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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Four Questions About the Knicks’ Four Factors

Sorry this is up so late today gang. Things got busy at work. You know the drill.

While we are still in something of a Knicks news black hole I thought it might be interesting to pose four questions to the readership about the upcoming season that call for rampant speculation. We’re all good for that, right?

But, to provide this post with at least the thin veneer of being at the analytical forefront of the sports blogosphere I’ve organized the questions around Dean Oliver’s “Four Factors”. Let’s restrict this round to offense mostly–just to see how this goes.

Question 1 (Shooting): In 2006 the Knick effective FG% was 48.1%, 22nd in the league. Denver was 15th last season at 48.8%. Will the Knicks increase their eFG% to 48.8% or better in 2007? Why?

Question 2 (Turnovers): New York was dead last in the league in 2006 at 19.5 turnovers per 100 possessions, more than a full turnover behind next-to-last Boston. The Clippers were 15th at 15.9 per 100 possessions. Can the Knicks keep their TO’s to 15.9 per 100 or fewer?
(Okay, almost certainly not but do you expect to improve in this area? How much?)

Question 3 (Rebounding): New York was 4th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage (31.2%) in 2006. At least three reserves who contributed double-digit rebound rates (Qyntel Woods, Mo Taylor, and Jackie Butler) are gone. Replacing them are Jared Jeffries–who was the basic equivalent of Taylor on the boards last year–along with uber-rebounder David Lee, and possibly rookie Ronaldo Balkman. Will the Knicks be able to remain a top 5 team on the offensive glass?

Okay, so I lied. I will ask one defense-oriented question because getting to the FT line, the fourth factor, is kinda boring.

Question 4 (Defensive Rebounding): Unfortunately the Knick prowess on the offensive glass did not translate to defense. The Knicks lacked the knack for keeping other teams off the boards. [Read that last sentence in Clyde's voice. It's almost like watching MSG.] They allowed a respectable 27.2% of opponent misses to be rebounded, good for 13th. The Heat lead the league at 23.6%.

The team’s unwillingness to rebound on the defensive end may be the singularly most inexcusable aspect of their play last year. They already were a high turnover team that didn’t shoot especially well or play good defense. However, there doesn’t seem to be much reason why a team can pound the offensive glass with the best of them but remain mediocre on defensive glass–other than “want to”. It was the widest disparity between offense and defense among the four factors for the Knicks in 2006. So, can Isiah inspire this bunch to become a top 5 defensive rebounding team? Why or why not?

Alright, have at it…

19 comments on “Four Questions About the Knicks’ Four Factors

  1. Greebo

    1) Whether or not the Knicks can have a 48.8% eFG all depends on whether or not Eddy Curry has learned enough this off-season to stay in games and not foul out (or need to be pulled due to exhaustion). Preliminary indications are the he has indeed gotten better, and Isiah is definitely going to make him a focus of the offense, so I gotta think that we will improve here.

    2) The Knicks will improve on the turnover front because everyone is aware that they have to. But seeing as it’s essentially the same group from last year, I don’t know how much improvement is realistic to expect. From all accounts, they’re going to be running a lot, and that might even compound their turnover difficulties. Cutting it to 16.5 is probably not asking too much, but I think 17 or 18 would be more expected. Not a lot of improvement (and it will cost them some games), but some improvement.

    3) I think we will see a tenacious rebounding team out there this year. Since we don’t have a really solid jump shooter (unless Q steps up) we’re going to be taking a lot of midrange shots, and that means we’re going to need to be energetic and fighting for boards instead of playing around the arc and waiting for long caroms. But if there’s one thing Isiah has built us as, it’s a big, young, and athletic team, and that should translate into rebounds. A few other factors to consider: a) We didn’t see Stevie Franchise hit the boards last year as hard as he normally does, b) Balkman seems to be a high energy “two-leap” kind of rebounder, c) Eddy Curry could easily get a LOT better at pulling down boards, and he’s bound to at some point; and d) more playing time for Sansroth Lee (and, hopefully, less PT for Malik Rose) should keep us in the top 10 of the rebounding charts. I’m not sure about staying in the top 5… what the heck, I’ll say they will.

    4) Keeping the other team off the glass is going to be a problem with this gang. No two ways about it. But if they want to run, they HAVE TO get defensive rebounds. And we know they want to run, and we know they like Isiah, so let’s hope that gives them the intensity to accomplish getting that dREB percentage up (or down, whatever… you know what I mean. Go in the good way).

    I’m crossing my fingers HARD. On paper this team should be able to improve in all of these areas. Reality has obviously shown us differently last season, but I gotta keep the faith.

  2. Martha

    I was going to write an intelligent, informed reply, but I got stuck listening to the Clyde in my head say “lacked the knack” over and over.

  3. Marc R

    I’ve been justifiably accused of over-optimism in the past, but here are my brief answers. (Note that the common theme is trashing Larry Brown, cursed be his name.)

    (1) I don’t know how high it will go, but the Knicks’ efg will definitely improve this year. The team shot free throws atrociously last year, after being relativley strong in that department in 2004-05. It struck me that once-reliable ft shooters, like Marbury, were short-arming their shots because LB had the team wound so tight. That said, the team couldn’t hit from the line against Boston last night.

    (2) Yes, a lot of Knicks have poor individual track records for turnovers, but just about all of them did far, far worse than normal last year. I chalk this up, no surprise, to the players not being used to playing with each other thanks to LB’s insidious and arbitrary substitution patterns. The team will still probably be below average in this category, but they will get better. They’ve got to.

    (3) I don’t know about the offensive rebounding. It strikes me that Qyntel, Jackie and Mo Taylor may all have had good averages, but didn’t play enough to really affect the team’s rank. I hate to say it, but the team may miss ancient Antonio Davis more.

    (4) This all depends on Eddy Curry, so it doesn’t look too promising. I’m bullish on Eddy, but I don’t see him really improving in this area.

  4. Ken Bannister

    Speaking of our resident Poet Laureate, Clyde, did anyone else catch this little exchange during last night’s game? All this injury/body part blather clearly must have unleashed Frazier’s kundalini in the worst way…

    http://offcolorcommentator.blogspot.com/2006/10/now-that-youre-married-can-you.html

    “CLYDE [picking up an already running conversation on injuries]: “Same with Malik Rose, who’s also been injured. He’s an older player and that’s really going to hurt him missing this valuable preseason action.”

    BREEN: “He’s got a hamstring problem and has been wearing the suit for the first three games. Malik Rose, who got married in September…”

    CLYDE: “I need to get his black book. I saw a couple of nice ladies with Malik.”

    BREEN [realizing something needs to be said to smooth this over immediately, responds in his most earnest tone]: “We don’t know if he has a black book.” [He then adds suggestively, as if to say, Clyde you better agree with this]: “Course this was many years ago, I’m sure.”

    CLYDE [taking the cue, not altogether convincingly]: “Yeah, when he was with the Spurs.” [Then quickly and blatantly changing the subject, he continues]: “Malik also an entrepreneur. He has his restaurant down in San Antonio.”

    BREEN: “Philly cheesesteaks?”

    I’m sure Malik’s wife was thrilled by this exchange. Poor bastard is going to have to spend the next week trying to explain to her that he doesn’t really have a black book, and that the ?nice ladies? must have just been autograph seekers and were not in any way, shape or form members of any still-existing harem of women pertaining to the entity that is Malik Rose….”

    My girlfried, who I’ve managed to transform into a die-hard Knicks fan (and yes, Dante is clearly reserving a special circle of hell for me), loathes Clyde’s malapropisms and purple prose, going so far as to kill the volume rather than hear “Driving and Striving” for the umpteenth time. We did manage to catch this pearl of wisdom, which almost makes Cablevision’s exorbitant fees worthwhile. If only Marv was still doing the play by play. Would he have offered to give Cylde the digits of some of his more leather-inclined lady friends? The mind staggers at the possibilities…

  5. Martha

    BRILLIANT.

    Granted, I’ve only lived in NYC for just over a year and thus am relatively new to the glory that is Clyde’s Color — all I know is that I’ve got to hear “now the Knicks will pay for their folly” several hundred more times before I get sick of it.

  6. Brian Cronin

    Wow, Martha, I can only imagine newly experiencing Clyde’s magical phrasings. It must rock.

    Have you heard John Sterling yet?

  7. Steve M.

    As someone with a modicum of respect for the language, I couldn’t stand to listen to Clyde at first. But he grows on you and fits in the dysfunctional Knicks family.

    I can’t believe I’m rooting for the Knicks. I grew up a diehard Bucks fan in Milwaukee, listening nervously to the nailbiting Bucks-Knicks games of 1969-71. Doesn’t get better than that.

  8. dave crockett

    You guys are out in full force today. I’m cracking up all over the place!!!

    (I’m also just a wee bit giddy about the Mets winning game 6!)

  9. Martha

    Brian, I’m proud to say that Sterling just doesn’t do it for me — if he had more of Clyde’s laconic way about him, maybe he’d be easier to stomach. As it is, though, I do get a demented kick out of listening to him and Susan Waldman communicate entirely in non-sequiturs.

    JOHN: Wow, A-Rob looked good on that strikeout.
    SUSAN: You know, John, before the game Joe told me he thinks it might rain tomorrow.
    JOHN: I’m hungry, Susan.

  10. KnickerBlogger

    EFG should improve despite adding Steve Francis, with a bigger dose of Curry (56%), a healthy Frye (48%), and a bigger role for David “Buddy” Lee (60%). I expect the Knicks to get better on turnovers, but with Marbury & Francis trying to force the ball to Curry I doubt this team will be on the positive end of turnovers.

  11. Bennyb

    My favorite Marc R post of the year. Larry Brown caused the free throw problems last year? I can understand how substitution patterns would affect turnovers, and I can understand how riding the players might have made them quit on defense, but seriously, the players “short-armed” their free throws because Brown made the play “tight.” One of the all time gems. BTW, it was also Brown on the grassy knoll. Just watch the tape slowly enough . . . .

  12. Marc R

    Although I’m willing to believe just about anything negative about Larry Brown, I refuse to believe he had anything to do with the JFK assassination. If he was on the grassy knoll, he would have already leaked that to his pets in the media so he would receive full credit. Same if he was a mastermind behind the scenes. He would have gone to the press and trashed Lee Harvey Oswald for missing two shots and tried to trade for Sirhan Sirhan.

    As for the free throws, look at the numbers. Marbury, Richardson, Crawford, and Curry all shot much worse from the line last year than they had in previous seasons. What other explanation do you have? If tightness doesn’t affect free throw shooting, why do so many players choke at crunch time from the line? Why can players make them in practice and not in games? Do you doubt that the players were tight last year thanks to Captain Queeg?

    As always, I blame Larry Brown for everything. In this case, though, I think I’m onto something.

  13. Martha

    JFK aside, the FT shooting has been pretty awful in the preseason so far, too. Is that residual LB-stink, or maybe a still-existing concentration/emphasis issue? Or a new option C?

    I don’t see practicing FTs fitting very well in to Isiah’s new Nothing But Fun! regime, despite that one practice the Post (or was it the Daily News) reported on …

  14. Marc R

    Well, I’m all for generalizing the preseason performance to the regular season if it means we’ll go undefeated then too. That said, let’s wait until we have a larger sample size.

  15. Eli

    I am new to this list and just want to say a few general things, kind of ignoring the four questions:

    1. Curry might even average something like 18 ppg with a high field goal percentage, but he will never get many rebounds or play good defense. He seems to lack the physiological capability to push hard, and the response time to get rebounds or block shots. They should never had let Jackie Butler go.

    2. I see a major key as to whether the Knicks play well depending on whether Dave Lee gets 30 minutes per game. He should definitely be playing most of the time at small forward now while jeffries is out, except for some particular poor match ups. Once Jeffries comes back, he should be the first person in replacing small, power and center. Balkman will get minutes because Thomas needs to prove that he did not screw up in the draft, but should do ok. But despite Balkman’s assertion that he can shoot from downtown, I have a suspicion that the three pointer he hit the other day will be his next to last for this year.

    3. Channing should get 18 ppg if the guards pass the ball, and should get 9 rpg.

    4. If Marbury (aka best point guard in the world) and Stevie are around all year, they will play better under Thomas than they did for Brown, but they should have drafted a point guard for their first choice.

    5. I hope that Larry Brown does not get too much money. If he does not, and the Knicks still suck after 30 games, perhaps Dolan can admit his mistakes and and afford to release Marbury and Thomas.

  16. STEVE

    I’ve been a Knick fan for over 30 years; seen it all. In High School, I can remember vividly the nightly brilliance of Walt Frazier on both ends of the court. When I listen to him discuss aspects of this game that these players don’t grasp, I remember when it took pride and skill and sacrifice to make it in this league, when winning, (not your guaranteed contract) was the ultimate reward. He tries to make the game entertaining with his wordplay, but beneath the vocabulary is one of the sharpest minds ever to move a basketball. Walt Frazier forgot more than these players can ever learn. All he had to do was run the offense, make his teammates better, DEFENDED the other team’s best perimeter player, and score 18 to 25 points a night. The best news this year is that this will be the last year of the Marbury era, an unmitigated failure. Marbury is the anti-Clyde, one who can neither lead or be led for the good of the team. If Stefon is “his guy”, Isiah is hitching his wagon to a lame horse, so now that Dolan’s finally come to his senses, he can wish Isiah well, get a dime on the dollar for Marbury and rebuild from the bottom up. Nothing could be worse then watching my favorite sports team look this clueless, hapless and hopeless. In looking at their schedule this year, I see this defense-challenged team with 6 wins vs. 27 losses by New Years . Enough with lip service, let’s see them prove me wrong.

  17. Hudson River

    James Dolan can never come to his senses in terms of basketball, putting a coach on the hot seat the second he is hired can never be a good decision, you can do it, just don’t tell him.

    Stephon Marbury: 20 points per game 8.5 assists per game. Nobody seems to remeber that series against the Spurs where he almost beat them. At least his suns got alot closer than anybody else that year, the Spurs won the title.
    What did the knicks give up for him? Howard Eisley, Antonio McDyess and a pick that turned into Maciej Lampe, don’t know who he is? Exactly.

    Talk about how terrible Isiah is, but without him, we would have Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Antonio McDyess, Maciej Lampe, Trevor Ariza, instead of Stephon Marbury, and Steve Francis. Now although it would be amazing if they could just get them to pass-first and play better D, Isiah hasn’t done that bad for himself in that regard. He can’t help 20 turnovers a game, bad freethrow shooting, and players being to lazy to play good defense or rebound on the defensive end.

    But I’m an optimist, and i predicted 45-50 win season last year, so it doesn’t look great. At least the Knicks do have one consistant preformer night in and night out, Walt “Clyde” Frazier!!!

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