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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Renaldo Balkman

With the Knicks 2007 season in the books, we will evaluate one player every Monday.

KnickerBlogger: Renaldo Balkman’s arrival in New York wasn’t without it’s controversy. Press and fans alike roasted Isiah Thomas over the pick, who added fuel to the fire with comparisons to Dennis Rodman. But slowly, the Staten Island native began to win Knick fans over. Balkman’s first breakout game was Nov 15th against the Wizards, in which he had 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. After that game, a KB commenter said “Balkman probably won?t score this well very often, but his defense and rebounding are pretty dependable. If he does learn to be even an average scorer, he?ll be a special player for years to come.” Although Balkman’s minutes fluctuated throughout the season, he brought his high energy game on the floor each time.

Renaldo Balkman is an athletic player that can fill up every area of a boxscore. Per 40 minutes he averages approximately 2 blocks, steals, turnovers, and assists. He’s a strong rebounder on both ends of the floor, his 11.1 reb/40 was second on the Knicks only to the marvelous David Lee (13.9 reb/40). When grabbing a rebound, Balkman is able to bring it up the floor quickly giving the Knicks an opportunity to score in transition. Defensively Balkman looks well not only by traditional methods (steals and blocks), but by modern methods and to the naked eye. The Knicks were an astounding 9.2 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Balkman on the floor. Like Tayshaun Prince, Balkman’s freakishly long reach and leaping ability allows him to make up for mistakes, both his own and his teammates. However Balkman doesn’t have Prince’s one-on-one shut down ability.

Unfortunately Balkman does have his weaknesses, and they are all on the offensive end. The Knicks’ forward has no ability to score in the half court set with the ball. Balkman can’t hit a jump shot from any range, nor does he seem to be able to beat his man off the dribble, nor does he have any post game, nor can he hit a free throw. Even Jared Jeffries has his “Jeffrightened” post move. Balkman’s offense relies on other players. He moves exceptionally well without the ball, is always looking to get an offensive rebound, and can finish strongly around the hoop.

Balkman finished third on the team in PER and second in WP/48 combined with his strong +/- showed that he had a successful year. Considering it was a rookie campaign from a late round pick, it’s hard to be too harsh on Balkman.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: A-

2008 Outlook: Balkman needs to work on his half court game. If he doesn’t develop a jump shot, some kind of driving ability, or a post up game, he’ll be stuck as a 7th/8th man. If I were Balkman, I would either ask Quentin Richardson for some low post tips, or head to Bruce Bowen’s corner for a few hours every day.


Dave Crockett: Ditto Mike’s comments with one addition. Balkman’s natural inclination is to grab a defensive board and push the ball. New York should do much more of that. What I’d like to see from him this summer is work on a mid-range jump shot. I think a three point shot may be a bit down the road for him. Bruce Bowen was in the league a lot of years before he developed that shot.

Brian Cronin: I have to differ with Mike slightly on the grading, if only because I am a bit less willing to give Balkman a “mulligan” for being picked so late in the first round.

I will gladly give Isiah Thomas an A- for the pick, as it has turned out to be a great pick (and might I please point out that I backed up Zeke right from the start, saying that I had faith in his pick), but while Balkman’s rate stats are quite good, the room for improvement in his shot and his free throws are just so glaring, I don’t see myself looking at the guy as a “nearly complete” player, which I think an A- would indicate. So I am going with a B.

58 comments on “Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Renaldo Balkman

  1. Matthew

    I’d give him a low B, maybe a C. The flaw of only using per minute stats is that minutes per game actually matters. There are 240 minutes to be had per team. That means a 12 man roster would use 20mpg if it were divided equally. If a player plays below that, the are forcing another player to play more. It actually hurts your team because there are only 12 roster spots. In some cases players play less than 20mpg because they are not needed. I don’t believe that is the case here. I believe it is the case that Balkman, as of so far, cannot player that many minutes do to his offensive limitations. Therefore I have to dock him for it. B- I’d probably say.

  2. Nick

    I think Balkman’s game reminds me a lot of a young Latrell Sprewell-Andrei Kirilenko clone. Like Sprewell when he first came into the league he’s very raw offensively, but he excells in the open court and is very active on D.

    Like Kirilenko, he’s a stat stuffer. A good example of this was in a game at MSG vs. Boston. Balkman stole the ball, took it the length of the court, and dished off for the assist.

    In the same sequence, Balkman, ran up the court at full speed and blocked what was sure to be a fastbreak layup on the other end. He had a steal, an asssist, and a block in a matter of 20 something seconds.

    I think Balkman’s a better ballhandler than Spree already, and he showed major improvement at the FT line from the beginning of the season to the end.

    He showed flashes of being able to hit the three, so we’ll see how his game progresses. I can’t wait to see him Randolph Morris, and Mardy Collins in summer league this summer.

  3. Plexxxx

    A B is probably suitable for Balkman. Having seen him play at South Carolina a number of times where he was a whirling dervish who was constantly making plays, I was happy with the pick (possibly the only one). He doesn’t have much offensive game, but you can probably coach him up on that to an extent, you can’t however teach the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the floor. I wish Isiah would’ve found him a true spot in the rotation instead of the sporadic PT he was given, because like David Lee, he makes things happen when he’s out there. Even if his offense never truly comes around, he has a long NBA career ahead of him.

  4. sean

    I like balkman I he actually show signs in the latter games of developing a consistent little jumper. But to me what Balkman has going for him is the flaws in his games are all teachable, and for some reason I think hes a fast learner.Plus it took Prince his second or third year for his offense to come I think Balkman will take less than that. I mean I look at David Lee his rookie year didnt get much playing time obviously worked hard over the summer an got better tremendously.(looked better than any of the other picks from the 05 draft) I think the reason that was is because hes a passionate hard nose player much like Balkman. An hard nose players don’t allow them selves to not get better. On another note Channing frye what the hell are we gonna do with him he not good on defense (we thought he would be when we drafted him)I dont care what anyone say his post moves are non existant. Lives or dies on his jump shot and doesn’t rebound. Just a thought am I the only one that think Morris was signed so they can trade channing, I mean they seem too damn similar to me.

  5. Michael Zannettis

    My problem with the Renaldo Balkman pick wasn’t Balkman himself, but that he would clearly be available for the Knicks to select him with the second of their first round picks.

    In that scenario, the Knicks take Marcus Williams, Jordan Farmar, or Sergio Rodriguez, three points guards who are better than the one they did pick, Mardy Collins, and still get the player they want.

    Balkman is clearly worth a late first-round pick, but that doesn’t mean he would have been selected there by any other team.

  6. xduckshoex

    People are throwing some names around for comparison that I think are a little bit ridiculous, so let me try one that I think is a little more realistic: Jerome Williams. Balkman is a little smaller and less of a power forward than Williams was, but I think he will end up being a very similar kind of player; inconsistent jumper, great defense and a lot of hustle. If he ends up being as good as Williams was I will be very happy with him.

  7. Brian Cronin

    My problem with the Renaldo Balkman pick wasn?t Balkman himself, but that he would clearly be available for the Knicks to select him with the second of their first round picks.

    In that scenario, the Knicks take Marcus Williams, Jordan Farmar, or Sergio Rodriguez, three points guards who are better than the one they did pick, Mardy Collins, and still get the player they want.

    Balkman is clearly worth a late first-round pick, but that doesn?t mean he would have been selected there by any other team.

    I gotta believe that Zeke had good reason to think Phoenix was going to take Balkman with the next pick.

    A. They worked out Balkman
    B. Balkman would fit well with the Suns
    C. When Balkman was taken, the Suns traded their pick.

    Even if you believe that Phoenix was ultimately going to trade their pick no matter what, I think there is enough evidence to support Isiah’s assertion that it was reasonable to believe that Phoenix was going to pick Balkman with the next pick, thereby forcing him to go earlier for Balkman than he wanted.

  8. Nick

    I don’t agree with the Jerome Williams comparison, just because Balkman’s quicker (laterally and in the open court), a better ballhandler, passer, and shotblocker.

    Plus Williams had absolutely no range on his jumper, and while Balkman’s not a good shooter, he did hit a few threes this season and doesn’t have a horrible stroke, he just lacks confidence.

  9. xduckshoex

    I wasn’t comparing their skills, just what I think the results will be. Balkman is going to be a hustle guy who rebounds well and plays tough defense, just like Williams was.

  10. Dan Panorama

    Have Marcus Williams or Jordan Farmar really done much more than Collins at this point? Right now I’d feel more comfortable with Collins over Farmar.

  11. Brian Cronin

    I’d prefer both those players to Collins.

    But yeah, none of the three is exactly a huge prize, so I’m not all that upset about missing out on Williams and Farmar.

  12. Owen

    I am disappointed anyone would give Balkman anything less than the -A that KB shrewdly accorded him. He was terrific this year. His rebound rate is absolutely stellar. He may be the best rebounding small forward in the league not named Shawn Marion. Who cares if he can’t hit a jump shot? He generates transition buckets, garbage buckets, and he moves well without the ball. Any team that has to account for both Lee and Balkman on the offensive boards has a serious problem on their hands. His defense is the best on the team. Period. He can guard four positions, and honestly, I can think of a player I would rather have guard a perimter scorer, (on the knicks that is.) All in all, he looks to me like another building block of that 2010 Conference Champion team someone mentioned.

    (and it doesn’t hurt that his WOW rating is off the charts.:-)

    I can’t wait to see Lee and Balkman getting big minutes sometime soon…

  13. DMull

    Have to agree with Owen…not sure how anyone who watched the Knicks all year would think Balkman wasn’t one of if not the biggest bright spot on the team.

    As for where we took him – I’ll be the first to admit I wanted Marcus Williams and wasn’t happy with the pick. But jesus, after this season I really don’t care where we took him, I’m just happy Zeke got him.

    Only thing I will disagree with Owen on is that I do care that he acquires a jumpshot.

  14. Brian Cronin

    I was wondering why you were so strongly arguing in favor of him, Owen, until I heard the WoW part. ;)

    Where did he rank in WoW, by the way? Was he all that close to Lee (who I presume would excel, WoW-wise)?

  15. Kevin

    Brian,

    It takes two to tango and Boston could have pulled the trigger when Rondo was still available.

  16. Owen

    Dmull – Well, I am not against him having a good jump shot, that would be a silly thing for me to say. I just think he is already a pretty fine player without one. Maybe he can’t be an A without one, but I certainly am not giving him a B because of it. Also, I would rue the day Lee and Balk were standing fifteen feet out waiting to pop a jump shot like Frye was this year.

    Brian – I have loved Balk all year long, but so has Berri. He said Balkman would pleasantly surprise people after the draft, and he was right. He also wrote a post callling on Isaiah Thomas to play him more. He had him rated as the best small forward in college his senior season. He made a similar speech about Rondo and Millsap.

    Anyway, Balk’s WOW ranking is very very high. . His Wins Produced per 48 rating is .272 where .100 is the average. This puts him in the top 20 in the NBA ON A PER MINUTE BASIS for players who logged 1000 minutes. His actual Wins Produced though was only 4, because he didn’t really play too much and was injured at the end of the season.

    Balkman does well because he is the best rebounding small forward in the league (Marion is rated as a sf/pf mix). He steals the ball more than he turns it over, and shoots effiiciently from the field. He also is an excellent shot blocker for his position, a much better shot blocker than any Knick not named Cato or James.

    He is a low usage player, obviously, and you can’t win games with five of those characters out on the court. But in him and David Lee, the WOW suggests we have the two best low usage players at their position in the entire league. This give me something to be hugely excited about 07-08.(being, admittedly, one of those odd people who prefer low usage players to scorers)

    BTW, Lee finished the season with a per minute rating of .378, so he is significantly better than Balkman. He was actually the second rated player in the league PER MINUTE after Kidd. In actual Wins Produced though, he was eighteenth, which is very impressive given that he missed the last twenty games. Berri attributes the Knicks improvement this year, through the first 60 games, almost entirely to Lee.

    Here is the link to the list of the top players this year, WOW style, with a nice second column of how all those players performed in their rookie season.

    http://www.wagesofwins.com/RookieStar.html

    Certainly take all of the WOW stuff with a grain of salt for these players. The sample size is too small in Balkman’s case to really tell. But early indications are highly positive. It will all come out in the wash, but it does look like these guys should help the Knicks win a lot of basketball games next year.

  17. Caleb

    I agree on Balkman’s value, and I’m surprised to see that there is such a consensus. But it’s an interesting debate on draft strategy.

    Argument A: a la Brian Cronin: Phoenix was about to take him. Get him while he’s still available.

    Argument B: We could have had him later, and picked a better player than Collins at 21.

    I vote for A – the NBA isn’t football; a single player makes for a successful draft. If you have faith that Balkman is THE guy, why even take the chance that he’s gone at 29? On the other hand, part of me wishes we had Sergio Rodriguez.

    If they re-did last year’s draft, the only players I’d pick higher would probably be Thomas, Roy or Aldridge. Amazing. (although says something about what a crummy draft it was).

    Owen’s Berri link is interesting – do you know if anyone has put together an age-by-age comparison of players? The rookie #s don’t say much; Balkman was older as a rookie (in most cases by 2-3 years) than every player on the list except David Lee, Boozer, Ginobili, Ben Wallace and Kevin Martin.

  18. Caleb

    p.s. left Tim Duncan and (maybe) Shawn Marion off the list of players who were 22+ y/o as rookies.

  19. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    Owen brings up an interesting point regarding “low usage players”. Clearly a starting 5 consisting entirely of Balkman/Lee types couldn’t function together. But, if Balkman at SF and Lee at PF are considered cornerstones of your (or rather our) team, what players/types would thrive next to them?

    The easy answer is Nash at PG, Bryant at SG and Duncan at Center.

    But back here in non-fantasy land, using the current successful teams in the league as a model, the Balkman/Lee combo most closely resembles the Utah Jazz’s duo of Kirilenko and Boozer (though Lee’s post play doesn’t touch Boozer’s at this point and Balkman isn’t close to the all-around stat stuffer that AK-47 is [or was up until this year])

    The Jazz are primarily a half-court/pick and roll team that plays solid defense. The key to their success, though, is Deron Williams’ continued development into an all-star PG. He’s a plus defender, improving perimeter shooter and underrated penetrator/facillitator. In terms of role players, they have a number of players who do different things well. Fisher is a great defender and good spot up shooter. Harpring gives them good post play at the 2/3. Okur is a 3 point threat at center. Millsap gives them boards and hustle points (kind of like Lee was as a rookie)

    The Knicks, as currently constituted, have some of the pieces to follow this plan. Marbury (for all his foibles/flaws) could play the Deron Williams role. Collins, despite an awful FG% this year, looks like a player w/upside. Frye, despite a serious soph. slump, can shoot well for a 4/5. QRich, if healthy, can hit the 3 and post up smaller players.

    The big problem IMO is the Knicks utterly boring/simplistic offense. They dump the ball into Curry. Or Marbury/Crawford/ Francis tries to create their own shot. That’s it. No pick and rolls. No curls for Craw. No cuts to the basket. Not to blame Isiah (again) for all the Knicks’ ills, but crikey, there seemed to be no game plan on offense at all. Granted, I’ve been saying this for years, but thisisn;t the 80’s Knicks where the only player who could score was Bernard King, or the Riley teams that only had Ewing/Starks. There’s offensive talent on this squad and it wasn’t utilized at all this year. And that’s on Zeke.

  20. Caleb

    Utah is an interesting comparison. They’ve got a real future – as we saw in the playoffs, they can play fast and in the open court, as well as slow..

    However, I have to disagree that the Knicks problem is an uncreative offense. We actually had above-average efficiency on offense, and would have been much better if not for a huge turnover problem. The real weaknesses seem to be TOs, and – most of all – defense.

    More generally, I don’t think the players fit well together – Curry does do one thing well, but the outside shooting is terrible so he can be triple-teamed with impunity (which also makes the turnover problem even worse). We basically have five shooting guards and no pure point guard. No one who can guard the perimeter and no shot blocker to cover for them. Etc.

  21. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    They finished 17th in Hollinger’s rankings because Curry was a fairly effective post scorer and because they rebounded so well as a team (especially on the offensive boards where they finished 2nd to…wait for it…Utah). But seriously, if you watched the game, no picks, no cuts, no nuthin’. Watch San Antonio — they’ve got a GREAT low post player in Timmy — but they cut and pick and move w/o the ball ad nauseum.

    Turnovers are a huge problem for this team as well, but is it a question of having mismatched pieces or a coach who can’t figure out how to use those pieces together? Or are the Knicks simply unwilling/unable to do the old school things like moving w/o the ball and setting picks. Honestly I don’t know…

  22. Owen

    Caleb – I tried asking the same question when he put out requests for what to post on. I posted the same question again in the comment thread to the post I linked too. . I dont know what the answer is but will let you know if he responds.

    I think the six rookies to talk about are Roy, Balkman, Millsap, Rondo, Thomas, and Aldridge (who came on at the end of the season). Would I rather have Millsap than Mardy Collins? Yes, absolutely. Sure he basically does the same thing as Lee, but I dont think you can have too much of that on a team.

    Ken – When I look at Utah (WOW inspired analysis here) I see a team with one truly great player, Boozer. He is really really good. He is playing like a top five player this season. It may take another year of this kind of stuff to make everyone believe that, but it’s on the horizon. I dont think I can remember a big man with better shooting touch. He has an unbelievably high arc on his jumper, its just an absolute teardrop, and it always seems to go in.

    After Boozer, I think the story is depth and the strength of their frontcourt generally. With Millsap, Harpring, Okur, and Kirilenko they have five above average players up front in total. Wiliams is above average, but he has played much better in the playoffs than he did generally this season. At the moment, he hasn’t shown me yet he can play anywhere close to the (insanely high) standard of Kidd and Nash. People have been rushing to anoint him the third best point gaurd in the league. and thats a rush to judgment off a small sample. But no question, he has been absolutely terrific in the four games against the Spurs.

    Vis a vis Utah and the Knicks I agree with you on Kirilenko and Balkman, but comparing Lee to Boozer doesnt make sense to me. Eddy Curry is supposed to be our Boozer. He is our high usage low post frontcourt scorer. Lee and Millsap are better comparisons. If Curry could play like Boozer, I would say that the comparison is quite apt. However, there is IMHO zero chance of Curry turning into a 20/12/2.46 to guy.

    You do raise a very interesting question though. What is Lee’s potential as an offensive player? Something to discuss when we get to L.

    Have to say, I am very much looking forward to the C’s, and not for Cato.

  23. Caleb

    I’m just saying that defense is a bigger problem than offense.

    I’m not saying the offensive scheme couldn’t be better, but individual skills seem to be the main problem. The guys playing the point are all better scorers than distributors (except Collins who can’t do either). Almost no one can shoot from outside and yet the offense is built like the Ewing Knicks where we just dump it inside every time (to a guy who turns it over more than anyone in the league, but that’s another story)

    I think we would maximize the existing talent by playing much more uptempo – our strong rebounding would lead to a lot of easy baskets, and players like Robinson, Balkman, Marbury and Francis would all be much more effective than they are in half-court sets.

    Unfortunately, this would require junking Curry and we all know that’s not gonna happen.

    I still fantasize that a team like the Lakers would be want him in a deal that brings back shorter contracts or even a future talent like Bynum.

  24. Caleb

    To clarify – Roy, Aldridge and Thomas are players from the 2007 draft that I would take ahead of Balkman. (I’d thrown in Rudy Gay, too).

    You could make an argument for Millsap. Rondo might be great, but his shooting is so dramatically awful that I wouldn’t be shocked if he never makes a starting lineup. Rodriguez and Shawne Williams have all-star potential down the road… but overall that draft was awful.

    For Collins, #29 seems about right, maybe too high.

  25. Nick

    What do you guys think of this trade rumor I just heard about on Draft Express’s podcast.

    http://draftexpress.com/podcast.php

    Around the 11 minute mark Jonathan Givony talks about a rumor that’s out there regarding the Knicks and Ron Artest. Either Jamal Crawford for Artest straight up, or Artest for Channing Frye and Malik Rose.

    Personally I wouldn’t do it if I’m Isiah Thomas. This guy is a loose cannon and not worth the risk.

  26. caleb

    I don’t believe it – after Artest went to Sacramento it was reported that even before the world knew Ron Ron was nuts, Isaiah tried to drop him from the playoff roster for being disuptive – Donnie Walsh wouldn’t let him do it. So Isaiah, supposedly, can’t stand the guy.

    If it were me, I’d make the Crawford trade in a hearbeat. A first step towards getting under the cap by the end of the 2009 season.

    I’d hold off on the other – we could get more for the Frye/Rose pair, than 3 months of great play before he gets locked up, kills someone else or kills himself.

  27. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “Have to say, I am very much looking forward to the C?s, and not for Cato.”

    I didn’t know you were such a big Mardy Collins fan. :-)

    In all honesty, I’m not looking forward to the Cs at all. I never know what the reaction to my articles will be. So far I’ve written a bunch, and my favorite is Jerome James.

  28. nesta

    Preview:

    Jerome James: F-

    He is not your average horrible player. He is worse than a horrible player, because he thinks he is a good player. He tries to create a shot every time he has the ball. Once a month it goes in, getting him even more excited and guaranteeing even more horrendous plays. I wish someone would shoot him in the face. On a per-minute basis, I probably hate him more than Fat Eddy.

    (sorry, that report card lost some objectivity at the end.)

  29. Ben

    A couple of responses to the discussion:

    1. Owen, the Utah comparison is more apt than you give credit. Curry does not have to equal Boozer. Curry + Lee have to equal Boozer + Okur. If you really look, Curry’s weaknesses are the same as Okur’s, rebounding and defense. Next year when Lee starts and the two of them play 35+ minutes each I think you will see similar production.

    2. Our offense was alot better last year than everyone is giving it credit. We were about to crack the top ten when Crawford went down and that was with our incredibly high turnover rate and Richardson missing every other game. If you then disregarded the first month when our offense was not focused on Curry and look at the three months Curry was dominant and Crawford was healthy I would bet we were top 7 or 8. That is where our offense is starting from next year and will be even better if Lee and Balkman improve their jumpers and Q stays healthy.

    3. I like Collins alot more than it seems most of you do, I would rather have him over Williams or Farmar because they will never be even close to as good as Collins defensively. If he can develop a jumper that is just good enough to keep defenses honest he will play an important role on this team in the future. We don’t need a great scorer or distributer(as long as Collins is at least average) as much as we need great defense which he provides.

    4. I think KB was right on the money giving Balkman an A-. He filled a need and has turned out to be a top ten talent with the 21st pick. He has surpassed expectation across the board(No one expected a jumper). Even his jumpshot looked promising, he has great form and his range seems good. It looks like it will improve. If he can even shoot just 30% from three next year it will keep defenses honest. I do not know how he could have done better based on expectations(which is what these grades are all about).

    5. No Artest, I repeat No Artest. He would bury Balkman and be very harmful to our young players esp. fragile ones like Curry and Frye.

  30. jon abbey

    what do you guys think about a sign and trade for Rashard Lewis along these lines?

    Lewis (signed at around $12 million) and Earl Watson for Crawford, Frye, Malik Rose and Nate Robinson

    then we’d have:

    Curry, Lee, Lewis, Q, Marbury
    Balkman, Watson, Morris, Collins, first round pick (a SG, maybe Daequan Cook or Morris Almond), Jeffries

    still a pretty weak defensive team, but some good defenders on the bench at least. not sure whether I’d do this or not, worth thinking about, though.

  31. Caleb

    I’m sort of down on Lewis. He would improve us in the short-term… but he’ll never be worth the $$ in this next contract, and we’d be locked into another overpaid guy for 5-6 years (sort of like Cleveland with Larry Hughes).

    Watson would be a great catch – a very good defensive player, who unlike Collins can actually run the point. Seattle’s been so desperate to dump him, they might even consider a trade for Jeffries straight up – especially if we throw in Collins so they still have a backup PG.

    But I also think Seattle would seriously consider your Lewis offer, and it has a lot of potential as a three-way deal. We’d give up what you suggest, but swap Lewis to a 3rd team – like Atlanta (for Marvin Williams or Josh Smith). Or the Lakers for Andrew Bynum and salaries (Kwame Brown comes off the cap in a year). Or Utah, for Kirilenko (a risk, but his deal is shorter than Lewis’ will be). Or Minnesota (for the #7 pick and a bad contract or two). Or even Boston (for Szerbiak and the #5).

  32. dave crockett

    Do you guys get the feeling that some GM somewhere is gonna do something dumb this offseason? I’m just hoping against hope that it’s not Isiah and that somehow the Knicks will be able to profit from it.

  33. Caleb

    This year was pretty encouraging – our young players (except Frye) did well, and pretty much everyone on the team (except Frye) has a higher trade value than they did a year ago.

    But I am with you. I have a sinking feeling…

  34. ken

    The visual evidence backs up what the per minute stats tell us: Balkman is a keeper. Even before any improvements to his jumper, this is the type of player that good teams have, the kind of player you can visualize playing a big role on a San Antonio, Phoenix, or Detroit. That alone makes him a good pick. If we are patient and keep aquiring guys like this, we’ll have a roster stuffed with good players. At that point, you then go get a star to score in the fourth quarter. It takes patience, though. Quick fixes are what got us to the depths of the NBA in the first place. Rashard Lewis or Jermaine O’Neil are good, too, but you’ll have to overpay and mortgage the future to get a guy who can’t even deliver a title anyway.

  35. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    Owen, I guess my question to you remains the same, regardless of the Lee-Boozer comparisons, if as WOW suggests, Lee is one of the better players in the league and Balkman has the potential to join him, which players should the Knicks seek out to build around those two (assuming Lee’s at PF, Balkman’s at SF and you can’t just plug in Nash, Bryant and Duncan for the other three starting roles.

    Shooters like Lewis? or Carroll? A defensive-minded PG like Watson? Artest? try to pry Carter away from the Nets?

    (and I’ll assume your first answer is “dump Curry”)

    Just to keep this thread on point. I’d give Balkman a B+. He defintely exceeded expectations based onwhere he was picked and the thrashing he received on draft night, bu he needs to upgrade his offense in the half-court.

  36. Nick

    I just read on Drudge that Kobe Bryant says he wants to be traded by the Lakers. Do we have any chance in getting him? Please start a new topic.

  37. jon abbey

    the best offer I’d give, without totally killing our team in the process, would be offering to take the Radmanovic and Kwame contracts also, and offer Crawford, Richardson, Frye, Francis and the #23 pick.

    that would give us a starting 5 of Curry/Lee/Balkman /Kobe/Marbury, Isiah would probably start Jeffries and bring Balkman off the bench, plus Collins, Morris, Nate, Malik, and the corpses of Radmanovic and Kwame. thin bench, but worth rolling the dice for, I’d say. probably not enough, though.

  38. xduckshoex

    It doesn’t matter what the Knicks offer, Kobe wants to win now and the Knicks have been mediocre for too long for Kobe to want to go to NY.

  39. Caleb

    Ken – I do think that trading Curry would be a big step in the right direction. He’s just not good enough for the money he’s eating. He also would be most effective surrounded by good jump shooters, while the keepers on the roster are Lee and Balkman – two guys without a jump shot between them.

    My philosophy would be to build a team that defends better (easy – it can?t do much worse!) and has an efficient offense via running and getting easy baskets. I realize this goes against the current half-court strategy, running everything through Curry. But if Lee and Balkman are the best players long-term – and they are – we should build on that. The alternative, building around Curry, is unrealistic and foolhardy. It would require dumping either Lee or Balkman in a trade, finding a Ray-Allen level SG while drafting in the 20s and/or finding someone who will take Marbury or Francis in a straight-up trade.

    As far as nuts and bolts of building the roster…

    Priority #1: Don?t go backward. i.e. don’t take on a huge contract that goes longer than 2009 (or maybe 2010, if it looks hopeless, cap-wise). Don’t get stuck with someone getting near-max money unless you can really see them as the best player on a championship team in 3 or 4 years – which means no Garnett, no Carter, no one over – say, 27.

    Priority #2: Add either a strong perimeter defender or a shot-altering C/PF. You don’t need both to have a strong defense, but as of now we have the worst of both worlds. It’s easier to find a good perimeter guy – that’s why I think Watson would be a great fit. He could play the point while Marbury slides to the 2. That would actually be a quick, good defensive backcourt. A similar move would be trading Frye for Jarrett Jack (who?s a good shooter, too).

    Priority #3: Clear any salary that goes beyond 2010. Crawford, Q, JJ, JJ.

    Following this conservative blueprint, by the summer of 2009 we could have a 45 or even 50-win team… two All-Star (or close) young players… and possibly enough cap room to sign a star free agent. If not quite enough cap room, we could probably pull off a big-time sign and trade using Curry, who – as long as he doesn’t collapse with a heart attack – would be only 26, with only two years left on his contract. Though not a good fit on our athletic, up-and-down, good defensive 2009-2010 Knicks, he would bring a very good player in return. That would be 3 big-time players, enough for a serious playoff run. If we can somehow find another good starter in one of the next three drafts ? bonus.

    While I have serious doubts about Isaiah being able to control himself ? it was a good sign that he brought in Glen Grunwald to help manage the cap. ?Stop me before I trade again!?

  40. Caleb

    as far as Kobe – I’d make Jon’s offer, too, but there’s no way in hell the Lakers would take it, not when they could trade him for an actual superstar, someone like Dwight Howard.

    I don’t think he’s going anywhere though.

  41. Owen

    I dont think that trade could ever happen, but I would love to see it happen. Of course I am one of those strange people who thinks Kwame Brown may even possibly be an upgrade over Curry.

    Ken – The simple answer to your question is scoring. With two high efficiency, low usage players, who have trouble generating their own shot but who dominate the boards, you need someone who can fill it up. A shooting guard would be nice. Kobe would be ideal actually. I think an interesting problem is what kind of center do you pair them with. If you pair them with a Tyson Chandler/Ben Wallace type, you have the best rebounding frontcourt in the league, and a very good defensive team, tbut you don’t get enough offense I think, even if Lee raises his offensive game, which I suspect he is capable of.

    What’s too bad about Curry, is that he is almost the player we need right now. If he could raise his game a bit, let’s say one turnover less, 1.5 to 2.0 rebounds more, and a smattering of increased production in the assists, steals, and blocks dept, and crucially, a bump up in the Ft% dept, he might be a very useful player. But right now his game just isnt good enough. Per 48, he averages a full 2.5 rebounds less than the average center, while committing 2 more turnovers. Thats a 4.5 possession swing right there, which is pretty enormous. Also, you would want an at least average interior defender next to Lee, and Curry isn’t very good in that dept.

    Bottom line, I dont think its too hard to find players to play with Lee and Balkman.You want a few scorers and an interior defender who rebounds well enough to insure you have the best rebounding frontcourt in the league.

  42. Caleb

    Owen, you sound like you’re coming off the ledge re: Curry. Or have you been drinking?

    He’ll never rebound or defend but it’s not unrealistic that he could cut down significantly on turnovers. (For one thing, I think his current teammates have a big negative impact – check out his #s in Chicago, about 15 percent fewer turnovers even though he was younger, less experienced and dealing with fewer double- and triple-teams).

    It’s not too pie-in-the-sky to think that we could find a good defender to play 20-25 mpg backing up Lee and an improved Curry. Maybe even Randolph Morris, or a draft pick.

    Or a suggestion: how about Frye & Crawford for Chris Wilcox? Or Varejao, if his $$ doesn’t go above $7 or $8 million?

  43. Owen

    Lol, I am trying to be conciliatory here Caleb.

    I still think Curry is terrible. Dont let anyone be confused on that point. But he is a scorer, and we need some scoring in the frontcourt if Lee and Balkman are going to play a lot. It’s just hard to get around the fact that Curry committed more turnovers than Steve Nash last season.

    Crawford played the most minutes for the Knicks, until he went down. That is a really big problem. The guy doesnt score effectively. I would love to get rid of him, and if we could get a quality big back in Wilcox, fanstatic, although I dont see that happening.

    I love Varejao, but I think he is too similar to Lee. Neither are true big men/interior defenders. We need someone who can actually block shots and defend the Okafor/Howard/Shaq/Odens of this world.

    I dont know about Morris. We didnt really see enough from him to say what he brings to the floor. People here talk about him like he is another Curry, which is a bad thing in my book.

  44. caleb

    I don’t think of Morris as a Curry-like player – for one thing, he’s skinny – but I don’t think he’s a hot prospect. He couldn’t even get drafted at all two years ago, though he seems to have improved enough to be a good player in the SEC.

  45. Owen

    Caleb – Here is Berri’s answer.

    Owen,
    One of my many co-authors plans on spending this summer looking at the link between age and performance. So at the moment I don?t know the answer to this question. But I hope to have an answer in a few months.

  46. Z

    IF Balkman develops an outside shot and a more well rounded offensive approach, he could feasibly project out to be the next Scotty Pippen. That is a huge IF and the BEST CASE SCENARIO with him. Worst case, he brings his energy and athleticism to the court every night, and fills the void the Knicks have felt since Kenny Walker’s departure…

  47. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    I’m trying not to get too caught up the “Kobe to the Knicks” hype. But yowza, Kobe at SG would be mighty fine…

    Back in reality, I think David Lee can have a Horace Grant-like role in an offense. considering his FT% went from 57 to 81% this past season (and he was hitting the 20 footer in the summer league) I have no doubt that he can become an effective spot-up shooter like Oakley/Grant/Camby/PJ Brown/Buck Williams did later in their careers. It may not happen this offseason, but I can see him maxing out at 16ppg or so w/10 (or more) RPG.

    Regarding Curry and Owen’s points — it seems to me that we’re dealing with a relatively small sample when it comes to players w/o college experience. If, the sample group begins w/Garnett in ’95, we’ve only got 10 years worth of players to track development and growth.

    This pertains to Curry in that Centers as a whole do NOT develop skills like rebounding and shotblocking as they get older. Those skills tend to max out at a relatively young age. I.e. if a player isn’t a good rebounder at 23-24, he’s not going to get there at 28-29 (a Center’s “peak” performance years, historically). This would seem to relegate Eddy Curry to being a member of the Rik Smits/James Edwards/Joe Barry Carroll school of offensively talented and defensively deficient good but not great school of pivots. Then again, when it comes to centers straight out of HS, we may be dealing with a different developmental curve entirely.

    Using 1995 aa a starting point. There are actually only a few players to evaluate

    Kwame Brown
    Tyson Chandler
    Eddy Curry
    Amare Stoudamire
    Dwight Howard
    Andrew Bynum

    Considering none of these players has hit what are typically a center’s peak years, it’s way too soon to try to predict statistically if Eddy will be able to become better shotblocker/rebounder. The stats for the abouve quintet have pretty much stayed the same in terms of rebounds and blocks (i.e Howard/Stoudamire could rebound from day one,
    Kwame Brown/Curry can’t). In either case, it’ll be interesting to see how/if Curry progresses.

    On a side note — Curry’s on the Atkins Diet this offseason (Johnson mentions it during the last game of the year). I assume that means he’s basically eating fistfulls of bacon all day, but that diet does work (though you get nasty halitosis and chronic indigestion, as well as the fact that it’s pretty lousy for your health in general and perhaps not the greatest thing for a person w/a heart condition)

  48. caleb

    Ken, you are right on the money re: Curry’s present and future limitations.

    On offense, though, I think he’s almost one of a kind. Unlike Smits and Edwards, he has no jump shot. On the other hand, he is virtually unstoppable in the low post – one of the top 2 or 3 guys in the league. That is, if he could quit getting stripped and called for offensive fouls – he’s probably the worst in the league there. He’s young, though, and I do have hope for improvement there, unlike the rebounding and defense.

    He’s a mix of extremes. On the whole, it adds up to a pretty average (and very overpaid) player. But, with the right teammates and coaching, I could see him being more valuable than that. It will be a big challenge to maximize the good, while camouflaging the bad. On offense, the best strategy would be to run constantly – to play as fast as the Nuggets or Suns. It’s counterintuitive, because Eddie is slow and struggles to stay in shape. But playing fast and shooting in the first 6 or 8 seconds on the shot clock would limit the other team’s ability to double-team, and potentially cut his turnovers way down. If he has to play fewer minutes – so be it.

  49. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    [diet rant]
    I’m not a big fan of Atkins. I lost about 25 lbs last year, not that I’m a big guy, but I was a poor eater. I used to think that grilled cheese was healthier than a cheeseburger, since I was eliminating the unhealthy meat. Basically I had no idea what was good or bad to eat.

    Atkins may work for a time period, but ultimately what does it do? Teach poor eating habits. Instead of cutting out the bacon in the bacon cheeseburger, it teaches you to cut out the bread. So what happens when you get off the diet? You go back to eating bacon cheeseburgers, since that’s what you’ve been taught to eat.

    I’m against diets that limit portion control or makes you select odd choices. You can only do these for a short period of time before reverting to your old habits. Making a lifestyle choice seems to be a better route.

    For me, it was a modified south beach diet. I’m already fairly active, so I didn’t need to hit the gym or up my calorie burn. Basically I learned the importance of reducing the amount of sugars and processed grains in my diet. It’s all about replacing the bad stuff I ate with healthier choices. Instead of eating Chips Ahoy cookies, I can be satisfied with a 60 calorie chocolate pudding. Instead of having Cheerioes or an English muffin, I’d have whole grain cereal or
    eggs & bacon (2 pieces only please, center cut if possible). Instead of fried chicken legs I get whole chicken breast. By making sacrifices in some areas I’m able to eat the things I really enjoy (Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, I’m looking at you).

    In any case I know not all diets work for everyone. And I know there is evidence that Atkins is a legitimate for of dieting, since there is evidence that some people can keep the weight off afterwards. Atkins seems to outdo other diets in 6 months, but within a year, the results even out.
    [/diet rant]

  50. starburyfan

    Some of you guys sound like you’ve never seen Balkman play before, you only looked at his stats.

    Some random points:

    A. The Jerome Williams comparison. Balkman can get the rebound, THEN put it on the floor and bring the ball up and dunk it on people like Dallas’ Josh Howard. I never saw Jerome Williams do that during his career.

    B. “Eddy Curry has no jumpshot.” Are you kidding me? Did you see the game where he hit the three pointer at the buzzer to force overtime? The man is 2-2 in his career from three point land. All kidding aside, I do think Eddy Curry’s limitations are only on the defensive end, and I would argue that his jumpshot is SUPERIOR to Dwight Howard’s at this point, only Yao is a better shooting all star-caliber center as of right now.

    C. “In that scenario, the Knicks take Marcus Williams, Jordan Farmar, or Sergio Rodriguez, three points guards who are better than the one they did pick, Mardy Collins, and still get the player they want.”

    Now clearly you didn’t see the last month Mardy Collins played and started for the Knicks in which he averaged nearly 17p 6a and 2.5st per game. The Knicks desperately need his size (6’6″ 225lbs) and defense in the backcourt with too many short guards (steph, nate, francis) or skinny guards (jamal, listed at 190lbs, but probably less). Not to mention Steph has a problem getting Curry the ball sometimes due to his height the passing lanes are fewer. Mardy got Curry the ball exactly where he wanted it. I’d take Mardy over any of those three that you listed, pal. I know you heard what Greg Anthony said on draft day, but Isiah looks beyond the obvious to spot real talent in the draft. I don’t want Laptop-stealing Marcus Williams, you can keep him. And the other two, well, lets just see how Mardy does against them in the upcoming season after Isiah buys out Steve Francis’ contract.

    D. Renaldo Balkman did hit a few three’s this past season, but how many did he take? Seemed like he took almost two a game when he got decent minutes, like Lee, their ultimate success will hinge upon their ability to develop an effective Charles Oakley-style jump shot from 15 feet, it will be a bonus if they can develop post moves or three point range beyond that.

    E. Playing balkman and lee at the same time can’t be done at this point because they both have the same weaknesses in a half court offense set. both are awesome players, particularly on the transition baskets, but if teams collapse down on Curry and neither of your two forwards can shoot, then you have to make yet another play to get the ball to the guards to shoot. that’s a big weakness, it makes having Curry a liability instead of an advantage on offense.

    F. To say Curry was a “fairly effective post scorer” is kind of an understatement. 19.5 a game all in the paint is just a little better than fairly effective in my opinion. When ol’ Amare was doing that they were calling him manchild or beast, but the perception of curry around the league, depite averaging 19.5 over 81 games is more lazy, fat, what have you. He was unstoppable in the paint this year, only Yao and Okafor showed him up in the games that I watched, and I watched all 82 Knick games this season. That’s probably more than Mike Breen watched, the punk.

    G. Lewis, Kobe, KG, even Jermaine, any of those guys would help, but how much can we offer to get any of them, and who would take Frye or Francis off isiah’s hands at this point? Q rich just had major back surgery, who knows what he’s going to play like next season? Look at how back surgery effected larry johnson’s game? he had to do all those silly spin moves just to get a shot off after that surgery. I would give up Curry, Marbury, or Crawford for any of the said all-stars, but Isiah seems like he wants to build around Curry. Nate is expendable with the addition of a stable guard like Mardy Collins.

  51. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    Not to totally hijack the thread, but…

    Totally agree with you regarding the inherent flaws of Atkins. I would say that the main drawback is that consuming that much meat (and animal hormones/steroids) is terrible for your long-term health, especially your liver and/or cholesterol levels.

    I lost a chunk of weight on Atkins (30 lbs or so) but my body figured out what I was doing (artificially bringing on a state of ketosis) and the pounds stopped dropping. In addition, I just didn’t feel good doing it. Since then I’ve switched to a gluten and cholesterol-free plan that’s been much better.

    But for Curry, for a kid who’s probably never dieted before in his life, the quick-weight loss you get in the first two weeks of Atkins coupled with the fact that his overall eating habits wouldn’t change much, might not be bad to start with.

    Then again, he can certainly afford a personal che who could cook him gourmet meals 24/7 that would conform to ANY diet plan. So forget everything I just said about Curry and Atkins.

    And then again, my “source” is a random Gus Johnson quote during the last game of the year, and so who knows what diet he is or is not on.

    PS – did anyone catch Lee’s interview on WFAN? He mentioned he’s shooting “1000 mid-range jumpers a day”.

    Go David!

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