian Cronin:
    Sorry, what I should have said is that Shump at the 2 is an elite defender since Shump at the 2 prevents penetration, which is key to a good team defense. Shump playing his typical excellent man-on-man defense doesn’t help the team defense as much when the Knick guards are letting the opposing guards waltz to the basket unimpeded. I’d rather have Shump stop the penetration, and I think that would have more of an effect on team defense. Since they are not going to be doing that next year, I don’t think team defense will be helped as much by Shump being here all year long. So long as the Knicks allow teams to attack the basket willy nilly, things are not going to improve much.

    I agree. You want Iman Shumpert on the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer because he makes life incredibly hard for them every night. Just look at what he did against Derrick Rose during his ROOKIE SEASON:

    http://youtu.be/j23RFp_1bWs?t=8m29s

    That’s not somebody you play at the 3. He can’t shut down a team’s ball movement the way he can on a team’s lead guard. You want him to not only force bad shots, but stop a team’s offensive flow in general. The kid’s defense is Hall of Fame material (in this market) if he can score 15 efficient points a night on playoff teams.

  37. Loathing

    massive: I agree. You want Iman Shumpert on the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer because he makes life incredibly hard for them every night. Just look at what he did against Derrick Rose during his ROOKIE SEASON:

    http://youtu.be/j23RFp_1bWs?t=8m29s

    That’s not somebody you play at the 3. He can’t shut down a team’s ball movement the way he can on a team’s lead guard. You want him to not only force bad shots, but stop a team’s offensive flow in general. The kid’s defense is Hall of Fame material (in this market) if he can score 15 efficient points a night on playoff teams.

    …which he was on his way to doing by the end of the Indiana series.

  38. jon abbey

    Loathing:
    The only reason Woody went with the smallball is because of injuries…if we have a fully healthy squad with a real training camp gone through, then he will probably go back to a more traditional lineup, which this roster is more built for.

    that is not true. when Amar’e was playing, he still tried to play Melo at the 4 as much as he could. we talked about this repeatedly during the year.

  39. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, I think it is pretty clear that Woody thinks Melo at the 4 is a really good idea. I don’t think it will be changing any time soon. Maybe STAT will at least start games next season at the 4, but even that I am unsure about.

  40. massive

    Woodson has to play Melo at the 3 next season. It’s not even like Melo gets guarded by 4s or anything. Play Shumpert, Melo, and Stat. One of them will be guarded by a power forward or center, and that’s what you want. Allowing the defense to hide a power forward on Pablo “Won’t Shoot” Prigioni hurts the defense. Let Pablo play the back up PG and start Felton, Shumpert, Melo, Stoudemire, and Chandler.

  41. BigBlueAL

    Isola tweet (one of many with Isiah quotes since he is at the game tonight):

    “Isiah also says if Knicks kept D Lee, Z Randolph, J Crawford, N Robinson & W Chandler for a few years they could have “challenged” for title.”

    LMFAO

  42. Loathing

    BigBlueAL:
    Isola tweet (one of many with Isiah quotes since he is at the game tonight):

    “Isiah also says if Knicks kept D Lee, Z Randolph, J Crawford, N Robinson & W Chandler for a few years they could have “challenged” for title.”

    LMFAO

    Keeping ‘em woulda left us “challenged”.

  43. mokers

    Loathing:
    Next step is the draft. That’s what this all boils down to…the signing periods will be partially determined by who Grunwald gets with #24. This site has ‘em taking Tony Snell. First I’ve heard his name mentioned. Any thoughts?

    http://www.nbadraft.net/2013mock_draft

    If we go with a wing, I would go Bullock and Crabbe if they are still available.

  44. Loathing

    I looked at 10 different mocks and found one thing: that no one knows what the hell the Knicks are gonna do. Here’s what I found…
    Tony Snell
    Ricky Ledo
    Tony Mitchell (twice)
    Dennis Schroeder
    Archie Goodwinn
    Kelly Olynyk
    Jeff Withey
    Wayne Blackshear
    Dario Saric

    Personally, I’d LOVE to see Schroeder come to town, but I don’t think he’ll be around by then. After that, I agree with mokers…should be a wing, preferably a 2.

  45. lavor postell

    Duncan is putting on a clinic right now. Regardless of the outcome of this series it’s really something to have watched the entire career of a player who I think is a top-5 player in the history of the game and a first ballot HOF’er which I assume at the minimum is safe to say.

  46. d-mar

    DRed:
    Amazing half by Duncan. He’s playing like he’s 27.

    IF the Spurs win, Duncan should retire, would be one of the greatest departures in sports history

  47. d-mar

    How come LeBron doesn’t get any grief when he lies on the ground whining about a call and doesn’t get back on defense (like a certain member of our Knicks)?

  48. Brian Cronin

    Well, the Heat have been coming back from big deficits in the fourth quarter all year. If they want to play a Game 7, they’ll have to do it tonight.

  49. Hubert

    This is remarkable. I kept my eyes on LeBron most of that quarter and he pretty much hid in the corner or on the wing, many times unguarded. He’s being handled straight up by Boris Diaw, and rather easily. I’m not one of those guys that likes to bash him, either, I’m actually a fan. But this is 2011 v Dallas & 2010 v Boston all over again. He’s psyched out to the point he isn’t trying.

  50. BigBlueAL

    Amazing for as great a player as LeBron is if he cant drive all the way to the basket he has no go-to move to score. Looks like he doesnt know what to do.

  51. Owen

    Man, Lebron just refuses to take a 15 footer….

    I feel a little bad for him. But I feel awesome for the Spurs

  52. d-mar

    Can’t see the Spurs winning this one in OT. They just needed to grab one freaking rebound and they’d be NBA champions right now.

  53. cgreene

    It’s amazing that Pop of all people just made one of the biggest coaching blunders in NBA history

  54. Z

    This is the first half of basketball I’ve watched all year… Not bad. (Though Miami really hasn’t looked good. Do Wade and bosh still play for them??)

  55. Owen

    Pretty amazing game. Did not see this coming.

    I think the value of rebounding is showing up at the end here….

  56. BigBlueAL

    If Spurs lose this game I have a feeling Game 7 will be a blowout of epic proportions. Hope not.

  57. BigBlueAL

    DRed:
    Im rooting for a game 7, but Manu got mauled on that last drive

    Have a feeling Game 7 is going to be a blowout. Would be shocked if Spurs can make Game 7 even competitive after this loss.

  58. d-mar

    Not only could the Spurs not grab a rebound at the end of regulation, but they missed critical free throws as well.

    I agree that game 7 could be a massacre

  59. mr.JayP

    BigBlueAL: Have a feeling Game 7 is going to be a blowout.Would be shocked if Spurs can make Game 7 even competitive after this loss.

    What gives you that feeling? Spurs played well, and could have played better.

    I think this is the first time ive seen ref’s miss blatant calls on both ends. Its almost like they got too scared to even call fouls.

  60. BigBlueAL

    mr.JayP: What gives you that feeling? Spurs played well, and could have played better.

    I think this is the first time ive seen ref’s miss blatant calls on both ends. Its almost like they got too scared to even call fouls.

    The Spurs just suffered what could possibly be the most heartbreaking loss in NBA history. They looked beyond exhausted and dejected at the end of the game. Game 7 is in Miami.

    I hope they can bounce back, hell Im rooting hard for them to win this series. But after a loss like that I cant see any team period bouncing back from that.

  61. Hubert

    That was amazing. LeBron clearly was just saving his energy to dominate the 4th. He did everything.

    I also disagree with the blowout contingent. Miami worked HARD for this. I think they’ll win, maybe by 5-7 pts, but I think Spurs will have a competitive game.

  62. BigBlueAL

    Well if the Spurs win Game 7 now that might go down as the greatest win in NBA history lol.

  63. BigBlueAL

    Owen:
    Pretty amazing game. Did not see this coming.

    I think the value of rebounding is showing up at the end here….

    Spurs outrebounded the Heat by 3 tonight.

  64. yellowboy90

    you don’t take Hibbert out and you don’t take Duncan out. Also, this Diaw defense on LeBron is interesting. A 4 with good feet and a rim protector slows him down.

  65. Nick C.

    I think he is referring to the final minute when Duncan was taken out and Miami got offensive rebounds and with a second chance made the shot. Spurs had those two and the FTs by Leonard (who played very well otherwise) and Ginobli (who did not albeit he got mauled on the final play).

    BigBlueAL: Spurs outrebounded the Heat by 3 tonight.

  66. MeloDrama

    Hubert: That wasn’t really what I was saying, though I don’t disagree.

    My point was that that if your defense is poor, reducing the number of possessions in a game won’t make it any less of a factor.If I read Mr Vertsberger correctly, I believe he was implying that we got away with having bad defense by slowing the pace down.

    The Knicks got away with a mediocre defensive output because they actually beared down on D at the beginning and ends of the season to put together a pair of superior runs that all but cemented their seed.

    Also, because they went small and that spaced the floor out, and finally because limiting turnovers gives you a maximized chance to beat teams that rely on scoring in transition – that actually made them a playoff darkhorse, since almost all the East teams leaned on transition scoring, either as their trump card (Miami) or because their offense was cruddy and needed to come from defense (Boston, Indiana, etc). When Chandler got hurt and became a zombie, any chance they really had to do damage went out the window.

  67. MeloDrama

    Bullock was born to be on this Knicks team, a defensive stopper who can credibly switch onto bigger or smaller players and is really accurate from 3.

    Larkin I think will be a legitimate offensive plus for a team. Defensively, I think a team would have to be pretty creative to hide him. He’s pretty much a guy that runs your B-team (which, hey, is something we could use).

  68. Brian Cronin

    Just saw an NBA apparel commercial. Are there seriously Brooklyn Nets fans? It just seems so wrong. If you’re a New Yorker, you should be a Knick fan!

  69. Brian Cronin

    Danny Green remembering he is Danny Green is costing the Spurs tonight.

    And Manu being bad Manu.

  70. BigBlueAL

    LeBron and Wade deserve all the titles they can get, just wish it wasnt for a franchise in a city (which I currently live in) with fans who dont deserve it at all.

  71. Brian Cronin

    I thought you’d appreciate JVG’s comment about Spoelstra being the best coach in the history of the Heat. JVG can always be counted on to take a shot at Riley. ;)

  72. BigBlueAL

    JVG should see this and say screw it I wanna torment the Heat again and call Dolan and say “Give me my fucking job back!!”. Then of course Dolan the dumbass would hang up on him lol.

  73. Brian Cronin

    You know I lurrrrve me some JVG, but I dunno if he’d be a great fit here. I mean, yeah, he’d be better than Woody, but since he’s certainly in no rush to return to coaching, he can wait for the perfect fit.

  74. jon abbey

    Brian Cronin:
    This might really be the greatest NBA Finals of all-time.

    best since at least the Magic/Bird years, probably the best in my rooting lifetime (since around 1979 or so).

  75. jon abbey

    also THCJ is wrong a hilariously huge percentage of the time, but he was dead on about Kawhi Leonard, what a stud he already is at 21.

  76. Z

    Brian Cronin:
    I thought you’d appreciate JVG’s comment about Spoelstra being the best coach in the history of the Heat. JVG can always be counted on to take a shot at Riley. ;)

    …and a shot at his brother, too…

  77. Brian Cronin

    also THCJ is wrong a hilariously huge percentage of the time, but he was dead on about Kawhi Leonard, what a stud he already is at 21.

    And he couldn’t even get drafted in the lottery. NBA owners are such morons.

  78. Brian Cronin

    …and a shot at his brother, too…

    SVG only coached in Miami for two seasons. I think even his brother would be hard pressed to call him the greatest coach in the history of the Heat.

  79. BigBlueAL

    Yeah plus Ive seen/read alot of stuff on the VG brothers and they are extremely close. I think the reason JVG praises Spoelstra so much also is because SVG and Spoelstra are still reportedly very, very good friends.

  80. BigBlueAL

    jon abbey: best since at least the Magic/Bird years, probably the best in my rooting lifetime (since around 1979 or so).

    1993 NBA Finals (Bulls-Suns) is up there too. I would say this was easily the best Finals to watch in terms of the great basketball played since the 1993 Finals.

  81. jon abbey

    the difference with the Suns is they weren’t already proven champs, they hadn’t even been to the Finals before.

  82. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, and that series also didn’t go 7. I think going 7 sort of has to be a prerequisite for being one of the greatest finals. So I think this and the 1984 Finals have to be the best comparisons in the past three decades. I think this one slightly edges that one out.

  83. BigBlueAL

    Brian Cronin:
    Yeah, and that series also didn’t go 7. I think going 7 sort of has to be a prerequisite for being one of the greatest finals.

    Problem was Jordan was too good to allow a Finals to go 7 lol. 5 of the 6 did go 6 games though. When you look back its pretty remarkable that in 6 title runs only twice they went 7 games and none in the Finals. Even more remarkable when you look at the players on the teams he went against in the Finals.

  84. Frank

    tough way for the Spurs’ big 3 to go out. Manu was awful the last two games. Parker got completely shut down by Lebron. Duncan was good but missed that chippie at the end that would’ve tied the game. Just feel horrible for those guys.

    Kawhi Leonard = stud stud stud. What a performance by him. He’ll never be the offensive centerpiece of a team, but between him and Paul George, they really made LBJ work harder than he’s ever had to. It’s too bad for Kawhi that there is no renegotiating of contracts — he could easily get $8-10MM just off these playoffs.

  85. Frank

    Well I guess it’s on to the draft.

    Looks like the mocks have us taking guys like Tony Mitchell, Reggie Bullock, Jamaal Franklin, or Allen Crabbe.

    Any preference here? Honestly I’d be fine with any of these guys. All of them are 2 way players except maybe Crabbe, so maybe I’d prefer the others. Franklin especially seems like a jack-of-all-trades guy that I think would fit in well if Hopla can fix his jumpshot.

    I was originally hoping for either Dieng or Withey but I feel like Dieng will probably be gone by the time we pick, and the more you read about Withey the more he feels like Ian Mahinmi or Ryan Hollins. Can find that caliber of player for vet’s minimums.

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