Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Knicks 106, Hawks 104

Atlanta Hawks 104 FinalRecap | Box Score 106 New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, SF 44 MIN | 15-28 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 42 PTS | -4

11 minutes into this one he was 0 for 4 from the field with a couple of boards and a turnover.  The Hawks will hereafter look upon that moment with kindness.  The rest of the way: 15 for 24, 9 for 11 from deep, 3 for 3 from the line, 40 points.  Thats 80% true shooting and a cartoonish 81.3% eFG.  Even his heat checks had heat checks, and the readings that came back ranged from “20 laps in an Olympic sized deep fryer” and “Ball of pure energy rolling down the cyanide hills of the Underworld.”  His 9 three-point makes tied a Knick record (we’re talking Toney Douglas territory here, people!) and he employed a quick first step, a gorgeous lefty handle, and a strong, confident finish in torching Josh Smith for the game-winning and-one.And yet, I came out of the game thoroughly uncertain about the grade I would give him.  He joined the majority of his teammates in a relatively disinterested defensive effort and, though the blame for this doesn’t all fall at his feet, the portion of the credit his defensive intensity received for the Knicks’ early-season success on that end suggests an equivalent and opposite effect when his defensive performance comes up short.  He took a technical in a brutal spot and while the trigger on it may have been a little quick, his habit of giving officials the opportunity to make such calls is troubling.  And while his outside shot was tremendous, his shot selection remained somewhat uneven.  His attempts consisted more heavily of catch-and-shoots than in recent games (partially attributable to strong showings from Felton and Prigioni) but had he made, say, 5 of his threes instead of 9, tonight’s game would fit in with the rest of his recent performances that have been criticized as much for his approach as for the results.

So, let us thrill in his hot hand and enjoy his sublime game-winning finish while at the same time realizing that one big-time performance does not solve all the issues that have recently plagued a sometimes disjointed offense.

Tyson Chandler, C 36 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +5

Reports after the game had him dealing with some neck pain throughout the duration, a diagnosis that matches his general inability to impact the goings-on. If the injury is the explanation then you can excuse an off-night but, judged purely on the merits, he was completely, utterly, and jarringly invisible. Atlanta got to the rim with ease en route to a 29-for-42 showing on two-point attempts and rebounded over a quarter of their misses. Take your pick between eyes and numbers: Chandler simply did not affect this game.

Jason Kidd, PG 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3

Decided not to write up this paragraph. Just feel like I need to rest. Either that or I have a shattered spine. I’ll let you know at a later date.

Raymond Felton, PG 38 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -1

More like it. Hit the Knicks’ first three shots of the game before settling in as a distributor. Here’s one of the evening’s more interesting stats: 8 of Felton’s 10 assists produced three-pointers — a number that makes sense in light of the Knicks’ general abandonment of the pick and roll in favor of a big helping of iso and a side order of drive-and-kick. This season has seemed to only have two kinds of games: the kind where it seems like we don’t have a point guard and the kind where it seems like we have too many point guards. This was the latter.Defensively, his lack of lateral quickness paired with Woodson’s continued insistence on matching him up against the other team’s point guard remains a particularly irritating problem. Keeping Felton away from the likes of Jeff Teague and his wing-ed high-tops seems to me a desirable goal and – against an opponent that played Kyle Korver for 41 minutes and the ghost of Devin Harris for 21 – a downright attainable one to boot. I’m coming to grips with the fact that the Coach must either disagree with that assessment or be torturing Felton as a way to exorcise some grudge (maybe he told him that Mrs. Potato Head tastes like Sour Cream and Onion chips?).

Either way that’s more on Woodson than Ray but you’ve gotta dock a guy a bit when he gets eaten alive and Teague dropped 27/6/5 on 9-for-15 tonight so there you have it.

Iman Shumpert, PG 19 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -4

After the Knicks announced pre-game that he was cleared to play, Shumpalumpagus Shumped his way to just 19 minutes, Shumping both of his three point attempts (an utterly delightful trend) and a couple of steals. Maybe Woodson’s trying to bring him back slowly by matching him on lesser offensive players (he mainly drew Korver, some Harris, zero Teague). Hardwood Paroxysm’s Jared Dubin waxed perplexed on Twitter, questioning the completely backwards decision to use of an excellent on-ball defender who has trouble with screens on a spot shooter like Korver. To paraphrase Joshua Lyman, I make it a point never to disagree with Jared when he’s right. Shump was good though and continues to show no ill effects of his knee injury.

Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 29 MIN | 6-9 FG | 6-8 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | 0

Amare’s play the last couple of weeks demands its own long post and I’m hoping I will have the time to write it this week. His offense has been excellent despite the Knicks’ stubborn ignorance of him as a pick and roll finisher. This evening he had his inside and mid-range game going, got to the line on the reg, killed it on the offensive glass.His defense — really not bad. He still has moments that display a baffling lack of awareness but his rotations have been sharper, his close-outs quicker, his work facing up ball-handlers more effective. Again, this needs a longer post. But if my range of expectations for Amare’s first month back was represented by a 1-10 scale, I’d say Amare’s at about a 14 so far.

Kurt Thomas, PF 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +8

The reaction among Knicks’ fans across cyberspace when Kurt checked in tonight was such that I compared him to a 500 pound bag of oranges in the “Godfather” movie of the Knicks’ season. Caught the ball twice on the right wing, maybe 18 feet out, and in each case look absolutely bewildered until such time as a teammate ran right over to him so that he could basically hand them the ball. Didn’t shoot, picked up a board and a steal and, somehow, led the Knicks in +/-. Ain’t the world a wonderful place?

Ronnie Brewer, SF 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0

Excluded from even Club Trillion due to the cruel vagaries of “rounding down” as applied to his minutes played. That crap is all political Ronnie, don’t let it get to you. I once tried to order a turkey club sandwich and got waitlisted.

Steve Novak, SF 13 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1

*Spreads floor* *Collects paycheck* *Thumb!*

Pablo Prigioni, PG 10 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +3

Played an inspired stretch of second-quarter ball in which his full repertoire of skills as a playmaker were on full display and his OH-MY-GOD-I-HOPE-THIS-BUCKET-OF-SAND-PUTS-OUT-THIS-GREASE-FIRE!!! stroke was uncharacteristically pure. Also outplayed Felton in the all-important category of “attempting to at least vaguely hinder the guy that Shumpert should be guarding.” His one miss was a 90-foot heave that made NBA history by employing the exact same shooting form as his 18-footer. All in all, an effective stretch of point guard play and a rollicking good time.Naturally, he spent the rest of the game in the witness protection program. It was that kind of night in the floating city of New Woodsonia.

J.R. Smith, SG 37 MIN | 7-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | 0

The final stat line is pretty garden-variety JR and that isn’t a long shot from what we saw on the court. Was nice to see him back on track after a 2-game stretch that included 3 heroic minutes amidst a trail of garbage scattered Hansel-and-Gretel-style across a few hundred miles of the Northeast Corridor. Way too iso-happy for some stretches (not sure how much is him and how much is Woodson but I could do without so many clear-outs for in big spots). Hit a big tie-breaking three from the left wing at around the 4 minute mark in the 4th quarter and then missed the rim completely on the next time down which pretty much conveys the experience.Starting to drift too much on defense and look for steals, a departure from some of the more disciplined defense that we’ve seen from him over the past few months. The secret’s out: we know the guy can play defense. He’s gotta keep doing it.

James White, SG 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1

In a bold stroke, Woodson changed things up tonight by starting him in the second half instead of the first before marginalizing him. I wonder if he thinks JR Smith would get confused and lose control of his bodily functions or something if he didn’t spend 3 minutes on the bench getting his bearings before taking the court.20 days until the Slam Dunk Contest.

Mike Woodson

See below.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Iman Shumpert chasing Kyle Korver around screens and standing aimlessly in the general vicinity of Devin Harris while people who weren’t Iman Shumpert tried to guard Jeff Teague.  In other words, the same defensive strategy that allowed a career night for Jrue Holiday 24 hours prior in a game that I refuse to mention other than to make that point.  The Hawks scored 104 points in 86 possessions — an Offensive Rating of 120.9 for a team that averages 101.7 on the season.  Every team in the league knows they can get basically any mismatch they want by gently prodding the Knicks to switch.  They’re starting to exploit it.  Lets hope some adjustments are forthcoming.
  2. An ill-conceived, iso-heavy offense that was bailed out by an impossibly hot performance on threes, not simply from Carmelo Anthony but from the entire team (they shot 16 for 27).   106 points on 87 possessions for the ‘Bockers (121.8 O-Rating) is of course outstanding but that is entirely a product of their effectiveness from deep.  If you think the Knicks can keep producing good enough looks to hit half of their three-pointers or more, be happy with the way they played offense today.  If you think that a very good number like 40% is more realistic, dock 15 to 18 points from what they put up tonight and ask yourself how much you would like this offense on a non-hellfire kinda day.
  3. Tyson Chandler guarded Jeff Teague on the last play of the game, leaving no real help guarding the rim.  Iman Shumpert was on the bench despite the play coming out of a timeout and thus an opportunity to go offense/defense.  Draw your own conclusions.
  4. Tyson Chandler sat out the Knicks’ last offensive possession.  It’s possible that this was an accident, foisted on Woodson as a result of his aggravated neck (a new one, injury-description-wise).  It’s also possible that this was the result of a conscious decision by Woody and, if so, it was an extremely gutty one that may have won the Knicks the game.  Woodson went with a Melo/Novak/Amare front line and sat the latter two 20+ feet from the basket, completely emptying the lane and leaving no help behind Josh Smith.  If Melo beat Smoove off the dribble, the Knicks would win the game.  If Smith got the stop, the Knicks would have virtually no chance at an offensive rebound.  Melo made his move, finished clean, and took the harm to boot.  The possibility that Woodson conceived of this tactic, trusted his star, and stuck to his guns on it despite something of a dumpster-fire of a performance up to that point is worthy of commendation and saves him from a failing grade here.
  5. Make no mistake: this was a bad win.  The Knicks beat an inferior team at home by a narrow margin despite unsustainable shooting from distance.  The good news?  Bad wins are luxuries.  Only good teams can register bad wins because teams that aren’t good have to take what they can get.  I’ll take a bad win over a good loss any day.  I say this not to be unrelentingly negative (it was actually a fun game, if you check out my Twitter  I think it will be clear that I enjoyed a lot of it) but because the Knicks have an opportunity in the coming weeks — with a soft schedule and a healthy squad — to run off a whole bunch of wins and put themselves in a pretty killer position for the stretch run.  They are entirely capable of doing this.  But it won’t happen if they play like they did today.  This game was a wedding gift from a relative you don’t particularly like; this recap is a thank you card that I hope won’t make them think I want them to come visit any time soon.

84 comments on “Knicks 106, Hawks 104

  1. jon abbey

    finally a rating where Chandler doesn’t get implicit credit for playing like the DPOY he was last year and has been sporadically this year, thank you.

    and Shumpert was on the court for the final possession, guarding Korver if I remember correctly.

  2. Kevin M.

    As jon said, Shump came in on the final possession for STAT.

    Raymond Felton is 28 years old coming off a hand injury, not one to his legs. There’s no reason why he should be worse at keeping an opposing PG in front of him than 90 year-old J Kidd. Holliday and Teague have gone around him play after play and put up huge numbers the past 2 games (not all of that is his fault with zero post help defense.) He has to do better. I would’ve pulled him off the floor on the final possession along with STAT. I don’t see how he could get a “B grade” with that horrible defensive effort. I’m not blaming Woodson for that.

    Chandler was hurt. Was he hurt on Saturday night too because he didn’t do anything to protect the rim in that game either.

    STAT’s offensive rebounding was extremely impressive. That will get him points without running plays for him. It’s also nice to see him operating out of the post more than he has previously.

  3. Frank O.

    Honestly, Stat was so efficient, I have to believe his usage needs to increase. His moves on the block make him a very hard cover and if his midrange remains strong he will be downright awesome.

  4. Nick C.

    Cool recap. The Mrs. Potato Chip line kept me chucking on the train ride in until I got the the bucket of sand line. The analysis kept me engaged throughout.

  5. Frank

    Re: Tyson – despite the vacation that was the trip to England, my feeling is that he’s getting worn down. He played 29 min/game in November, 35 min/game in December, and is averaging 34 min/game in January. He’s the biggest Knick and other than Melo, probably expends the most energy on both ends of the floor. We really need one of Camby/Rasheed to come back so Tyson can get a little rest.

    Overall though – I feel like Tyson has been a little less motivated on the defensive end this year. When he really brings it, he’s the DPOY that we know and love. But so so many guys have just had a free run at the rim this year while he just watches them go by.

    btw- very arbitrarily looking at Amare’s last 6 games–
    per-36 #s:
    23.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.2 TOs, TS 70%

    I’d say his offense is back.
    If he would just stop putting the ball on the floor so much (and turning it over), he’d be even better. And I daresay the defense has been better too. He needs to be playing 25-30 min/game at this point.

    And totally agree with others that Shump needs to be put on the ball – you could easily put Felton on Devin Harris, or even on Korver.

  6. Kevin McElroy Post author

    Thanks for the heads up on the Shumpert misstatement folks, I will get that fixed soon. Also should point out that the “Kevin M” of comment 2 is not just me arguing with myself :)

  7. d-mar

    Melo really should get an A+, because if he hadn’t hit all those crazy 3’s, there’s absolutely no way we win that game with that awful defensive effort. It came down to Atlanta getting layups and open looks vs. Melo hitting from everywhere, and we were only able to win because of his insane shooting.

    Not a recipe for future success, I would add. Woodson really needs to spend the next few days of practice figuring out how to defend the pick and roll.

  8. Kevin McElroy Post author

    D-mar,

    These grades have to take two things into account: independent quality of decisions and execution of decisions. Both need to be pretty great for me to give an A+ but I (obviously) agree that he basically won them the game with his shooting.

  9. maxwell_3g

    Ive got to complain about our defense here. Three things:
    1) Felton was absolutely terrible on Teague tonight. its not like he was trying to stay in front of Tiny Archibald. It was Jeff F’n Teague. Yes, he is quick, but so are about 30 other pg’s in the NBA.
    2) Stat looked good offensively, but defensively he is a mess. His pick and roll defense did Felton no favors, as Teague consistently turned the corner directly to the hoop. I used to think it was an effort thing for Stat, but its how he is wired. Most decent NBA players are wired to challenge everything on defnese, and have to pull themselves back from time to time. Stat is wired to watch. He has to consiously disregard his natural instincts to contest a shot. perhaps I am the only one who notice it, but Deshawn Stevenson got an “and 1″ in the second quarter. He drove and split to Knick defenders before throwing up a weak layup from his hip right in front of Stat. Stat just watched it flutter in, feet nailed to the ground. How this weak, off balanced layup from the hip didnt end up in the 8th row is beyond me. Thats just Stat being Stat.
    3) ENOUGH OF THE DOUBLE TEAMING

  10. maxwell_3g

    3) ENOUGH OF THE DOUBLE TEAMING IN THE POST!!!!! It is awful strategy to double team Josh Smith, a player with no post game when it comes down to it, while leaving Deshawn Stevenson wide open for a corner three, the best shot in basketball, besides a dunk. That is awful strategy. What makes zero f’n sense is when we double ZAZA F’N PACHULIA in the posts several times (Im looking at you Earl Smith). He is ZAZA F’N PACHULIA. Let him attemot an 8 foot jump hook!!! Part of this doubling , Im sure, is our response to our fear of mismatches caused by our “strategy” to switch on all picks, including picks off the ball. That needs to stop too.

    OK, I’ve vented. i feel better now. Ruru is about to scold me for complaing about Stat adn tell me how efficient he was and cite some NBA metric that shows he is playing good defense. I know whats coming. i’m just a little frustrated, becasue i can see these flaws being fatal in a few months.

  11. Frank O.

    I think Felton’s layoff clearly weakened his game legs, but he’ll get back in playing shape and will react better to quick guards. Not too worried.
    One thing that may be affecting Chandler is how often his team is now missing him when he rolls open to the hoop. There were several times I noticed his teammates ignoring his open roll to the basket. He looked deflated each time.
    This tendency toward isolation has ruined the flow of the offense. Tyson is a genuine threat rolling to the hoop and when the offense flows, he’s in the game. And when the big fella is moving around out there, you reward him.
    I’m sure purists will say he needs to play both ends regardless of where he is getting used on the O side.

    As for Shump, I think they are bringing him back slowly. He’s coming off a major knee surgery and he is part of the future. If every night they put him on the rabbit, he’s going to wear down. Sharing the workload right now is reasonable.
    There is a reason they have limited his minutes. He’s not ready physically to guard the toughest player every night, yet.

  12. cgreene

    I have said now in several posts that I thought the Woodson was going to use Shumpert to guard bigger players instead of ball handlers and I have been right. This is a strategic mistake of massive proportions. I don’t understand why they don’t hard trap the high PnR and have a rotator come to the pop man (Horford) and then force another pass. I get that it will lead to more open 3’s but that has to be better than layups.

  13. Kurt

    Frank: I’d have to look at the tape more carefully, but I’m not totally sure all of them are straight misses of Chandler. It seemed to me like Chandler was being loosely guarded on his rolls. This prevents the lob while still being in position for helping on other Knicks. Though again, haven’t looked so carefully.
    Think in contrast to Amar’e, who can get the ball in the paint in traffic and still finish well. Since Tyson doesn’t have those skills, it could be counterproductive

    About Woodson’s D grade: I agree about your assertion (though it could be because Shump is still getting his wind back).

    But one thing I really liked: Melo waiting on the wing during the Felton/Chandler pick and roll. I think a good portion of Melo’s threes were from that play. I remember Jon Barry couldn’t believe how open Melo was for his 3’s, but that’s what happens when you execute the pnr so well and Melo is willing to stand in the wing.

    Also to Frank: eventually, defenses will be so exasperated by the Melo 3 in the wing that they’ll eventually give up Chandler dunks again.

  14. Kurt

    cgreene, I like your idea in theory. I believe Miami does it that way. But they have 2 of the most athletic defenders in the NBA. It’s also really complicated to execute such a scheme, and I don’t blame Woodson for thinking that the Knicks aren’t ready for that. As much as I love STAT I don’t see him executing that scheme well anytime soon.

    cgreene:
    I have said now in several posts that I thought the Woodson was going to use Shumpert to guard bigger players instead of ball handlers and I have been right.This is a strategic mistake of massive proportions.I don’t understand why they don’t hard trap the high PnR and have a rotator come to the pop man (Horford) and then force another pass.I get that it will lead to more open 3?s but that has to be better than layups.

  15. flossy

    maxwell_3g:

    2)Stat looked good offensively, but defensively he is a mess.His pick and roll defense did Felton no favors, as Teague consistently turned the corner directly to the hoop.

    Try directing your complaints to Tyson Chandler–he and Felton were involved in many, many more PnR sequences that got royally fucked up. Amar’e mostly guarded Josh Smith, and Ivan Johnson/Zaza Pachulia.

  16. johnno

    To all of you who are upset about last night’s defense — imagine if this were a Hawks message board. My guess is that Hawks fans are all screaming, “HOW THE HELL DID WE LOSE A GAME WHEN WE SHOT 60%?!? WHAT KIND OF IDIOT COACH DOESN’T COME UP WITH A DEFENSIVE SCHEME THAT KEEPS CARMELO ANTHONY FROM GETTING WIDE OPEN 3’S?!?! AND WHY IN GOD’S NAME WASN’T THERE ANY HELP DEFENSE ON HIS GAME WINNING LAYUP?!?! WE SUCK!!!”

  17. ruruland

    Max, I think your grievances are somewhat accurate if not overly targeted at Amare.

    Tyson got beat in all the same scenarios Amare did, he came out too high on a switch and allowed a layup, he allowed another layup when he tried to hedge. The rest of the game in the PnR he did what he normally does this year, which is feign effort as a weakside defender by sticking to his man while the opponent gets his layup.

    Chandler’s weakside and PnR defense on plays entering the paint has been atrocious, and it’s the biggest reason his team ranks near the bottom in efg% allowed at close range.

    Yes, Amare was beaten off the dribble a few times when he came out too high on a driver, got lost in a couple PnR, but I dare say that he has given more effort on defense on a per possession basis than Chandler has. However, he also has a few good and a couple great defensive possessions.

    This is not about me holding up each player to a different standard. Yes, they should be held to different standards. But right now if you compared them straight up defensively theres little difference.

    But you’re absolutely right on double teams. I’m sure that will be changed soon. Melo doesn’t need help down there.

    From what I can tell, Woodson is letting players decide when they come down to help. Chandler loves to overhelp when a player either has his back turned to basket or is stationary, and most of the time it’s uneccesary and breaks the defense. Chandler overhelps when he shouldn’t and doesn’t help when he should.

  18. Frank

    Kurt: Also to Frank: eventually, defenses will be so exasperated by the Melo 3 in the wing that they’ll eventually give up Chandler dunks again.

    What’s amazing about Melo last night is that I just watched all 12 3’s on Synergy and he was WIDE OPEN for 10 out of the 12 looks. The only 2 that he wasn’t wide open for were the one at the end of the first half (miss), and one as a PNR ballhandler off a Chandler screen in the 3rd (make) – and even the last one the contest came from the side and really had no chance.

    One of the best things that Woodson has done (probably because of Ray + Kidd) is convince Melo that isolations are not the best way for him to score. He’s still taking about 30% of his possessions as isos, but that’s compared with 35-37% in years past. Pretty much all those posessions that he’s not going iso have turned into spot-ups– right now ~17% of his possessions are spot-ups (he’s 22nd in the league in PPP on that shot type), and his average the last several years has been ~10-11%.

    Tyson’s lack of touches last night definitely resulted in all those open looks for Melo. He had 8 spot-up 3’s last night (10 if you count the ones in transition as spot-ups), and 7 of them came from PNR action with Felton and Chandler. Looks like Atlanta really tried hard to keep Felton from turning the corner, and also basically doubled Chandler on the dive as well.

  19. Frank

    ruruland: Tyson got beat in all the same scenarios Amare did, he came out too high on a switch and allowed a layup, he allowed another layup when he tried to hedge. The rest of the game in the PnR he did what he normally does this year, which is feign effort as a weakside defender by sticking to his man while the opponent gets his layup.

    very much cosign on this. Tyson is playing way too many minutes, and without a real center to back him up, he’s definitely playing not to foul. But his defensive effort has been lacking for 75% of this season.

  20. Frank

    ruruland: But you’re absolutely right on double teams. I’m sure that will be changed soon. Melo doesn’t need help down there.

    And it’s not just when Melo is guarding the post. Players seem to be doubling even when Chandler is guarding guys in the post. If there’s anyone in the league that doesn’t need help there, it’s Tyson.

    Tyson PPP-against in the post – 0.6 PPP, 8th in the league
    Melo PPP-against in the post – 0.62 PPP, 12th in the league.

    Please stop doubling when those guys are involved in post-ups, unless it’s an obvious size mismatch with Melo.

  21. Kurt

    Frank, since you have Synergy, do you mind looking up how Melo compares to Durant on spot ups? Thanks! Just curious since I don’t think any other high usage scorers compare.

  22. ruruland

    By-in-large, the concerns about the half court defense are a bit overblown.

    The Hawks did most of their damage in transition and semi-transition, much of it the result of bad offense.

    One of the biggest areas of improvement offensively should the Knicks meet Miami in the playoffs is the ability to get their defense off balance and funneled into helping the paint off of penetration, which should not only increase off reb opps. and offensive efficiency through lower turnovers and higher ts%, but it should largely negate the Heats running game.

    Jr Smiths unwillingness or inability to run basic PnR last night resulted in really stagnant offense, and therefore defense that could simply stay in running lanes and take off on his bad shots.

    Bad atremlts at continuity offense always seem to lead to high energy plays for athletic teams.

    Prigs needs more minutes and the ball in his hands. Get JR off the ball and keep Raymonds minutes around 30 where he can give you consistent energy on both ends.

  23. ruruland

    By-in-large, the concerns about the half court defense are a bit overblown.

    The Hawks did most of their damage in transition and semi-transition, much of it the result of bad offense.

    One of the biggest areas of improvement offensively should the Knicks meet Miami in the playoffs is the ability to get their defense off balance and funneled into helping the paint off of penetration, which should not only increase off reb opps. and offensive efficiency through lower turnovers and higher ts%, but it should largely negate the Heats running game.

    Jr Smiths unwillingness or inability to run basic PnR last night resulted in really stagnant offense, and therefore defense that could simply stay in running lanes and take off on his bad shots.

    Bad attempts at continuity offense always seem to lead to high energy plays for athletic teams.

    Prigs needs more minutes and the ball in his hands. Get JR off the ball and keep Raymonds minutes around 30 where he can give you consistent energy on both ends.

  24. flossy

    Frank: And it’s not just when Melo is guarding the post.Players seem to be doubling even when Chandler is guarding guys in the post. If there’s anyone in the league that doesn’t need help there, it’s Tyson.

    Tyson PPP-against in the post – 0.6 PPP, 8th in the league
    Melo PPP-against in the post – 0.62 PPP, 12th in the league.

    Please stop doubling when those guys are involved in post-ups, unless it’s an obvious size mismatch with Melo.

    Also, if you really have to double the post (which we didn’t), maybe don’t have JEFF TEAGUE’S DEFENDER come down to double??

    Why force another defender to rotate to cover the person who has been carving up your defense right from the tip, in the name of providing help in the post where none is needed?!

  25. lavor postell

    The use of Shumpert is baffling. A five of Felton-Shumpert-Smith-Melo-Chandler should see some time on the floor. That lineup was essentially what we played with last year down the stretch of the regular season, when we not only played our best defensive basketball of the season, but when Melo was at his absolute best with the floor spread offensively. This also makes the game simpler for Shumpert offensively where he is more or less going to be a spot up three point shooter or can catch the ball off the kick and attack a rotating defense off the dribble.

    Defensively I don’t see the purpose of him tailing Korver around the floor for the duration of his time. I can understand if we’re playing a team that has a 2 or 3 that initiates the offense so you stick Shumpert there, but when point guards in consecutive games look like the 2nd coming of Tony Parker, getting in the lane at will against Felton, an adjustment needs to be made in matchups and defensive strategy. I’ll give Woodson the benefit of the doubt because he’s shown an ability to implement new ideas and stratagems as we’ve seen with our offense this year, but changes do need to be made.

    maxwell_3g:
    3)ENOUGH OF THE DOUBLE TEAMING IN THE POST!!!!!It is awful strategy to double team Josh Smith, a player with no post game when it comes down to it, while leaving Deshawn Stevenson wide open for a corner three, the best shot in basketball, besides a dunk.That is awful strategy.What makes zero f’n sense is when we double ZAZA F’N PACHULIA in the posts several times (Im looking at you Earl Smith).He is ZAZA F’N PACHULIA.Let him attemot an 8 foot jump hook!!!Part of this doubling , Im sure, is our response to our fear of mismatches caused by our “strategy” to switch on all picks, including picks off the ball.That needs to stop too.

    +95000. There was one double on Smith in particular…

  26. ruruland

    Frank: And it’s not just when Melo is guarding the post.Players seem to be doubling even when Chandler is guarding guys in the post. If there’s anyone in the league that doesn’t need help there, it’s Tyson.

    Tyson PPP-against in the post – 0.6 PPP, 8th in the league
    Melo PPP-against in the post – 0.62 PPP, 12th in the league.

    Please stop doubling when those guys are involved in post-ups, unless it’s an obvious size mismatch with Melo.

    Agreed

  27. Kurt

    absolutely agree! Unless it’s Hakeem himself (not his students) or McHale, I’d much rather take my lumps in the post than double and get the offense flowing.

    Reminds me of the D12 Magic when they made the finals. Teams would double Howard in the post that would lead to open 3’s.

    Frank: And it’s not just when Melo is guarding the post.Players seem to be doubling even when Chandler is guarding guys in the post. If there’s anyone in the league that doesn’t need help there, it’s Tyson.

    Tyson PPP-against in the post – 0.6 PPP, 8th in the league
    Melo PPP-against in the post – 0.62 PPP, 12th in the league.

    Please stop doubling when those guys are involved in post-ups, unless it’s an obvious size mismatch with Melo.

  28. ruruland

    Frank: very much cosign on this. Tyson is playing way too many minutes, and without a real center to back him up, he’s definitely playing not to foul. But his defensive effort has been lacking for 75% of this season.

    What’s interesting is that Chandlers best minutes defensively this year have come with Wallace or Camby beside him.

    He just plays a lot harder with those guys, perhaps because he trusts in his own decision.

    I’d like to see his minutes come down and when the other two bigs come back, I think Chandler should play with them instead of staggering the rotations.

  29. Frank

    Kurt:
    Frank, since you have Synergy, do you mind looking up how Melo compares to Durant on spot ups? Thanks! Just curious since I don’t think any other high usage scorers compare.

    Can I just say that after looking at this, Kevin Durant is the greatest player ever. I mean he is basically in the top 20 for any scoring type you want to look at.

    here are the numbers – Melo first, Durant 2nd, league rank in ()

    Overall: 1.03 (37) // 1.13 (9)
    Iso: 0.9 (29) // 0.95 (19)
    PNR BH: 0.96 (9) // 0.91 (18)
    Post-up: 0.95 (13) // 1.09 (1)
    PNR RM: 1.43 (NR) // 1.28 (5)
    Spot-up: 1.21 (23) // 1.37 (4)
    Off-screen: 1.15 (9) // 1.04 (24)
    Handoffs: 0.93 (NR) // 1.52 (NR)
    Cuts: 0.95 (NR) // 1.62 (3)
    O-Reb: 1.29 (11) // 0.83 (NR)
    Transition: 1.27 (53) // 1.48 (4)

    the “NR” means not ranked because not enough sample.

    Durant is unreal. But guess what – Melo is pretty freaking amazing too. In fact, I daresay the biggest difference between the two is that Durant has nearly double the transition possessions as Melo and converts them at a higher rate.

  30. ruruland

    I think the Knicks should start halves with defense extreme lineup of Melo, Felton, Shumpert, Camby and Chandler, play offensive extreme lineups in the middle of halves with Amare at center, and then finish halves with Melo, Chandler, Kidd, Amare, and the choice of Felton, Shumpert or Smith, which, granted, could be a really tough decision many nights.

  31. ruruland

    Frank: Can I just say that after looking at this, Kevin Durant is the greatest player ever. I mean he is basically in the top 20 for any scoring type you want to look at.

    here are the numbers – Melo first, Durant 2nd, league rank in ()

    Overall: 1.03 (37)//1.13 (9)
    Iso: 0.9 (29) //0.95 (19)
    PNR BH: 0.96 (9) //0.91 (18)
    Post-up: 0.95 (13) //1.09 (1)
    PNR RM: 1.43 (NR)// 1.28 (5)
    Spot-up: 1.21 (23)// 1.37 (4)
    Off-screen: 1.15 (9)//1.04 (24)
    Handoffs: 0.93 (NR)// 1.52 (NR)
    Cuts: 0.95 (NR)//1.62 (3)
    O-Reb: 1.29 (11)// 0.83 (NR)
    Transition:1.27 (53)// 1.48 (4)

    the “NR” means not ranked because not enough sample.

    Durant is unreal. But guess what – Melo is pretty freaking amazing too. In fact, I daresay the biggest difference between the two is that Durant has nearly double the transition possessions as Melo and converts them at a higher rate.

    And obviously one guy gets touch fouls every time he needs to get bailed out when a defender gets the best of him. That said, Durant is having perhaps the greatest scoring season in NBA history.

    The strides he’s made athletically the last two years training with Lebron are kind of stunning.

    Theres literally no defense for him with the whistle he gets.

  32. Owen

    Durant is a freak. It’s worth including the free throw numbers because that is the real game changer.

    Durant is taking 9.4 fta per game and converting at 91%.

  33. Frank

    btw, I do believe the days of hoping Lebron misses jumpers are over. He’s currently averaging 1.37 PPP on spot-ups (4th in the league), and shooting 48.1% from 3’s in that setting.

    In other words, on spot-ups he is better than Steve Novak (1.27 PPP), Kyle Korver (1.32), Steve Nash (1.34), and Ray Allen (1.24). He’s equal to Durant.

    He’s not as good as Stephen Curry though (1.44). So there’s that.

  34. Kurt

    Thanks Frank!
    I’d rather say that he seems to be the best scorer ever. LBJ changes the game with his playmaking and passing in a way that Durant does not, though he is improving. But if you just look at scoring, I wonder if even MJ was this efficient at such high usage, even at his peak.

    The fact that Durant is so much better than Melo on spot ups shows how sick he is.

    One more question, Frank: of those in the top 25 on spot ups, are there any others other than Melo and KD who are high usage or are all the other ones 3-point specialists?

  35. Frank

    ruruland: Theres literally no defense for him with the whistle he gets.

    Yeah – if Melo got Durant’s whistle he’d be at the line 15 times/game. Some of the non-fouls are so egregious – like his spin move against Josh Smith last night that didn’t get called. That was ridiculous.

  36. Owen

    The whistle he gets? Seriously?

    The guy is averaging 1.2 more FTA per 36. It’s not like there is a huge difference.

    And let’s be honest here, Melo gets a very generous whistle.

  37. Frank O.

    Kurt:
    Frank: I’d have to look at the tape more carefully, but I’m not totally sure all of them are straight misses of Chandler. It seemed to me like Chandler was being loosely guarded on his rolls. This prevents the lob while still being in position for helping on other Knicks. Though again, haven’t looked so carefully.
    Think in contrast to Amar’e, who can get the ball in the paint in traffic and still finish well. Since Tyson doesn’t have those skills, it could be counterproductive

    About Woodson’s D grade: I agree about your assertion (though it could be because Shump is still getting his wind back).

    But one thing I really liked: Melo waiting on the wing during the Felton/Chandler pick and roll. I think a good portion of Melo’s threes were from that play. I remember Jon Barry couldn’t believe how open Melo was for his 3?s, but that’s what happens when you execute the pnr so well and Melo is willing to stand in the wing.

    Also to Frank: eventually, defenses will be so exasperated by the Melo 3 in the wing that they’ll eventually give up Chandler dunks again.

    If they continue to play Chandler in the PnR and ifMelo continues to bury the 3 as he has this season, it could be a tough combo. This also applies to Amare.

    By the way, if Amare’s mid range is as good as it seems…again, I see no reason why he can’t help to spread the floor a bit, playing the big three together.
    Also, with Amare playing the PnR, there is no reason why Melo cannot contiue to hang at the 3 pt line for a kick. Melo out there spreads it also. I also think Melo taking more of those catch and shoot ops will lengthen his season and career. He is effective playing bully ball, but he is getting pounded and he doesn’t get the love enjoyed by Lebron, Durant, et al. He often doesn’t get the call, I think, because in many cases his style initiates contact.
    I’d like to…

  38. Frank

    Kurt:

    One more question, Frank: of those in the top 25 on spot ups, are there any others other than Melo and KD who are high usage or are all the other ones 3-point specialists?

    That’s harder to work out – because you can’t look at the ranks in a list – you can only happen on them by looking at each player (there are lots of things I would change about Synergy’s interface – or maybe I just don’t know how to use it).

    Anyway – those names I gave above are all in the top 25. The only one out of them that would be considered high usage is probably Curry.

  39. Kurt

    Ruruland: in all fairness to the refs, I think build and body type play a role in their whistle-blowing or lack thereof. I’m sure you remember that, in his prime, Shaq would get mauled in the post without any whistles and his touch fouls would always get called.

    Melo vs. Durant is similar. Durant is still a relative stringbean to Melo, so the same activities done to both Melo and Durant will look different. The same foul might throw KD to the floor while barely moving Melo. I don’t know if this is true and this was a number of years ago, but I remember Kobe saying that Melo was even stronger than LBJ.

    Not that it’s fair but I don’t know if it’s necessarily a pro-Durant, anti-Melo bias.

  40. Frank

    Owen:
    The whistle he gets? Seriously?

    The guy is averaging 1.2 more FTA per 36. It’s not like there is a huge difference.

    And let’s be honest here, Melo gets a very generous whistle.

    just to be precise, KD has a FT/FGA of 0.49, which would rank him 8th in the league amongst guys that play >25 min/game (ie. starters). If you consider usage and shot types, the only player that gets a friendlier whistle than him is Harden (0.57).

    Melo is WAY down on the list at a FTR of 0.36. So we’re talking the same FTRs as Darren Collison and JJ Hickson. Melo may not get a horrible whistle, but he doesn’t get the same “don’t touch him” fouls as Durant does.

  41. lavor postell

    Durant is playing at another level. That being said the officiating he gets is an absolute fucking joke. People bitch about Miami getting a lot of calls, but it’s really nothing compared to the shit Durant, and to a lesser extent Westbrook, get. Melo was getting mauled anytime he was trying to establish position in the mid-post and it would take 2-3 separate fouls before a whistle was blown. You could blow air into Durant’s ear at this point and you’d probably receive a flagrant 2. If this is the whistle he’s going to get than he is unstoppable.

    Kurt:

    Thanks Frank!
    I’d rather say that he seems to be the best scorer ever. LBJ changes the game with his playmaking and passing in a way that Durant does not, though he is improving. But if you just look at scoring, I wonder if even MJ was this efficient at such high usage, even at his peak.

    One reason i will not say Durant is the best scorer ever and unless he averages 40+ for a couple of seasons is because MJ takes that prize by a wide margin for me. In particular I think most perimeter guys from this era would struggle more for their points if they had played in the late 80’s early 90’s era of the NBA when handchecking was legal and you could more or less get away with murder on drives to the lane.

    During a 2007 L.A. Lakers pre-season broadcast, Phil Jackson was asked how he thought Michael Jordan would perform today, Phil said: “Michael would average 45 with these rules.”

  42. ruruland

    Owen:
    The whistle he gets? Seriously?

    The guy is averaging 1.2 more FTA per 36. It’s not like there is a huge difference.

    And let’s be honest here, Melo gets a very generous whistle.

    First time I’ve come across someone who believes Melo gets a “very” generous whistle.

    You realize that Melo averages 1.5 more attempts at the rim per game than Durant.

    KD has a free throw rate of 49%, Melo 36%.

    That has a HUGE bearing on efficiency. it doesn’t just add free throws, it takes away 1-2 fga a game.

    If you think Melo gets a very generous whistle you must surely believe your boy Harden is at the center of an NBA conspiracy.

    Once again, Melo takes more shots at rim than Harden (6.6 to 6.4).

    Hardens free throw rate? 59%!!!!!!!

    Why do I take you seriously, Owen?

  43. Kurt

    Frank: even if STAT’s jumper is working, it doesn’t create the same fear-factor as a Chandler dunk or a Melo 3. Even if it goes in half the time, its only two points. Amar’e could start out there, but I’d love to see more plays like the Felton dish to STAT for the dunk. Felton was using Chandler for a pick, penetrated, and found STAT rolling on the weak side for a dunk.

    in terms of pure space Amar’e rolling to the rim weak side is less pure space, but the threat of him rolling to the rim is always going to be more devastating than the threat of him taking an open jumper.

    Though I do agree with you that, as long as he’s hitting the J, he’ll keep some attention before the screen starts.

    Also, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Melo at the strong side wing with Chandler rolling and Amar’e cutting at the weakside is, in my opinion, the best way to use all three at the same time on offense.

    Frank O.: If they continue to play Chandler in the PnR and ifMelo continues to bury the 3 as he has this season, it could be a tough combo. This also applies to Amare.

    By the way, if Amare’s mid range is as good as it seems…again, I see no reason why he can’t help to spread the floor a bit, playing the big three together.
    Also, with Amare playing the PnR, there is no reason why Melo cannot contiue to hang at the 3 pt line for a kick. Melo out there spreads it also. I also think Melo taking more of those catch and shoot ops will lengthen his season and career. He is effective playing bully ball, but he is getting pounded and he doesn’t get the love enjoyed by Lebron, Durant, et al. He often doesn’t get the call, I think, because in many cases his style initiates contact.
    I’d like to…

  44. Frank

    The only blemish for Melo this year on the offensive end is his seeming inability to finish at the rim this year. He’s at a career low in FG% there (52.8%) – for his career it’s mostly around 60%. Some of that might be the non-fouls, but that can’t be all of it. He sure seems to miss a lot of layups — not that these are easy shots since they’re all contested, but one would hope that his FG% from there trends up to his career averages.

  45. lavor postell

    Owen:
    The whistle he gets? Seriously?

    The guy is averaging 1.2 more FTA per 36. It’s not like there is a huge difference.

    And let’s be honest here, Melo gets a very generous whistle.

    That is an absurd number for a player who doesn’t make strong drives to the rim nearly as often a player like Melo. How Durant garners the number of free throws he does based on where he is operating from offensively is interesting.

    Melo might get a generate whistle, but he is taking a lot more physical contact during any game then Durant. It’s reasonable for guys like Lebron and Melo to average the free throws they do per game.

  46. ruruland

    Kurt:
    Ruruland: in all fairness to the refs, I think build and body type play a role in their whistle-blowing or lack thereof. I’m sure you remember that, in his prime, Shaq would get mauled in the post without any whistles and his touch fouls would always get called.

    Melo vs. Durant is similar. Durant is still a relative stringbean to Melo, so the same activities done to both Melo and Durant will look different. The same foul might throw KD to the floor while barely moving Melo. I don’t know if this is true and this was a number of years ago, but I remember Kobe saying that Melo was even stronger than LBJ.

    Not that it’s fair but I don’t know if it’s necessarily a pro-Durant, anti-Melo bias.

    I’ve made this same point for quite a few years, but at some point it becomes apparent that a guy is getting protection.

    Some of it is Durants ability to show contact, but next time yoi watch Durant, take a look at how his defender guards him and then watch how Melos defender guards Melo.

    Guys who guard Melo not only get away with grabbing, swatting and holding him most possessions, they know they can get away with it.

    If a guy tried to defend Durant that way he’d get two quick fouls. Guys simply don’t try to defend Durant the way they do Melo.

    That makes the foul discrepancy far more lopsided.
    Durant gets more fouls called for getting fouled far less.

  47. ruruland

    Frank:
    The only blemish for Melo this year on the offensive end is his seeming inability to finish at the rim this year. He’s at a career low in FG% there (52.8%) – for his career it’s mostly around 60%. Some of that might be the non-fouls, but that can’t be all of it. He sure seems to miss a lot of layups — not that these are easy shots since they’re all contested, but one would hope that his FG% from there trends up to his career averages.

    It will go up, but some of it has to do with extremely low assist rates.

    I would expect that element of Melos game, which is really the element that Melo built his offensive repertoires around starting as a teenager, to come around in the second half.

  48. Frank O.

    Again, I think the reason Melo gets fewer calls has a lot to do with style.
    Sure he’s stronger than Durant. But Melo clearly initiates a lot of contact. There is a lot of hand to hand combat, a lot of shoving, shoulder dropping, and driving into the body, that Melo himself initiates. I’m not in a position to check this, but my mind tells me that Melo gets a fair amount of offensive calls against him. The very nature of a player that plays “bully ball” means that offensive player is the bully.
    As a Melo fan, come lately – i confess I was not thrilled with all the Knicks gave up for him, or his tendency toward isolation, although less of late – I have to say that a lot of fouls I have seen him get were of the type that I thought could have gone both ways, depending on the refs angle.
    The fact that Melo has become so much greater an outside threat, should help him in terms of getting calls. He’s going to catch a lot of guys lunging at him to defend a shot, in which he either takes the jumper or surges past. One way or another, his outside game will get him more touch calls. Durant has always been a pretty big threat from outside.
    Melo’s game game has a lot of street in it.

  49. ruruland

    lavor postell: That is an absurd number for a player who doesn’t make strong drives to the rim nearly as often a player like Melo.How Durant garners the number of free throws he does based on where he is operating from offensively is interesting.

    Melo might get a generate whistle, but he is taking a lot more physical contact during any game then Durant.It’s reasonable for guys like Lebron and Melo to average the free throws they do per game.

    Right and lately Lebron hasn’t been getting a good whistle.

    I used to think Melo and Kobe were the two guys you could really get away with fouling consistently, after getting a ring, Lebron is almost getting into that category. But he still gets a huge advantage on no-calls on both ends of floor.

    Also, he’s far, far more histrionic than Melo and never gets t’d up.

  50. ruruland

    Frank O.:
    Again, I think the reason Melo gets fewer calls has a lot to do with style.
    Sure he’s stronger than Durant. But Melo clearly initiates a lot of contact. There is a lot of hand to hand combat, a lot of shoving, shoulder dropping, and driving into the body, that Melo himself initiates. I’m not in a position to check this, but my mind tells me that Melo gets a fair amount of offensive calls against him. The very nature of a player that plays “bully ball” means that offensive player is the bully.
    As a Melo fan, come lately – i confess I was not thrilled with all the Knicks gave up for him, or his tendency toward isolation, although less of late – I have to say that a lot of fouls I have seen him get were of the type that I thought could have gone both ways, depending on the refs angle.
    The fact that Melo has become so much greater an outside threat, should help him in terms of getting calls. He’s going to catch a lot of guys lunging at him to defend a shot, in which he either takes the jumper or surges past. One way or another, his outside game will get him more touch calls. Durant has always been a pretty big threat from outside.
    Melo’s game game has a lot of street in it.

    Watch how passive defenders are with their hands and how little they lean on Durant on post entry.

    Melo often uses his hands because his defender is holding him. Melos offensive fouls are often response fouls.

    You can’t hold or lean on Durant.

  51. Darrell H.

    /rant-on

    Is anyone else getting tired of the “talking points” from the lazy sports media types telling everyone that Amar’e is playing terrible defense? I see a guy coming back from injury working his tail off on both ends… He makes mistakes but those are much more excusable from the guy who missed the whole season than TC, Melo, etc. The entire front court seems lazy and disinterested in defense most of every game. Except for Amar’e 2.0, that is.

    I’ll admit I’m biased a bit. I haven’t liked a Knick as much as Amar’e since Bernard and going way back to Sugar Ray and Bradley. But, man, give the guy a break. The man has class, dignity, and work-ethic. What more should we ask for from him?

    /rant-oof

  52. ptmilo

    I think you have it wrong on Stoudemire. I think he was at least as bad as usual on defense, which is to say he looked indistinguishable from someone doing just enough to avoid making it obvious that he is intentionally taking a dive. The rule of thumb last night was that if he was one on one against Zaza Pachulia’s post up game he was a force, otherwise he was a giant defensive sieve in his usual fugue state.

    Stoudemire’s defense is kind of a mystery to me. For most of his career, his teams have been around 5 points per possession better defensively when he is off the floor than when he is on, which is a huge gap over a long period. In the tiny sample of games since he’s been back, it’s been the same story. Just watching him, he is as bad a defensive player as anyone I’ve ever seen with his set of physical skills — he is long, nimble and a quick leaper. He doesn’t have the short-arm syndrome or lateral stiffness of, say, a David Lee. Yet he is also not “lazy” or apathetic in any conventional sense. He has gone through terrible injuries, and appears to rehab hard. He signs autographs until his fingers fall off. He also doesn’t seem unusually prone to sulking or basketball statistical narcissism. He doesn’t even complain about coming off the bench.

    Yet time after time I watch him standing in quicksand on the weak side as some Jeff Teague like being heads unimpeded to the rim. Or pause quizzically after an opponent grabs a defensive rebound like he is consulting a compass. I’ve become convinced that he just lacks a certain recognition alacrity. A reflex. And that this has roughly nothing to do with intelligence. Something like QB situation recognition. Low wonderlic score players like Marino and Favre might have it in spades vs. otherwise smarter players like Gabbert or Griese don’t. I would take Stat over Oak in a mensa challenge or as a partner for Amazing Race, but as an NBA defender I would literally prefer Oak today at…

  53. flossy

    Frank O.:
    Again, I think the reason Melo gets fewer calls has a lot to do with style.
    Sure he’s stronger than Durant. But Melo clearly initiates a lot of contact. There is a lot of hand to hand combat, a lot of shoving, shoulder dropping, and driving into the body, that Melo himself initiates. I’m not in a position to check this, but my mind tells me that Melo gets a fair amount of offensive calls against him. The very nature of a player that plays “bully ball” means that offensive player is the bully.
    As a Melo fan, come lately – i confess I was not thrilled with all the Knicks gave up for him, or his tendency toward isolation, although less of late – I have to say that a lot of fouls I have seen him get were of the type that I thought could have gone both ways, depending on the refs angle.
    The fact that Melo has become so much greater an outside threat, should help him in terms of getting calls. He’s going to catch a lot of guys lunging at him to defend a shot, in which he either takes the jumper or surges past. One way or another, his outside game will get him more touch calls. Durant has always been a pretty big threat from outside.
    Melo’s game game has a lot of street in it.

    Co-sign. I think Melo doesn’t get some of the calls that Durant or Harden do, but his style isn’t called “bully ball” because he’s getting constantly victimized, in fact, there are few players who commit as many potential offensive fouls as Melo does that go uncalled. I think there’s a natural tendency to assume someone who initiates contact as much as Melo does can get as good as he gives. Is it fair? It’s NBA officiating, what do you think…?

    Anyway, I think it’s particularly funny that this debate is happening today after Melo got an and-1 on the game winning shot because Josh Smith looked in his direction.

  54. lavor postell

    ruruland: Right and lately Lebron hasn’t been getting a good whistle.

    I used to think Melo and Kobe were the two guys you could really get away with fouling consistently, after getting a ring, Lebron is almost getting into that category. But he still gets a huge advantage on no-calls on both ends of floor.

    Also, he’s far, far more histrionic than Melo and never gets t’d up.

    Their was a sequence yesterday in the fourth when Melo got the ball with 5 seconds on the shot clock and Stevenson was crawling all over him. The announcer even commented how Stevenson was “inside Melo’s jersey”. Melo of course buried a jumper right in his grill because that was the appropriate response.

    Defenders are really able to get inside guys like Melo, Kobe and to a lesser extent Lebron. Watch Melo or Kobe for an entire game and monitor the amount of times they get handchecked versus guys like Durant or Wade. Melo often gets into a lot of handfighting in order to establish position/clear space that Durant never gets subjected too.

  55. johnno

    Kurt: I’m sure you remember that, in his prime, Shaq would get mauled in the post without any whistles and his touch fouls would always get called.

    I don’t think that you could have picked a worse example to make your point if you tried. My memories of Shaq are, at least 4 or 5 times a game, him commiting a blatant offensive foul by lowering his shoulder and barreling a stationary defender over while going in for a dunk and getting the “and 1″ even though the defender did nothing wrong. Shaq got about as generous a whistle as any player in the history of the NBA.

  56. Owen

    I think the reason Durant gets more foul calls is that he is actually getting fouled more than Melo.

    He is a much better better basketball athlete. When he gets ahead of his defender there is literally nothing you can do to stop him. He is a 7 foot pteradactyl with unlimited range and ridiculous leaping ability.

    I agree that Melo initiates contact far more which doesn’t “get you the whistle” in the same way as the way Durant plays. Durant, I observe, creates a lot more separation with his quickness and length.

    And quite frankly, Melo isn’t a great athlete for an NBA player. Inhumanly strong, no doubt. But his leaping ability and burst just don’t compare to other premier scorers in the NBA. He also doesn’t have the foot speed to generate transition buckets like they can, a point which I am sure we will revisit when the playoffs role around and you tell us that transition buckets don’t matter as much.

    Melo is not Durant. And it isn’t close.

  57. Kurt

    Darell H and ptmilo:
    I think you both have a point.

    First, since I have to get to work after this, let me mention that, as I mentioned previously, I disagree with two of Jim Cavan’s examples of Amar’e’s ineptitude.

    I agree with Darell H that Amar’e is getting a bit of a bum rap on D in the media. I actually think that when he does a soft hedge he’s been mostly decent on pnr defense. I obviously couldn’t agree more about Amar’e’s work ethic and class.

    On the other hand, I agree with ptmilo that there is a certain way of thinking on defense that appears to be a second language for STAT, no matter how much effort he puts in.

    If watch clips of Amar’e from the Suns and Knicks, you’ll notice that he has a pretty high offensive IQ. Not like LBJ, Nash or Kobe (the latter of whom doesn’t always use it) but he definitely has it. He may not have the court vision of LBJ, but he’s amazing at cutting in at the right moment and at the right angle. He’s great at setting up the handoff and/or screen. He’s also really brilliant at cutting in on the weak side. Even before Howard’s injuries, those are the types of skills that made Amar’e a better roll man than Howard, even when Amar’e lost his hops.

    Defense requires a subtly different set of IQ that Amar’e doesn’t have. I disagree with pt in that Amar’e doesn’t have such great lateral quickness. But it’s also a different type of mentality that goes beyond effort, like being able to see two things (your man and the ball) at once. It also requires a lot of focus. Amar’e seems to be excercising his focus muscles better now, but it is still draining. That’s one reason why I think Amar’e’s minutes should still be kept low even if his recovery is complete. Since focus is a muscle and his attention span is jumpy (which also enables a lot of his side projects and interests), he is best served by keeping his minutes under 30 for now to stay decent on D.

  58. JK47

    Durant is basically a 6’10” Michael Jordan. The season he’s having this year is pretty similar to Jordan’s age 24 season– incredible TS% on sky-high usage, WS48 over .300, leading the league in minutes played…

  59. maxwell_3g

    ruruland: Max, I think your grievances are somewhat accurate if not overly targeted at Amare. Tyson got beat in all the same scenarios Amare did, he came out too high on a switch and allowed a layup, he allowed another layup when he tried to hedge. The rest of the game in the PnR he did what he normally does this year, which is feign effort as a weakside defender by sticking to his man while the opponent gets his layup.Chandler’s weakside and PnR defense on plays entering the paint has been atrocious, and it’s the biggest reason his team ranks near the bottom in efg% allowed at close range. Yes, Amare was beaten off the dribble a few times when he came out too high on a driver, got lost in a couple PnR, but I dare say that he has given more effort on defense on a per possession basis than Chandler has. However, he also has a few good and a couple great defensive possessions. This is not about me holding up each player to a different standard. Yes, they should be held to different standards. But right now if you compared them straight up defensively theres little difference. But you’re absolutely right on double teams. I’m sure that will be changed soon. Melo doesn’t need help down there. From what I can tell, Woodson is letting players decide when they come down to help. Chandler loves to overhelp when a player either has his back turned to basket or is stationary, and most of the time it’s uneccesary and breaks the defense. Chandler overhelps when he shouldn’t and doesn’t help when he should.

    I agree that Chandler was awful last night, but im willing to give him a pass here and there, because Ive seen him be great on defense as well. I do not doubt amare’s effort, but I honeslty feel that his default setting is lazy defense, due to years of being allowed to play that way

  60. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Owen:
    I think the reason Durant gets more foul calls is that he is actually getting fouled more than Melo.

    He is a much better better basketball athlete. When he gets ahead of his defender there is literally nothing you can do to stop him. He is a 7 foot pteradactyl with unlimited range and ridiculous leaping ability.

    I agree that Melo initiates contact far more which doesn’t “get you the whistle” in the same way as the way Durant plays. Durant, I observe, creates a lot more separation with his quickness and length.

    And quite frankly, Melo isn’t a great athlete for an NBA player. Inhumanly strong, no doubt. But his leaping ability and burst just don’t compare to other premier scorers in the NBA. He also doesn’t have the foot speed to generate transition buckets like they can, a point which I am sure we will revisit when the playoffs role around and you tell us that transition buckets don’t matter as much.

    Melo is not Durant. And it isn’t close.

    This. Durant is something like MJ, Shawn Kemp, and Dirk Nowitzki in one package. For all these years that LeBron’s been in the league, I’ve been thinking that we’d have to wait a good ten years before the next undisputed best-player-in-the-league would come around. Turns out it only took a few years.

    Melo is offensively skilled. There’s no doubt about that. I love the way he attacks from the low post. Those layups are great. But he’s never going to be the shooter that Durant is, and he’ll probably never stop taking those awful 19-foot shots that crush his efficiency. Durant is playing like an all-time great right now. I thought LeBron would win at least the next two MVPs, but it’s KD’s to lose, this year.

  61. Frank

    Owen: And quite frankly, Melo isn’t a great athlete for an NBA player. Inhumanly strong, no doubt. But his leaping ability and burst just don’t compare to other premier scorers in the NBA. He also doesn’t have the foot speed to generate transition buckets like they can, a point which I am sure we will revisit when the playoffs role around and you tell us that transition buckets don’t matter as much.

    Melo is not Durant. And it isn’t close.

    I think in terms of end-to-end speed and leaping height, Melo is clearly not in the class of Lebron, Durant, or even James White. But his short space quickness, first step, and second jump are elite. If you watch Melo shoot, the ball is off even before defenders can even react. And what makes him such a great scorer is his balance and his hesitation moves. If you watch him on isolations, he is by his guy before they even react. No one makes Lebron look slower on his first step than Melo does. Once it gets to 2nd and 3rd step, Durant has him beaten by a mile, and in terms of wingspan and leaping ability, Durant is in his own stratosphere.

    But re: the fouls, I don’t think you can watch the two of them play and argue that Durant doesn’t get more touch fouls called in his favor than Melo does. And forget it when Melo is trying to get post position – other teams just maul him. Shane Battier literally could/should have been called for a foul on 70% of the plays in last year’s playoffs. I understand that you have a vested interest in minimizing Melo since you’ve come out so hard against him in the last couple years — but Melo absolutely does not get as good a whistle as Durant or Harden — and it has little to do with his athletic ability compared to them.

  62. Hubert Davis

    I think one criticism of Woodson here is unfair. It is very aggressive, in my admittedly unprofessional medical opinion, to have Shumpert drawing the most difficult defensive assignments this soon after his return. I feel very confident that by April/May Shumpert will be drawing those assignments, but right now I think it’s too much. Defense puts the most stress on ligaments since it’s so reactive and the more he guards quick 1’s the more he’s going to be making faster, harder cuts that test that ACL. I think we want to avoid that as much as possible in his strength-rebuilding stage.

    Again I have no medical background, it just seems logical to me.

    I’m surprised Shump is back and Derrick Rose is still sidelined, by the way. I hope that just means Shump healed faster and not that we were too aggressive with his injury.

  63. flossy

    JK47:
    Durant is basically a 6’10? Michael Jordan.The season he’s having this year is pretty similar to Jordan’s age 24 season– incredible TS% on sky-high usage, WS48 over .300, leading the league in minutes played…

    Now just imagine if he played defense like Jordan…

  64. Owen

    Everyone gets mauled in the post.

    I don’t know, it’s kind of a pointless argument. To me, the ability to draw fouls is a very tangible skill. Rates are very stable year over year.

    I suppose their could be a conspiracy to deny Carmelo calls that other players get. But that strikes me as, um, implausible…..

  65. Frank

    Owen:
    Everyone gets mauled in the post.

    I don’t know, it’s kind of a pointless argument. To me, the ability to draw fouls is a very tangible skill. Rates are very stable year over year.

    I suppose their could be a conspiracy to deny Carmelo calls that other players get. But that strikes me as, um, implausible…..

    C’mon dude. Watch Gallo when he drives to the hoop, throwing his head back, pretend falling off balance whenever anyone breathes on him and tell me that some guys haven’t turned this into an art. Drawing contact is definitely a skill, but showing contact is related but different skill. Melo draws plenty of contact, but just doesn’t show it as well.

    I don’t think there’s a conspiracy against Melo or against any player. But I do think that some guys are obviously favored by officials.

  66. Juany8

    Rose, Kobe, and Melo don’t flop like little bitches at the slightest breath and thus get by far the worst whistles of any offensive stars in the league. Harden is by far the worst in the league at this, he reacts like he’s been punched by Mike Tyson every single time he drives the lane, regardless of the contact. I’d love to see the argument be made that Harden is more quick and athletic than Rose… More interesting is that Lebron has lost his uber friendly whistle on offense (he apparently does not foul players anymore) as has Wade. That was one the Heat’s biggest advantages in the playoffs last year, they were basically given a game each series because of horrendous officiating.

  67. Owen

    I just suspect they are “favored” for a reason.

    It would also be useful to extract all technical foul shots from the numbers and late game free throws to get a better sense of “how good a whistle” each and every player in the NBA is getting.

    Don’t know how to do that. How many techs has Novak shot this year for instance?

  68. lavor postell

    Juany8:
    Rose, Kobe, and Melo don’t flop like little bitches at the slightest breath and thus get by far the worst whistles of any offensive stars in the league. Harden is by far the worst in the league at this, he reacts like he’s been punched by Mike Tyson every single time he drives the lane, regardless of the contact. I’d love to see the argument be made that Harden is more quick and athletic than Rose… More interesting is that Lebron has lost his uber friendly whistle on offense (he apparently does not foul players anymore) as has Wade. That was one the Heat’s biggest advantages in the playoffs last year, they were basically given a game each series because of horrendous officiating.

    Pretty much sums up my thoughts.

  69. Douglas

    Juany8: Rose, Kobe, and Melo don’t flop like little bitches at the slightest breath and thus get by far the worst whistles of any offensive stars in the league.

    Word.

  70. Frank

    Owen: I just suspect they are “favored” for a reason.

    There are 3 reasons that probably don’t apply to all players equally. They include:
    – actually drawing contact
    – flopping
    – nebulous ref favoritism

    For guys like Melo, he only gets a foul called if the first occurs.

    For guys like Gallo, the 2nd one is by far the biggest factor.

    For guys like Durant and Harden, all of the above matter.

    It doesn’t have to be obvious to be a hugely significant effect. If someone, say Durant, takes 20 actual shot attempts in a game and gets a PF on 4 of them, then only 16 FGA are recorded and he gets 8 foul shots = a FTR of 0.5.

    If Melo takes 20 shot attempts and gets a foul called on 3 of them, then 17 FGA are recorded and he gets 6 foul shots = a FTR of 35%

    On a single game basis, that difference is invisible, but over a whole year, that’s 164 foul shots. I don’t know how to calculate the Pythagorean win thing, but my guess is that if Durant shoots 90% from the line and 164 foul shots = ~150 points, that’s probably worth a few wins over a season.

  71. Frank

    This has been a hugely entertaining thread for me, but it does make me a little sad that I’ve been reduced to complaining about the refs.

  72. Owen

    Honestly, I have a hard time with the ref favoritism argument. But it’s pretty much completely subjective and difficult to bring numbers to bear on.

    Will try to track down how many technical foul shots Durant and Melo have taken this year….

  73. jon abbey

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: I thought LeBron would win at least the next two MVPs, but it’s KD’s to lose, this year.

    as always, you totally ignore defense, where there’s no comparison between the two. Durant is awesome but still clearly the second best player in the league. how that translates to MVP voting, no idea, although the Clippers are making a good case for Chris Paul by losing so much without him.

  74. Juany8

    jon abbey: as always, you totally ignore defense, where there’s no comparison between the two. Durant is awesome but still clearly the second best player in the league. how that translates to MVP voting, no idea, although the Clippers are making a good case for Chris Paul by losing so much without him.

    To be fair Lebron is not exactly playing playoff level defense, and the Heat are going to end up with like the 4th best record in the league. Lebron is still the best player, but I think the “other” categories that go into MVP voting will result in Durant getting the MVP.

  75. Owen

    I think KD will win. But I agree Lebron is still the better player overall, because of his defense. And also that Chris Paul deserves consideration, although the injury issues will and i guess should prevent that.

    Paul is great though….

  76. nicos

    while Durant may win the mvp LBJ is much more valuable to Miami than Durant is to OKC- he’s both their point guard and their leading scorer- everything on offense runs through him and his turnover rate is still better than Durant’s- and he’s their best defensive player as well. While Durant is the centerpiece of OKC’s offense, he does play off of the ball most of the time- his teammates are involved far more often on his points than LBJ’s are on his (sets with multiple staggered screens, Westbrook’s penetration, etc…). And while he’s been better defensively this year, he’s still the worst defender in their starting line-up or at best second worst depending on how you feel about Westbrook. He’s having an historic offensive year but LBJ’s still solidly the best player in the league.

  77. johnlocke

    Really not fair how good LeBron is. Did you see the chart showing how his shooting % has increased every single year since he’s been in the league? The guy is shooting 55% from the field. And if he keeps improving his jump shooting, maybe they institute a Lebron rule where his twos are only worth 1 point and threes are worth 2. And his defense is really excellent. Durant will most likely win the MVP if he keeps this up though – the voters like variety.

    nicos:
    while Durant may win the mvp LBJ is much more valuable to Miami than Durant is to OKC- he’s both their point guard and their leading scorer- everything on offense runs through him and his turnover rate is still better than Durant’s- and he’s their best defensive player as well.While Durant is the centerpiece of OKC’s offense, he does play off of the ball most of the time- his teammates are involved far more often on his points than LBJ’s are on his (sets with multiple staggered screens, Westbrook’s penetration, etc…).And while he’s been better defensively this year, he’s still the worst defender in their starting line-up or at best second worst depending on how you feel about Westbrook.He’s having an historic offensive year but LBJ’s still solidly the best player in the league.

  78. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    jon abbey: as always, you totally ignore defense, where there’s no comparison between the two. Durant is awesome but still clearly the second best player in the league. how that translates to MVP voting, no idea, although the Clippers are making a good case for Chris Paul by losing so much without him.

    I do think that LeBron is still the best overall player, but the MVP vote is a fickle beast, and it’s not so clear-cut.

  79. jon abbey

    I do always like when the best player in the league gets a chance to destroy the alleged MVP in the playoffs, although the only ones I can think of off the top of my head are Hakeem/David Robinson and Jordan/Karl Malone. oh, maybe LeBron/Derrick Rose?

  80. Frank O.

    jon abbey:
    I do always like when the best player in the league gets a chance to destroy the alleged MVP in the playoffs, although the only ones I can think of off the top of my head are Hakeem/David Robinson and Jordan/Karl Malone. oh, maybe LeBron/Derrick Rose?

    Agreed. Fun to think about. Thanks

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