I wish I possessed the (basic) Photoshop skills to make a montage of the Scooby Doo meme – you know the one – where Shaggy goes to unmask Mike Miller and finds that, behind the polite middle manager mask, it was David Fizdale all along. That’s how depressing this game was,
Seriously, if I showed you the whole footage of the game, only removing date and sideline shots, you all would think Fiz was coaching this team. The team was disjointed, the play was lackluster, iso-time abounded, three point shots were conceded and some rotations didn’t make sense. It was all extremely disappointing.
Honestly I don’t even know what to say about the game apart from a few thoughts, but I’ll make amend with a section dedicated to numbers and half-season grades of our crucial (?) players.
– First things first: everything – everything – goes to shit if Payton doesn’t give a damn on defense. Guess what? It’s several games that Elfrid just looks totally uninterested on that side of the ball. Now, I guess being a new dad sucks a lot of energy out of you, but why does that energy be only on the not fun side of the court? Or can it be that Payton has always been a very overrated defender and these days it’s just more apparent than before (the latter without a doubt)? Anyway, when your primary point of attack defender just becomes a turnstile everything else becomes useless. I don’t really know what can be done about it (Frank, while being a much more enthusiastic defender, ended up committing five fouls in 25 minutes, which is definitely not ideal), but if Payton can’t be counted on being held accountable, I guess that should be bench or buyout time after the deadline.
– Mook’s back! Yay! (Said nobody). I’m frankly appalled at every notion that Mook shouldn’t be traded to ensure continuity. So far he’s been regarded as a valuable mentor for a team that currently sits at 11-31 and for a young point guard (?) who’s maybe improving but stands at .028 WS/48 and .494 TS%. That’s lazy thinking, not love for continuity. There’s nothing to be salvaged here in that sense, honestly. I get holding onto him until the deadline and/or until a good offer comes around, but for god’s sake, get him out of here. When the offense doesn’t click, he only jams it further, and he can’t cover for glaring defensive issues from other players. Coincidentally, he had the lowest plus/minus of every player in the game at a very round -20.
– Hey, good news! Mitch finally played more than 30 minutes. 30 minutes and 7 seconds, to be precise. And he didn’t even get into foul trouble (only two for the night). That said, while the numbers were kinda good (12 points, 8 boards, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 5/7 from the field – two missed dunks! – and 2/3 from the line) Mitch is looking very uninspired and unfocused. It’s hard to understand if this should fall on Miller’s shoulders, because it looked like he found a way to untap his potential after all, but it’s a worrying trend. I’m more than willing to write it up to the Drummond trade rumors, but then again being a professional in the NBA means also not getting swayed by whatever it is that floats around your name. Maybe it’s a big deal to ask from a 21 year old, but that’s the harsh destiny of the closest thing to a budding superstar this team had since big ol’ Pat.
– Miller’s record for his first 20 games is 7-13, “good” for a .350 winning percentage that would put the Knicks at 29-53 over the course of a full season, which is exactly what you should try to avoid with a team full of mercs. I think Miller should be given the chance to work with a better roster, because honestly some of his choices stink of Pills orders to make them look good (lineups with Randle at the 5 and Portis at the 4 are an insult to creation itself), but it has to come on the heels of a new FO; if a new FO comes around, though, it’s unlikely Miller will stick around. Take your time to bid farewell to Miller, you have three months to do that.
And now your 2019/20 Knicks half-season report! (PPG/RPG/APG; TS%, WS/48; other notable stats if any)
– Julius Randle (19/9.1/3.3; .532, .051; .294 3P%): after an abysmal start for the season, Julius’ numbers and impact all went through a heavy detox program courtesy of Mike Miller. The result is that now his numbers look a bit better, but considering we needed him to be a viable three point shooter to unlock some interesting feature in our offense (mainly his fit with Mitch) and that his defense is exactly how advertised, which means Amar’e bad, the Randle experiment for now goes down as a failure. Grade: C-. In a nutshell: Fumblebee.
– Marcus Morris (19/5.5/1.5; .584, .105; .467 3P%): as Brain would say, how ironic that the best free agent acquisition of the offseason was the mulligan given to us after Bullock failed his medical? Honestly there’s not much to dislike about Mook’s production this season; the same can’t be said about his proclivity to halt the ball-sharing activities, but I guess he’s been given the green light to hoist it up. Enough said about the need to trade him. Grade: B-. In a nutshell: (Hope he’s) gone with the wind.
– RJ Barrett (14.1/5.2/2.5; .470, -0.026; 0.6 DWS, 93 ORtg): rough first season for the rookie, who also rolled his ankle badly tonight and will probably be out for a while. His demeanor, rebounding numbers and NBA-ready body are source for hope, as is his trending up FT% (still at 60% for the season); everything else, especially offense-related, is a mess. My 5 dollars are on RJ becoming a good not great player, which isn’t that bad after all. Grade: C+ (for a rookie). In a nutshell: The one who stayed while Ja got away.
– Mitchell Robinson (9.9/6.6/0.5; .710, .212; 1.7 BPG, 139 ORtg, 3.4 FPG): not quite the leap we expected, but still a blessing for aching souls and desperate eyes alike everytime he’s on the court. Still averaging a shame-worthy 22.6 MPG because everyone involved in his management on this team is a fucking moron, he should be the undisputed building block of this franchise but no, let’s see in how many more ways Portis can suck at this thing called basuketuboru. League-best in TS% and ORtg. Pass him the ball under or over the rim and let him go to work! Grade: B+. In a nutshell: Teenage wasteland.
– Frank Ntilikina (6.1/2.2/3.2; .494, .028; 2.4 STL%, 1.6 BLK%): sporting for the first time a positive WS/48 and improved in both steals and blocks percentage, still light years away from being good. Two dunks in traffic and an attempted posterization of KP though already render this season a roaring success. He’s also dispatched every DSJ attempt at usurping his place, but that’s because DSJ sucks badly. Grade: C——– verging on D–. In a nutshell: French milquetoast.
– Kevin Knox (7.6/3.2/1.1; .492, .023; .336 3P%): I don’t know what’s there to say about Knox that could even pass for a backhanded compliment. Oh okay, let’s try with this: he’s playing out of position. I would like to see him man the PF spot for 15 MPG consistently as to really evalue what we have in him. If we keep on playing him at SF we’ll never develop the few things he could potentially do well while exposing him to all sorts of embarrassment on defense. I see no reason in that. This is what happens when you sign 4 PFs in the offseason. Grade: D+. In a nutshell: youth is wasted on the young.
– Everyone else: they’re all Afflalo to me.
The real good news, though, is that I’m almost over with the horrible food intoxication I got between Tuesday and Wednesday (I got to eat a whole sandwich today!), so if my stomach can do it, then we all can do it!
See you after the Sixers game.