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Friday, October 31, 2014

Looking at Others’ Knick Season Outlook

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what the various major sports websites were saying about the Knicks at the start of training camp, so let’s do that now!

John Hollinger, for ESPN Insider, makes all the right points (overpaid for Jeffries, the team turned the ball over too much, not signing Butler was idiotic), but I was pleased, as a Knick fan, to see his overall take on the team:

With a small, quick backcourt of Marbury and Francis, there’s a lot of talk that the Knicks will run and push the ball like the Phoenix Suns. But anyone who has seen those two play knows this is impossible, because neither of them seek to push the ball up court. They’re quick and they’re great drivers, but they’re mostly half-court guys.

While the style may not be what some expect, one thing I can pretty much guarantee is that the Knicks will win a lot more games. That’s to be expected — the nice thing about hitting rock bottom is that you can’t go down any further — but a number of factors favor the Knicks to make a double-digit improvement in wins. First and foremost, they’ll play for Thomas, rather than last year’s white-flag routine. That alone should improve the defense several notches.

Second, the result of Brown’s lineup switches was that the Knicks’ worst players were on the court for large stretches of time. Maurice Taylor, Qyntel Woods and Malik Rose all played over 1,000 minutes last season; that playing time will be going to guys like Jeffries, Frye and Lee this time around. Frye is perhaps the most egregious example — he only played 1,571 minutes even though he led the team in player efficiency rating. He should come close to doubling that total this year as the opening-day power forward.

As a result, I expect New York to generate some genuine excitement this year — hanging out on the fringes of the playoff race and getting increased production from the younger players. They’ll still massively underachieve compared to what they’re spending, and it may not be enough to save Thomas’ job, but the Knicks will at least look like a real NBA team again.

Very nice analysis from Hollinger.

For AOL Sports, Steve Aschburner has some interesting questions for each of the teams in the Eastern Conference. Here is his question for the Knicks:

Q: Didn’t you used to be Steve Francis?

A: Just getting rid of Larry Brown doesn’t make a Francis-Marbury backcourt any more feasible. Neither of them is a good enough shooter to play for long stretches off the ball, and both of them are defensive liabilities if the opponents’ backcourt has some size. Marbury won’t feel any pressure to accommodate Francis now, either; if he can get Larry Brown out of town, he isn’t going to be bothered by Francis’ displeasure. What Francis needs is to play for a strong head coach on a team built around a big man — say, Miami minus Wade — if he’s ever going to live up to his potential and help a team more than himself.

Not a bad analysis of Francis’ position on the team, which certainly DOES seem to be a bit odd, doesn’t it?

CBS Sportsline loses some credibility with me with their Eastern Conference primer, as they listed Jalen Rose as the probable starter at small forward. Yikes. Talk about not knowing the team very well.

Marty Burns does a decent job at looking at the Knicks for CNN/SI here.

1. Can Isiah clean up the mess?
After the fiasco of ’05-06, Thomas jettisoned Brown and finds himself back on the bench as coach. His first job in camp will be to clean up the toxic atmosphere that engulfed the team a year ago and get them playing as a cohesive group.

2. Who’s the starting shooting guard?
With Stephon Marbury the starter at point guard and free agent signee Jared Jeffries likely to inherit the small forward position, the Knicks have a glut at the 2 spot. Steve Francis, Jamal Crawford and Quentin Richardson will battle it out, which could make for some raw nerves — and some good fodder for the New York tabloids.

3. Can Renaldo Balkman play?
Thomas was criticized heavily on draft night for using the No. 20 pick on the relatively unknown Balkman. The 6-8 South Carolina product will need to show in camp that he can step in and contribute, or Thomas will hear more about it from the MSG hecklers.

However, I think his #3 is a bit silly, as I don’t think Balkman’s playing time will be key to the Knicks season at all.

By the by, speaking of Balkman, Bill Simmons said something bizarre regarding Balkman in his latest column. Check it out -

Three months from now, Knicks fans will be dealing with the fact that taking Renaldo Balkman at No. 20 over Rajon Rondo, as crazy as this sounds, was the single biggest mistake of Isiah’s entire tenure, the one misfire that will end up haunting that franchise for the next decade. And that’s saying something. But Balkman/Rondo will trump everything else Isiah inflicted. Just you wait. That’s all I’m saying for now.

What an odd statement.

Hoops Hype hasn’t gotten around to the Knicks yet in their season preview.

Drop me a line if you have seen some other previews from big sites (except for the wonderful preview we all read at the Dime’s website) – I’ll link them up here.

14 comments on “Looking at Others’ Knick Season Outlook

  1. David Crockett

    “Three months from now, Knicks fans will be dealing with the fact that taking Renaldo Balkman at No. 20 over Rajon Rondo, as crazy as this sounds, was the single biggest mistake of Isiah?s entire tenure…

    What an odd statement.”

    and almost certainly false, even if rondo thoroughly outplays balkman (though that didn’t exactly happen given their respective roles when both were in the SEC–each was quite up and down). thomas’ commitment to marbury is the make or break decision of his tenure. virtually every other decision is a derivative. passing on rondo was a foregone conclusion after marbury emerged victorious over brown, likely not a simple case of misjudging talent. simmons would have a more valid point had the knicks, say, drafted marcus williams from uconn.

  2. KnickerBlogger

    2. Who?s the starting shooting guard?
    With Stephon Marbury the starter at point guard and free agent signee Jared Jeffries likely to inherit the small forward position, the Knicks have a glut at the 2 spot. Steve Francis, Jamal Crawford and Quentin Richardson will battle it out, which could make for some raw nerves ? and some good fodder for the New York tabloids.

    After last season, I don’t see Quentin Richardson having any claim over anyone on this roster. Additionally he’s a better fit at SF. Crawford and Francis will split time at the 2 (with Francis getting the majority of the minutes).

    The real glut is at SF. The Knicks have 2 defensive minded guys that don’t score (Jeffries and Balkman), 1 offensive guy that doesn’t play defense (Jalen Rose) and one guy that is coming off his worst season (Q-Rich). You could throw in Lee & Malik Rose, but those two are more likely to play PF than SF. Jeffries will likely be the starter, but if Q-Rich is healthy and playing like he should, I’d rather see him as the offensive compliment rather than Jalen. Quentin’s defense is better than Rose’s.

  3. Marc R

    Simmons’ statement just underscores that he has a real bug up his butt about Isiah (probably from Isiah’s tacit agreement with Rodman’s “just another guy” statement about Bird 20 years ago).

    Even if Rajon Rondo is the next coming of Chris Paul, 19 other teams picked someone other than Rondo. Hell, Boston picked Rondo with a draft choice that Phoenix GAVE AWAY rather than use up a roster spot. So, why single out Isiah as some sort of singular nincompoop?

  4. Patrick D.

    Simmons’ comment on Balkman/Rondo is ridiculous. While Rondo might be a very good player, as a Knicks fan, I am quite satisfied with the Balkman pick. After seeing Balkman prerform during the summer leagu and in the preseason, it seems to me that he is going to be a very good player for a long time in the league. By picking Balkman, Isiah has drafted well again.

  5. Ken Bannister

    Yeah, the Simmons quote was a classic example of the poorly-thought out, self-congratulatory (as if hangin’ with Jimmy Kimmel makes him a modern-day member of the Algonquin round table), vitriolic screed that you get from him on a bi-weekly basis.

    Lets presume for argument’s sake that Rajon Rondo is the next coming of Gary Payton or Chris Paul or Bob Cousy or whoever. Why is it necessarily Isiah’s blunder for taking Balkman? Didn’t Rod Thorn pull a bigger goof by selecting a point guard of lesser ability (Marcus Williams)? Didn’t Mike D’Antoni make an equally putrid move by dealing Rondo and then signing signing Marcus Banks (another quick PG w/defensive skills) to an overpriced, bad contract? Why not rip Larry Bird (OK, asking Simmons to tear Bird a new one is a little much) for selecting yet another althletic SF (Shawne Williams) when he already had Granger and was on his way to dealing for Harrington AND Daniels. When you take into account the fact that they lost Anthony Johnson and Jamaal Tinsley studied at the Marcus Camby Institute for Physical Durability, wouldn’t a flashy PG like Rondo come in handy?

    And what about Ainge himself? If Rondo’s such a stud, why deal for Telfair? Why not keep the pick and snag Rudy Gay or Brandon Roy or Randy Foye or deal the pick for a 1st rounder in next year’s potential-ridden draft? It certainly seems like there are plenty of candidates for blame here before Zeke’s name comes up (and this is presuming a LOT w/r/t Rondo’s abilities), but Simmons’s shot at Isiah was a knee-jerk response, i.e. “Tee-hee! I get to piledrive on Isiah again! Tee-hee!” I’m assuming he had another 1000 words or so of OC/Saved by the Bell-infused blather to edit, and thus left in a fairly silly comment, and that’s giving Simmons way more credit than he deserves.

  6. Basa

    Bill Simmons’ comments about Isiah passing on Rondo is just his latest pathetic attempt to divert casual basketball fans’ attention away from that fact that his idol, Bad Dad Bird, passed on BOTH Marcus Williams and Rondo, staking his season and his club’s immediate future on the perenially chubby and injured Jamal Tinsley. Bird is an idiot. As bad as Isiah’s tenure supposedly has been, at least Isiah came into a mess. Larry Bird has created a mess in Indiana and neither Simmons or any other writer has the sack to talk about it. Ron Artest didn’t make Bird draft Dave Harrison or overpay the elderly rookie Euro guard.

  7. miik

    Simmons simply can’t help himself when it comes to Isiah and the Knicks. He’s a bore.

    Much like David Lee last year, Balkman is already showing he belongs and can be a contributor. Isiah deserves a lot of credit for having the nerve to “reach.” Rondo? We’ll see – he may be great, but he wasn’t going to get any playtime with Marbury here. And by the time Marbury is gone there will be another PG to draft that everyone is estatic about. Honestly, I’d be surprised if Rondo is any better than Nate Robinson.

    As for the Knicks’ guard rotation, I really think Francis is going to be the odd man out. Crawford may not start, and since he’s shown the ability to perform off the bench, he’ll be the 6th man. But, he’s going to get the bulk of the PG/SG minutes with Marbury. And Nate, though still learning and inconsistent, brings a real spark and energy level that shouldn’t be buried on the bench.

    I know Francis’ bloated salary warrants the Knicks/Isiah making a concerted effort to get something back on their investment, but I just haven’t seen anything that would make me believe Francis is going to turn it around. Isiah’s got his own job to save, and if that means an unhappy Francis playing only 20 minutes, so be it.

  8. Seth

    I think the Roses are really the odd men out here. I kinda hope they stay hurt, cause theyre completely useless.

  9. Jim K

    Well, DIME mag reports Jeffries broke his wrist in the Nets game, so don’t write off Jalen Rose so quickly — as mediocre as the Knicks are, they have depth — meaning that you may hate Rose, but as a 12th man he has value (if he accepts the role, which he won’t!) cuz he does have skills, whatever his deficiencies. Now, Jeffries’ injury hopefully means that Richardson and Backman will get the majority of minutes (and maybe Lee), but if Rich is hurt or Backman proves unready, having J. Rose isn’t the worst thing in the world…

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  11. preverbal

    So what does Knicks nation think about this upcoming season? Playoffs? Double-digit win improvement? Something less?

    Personally, I think the Knicks backcourt is a disaster. Frye and Lee are the only two quality team-oriented players the Knicks have. And I’m not so sure that Dolan making Isiah a lame duck in the off-season is going to make the Knicks “play for” Isiah. It could also make them fold at the first sign of adversity. I’d put them at about 30-52.

  12. Man Bell

    I’ve been watching Renaldo Balkman since he was the #1 high school player out of Florida with one year of Prep ball experience. Watched every single game he ever played with the S. Carolina Gamecocks. He never played BIG minutes with the Gamecocks so coming into the NBA as a starter could be alot to ask even though he is talented and his B-Ball IQ is higher than the critics say. He plays at a super high level and I believe CAN be a starter for the Knicks.

    I personally think he won’t be as effective as a starter as he would be coming off of the bench. The NBA season is looong, and as a ROOKIE and at the high energy pace that he likes to play just give him big minutes off of the bench. Remember if Renaldo has an injury he can’t run and jump at the speed he is at now in the pre-season. Let Queintin start he can spread the floor with the 3 cause thats also important.

    Renaldo will become 6th Man of the Year easily with the Knicks. He doesn’t need the ball to score and its like its 2 or 3 Balkmans on the court when he is out there. Shoots 65% from the field (All he does is lead the fastbreak, dunk, pass, rebound, hustle like a Mother, get loose balls , block shoots, and at his position is just as fast as Lebron and D. Wade – you’ll see). Give him minutes and enjoy Knicks fans he will be a fan favorite once he learns the game because he wants to be better, will do anything to win and is very emotional in a positive way. He’ll make the Knicks a better team off the bench. Good ass pick Coach Thomas!

    If I had too I’d start Renaldo over Jared Jeffries. He is not as good defensivly as they say and is known too dissapear when the ball is not coming his way while Renaldo will find the ball and make something happen for his team with his hustle.

    HUSTLE HUSTLE HUSTLE! Change the game Renaldo!

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