Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Balkman Hurt!

According to the Associated Press (via SI.com, via poster DS):

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/basketball/nba/09/27/balkman.knicks.ap/

Forward Renaldo Balkman will miss at least four weeks because of a stress reaction in his right ankle, leaving the Knicks without a key reserve just days before the start of training camp.

An MRI exam performed this week also revealed a small cartilage injury in the ankle, the team announced Thursday. Balkman will be fitted for a walking boot and will be re-evaluated after resting for four weeks.

Here at KB, we wondered if Balkman would start the season at SF. Given Balkman’s rookie season & his phenomenal summer league, it seemed at least possible that the Knicks would open the year with Balkman at the 3. In this scenario, Balkman would probably have needed a strong preseason to showcase his abilities. Consequently we also hoped that Richardson would either start or see significant time at SG. However this injury seems to have derailed that opportunity. So it looks like the opening day lineup is either Crawford/Richardson, Crawford/Jeffries, or Richardson/Jeffries. Another question remains: how much does Balkman’s injury hurt his chances at starting?

49 comments on “Balkman Hurt!

  1. GB

    Something else:

    >> What might make Chicago fans excited – at least if ?potential? is your thing (and I argued earlier in the week it shouldn?t be, so I am not being consistent here) – is the acquisition of both Thomas and Noah. Each player came as part of the Eddy Curry trade. Given the poor performance of Curry in his career, having either one of these players would be a bit of a steal. Getting both is grand larceny (or some such term meaning more than a bit of a steal).

    To see this point, consider what each did his last year in college. As a freshman in 2005-06, Thomas posted a 0.452 Win Score per-minute. Last year, as a junior, Noah posted a 0.398 mark. To put these numbers in perspective, Greg Oden had a 0.402 mark last year. Yes, I still expect Oden to be good. And yes, there is a good chance that both Noah and Thomas will develop into above average players.

    Last year we saw a glimpse of this potential. In only 966 minutes, Thomas posted a 0.105 mark. Okay, that?s only slightly above average. Still, that is better than anything Curry has ever done.

  2. Z

    In baseball there’s a rule you can’t trade injured players. Too bad that’s not the case in the NBA– there is no silver lining.

    Management (won’t refer to him by name at this point) might go out and overpay for a starting SF with heavy baggage. Since this year is officially his WIN NOW year, the thought of playing the first month with a gaping void (a position he already wanted to upgrade) may wipe that phony grin off his face and make him do something stupid.

    Something else, that is…

  3. MattinDC

    Would Lee play more minutes at the 3 now with Balkman’s ankle being balky? And has anyone heard if Lee developed his mid range jumper this summer?

  4. Brian Cronin

    Son of a bitch. This is awful.

    HOWEVER, while it is definitely bad news, at least the Knicks already had a starter at the three, and the backup there, Jared Jeffries, while terrible last year, is probably not going to kill the Knicks if he has to be the backup for a week or so.

    Meanwhile, they could always just play a Lee/Randolph/Curry frontcourt. That’d be interesting.

  5. Matthew

    You’d think Isiah’d still want to rub it in his detractors faces that Balkman is actually good, but he seems to be more interested in padding Crawford’s stats.

  6. Mike N

    I think Z has identified the real worry here, which is that if Balkman is out for too long Isaiah will trade him in a package for Artest. That would be a bad choice, which means IT would probably do it. On the flip side, we’ve got Q, Jeffries, and the two draftees to play SF, so it’s not the end of the world to miss Balkman for a little while (except that it increases Crawford’s minutes).

  7. Hudson River

    Brian Cronin, and all people who think D-Lee can play the 3.

    Larry Brown did play him at the 3, but right now he is not a player who can play consistently again SFs. His jumper should be improved, but he certainly won’t have 3 point range, nor will he be able to beat a perimeter player off the dribble. He also would have alot of trouble guarding the 3s in the East, he just isn’t fast enough. I think this clears up some room for Wilson Chandler and Demetrius Nichols to prove themselves, I think we will see at least one of the two be productive players…after the Knicks trade/release them the same way all SFs the Knicks trade/release (Ariza, Barnes, Udoka)

  8. mase

    Hudson,
    I agree, personally think Lee should be starting at PF!

    A lineup with both Zach and Curry becomes a liability on defense.

  9. Z

    I guess we’ll find out in a matter of weeks how Q responded to back surgery– I’d have to assume that even if he puts up 25 and 10 on opening night, his back probably won’t be able to sustain it a full season (or even a fraction of one). It’s got to be a distinct possibility that Q won’t be able to give us much at all, though, which means Jeffries and Chandler may be the two SFs for the first month.

    I remember at the beginning of last season the coach singled out the first month as a challenge the Knicks would have to step up to. They didn’t step up, getting off to a 6-13 start, and had to climb out of the early hole (which they never did). He may get the shivers looking at a first month with a disaster and a rookie manning the SF and deal to avoid another 6-13 start.

    Maybe Balkman will heal fast, Q will be miraculously recovered from a history of back pain, and all will work out fine.

    But the man in charge could use a distraction from his trial, was already looking to deal at that position, and may now have an excuse to be bold.

  10. bmj320

    Let’s see what these rookies can do. I like both Chandler and Nichols. I don’t think they are as good on defense as Balkman but both of these kids can score and get up and down the floor. I like Nichols confidence. I just hope Isiah doesn’t screw him over.

  11. Frank O.

    How many bad moves can one team make?????!!!

    So now the Balkman injury opens to door to a Houston try out with the Knicks?

    The story says the Knicks feel they owe Houston a shot…After he made $100 million for largely sitting on the bench and using an exercise bench?
    And the Knicks are offering him guaranteed money?
    I mean they can hire a preacher for less money and get about what Houston will give them.
    Dolan…would someone please whack that dude?

    New York Post -
    The ankle injury that will keep Renaldo Balkman out all of training camp and possibly the first two weeks of the regular season has opened the door for the Knicks to bring Allan Houston to Charleston, S.C., for a tryout, according to sources.

    Despite having 17 contracts, two over the limit, the Knicks have become a leading candidate to land Houston, as they believe they owe the 36-year-old a crack at making the team. The Knicks, a weak outside shooting club last season, appear willing to give Houston guaranteed money to report to training camp. No contract has been signed, according to a source.

    The Nets have offered a non-guaranteed contract to Houston, but Nets president Rod Thorn said yesterday he has heard the Knicks have offered Houston guaranteed money. Should Houston get a guaranteed deal, the Nets likely would be out of the running.

  12. jon abbey

    yeah, if Houston somehow makes this team, I’m picking someone else to root for as my main team this year. can someone tell Isiah he already has 17 guys under contract?

  13. Frank

    Usually I agree with Frank O. but this time I don’t. Who cares about the $$? It’s not our money. We’re way over the cap as it is. And ticket prices have already been set for the year.

    Now if they would just cut Jerome James and stick Houston in his spot, I think he would be valuable. I think we took Houston for granted when he was here because he didn’t do any one thing that amazingly and the team was mediocre– but he was basically the only real player on teams that have done better than any Isiah team to date. If his knee really is better, why not bring him in for 10-15 minutes, maybe 2-3 3′s during that time, clear up the middle for Eddy and Zach. He can’t be any worse a defender than Crawford.

  14. Frank

    And then trade Dickau’s and Jones’s expiring contracts for some draft picks. And send Nichols to Europe if he’ll go. And trade Malik Rose for a treadmill for Curry to use. Maybe we’ll have to throw in some cash too.

  15. retropkid

    If they are serious about Houston they must have questions about Nichols and maybe Chandler too…could be Houston’s camp planting that story, hard to see him make the team except Dolan loves the guy…

    Some of these guys are going to see very few minutes and aren’t worth arguing about…Houston won’t make or break the team.

    Balkman’s injury is unfortunate because he is a likable player, but he wasn’t going to make the difference in the Knicks’ season either….that job falls on Zach, Steph and Curry…it’s hard to be real optimistic about that troika.

  16. Owen

    Allan Houston was mediocre in his prime. Why we would think of signing him at age 36 I don’t know. I agree that Chandler and Nichols aren’t really worth talking about.

    Retropkid – I disagree. I think Balkman playing 2000+ minutes would make a huge difference for the Knicks this season. But I agree if you mean that huim missing two weeks won’t make that big of a difference.

  17. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Balkman?s injury is unfortunate because he is a likable player, but he wasn?t going to make the difference in the Knicks? season either?.that job falls on Zach, Steph and Curry

    I couldn’t disagree more. You know for the most part what you’re going to get from Zach, Steph, and Curry. And that goes for both ends of the court. It’s guys like Balkman, Lee, Morris, and Robinson that can make the difference on the season because for the most part you don’t know what you’re going to get from them. They are young and improving. Zach, Steph & Curry are likely to be as good as they’ll ever be.

    Let’s assume with Steph, Craw, Zach, & Curry at best this team will be the 10th best offensive team in the league. But how good can that team be defensively? Last year we were in the bottom 5, and with that core, it’s likely to stay the same. Unless of course we can find a way to improve our D. It’s certainly possible, both from looking at the stats and his on the court play, that Balkman could be a great defender – and that could make all the difference to the world to this team.

    it?s hard to be real optimistic about that troika.

    OK, now I agree. :-)

  18. Frank O.

    I have always though Houston overrated. Very nice guy, pretty shot, but overrated.
    Frank, I agree the money has little to do with it, other than it shows again Dolan’s lack of business acumen.
    Houston with non-guaranteed money probably tries a heck of a lot harder than with guaranteed money. In my opinion, since he spent most of the last three years of his deal on a stationary bike, he should give the Knicks a try for free.
    I’m convinced that Balkman’s defense is essential for the Knicks to succeed this year.

  19. jon abbey

    “In my opinion, since he spent most of the last three years of his deal on a stationary bike, he should give the Knicks a try for free.”

    I’d go even further, let him give $1 million back, then they can give him a fair shot. :)

  20. Neil

    Was Balkman a great defender last year? I don’t remember that part of his game being spectacular. His all-around energy game minus scoring impressed me more than him getting into a game and shutting a great scorer down. I guess I should make allowances for him being a rookie and all and he’s undoubtedly got all the attributes to be a great defender but he’s not there yet.

    The rookie whose defense impressed me most was Mardy Collins. He’s got the potential to be a Raja Bell-type defender, someone who can guard both the 1 and the 2 and be a pest all game long. He was known as a fine defender at Temple and that’s carried into the pros. Now if only he could make a jumpshot once in awhile, the Knicks would have a Rick Fox, Bruce Bowen type all championship teams have, among, of course, a dominant big man…

  21. Owen

    Neil – Balkman had a defensive on court/off court of 9.2, meaning the Knicks allowed 9.2 more points when he was off the floor. That was the second best in the entire league after Bowen. He didn’t play that much. And +/- statistics are sometimes wierd. Bowen actually hurt his team on defense in 05-06. So you never know. But in my subjective view, just from watching games, I thought he was a great defender and easily the best on the Knicks. Statistically, he blocks a lot of shots for a small forward, and was I believe one of the league leaders in steals per minute. He was better in those categories than Shawn Marion for instance, although Marion was much better in fouls and had an edge in defensive rebounding.

    Collins seems to be a pretty good defender. And the Knicks were better defensively with him on the court by a small margin. But I don’t think that talent can come close to compensating for how poor a shooter he is.

  22. jon abbey

    Balkman also can guard a really wide range of players, on the perimeter and in the post. didn’t they put him on Yao after nothing else came close to working? I also remember him holding his own against LeBron in a game late in the year.

  23. Z

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Houston give it another try with the Knicks. With the low expectations that are on this season, his story would make a nice one– and if he succeeds and helps the team compete, then it is a bonus both because they compete and because Houston is a nice guy who’s had his hand in some great Knick moments of my lifetime.

    If we were going for a title this year, I’d ask him to attempt his comeback elsewhere, but as it is, I don’t think he can really hurt the long run goals of the franchise (unless we give him a 7 year deal).

    Still, if Balkman’s injury opens the door for him, does that mean he’s going to play SF? (SG was challenging enough for him even in his prime).

  24. Sean

    Balkman injured….It’s not a big deal.

    If we do decide to bring back Houston, might as well sign Oakley and Ewing, too.

  25. caleb

    If he’s back in four weeks this is no big deal – let’s just hope it’s not another David Lee-style “stress reaction.”

    For the record, I don’t think David Lee should get more than a handful of minutes at the 3, unless it’s an emergency. As many great things as DL does, he does not have the foot speed or lateral quickness to guard perimeter players – next to Curry & Randolph that front line would be a defensive abomination.

  26. Ben R

    I am a huge David Lee fan and think that he is the best Knick but I agree with Caleb. Playing Lee alot of minutes at the 3 would be a big mistake.

    I think this injury is terrible news because it almost assures Balkman a limited role off the bench. He is our best wing player, but now will not get a chance to win the starting job and probably won’t play over 20 minutes a game next year unless we get hit by injuries again.

  27. Frank O.

    I’m against a Houston deal mostly because he would keep some young guys off the floor. I really want to see the Knicks commit to developing Balkman and Lee and Collins and Morris, and even Robinson.
    They keep bringing in these folks with baggage,who are big gambles.
    I think the only gamble the knicks have taken in recent years was taking Curry and him not dropping dead of a heart attack. That is great from a human point of view, but he’s been a mediocre center at best.
    Stop gambling and develop the young talent we have.

  28. jon abbey

    here’s a pretty jawdropping line buried deep in today’s Post article:

    “Knicks owner James Dolan adores Houston and the class he exudes, with rumors he views him as Isiah Thomas’ heir apparent as team president.”

  29. Z

    ?Knicks owner James Dolan adores Houston and the class he exudes, with rumors he views him as Isiah Thomas? heir apparent as team president.?

    I have to assume that that is bad reporting by the weekend guy at the Post. To report a rumor that doesn’t make any sense in reality is pretty poor (though completely consistent with the Post). The article implies Isiah will run the team until he’s old and gray, then peacefully transition power to Houston, having been gooming him for years. Obviously, that’s not the way things work in NY and if Houston is really going to take over for Isiah, he better put his comeback plans off because he’ll be hired as prez in a matter of months…

  30. jon abbey

    “The article implies Isiah will run the team until he?s old and gray, then peacefully transition power to Houston, having been grooming him for years.”

    no, it doesn’t. it just says “heir apparent”, which is just shorthand for successor.

  31. jon abbey

    actually, to further nitpick, the reason one would use “heir apparent” instead of “successor” is that that implies that Dolan wants him already around, rather than an outside hire.

    Steph as player/coach/GM! :)

  32. T-Mart

    “You know for the most part what you?re going to get from Zach, Steph, and Curry.”

    No one has any idea what we’re going to get out of Curry and Zach this season, they’ve never played together. The combination could potentially be an even bigger debacle then Marbury-Francis. Or they could reap unprecedented twin-tower dividends somehow out-weighing the glaring flaws they share on defense. Only Madame Cleo knows the answer at this juncture. Balkman could very well prove to be the “glue” that Jefferies was supposed to be last season on defense. However, that will prove to be a a completely moot point if Curry and Zach turn into a chemistry disaster.

  33. Owen

    T-Mart – IMO players and their play don’t miraculously change when placed next to different players. Often our perception of them changes, because they are winning or losing more, but usually the stats are pretty similar. The law of diminishing returns does apply. You add an extremely productive player, and he will cut into his teammates production. Take him away, and their numbers will improve. But the effect is quite small. Players don’t go from being bad, like Curry, to being very good, simply because of the players they are paired with. It’s actually pretty unusual in most cases to see dramatic swings in statistical performance anyway.

    So I have to agree that we know what we will get from Steph and Curry, i.e. probably a little less and a little more than they gave us last year, respectively. Curry will likely be the same nearly worst rebounding, perhaps worst defensive, second most turnovering, historically bad passing abomination he was last year. I suspect he will probably be a little better, but not much..

    I will say that I don’t know what to expect from Randolph. That’s because he has been unusually inconsistent for a baller, probably due to his injury. He started out last year playing like an absolute monster, but by the end of the year was simply an above average player. It was a good year overall, but he has some really bad years on the books also. It’s hard to know what he will bring exactly. Hopefully a TS% well above his career average.

    And as an addendum, What I wrote above obviously reflects WOW thinking. I find it sort of interesting that no one, to my knowledge, has used adjusted +/-, PER, winshares, or any other of the extant systems to systematically investigate the question of player consistency, i.e. how much does player performance vary from year to year. Has someone done this? That seems like basically the most important question for a stathead/armchair gm ot have the answer to.

  34. T-Mart

    I agree that on an individual basis you can make a relatively safe assesment on what can be anticipated. But the original statement Im defending was that the difference makers for this season will be Curry, Zach and Marbury. Chemistry is one of those variables that limits sabermetrics to a supplemental form of substantiation.
    This is a particularly unique case of first impression. There aren’t too many pairs like this in past history that have played together we could use to predict any chemistry related outcome of success or failure. In the absence of the start of training camp and the pre-season, no one can really predict how they will interact. Their success playing together is the biggest question mark going into training camp, which is why much of the season will hinge on them.

  35. Owen

    Jon – Um, Isaiah signs a white guy, and no comment from you? Wasn’t that one of you on the books predictions?

    T-Mart – What does chemistry really mean here?

    I think we know just about everything there is to know about how Curry and Marbury will play next year.

    Curry will continue to be a bad rebounder, passer, possessor, blocker, stealer, defender, and an above average scorer.

    Marbury will have a ts% somewhere between 52-6%. His assist rate will be around 25. His rebound rate will be around 4.6. His usage will be about 21.

    How is the addition of Randolph going to change there performances positively? Randolph can only take shots, rebounds, and turnovers from Curry. He can perhaps create more assists for Marbury, but in the grand scheme of things that is a tiny effect.

    Where does chemistry as you describe it come into play? What does it amount to really?

    I think its pretty clear that Randolph will help the Knicks, he is a big improvement over Frye. But beyond that, whet can we possible expect to happen? Does the whole being greater than the sum of the parts somehow add up to the Knicks doing something very unexpected next season?

    An addendum:

    Marbury’s best ts% was 57.5% in 04-5, playing with the outstanding offensive frontcourt of Kurt Thomas, Nazr Mohammed, and Michael Sweetney. Other than that he has been between 50.5% and 54.7% every year of his career.

  36. timmy

    i did a seasons preview for the knicks…wondering what the thoughts of you knick fans are towards this upcoming season? http://www.powerof15.blogspot.com

    the way i see it, Celtics, raps and nets are getting all the attention. Do you guys think that the knicks have a chance in beating these teams?

  37. jon abbey

    heh, I actually meant to check whether he was white or not. not to be too cynical (ahem), but after the quotes attributed to Isiah this summer, bringing in a token white guy from a NYC college to sit on the bench seems like it may not be solely based on basketball skills.

    I also question how good a rookie PG can be if the Clippers are giving him away for cash considerations with Shawn Livingston’s uncertain health going forward.

  38. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “No one has any idea what we?re going to get out of Curry and Zach this season, they?ve never played together.”

    I’ll go out on a short limb and say Zach & Eddy’s per-40 numbers will be:
    ZR: 22pts, 11reb, 2.4ast, 2.9to, 0.9stl, 0.2blk
    EC: 22pts, 8reb, 1.0ast, 4to, 0.5stl, 0.6blk

    There’s no magic here, it’s basically a combination of their career averages/recent numbers. Players per-40 minute numbers don’t change too much. There is a slight variation depending on how the offense is run. For instance Zach’s pts/40 rose last year, but that’s because he took more shot attempts. Most likely he’ll be closer to his ’05 & ’06 numbers.

    There is some law of diminishing returns in effect, but for the most part they should be about where you’d expect them.

  39. retropkid

    If Balkman gets 2000+ minutes, somebody is getting less? What do you give up? Crawford’s game-winning antics? (I’m no Crawford fan, but he pretty much single-handedly accounted for a few wins).

    I like Balkman…but I don’t see him as a guy who can overcome the weakness of our “top three” guys…I think he can make a good team greater, but not a bad team good…

    That said, I hope he gets all those minutes, he is fun to watch, and if he gets a perimeter jumper, look out.

  40. xduckshoex

    I would gladly give up Crawford’s “game winning antics” to get Balkman more minutes. If the Knicks are a better team from start to finish that should more than make up for the few times that Crawford gets lucky at the end of a game.

  41. bmj320

    Everyone is high on Balkman I am as well, but at the end of the day you have to be able to put the ball in the hole from the 12-15ft range as a sf. He won’t be able to get around other sf all the time he has to be able to stop and pop it sometimes.

  42. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “Everyone is high on Balkman I am as well, but at the end of the day you have to be able to put the ball in the hole from the 12-15ft range as a sf.”

    True. Not having a SF that can hit a 15 footer has absolutely killed the Spurs for the last 6 years.

  43. bb

    lol yeah. the spurs r rly hurt.
    but anyway, i think balkman will come back from it to play around 25 min a game, and hopefully start. i think isiah wants to show people that he’s a good player after they yelled at him drafting him.

  44. T-Mart

    “There?s no magic here, it?s basically a combination of their career averages/recent numbers.”

    Have you forgotten every other variable other then statistics? Not to mention, if you’re going to sell your soul to the sabermetrics-devil/Owen, you don’t have to look any further then last year at the Francis/Marbury disaster to see how changing a team dynamic on that level is not a black and white statistical analysis. Clearly not solved by any forray into Francis and Marbury’s recent/career statistics to predict the outcome of that junior high chemistry set experiment. While most of the people on this board predicted the Marbury-Francis experiment would fail before the season even started, it is obviously clear that no one relied on recent/career stats to make that determination. It was a chemistry question mark involving 2 players with similar skill sets, similar pros, similar, cons….does this sound familiar??? And to make matters better/worse, Isiah will continue the experiment even if it is going bad until a dead horse has been beaten to the paleolithic era. Which is another reason why this season hinges on how well Curry and Zach Mesh.
    All of the confidence and persistence under the rim Curry gained last year is in jeopardy with Zach in the picture. Would it really be that surprising if Curry becomes a lacksadasical waste of space constantly deferring to Zach the entire season? The guys motivation is more fragile then Oliver Miller passing an Arby’s after a Weight Watchers meeting. All the progress made with him last season could be lost. Or they could feed off each other well and wreak havoc on the entire league. This pairing is an experiment, not a math equation.

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