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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Knicks’ Week in Advance 11/24/2008

Hello all. Thomas B. here with the second installment of Knicks’ Week in Advance. This article appears exclusively on Knickerblogger.net (everyone else-including Stern Must Go-turned me down). I will compare the Knicks’ Four Factors to those of their opponents this week.

I’m glad the Knicks beat the Wizards Saturday. The win spared me from drafting an open that parodies those Time Life Books commercials from the 1980s:

November 2008. The administrator of a popular blog contacts a man of limited basketball knowledge and invites him to join the staff. Shortly thereafter, the Knicks begin a losing streak that has yet to end. Coincidence? Read the book.

Thankfully, the Knicks won so that open won’t be needed. Besides, about 2% of the population would have got the reference anyway. Such is my sense of humor.

This week the Knicks have home games against Cleveland and Golden State with a road trip to Detroit in between.

Tuesday, November 25 – Cleveland

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106 50.1 14.5 21.8 19.3
Rank
1
14
11
6
29
28
Cleveland Cavaliers-Defense 88.8 104.8 46.8 16.6 28.1 26.4
Rank
26
12
8
11
20
24
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 107.4 50.9 15.2 28.6 19.1
Rank
1
21
27
21
24
3
Cleveland Cavaliers-Offense 88.8 114 51.8 15 29.4 28.4
Rank
26
1
2
11
7
3

[First meeting of the teams this year.]

This will be the third straight Tuesday on which the Knicks meet one of last year’s playoff teams (Spurs and Boston previously). The Cavs went 9-1 over the last 10 games and look to be clicking. Conversely, the Knicks are going to work three new players into the rotation.

What to watch for: LBJ. Since the Knicks have the cap room to dream about Lebron, I think LBJ might start showing the garden crowd exactly what they could get on about July 24th 2010. That is if the price is right.

What to watch for 2: Of all the players brought in, I think Cutino Mobley can have the best immediate impact due to his defense. He and Duhon give the Knicks their strongest defensive backcourt since perhaps Derek Harper and John Starks. That’s a good thing, since the Cavs are 2nd in shooting (eFG%: 51.8%), and 1st on offense (OE: 114 pts/100poss). Much of this is due to strong backcourt play. Mo Williams and Delonte West are both shooting above 40% from behind the arc, with West’s 66.2 eFG% leading the team. The Knicks need to eliminate open shots by pressuring the ball and cutting off passing lanes. If Duhon and Mobley can pressure the backcourt, they could push Williams’ and West’s so-so assist ratios down, while bringing their slightly below average turnover ratios up.

Wednesday, November 26 – Detroit

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106 50.1 14.5 21.8 19.3
Rank
1
14
11
6
29
28
Detroit Pistons-Defense 89.7 106.8 49.3 15.2 25.5 26.6
Rank
24
19
20
20
10
25
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 107.4 50.9 15.2 28.6 19.1
Rank
1
21
27
21
24
3
Detroit Pistons-Offense 89.7 108.2 48.4 15 28.4 26.3
Rank
24
10
17
12
10
8

[First meeting of the teams this year.]

While still a very talented team, these are not the same defensive minded Pistons of recent years. The Pistons are in the bottom third of the league on defensive (DE: 106.8, 19th), eFG% (49.3%, 20th), and turnovers (15.2 TO/100poss, 20th). Unfortunately, the Knicks’ are ranked lower than the Pistons’ in each of those defensive categories. The Knicks have an edge on offense in terms of shooting (eFG%: 50.1%, 11th), so they should look to exploit that.

What to watch for: The Knicks’ backcourt defense. Iverson, Hamilton, and Stuckey are the Pistons’ highest usage players and the least efficient shooters. The Pistons also lack a true point after trading for Iverson, so the Knicks have to keep the pressure on him to disrupt the offense. This is true when dealing with Iverson in general.

Once Iverson has decided he is going to shoot, nothing short of a stoppage of play will change his mind. The trick is to invite him to take a bad shot. I say invite because you don’t have to force him into it. Much like Crawford, he does it willingly. Once Iverson is pressing on offense, he forgets to pass and the rest of team is taken out of the game. Easier said than done, but there you go.

What to watch for 2: Rasheed Wallace vs. the three headed forward. Now that Harrington and Thomas will join Chandler at the power forward spot, D’Antoni can throw three versions of pretty much the same player at Wallace. Once Gallanari gets healthy, we will have four 6’9-ish forwards who like to work outside of the paint. Not since Robert Palmer have I seen such symmetry.

The good news is that between Thomas, Harrington, and Chandler, we may have enough bodies to wear Wallace out, foul him out, or just plain psych him out. Wallace is the best interior defender on Detroit, so the Knicks would do well to get him into foul trouble. Generally, you do that by posting or driving, and that’s not what “simply irresistible” does very well.

Saturday, November 29 – Golden State

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 98.4 106 50.1 14.5 21.8 19.3
Rank
1
14
11
6
29
28
Golden State Warriors-Defense 96.6 107.9 49.5 16.3 30.4 23.4
Rank
2
25
22
12
29
12
New York Knicks-Defense 98.4 107.4 50.9 15.2 28.6 19.1
Rank
1
21
27
21
24
3
Golden State Warriors-Offense 96.6 107.2 47.1 15.2 31 26.5
Rank
2
11.5
19
15
4
6

[First meeting of the teams this year.]

Take a good look in the mirror Knickerbockers, the image staring back at you is that of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are slighty more efficient on offense while the Knicks are slightly better shooters. Golden State shares the Knicks’ defensive woes with both teams in the bottom third of the league in the defensive stats.

What to watch for: The return of Jamal Crawford means more offense for Golden State, but far less defense. I’d love to see the Knicks exploit this by having Q play some minutes at the two and work Crawford in the post. The Knicks could play that lineup if Lee, Harrington, and Chandler play the front court.

What to watch for 2: Rebounding. Neither team is especially strong on the glass, as they each play small. Given the pace and that each team favors jump shot offenses, the team that controls the glass should come out the winner. Look for David Lee to get his first 20 rebound game of the season.

What to watch for 3: What is up with the “Golden State?” Every other team in the league is named after either the city or the state, but the Warriors use the nickname of the state? So even if you know the state nicknames, you still don’t know the city. No wonder they can’t sell out the arena, no one can find the stadium. Yet, somehow the name works. I mean, the Bee Hive State Jazz sure doesn’t work.

Any win this week means the Knicks finish November without a losing record. Wouldn’t that be nice? See you next week.

44 comments on “Knicks’ Week in Advance 11/24/2008

  1. njhoop

    How do you guys think D’Antoni will use the new guys? We know Mobley is starting, and he’ll probably get 25-30 min. Do you start Harrington at the 4 or bring him off the bench behind Lee? I’ve heard that Thomas may be able to play the 5, although he’s the shortest 6’10” player in NBA history. It’ll be interesting to see how this effects Lee, Chandler and Q’s minutes.

  2. Caleb

    I’ll guess a starting lineup of Lee at center, Harrington at PF, Chandler at SF, Q at SG and Duhon at the point.

    I think all the new guys will get some burn for a week or two, until D’Antoni works out the kinks. We’l see how they look – but I’d say there are enough minutes for everyone, unless Curry ever gets in the mix. Thomas is probably the #1 candidate to be sent to the bench. I also don’t think Mobley will see big minutes; if Q stays healthy Mobley might even rack up some DNPs.

    btw… in the interest of selling high… are we ever more likely to get something of value back for Q, than this trade deadline? Before his back goes out again?

  3. jon abbey

    the crowd is going to go nuts for LeBron tomorrow, people around the league seem to be acting like LeBron to NY is a done deal already.

    there also might be some Sabathia/LeBron synergy (I was thinking about this already, and Buster Olney wrote about it on ESPN this weekend), so Knicks fans should be rooting for CC to pick the pinstripes and the cash.

  4. jon abbey

    that’s his reputation, if you google it, you’ll see a lot of reports to that effect. Hollinger:

    “Though he has lost some of his quickness, Mobley has stayed in shape and never had a serious injury. Even at 33 he’s a solid, long-armed defender who makes opponents work for their points. He doesn’t give up the body, only taking four offensive fouls all season, but he blocks a lot of shots for his size and picks up deflections.”

  5. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    OK, I’ll put a stop to this now: Quentin Richardson will not play any meaningful minutes at SG.

    Reason #1: The Knicks are short at SF. Here’s the depth chart: Q & Chandler. That’s it. And D’Antoni plays Chandler at PF more than he does at SF. (Much more by 82games.com’s account). D’Antoni doesn’t see Tim Thomas or Al Harrington as SF, at least not for serious amounts of time. (See Tim Thomas’ positional usage for D’Antoni in Phoenix.)

    Reason #2: Smallball. D’Antoni likes to go small & fast. He uses the three guard alignment frequently, and almost never uses three forwards.

    Reason #3: Q-Rich. I think Quentin is a little too slow to guard most the shooting guards.

    I planned on having a guess the rotation thread a little later in the week, but since the cat is out of the bag, here is my guess:

    C: Lee, Thomas, Jeffries
    PF: Harrington, Chandler, Thomas
    SF: Richardson, Chandler, Mobley
    SG: Mobley, Roberson, Robinson
    PG: Duhon, Robinson

    And that’s a 10 man rotation, so I’m one too many. Obviously there’s no room for Malik Rose. My guess is that Roberson and/or Jeffries will see only spot minutes.

  6. Thomas B. Post author

    Why does everyone insist Mobley is a good defender? Am I missing something?

    It’s not that he is a great defender, it’s that he is not a passive defender like Marbury and Crawford. Mobley won’t lock down a guy but he will fight over a screen and put his hands in the air.
    —-
    Eddie Jordan fired. Two losses to the Knicks will do that to ya.

  7. Italian Stallion

    I don’t mean to hijack this thread, but I was thinking about something Owen said recently. I think it may be applicable to the Knicks now that the schedule is about get a little tougher (and because we seem to playing fairly well).

    One thing Owen said was that shooting a lot of 3 pointers is a high variance strategy. I agree totally.

    Let me take this a step further and show why I think this may be relevant.

    I play poker. I’m not very good, but I play.

    Suppose I was in a heads up match against the best poker player in the world and wanted to maximize my chances of winning all the chips.

    What should I do?

    I think the smartest thing I could do is try to get myself into a high variance situation where I have a decent chance. I should probably try to get all our chips into the pot on one hand where I have a decent chance of winning. Even if my chances on that specific hand are only 40%, 40% is probably a lot better than I could do playing thousands of small hands where he is likely to consistently outplay me over time and slowly win all the chips.

    Now switch to basketball.

    If you have an inferior team, what’s the best way to beat a superior team?

    Well, I’m not sure, but I think it could be argued that if you shoot a ton of 3 pointers you are going to win some games against much better teams because you just happen to be red hot. If however, you try to grind it out and outplay them in a more conservative way with less varaiance, you are less likely to win.

    I’m starting to think that coach D’Antoni’s style may be a very good way to win games with bad/inferior teams and thus outperform expectations, but perhaps not the optimal strategy if you actually have the better team. Since the Knicks usually have inferior players, I think our style may lead to more than a few shocking wins this season and perhaps a better record that some expect (and probably a bunch of horrible losses too).

  8. jon abbey

    Eddie Jordan fired. Two losses to the Knicks will do that to ya.

    beat me to posting this, the loss this weekend had to be the final straw. losing to a team as undermanned as NY was pretty inexcusable.

  9. Caleb

    I think it could be argued that if you shoot a ton of 3 pointers you are going to win some games against much better teams because you just happen to be red hot. If however, you try to grind it out and outplay them in a more conservative way with less varaiance, you are less likely to win.

    Standard strategy for beating a superior team is:
    1) play slow (if you minimize the number of posessions, you maximize variance i.e. the chance you’ll get lucky)
    2) shoot a ton of 3s (like you guys are saying)

    You see this all the time in the NCAA (Princeton? Princeton?).. and it’s why they invented the shot clock.

    It seems D’Antoni’s style is 1 for 2.

  10. Ted Nelson

    I hope he’s an improvement defensively over Crawford, but since 2002-3 exactly one of Mobley’s teams has been better defensively with him on the court than off the court: the 2005-6 Clipps when Daniel Ewing was his primary backup.

    I don’t think he brings enough to the table defensively for that to be the justification for why he’s out there, I think that despite his height Nate is as good a defender as Mobley. Not to say I don’t want Mobley out there, just that I don’t think his defense alone will warrant putting him out there.

  11. Ted Nelson

    IS,

    I think you’re right that the Knicks will have at least a couple games where they hit 50+% of their 3PAs and shock or at least push much better teams.

    It also helps that the Knicks have a bunch of good outside shooters, even more so after the trades. If their strength was defense, I suppose they should grind it out.

    So far, though, the Knicks have mostly beaten the teams they were supposed to and lost to the teams they were supposed to. The Suns were a very good team talent wise and excelled in this system. So, I don’t know if you can say this is a better system for bad-mediocre teams… but I really don’t know.

  12. mase

    from foxsports.com, charley rosen on the knicks trade:
    “Mobley and Thomas should fit in well with their new team because neither of them plays a lick of defense. Plus, Mobley is a streak shooter whose selfishness has become proverbial around the league. Meanwhile, Thomas is soft, clutchless and one of most egregious underachievers in the history of the NBA.

    Unless Walsh has more deals up his sleeve, the Knicks will be even smaller and more defenseless than ever before. Who will guard opposing bigs? And how many rebounds can David Lee be expected to grab?”

    is it me or does this guy hate the Knicks?

  13. mase

    this guy pisses me off!

    how did we get smaller when we got bigger(players height:
    6’6, 6’5, 6’9 vs. 6’10, 6’10, 6’3)?

    how did we get more defenseless than ever before, we upgraded with perimeter defense in mobley and harrington, if anything we improved on defense.

  14. Thomas B. Post author

    Eddie Jordan fired. Two losses to the Knicks will do that to ya.

    beat me to posting this, the loss this weekend had to be the final straw. losing to a team as undermanned as NY was pretty inexcusable.

    Agreed. One might say the Wizards were on the second night of a back to back, but so were the Knicks. Only 7 Knicks got on the floor for that game, and the Wiz still could not hold a 4th quarter lead. Even minus Areanas, Daniels, and Haywood, it’s hard to go 1-10 when you still have Butler, Jamison, and a few talented young players like Nick Young.

    I live in DC and the fan base here saw this coming. Especially after PJ got the axe last week. How many coaches make it 6 seasons without making it past the second round? Hell, when the Wiz did make it to the second round a few years ago, DC dropped banners and confetti like it was game 7 of the conference finals. No lie, they actually dropped a banner that read: “Second Round.”

  15. Renaldo Balkman's Agent

    Looks like Clippers aren’t done yet. Expect Kaman to be traded for J. Richardson by the end of the day tomorrow.

  16. Frank O.

    Anybody get any word how practice went today?
    I thought they were planning on practicing at 3, to allow for physicals to take place on the west coast…

  17. dave crockett
    I think it could be argued that if you shoot a ton of 3 pointers you are going to win some games against much better teams because you just happen to be red hot. If however, you try to grind it out and outplay them in a more conservative way with less varaiance, you are less likely to win.

    Standard strategy for beating a superior team is:
    1) play slow (if you minimize the number of posessions, you maximize variance i.e. the chance you’ll get lucky)
    2) shoot a ton of 3s (like you guys are saying)
    You see this all the time in the NCAA (Princeton? Princeton?).. and it’s why they invented the shot clock.
    It seems D’Antoni’s style is 1 for 2.

    :: My intuition says that pace is an “inverted U” type function, where if you limit possessions to a very low number OR ramp them up to a very high number you get the greatest variance. I don’t know if anyone has ever done such an analysis.

  18. jon abbey

    just second-hand Dave Berri, I can get that from Owen.

    is there a reason you’re telling me specifically to read this? I don’t think I’ve ever argued that coaches were a huge component of success, although I do think each case is very different.

  19. Thomas B. Post author

    just second-hand Dave Berri, I can get that from Owen.

    is there a reason you’re telling me specifically to read this? I don’t think I’ve ever argued that coaches were a huge component of success, although I do think each case is very different.

    A few weeks ago you shared your belief that coaches count for about 5% of a team’s success. I argued for 20%. The article offered a few methods for evaluating the worth of a coach. It was not to prove anything; I just thought it was an interesting take on an old debate.

  20. Italian Stallion

    Don’t the results the Knicks have been getting so far argue that D’Antoni has had a meaningfully positive impact on the team relative to Isiah Thomas?

    It’s basically the same team, but their record is much better and you can visually see the difference in passing, teamwork, attitude etc….

  21. Z

    “btw… in the interest of selling high… are we ever more likely to get something of value back for Q, than this trade deadline? Before his back goes out again?”

    I hadn’t even thought of Q as a possible trade asset. Would D’Antoni agree to letting him go? He doesn’t effect our 2010 plans, and they want to stay competitive until then. I personally would love to trade him this year, and wouldn’t wait until the deadline to do it.

    Maybe Q for Stackhouse and a future pick? I was sort of hoping Jeffries would come back, play half decent and Dallas would trade him for Stack. (Or even Curry for Stackhouse if Cuban really wants him). But if there’s no chance of those, then Q all the way– salary is a wash and Q would contribute more over the next season and a half. Done.

  22. Gian Casimiro (SSoM)

    Isola:
    As of right now, Harrington will move into the starting lineup along side David Lee while Wilson Chandler will be used as a back-up.

    Don’t understand that move in the least bit if it really happens.

  23. Italian Stallion

    Isola:As of right now, Harrington will move into the starting lineup along side David Lee while Wilson Chandler will be used as a back-up.
    Don’t understand that move in the least bit if it really happens.

    Without Zach, Lee is the only rebounder. So Lee almost has to get a lot of minutes. Harrington is going to be the starting PF. Chandler will get plenty of minutes at the 3 and 4 and may eventually start at the 3.

  24. jon abbey

    it’s a little hard to bench Q after he went nuts on Saturday, so it makes sense to me, in the short term.

    Harrington/Lee/Q/Mobley/Duhon

    Nate, Chandler, Thomas

  25. Ben R

    One big upside to these trades is no more Rose, no more Roberson and hopefully no more three or four guard lineups.

  26. Thomas B. Post author

    Isola:
    As of right now, Harrington will move into the starting lineup along side David Lee while Wilson Chandler will be used as a back-up.

    Don’t understand that move in the least bit if it really happens.

    I can see that move. Harrington has some ability in the post, Wilson does not. Besides Wilson really needs to work on his dribble drive. He makes the same move every time with the ball: one dribble to the left, then an immidiate switch to the right. When the defender does not bite on the fake to the left, he forces a bad shot.

    I’m not down on Will, but I am starting to see some of his limitations. You cant bump Q right now, so Wilson goes to the bench. Q can’t play extended minutes at the 2, as Mike points out.

    Starters: Lee, Harrington, Q, Robinson, Duhon.

    Bench: Rose, Thomas, Wilson, Mobley

  27. Gian Casimiro (SSoM)

    Without Zach, Lee is the only rebounder. So Lee almost has to get a lot of minutes. Harrington is going to be the starting PF. Chandler will get plenty of minutes at the 3 and 4 and may eventually start at the 3.

    What I meant was, I don’t understand why you start Harrington over Chandler with one practice under his belt and no games played since the 5th. Unless Chandler is assigned to LeBron for most of the game, I don’t understand it, especially since he’s a better rebounder than Harrington. If anything, I’d rather have Chandler start and provide the help D on LeBron since he won’t need to pay much attention to Ben Wallace.

    Edit:
    Eh actually, I guess it should be expected that D’Antoni wants the better three point shooter on the floor.

  28. caleb

    Q certainly has his limitations at the 2 (especially foot speed) but I don’t know that Mobley is better, all in all. It might not matter – Nate will play a lot of minutes at the 2, and Q will play minutes at the 3, but I don’t think D’Antoni is wed to small-ball — his modus operandi has always been to get the best players on the floor. It just happened that in Phoenix and here, that meant undersized power forwards and centers.

    re: coaching impact – there is a big difference between terrible coaches and pretty good coaches, because terrible coaches (IT) don’t know who their best players are… but once the best players are getting most of the minutes, the coach has only a small impact. Jackson vs. Rivers won’t decide the Finals, unless it’s very, very close.

    WHen we look back at this year, the big story will be clearing salary for 2010… but when we analyze why the Knicks got better on the court, it will be because D’Antoni had the balls to sit Curry altogether. Don’t know how many coaches would have done that, “bad knee” and all.

  29. jon abbey

    “when we analyze why the Knicks got better on the court, it will be because D’Antoni had the balls to sit Curry altogether. ”

    and Marbury for Duhon, I’d say that’s an even bigger component.

    Owen was a year ahead of me in fully realizing Curry’s myriad limitations, but I’d like to give myself some credit for showing D’Antoni the way, from the “How Many Games Will The Knicks Win?” thread going into LAST season:

    “I’m going with the pessimistic approach this year, 31-51. if Marbury and Curry get hit by a bus this afternoon, 38-44.”

  30. Ted Nelson

    Al Harrington’s ego was all in a twist in GS because he wasn’t playing 40 mpg and wasn’t allowed to “do anything I want” (I really saw a quote where he said more or less that). If you bring him in here and don’t start him he’s not going to be too happy. WC is a 2nd year guy who wasn’t even playing last season, so he’s more likely to suck it up. D’Antoni might have a more strategical reason than that, but I just think Harrington is the new “franchise player.” It is a little bit of a cheap shot to sit someone who has been working hard for you in favor of a new guy…

    —————————————————–

    I don’t know how many wins the Knicks would have ended up with (not making the trade), but I do think D’Antoni’s impact goes beyond personnel decisions (assigning playing time). You have to also think that Isiah won 33 games with a very similar roster 2 seasons ago (and a lot of people would argue they would have won several more if not for injuries). So I think 23 wins was an outlier. The Knicks were basically playing laid back pick-up games against NBA teams last season with absolutely no structure on either side of the ball.

  31. caleb

    Marbury for Duhon, I’d say that’s an even bigger component.

    For practical purposes, Marbs did get hit by a bus last Christmas — as he went from 74 games played to 24, the Knicks went from 33 wins 5o 23. I don’t think his absence is the key to our improvement.

  32. Caleb

    I like Duhon, too – and he is a better fit – but if Marbury were playing those minutes, I don’t think it would be a big difference. (More likely – if Marbury were getting some of the Nate/Crawford/Q minutes) If Curry were playing in place of Lee/Randolph/Chandler, though…

    Benching Curry is one of those moves that looks obvious in retrospect, but wasn’t. Less than a year ago people (here, and around the league) still talked him up as a potential All-Star.

    Similar thing in Phoenix — how many coaches would have played Stoudamire at the 4, Marion at the 3, used a bad but traditional center like Steven Hunter or Pat Burke, and had Q or Joe Johnson come off the bench? Most NBA coaches, I think… but D’Antoni went with the less traditional lineup. Obvious now — but I remember some raised eyebrows when he first put Stoudamire & Marion at the 4 & 5.

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