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Monday, September 1, 2014

Ill Will & Growing Pains

The last few Knick games have been markedly different from the rest of the season. Unfortunately it hasn’t been the results that have changes, as New York has lost 8 of their last 9 games. The change has come in terms of the players on the court. With nothing to play for other than pride and ping pong balls, Isiah Thomas has mixed up the rotation.

The most noticeable change is the emergence of first round pick Wilson Chandler. A few weeks ago when asked by the Hawks.com to talk about the Knicks, I made light of Chandler’s lack of playing time. A few days later on March 3rd, Chandler played 20 minutes in a loss against the Hornets, his season high at the time. Two games later he was in the starting lineup, and has averaged 25 minutes a night. Chandler is replacing the ineffective Quentin Richardson. Coming off a promising 2007, Quentin is in the middle of his worst season as a pro. His shooting percentages are the lowest of his career (.420 eFG%, .440 TS%) possibly due to the elbow injury he suffered earlier in the year. Chandler brings something the Knicks sorely need: defense. While Richardson isn’t the Knicks worst defender, he lacks the shot blocking ability of Chandler. Wilson is the Knicks second best per minute shot blocker, behind Renaldo Balkman. Certainly this hostility allows him to live up to the tattoos on his arm proudly proclaiming “Ill Will”.

Most importantly, this move has given their 20 year old first round draft pick some much needed playing time. Until recently it was nearly impossible to judge what kind of player they had in Chandler. It’s difficult to judge a player until he faces NBA talent on a regular basis. If this weren’t true, the draft would be as easy as selecting the best college player. Chandler seems to be developing with the extra burn. He’s making less mental mistakes, and seems to be adjusting to the faster pace of the NBA. I’m not worried about his low shooting percentage, especially since he hasn’t logged 300 minutes on the season yet.

However Chandler isn’t the only youngster that has seen an increase in playing time. David Lee and Nate Robinson have entered the starting lineup, and even Randolph Morris has wondered onto the court. And although I previously mentioned that this hasn’t changed the end results of games, it has made the Knicks a different team to watch. There’s an allure to seeing young players mature on the court and learn from their miscues. I guess it’s easier to cope with a fledging player’s mistakes than a overpaid veterans flaws.

174 comments on “Ill Will & Growing Pains

  1. retropkid

    Have to play the young guys now, get them some real PT….hard to tell what these kids have….but watching Houston’s bench yesterday really play with fire, great passing, hustle, D….well, we have a loooong way to go….

  2. Ess-dog

    Yeah, I think it’s obvious that the coach of this team doesn’t bring the discipline, smarts or fire that teams like S.A., HOU, or DET bring every single night. We really don’t have veterans that can instill those qualities either. I’d like to see Carlisle come in and change the face of this team. The rumor now is that Dolan is talking to Donnie Walsh about the GM position. He and Carlisle would be just what this organization needs.

  3. Roshi

    Randolph Morris has surprisingly good footwork and speed for a guy his size. He seems to get good shots in the post, but can’t seem to make any of them yet. By the end of the season, we’ll be able to tell if he has potential I think, but so far so good.

  4. Mr. Black

    This is an interesting blog entry. It touches on a theme a few posters mentioned. That theme being although the Knicks are not winning they are playing much better with the young players than they did with the older vets. Thomas B. and Owen talked about the team not falling behind by 20 points to start the game or to start a half. The team’s effort is much improved. Much of that is due to the effort of the younger players. As they mature, they will learn how to win close games. Most of the games were lost due to poor execution in the final five minutes of the game. Young players tend to do that in the crunch, they are, as Mike said, experiencing growing pains.

    I wonder if Isiah’s decision to go young is a plea to be kept on the team next year. Maybe he is trying to show that the young players he has found/drafted can turn things around. Or maybe it’s a showcase for an off season trade. Either way, the young team is making fewer mental mistake. With time they will learn to win close games. They need to play with each other to learn what they are capable of doing. Chandler is not going to find his offensive niche with Randolph and Crawford dominating the ball. I’m glad JC and Zach sat for extended time in the second half. Balkman has got to work with a shooting coach this summer. If Lee can improve his overall shooting, so can Balkman.
    ——

    I will not be upset if we get Carlisle, but I would really like to see Mark Jackson on the bench. Let’s say we luck out and can land Derrick Rose in this draft, I would love to have one of the all time points, and best point NY ever produced, coaching him.
    Jackson as a well liked two time Knick, may buy some credibility and likability. Those things have been in short supply at MSG over the last 8 years.

  5. jon abbey

    jesus, I hate Mark Jackson. I hated him as a player (in my alltime despised pantheon with Bill Laimbeer and Scottie Pippen), I hate him as an announcer, and I’d hate him as a coach. what would he teach people, how to bulk up their asses to back down their man in the post? how to let their man drive past him every time? how to have the opposing PG take the ball away as he’s bringing it up court (I’ve never seen anyone turn the ball over this way nearly as much as him). if they hired him (which they won’t), then I’m definitely gone.

  6. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    In the last thread someone pointed out that Zach Randolph ~ Derrick Coleman. DC had 1051 blocks in his career. For Zach to finish with the same amount, he would have to continue at his current pace, and play to the age of 82.

    And for another Zach Randolph blocks shots like a little girl factola: Zach has blocked 117 shots in his career. Derrick Coleman had 3 seasons where he blocked more than that.

  7. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    Id be tickled pink if we could somehow bring back Jeff Van Gundy. Yeah, he screwed the pooch in Houston, but has anyone seen him doing color on ABC/ESPN? He’s funny! Who knew? In his years in NY, he always came across as such a miserable little gnome when he was coaching here, always nursing a Diet Coke, maniacally chewing and mangling his lower/upper lip in post-game interviews, and wearing a perpetually pissed-off scowl on then bench.

    Maybe (w/Tom Coughlin as precedent), Van Gundy has learned to lighten up. And maybe a return to NY is just the kind of feel-good story that Dolan would want to encourage the “journalists” at the Post/News/etc. to write.

    So that’s my pipe dream. I’d also be pro-Mark Jackson.

  8. jon abbey

    Van Gundy? who cares if he’s funny or not? he’s a dreadful offensive coach. come on, we can do way better than that, have higher expectations.

  9. Melvin

    I would also really love the Carlisle and Walsh combination. If the Isiah tenure ends, then I’ll cherish that forever….

    About Randolph having atrocious number of blocks, well that’s just awesome… Who is a better blocker, him or Boozer?

  10. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    Jon,

    I also used to wince at the “dump the ball into Ewing and four guys stand around and watch” offense Van Gundy used. Then again, he learned it from Papa Riles.

    And while being funny isn’t any logical way to choose a coach, to me it shows the ability of a person to grow, to show another side of one’s personality. If you listen to himm talk when he’s working the games, man does he know his basketball.

    Besides, when was the last time the Knicks had an exciting, innovative offense? The “bomb Squad” Pitino coached teams of 87-89′d be my guess. I certainly respect Van Gundy’s defensive chops more than I do Rick Carlisle’s.

  11. shirley lynch

    I think ewing should be the knicks coach.
    He knows a lot the game and he was a knick himself. I was very surprized when he took
    over assitant coach to houston rockets.Also
    when Ewing did a lot for the olando magics.
    A people though he would go back and help
    the knicks out. They need help badly. I think
    Isiah is a don good player,but when it comes
    to coaching he needs to give it up.

  12. jon abbey

    OK, I just read the Daily News piece that the Walsh rumors are based on. while I tend to trust the Snooze about as much as I would a stranger on the subway, I’d be totally down with the other coaching candidate they mention for a potential Walsh regime, Scott Skiles.

  13. Spider Cider

    Hey guys! Shirley Lynch thinks Ewing should coach the Knick (which Knick, I’m not sure, but definitely one of them!).

  14. Ray

    I like Carlisle. His name is kinda tough to spell though. He seems very fundamental and had a lot of good years in Inday. I think he would he the team attitude and some of the youth. I dont know much about Walsh though? I would like to see Ewing here only if we wound up taking Lopez in the draft. The kid has more skills than I though. He looked good in the game against UCLA ..if he had better guards feeding him the ball it would make a big difference. I wouldnt want to see Ewing come into a bad situation that could possible be rocky for years to come. The media would somehow find a way to forget about Zeke and blame him and I woulndt want that to happen. Change must come and Ive actually been bored watching the Knicks play these last couple of game compared to how the kids play during MMaddness. Chandler needs to work that jumpshot. Its there but it can get much better. He looked more relaxed in DePaul compared to now. We need a good decision maker as a GM. I dont know who that could be. Maybe J West or Walsh. Who knows? I just cant stand another year like this. Time to blow this team up and get some extra picks and some guys with heart that want to play in here. Enough is enough.

  15. jon abbey

    Memphis and Minnesota both won tonight. our next two games are against them, if we can lose both, we still have a chance to maybe move up (down).

  16. Alec

    Knicks coaching staff next year should consist of JVG, Rick Brunson, Patty Ewing Sr, and Herb Williams.
    Ok, really? No, but…

    I like Ewing as a bench coach, especially if we draft Lopez. He has helped Yao in Houston and I’m sure he could do the same for Robin.

    Mark Jackson = Naaa. Does he have any coaching creditials? Just because you played the game well, doesnt mean you’ll be a good coach. See the Weasel.

  17. o_boogie

    mark jackson coaching is like having tom tolbert doing play-by-play, an utter disaster.

    i dont think ewing would be a good fit for head coach either. as other posters said above, he could ruin his rep.

    rick carlisle is the best coach on the market unless we hire some unknown assistant or dig into the college ranks. my only beef with carlisle is he calls offensive plays every time the pg brings the ball up, im not sure that system will work with guys like nate and crawford who are more effective on the break.

  18. retropkid

    If Mike Dunleavy could play as well for the knicks as he does against the knicks, we need to sign him at any cost….he’ll average over 30 a game a come close to triple doubles every game…

    while I like what Carlisle has done to date as a coach, I’m not convinced he’s the right guy….heavy on discipline, maybe heavy handed…that said — ABZ….anybody but zeke….

  19. Ray

    Dunleavy kills us because the young Knicks dont fight over the screens with gusto. Since Dunleevy cant create his own shot they set those screens for him and get gets those open shots that even Governor Patterson can hit. Hes just a good shooota. Lopez is being compared to a young Tim Duncan now. I can see it but Tim was way more dominate in college. I think Lopez can get better….should we take him? I dont think so. Ill go with a strong guard instead..and thats Mayo.

  20. Ess-dog

    Dear God, the back of the Post is making me so happy today! Who cares if it’s true or not, it’s just nice to see that Zeke is being held to task. My guess is that the Walsh rumor is true. I would probably prefer Colangelo, but then again, any 4 year old kid would be an improvement over Zeke.

  21. Ray

    I would take Mark Jackson over Scott Skiles. Skiles comes off as a real jerk. Now they are talking Rick Carlisle to Atlanta. He might do really well there.

  22. Nick

    If we don’t clean house, it doesn’t matter who we draft, the poor kid will be ruined. The player development of this alleged satff is atrocious. Lee sound like he did it on his own, whereas the development of Nate, Balkman, Collins, Frye and any other young players has been incremental to non-existent. You couple that with playing with such energetic and unselfish role models as Zach, Eddy and Jamal and it spells bust.

  23. Nick

    I agree with Ray on Skiles he’s another killer of spirit and young talent who just got lucky to have so much of it.

  24. caleb

    Let’s stop this talk about Patrick Ewing being a serious coaching candidate. More than one commentator has noted that he spends more time watching the dance team than working with any player. There’s no reason to think he’s had any impact on Yao or Dwight Howard – PE was an all-time great player but shows no sign that he has unique wisdom on the game, a knack for motivating palyers or a willingness to put in the hours to be an X and O guy.

    Carlisle is a good coach but he doesn’t seem to be great with young players, and he’s no kind of savior.

    Of big name guys, my favorite dark horse candidate would be Mike D’Antoni. I’m sure he’s under contract but Phoenix looks like a house of cards to me — if it all comes crashing down, I could see him leaving, in the shuffle.

    I don’t see many coaches as real difference makers; I’d rather see us give a shot to a young, smart assistant like Marc Iavaroni (not him, obviously, since he now has a head job). Sam Mitchell has done a creative job in Toronto, and wasn’t the GM’s pick, so in general you’d think he might end up on the market.

    btw – thinking about coaches yesterday – I’d say the top 5 are all out West. Here’s my list (in no particular order): Phil Jackson, Nate McMillan, Greg Popovich, Mike D’Antoni and Rick Adelman.

    The best Eastern coaches, in my book, are Stan Van Gundy and Flip Saunders; Flip has a lot to prove in the playoffs and Stan’s resume is pretty short. It looks like huge divide, East-West. The West also has interesting, smart guys like Karl & Nelson – maybe add Byron Scott to that list — and solid vets like Sloan & Dunleavy. Meanwhile, even “top” eastern squads have coaches like Mike Brown who struggle to rise to the level of basic competence.

  25. Geoff

    Zeke sees a difference between an irish guy calling another irish guy a mick alcoholic and a black man calling them a mick alcoholic. He just does….
    What a loser, can’t wait till he’s out of here. He has done everything wrong for the Knicks, on the court and off. Total disgrace, not just to the Knicks, but professional sports in general.

  26. retropkid

    has Pat Riley fallen that far as a coach?

    Maybe he has.

    Hey, Bob Knight is available! Okay, guess not…

    Any votes for trying to grab a premier college coach? Pitino? Pearl?

    And there is another former Piston I hated as a player, but who might make for an interesting coach: Laimbeer….

  27. Thomas B.

    Randolph = Coleman part II

    Sometimes I forget that this is a very stat driven site. When I say that Z reminds me of DC, I think of the comparison in terms of style of play, ability, and effort. The comparison is way off when you throw in blocked shots, I concede that point. However, I am not a stat driven person. For example, according to databasebasketball.com, Zach Randolph’s career is most similar to Carlos Boozer’s and Caron Butler’s…huh? http://www.basketballreference.com/players/playerpage.htm?ilkid=RANDOZA01

    DC was thought of as a player that could pick up a basketball and do anything he pleased. He could score and rebound. He had excellent passing ability and could play the post or spot up. I see the same abilities in Randolph.

    DC was also difficult to coach. He was not a positive influence when playing on a losing team. He could be abrasive with teammates and coaches. I see alot of that in Zach too.

    DC was often criticized for coasting in games and not working hard enough on his conditioning. His work ethic may have kept him from being a producer on par with dare I say Karl Malone. Zach too has issues with conditioning and this may limit his natural talents.

    My comparison is not based on numbers or anything you might find in a stats book. It is based on my interpretation of their abilities and flaws.

    I think of Zach as a talented person who does not maximize his potential. In that way he is very much like DC.

  28. Ess-dog

    I think Karl would be an interesting pick up for the Knicks. I don’t see him leaving Denver (unless he’s fired for missing the playoffs.) Maybe Donavan might want to take an offer from the NBA now that he’s out of the tourney? Could be the time for coach K. to make his move to the pros. He would be the anti-Isaiah.
    There’s also…

    HERB BROWN!

  29. caleb

    Mo Cheeks has done a great job this year but the whole track record is mediocre…

    Riley is fine, too. I just think Stan VG is better. I’d say Riley has not been willing to adapt to the rule changes of the past few years – though it probably reflects his personnel decisions more than his coaching ability, to the extent those can be separated.

    I admire coaches who are adaptable and can play different styles, adjusting to their personnel (i.e. Sam Mitchell, not JVG).

    I would look at the assistants in Toronto, Portland, New Orleans, Denver (Tim Grgurich), Orlando and Houston.

    I agree with retro that Laimbeer would be a very interesting candidate.

    No to college flops. (Although I have a soft spot for Paul Hewitt at Georgia Tech – not a flop).

  30. caleb

    “Zach too has issues with conditioning and this may limit his natural talents.”

    I hear this a lot, but wonder why people feel this way.. maybe it’s the baby-face cheeks, which make him look fat. This is a guy who has led the league in minutes played.. I see no sign that he’s out of shape; he just looks disinterested in playing defense.

    I think too often we ascribe player’s failings to lack of effort rather than inherent limitations — lack of instinct/reflexes, like Curry, or modest lateral movement, like Marbury.

  31. ken, disciple of clyde

    Isiah isn[t a great coach, just a mediocre one. He still knows about defense, conditioning, practice, and developing young players. He is not doing those things correctly because he decided in November that he will never succeed here and is trying to get fired so he can keep Dolan’s money and start a new life to rebuild his reputation. Dolan doesn’t want to give him that money, which explains the Zeke’s unexplainable continued employement. We are looking at a staring contest, people. Hopefully it ends before the draft, but don’t count on it– MSG is that dysfunctional. Truthfully, I think isiah probably has been trying to get fired in the past (2005-2006) so he could salvage his reputation and he simply called James Dolan’s bluff by accepting the contract extension last year. It’s that bad, people.

  32. caleb

    ok – interesting basketball trivia.
    Many of you know who Bill James is; his baseball work essentially re-invented statistical analysis of sports. And he’s a great writer. Amazingly, despite his job in the Boston Red Sox front office he’s been allowed to start writing a column for Slate. And, it turns out, he likes basketball (though mostly the Kansas Jayhawk version).

    Anyway, today he writes about when a basketball lead is truly safe.
    http://www.slate.com/id/2185975/

    It’s a high standard — for example, the Knicks 6-point lead before Reggie Miller unleashed his infamous 8.9 second barrage in 1995, was not “safe” by James’ method. He does point out one 1974 college game where a team overcame a “safe” lead — Duke blowing an 8-point lead in the last 17 seconds, despite having the ball.

    It’s pretty pointless, but when our team is 19-48 what else is there to talk about?

  33. TDM

    Ewing would be a good bench coach, nothing more. As for drafting Lopez, he’s no more Tim Duncan than Channing Frye was. In fact, Frye had a more impressive college career. Just say no to the ‘nice guy’ center. If you want to select a big in the first round, make sure he’s got a chip. Lopez is a softie. I still say Hibbert is the better prospect.

  34. Frank O.

    So…hard…to…care…

    Someone mentioned that the young players aren’t running over picks, which is why Dunleavy killed them…

    I don’t know any of the Bricks old guys who run over picks, especially guards…

  35. caleb

    “Lopez is a softie. I still say Hibbert is the better prospect.”

    I don’t think big-time prospects go scoreless in March games. He’s also 3 years older than Lopez, who, I think, is still just 19.

    I dunnot – Lopez might not be Tim Duncan but to me he looks like he’ll end up somewhere between, say, Andrew Bogut and Nazr Mohammed. I guess the nightmare scenario would be Mike Olowakandi. I’d rather trade down for multiple picks (even future picks) but if we end up with the #5, Lopez might be a decent option. If we go big, Anthony Randolph would be more interesting, but you might be able to trade down a few spots and still get him. I don’t know that any of the guards are obviously worth a 5 spot, except Rose, and even then… doesn’t anyone else worry he’s more Steve Francis than Steve Nash?

  36. retropkid

    ditto….nice post Frank….

    off topic prediction: this will be the year when all 4 top seeds in NCAA tourney get to Final Four. a boy can dream….

    Looking forward to USC vs. K State….will pick K State, but truthfully I haven’t seen much of either team this year….

  37. Spider Cider

    Sam Mitchell has done a creative job in Toronto…

    No, he hasn’t. He’s a very good motivational coach, and a decent defensive coach (looking at Toronto’s roster, there’s no way they should be middle of the pack in terms of defensive efficiency), but he is absolutely clueless on offense, and has no idea how to work a substitution pattern. Come to think of it, he’s kind of like Isiah if Isiah wasn’t such a tool and could implement a defensive scheme of some sort. But by all means, I hope Smitch gets fired, and the Knicks can feel free to pick him up if they want. I’m Raptors fans wouldn’t miss him.

  38. Mr. Black

    Caleb,

    Zach has baby faced cheeks, they match his pudgy body. Look he isnt in the Jerome James, and Oliver Miller group of out of shape ballers, but he could be much better conditioned. Yes he plays a ton of minutes but what level do you think his motor is running during the game. Does he run on the fast break? Does he run back on D? He could not keep a Balkman or Robinson pace for 38 minutes.

    I dont dislike the guy, I just want him to reach his full potential.

  39. jon abbey

    “this will be the year when all 4 top seeds in NCAA tourney get to Final Four.”

    I picked this also.

    a good center in this league is a luxury, they’re few and far between. a competent PG is a necessity. I think we need to take the best PG available in the draft and then maybe try to sign Diop, NJ is barely playing him and with Boone, Krstic, and Williams, I can’t believe they’ll go too high to keep him.

    either way, if we don’t have a decided upgrade at PG next season, we’re looking at another 20-25 win season, no matter who the coach is.

  40. caleb

    Spider, I notice that last year Mitchell started with sort of a standard offensive scheme — but when the team sucked for six weeks, he completely re-tooled, emphasized the strengths (long distance shooting) of the players around Bosh. I think most NBA coaches would have been too ego-driven to shift gears, mid-stream.

    What’s the beef up there with substitution patterns? Is it about Ford not playing well, off the bench? That’s a tough one… Calderon has been much better this year, and doesn’t get hurt constantly… on the other hand, Ford doesn’t seem to be helping in his current role.

    All in all, Toronto seems to be doing okay. Not saying Sam’s a genius, but he seems to be adaptive, which is good in my book.

  41. Thomas B.

    Frank O.,

    Good point you made about the older players.
    Marbury and Crawford are just as bad when it comes to fighting over picks. That is just one of the little defensive mistakes this team makes.

    I never see players keep their arms up on d. The guards don’t make it hard for entry passes to be made by pressing the passer. They guys don’t talk to each other on D. Those things all point to a coach that really doesnt know how to coach defense. I have read that Thomas does not even coach defense in practice. What’s that about?

    Was I drunk, or did Mardy Collins look decent shooting the ball last night?

  42. Mr. Black

    “Was I drunk, or did Mardy Collins look decent shooting the ball last night?”

    You were either drunk, or did not watch the whole game. Mardy was 3-10 but a suprising 2-3 from distance. His made 3s did look good. Drunk by half time huh? That would explain some of your posts.

  43. Brian Cronin

    I don’t think Collins should be on the team now, so certainly I would take Jones over him.

  44. W. C.

    I was just looking at the Knicks cap picture and I’m really starting to hate the NBA trading rules. They are idiotic!

    I see no reason whatsoever that teams have to match salaries when they make a trade. It makes no economic, strategic, or any other kind of sense. All it does is hamper the freedom of various teams to persue the best possible strategy for themselves.

    For example:

    If one team wants to trade a guy with a 20 million dollar salary and another team feels he’s the missing piece for them and is willing to give up a moderate level talent making 5 million and take on the bigger contract, who is hurt by that?

    Both teams get what they want and believe they will improve.

    I can see having a salary cap and luxory taxes if a team goes over a certain anmount etc… because some teams have more lucrative markets and you want to keep some balance, but that has nothing to do with hampering a free market to trade players no matter what they are making.

    If you ask me, that rule makes it monumentally more difficut to turn around a franchise and has little or no upside to anyone.

  45. T-MART

    This is great:

    Not that the games mean anything at 19-48, but the distractions will reach a new level of absurdity for Team Titanic II.

    Thomas remaining as coach/president at this point is even worse than allowing Larry Brown to run pre-draft work outs in the weeks before his dismissal. Thomas’ public-relations firm declined comment.

    On the bench during the Indiana loss Monday night, Thomas appeared life less, with a couple members of the Pacers’ organization who remember him from his Indiana coaching days noticing the difference.

    “One source said players are starting to make fun of Thomas on the bench, even making faces behind his back.” (my personal favorite)

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/03192008/sports/knicks/ax_to_grind_102594.htm

  46. T-MART

    Who do you guys think the main “making faces behind Isiah’s back” perpetrator is? My vote is clearly Nate.

  47. Frank O.

    Sad to have to choose between Fred Jones and Mardy Collins: Athletic guards who can’t shoot, run an offense, pass or play imposing defense.
    In today’s NBA, these guys are primed to become multi-millionaires…

    Imagine an accounting firm hiring an accountant who can’t add, subtract or handle multiplication and division…but they have nimble fingers…
    *sigh*

  48. Owen

    Well, Fred Jones has a ts% above 55% this year, and is the only guard on the Knicks who can say that, so I wouldn’t say he can’t shoot. Mardy Collins has a ts% of 35.1% which is among the worst in the NBA. I would say he can’t shoot. Most of the rims in the NBA have been saying it for a while….

  49. retropkid

    I’m imagining Mardy Collins develops a decent 15 footer after we dump him….he has been a disappointment, but did show flashes of quality point guard play end of last year…and as a plus, was a pretty decent defensive rebounder for a guard, dropping down and owning the spot just below the foul line (which Marbury never did, ever).

    Mardy looks scared out there these days…I think he has to get tough, maybe grow a Clyde-like facial hair thing, get some tats, and work on that jay….

    By then he’ll be a Clipper or a Jazz though….

  50. Ted Nelson

    “I agree with Ray on Skiles he’s another killer of spirit and young talent who just got lucky to have so much of it.”

    Yeah, I mean he only won 51 games in Phoenix with a 22 year old Shawn Marion as the team’s leading scorer and #2 in minutes played, then he averaged over 45 wins for a three year span with one of the league’s youngest teams in Chicago: the guy is absolutely terrible with young talent!!!

    W.C.

    The NBA is not a free market in just about any sense.

    “I think too often we ascribe player’s failings to lack of effort rather than inherent limitations — lack of instinct/reflexes, like Curry, or modest lateral movement, like Marbury.”

    Are those really the only, or even the main, problems that Marbury and Curry have had? I would say that in both cases work ethic has had far more to do with it. Neither has improved his game since coming into the league. Sure Marbury might never have been Gary Payton defensively, but could he have at least learned to play decent team D? Is the fact that he never learned to run an NBA offense (or if he had the knowledge he never put it to use) due to his lack of lateral quickness?

    At the same time, the more I think about it, the Knicks have been such a mess the past few years that it’s hard to even know where these two might be had they been in a different situation. Especially Curry, I mean he’d still be one dimensional, but if he had played on a team with good defenders and passers (oh, I don’t know…if he stayed in Chicago maybe) he may have faired a lot better. Instead… don’t even want to get into it.
    Marbury might have had a hard time anywhere as a PG who continuously alienenates coaches and teammates and refuses to learn the game, but maybe somewhere with a coach he would have to respect and a “point-SG” of sorts he could have at least played for a winner in the prime of his career.
    Either way, if these guys had the same physical abilities but the personality of a, for example, Bruce Bowen or Ben Wallace (maybe not in Chicago…) I can’t imagine their careers not going much better.

    Jon,

    A competent PG would be a welcome addition, but would you really just go on position with a top 10 (probably/hopefully top 5) pick?

  51. jon abbey

    “A competent PG would be a welcome addition, but would you really just go on position with a top 10 (probably/hopefully top 5) pick?”

    it’s hard to say for sure with the specifics still to be determined (where we actually pick, who actually declares), but yeah, in this case, pretty much.

  52. jon abbey

    I mean, the obvious “need” (besides a better owner, a competent GM, and a new coach) is a franchise player, at any position. but I believe that we’re so deficient at PG that it’s hard to really judge the rest of the team very well. if we had a PG who could distribute and defend, I’d feel much more confident moving forward and making decisions about who should stay and who should go.

  53. W. C.

    Ted,

    I realize the NBA is not a free market in any sense, but that is partly what I am complaining about.

    There are sometimes rational reasons for limiting free markets. In the case of professional sports, you really don’t want teams competing against each other financially because some teams are located in bigger markets and have greater resources. That would allow them to dominate too often because they could afford the best players. The NBA is a league and that is a lot like departments within the same organization/corporation. They don’t compete financially against themselves.

    That has nothing to do with trading players with unequal contracts. If both teams can afford it and want it there is nothing but downside in preventing it. It s actually hurting competitiveness and balance because some teams are stuck with bad contracts with no way to get out from underneath them at the same time other teams might be willing to take some of them on and give equal “value” player wise as opposed to being forced to trade an equal contract(s).

  54. W. C.

    I think we should give Mardy Collins one more year. He looked like a decent backup late last year. Unfortunately instead of getting better, he got worse. However, he was injured early in the year and never really got into the flow. I could see him coming back next year in better shape, with a better jumper, and working his way into the 2nd unit.

  55. Frank O.

    I agree the Bricks must get a PG.

    Ted, I have to agree with you on Skiles. The guy is a winner. The reason, I think, the Bulls have failed this year begins with how they handled the contracts of some key players early on and also the prolonged dangling of certain players in the Kobe considerations.
    The players they vested a hell of a lot in didn’t produce like they hoped:
    Gordon is only shooting 43 percent and his scoring is down; Nocioni is shooting 42 percent; Hinrich is shooting 41 percent; Tyrus Thomas has been a disappointment; Noah is having an underwhelming rookie year;and Duhon is shooting 35 percent. They, in fact, have no one within shouting distance of 50 percent shooting and no one on the team averaging better than a block per game.
    Most glaring is how much Deng’s performance has dropped off. He’s down in points scored, shooting percentage, free throw shooting, rebounds, steals, and blocks.

    I think Skiles is somewhat Parcells-like in his use of negativity as a motivator, but I think his team didn’t perform for him this year because of some outside distractions…

  56. Brian Cronin

    Mardy played big minutes at the end of last year, so his counting stats looked good, but he was not good. His TS% was under 45%!!!

    I gave him a bit of a pass last year because he was a rookie, and I thought he might improve, but then he came back and had a worse year.

    The guy just isn’t an NBA-level player.

  57. jimmy p

    Knick’s Draft Position

    The T-Wolves are starting to play well … good chance the Knicks will drop one and I’m hoping two more slots before season’s end.

  58. jimmy p

    Knick’s Draft Position

    The T-Wolves are starting to play well … good chance the Knicks will drop one and I’m hoping two more slots before season’s end.

  59. Ray

    I still say no to Skiles. He seems a bit full of himself. I dont want an angry grunt grumbling around the Knicks locker room causing problems. Let get a nice quiet coach who just wants to teach basketball. I guess I should roll with the T-Wolves for the rest of the year then.

  60. jon abbey

    “good chance the Knicks will drop one and I’m hoping two more slots before season’s end.”

    this really isn’t true, the teams “chasing” us all have 16 wins with either 15 or 16 games left, while we have 19, that’s a big gap under these circumstances.

    for us to move up, we pretty much have to win less than two of the last 15 games (so 0-15 or 1-14), and even then it’s far from definite. losing to Memphis and Minnesota would certainly be a good start.

  61. TDM

    With Collins, do you think the fact that he played 4 years of college ball was a positive or negative on scouting reports? I noticed that since 2000, there are only two starting pg in the nba that played 4 years of college ball – Earl Watson and Kirk Hinrich. I don’t think this is specific to the pg position, but just interesting. If it isn’t a stigma now, it probably will be in the future with the change to the rules about drafting hs players.

  62. jon abbey

    hmm, actually Memphis still plays Minnesota three times (including tonight) and NY twice, so maybe there’s more of a chance than I thought. I still think we can’t afford almost any more Ws if we hope to move up (down) though.

  63. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Wow been busy at home, I see I have missed much.

    Re: DC & ZR – I wasn’t trying to speak ill of the comparison. I would agree that they’re similar, but was just pointing out that Coleman was that much more valuable that ZR.

    Re: Randolph’s weight problems. Count me on the side that he isn’t in good physical condition. As the parent of a baby, I can’t help but look at him and find all resemblances between him and my 11 month old. The extra fat looks good on my child, not so much on a power forward.

    I understand he plays 35 mins a night, but then again he’s usually slow to run back on defense, and he’s nearly useless once he gets there. I could probably jump on a court and play 35 minutes if I didn’t have to run back or play defense.

    Re: Fred Jones/Mardy Collins. Fred Jones. And it’s not even close. I actually like Jones as an end of bench guy. Mardy has likely played himself out of the country. It’s a shame since he can defend.

    Re: Accountant analogy – Perfect! Absolutely Perfect!

    Re: Skiles – I think with disciplinarian coaches, very few are able to stick around in one place for long. But they can be good in the short term. And they are probably more effective replacing laid back coaches. The announcers noted during the last game (or the one before) that Isiah Thomas hadn’t left his seat the entire game. That’s laid back if I ever saw it. I can barely stay seated (or quiet) during a game, and I’m not the coach.

  64. TDM

    The Heat just beat the Knicks lowest point total for the season (54). And I had such high hopes . . .

  65. vokmar

    Re: Fred Jones/Mardy Collins. Fred Jones. And it’s not even close. I actually like Jones as an end of bench guy. Mardy has likely played himself out of the country. It’s a shame since he can defend.

    Mike K. you are spot on in my opinion. My buddies here don’t agree, hence an argument. Fred has somehow developed a 3-point shot too. Adds to the team IMO.

  66. danvt

    Help me folks,
    I know this is apropos of nothing, but I just saw LeBron drive to the hoop, plant his feet, pivot on his left foot, put his right foot down, pick his left foot up, put it down, jump off of it and score. Nobody noticed. Jon Barry called him the best ever at getting to the basket. They showed the highlight. Nobody noticed. They showed the highlight again at the half. Is this not traveling? Am I going crazy?

  67. Spider Cider

    Caleb: The big gripe with Mitchell’s handling of the rotation is the times during the game that he chooses to go to the bench. Monday’s game against Utah was a prime example. The Raptors were down pretty big at half-time, then in the 3rd the starters played the whole quarter and tied the game by the end of the quarter. So what does Sam Mitchell do in the 4th? He subs in basically the entire bench, leaves them in for 5+ minutes, and all of a sudden the game is out of reach again. He never staggers his substitutions, but rather basically plays 2 separate teams during the game, and leaves the bench guys in for far too long during crucial junctures of the game. He also only seems to let Bosh and Ford (and to a lesser extent Moon and Parker) play through their mistakes, whereas everyone else gets subbed out as soon as they miss a couple of shots in a row. Mostly it’s the timing of his subs, though. If you’re gonna play the bench for 6 minutes in the 2nd half of a close game, you’d think it might be wise to play them for the last 2 minutes of the 3rd and the 1st 3 minutes of the 4th, instead of letting them play half the 4th quarter against the other team’s starters. And he just does not seem to have a good game sense. For instance when Toronto is struggling offensively, it seems to me that you might want to sub Kapono in for Moon, for example, but Mitchell will generally do something like bring in Nesterovic for Bargnani. I could go on, but suffice it to say I’ve been far from impressed with Mitchell’s coaching this year. And he still can’t draw up a play to save his life.

  68. W. C.

    Fred Jones is pretty much as good as he’s ever going to get.

    Mardy Collins got very little time until late last year and was injured early this year. That prevented him from developing in the summer, playing to his potential, and getting even more time to develop this year.

    I’m not saying that Collins will be better than Jones, but it’s not a fair comparison until we get to see Collins after he shows up 100% fit and ready to go from the start of the season and gets some playing time.

    Personally, IMO, we are talking about 2nd team players at best. It’s not like either would be all that difficult to replace if we lost one. So in that scenario, I would take the younger less known quantity because it’s POSSIBLE he has more upside.

    To me there is no downside to giving Collins one more season and allowing Jones to go, but there could be a minor upside. If Collins disappoints again, we let him go and bring in another Jones. No big deal.

  69. caleb

    “we are talking about 2nd team players at best. It’s not like either would be all that difficult to replace if we lost one.”

    I agree — this is not a high stakes debate.

    That said, I think Collins has shown pretty clearly that he’s not an NBA player. His scoring/shooting issues are legend and he’s a point guard with a 1.5:1 A/To ratio. He’s a decent defender and rebounder, but he needs a few years seasoning in Europe — and the right NBA team — if he wants to think about making it in the league.

  70. Nick

    W.C. isn’t that sort of wishful thinking that players might develop into something they heretofore have not been what has created this mess in the first place.

  71. caleb

    Thanks for the insights, Spider.

    I actually don’t think drawing up plays is a big part of the job, and I also think if your subs are going to play five minutes straight, it doesn’t matter when those minutes come.

    BUT you might have put your finger on why they’re so inconsistent. There was a great run in January or February, then they were awful for a month.

    I wonder if the basic problem isn’t as simple as catering too much to TJ Ford. He’s not as good as Calderon, but when he comes in the game it’s all geared to him. I think he had one line a few weeks ago that was ridiculous, something like 13 shots and 7 turnovers in 16 minutes. A coach needs the cojones to sit a decent player when the backup/alternative is clearly better. Sort of like Zach Randolph vs. David Lee.

    I still think Sam is a solid coach — it’s a dangerous team; the point differential is a bit better than the record, even after the slump.

  72. caleb

    “isn’t that sort of wishful thinking that players might develop into something they heretofore have not been.”

    You always need to look at age, e.g. Wilson Chandler is 20 while Mardy Collins is 23. That’s a huge difference. (especially considering Chandler is a better player right now)

  73. Kevin

    Nick,

    Maybe WC is wishcasting an improved Mardy Collins as a solution to the back up PG role, but this is not quite what got the Knicks to where they are.

    For the historical cross your finger building blocks, I am assuming you are refering to Curry and Crawford. Both of these guys had played four years, logged around 6,500 minutes and were signing a “set for life” contract. The Knicks were expecting Curry to play defense and rebound and Crawford to become a high efficiency scorer – neither happened.

    Collins has played 1100 minutes over two years. He may become a servicable backup if given the opportunity. WC thinks its worth finding out.

    Spending one-year and $1.5 MM to find out if they guy has any role is different than spending $50 to $60 MM for 6-years hoping someone can morph into a star.

  74. Nick

    I was thinking more along the lines of Craw and Curry and I guess you could throw Steph, Tim Thomas and maybe even Zach in the bag as well. I’m all for playing the rookies and young players and letting them make their mistakes and on the job training. I just have little faith in Mardy and Fred Jones is at least competent. Why not just take a d-league guy or undrafted free agent rather than Mardy next year?

  75. ess-dog

    did you guys see this? If Walsh is hired:

    “Former Knick Mark Jackson and former Bulls coach Scott Skiles are the most likely coaching candidates.”

    This is horrible news. The only person that seemed acceptable from the secondary list was Terry Porter.

    Thoughts?

  76. DS

    1. Ess – That’s only speculation, it’s hardly news.
    2. Why doesn’t anyone make a big deal out of RC Buford? Granted S.A. would be nowhere w/o Duncan but he did seem to find Ginobili AND Parker late in drafts and they always seem to have a TON of cap space. I would love to wrestle that guy away and bring him to the Knicks.

  77. retropkid

    I’m not going to defend Mardy…but I wouldn’t be surprised if he improved enough to be a decent 10 minute guy for some other club.

    The guy this board usually gives a pass to is Balkman…he shoots free throws like 7 foot, 325 lb guys….Wilt or Shaq, but he is a slasher…it is really pitiful, and it means he is another guy you can’t have on the floor at end of games….his stock has really fallen this year too, almost as much as Mardy’s.

    One of my best friends made 81 free throws in a row last night, no bull, and he did it without anybody rebounding for him, even tougher. If an old coot can do that, Balkman should be able to make at least 70%, it’s unforgivable.

  78. Ben R

    I would not cut Mardy. I would let him stay on the team. He has always been a bad shooter but he was one of the least turnover prone guards in the NCAA during his time a Temple.

    If he can calm down and stop turning the ball over he would have at least some value due to his great defense and good rebounding. Any points he scores will always simply be a bonus. Think of him as a PG version of Trenton Hassel. Also a great defender is important in practice.

    As for Balkman even with his miserable free throw shooting he is shooting almost 50% TS% and if he was simply shooting what he shot last year from the line he would be shooting over 52% TS%.

    On top of that Balkman only shoots 7 shots per 36 minutes so his poor efficiency does not hurt the team much and he more than makes up for it with his rebounding and defense. He appears to be an elite defender and his rebound rate has been the best in the league for a non-PF/C for both years he has been in the NBA. He is also a good ball handler and good passer and rarly turns the ball over.

    So while Collins helps on defense and rebounding he hurts the team a lot on offense because he too often forces the issue which leads to both turnovers and missed shots. Balkman helps the team a lot on defense and rebounding and he knows how to minimize his weaknesses on offense.

  79. retropkid

    but that kind of foul shooting costs you in close games, no matter what the other benefits are. if you can’t put him on the floor at crunch time, his other stats don’t matter in crunch time….which means he only delivers big time during small time…that’s a problem.

    This will get you all going: Balkman should be traded. over the summer for a PG or a draft choice…..while his stats are what they are, he isn’t old yet (but closing in on NBA middle age already…) so he has more value now than he will later

    . He doesn’t help the club any more than Ariza did. He is a marginal contributor in a 48 minute environment, and cannot be counted in when the team gets competitive, and 4th quarters matter….

  80. caleb

    The 4th quarter doesn’t matter more than the other three quarters (well, a tiny bit, bc that’s when they take the time outs so there are a few more posessions). But that’s beside the point…

    Since we have another good prospect playing SF, I’m not inherently against trading Balkman – but given the way Isiah has screwed him on playing time, and given the nature of his game, I don’t think his trade value is anywhere near his real value. I wouldn’t take less than a second-half-of-the-lottery pick (or equivalent player). And I’d be shocked if anyone made that offer.

    His impact will always be underrated because it’s mainly on defense, but his numbers there are fantastic – no surprise, when you watch him. He’s also an excellent rebounder, in fact last year he had the highest rebound rate of any small forward in the league. Meanwhile, for all his offensive limitations the Knicks manage to score more and more efficiently when he’s on the court, so it’s hard to argue that he hurts them there.

    Plus, he never ever needs a play called for him, which makes him an easy guy to match with other players. (unlike Chandler, who’s sort of a ball hog).

    The only things that can hold RB back are his propensity for fouling and the (rumored) flakiness that (supposedly) keeps from working more on his game.

    I think he’s got an excellent chance of being a better player than Bruce Bowen (at Bowen’s peak); hard to see any draftee outside the top 10 making that impact.

    IMHO I’d value Chandler around a #15 pick — and in general I’d try to keep him AND Balk; we need all the young talent we can get.

  81. caleb

    p.s. Balkman IS two years older than Trevor Ariza, who looked fantastic in LA before he got hurt. In some ways they are similar – Balkman is a better rebounder; Ariza a better scorer and generally more versatile. Balkman probably a better defender but no lock. Given the age difference, I WOULD trade Balkman for Ariza (not that LA is making that deal)

  82. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “but that kind of foul shooting costs you in close games, no matter what the other benefits are.”

    Balkman attempts 3.9 FT per 36 minutes, and averages hitting 1.7. Making 70% of them means he’d get an extra point per 36 minutes. That really doesn’t seem to be a lot to me.

    I’m not a big fan of the “foul shots hurt you in a close game” philosophy. Everything hurts you in a close game. Every rebound missed. Every time you allow an opponent to score with shoddy defense. Every wild shot. Every turnover.

    It seems real easy to just look at free throws and say well if the Knicks hit 16 of 20 instead of 13 of 20, they’d have won last night. It’s harder to visualize that the 3 turnovers from bad passes, or the 3 shots Zach Randolph took from 23’8, or the 3 guys that just waltzed into the lane really make a difference. But in the end I would argue that they are much more important.

  83. TDM

    Balkman “cannot be counted in (sic) when the team gets competitive. . .”

    Moot point. Balkman will be plodding along with a walker by the time this team gets competitive.

  84. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, Balkman’s foul shooting, like his jump shot, is a detriment to his game, but it is a detriment that he makes up for with the positives of his game.

    To wit, Bruce Bowen is a career 58% free throw shooter – and yet the Spurs had him out there in crunch time in all of their past few championships, because his benefits outweighed his negatives.

    Same for Balkman.

  85. retropkid

    okay, I was just trying to create a fun topic — I’m a Balkman fan too, as you probably do know from my earlier posts.

    Hey — we need something to talk about!

    That said, I do think in a tight game, down the stretch, putting Balkman on the floor is really tough because teams would foul him, and he’ll miss…so current stats wouldn’t predict the amount of points that would cost you.

    For you stat guys: What’s the W/L record for teams that make more free throws in a game than the opponent? Clearly, made FTs is a function of FTA…but I would posit that made FTs is more correlated to winning than almost any stat you can find.

    4th quarter matters more because there isn’t a chance after it’s done…noboby fouls guys in the first half to put them on the line and get possession….4th quarter strategy changes in a tight game.

    btw, if Balkman ever shoots threes like Bowen, I’ll eat my hat…Bowen is a far better player than Balkman, not even close. Tougher defender, more pugnacious winning spirit, and proven shooter in big games too.

  86. jon abbey

    “Bowen is a far better player than Balkman, not even close. ”

    he was a journeyman at best until he was 28, Balkman doesn’t turn 24 until the summer. we’d have a much better idea about what we had in him, both pros and cons, if we had an actual coach.

  87. W. C.

    >W.C. isn’t that sort of wishful thinking that players might develop into something they heretofore have not been what has created this mess in the first place.<

    I think hoping guys like Curry, Lee, Balkman, Robinson, Crawford etc… become all stars or franchise players is wishful thinking.

    Giving a young relatively unknown quantity a chance to develop into a mediocre second stringer that might be a little better than another already well known second stringer, is not much of risk. ;-)

  88. W. C.

    >One of my best friends made 81 free throws in a row last night, no bull, and he did it without anybody rebounding for him, even tougher. If an old coot can do that, Balkman should be able to make at least 70%, it’s unforgivable.<

    I’m 5′ 5″ and 49 years old. A couple of years ago I picked up a basketball for the first time since 10th grade.I went to the park and shot 200 free throws. I made 55%. IMO it’s hard to hit less than 70% if you play the game regularly and actually practice free throws. I could probably get to 70% by the end of the summer with daily practice and I’m an old short guy with limited talent.

  89. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “For you stat guys: What’s the W/L record for teams that make more free throws in a game than the opponent? Clearly, made FTs is a function of FTA…but I would posit that made FTs is more correlated to winning than almost any stat you can find.”

    There is a strong correlation between winning and these factors: shooting (eFG%), turnovers (TO/POSS), rebounding (OREB%) and free throws (FTM/FGA). Unfortunately free throws is the weakest of the four (shooting percentage being by far the most important).

    retropkid you should really check out the “Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics” at the top of my blog. You’ll especially want to check out the link to “Dean Oliver (Four Factors)” as well.

  90. TDM

    OJ Mayo better stay in school. Beasley had a poor first half, but he’s killing it in the second.

  91. Ray

    Yeah…Mayo should stay. Im disappointed in him. Beasley is the truth but they are not going all the way. Their guards stink. Mardy might be a good bench guy but hes not going to be as productive as Nate off the bench. I think we can get a pick for Nate. If we could I would love it if we could take a big defensive big man who blocks shots like a madman. Those Walsh rumors are really heating up too..i cant wait to see what happens. Its just sooooo long til basketball season start up again.

  92. Brian Cronin

    Donnie Walsh is just such a…not lateral move, per se, as there are few GMs that would be a lateral move from Isiah (and sadly, there actually are GMs who would be lateral moves from Isiah), but he’s pretty darn close to a lateral move.

  93. Brian Cronin

    Bowen is a far better player than Balkman, not even close. Tougher defender, more pugnacious winning spirit, and proven shooter in big games too.

    At the same age as Balkman, Bowen was not even in the NBA.

    At a year older, Bowen played one minute in one game.

    So Balkman actually compares pretty darn well, as he’s a good NBA player now.

    Anyhow, whether he is better than Bowen or not (and come on, odds are he’s not going to be better than Bowen), the point is that you can still be an effective non-big man and shoot poorly from the line, so long as you’re helping the team in other ways, and that’s what Balkman does.

  94. Nick

    I’m not as high on Balkman as the rest of the board. Granted with the odd minutes he’s received haven not helped. However, other than rebounding everything else is skewed by the fact that he comes in for perhaps the two worst players on the team that receive significant minutes, Q and Jeffries. Despite that and contrary to at least one or two posts the offense this year and last has gone down slightly with him in the game. Defense has improved considerably with him in but does he make it an NBA competent, I can’t say but 107.7 and 103.0 per 100 possession seems high. As far as his alleged ball-handling prowess all he can do so far is push it up the court when uncontested. Shaq used to do that when he was much younger as have other centers. More telling is the 28 TO to 25 assists. All I see is a player that is energetic, raw and who just doesn’t suck as much as all but a few of the players on one of the 5 worst teams in the league. That to me doesn’t make him an automatic keeper, key piece on a good team. I would think the d-league is full of live bodies no better or worse.

  95. cwod

    I think some of you are selling Balkman way short. He has the potential to be something really special. Sure, the D-league is full of “live bodies,” but Balkman represents the best of the live bodies. Of Balkman’s rookie season, Hollinger noted the following:

    “Balkman’s rates of blocks and steals were completely ridiculous. He ranked fourth among small forwards in blocks per minute and fifth in steals, but it’s the combo of the two that’s the real rarity.

    Balkman managed to be 75 percent better than the league average in both blocks and steals; in the past 20 years only three other players have played over 1,000 minutes in a season and done that. One was Gerald Wallace in 2005-06; the other two were a couple chaps named Hakeem Olajuwon and Ben Wallace.”

    I think, if given consistent minutes, we’d finally see what we have in him. To say that he has more value now than he will have later is probably not true, when you consider he has only tapped his potential. If he actually decides to work on his game (shooting, some of his fundamentals), he’d get that much better.

    “However, other than rebounding everything else is skewed by the fact that he comes in for perhaps the two worst players on the team that receive significant minutes, Q and Jeffries.”

    How are Balkman’s rate of steals and blocks skewed by whom he replaces?

  96. Nick

    I should have quantified that by +/- and on court – off court. Of course as with most of these “the only other players” in history the player highlighted is at the bottom of the list and no mention is made of what is just on the other side of the line. Balkman played 1064 minutes. Gerald Wallace 1800 and presumably Hakeem and Ben Wallace much more than that. His Roland numbers are -2.1 this year and +2.9 last year. That’s hardly impressive even with his super duper historically great blocks, steals and rebounds either they are not all that significant in the calculation or the rest of his game is really drags down his numbers.

  97. Funky

    I too am pro-Balkman. In addition to cwod’s note about steals and blocks, I would add that Balkman is nearly always the first Knick to a loose ball. Offensively, he moves extremely well without the ball and often finds ways to get open underneath the basket for an easy layup or dunk. Most other Knicks just stand around.

    Also (and I’m being mostly serious) Balkman is the best cheerleader on the Knick bench. It’s refreshing to see someone on the Knicks who supports his teammates when they do well and cares whether or not they win or lose.

  98. Frank O.

    I love Balkman’s potential, but he’s learning nothing on the bench.

    I too have trouble speaking about him in comparison to Bowen because – as noted – Bowen kind of emerged almost out of no where.

    As we all have seen, upside potential is terribly random and is so dependent on the character of the player.

    Balkman seems to lacks the kind of discipline that you see in dominant players. Every reporter I have read comments on his poor work habits in practice.

    The idea that a small forward can’t hit at least 75 percent to 80 percent of his foul shots is antithetical to the position. To whit, 53 of 64 SFs that have played at least 500 minutes this year average 70 percent or better from the charity stripe. Balkman is second to last at 43 percent. Here’s the kicker: even Jeffries is one level better hitting 48 percent of his FTs. Pathetic.

    If he had some modicum of discipline, that starting job was his. It was a team desperate for someone to step up.
    On most meaningful measurements, Balkman has been backsliding: FG percentage, FT percentage – his TS% is 49.5, which puts him at 52nd in the NBA among SFs – rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, points…

    His PER is a dismal 11.55, or roughly 50th in the NBA among SFs.

    Either he is a lousy player or his coaches suck. Either way, we are no closer to understanding what we have with him, and a number of other young players on the Bricks.

  99. W. C.

    The problem with Balkman is that his skill set is not what the Knicks need from the SF position right now.

    Obviously if you dismantle the whole team, we would be in a different position.

    However, when Curry is your center and he’s drawing double and triple teams (and he does when he’s getting minutes and Randolph isn’t hogging the ball), you need very solid outside shooting to both prevent that and/or take advantage of it.

    As it is now, defenses can easily neutralize Curry with the double team because no one can hit the broad side of a barn from the outside.

    Look at the Knicks shooting stats. All low 40% or worse. The Knicks need a SF that can light it up from outside as long as the plan is to keep Curry.

    Now if you tell me we are getting rid Crawford and getting a SG that hits in the upper 40% range, is consistent, and takes good shots and combining that with a PG than can also hit a high percentage when open, then there’s room for an energy guy like Balkman.

  100. W. C.

    Several people commented on Balkman’s poor work habits at practice. I find that hard to believe because he works so hard in games. I also recall reading that he worked like crazy on free throws and his outside shot last off season (which obviously didn’t help). Where are people hearing that he’s not working hard in practice?

  101. Frank O.

    I’ve seen the complaint about his work ethic in all the NY dailies, for what they are worth, and several of the Jersey dailies.
    In particular, Newsday has been very hard on him.

  102. Frank O.

    W.C.:
    I’m not sure I agree with you on skill sets. The Bricks are dying for a defensive stopper on the perimeter…
    Balkman could do that and do it well…

    They have never been short of guys who want the ball and who can score…

    Now, they also need perimeter shooting, but I would suggest that defense was their biggest liability…

  103. jon abbey

    “I would suggest that defense was their biggest liability”

    it’s like trying to figure out the biggest liability of the knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, who’s had both arms and legs chopped off.

  104. Frank O.

    “it’s like trying to figure out the biggest liability of the knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, who’s had both arms and legs chopped off”

    True…true.

    ARTHUR:
    Eh. You are indeed brave, Sir Knight, but the fight is mine.
    BLACK KNIGHT:
    Oh, had enough, eh?
    ARTHUR:
    Look, you stupid bastard. You’ve got no arms left.
    BLACK KNIGHT:
    Yes, I have.
    ARTHUR:
    Look!
    BLACK KNIGHT:
    Just a flesh wound.

  105. caleb

    Twas I who suggested he might have some sort of attention problem — wild speculation, based on the weird stories about his jumping around shooting 3-pointers instead of doing a normal warm up. Obviously he has no lack of energy.

    Frank, the PER number is pretty pointless – PER has value but gives much credit for shooting, whether you make it or not, thus essentially penalizing a player like Balkman who rarely shoots. It also ignores defense aside from blocked shots and steals; a player who brings signficant value on the D-side will be underrated.

    He is exactly the kind of player the Knicks need — someone who plays defense and doesn’t need the ball. Cliches aside, there’s no evidence that having better shooters improves the performance of inside players and vice versa. If anyone wants to scan the 2-player pairs at 82games and argue differently, good luck!

    I am discouraged that Balkman has regressed this year, in every area. While he’s still — in my mind — a solid contributor and easily the best SF on the roster, the lack of improvement bodes poorly for his ultimate ceiling. He has some excuses — inconsistent minutes, injuries the first half of the year – but it’s still concerning.

  106. Ben R

    Balkman has regressed this year but I think if we get a new coach and he starts getting consistant injury-free minutes we will see him back to his rookie year form, or possibly even better.

    As for the comparison to Bowen I think if Balkman gets consistant minutes and good coaching he will definatly be better than Bowen,

    Last year Balkman shot a TS% of 53%, Bowen has only exceeded that twice in his career, Last year Balkman averaged 11.3 pts per 36, Bowen has never averaged over 9.4. For their careers Balkman has a TS% of 51.8% while scoring 10.3 pts per 36, Bowen has a career TS% of 50.6% while scoring 8.1. Balkman does not have to improve his offense to be a better than Bowen he already is.

    As for the rest of the stats (all per 36 min):
    Bowen: 3.6 rebs, 1.7 ast, 1.1 stl, 0.5 blk.
    Balkman: 9.2 rebs, 1.4 ast, 1.7 stl, 1.4 blk.

    So that just leaves defense which I think Bowen has a advantage in right now, but I think Balkman is already very good and with consistant playing time and more experience could one day be almost as good defensivly, which when combined with his huge rebounding advantage and slightly better offense, steals and blocks puts Balkman’s potential much higher than Bowen’s.

    That is all supposing he does not improve on offense because if he does then he will be a fantastic player and the Bowen comparisons will seem absurd.

  107. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “However, when Curry is your center and he’s drawing double and triple teams (and he does when he’s getting minutes and Randolph isn’t hogging the ball), you need very solid outside shooting to both prevent that and/or take advantage of it.”

    That would be true if Curry was the kind of center to pass the ball out of a double team. Personally I think with a center like Curry, you need a SF that can rebound and block shots – to make up for Curry’s inability to do both. Altough, I’d take a PF that could do those things as well.

  108. W. C.

    Caleb,

    If Balkman was the starting SF, the Knicks would simply lose in a different and IMO much worse way.

    You are correct, the Knicks don’t need any more guys that want and need the ball. They need guys that want and need the ball that can actually shoot and make good decisions!

    What they have now is bunch of guys that want and need the ball that are inconsistent, take way too many terrible shots, and hit a very low percentage of them.

    A lot of the offense comes from Crawford, Randolph, and Robinson. They either can’t hit the broad side of a barn on many nights or take way too many very stupid shots. Then there’s a whole list of other guys that shoot even worse from outside that also have to contribute.

    The defense is also obviously a disaster and Balkman’s energy and defense is a plus. However, putting Balkman in for Qrich (as horrible as Q Rich is) may actually make us worse because it makes our outside shooting even worse and takes away from Curry. No one has to guard Balkman outside at all. Stats or not stats, all you have to do is watch enough ballgames to see that when you have a good offensive center, the team benefits a lot when he can kick the ball out to a sharp shooting small man when he gets doubled. When you don’t have guys like that, the big man is in deep doo doo.

    My intention is not to bash Balkman. I see his value “to someone”. I’m just saying that unless you blow up the Knicks, Balkman doesn’t help or fit.

    That’s a major problem with the Knicks. They have a whole bunch of decent role players, but they don’t fit the all the roles the Knicks need. They would be more valuable elsewhere.

  109. MJG

    Balkman is OK. But with regard to his playing extremely hard in games but not doing much in practice, Knicks fans have seen that movie before…John Starks.

  110. Spider Cider

    Balkman’s biggest problem (aside from his terrible shooting), and the thing that keeps him from being a Bowen-like defensive presence, is his propensity to foul. You can certainly make a case that Bowen gets a lot of leeway from the refs, but until Balkman gets that same leeway, he needs to learn how to defend without fouling so much, otherwise his defense is nowhere near as valuable as it could be.

  111. Latke

    randolph morris was a -28 against darko milicic and jarron collins. To go along with poor shooting, the effort stats are weak – 3 rebounds and 1 block in 26 minutes.

  112. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “Stats or not stats, all you have to do is watch enough ballgames to see that when you have a good offensive center, the team benefits a lot when he can kick the ball out to a sharp shooting small man when he gets doubled. When you don’t have guys like that, the big man is in deep doo doo.”

    I agree. Too bad we don’t have a good offensive center.

    Oh Eddy Curry can score, but he can’t pass out of a double team. He’s never averaged more than an assist per game in 7 seasons, and I’m doubtful that he’ll ever accomplish that feat. I’m convinced he’s been taught to try to shoot as soon as he gets the ball, because 90% of the time that’s what he does. Even when he does pass the ball back, it’s not that he’s waiting for a double team and finding the open man.

    What I truly wonder is if this is because he’s an efficient shooter, or because he’s an awful passer. It’s a shame to have a low post presence that doesn’t open the floor up. Watch any game, and you’ll see hoards of defenders running at Curry trying to help stop him. Too bad he doesn’t take advantage of it.

  113. CMAC

    Did anyone else see on espn last night they talked about Jerry West wants to come to the Knicks? That would be the greatest thing Dolan can do to help this team win.

  114. mase

    “What I truly wonder is if this is because he’s an efficient shooter, or because he’s an awful passer”

    what does you mean, he’s clearly both an efficient shooter and an awful passer?

  115. cwod

    He’s referring to this notion: “I’m convinced he’s been taught to try to shoot as soon as he gets the ball.”

  116. Ray

    At this rate it seems we are years away from winning days. Seeing that there was some spirited debate about bench player Balkman ,truth is, if he doesnt develop a jumpshot by next year the only thing he’ll be contributing is defense and minutes. Scoring because of moving with out the ball all game is not going to give us a championship. Whoever is GM in the end if going to have to clean house and work some wonders.

  117. jon abbey

    “At this rate it seems we are years away from winning days. ”

    yep, I’d say given everything, we’re pretty easily in the worst position of any team in the league with little chance of digging out anytime soon.

  118. jon abbey

    “At least Isiah seems dedicated to not winning any games the rest of the season.”

    yep, best thing to happen so far this season. Memphis won again tonight, so both them and Minnesota are only one win behind us now. with one game still to go against Memphis, we’re definitely in at least 4th (worst) if we can lose out.

  119. Ess-dog

    God this team is unwatchable. Just glad I don’t have season tickets. I don’t know how we cannot try to ‘rebuild’ at this point. I know NY teams can’t ‘rebuild’ b/c supposedly you need big names like Starbury to sell tickets, but c’mon… abbey’s right. We are absolutely in the worst shape of any team in the NBA. At least the Pacers have Granger, Dunleavy and some other hard-working players. The Bucks are horrible, but they have Yi and Villanueva and Bogut at least plays hard. They’re maybe closest to us, except they’re cap situation is much better. Redd is kind of like they’re Crawford. A real chucker. And Zach is like Simmons with they’re big ugly contracts. What do we have with promise? Lee maybe. Chandler looks like he could possibly become a complete player – eventually. That’s about it. Balkman’s a good bench guy, like Verejao. Nate’s still way too inconsistent just like Crawford. He could maybe regain some potential if he had a coach that used a strict playbook and taught ball movement. I think Nate could possibly learn. But I still think he’s 6th man material.
    It’s good we’re losing. Beasley or Rose would really help. That would still only give us 2 players that can start on both ends for an NBA team. Well, at least we’ll have a lot of offseason action to watch, can’t wait. I’d like to stock up on draft picks as there could be some interesting names around.
    That kid from Davidson, Curry looks fantastic. He could be a steal in round 2 although he’s moving up. He’s got the intensity we need. Also, I think Hibbert will be a pretty good prospect. There aren’t a lot of 7’2″guys with an offense that play tough D. With better conditioning he will be a good NBA player. Not Ewing, but better than Bill Cartwright (and way better than Mr. Stay-Puft.) If we are at the 5 spot I could see taking him. Also, if we are picking at the 5 and Rose and Beasley are gone, I would have to think hard about Love. He’s not a need position, but he could be one of the better players to come out of this draft. Then we could trade Randolph or Lee for a real point guard. You’ve got to go with the best talent available at your draft position.

  120. jon abbey

    Brook Lopez is the guy moving up, he’s for real. it’d be amazing if we could get Rose or him, fingers crossed.

    also, let’s not forget we traded our second round pick this year to Portland for Demetris Nichols (!!!!!). if our pick is below #2 or maybe 3, I’d like to try to bundle it to Portland for picks and young players, since they’re looking at a major numbers crunch.

  121. justin

    considering the weakness of the east and the high draft pick we have- is it that unrealiztic to think about a 6 or 7 seed next year with a new gm/coach

  122. jon abbey

    we don’t have a high draft pick yet, we could possibly be as low as 8 (if we finish with the 5th worst record and three teams jump us in the lottery).

  123. Ray

    Kevin Love is looking really good. My only concern with him is can he do it at the next level. A part of me says he can and i could see him working hard on his game to become more well rounded. Same with Lopez. He was on fire yesterday. Very mobile. Nice shooting touch around the basket. Blocks shots. Very impressive. Its seems all the top picks have been outsted with the exception of Love and Lopez and Rose. Scouting is really important. Im liking Lopez because I could see him developing the inside out game like Tim Duncan. Hes a nice quick 7 footer. They need to make a deal and get some extra picks this year. We can get some good pieces and maybe take a gamble on some Euro players.

  124. Ray

    Here are some kids that have impressed so far during MMAddnes..
    Joe Alexander, Curry from Davidson(well see how hes does againt Psycho T), Lopez, Love, Westbrook,. What do you guys think. Im sure there are more to add.

  125. Thomas B.

    The Knicks will have a high draft pick and why.

    I don’t think we will pick any lower than 6th in the draft. I think the Knicks win 2 more games this season, which puts them at 21 for the season. With Memphis having a schedule that include five winnable games (Minny twice, Miami, Clippers, Knicks) they should leap past us to finish with 23 wins. Minny has 3-4 winnable games on the schedule (Memphis twice, Charlotte, Milwaukee). If Memphis and Minny split their two games, and each team wins the games they should win, each team would finish with at least 22 wins. That would mean the 21 win Knicks would sit in third draft position.

    From the 3rd spot a team could drop as low as 6th but that would mean that 3 teams with fewer lottery combinations have each leapfroged the team sitting at the 3rd spot. The odds of a team with the 3rd worst record (barring a tie breaker) falling to the 6th spot are about 1 in 2439.

    Let’s say things stand pat and we finish with the 5th worst record. The odds of a team in the 5th spot falling to 8th are 1 in 2500, 7th are 1 in 1190, 6th 1 in 278, 5th 1 in 383. The Knicks cannot get the 4th oick if they finish in the 5th spot.

    The numbers tell us that if the Knicks have the 5th lottery position they have the best odds of finishing 6th. This is becuase the odds of at least one team leapfroging the Knicks are better than the odds of no team leapfroging the Knicks.

    Barring a tremendous win streak by the Knicks, I don’t think we end up with the 8th pick. Jon is correct in that it could happen, but the odds against it are very high. But as bad as things have gone this year, I am not going to say there is no way it could happen.

    Credit to http://www.geocities.com/benschuarmer/draftlotto.html for the draft lottery odds script. It uses the 2007 odds but the nuber of lottery balls per position has not changed since last year, so the odds based on position are still appliacable in 2008.

  126. jon abbey

    “The numbers tell us that if the Knicks have the 5th lottery position they have the best odds of finishing 6th. ”

    I said precisely this here a month or two ago, I was just saying that nothing’s set until it’s set.

  127. jon abbey

    “Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh, who has reportedly had discussions with the New York Knicks about possibly replacing Isiah Thomas as team president, is leaning toward staying with Indiana, according to a published report.

    “Barring something crazy happening, Donnie is staying,” an unnamed source told The New York Daily News. “The players all got a sense on Friday that Donnie would be around.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3307780

    so all of that was just Walsh trying to make sure Bird was fired/left, nice…

  128. Thomas B.

    “I said precisely this here a month or two ago, I was just saying that nothing’s set until it’s set.”

    Yes, of course you did. Great minds as they say.

    I agree that the Knicks’ draft pick is far from set. I just wanted to share the lottery numbers with the four other people on Earth that care about this sort of thing.

  129. cwod

    Walsh didn’t seem like that great of an option to me anyway. He’d be an improvement, no doubt, but there are better options, if we indeed dump Isiah.

  130. W. C.

    >>I agree. Too bad we don’t have a good offensive center.

    Oh Eddy Curry can score, but he can’t pass out of a double team. He’s never averaged more than an assist per game in 7 seasons, and I’m doubtful that he’ll ever accomplish that feat. I’m convinced he’s been taught to try to shoot as soon as he gets the ball, because 90% of the time that’s what he does. Even when he does pass the ball back, it’s not that he’s waiting for a double team and finding the open man.

    What I truly wonder is if this is because he’s an efficient shooter, or because he’s an awful passer. It’s a shame to have a low post presence that doesn’t open the floor up. Watch any game, and you’ll see hoards of defenders running at Curry trying to help stop him. Too bad he doesn’t take advantage of it.><<

    I believe you are missing the point.

    If the Knicks had some deadly outside shooters, it would be tougher to double and triple team him inside. In addition, when he did kick it out off the double, someone would actually hit a shot more often and give him an extra assist here or there.

    It’s not easy to defend Curry because he has so many shortcomings, but offense is not one of them. He has a high shooting percentage DESPITE getting doubled and tripled. If we had some outside threats, his shooting percentage would rise, his assists would rise, and his turnovers would fall.

  131. jon abbey

    “It’s not easy to defend Curry because he has so many shortcomings, but offense is not one of them. ”

    no, his ability to score in the post isn’t one of them. I think there’s a bit of truth to what you’re saying, but I also think as Mike said, he’s a bad/reluctant passer. this is all exacerbated by our lack of a PG, so no one gets open shots.

  132. MJG

    I think what we’re saying here is that a team’s best player, if you have any chance to win, has to be a willing passer. Since the ultimate goal is to win a championship (as laughable as that may given the current situation on the Knicks) then Curry can’t fit in to the long-term plans if he is the No. 1 option.

    The guys who were No.1 scorers who couldn’t or wouldn’t pass never won championships (at least not when they were in the primes)…Dominique, Dale Ellis, etc…you see where I’m going with this.

  133. Thomas B.

    “I think what we’re saying here is that a team’s best player, if you have any chance to win, has to be a willing passer.”

    Do the Knicks have a best player? If so, who would that be?

    I say the most talented player is on the bench and never enters a game, Isiah Thomas. At 42 he is more valuable as a player than he has been a coach or GM.

  134. caleb

    “Stats or not stats, all you have to do is watch enough ballgames to see that when you have a good offensive center, the team benefits a lot when he can kick the ball out to a sharp shooting small man when he gets doubled….”

    “If the Knicks had some deadly outside shooters, it would be tougher to double and triple team him inside… If we had some outside threats, his shooting percentage would rise, his assists would rise, and his turnovers would fall.”

    Not to pick on W.C. — I’ve heard the same from every coach I’ve ever met, and every announcer in every game I’ve ever watched.

    But… there is no evidence that this relationship actually holds, in more than some infitesimal way. You won’t see any big man play better, or have better numbers, when a slick shooter joins the team — or comes off the bench. And vice-versa — you won’t see Ray Allen with better numbers when Garnett is in the game, vs. Kendrick Perkins or Leon Powe.

    I know this is counterintuitive, and yet…

    I would say that there are simply too many variables at play, more than we usually recognize.

    Of course, having a good shooter(s) would be valuable in and of itself.

  135. caleb

    Lopez did look great — I don’t think he’s as good as your typical #2 or 3 pick, but I like him better than any guard in the draft except Rose — and I’m not 100% sold on Rose, either — don’t think he’s your typical #2. Considering that Lopez is only 19, he’d be a very solid pick if he were around at #4 or 5.

    I agree that Love looked great — most draft gurus seem to be really underrating him. I know, at 6’8 with limited athletic juice, he has a much lower ceiling than Lopez — but the guy can flat-out play. Most mocks I’ve seen, put him in the 15-20 range — I’d say he’d be a solid pick even as high as 7 or 8. (not for the Knicks, though — we are all set on good but mediocre or worse defensively PFs).

    Darren Collison? I don’t know why he doesn’t get the hype of Augustin or Ty Lawson. Collison doesn’t have the same offensive repertoire but he can shoot and looks like a very good defender. I guess he’s small.

    I was super-impressed by Stephen Curry. That guy can ball — very quick, nice-looking shot, heart of a lion — and the announcers said he’s the nation’s assist leader — is that true? He also looks like he’s about 16, so he’ll probably get a lot stronger. I’ve never seen him play before, but he looks like a first-rounder for sure.

    As others have said, I’d be happy for the Knicks to trade down, either for multiple picks or something else… like giving another team Randolph and our #5 pick (or whatever it is) in exchange for say, #10, and a future 1st.
    I’m too beat to scope out the list, but I’d look at teams falling in the 5-12 range and see if there’s anyone who might want Curry or Zach. If we trade down, we can grab one of those PGs…

  136. Ray

    Wow…Steven Curry was amazing today and ended the Hoyas season. The sky is the limit for that kid. Truth is hes being putting up big number like that all year but now hes really showing his truth worth against the best in the country. Im thinking they rank him higher than Eric Gordon now as far as 2 guards go. I havent been impressed with Rose either. Im not sure what going on but im seeing big time play from Douglas-Roberts instead of Rose. Maybe its the Memphis system? With the Knicks moving up in position we might have access to some elite talent in this draft class. Lets see what happens.

  137. jon abbey

    “I was super-impressed by Stephen Curry. That guy can ball — very quick, nice-looking shot, heart of a lion — and the announcers said he’s the nation’s assist leader — is that true?”

    no, that’s his teammate Richards, who probably gets most of them just waiting for Curry to pop free. Curry is currently ranked 85th on Chad Ford’s board, he’ll probably go in the second round if at all.

  138. caleb

    re: Stephen Curry,

    Yeah, that’s the thing about seeing just one game. I was thinking if a guy can score like that AND lead the nation in assists…

    On the other hand he’s only a soph, and there’s always (usually) room in the league for a sweet shooter like that. I would assume he’ll play the next couple of years and then we’ll see.

    p.s. Did you know he’s the son of Dell Curry?

  139. jon abbey

    even if I didn’t know, it’s pretty obvious, he looks like a 14 year old version of his dad.

    did you know Duke’s Gerald Henderson is the son of the former Celtic/briefly Knick?

  140. Frank O.

    The speculating on Walsh is funny.

    I know Walsh and Isiah go back together…well, weird things are afoot.

  141. jon abbey

    do they have any connection besides when Isiah was hired by him in Indiana? Walsh worked for the Pacers for 25 years, he has connections to a lot of people.

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