Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Is there anything left to watch?

It gets harder and harder with each maddening loss to root for this current collection of Knicks. Watching Friday night’s loss vs Chicago with about 5 or 6 minutes remaining I knew, the fans knew, and more importantly the Bulls and Knicks knew that the Knicks were going to throw that game away. Their inability or steadfast refusal to show consistent improvement in turnovers, defense, and overall decision making–not just the bloated salaries–is to my mind what makes this team the most unlikeable in recent memory. (Yes, even less likeable than Nellie’s Knicks or the Glen Rice/Travis Knight freak shows.)

This team is an official train wreck. The 2005-2006 New York Knicks have all but engraved their names on the “Biggest underachievers in NBA history” team trophy. And yet… chronicling in excruciating detail just how awful the Knicks are in order to deride them for it stopped being even vaguely interesting reading about two weeks ago. Seriously, we’ve arrived at that place where the vultures are just picking at the remnants of the carcass.

So what’s left to talk about? I think we can safely rule out any pollyanna “silver lining” nonsense. This season is sunk in any meaningfully competitive sense. Still, I think there are at least three reasonably intriguing questions facing Knicks fans, which are as yet unanswered about this season, that will in part determine the possibility of a turnaround in ’06-’07. It will be interesting to see them play out.

1. Is Eddy Curry a bum? And will it even matter to Knick fans if he’s not?

The likelihood that Curry will ever become all he was touted to be on draft day now seems so laughably low I have no idea why Brown and Thomas continue to repeat such puffery. There’s a point where you just have to concede that the expectations were themselves overblown–something that appears to happen quite a bit with young bigs. However, that Curry will continue to develop into a pretty good offensive center is not nearly so far fetched. For all our pronouncements (myself included) about what Curry will never be and the focus on his shortcomings as a defender/shot blocker, he is hardly alone in these shortcomings among the league’s top offensive centers–plus his 16.4 PER and 58% True Shooting% should not be lightly dismissed. You can count nine centers with better offensive production (Shaq, Duncan, both Wallaces, Ilgauskas, Brad Miller, Zo, Okur, and Gadzuric), and all but Gadzuric are a good bit older than Curry. Ilgauskas, Miller, and Okur–like Curry–are primarily offensive players who bring little defense to the table but who have been key contributors to decent teams. Curry has also managed to demonstrate some improvement in one of his notorious weaknesses; rebounding. His current rebound rate of 14.2 is a career high–not especially impressive–but improvement nonetheless. (Unfortunately, his notoriously high turnover rate has worsened this year due in large part–I think–to all the roster churn.)

Curry has recently been compared to Victor Zambrano in discussions on this blog. I can certainly see the parallels in the circumstances surrounding their acquisitions, as well as their reputations for tantalizing without delivering. However, as a lifelong Mets fan I’d actually re-focus the comparison to a different pitcher Mets fans have loved to hate: Armando Benitez. Curry is drawing ever closer to that kind of iconic status in NY, that point of no return where an athlete goes from mere overpaid underachiever to punching bag. It will be interesting to see if that happens. What makes the situation so fascinating is that he’s inching toward the precipice deliberately enough so that you can see it coming into view in the press. I hope he doesn’t cross the point of no return because it’s a uniquely miserable place where even good performance is easily discounted with a few tried and true catch phrases. (e.g., “Why can’t he do this every night?” or “Let’s see him do it in a big game.”) Unfortunately for Curry, as if to double dog dare the NY press to begin the Benitez treatment, both Brown and Thomas have very publicly (and wrecklessly) raised the stakes by labeling him “the franchise,” well worth two potential lottery picks–and Curry has followed their lead. (In the NFL the equivalent would be signing a free agent slapped with the “franchise tag” for the price of two first round picks. It’s never been done because nobody is worth that.)

2. Will the team ever learn to defend?

In all of Larry Brown’s moves across the NBA landscape the one constant has been that his teams showed some improvement defensively in the first year. According to basketball-reference.com last year’s Knicks were 25th in defensive efficiency at 109.2. According to KB’s stat page this year’s version is 26th in the league and well off last year’s pace at 112.2. Unless something “clicks” the Knicks seem destined to underachieve defensively this season relative to Brown’s other first year teams. But, looking forward can this team–as currently constructed–even aspire to be middle-of-the-pack on defense?

My assumption is that the basic core will remain in tact this offseason. Marbury isn’t going anywhere and I don’t suspect Francis or Richardson will either. They all have contracts that are untradeable. Richardson and Marbury (once an iron man) both have physical issues. Other guys like Lee, Rose, Crawford, Taylor, and Robinson could potentially be moved but the core of Marbury, Francis, Curry, and Frye is here–for better or worse–for the foreseeable future.

So perhaps the most prudent question is, who among them is even willing to defend? The player who has stepped up recently to become the team’s… ahem… perimeter stopper is Quentin Richardson. Of course, that’s a bit like a buddy of mine–a big Duke fan–contending that JJ Redick is Duke’s “best perimeter defender.” It says good things about the player but not much about the team’s defense. The only way I can see the Knicks improving the team defense with this core is to go the old Sacramento Kings “Bomb Squad” model, where they build defense into the second unit because the first unit has too many guys who cannot defend.

3. Can Knicks fans learn to look forward to the draft again? (Or at least root against the Nuggets?)

There are Mets fans who continue to torture themselves by following–and sometimes posting–the stats from Scot Kazmir’s starts in Tampa. The deal is done. It was a bad deal but it’s non-refundable. The Knicks, it should be noted, do have two draft picks this coming June. They will not, in all likelihood, be commensurate with NY’s miserable record but the team should get two players who can help.

I have almost completely ignored college hoops this season but some of you know I’ve had my eye on 6-6 Temple guard Mardy Collins since last year. His stock has been rising recently. Josh Boone, the 6-10 shot-blocking power forward from UConn could also help. NBAdraft.net currently has New York selecting him with Denver’s pick.

Right now Knick fans would be best served by letting the Curry picks go–we ain’t gettin’ them back no matter how much we sulk–and rooting against Denver, who currently has the third seed in the West at 32-28. Denver has a cushy swing through the Atlantic coming up but a nasty stretch of games against Western playoff teams at the end of March through mid-April. Short of a massive collapse NY’s pick will be a late lottery pick or just outside the lottery but we can certainly root for the massive collapse.

39 comments on “Is there anything left to watch?

  1. JK47

    Yes, I agree that the Curry picks are gone and we’ll never get them back. But there is something we can do about it. We can fire the jackass who traded those picks away. The man who made the Kazmir trade is now running the Baltimore Orioles into the ground instead of the Mets. When I hear Dolan say this is year one of a four-year plan, when Isiah has been here 2 1/2 years already, it makes me want to start following the Clippers.

    Comparing Curry to Armando Benitez is unfair to Benitez. Benitez flamed out in some big games, but he was a big part of the Mets’ success in the Bobby Valentine era. He was a WAY above-average MLB closer with the Mets. Zambrano, who has been nothing but mediocre his whole career, is a much more apt comparison in my book.

    I’m a diehard Knicks fan and look for a ray of sunshine in everything, but I am having a hard time finding any upside in this situation. I’d buy into Curry if he showed some spunk or work ethic, but he just has a sad face and shows no intensity. He is the dictionary definition of a soft player. For such a big guy, he plays awfully small. He might be a decent player in the right situation, but he is a HORRIBLE fit for this team. And he is all ours– we won’t be rid of the headache that is Eddy Curry for many more years.

  2. KnickerBlogger

    “Watching Friday night?s loss vs Chicago with about 5 or 6 minutes remaining I knew, the fans knew, and more importantly the Bulls and Knicks knew that the Knicks were going to throw that game away.”

    Put me down on the gullible side. I was at the Garden, and I turned to my wife & said “wow they’re really going to win.”

  3. Andrew

    I’d like to point out that the NY Giants traded essentially two first round picks for Eli Manning. Yeah, Phil Rivers had already been selected by the Giants, but that was more because of how the NFL sets up rookie salaries than for anything else. They also traded 2005’s first round pick, which turned out to be defensive rookie of the year Shawne Merriman. So two firsts for a player does happen in the NFL, although not necessarily a franchise player like in your scenario.

  4. Jason

    You missed one notable center in your list of nine…the 7’6″ 310lb guy from Houston.

    In any case, the days of the Center being the centerpiece of offense appears to be already over. Centers are nowadays valued for their defense and rebounding, so if Curry is deficient in these areas, and can’t/isn’t willing to put in the work to improve, then he simply won’t cut it. Even if you would point that championship teams still need that low post offensive presence, the Knicks are way too far away from championship contention for that to matter. One thing at a time. Get a respectable team first, then build from there.

    I say sit Curry down during the exit interview. Tell him that next year you just want him to defend and rebound, end of story. If he balks, trade him.

    Defense? The younger guys can still learn if Brown preaches. Not the veterans.

  5. James

    Jason, those days of offensive centers ‘ended’ because there were hardly any of them out there. It’s not that the offenses changed, therefore centers of that sort have dwindled, but the other way around. If Curry drops his turnovers and stops dropping his shoulder, New York can run a good inside-outside offense for years to come.

    Speaking of years to come, Curry had a long time off. He won’t have that time off this summer. In 2 or 3 years he’ll be that much more accustomed to his role. If he were able to play even 35 minutes per game (9 more than current), his numbers would be something like 19 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.5 bpg. Not too shabby, and they’re projected from this numbers which are down from last year.

    As regards the Denver pick, I thought (and I’d love some clarification on this) that the pick was top 5 protected in terms of Denver giving it to Toronto, but lottery protected in terms of Toronto giving it to us. Given that Denver probably won’t get worse in the next few years, we might as well root for the nuggets to JUST squeak into the playoffs. But I might well be wrong – would love confirmation.

  6. mase

    The games against Chicago are the worst losses for us(even worse than Phoenix games). I dont think about the trade or the picks we gave away when I watch but the lack of heart, defense and hustle. Instead of having a John Starks or Spreewell type player we’re stuck with the one-dimensional Steph/Craw/Francis era.
    what would tyler durden do?

    Steph is telling the press he doesnt understand the offense which is pretty obvious by looking at our wins. Steph was Isiah’s worst trade and thats saying a lot.

  7. JK47

    If he were able to play even 35 minutes per game (9 more than current), his numbers would be something like 19 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.5 bpg.

    I’ll be awaiting the day Eddy Curry averages 9 rebounds per game. You’re assuming he’s going to be able to play 9 more minutes per game and keep up his same rebound rate. Considering he is brittle and his conditioning sucks and he racks up tons of fouls, he has a lot to overcome before he averages 35 minutes and 9 boards.

  8. NGLI

    Yeah JK47, Curry’s never going to play 35 minutes. I think his conditioning is better, but he’s got a lot of work to do to stay out of foul trouble. Every time I see him pick up all those charging fouls or reach for a block with his feet planted I cringe.

    They’ve got to realize his limitations as a player, and not put so much pressure on him to be “Baby Shaq” or a franchise player. S–t, if he stops bringing the ball down to his waist in the paint, I’ll be happy.

    Lets hope we can land a decent backup center, or the frontcourt is going to be weak as hell for another season.

  9. Jay G.

    In addition to Eli Manning (I’m a huge Giants/NFL fan), Joey Galloway was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Dallas Cowboys for 2 first round draft picks in or around 1997, which was an era slightly before the real value of draft picks was understood leaguewide. That trade would never be made today. Additionally, Head Coach Jon Gruden was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two first round picks, two second round picks, and a few million dollars cash. Interestingly, they won the Super Bowl in his first or second year, against Oakland no less, and Oaklands extra draft picks have been mostly non-factors. Thirdly, Keyshawn Johnson was traded from the New York Jets to the Buccaneers for two first round picks (if memory serves), because I remember the Jets having 4 first round picks in a single year. (John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, Anthony Becht, Chad Pennington?). Not that this has anything to do with the Knicks…..

  10. David Crockett

    Jason – I didn’t include Yao because he hasn’t played much this year but point taken. I’d still say that Curry is more likely than not to continue moving up that list–just probably not to all-star status.

    James – what has been so maddening about NY’s guard play is their general inability (Marbury, Crawford, Francis, Q-Rich or J. Rose) to cut down on the frontcourt’s turnovers. Our big guys are asked to handle the ball entirely too much outside their effective scoring areas. Kevin Pelton points out in his recent analysis of Steve Nash (at Courtside.net iirc) that Nash basically takes turnovers away from Stoudamire, and this was a big key in his offensive explosion last season. He lost so few shot attempts through mishandling the ball because he only got the ball in scoring position.

    Our guards on the other hand don’t do the little things that could cut Curry’s turnovers way down–not to mention their own–like keeping their dribble alive. Curry is often fed the ball well before he has established good position, leading directly to many of his “back down” offensive fouls. Or, he won’t get the ball when he has his man pinned because Marbury’s already killed his dribble and now has no angle to enter the post. Curry, battling to keep position, ends up with a 3-sec violation. I’ve seen both these scenarios probably a dozen times this season.

  11. David Crockett

    That’s why, when someone asked a few weeks back what player the Knicks could get in trade who would be the most helpful I responded Earl Watson. He puts the ball where it’s supposed to go.

  12. Count Zero

    David Crockett Said:
    “Our guards on the other hand don?t do the little things that could cut Curry?s turnovers way down?not to mention their own?like keeping their dribble alive. Curry is often fed the ball well before he has established good position, leading directly to many of his ?back down? offensive fouls. Or, he won?t get the ball when he has his man pinned because Marbury?s already killed his dribble and now has no angle to enter the post. Curry, battling to keep position, ends up with a 3-sec violation. I?ve seen both these scenarios probably a dozen times this season.”

    Absolutely true dat…part of the reason Curry’s numbers are down this season is because Nate Robinson seems to be the only Knick guard who ever learned to feed the post correctly.

  13. NGLI

    The guards could do much better at getting him the ball in deeper position, but Curry is more at fault than the guards for the turnovers and lack of production.

    Curry doesn’t protect the ball properly, he forces shots up, and he doesn’t pass. If he effectively kicked the ball out when he got doubleteamed, that would make the guards better too. He’s still playing like he’s in highschool; he’s using his natural talents to put the ball in the hoop without any sort of thought to team play.

    There are four basic scenarios when Curry gets the ball:

    1: It goes in 50 something % of the time.
    2: He chucks up a lazy brick from 8 feet away hoping for the foul.
    3: He gets stripped by a midget 2 feet from the basket cause he brings the ball down to his knees.
    4: He picks up the offensive foul cause he bullys his way in with his shoulder dropped instead of passing to the open man.

    Last season, I would say that Kirk Hinrich did a pretty great job of feeding Curry deep in the post, and he still exhibited the same braindead play. Curry’s numbers are pretty similar to last season with the Bulls–including the turnovers–considering the fact that he was completely out of shape most of this season. That’s just how he’s always played.

    The whole reason why Shaq is a great player isn’t only because he’s an offensive monster; the reason why Shaq is a great team player is because he’s an excellent passer and he knows when not to force the issue.

  14. hotdamn

    No determination or desire to get better and win. These guys are sitting on too much money to give a shit.

  15. Jacob

    Your complaints about Curry remind me of Rik Smits when he was Curry’s age. Indiana fans hated him because he was a #2 pick, rebounded like a wimp, couldn’t play more than 30 minutes and looked goofy. Still, he developed into a productive player, because he had the exact same skill as Curry: scoring. Don’t be so hateful: those TO’s will go down with age, and Curry will be an above-average Center for many years to come.

  16. Michael Zannettis

    John Carroll on ESPN.com wrote a lengthy article explaining how the Knicks’ only strength is their “Hall-of-Fame” coach.

    He must need his eyes examined.

    Lost in the debate of how much our own players suck, is that some of our best players don’t get to play, because Brown starts inferior talent in front of them. (Rose & Taylor over Frye & Lee; James over Butler)

    Offenses tend to improve as the year goes on because players get used to each other, but that hasn’t happened for the Knicks because Brown hasn’t settled on a rotation.

    Sure, our players are flawed, but shouldn’t a good coach work to his player’s strengths, instead of making them play through their weaknesses?

  17. NGLI

    Jacob: “Don?t be so hateful: those TO?s will go down with age, and Curry will be an above-average Center for many years to come.”

    Man, I don’t hate Curry, quite the contrary. I feel a little sorry for him. I just think that the whole organization is putting some ridiculous and unrealistic pressure on the kid to become a franchise player, and it’s hurting his game. Just look at that sad face he makes every time Brown yells at him–he looks like a whipped puppy.

    Like I said before, they need to recognize his limitations, and find some decent frontcourt players to back him up.

  18. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, John Carroll’s piece was yet another one of those brain dead “Brown is a great coach, so if there’s a problem, it can’t be him” pieces.

  19. JK47

    Brown’s biggest mistake was taking the job in the first place. You could bring in Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, John Wooden, James Naismith, whoever you want, and this team is still a dog. It’s the most ill-conceived roster in the history of the NBA, all point guards who don’t defend and big men who don’t rebound.

    I know Brown has not been helping by insisting on the “Larry Brown” style of play despite not having the horses to do it. And his substitution patterns have been pretty retarded. But let Phil Jackson come here and see what he can do with this collection of scrubs. I guarantee you they would not be much better.

    Most of the players on this team were available in the first place because they are selfish players, the opposite of “team” players. Pretty much every player on the team is lousy without the rock in his hand. Put a whole roster of these guys together and the result is not surprising.

  20. Marc R

    JK47 says that the the team has big men who don’t rebound, but the team is fourth in the league in Hollinger’s Rebound Rate statistic. It seems that the Knicks consistently outrebound the team they’re playing.
    I’m also not sure that this team has selfish players. You don’t see anybody complaining in the media or see any lack of support or grousing on the bench. (I know that Marbury complained about his role in the media, but that was a response to Brown’s derision, not the role he has given Marbury.)
    Where the team is dead last are in the stats dealing with assists and turnovers. This is consistent with my observation that a lot of the turnovers are the result of bad passes due to the players not used to playing with each other. Part of this is, of course, due to roster turnover, but it has been greatly exacerbated by Brown’s herky-jerky substitution patterns.
    I know it’s not a common view, but the problem here is the coach. A great coach needs to be flexible, and LB ain’t that.
    As much as people complain about the roster, I think it’s reminiscent of those Blazers teams from the late 90s where the team was stocked with young talent two-deep at every position.

  21. Seth

    My folks attended a function in the city tonight that Bill Bradly was attending, and I instructed my mom to ask him if he still cared about the Knicks. According to her, he said that he never watched the Knicks any more and really disliked the individual-oriented, selfish game that they played.

  22. JK47

    “JK47 says that the the team has big men who don?t rebound, but the team is fourth in the league in Hollinger?s Rebound Rate statistic. It seems that the Knicks consistently outrebound the team they?re playing.”

    True, but remember we lost one of our better rebounders, Antonio Davis. And a lot of those boards were snagged by guys I don’t call “big men,” like Malik Rose and David Lee. You make a good point though. Rebounding hasn’t been a complete calamity.

    “Where the team is dead last are in the stats dealing with assists and turnovers. This is consistent with my observation that a lot of the turnovers are the result of bad passes due to the players not used to playing with each other.”

    I disagree with you here. The reason we turn it over all the time is that Isiah Thomas has concocted a roster full of turnover-prone players. Marbury’s turnover rate this season is actually one of the lowest of his career. Jamal Crawford has averaged two per game for three straight years. Jalen Rose is right around his career average of 2.4. Curry’s turnover rate has always been horrible.

    So let me get this straight. Isiah Thomas assembles a team where all the best players have high turnover rates, and then it’s Larry Brown’s fault when they turn the ball over all the time. Okay. I know his substitution patterns are crazy, but pretty much every guy who touches the ball on this team is a risk to turn it over. No matter what combination of these players you put out there, they are going to turn it over.

    As far as the team being “selfish,” it’s not really the players’ fault in a way. There are so many guys with the same basic skill set– Francis, Marbury, Rose, Crawford, Robinson– guys who dribble around a lot, turn the ball over a lot and need the ball to be effective. If we had, say, Marbury and Crawford and then two solid, hard-nosed defensive perimeter players this team might not be so bad. As it is now, the players are all redundant.

  23. Marc R

    JK47, glad to have the civil discourse.

    I disagree with you about your use of turnover stats though. Sure, Marbury’s turnover rate PER GAME is lower than normal, but his turnover-per-possession (the Hollinger stat) is up this year, albeit slightly. It’s at 10.4, whereas he averaged around 9.8 the previous 3 years (all that is available on ESPN’s page). This is about average for point guards, as far as I can tell.

    Similarly, QRich’s TO-r (turnover ratio) is up to 8.5 this year from 7.4 avg the previous three, Crawford’s is 11.6, up from 9.5 avg, and Curry is up to a horrid 22 from an avg of 15. I didn’t check any other players because they either didn’t have a meaningful historical record (rooks) or their stats are mostly on other teams (J. Rose and Francis).

    The sharp uptick for turnovers for all of those players is why I blame Larry Brown. Other than Francis and maybe Curry, they all used to be around average when it came to turnovers. Now they, and the team, have all gotten much worse in that area.

    Also, I’m too lazy to check the stats, but it seems from watching the game that good free throw shooters on the team have been shooting them horribly this year. I also chalk that up to the team playing tight because they don’t know what their roles or substitution patterns will be. (I’ll admit that may just be the LB frustration talking, but I can’t come up with another reason for the sharp drop in this category.)

    Finally, I’m hesitant to credit Antonio Davis with the Knicks’ impressive rebounding this year. He only is averaging 4.7 rebounds a game this year and his Rebounding Rate (Hollinger stat again) is only 13. That’s slightly below Malik Rose and about 37 out of 55 for power forwards.

    All that said, I agree that the Knicks do have some glaring redundancies, and that was exacerbated by the Francis deal. I guess I just blame LB most for the mess we’re in.

  24. JK47

    Pretty much all of the Knicks are sloppy ball-handlers, and always have been. Granted, some of them are even WORSE now. I’ll give Brown some of the blame, but really we all know who did the most damage to this team. It’s the guy who acquired all of these ball hogs and expected them to gel into a team.

    It’s hard to coach team basketball when your team is made up of guys who have hoarded the ball their entire career. I find it hard to believe that any coach could get this team to play perimeter defense and stop turning the ball over. With our collection of guards, we are virtually assured of having at least two terrible defenders in the game at all times. NONE of our guards can play defense.

  25. Ted Nelson

    It’s especially costly to give away possessions when you’re not making shots or stopping the other team. The Knicks are in the bottom 5 in the league in terms of eFG% offensively and defensively.

    Why parcel out the blame? Dolan, Thomas, Brown, and the players all need to take responsibility.

    Part of the reason some Knicks have been labelled ?ball-hogs? might be because they excel at creating their own shots: they?re role players who have been overrated and seen by some as ?franchise players? because their role, scoring, has been overrated.
    Isiah could use this to his advantage this offseason. When teams finish a disappointing season it seems that the average GM feels their team needs more offense: some balance, someone who can ?create shots? for themselves or others, someone who can hit the 3 and stretch the D, or maybe someone to provide a spark or just depth off the bench.
    I find optimism in this for two reasons:
    1. The Knicks have players who fit into each of these categories. True, many are overpaid which complicates the matter.
    2. Last offseason, when he realized that the Knicks? needed an inside presence and more options offensively, Isiah spent all his resources trying to meet those needs. In the process he ignored a lot of other needs, but with Larry Brown?s guidance he might be able to fill the Knicks? holes this offseason: ball security, defense, IQ, defense, work ethic, defense, leadership, and maybe a little bit of defense.

    These traits should be easier to find, not to mention less expensive, than size, athleticism, and scoring ability. The young guys already have them and some more along the lines of Boone, Collins, Marcus Williams, Rudy Fernandez, Tiago Splitter, Hassan Adams, etc. wouldn?t hurt. Isiah could also use the MLE or trade some of his role players who score for someone else?s role players who defend.

  26. KnickerBlogger

    Congratulations – we now have the NBA’s worst record.

    I know I should get over the fact that the Knicks traded their #1 next year for Curry, but how about this trade to get that pick back. The Knicks get their #1 pick back from Chicago if Dolan promises to keep Isiah around for at least 2 more years. You’d think the Bulls would go for this, because there is at least a 50% chance Zeke just trades that pick back to the Bulls over the summer. Especially since Chicago still has Tyson Chandler. You know how Isiah loves those 2003 Bull members who are coming off bad years. If the Bulls are smart, they’d sign Rick Brunson (who was also on that 2003 team) immediately after accepting this deal.

  27. Rob Gee

    Marc R above said it right…LB is trying to use his reputation instead of the players talents to win games. He is as inflexible as he’s always been, forcing guys to play “his” way, “his” game and not using individual strengths. He is still trying after these many games to hammer it out his way, and in so doing has hamstrung his players, in addition to destroying their confidence.Yes, Thomas is a stiff and Dolan a putz, but it’s the coaches job to instill confidence along with settling the team down to play ball, not to destroy rhythms and confidence with erratic substituting,disinterest, glares and public villification. The only thing that Brown is doing differently this year is allowing rookies to get a little more playing time, not much, a little. He is so much more interested in winning “his” inflexible way than in building, that it is making it extremely painful to watch the Knicks play.Would someone please tell him he’s in the Hall already, he can shave the ego, and try to help these guys realize their strengths and eliminate their hangdog demeanor.

  28. Pingback: KnickerBlogger.Net » Blog Archive » The Eddy Curry Study

  29. JK47

    I hear you, Rob Gee, but you don’t bring in Larry Brown to coach in Don Nelson’s style. Larry Brown has a formula for winning, has had the formula his whole career, and it has worked everywhere. Hiring Brown was perhaps a mistake for this bunch of players, but I don’t think it’s fair to expect that Brown is going to play a run-and-gun, Don Nelson-style game all of a sudden.

    Brown was the wrong fit for this team, but as I have said before, you could bring in any coach in NBA history and you’d still have a team made up mostly of point guards who play lousy defense. If Isiah had brought in Phil Jackson or whomever else, we would still be having this same discussion.

  30. Ted Nelson

    “He is so much more interested in winning ?his? inflexible way than in building,”

    I would say that the opposite is true: Brown is more interested in building the right way than in winning (a few more games) the wrong way.

  31. Young T

    “?He is so much more interested in winning ?his? inflexible way than in building,?

    I would say that the opposite is true: Brown is more interested in building the right way than in winning (a few more games) the wrong way. ”

    I think both those statements contain elements of truth. He is interested in winning, but only his way, and he is interested in building, but only his way. Basically its all his way – he is probably more of an egomaniac than Steph.

    Its interesting to contrast Brown’s season with Phil Jackson’s. Whilst Phil Jax proved his coaching is flexible enough to cater to his team’s strengths (i.e. Kobe), Larry Brown has proven his ego is so large that he is willing to tank a season to prove his “right way” is best. If they win, its all him, if they lose, its because the players cant play “the right way”.

    Honestly, who doesnt think that if JC, Starbury, Q-Rich/Lee, AD/Frye, Curry/James were playing (forget about all the trades) under a less restrictive coach the offensive talents would win us at least 33 games? Last season was much better, with a basically worse roster.

    I hate Larry Brown.

  32. JK47

    “Honestly, who doesnt think that if JC, Starbury, Q-Rich/Lee, AD/Frye, Curry/James were playing (forget about all the trades) under a less restrictive coach the offensive talents would win us at least 33 games? Last season was much better, with a basically worse roster.”

    Phil Jackson has a lot more to work with, starting with one of the two or three best players on the planet in Kobe Bryant. Put Kobe or Dwayne Wade or LeBron or some other elite superstar on this team and Larry Brown would suddenly look a lot “smarter.” Our marquee player is a one-dimensional point guard who doesn’t defend, lacks heart and probably isn’t one of the top 40 players in the league.

    Phil Jackson is doing the same thing Larry Brown is doing– he is coaching the exact same way he has his whole career. Jackson has way more to work with than Brown, and quite frankly, the Lakers still aren’t all that great. He has Michael Jordan Freaking Junior over there, having a career season no less, and they’re still a .500 team that will get run out of the playoffs early.

  33. PTC

    “Brown was the wrong fit for this team, but as I have said before, you could bring in any coach in NBA history and you?d still have a team made up mostly of point guards who play lousy defense. If Isiah had brought in Phil Jackson or whomever else, we would still be having this same discussion.”

    Would we?

    Say what you want about Phil Jackson, but if you actually watch his teams play he is far far less stict about his style than Brown has ever been. Or at least since Brown’s Kansas days.

    Jackson used a bastardized triangle with Jordan. He played a fairly strict triangle with Shaq. And now THIS laker team basically doesn’t play much of one at all. There is some motion to it, but it hardly resembles anything like the Chicago or Shaq days.

    The point is that Phil would probably love to play a traditional triangle, however he doesn’t have the people to do it. So instead of making Chris Mihm the teams triggerman he allows the ball to go where it needs to as many times as it needs to to win games (read: Bryant, Kobe)

    Brown didn’t do this forever and only started to think about trying something new once the team had tuned him out.

    Does Thomas get blame for bringing in the wrong coach? Yes. It was a desperation hire and any clear thinking Knick fan saw that from moment one. We just all prayed Brown was so good he could take ANY group and make it win.

    However, I think it’s a reasonable expectation that your employee work with the tools you give him in the best way possible. Brown doesn’t do that and the only question is if he isn’t doing it because:

    A) He forgot how to coach

    b) He doesn’t care to because he has an ego to stroke and this needs to be a “players failure”

    C) Because you aren’t his boss….he’s yours and he wants Dolans ear

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