Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Role for Luck?

Everyone will have their opinions on the proverbial good guys and bad guys in the resignation/firing/mutual breakup between D’Antoni and the Knicks. I suspect that the role played by a season-long stretch of rotten luck will get lost in all of this, because it always does. Randomness is not the stuff of newspaper columns or even blogs.

What sticks in my craw is that the Knicks are a thoroughly mediocre team with some upside masquerading as an awful, six game losing streak team. Those will get many a coach run out of town in the NBA, unless the team is in it for the ping-pong balls. Still, it’s worth noting that according to basketball reference the Knicks have 23 Pythagorean (expected) wins. So they actually play like a slightly above .500 team instead of a bottom-feeder. Of course, the league doesn’t count Pythagorean wins toward playoff seeding. It only counts real ones. I get it.

And yet, D’Antoni’s and Anthony’s differences may have seemed more “growing pains” than “irreconcilable” with 23 wins, and a 2-4 record instead of 0-6 in the last six.

Twenty-four games left. My strong suspicion is that Mike Woodson won’t change things radically on offense. I don’t even think we will see Carmelo get the full Joe Johnson treatment. Let’s all just hope that we do not see a return to the “switch-on-every-pick” defense from earlier in the season. The playoffs are still in sight.

16 comments on “A Role for Luck?

  1. RastaPappa

    All I want to see is that Melo and Amare are going to defence hard. Stat is so soooooft. And Melo, dear God………………….

  2. Nick C.

    Hope the effort and A games continue as the player(s) realize with D’Antoni gone the excuses left as well. If the team sucks its on them and if it succeeds it is to their credit as well.

  3. ephus

    The loss in Boston was crucial. Two key plays that everyone should remember: (1) Shumpert gets a Technical for cursing out Kevin Garnett (an all-time trashtalker) after a monster slam and (2) Pierce hits a 3 to tie the game with 8 seconds left. If Pierce misses that shot, the Knicks win to start the killer road trip, and likely win in Milwaukee as well. Things do not boil over during the Philadelphia game —> Melo does not get benched for the entire 4th quarter. In that world, the MDA tensions with Melo simmer, but there is no need coaching change yesterday.

    Given the Bucks weak schedule the rest of the way, I think the Knicks need to get to 33 wins to make the playoffs. That means 14-9 the rest of the way. Tough sledding, but possible.

    I would rather make the playoffs and get eliminated in the first round then have a lottery chance at holding on to the 2012 first round pick. The 5% chance to hold the pick if the Knicks just miss the playoffs is not enough to root against the Knicks.

  4. Brian Cronin

    and likely win in Milwaukee as well.

    Huh? How would winning in Boston make them win in Milwaukee? I don’t get the correlation.

    I would rather make the playoffs and get eliminated in the first round then have a lottery chance at holding on to the 2012 first round pick. The 5% chance to hold the pick if the Knicks just miss the playoffs is not enough to root against the Knicks.

    Definitely agreed.

  5. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    It’s called “momentum,” Brian. Didn’t you know that it’s a real thing?

  6. ephus

    Brian Cronin: Huh? How would winning in Boston make them win in Milwaukee? I don’t get the correlation.

    The Knicks played about ten minutes of Blazers-style give-up ball before rallying to almost grab the game in the last two minutes. If they had put forth full effort for 42 (not even 48) minutes, I think they would have won. Your mileage may vary.

  7. jon abbey

    overall stats are even more worthless than usual this year for NY, with us now working on our 4th team in 43 games (pre-Lin, Lin, Melo and Amare back, new coach), but it’s silly to cite the Pythagorean record without mentioning that we’ve faced the third weakest schedule in the league so far, even after this recent tough stretch.

  8. ephus

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: The Honorable Cock Jowles says:

    March 15, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    It’s called “momentum,” Brian. Didn’t you know that it’s a real thing?

    At the risk of getting into a flame war with THCJ, my thinking is not about momentum — even if the Knicks won in Boston, they were still going to lose two in Texas — but rather about the MDA – ‘Melo dynamic. If the Knicks had won in Boston, ‘Melo would have been (correctly) hailed for bailing out the offense in the last three minutes. I think that makes ‘Melo less likely to dog it on defense in Milwaukee and otherwise mentally check out of the game. I think a win in Boston would have led to an honest effort in Milwaukee, and it was effort, not system or talent, that was responsible for that loss.

  9. Cousyfan

    Here is a bit of information which may interest you people.
    Harvard, Yale and Princeton do not give sports scholarships, and their players must satisfy their minimum SAT scores.
    In about two hours Harvard will be on TNT tv.
    Harvard has 6’8″ SF who is graduating this year. His name is Keith Wright, and his number is 44.
    Being a Harvard man myself, and a Chinese, of course I am a Lin fan. But I really wonder which team is going to draft Keith Wright.
    Would it be nice for Lin and Wright get together as team mates, again?

    Cheers, Stanley Chang

  10. Caleb

    jon abbey:
    overall stats are even more worthless than usual this year for NY, with us now working on our 4th team in 43 games (pre-Lin, Lin, Melo and Amare back, new coach), but it’s silly to cite the Pythagorean record without mentioning that we’ve faced the third weakest schedule in the league so far, even after this recent tough stretch.

    It’s two separate issues – 18-24 against the worst schedule int he league (or now, 3rd worst) is even more disgraceful than 22-21 against the 3rd worst schedule.

    But you are right to point out we really dug ourselves a hole, not winning winnable games.

    On the optimist’s side, the Knicks roster is at its strong point right now… with Lin and Davis, plus Melo getting healthy while the only player we’ve lost is Bill Walker.

  11. bluemax

    Frankly our chances of making the plyoffs are not very good if you compare the bucks schedule to ours.

    they have 23 games left just as we do .They play 9 playoff teams we play 13 play off teams. they have the 2-0 record advantage against us. and they just added Monta Ellis.

    Fat ass Melo better show he is worth what the knicks payed for him or we are toast!

  12. Z

    Caleb:

    On the optimist’s side, the Knicks roster is at its strong point right now… with Lin and Davis, plus Melo getting healthy while the only player we’ve lost is Bill Walker.

    That was the case 6 losses ago, though, too.

  13. sisterray

    Pythagorean wins…
    I was always sympathetic to D’Antoni (and I certainly take his “side” over Melo’s), but don’t you feel like he was always a little too theoretical? A little too “big picture”? A little too distant from the action?

    Part of what makes basketball — really, any sport — so gripping is that the details of the particular situation really matter; an entire season or even era can depend on a single instant.

    D’Antoni never seemed to appreciate that. He seemed to be more interested in the big picture and getting the system working than he was in the dirty details of particular plays or even particular games: when to call time-out, what lineup is needed in order to solve some particular problem that’s killing you, when to call a set play.

    In the first few seasons it often seemed like he thought of himself as just the team’s custodian, waiting for better days when the mess was finally cleaned up and a new team would move in and make things happen.

    When it finally came time to transition to Phase II, though, there was no real plan as to how to make that happen. The team was assembled at the last minute, they weren’t a natural fit for him or one another, the lockout limited training camp and practice, and new parts kept on getting added while others proved to be irreparably broken. Rather than seize control of those things that really could be fixed or at least improved upon, he fell into the old habit of waiting for better days. Patience gave way to a frustrated messianism, and the team started falling apart.

    I wonder what would have happened if D’Antoni had trusted less in things working out over time and gotten his hands dirty on a more regular basis, demanding that the team win right now.

  14. David Crockett

    jon abbey:
    but it’s silly to cite the Pythagorean record without mentioning that we’ve faced the third weakest schedule in the league so far, even after this recent tough stretch.

    Simple Rating System, which accounts for schedule strength, tells the same basic story. The play has been not surprisingly volatile, but even with that, more mediocre than bad. With that, the Knicks can still make something out of this season.

    I’m not taking up for D’Antoni. If, as reports suggest, he “politely suggested” trading Anthony for another point guard, he was basically asking to leave.

  15. bob cook

    Regarding D’Antoni, as a fan, I wanted him to be a genius; I wanted speedball to be some sort of magic trick that other coaches couldn’t comprehend; I wanted him to be a charismatic leader for the players. It’s not possible for me to know if his way of running the offense/defense was better, in retrospect, than a more conventional approach but I did notice one thing that nagged me over the last few years. When he would be miked on the bench, telling the players what to do, he always seemed cursory and a bit detached. An anti Hubie Brown if you will. And when he’d be miked in the dressing room, giving the players last tactical points and a send off, his comments, again, seemed simplistic and emotionally flat. This worried me a bit. Some of the players said they loved him but this didn’t entirely convince me as players often say that about their coach so long as the coach has power over them. I remember (switching to football) when Bill Parcells quit the Giants and was replaced by Ray Handly (a moron), Amani Toomer said how much better then new coach was than that Parcells guy.
    Anyone else notice this about D’Antoni?

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