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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): David Lee

KnickerBlogger Despite standing only 6’9″, David Lee’s main strength is his rebounding. He combines excellent positioning, exceptional timing, good leaping ability, and a desire to capture missed shots on both ends of the floor. Not only is Lee the best rebounder on his team, but he’s one of the best in the NBA. Among players that logged 1000 or more minutes in 2007, Lee finished 5th in per minute rebounding. Compared to the other hyalophiles, Lee committed the fewest fouls and scored the most points.

Per 40 Minutes Height Tm OREB DREB TREB PF PTS
Reggie Evans 6’8″ DEN 5.5 10.8 16.3 5.1 11.5
Dikembe Mutombo 7’2″ HOU 5.1 10.1 15.1 4.8 7.1
Tyson Chandler 7’1″ NOK 5.1 9.3 14.3 3.9 10.9
Jeff Foster 6’11” IND 5.8 8.2 14 4.6 7.4
David Lee 6’9″ NYK 4.5 9.4 13.9 3.6 14.4

Not just a one trick pony, Lee is also adept at running the floor and strong at finishing around the hoop. A natural lefty, David Lee is ambidextrous which allows him to score with either hand. Although he doesn’t possess the extra wide body that Curry or Sweetney has, Lee isn’t slender, and can shield the ball with his body. Lee shot a robust 60% eFG from the field, and is such a good free throw shooter (81.6%) that he ranked third on the team in free throw shooting percentage. As a bonus, Lee doesn’t dominate the ball on offense. The Knicks don’t need to run any plays for him, as he’s able to produce his own offense by his rebounding and his ability to move well without the ball.

Although Lee is slightly undersized at power forward, his defense is passable. He has good footwork and is strong enough to not get bowled over against other post players. Additionally Lee can play the small forward or center spots, albeit in short stints depending on the matchup. If Lee were 2 inches taller he probably would excel as a shot blocker, but he is only able to alter shots of smaller players. Among the Knick forwards/centers Lee committed the fewest per minute fouls, which allows him to stay on the court for long periods of time. According to 82games, the Knicks were 2.5 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Lee on the court. Even if that number comes from his outstanding rebounding, he clearly doesn’t hinder the team with his defense.

In 2007, the Knicks record was 26-32 (.449) with David Lee and 7-17 (.291) without him. In the three games after the suspensions from the Denver fight, Lee averaged 13 points and an incredible 17.7 rebounds. Last year he led the Knicks in 4 important categories (eFG%, TS%, OREB/40, and DREB/40) and had the highest PER on the team. Quietly he was New York’s most valuable player.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: A

2008 Outlook: Despite Lee’s outstanding sophomore season, there are a few questions that 2008 will bring:

1. Was 2007 a fluke?
Too often have we seen young players have a fantastic year, only to fall down to earth never to reach that level of play again. Hopes may be high for Lee to continue to progress, and one only needs to look at Lee’s draftmate Channing Frye to see how far a young player can slide from a single season. On the positive side, Lee’s pertinent stats are nearly identical from his rookie year, with one exception: his defensive rebounding. Lee grabbed 2.6 DREB/40 more in 2007, which is more likely due to his switch to power forward (from small forward under Brown) and Curry’s increase in minutes (Curry is a poor rebounder).

2. How will the injury affect Lee?
Of all the questions, this one is the most concerning. Lee’s injury seems to have been misdiagnosed, his return date kept sliding, and he made a token appearance hobbling at the end of the season. Since Lee uses his jumping ability to secure a lot of his rebounds, suffering an ankle injury should cause some concern. It’s probable that he missed the summer league because he’s still not 100%, although there were reports that he was working out with the team. Watching him early in the pre-season should give fans a good indication if this injury is behind him or not.

3. How much will he play?
Prior to draft night it seemed that David Lee would have a bright future in New York. He only had Channing Frye, Malik Rose, Jerome James, and Randolph Morris to compete with for the starting spot in the Knick’s lineup. Considering that group of talent, Lee should have been a lock to start in 2008. That all changed when Isiah Thomas acquired Zach Randolph on draft day. Now Knick fans are wondering if David Lee will see enough court time this year. Consider that last year Curry and Randolph averaged a little over 35 minutes a game each. If the duo play the same amount of minutes, and David Lee backs up both players, it only means he’ll play about 25 minutes a game, less than the 30 he played last year.

But the problem with that logic is that the Knicks can’t just use only three players for two spots all year. There’ll be times that they’ll need a defensive presence in the paint, so they may have to look to Rose, James, Morris, or Cato (considering any of these players are on the roster come November). While Lee can play small forward for short stretches, there’ll be nights that the matchup will make it impossible. Additionally small forward seems to be the Knicks’ deepest position, so Lee may have a hard time finding minutes there either. My ideal situation, while still being realistic, would be for Isiah to occasionally use Lee as a small forward in a big lineup to force other teams out of their comfort zone, slightly cut back on Curry and Randolph’s minutes, be open minded in the fourth quarter and use Lee down the stretch especially when Zach or Eddy are having an off night.

4. Can he generate more offense?
With Isiah’s offense centered on the low post play of Eddy Curry, and now Zach Randolph, it becomes important for all the Knicks on the floor to knock down an open jumper. Unfortunately Lee hits only 29% of his jump shots according to 82games.com. His shot looks awkward, and maybe part of it is due to being left handed. Nonetheless it appears as if he doesn’t square his shoulders to the hoop. Often relying on others to score, his usage is very low and his per minute scoring is only tied for 7th on the team. While Lee is plenty valuable without a jump shot, for him to go from being a very good complimentary player to an All Star will require a bit more scoring volume. A 15 footer would go a long way in Lee’s development.

Dave Crockett

Lee’s career has been one I have followed with some interest since seeing him in listed as a McDonald’s HS All-American in 2001. I suspect most Knickerblogger readers are not familiar with the St. Louis metro area, which is where I spent my high school years some 20+ years ago. Lee’s high school, Chaminade College Prep, suffice it to say is not to be mistaken for the prototypical high school sports powerhouse. (Back in my day Chaminade actually ran a single-wing offense in football.) So when this mop-topped, rosy-cheeked lad won the McDonald’s slam dunk contest I was, to say the least, intrigued. Unfortunately for Lee he virtually never had a play run for him at Florida until his senior season, overlapping as he did with trigger-happy guards Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh. Fortunately for Knicks fans Lee learned how to be uber-productive without the ball in his hands. His long arms, timing, and knack for positioning virtually ensure that he will always be a quality rebounder.

The key for Lee going forward will be developing a 15-18 foot jump shot. If he never improves in that area he still promises to be an exceptionally useful complimentary player, along the lines of A.C. Green–the player to whom he compares most favorably at the same age. But if he can improve his ball-handling and his shot–a feat that may require reconstructing that ugly looking thing–I see Lee’s peak years comparing favorably to those of Larry Nance or Horace Grant (i.e., very good, though probably not Hall of Fame).

Putting a damper on some of the superlatives though, I do have my concerns about Lee’s injury. I am still not completely certain of the final diagnosis. Its description in the press even now remains somewhat murky. My initial thinking was that Lee suffered a “high ankle sprain,” an injury commonly suffered by football players. That’s generally a 6-8 week injury. But, it remains unclear if Lee is back to 100% even now.

As for Lee’s minutes this upcoming season, I suspect that after pulling Lee–clearly his most desired asset–off the market Thomas plans to play him. My best guess is that he will be part of a rotation that sees him log some minutes at SF while the lion’s share will come at backup PF when Zach Randolph slides down to C. My sincere hope is that we have seen the last meaningful minutes for Malik Rose and Jerome James, who combined to be on the floor for over a quarter of the team’s minutes in ’06-07.

Brian Cronin – Yeah, the injury problem is my only concern about Lee. It’s not like Lee just developed all these skills out of nowhere. He was basically the same player in his sophomore year as in his rookie year – only more so. ;)

But I’ve seen way too many NBA players get similar injuries to Lee and just have their distinctive abilities, if not ruined, at least diminished for quite awhile. So I am certainly hoping that Lee will recover nicely.

I am not too worried about minutes, really, because, as Dave mentions, if Zeke isn’t going to trade him, I gotta figure it is because he actually plans on using him. I, too, think he will see most of his minutes at the SF position.

As for the grade, come on, could it be any grade BUT an A? Dude was a legitimate contender for the All-Star team in his second season!!

43 comments on “Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): David Lee

  1. Nick

    An A means that there’s no room for improvement. While I love David Lee, I happen to think he’s a tad over rated.

    When he’s in a halfcourt set he’s an offensive liability. It’s not uncommon to see Lee, Balkman, and Jeffries for that matter pass up wide open jumpers.

    For a guy with his athleticism and his wingspan Lee should be a much better shotblocker. Lee’s defensive fundamentals and desire are also questionable.

    If I’m a combo forward like David Lee, I’d study tapes of guys like Tayshaun Prince and Andres Nocioni. These guys are not as good as Lee on the boards, and nowhere near as athletic as him, but they’re excellent defenders, and they can hit the open jumper with range out to three point land.

    They’re 2 way combo forwards, and that’s what Lee should strive to be.

  2. jon abbey

    Tayshaun Prince is nowhere near as ‘athletic’ as David Lee? that brings to mind Prince chasing down Reggie Miller out of nowhere in the playoffs a few years back and swatting his fast break attempt from behind. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Lee do that any time soon (on Miller’s equivalent, obviously not on Reggie himself).

  3. Gabe

    Two things in response to KB’s assessment:

    1) According to most reports, you’re being credited with creating the word hyalophile (eg, http://www.langmaker.com/db/Hyalophile). Kudos.

    2) You said the Knicks don’t run any plans for Lee, but I can think of at least one buzzer-beating tip-in that was run for him.

  4. Ted Nelson

    Nick,

    Out of curiosity, what do you give the other Knicks if you’re only giving Lee a C+/B-?

    Is there any Knick player you would rank higher than Lee? And why I guess.

  5. Z

    C+!?!

    Everyone has room for improvement– LeBron will improve. Would you dock Kobe a point for only scoring 82 points in a game instead of 101 like he’s capable? You would only be satisfied in a player if he went from sporadically playing rookie to polished vet in one season?

    The expectation for Lee was to develop his game and improve on his rookie year. He more than exceeded every expectation.

    It is true that Lee gets A LOT of love on this site, and being a contrarian by nature, I too tend to look toward the downside of a player held in such high esteem, but in the case of Lee anything less than an A would be unjustifiable.

  6. Nick

    Jon,

    I remember that play very well, and Prince’s desire, and motor on the defensive end made that block on Miller happen.

    I saw Balkman make that same play during the regular season vs. the Celtics. I think David Lee can out run and out jump Prince, but Prince is the better defender just because he’s got better fundamentals.

    Stephon Marbury – B+ This is based on how he raised his level of play after the brawl. Marbury showed flashes of finally becoming a great 2 way PG.

    He had some excellent defensive performances against some of the best guards in the league like Deron Williams, Gilbert Arenas, and Ray Allen, and went on a tear in January (or was it February?) when Crawford went down and he had to pick up some of the scoring load.

    The game in Dallas where he had to carry the team on his back, and a game against Atlanta showed that he’s still unguardable when he’s on.

    Add to that the fact that he’s been playing hurt, and it’s a no brainer that he’s the Knicks best player.

    Jamal Crawford – C The Knicks most versatile guard. Streaky scorer, decent playmaker, weak defender, and questionable basketball IQ.

    Nate Robinson – C- Nobody plays with more heart on the team. Much improved midrange and overall perimeter game. Awful PG skills. A turnover waiting to happen.

    Renaldo Balkman – B+ He’s a jumpshot away from being the best all around forward on the Knicks.

    Versatile enough to defend all 5 positions. I remember him having the most success vs. Yao Ming when the Knicks played the Rockets and Yao was abusing every other defender the Knicks threw at him. Can take the ball off the glass and initiate the break.

    It’s not uncommon to see Balkman block a shot and finish on the other end with a dunk. CAn block jump shots (he blocked a 3 point attempt by Kevin Durant during Summer League).

    Improved his FT shooting drastically towards the end of the year.

    I think Balkman has a higher ceiling than Lee.

  7. dave crockett

    I have never been a fan of the “A” means “no room for improvement” school of thought. I’m more inclined to interpret these grades as a rough indicator of how well a player has performed relative to the grader’s expectations. Most of the subjectivity (and controversy) comes in what we should expect from a given player.

  8. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    I found this by commenter Nick, written back in the summer of 1963.

    “Wilt Chamberlain’s grade: B+

    Chamberlain’s averaged dropped from 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds 2 seasons ago to 44.8 and 24.3 last year. Clearly he has room for improvement.”

  9. Owen

    Nick – Um, are you trying to make my head explode? That C+ might be the most ludicrous thing ever posted on this board.

    Alright, moving on.

    Points in David Lee’s favor:

    1. 2nd in the NBA is Shooting Efficiency (65.2% ts%)

    2. Tied for 1st in rebounding rate (20.7)

    3. PW% of .931.

    4. Resident “stick that holds that Knicks? sh!t popsicle together because he grabs boards, scores points and hustles….”

    The numbers from last year are pretty definitive. David Lee emerged as one of the top forwards per minute in the NBA.

    As our esteemed leaders noted, the question is, can he match his production next year, given his injury and the team’s personnel logjam? I worry about it unceasingly. My sense is probably no. Last season was probably too good to be true. I mean, how can he really be that good?

    Parsing the numbers, I do see admirable consistency across the two years. His improvement in TS% was entirely attributable to his jump in FT%. His FG% was unchanged. That’s a good thing. A point not made often enough btw, it’s really hard to overrate how much better a player can make himself by raising his FT%. Something for the Big Turnover to think about when he takes time off from getting robbed at gunpoint.

    Speaking of Curry, Lee’s rebounding rate was probably helped by the presence of Curry, but the impact would probably be small, maybe 1 rebound per 40 at most.

    In sum, David Lee is an awesome basketball player, by far the best the Knicks employ. His scoring volume isn’t that high, but the Knicks are full of scorers. And does anyone honestly believe Lee couldn’t trade 7% of his gaudy, nearly league leading TS% for more scoring? Really, that’s probably the easiest thing for him to accomplish.

    Alright, back to buffing my Lee bobbleheads…

  10. Frank

    So I guess Owen gives Lee an A? Shocking!

    Two things I agree with Nick on — Marbury definitely raised his level of play when Jamal went down– trouble with him is that he truly doesn’t make other players better. Watching him feed the post is just not pretty– Jamal is such a better passer at this point in his career. Strange because when Marbury came into the league he was a great passer. Maybe too much Starbury.

    The other thing I agree with Nick on — I also think Balkman has a higher ceiling than Lee. They’re not that far apart as rebounders and Balkman does so many other things well. he’s a far superior defender to Lee, can handle the ball, and is equally good at finishing on the break. They’re both missing jumpers and Lee is a better FT shooter, but Balkman is at least equivalent if not better than Lee in my eyes.

    (They do play different positions though).

    That being said, Lee still gets an A in my book because he continued his excellent play in more minutes and because he improved his FT shooting to 81%. Balkman gets an A- from me mostly because the FT shooting sucked so badly. But all things considered, he was great.

    By the way, my grading system is based on their performance compared with expectations preseason, not on the A = no room for improvement system (in which case no one on the team would get better than a C+).

  11. Frank

    correction to prevous post — Balkman is at least equivalent if not beter than Lee in my eyes in terms of ceiling.

  12. Frank O.

    I think teams are made of role players.
    Lee has a role. It is to be active, get rebounds and clean up around the basket with put backs.
    Balkman plays a similar role, but he has yet to be as productive as Lee. It would appear, however, that he is more adept at playing the small forward position.
    Curry and Randolph will be scorers. That is what they are…and that is why you probably won’t see Lee and Balkman taking too many 15-footers.

    Q will be a two now, and Crawford will come off the bench in a three guard rotation with Marbury. Robinson will see limited minutes and garbage time.
    The idea of having Balkman and Q on the floor at the same time appeals to me, given out D is so ragged.

    But we have too much in the PF slot: Randolph/Lee/Jeffries/Balkman
    Too much at SG:
    Q/Crawford/Jones and Robinson
    Not enough at Point:
    Marbury/Dickau and Robinson

    In all this, I think Lee’s minutes suffer.

  13. Owen

    Some more Lee stuff:

    He has been invited to play with Team USA. For some reason, someone apparently thinks he might make an Olympian…

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/07292007/sports/knicks/lee_to_scrimmage_usa_knicks_marc_berman.htm

    David Lee’s girlfriend, Sabina Gadecki:

    http://www.sabinagadeckionline.com/index1.html

    And here is what the ever colorful Ron Artest had to say about him.

    “Now, back to Artest! (This is fun, right?) Ken Berger of Newsday has been a must-read this summer. Is he the Yankees beat writer? Maybe the Jets inside man? Nah, he’s actually the man following Ron Artest in his journey across Africa. To say Berger’s gotten some great quotes is like saying California has some attractive women. My favorite gem? This one on the aforementioned Lee, “If some crazy scenario happened where I was with the Knicks, I would want David Lee there,” Artest said. “I love David Lee. I played with him in the ‘hood last summer, and he showed so much heart. They were trying to rough up David Lee, but David Lee got rough right back. And this was the projects, you know? And I respected that. I wouldn’t trade myself for David Lee at all. I love his game. I love how he rebounds. To come off the bench and average close to 10 rebounds, you can’t trade a guy like that. You don’t trade a guy like David Lee, and Isiah made a great call. I would have done the same thing.”

  14. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, the whole A debate is a pretty simple one.

    You either think an A grade means you are perfect, or you don’t.

    If you DO think so, then yeah, Lee wouldn’t be worth an A.

    But I (and I don’t think anyone else on KB) subscribes to that idea, so then Lee would definitely be an A player.

  15. Nick

    Owen,

    You know you’re reaching when you’re using a Ron Artest endorsement to make a point.

    David Lee is a role player. He’s an excellent role player, but he’s not the best player on the team.

    When healthy, Stephon Marbury and Quentin Richardson are the best players on the Knicks, simply because they’re a threat on both ends of the court. They’ve shown the ability to shut down an All Star on any given night on the defensive end, while also being a threat to erupt for 20-30 points on any given night even when guarded by some of the best players in the league.

    David Lee’s a good rebounder, a great FT shooter, and a very intelligent player. But the reason the Knicks don’t play him at small forward is because he can’t keep his man in front of him.

    The reason he’s not starting at PF is because he’s not strong enough to keep his man out of the box and he’s not a good defender.

    Another reason might be that when Lee is on the floor with Curry, Lee’s man can sag off him to double Curry (which is probably why Channing Frye started and he came off the bench) and dare him to shoot a jump shot, which according to another poster, he only hits 29% of the time.

    Lee’s also a poor shotblocker for a power forward, which is probably why he commits such few fouls compared to guys like Mutombo, Evans, Chandler, and Foster. All of the above are much better defenders than Lee.

    And all this crap about his shooting percentage is just that.

    Crap.

    Why don’t we tell Dirk Nowitzki to stop shooting from the outside where he shot a measly 50% compared to Lee’s 60%, and just stick to scoring on garbage points and dunks like Lee does.

    I bet his shooting percentage would sky rocket up. Especially if he stopped shooting threes which he only connected on 41% of the time.

    The same could be said about Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan and their midrange game. Lee’s got Duncan FG% beat by 6% and his FT% beat by 19%.

    The difference between a star player like Duncan and a role player like Lee is that Duncan is a threat in the paint, he’s a threat from midrange, and he’s arguably the best low post defender in the NBA, and averages over 2 blocks per game.

    As much as I love this site, I think there’s way too much emphasis on misleading stats.

  16. Ben

    Nick – I think much of your post was a little off base. This may be a shocker but Lee is not as good as Duncan, Dirk or Garnett, and no one here is saying that. But he very well might have been the best Knick last year.

    Also I would argue about Marbury or Q being better defenders, according to +/-, Dean Oliver’s defensive rating, box score stats and 82games.com’s DCS; Lee was a better defender last year. In fact Lee was the second best Knick in terms of defensive +/-, defensive rating, DCS and the third best in terms of box score stats. I cannot find any statistic on any site that backs the claim that Q or Marbury were better defensivly than Lee last year.

    The only Knick clearly better defensively was Balkman who I would say has the makings of a all-NBA defensive type player and would be the one Knick I would say is comparable to Lee, in terms of ceiling and overall game.

    Also out of the players mentioned only Mutumbo and Chandler are shotblockers, both Evans and Foster avg under 1 block per 40 mins last year. So I would not say that is why they had more fouls.

    Lee does not hurt Curry offensivly when he is on the floor. In fact Curry shot a higher efg% and scored more points per 40 when Lee was on the floor than with any other Knick.

    On top of that the Knicks were better offensively with Lee on the floor than with any other player. While Lee was on the floor the Knicks scored 101.5 pts per 48 minutes. The next best Knick was Crawford and the Knicks scored 98.4 pts per 48 minutes when Crawford was on the floor.

    The one thing I do agree is that Lee cannot effectively play SF because he is not a SF. He can however defend PF’s and C’s and is easily a better defender than Randolph or Curry.

    I think Lee deserves an A+ because he greatly improved and had a very good season last year. Does he have room to improve, of couse he does but last year was only his second season and his first getting consistant minutes. I do not understand how anyone could expect more from a second year player drafted at the end of the 1st round.

    Finally, Lee scored alot more than you give him credit for. He scored the same amount of points per 40 as Frye, and only scored 1.3 points less per 40 than Q.

    The Knicks were a much better team when Lee was on the floor. The Knicks outscored their opponent by 2.5 pts per 48 minutes when Lee was on the floor. The next best Knick was Balkman and the Knicks were actually outscored per 48 minutes by 0.6 points when Balkman was on the floor.

  17. Owen

    Nick – Lee is the best player on the Knicks by a large margin. Maybe he is a role player, but he is the kind of role player who is so good at what he does, rebounding and converting fg’s efficiently and playing without the ball, that his value transcends the value of most scoring players. Saying he isn’t a threat because he doesn’t score a lot is weird. The Knicks offense was 8.9 points better with him on the court, which is a larger positive margin than either Duncan or Garnett produced for their team. So clearly, despite his shocking lack of a jump shot, and his inability to be a “threat in the paint,’ he still helps his team out. And this was only his second year in the league.

    You don’t need to be a great shooter or scorer to make your team better offensively.

    And what’s so misleading about TS%? No player in the NBA scored as many points as Dirk as efficiently. The numbers show he is a great offensive player, no surprise, given that he was the centerpiece of the greatest offensive unit of all time according to BOP. His team was 14.7 points better on offense with him on the court this year. His ts% of 60.5% is pretty darn good….

  18. DS

    Hey let’s split hairs over what an “A” means rather than discuss that the Celtics are now sporting a KG-Allen-Pierce trio.

  19. AlbanyKnick

    Ok, now let’s talk about what this Celtics/T-Wolves trade does to Isiah.

    Part of him has to worry that if he doesn’t hold onto David Lee, he leaves himself open to Zach Randolph going on a killing spree and not having an NBA-caliber power forward.

    However, if he wants to keep up with the Celts, he really, really wants to get Ron Artest and roll the bones with what basically amounts to a team that would only be sponsored by Rikers Island.

    However, if the Knicks run out
    PG: Marbury/Crawford/Collins,
    SG: Crawford/Richardson/Nichols,
    SF: Artest/Balkman/Chandler,
    PF: Randolph/Rose/Jeffries
    C: Curry/Morris/James, can they even compete with Boston? This is very interesting….,

  20. birchnbrook

    Danny Ainge’s plan worked to perfection. Suck, suck, suck for years, then use expiring deals to bring in talent. Zeke’s plan – keep changing plans, keep bringing in mediocre talent, keep overpaying awful free agents, keep making horrendous trades, and keep the Knicks at best mediocre, but more likely just plain bad. Is it heresy to declare myself a Celtics fan? Can’t root for Zeke’s freaks (leave QRich and Lee out of that definition).

  21. Z

    isiah’s new problem is that he doesn’t have Ainge to fall back on anymore when people call him the worst GM in the league…

  22. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “When healthy, Stephon Marbury and Quentin Richardson are the best players on the Knicks, simply because they?re a threat on both ends of the court.”

    What threat is Marbury on the defensive end? He’s had a couple of good nights, but he’s far from being a good defender on a nightly basis.

    “They?ve shown the ability to shut down an All Star on any given night on the defensive end, while also being a threat to erupt for 20-30 points on any given night even when guarded by some of the best players in the league.”

    Talk about misleading stats. Marbury scored 30+ 9 times last year, but the Knicks only won 3 of those games. Richardson only did it 3 times, and the Knicks won 2 of those.

    “David Lee?s a good rebounder, a great FT shooter, and a very intelligent player. But the reason the Knicks don?t play him at small forward is because he can?t keep his man in front of him.”

    Well because he’s not a small forward. He’s a power forward. I don’t think there are a lot of PFs that can guard the quicker SFs.

    “The reason he?s not starting at PF is because he?s not strong enough to keep his man out of the box and he?s not a good defender.”

    Well that or Zach Randolph is getting $13M+.

    “isiah?s new problem is that he doesn?t have Ainge to fall back on anymore when people call him the worst GM in the league?”

    Well now he has McHale, doesn’t he?

  23. Knicky

    The Celt’s will compete for 2 years with the new lineup of over-30 injury prone vets. If i’m Jim Dolan I want to build a team that will compete for years to come. Zeke is doing a fantastic job building a competitive team.The 2nd unit will keep the Knicks in the game even if they are down 20 in the 3rd. Barring major injuries, the Knicks won’t be blown out of to many games now.

  24. Mike C

    I think it goes without saying amongst Knicks fans who watch the games, that even without a single stat they know that when Lee is on the floor the Knicks play better. He’s one of the few players n the team that Isiah said he wouldn’t trade, and that says a lot. (a fun game is to try and name every knick player over the last 5-6 years) I’ve been reading this blog for a while and im surprised no ones ever posed the question what would YOU do if you were running the team. lets say you cant trade anyone for the rest of this year what would you do? What I’d do is put out the lineup of

    Marbury
    Q
    Lee
    Randolph
    Curry

    I’d try Lee at SF and see how he plays, because it A) gets Lee more minutes which i cant see hurting the Knicks and gets Crawford out the starting Lineup. I’d have the team run, its common knowledge that the knicks play horrendous D. id tell the team to run and utilize as much of the young bench guys as I could. If we cant get something going on a fast break slow it up and run a halfcourt set for curry or randolph, let us see if they really are this dynamic offensive tag team theyre being billed as. If you’ve got randolph and curry scoring in the paint then that should open up the perimeter a little bit and get the offense going. off the bench we’ve got

    Nate/Dickau/Collins
    Crawford/Nichols
    Balkman/Jefferies/Chandler
    Rose
    Morris

    I neglected to name James, because I would definitely cut James from the squad. Hes worthless. Id tell the bench guys to RUN and keep the pace up, Id take Crawford aside and tell him to focus on attacking the basket and facilitating, if his shots on that night I let him take whatever shot he wants, but if his shots not there I don’t want him taking those dreaded turn-around fade-away 3’s with a hand in his face as hes prone to take. hopefully with this style we cans teal a few games in the regular season from the other teams playing lazy. if a player wasn’t playing hard I’d put in the guy behind him, this Knicks roster is a very competitive one as far as PT is concerned and I think that could keep the players hungry. at the end of the year I shop Nate, Balkman and Curry around hard to see who I can get because their trade values will probably be very high, not saying I’d definitely trade them but I’d see what I could get.

    Long-time reader, my first post Knicks fans have a lot of negative things to say, but I’d really like to know, from people who really know the team, if you were in charge what would YOU do?

  25. Owen

    I feel like people post their thoughts fairly frequently.

    But anyway, I would go with:

    Marbury
    Q
    Balkman
    Lee
    Randolph

    i dont know if Lee and Randolph could give you enough interior defense, but it can’t be hard to top Curry in that respect, even if he is the only one of the three with the size and height of a true center.

  26. Ben

    Owen – my perfect lineup is similar but I would start Curry instead of Randolph because other than rebounding I think Curry is a better offensive player and on defense they are equal. The rebounding would come from Q, Balkman and Lee.

    Also if Q seemed fragile at all I would start Crawford and conserve Q so he can last the whole season.

    Lee and Balkman should definatly start they are our two best all-around players and need to both play at least 30 minutes a game next year. I like Randolph but Lee is our best player and it seems criminal he will not start for the forseeable future.

  27. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Owen – I think about this frequently, but I put myself inside Isiah’s shoes. That is, I imagine I have a “Freaky Friday” moment. The reason for this is that you have to stay in bounds with reality.

    It would probably be impossible for Isiah not to start Eddy Curry for half a dozen reasons. Isiah would get roasted in the media. Dolan would probably be upset since Isiah has been selling Curry as the center of the future. It would demoralize Eddy Curry. The team would probably turn on him (see: Brown, Larry). He would be admitting that trading all that for Curry was a mistake. And worst of all, Curry’s trade value would be next to nothing.

    Not to say if “I” were hired as coach/GM my answer wouldn’t be different, but then I wouldn’t be held to the consistency principle.

  28. Mike C

    exactly what I meant, what if you were in Isiah’s shoes. so you cant trade our guys for expiring contracts and future picks because we still work for James Dolan. As a coach Id try and create an atmosphere that your playing time IS up for grabs by everyone else and reward the players who show they really want to win, I think we’d be seeing a lot more Lee, Balkman, and Nate on the floor then. also Id definitely try to get Morris more PT because as i understand it we only have him for this next season. if he doesnt play he’ll leave the Knicks and we’ll lose some promising young talent there.

  29. Owen

    KB – I agree. I dont see anyway Curry isn’t a starter. I think its unlikely that Crawford doesn’t also enter the season as the starter as well.

    But the question was “if you were in charge what would YOU do?” and that lineup looks best to me.

    Other changes? I would also construct a monolithic statue of David Lee overlooking Seventh Ave outside the Garden.

  30. retropkid

    David Lee gets an A. And of course he can improve…he’s not Dave DeBuscherre yet but he could be…

    The Knicks may have the most talented bench in the East but they don’t have the most talented starting five, not close…it will be interesting to see if guys keep their traps shut as Zeke struggles to apportion minutes…we’ll see if Zeke messes around juggling starting line ups, didn’t we have a coach two years ago who did some of that? And didn’t the GM knock him for it? Hmmm….

    Or — what if Zeke stubbornly stays with one line up because he doesn’t want to be accused of mirroring Larry Brown?

    He’s going to have an interesting problem when starters complain they need more minutes to really be effective…

  31. Frank

    Gotta go with this lineup:

    Marbury
    Q
    Balkman
    Lee
    Curry

    2 scrappers to do the little things, 2 guys (steph, Q) that can shoot from outside, Marbury to dish, and big turnover in the middle. I think this is probably our best feasible defensive team.

    I think Jamal is better suited to ~30 minutes/game. Randolph should be able to get 32-34 minutes a game shuffling between PF and C.

    I’d like to keep the rotation down to 8-9 guys so I guess that would mean Nate and Jefferies. Blech. We really need to trade some of this deadweight.

  32. Caleb

    I would leave Crawford on the bench entirely, and work Nate (for offense) & Collins or Jones (for defense) into the guard rotation.

    I would argue that our biggest weakness is PG. Not to rip on Steph, but he’s slowed down and turned into more of a 2-guard… he also has bad knees and when he goes down we have absolutely no one who can run the point.

  33. iyamwutiam

    I’d go with Mike’s team of :
    Q,Marbury,Curry, Randolph and Lee. I am not sure why you wouldn’t want your five best offensive guys in there to start.

    This means that Lee would get time at the 4 or that Randolph would play the 5 when the team need to go small. Randolph, Lee, Balkman in the front court and I think you have plenty of options in the backcourt – Nate, Dickau, Crawford, Jones.

    It is a long season – and in 82 games – it may be possible to get most of the players 20 -25 minutes a game and keep the group as a whole fresh and play attacking ball.

  34. Mike C

    exactly, our team is… well pretty dismal, but we can make the playoffs if we play the regular season smart. I cant see us winning more than one playoff game this year tho if we even get there.

  35. STEVE

    What a great dilemma to have!. Lee vs. Balkman. As an oldtimer, seems the Knicks have always had this type of problem, Cazzie Russell or Bill Bradley, Mark Jackson or Rod Strickland, trying to find Chemistry. They both should have been locked in a Gym all summer and shot a half million jumpers each!!. Until then, they are both flawed and depend on the players they play with on the floor. Lee needs a premier shot blocker to play with so he could gamble more because he is not a great defender. Balkman needs 4 other scorers on the floor at all times vs. playing with Jeffries, Lee and Collins. These aren’t your Grandfather’s Knicks. They are all so one-dimensional that we have to have these conversations. As big a Jerk as Larry Brown was, this was his main problem. I believe the Artest deal is coming and one of those 2 are leaving, which is a shame because it is pure joy watching what they both bring to a game. They both need more complete teammates on the floor eith them because I don’t see either waking up one day with Frye’s jumper. Most players either have a jump shot that they didn’t perfect in college, or their college system didn’t feature them as option 1 or 2, then they perfect it in the pros. Very few players learn to shoot at this level from scratch, there just isn’t time.

  36. Samaki

    I don’t really have much to say other than what has already been said.

    I did want to respond to two things though. First off, you must start Curry and Randolph. No question about it. I do not care how valuable Lee is, Randolph is 25 year old, proven scorer and rebounder in the Western Conference. Lee will somehow find minutes, just like he did last year, and he will do what must be done to continue his level of play.

    Curry and Randolph must work together and play together on the court in order for the Knicks to win. Last year I vaguely remember Lee and Curry playing on the court at the same time, with basically the same surrounding squad, and what were the results? Losing season, no playoffs.

    Yes I know Lee go hurt, but, come on guys.. Lee is not a starting playoff PF for any of the 8 playoff teams in the West last season, and one could argue the same thing for the 8 Eastern playoff teams. He is a superb, stellar 6th man, but that is as far as it goes.

    Secondly, iyamwutiam said: “It is a long season – and in 82 games – it may be possible to get most of the players 20 -25 minutes a game and keep the group as a whole fresh and play attacking ball.”

    What did we see last season after the suspensions from the brawl against Denver? People were allowed (or had to) play 30+ minutes, due to the Knicks missing up to 5 guys at once. Everyone continually said that because guys were allowed to play for many more minutes than they normally would, the Knicks prospered. I say Isiah forget the money issues, and forget how much each guy is making, forget the ego … Come up with an 8-9 man rotation, and stick with it. All the great teams have already done so.

    My idea?

    C: Curry
    PF: Randolph
    SF: Richardson
    SG: Crawford
    PG: Marbury
    6th: Lee
    7th: Balkman
    8th: Robinson
    9th: Collins

    While using the next three guys as specialty guys (either shooters/defense[?])
    10th: Rose*
    11th: Chandler
    12th: Nichols

    *Yes I know he is old and goes against everything Isiah is trying to do with a Young squad, but you know what? He is a brilliant basketball player and plays some great defense, doesnt demand the ball.

    13th: Morris
    14th: Jeffries
    15th: Dickau

  37. Kiyaman

    I LUV this POST! One of the brightest Factual Post made this offseason.

    “One day I can see David Lee” averaging 32 MPG, 18 pts, 10 rbds, 3 ast, 1 stl, and alot of great WINNING hustle that is not recordeed on the stat-sheet.

    When we mention Player David Lee on this Knick Team it is not theory, optimism, or guessing, his performance is consistent and based on Pure-Facts. He can switch to all three Frontcourt positions and play them well, his defense against Super Star Players in the frontcourt position vs Center-Shaq, or PF-KG or Duncan, or SF-Pierce or Lebron maybe the same as the average defenders vs these Super-Star Players however, his offensive awareness in his passing-game, running-game, rebounding-game, and hustling for that lose-ball vs Frontcourt Super-Stars has made David Lee performance outstanding and the complimentary-player you want on the court at the “START and FINISH” of each game. David Lee is a player you can depend on to do the things that the next player won’t. And the next Player that is following in David Lee footsteps is 6.7 Renaldo Balkman as the Point-Foward who LUV to play trapping-defense in presuring the ball on oponents backcourt and frontcourt players bringing the ball up court. His outstanding performance switching positions as a SF rebouder and running the Point to beat the oponents Center & PF down the court on a fastbreak for a “3 on 1″ or a “3 on 2″ is another Pure-Fact that can be talked about.

    YEAH! that’s right, David Lee two season performances has made me a David Lee Fan!!!

  38. Kiyaman

    Lee also showed a new dimension to his game, repeatedly driving the ball at defenders and drawing fouls. He went 8 for 9 from the free-throw line, both team highs.

    Every Season David Lee adds some new athletic talent to his performance to make this Knick Team a better team.

    There is not one good reason why David Lee is not the Knicks Starting PF.

    Zach Randolph is good and everything but he is not the complimentary co-existing player as David Lee.
    It is not hard to see where Balkman & Chandler get their hard hustle around the ball from when you watch their Teammate David Lee in action. Whom they ran some great impressive scrimmage games throughout this offseason (Collins, Nate, Nicholes, Chandler, Balkman, Q.Rich, Lee, and Morris). It was so impressive that even Marbury & Crawford had to show up at a couple of scrimmage games and get down with the young players.

    When you mention Lee, Balkman, and Q.Rich, you are talking about the Knicks best three co-existing chemistry players together in the frontcourt.

    So when you add Curry with “David Lee & Q.Richardson” you have explosiveness.
    When you add Zach with “David Lee & Q.Richardson” you add another explosiveness.
    When you add Balkman with “David Lee & Q.Richardson” you add a small lineup that is running an explosive fastbreak 70% of the time.

    Q.Richardson has showed to be the Leadership Player in the starting 5 lineup and David Lee has accepted that early last season when they started together.

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