Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Knicks 103, Cavaliers 102

Cleveland Cavaliers 102 Final
Recap | Box Score
103 New York Knicks
Ronnie Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -4

I have precious few beefs with Woodson’s handling of the rotation this year. I also understand the temptation to overcompensate for Melo’s absence by maximizing minutes for guys who can create their own offense. Having said that, I do think Coach could do a better job identifying Bad J.R. games early and giving Brewer more burn on those nights. Which is not to say that Brewer was anything special tonight but he knows his own limits and provides much needed wing defense.

Chris Copeland, SF 19 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -1

Filled in gamely for Fallen Leader. Has no business defending any athletic bigs with even a modicum of skill — got taken off the dribble a couple times by Tristan Thomspon and looked pretty helpless in the process. But started hot (8 points in the first quarter), shot wisely and efficiently (4/5, 2/3, 1/2), and ultimately fought his 19 minutes roughly to a draw (-1).

Tyson Chandler, C 34 MIN | 9-10 FG | 5-7 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 23 PTS | -8

Maybe if I accompany his A- with a statement of assurance that I don’t think he’s better than Patrick Ewing the claims of grade inflation will be more of the “low murmur” than “rising tumult” variety? Missed 1 shot and scored 23 points at his alley-oop pounding best. Wasn’t his greatest defensive effort but on a night when the Knicks’ front line was decimated by injuries he anchored the interior on both ends.

Jason Kidd, PG 37 MIN | 3-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 8 AST | 9 PTS | +5

Jason the Kidd sipped his whiskey and cast an eye toward the saloon door. Still. Quiet. Too quiet.

“Might be he forgot,” said the barkeep, “Might be he’s spooked.”

“He’ll be here,” quoth the Kidd, and spat to cleanse his palate of even this fainest reference to his rival. “Say what you may about him. But he ain’t yellow.”

Then did the floorboards rattle without an earthquake, the door blow open without a gust, and a form appear at the threshold of the saloon, tall and lean, measuring 6 foot 8 in boots if he were an inch.

Wild J.R Smith had arrived.

(Continued below…)

Raymond Felton, PG 38 MIN | 9-20 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 25 PTS | -2

Swaaaaaaaaaag. Say what you will about Ray but his teammates seem pretty convinced that he’s their go-to guy when Melo is out and, while his results in such games have been wildly mixed, his desire to answer that call is a constant. Had absolutely no chance of staying in front of Kyrie Irving tonight which is the primary reason for the lowish grade but all that does is give him something in common with, oh, everyone. All-in, his offense was stellar (1 turnover in 30 possessions? 25 points on 20 shots? Yes please) and he chipped in on the glass (5 boards). Blocked shot on Kyrie to close the first felt like a second-half tone-setter until Irving came out of the locker room and turned into The Thing That Ate Midtown.

Kurt Thomas, PF 14 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | +9

Back in the Ewing/Oakley days, a favorite two-word identifier of my father’s was the “Manly Rebound.” Generally this referred to hard-won rebound that relied less on athleticism, positioning, skill, and more on brute strength and desire. Two decades later, give or take a year, this description seems a bit less PC, I will rarely invoke it out loud and when I have kids of my own I may not pas it down. But it still crosses my mind when I see a play that qualifies. And here, very much in public, before the watchful eyes of the Knickerbloggerati, I submit for consideration Kurt Thomas’ five rebounds this evening. They belong in the Manly Rebound archives so that posterity may know what the phrase meant.

Steve Novak, SF 33 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +5

So rumors of his jump shot’s demise are pretty well dead at this point yes? Having connected on 48% from deep since the calendar turned to December, Steve has put the Mayans on notice that he does not mean to go quietly.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 12 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +2

In the immortal words of Stringer Bell, Prigioni is giving us way too many 40-degree days.

J.R. Smith, SG 35 MIN | 6-20 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | -1

(…Continued from Above)

“Fancy if it ain’t the Kidd. Didn’t think you’d turn.” Wild J.R. made the bar in 3 long strides, tapped sharply on the mahogany, drained the cloudy brown that appeared at his knuckles in a single swig, wiped his sleeve across his mouth, and coughed deeply.

“Best not waste much more time with talkin’, Kidd. Best be gettin’ to why we’re here.”

(Continued Below…)

Rasheed Wallace, PF DNP SORE LEFT FOOT MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |

Foot Don’t Lie.

Carmelo Anthony, SF DNP SPRAINED LEFT ANKLE MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |

:'(

James White, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |

DNP-CD in a game with only 9 active players does not speak well for Flight’s long-term PT prospects. Just 62 days until the Slam Dunk Contest.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Kyrie Irving. We saw KYRIE. IRVING.
  2. Seriously though: Holy crap Kyrie Irving! In 12 to 18 months, he will be the consensus second best PG in the league and all arguments to the contrary will seem silly. And frankly, given the perenially uncertain state of Chris Paul’s health, the odds of him being first might be better than the odds of him being third. In the Name of the Russell, and of the Wilt, and of the Holy Erving, please somebody get him a real supporting cast.
  3. “1,001 of My Favorite Calls the Cavs Didn’t Get because of an International Conspiracy against Everything Good and Pure,” by Austin Carr. On shelves soon.
  4. This Knicks team is such an adaptable bunch. I’m aware that they almost gave this thing away and it would have been a brutal first home loss if they had. But the point isn’t just that Melo is their best player and they won without him; it’s how different their offense has to be when he isn’t there. Felton and JR are the only guys who show any degree of creativity on the perimeter so the game becomes about precise off-ball movement, constant vigilance in identifying open shooters, and an increased emphasis on finishing what easy looks become available at a very high percentage. And for 3 and a half quarters today the Knicks succeeded in each of these pursuits. And then they basically wet themselves for 5 minutes while Kyrie Irving played one-on-one with the immutable march of time. Time won (it usually does) but, to Kyrie’s credit, only barely and with the help of an Anderson Varejao missed free throw. The players change but the game stays the same.
  5. (…Continued from Above)

    Wild J.R. turned on a dime, strode to the door, cocked his head and walked out into the crisp December day.

    “You don’t gotta do this, Kidd” said the barkeep, “they say he’s the quickest shot in town. Sometimes it’s about knowing when to live another day.”

    The Kidd smiled coolly. “You’ve been a friend, long and true. Sometimes it ain’t about what’s smart, or even what’s right. Sometimes it’s drawing yourself so all can know who and what you be. And then you fight — you fight for the lines you’ve drawn, you fight when someone tries to say they ain’t real. Because they’re more than just real. They’re all you got.”

    The Kidd wiped his hands on his trousers and rose from his stool. He walked out into the fading light and met his rival face to face. “You know the rules,” said The Kidd.

    “Bet your breeches I do. 23 feet, 9 inches and shoot.”

    “Then we best be getting to it,” said the Kidd.

    And in the flickering dusk, the two hombres got to shooting. Backboards thudded and rims clanked. Wind whispered as leather flew unabated, shy of its target. The town surrounded them, tense, their silence broken only by occasional “Aiiiiiiirballllll” chants.

    And the two buckaroos fired into the night, shot for shot, miss for miss. A duel honorable for its intentions, but bloodless for its inaccuracy.

    THE END

35 comments on “Knicks 103, Cavaliers 102

  1. Webjai

    That western “Wild J.R. and the Kidd” story was epic.

    And Steve Novak played some notable defense in this one. Boxing out and generally not getting turned into a revolving door.

  2. AvonBarksdale

    There is always room for more quotes from the Wire. There is def. a market for that western story about gunslingers who protect the homestead and shoot without fear. What happened to those missing two recaps a while back!! Love this site, why do so many post but we only have 300 likes on facebook?

  3. jon abbey

    Webjai:
    Poor advertising of the Facebook page? I had no idea that there was one.

    is this sarcastic? it’s on the home page every day, right above the new comments list.

  4. Thomas B.

    jon abbey: is this sarcastic? it’s on the home page every day, right above the new comments list.

    Yeah, but isn’t any advertising on this site “poor advertising”? :-)

  5. jon abbey

    in other news, the much discussed Nuggets are in great position for a 13-12 team having already played a ridiculous 18 road games. they’re still a long shot to get out of the first round with the top four in the West looking a notch above the rest, but they should easily make the playoffs.

  6. ruruland

    Kevin, great bit. For all the great writing we get from Rob and Cavan, I thought that was right up there.

  7. Webjai

    jon abbey: is this sarcastic? it’s on the home page every day, right above the new comments list.

    Nope. That’s a “Share this article” link, not a “we have a facebook page for Knickerblogger” link. That part is not to be found anywehere.

  8. jon abbey

    maybe you’re seeing something different from me, but for me, there is a very prominent direct link to the KC Facebook page on the home page here and it’s been there for a while now.

  9. Will the Thrill

    Don’t really understand all of the negativity surrounding this team on this board. Their incredibly harsh schedule seems to have been totally ignored by everyone but you.

    jon abbey:
    in other news, the much discussed Nuggets are in great position for a 13-12 team having already played a ridiculous 18 road games. they’re still a long shot to get out of the first round with the top four in the West looking a notch above the rest, but they should easily make the playoffs.

  10. Juany8

    Will the Thrill:
    Don’t really understand all of the negativity surrounding this team on this board. Their incredibly harsh schedule seems to have been totally ignored by everyone but you.

    There’s a difference between making the playoffs as a 7th seed with 50 wins and the 55+ contender PER, WP, and WS all supported. Even I said before the season they’d win over 50, but I thought it was a joke that they were supposed to contend, and outright laughed at the thought of them being better than the Thunder after Harden left.

    Keep in mind that the Nuggets have been worse than their point differential in the playoffs the past 2 years, and that they have virtually no chance of catching up to the top 4 teams (who might just be the top 4 teams in the league considering how weak the East looks right now). They’re also going to be pushing the luxury tax with this core, and that’s without having to pay Faried a bunch of money eventually. If the Nuggets wouldn’t pay the luxury tax for Harden, you think Denver is going to for Faried? Not without dumping some of their other overpaid role players. Denver has basically become Atlanta West, except that Altanta would at least make the second round in a weak east.

  11. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Juany8: There’s a difference between making the playoffs as a 7th seed with 50 wins and the 55+ contender PER, WP, and WS all supported. Even I said before the season they’d win over 50, but I thought it was a joke that they were supposed to contend, and outright laughed at the thought of them being better than the Thunder after Harden left.

    You still haven’t addressed the fact that 18 of their 25 games have been played on the road.

    If they had played 18 at home and 7 on the road with the same home/road split win % they currently have, you’d be looking at a team that’s something like 18-7.

  12. iserp

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: You still haven’t addressed the fact that 18 of their 25 games have been played on the road.

    If they had played 18 at home and 7 on the road with the same home/road split win % they currently have, you’d be looking at a team that’s something like 18-7.

    And if they had played the same home games than road games, they would be on pace for 51 wins… which is what Juany8 has been saying all along.

  13. jon abbey

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: If they had played 18 at home and 7 on the road with the same home/road split win % they currently have, you’d be looking at a team that’s something like 18-7.

    well, an imaginary split in the other direction doesn’t really shed any light, and it is worth noting that GS has a similar home/road split thus far with a much better record and they still have Bogut out.

    I think pretty much everyone agrees at this point that DEN is a 5-8 seed first round and out playoff team, no? if someone doesn’t, that’s what we should be debating. although they have beaten MEM twice already, so maybe that would be a good draw for them.

  14. Juany8

    iserp: And if they had played the same home games than road games, they would be on pace for 51 wins… which is what Juany8 has been saying all along.

    This would be the way to go about it no? Denver’s final splits are going to be an even number of home and road games, and right now their winning percentage indicates they are a 50 win team once that ratio stabilizes. My problem continues to be that they are paying max money for 4 out of the 5 positions on the floor, are pushing the luxury tax, and can no longer trade anyone but Faried since they overpaid them all. The Lawson-Iguodala-Gallinari-Faried-McGee lineup, which you would think are what the Nuggets are building around, is a laughable -37 points per 100 possessions, and it’s the Nuggets second most used lineup. They built a core that would break all kind of records for being atrocious! It’s a damn shame rebounds and TS% tell you nothing about defense and roles, a core with 3 defensive liabilities and 2 good wing defenders isn’t doing much when that lineup also can’t space the floor or rely on one guy for scoring. You don’t pay the luxury tax for a core that needs to get lucky to escape the first round

  15. Juany8

    On another note, Carmelo Anthony has a higher TS% than Harden and a lot less turnovers per minute. He’s also in another world defensively, and Melo hasn’t exactly been anything special at PF. That’s before we get to those pesky “interaction effects” that made me think Melo was a better player even when Harden was getting a 67 TS%. Drawing double teams in the low post is more valuable than being trapped on a pick and roll up top, and spacing the floor as a power forward is more valuable than spacing it as a guard. Melo also has a higher usage despite having less turnovers and better teammates, I know he can’t be compared to Lebron or Durant but I’d argue that Melo is playing like a top 5 player in the NBA this season, and I am fully on board the Melo for MVP bandwagon. Whoever gets the best record between the Heat, Thunder, and Knicks takes the MVP in my opinion

  16. flossy

    Juany8:
    On another note, Carmelo Anthony has a higher TS% than Harden and a lot less turnovers per minute. He’s also in another world defensively, and Melo hasn’t exactly been anything special at PF. That’s before we get to those pesky “interaction effects” that made me think Melo was a better player even when Harden was getting a 67 TS%. Drawing double teams in the low post is more valuable than being trapped on a pick and roll up top, and spacing the floor as a power forward is more valuable than spacing it as a guard. Melo also has a higher usage despite having less turnovers and better teammates, I know he can’t be compared to Lebron or Durant but I’d argue that Melo is playing like a top 5 player in the NBA this season, and I am fully on board the Melo for MVP bandwagon. Whoever gets the best record between the Heat, Thunder, and Knicks takes the MVP in my opinion

    For someone who likes to go on about interaction effects to ignore the horrible players Harden is playing with relative to Melo is incredibly disingenuous. Remember how Melo played when he was shouldering 100% of the offensive load and passing the ball to the likes of Toney Douglas? I’ll refresh your memory: he sucked ass.

  17. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    flossy: For someone who likes to go on about interaction effects to ignore the horrible players Harden is playing with relative to Melo is incredibly disingenuous.Remember how Melo played when he was shouldering 100% of the offensive load and passing the ball to the likes of Toney Douglas?I’ll refresh your memory: he sucked ass.

    shhh, the narrative

  18. briand

    Nicely done Kevin. A few comments:

    1) In 12-18 months any argument that Westbrook, Rondo or Parker are better than Irving will be silly? I think that may be a little too strong.

    2) I don’t necessarily agree with the comment about Woodson figuring out good vs bad JR games early. I’m a little too lazy to offer actual proof, but haven’t we seen a number of early bad JR game, turn into completely awesome late JR games?

    3) I like how you started your Kurt Thomas blurb with “Back in the Ewing/Oakley days…” as if that was a long time ago when those guys were on the Knicks (which it kind of was). The best part, Thomas is so old that he played with both Ewing and Oakley on the Knicks.

    4) Are we 100% sure Melo is the Knicks best player and not Chandler?

  19. Juany8

    flossy: For someone who likes to go on about interaction effects to ignore the horrible players Harden is playing with relative to Melo is incredibly disingenuous.Remember how Melo played when he was shouldering 100% of the offensive load and passing the ball to the likes of Toney Douglas?I’ll refresh your memory: he sucked ass.

    I’m not ignoring those effects, I said that I thought Melo was better when Harden was playing with Westbrook and Durant and had a 67 TS%. Besides Lin, Parsons, and Asik aren’t exactly supposed to be terrible players. Harden is making Lin a worse player by making him play off the ball, while Felton is helping Kidd be a better played by guarding faster point guards and allowing Kidd to play off the ball for the most part. How’s that for an interaction effect?

    Did you know that the Rockets have a better offense when Harden is sitting? Considering the rest of the Rockets are supposed to be “scrubs” (it’s funny you mention Toney Douglas since he’s on the Rockets) and that Carlos Delfino is Harden’s backup, it’s pretty damn sad that there isn’t a massive positive difference when Harden is on the floor. Melo makes the Knicks offense 12 points better when he’s on the court, are guys like Novak, Prigs, and JR scrubs who can’t do anything either? The Rockets offense is better when Harden is off the court than the Knicks offense is when Melo is off the court. I think that says all you need to know about their relative impact.

  20. Frank

    Re: Irving – he was obviously awesome in that game, but his overall game doesn’t really resemble Parker/Rondo/Westbrook at all. He’s almost like a much slightly more point-guard-ish and better shooting Monta Ellis IMHO. Or maybe a more refined but less overtly athletic Derrick Rose. Even in the game Saturday there was a lot of pounding the ball, going 1-on-1, etc, and at least at this young age, he’s all about scoring the ball. His assist rate (% of possessions that end in assist) is only 18.7, which would rank him behind, well, Monta Ellis. In fact, if you take PGs that play 25+ min/game (ie. starters), he’s dead last in assist rate:

    http://www.hoopdata.com/passingstats.aspx?team=%25&type=pg&posi=PG&yr=2013&gp=0&mins=25

    Yes, he’s not last on that list, but Shannon Brown, Foye, and Tyreke aren’t actually PGs, not sure why they are even represented here.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s 20 and can already score with a TS of 57 and a usage of 31, but he’s much more of a combo/scoring guard at this point.

  21. Juany8

    Frank:
    Re: Irving – he was obviously awesome in that game, but his overall game doesn’t really resemble Parker/Rondo/Westbrook at all. He’s almost like a much slightly more point-guard-ish and better shooting Monta Ellis IMHO.Or maybe a more refined but less overtly athletic Derrick Rose.Even in the game Saturday there was a lot of pounding the ball, going 1-on-1, etc, and at least at this young age, he’s all about scoring the ball. His assist rate (% of possessions that end in assist) is only 18.7, which would rank him behind, well, Monta Ellis.In fact, if you take PGs that play 25+ min/game (ie. starters), he’s dead last in assist rate:

    http://www.hoopdata.com/passingstats.aspx?team=%25&type=pg&posi=PG&yr=2013&gp=0&mins=25

    Yes, he’s not last on that list, but Shannon Brown, Foye, and Tyreke aren’t actually PGs, not sure why they are even represented here.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s 20 and can already score with a TS of 57 and a usage of 31, but he’s much more of a combo/scoring guard at this point.

    He’s a really nice scorer, I think he can become a top 5 PG overall although his defense is pretty bad. You’d probably want someone alongside to help facilitate a bit though, at the very least he needs some nice shooters to space the floor and allow him to do his thing. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops, although I think that Cleveland has done a pretty poor job drafting after that

  22. massive

    Harden isn’t making Lin play off the ball. That’s all Kevin McHale and his coaching staff. I think the Rockets would be better served if they ran their offense through Lin with Harden in the off ball role. How great would the Knicks offense be if we ran it through Melo and not Felton? Was Kobe Bryant making Steve Nash worse, or was it the Princeton offense? Was Dwight Howard making Pau Gasol worse, or was it D’Antoni trying to turn him into a floor spacer.

    Here’s the thing about interaction effects: you cannot gauge them or properly assign value to one person for them. We know they exist, and their values vary from team to team. You cannot say Harden makes Lin worse as if that takes away from him as a franchise piece. Would Harden make Ty Lawson worse if he were a Rocket? I’m just saying that any attempt to make the grey area as black and white as statistics doesn’t seem to be one that makes sense.

  23. massive

    Juany8: He’s a really nice scorer, I think he can become a top 5 PG overall although his defense is pretty bad. You’d probably want someone alongside to help facilitate a bit though, at the very least he needs some nice shooters to space the floor and allow him to do his thing. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops, although I think that Cleveland has done a pretty poor job drafting after that

    I hated that Cleveland took Dion Waiters instead of Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, and Thomas Robinson. That was the dumbest pick since we took Jordan Hill (who has turned into a really good player for the Lakers, I should add). Irving seems to be chucking because he doesn’t trust anyone on his team to play well enough to get his team the win. I can’t say I blame him.

  24. flossy

    Juany8: The Rockets offense is better when Harden is off the court than the Knicks offense is when Melo is off the court. I think that says all you need to know about their relative impact.

    Or it says you need to get a clue and think a little more critically about the metric you’re using. Last year the Knicks were a net negative with Anthony on the court. Does that tell you all you need to know about Carmelo Anthony? I know you watch Rocket games, you can’t possibly seriously believe that that team would be better without Harden. And yes, I know Toney Douglas is on the Rockets now, that’s exactly why I mentioned him by name–to illustrate the massive gulf between the player Melo and Harden are interacting with this year. You say that Harden makes Lin worse, but do you not also recall Lin played way better without Melo vs. with? What does that tell you about Melo vs. Harden? Nothing.

  25. Juany8

    massive:
    Harden isn’t making Lin play off the ball. That’s all Kevin McHale and his coaching staff. I think the Rockets would be better served if they ran their offense through Lin with Harden in the off ball role. How great would the Knicks offense be if we ran it through Melo and not Felton? Was Kobe Bryant making Steve Nash worse, or was it the Princeton offense? Was Dwight Howard making Pau Gasol worse, or was it D’Antoni trying to turn him into a floor spacer.

    Here’s the thing about interaction effects: you cannot gauge them or properly assign value to one person for them. We know they exist, and their values vary from team to team. You cannot say Harden makes Lin worse as if that takes away from him as a franchise piece. Would Harden make Ty Lawson worse if he were a Rocket? I’m just saying that any attempt to make the grey area as black and white as statistics doesn’t seem to be one that makes sense.

    That’s fair to an extent, but the point is you can’t run a pick and roll with them both at the same time. Harden is much better off the ball so there is some temptation to run the offense through Lin, but at the same time Harden is a pretty fantastic player in the pick and roll in his own right, but can’t do much else.

    Coaches do a big part in determining how the players play, but it would be hard for any coach to simply move Harden off the ball full time. It’s also not James Harden’s fault that Lin can’t shoot and that he’s a poor pick and roll defender, even if the team might be a bit better overall putting Lin on the ball it’s not an ideal situation because of their respective weaknesses. The Felton and Melo situation works because Melo can run offense through the post if the Felton pick and roll is being shut down. Harden is amazing at pick and rolls but limited otherwise when he’s on the ball, as is Lin

  26. briand

    Frank: Re: Irving – he was obviously awesome in that game, but his overall game doesn’t really resemble Parker/Rondo/Westbrook at all. He’s almost like a much slightly more point-guard-ish and better shooting Monta Ellis IMHO. Or maybe a more refined but less overtly athletic Derrick Rose. Even in the game Saturday there was a lot of pounding the ball, going 1-on-1, etc, and at least at this young age, he’s all about scoring the ball. His assist rate (% of possessions that end in assist) is only 18.7, which would rank him behind, well, Monta Ellis. In fact, if you take PGs that play 25+ min/game (ie. starters), he’s dead last in assist rate:http://www.hoopdata.com/passingstats.aspx?team=%25&type=pg&posi=PG&yr=2013&gp=0&mins=25Yes, he’s not last on that list, but Shannon Brown, Foye, and Tyreke aren’t actually PGs, not sure why they are even represented here.Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s 20 and can already score with a TS of 57 and a usage of 31, but he’s much more of a combo/scoring guard at this point.

    The guy you describe above sounds an awful lot like Westbrook, no?

  27. Juany8

    flossy: Or it says you need to get a clue and think a little more critically about the metric you’re using.Last year the Knicks were a net negative with Anthony on the court.Does that tell you all you need to know about Carmelo Anthony?I know you watch Rocket games, you can’t possibly seriously believe that that team would be better without Harden.And yes, I know Toney Douglas is on the Rockets now, that’s exactly why I mentioned him by name–to illustrate the massive gulf between the player Melo and Harden are interacting with this year.You say that Harden makes Lin worse, but do you not also recall Lin played way better without Melo vs. with?What does that tell you about Melo vs. Harden?Nothing.

    The Knicks offense was better with Melo on the floor last season than with him off, so I don’t know what you meant about that, and considering Melo had an awful, injury plagued season most of last year, as well as a stubborn coach that tried to stick him in a corner to shoot 3’s, I think it’s much more informative to look at Melo’s career wonder Woodson, under which the Knicks have been dominant even with Baron Davis and Raymond Felton shooting up bricks at a fantastic rate. The Knicks best stretch of last season came when Lin and Amar’e were healthy at the start of the Woodson era, so it’s fair to say that D’Antoni was just as big a problem as McHale is as far as making players worse by putting them in poor roles.

    The problem is that you can’t consistently run an offense through Harden the way you can with Melo because he’s not as versatile. Against a team that’s amazing at trapping the pick and roll, Harden can’t really do that much with the ball, and neither can Lin.

    Besides, even if they are close to each other as offensive players, it’s a massive difference on the defensive end

  28. briand

    Frank: LOL fair enough.Actually, it’s quite amazing how close their numbers are, except that Kyrie is more efficient shooting the ball (by a lot):http://bkref.com/tiny/pJSdw

    Makes sense. From a subjective standpoint, I would think Kyrie is the better shooter, and Westbrook the better rebounder. Passing and slashing/finishing skills probably pretty close. You would think Westbrook would be the better defender too, but the defensive metrics really haven’t borne that out.

  29. nicos

    briand: Makes sense.From a subjective standpoint, I would think Kyrie is the better shooter, and Westbrook the better rebounder.Passing and slashing/finishing skills probably pretty close.You would think Westbrook would be the better defender too, but the defensive metrics really haven’t borne that out.

    Irving was just about the worst defensive player in the league last year ranking 447th in ppp allowed per synergy. Westbrook wasn’t great- he ranked 280th- but solidly better than Irving. Both are defending much better this year with Irving slightly better but he’s only played 14 games so it’s a pretty small sample size. I’m sure having Varejao back has helped. He was really, really bad in the pnr against the Knicks so I’m not sure I’m ready to say he’s turned a corner defensively. Offensively, he’s been a shoot first guy- understandable given his teammates- so I haven’t seen a whole lot that makes me think he’s going to be able to run an offense like Paul, Rondo, Nash, etc… He’ll get assists because he’ll dominate the ball- a better Marbury, perhaps?- but whether he’s going to be more than a scoring point remains to be seen.

  30. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Does Synergy account for the difference in PPP between centers, power forwards, etc.?

    It seems to me that those rankings would be invalidated if they don’t adjust for expected PPP by position.

  31. Brian Cronin

    I think pretty much everyone agrees at this point that DEN is a 5-8 seed first round and out playoff team, no? if someone doesn’t, that’s what we should be debating. although they have beaten MEM twice already, so maybe that would be a good draw for them.

    I think the West especially has been match-up central these past few years, where Team A can beat Teams B and C but can’t beat Teams D and E and Team B can beat Team D and C but not A and E, etc. Two years ago, there was one team that the Nuggets could not beat at all and that was the team that they got in the first round (the Thunder). They matched up better with the Lakers last year and took them to seven games. So yeah, Memphis is a good match-up for them but San Antonio kills them. I dunno about the other teams (I imagine everyone loses to OKC right now, though).

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