Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part I

Just about every season preview begins with a wrap-up of the last year. I’m going to assume that if you’re here reading this, you don’t really need a review of last year. In fact, if you’re a Knick fan, you probably don’t want to review any recent history. So with that said let’s continue with what we might expect this year.

For 2009, the guard position should be the Knicks deepest. Duhon and Crawford will start, at least for now, while Marbury, Robinson, and Collins will provide ample depth. Even though D’Antoni says he likes to keep the rotation short, I envision a scenario where the top 4 will see a lot of playing time. In fact it’s entirely possible that all 5 will be in the rotation. Between D’Antoni’s predilection for going small and the fast pace the Knicks will play, it makes sense that they’ll need as many guards as possible.

Newly acquired Chris Duhon will supplement Marbury as the starting point guard this year. In Chicago Duhon was below average offensively but was an able defender in the backcourt, something the Knicks have been sorely lacking. He’s a capable long range shooter (35.6% 3P%), but is a poor finisher around the hoop. According to 82games Duhon had 24% of his “close” shots blocked, nearly double that of Stephon Marbury (13%). Think of Duhon as the NBA’s version of the game managing QB (Trent Dilfer). He’ll run the offense, take the open three, play half decent defense, but not score many points.

Some people mocked New York for giving Duhon an $11M dollar deal, including a few of Duhon’s former fans. The good news is that the deal is only 2 years, so the Knicks are looking at him as only a stopgap fix at point guard. New York isn’t going to contend for much over the length of his contract. The Duhon’s deal is a far cry from the 5 year (Jeffries & James) and 6 year (Curry & Crawford) contracts that were handed out by Isiah Thomas.

Jamal Crawford remains the incumbent at the shooting guard position. Many Knick fans still have hope that Jamal will shed his poor shot decision making ways and become a more efficient player. Under D’Antoni’s seven second offense, many assume that Crawford would blossom into a more efficient scorer. ESPN’s Daily Dime called Crawford the Knicks sleeper pick for fantasy basketball.

However it hasn’t turned out that way in preseason (TS%: 51.6, eFG%: 45.2, through 6 games), and Crawford may not flourish in this offense. Jamal’s strength is being able to create his own shot in the half court set, but D’Antoni’s offense uses movement to make shots for everyone, hence it diminishes Jamal’s contribution. Crawford, much like Zach Randolph, likes to hold ball and dictate the offense, and he has never been a great catch & shoot guy. His best season occurred under Larry Brown where he took 21% of his attempts from “inside” as opposed to only 14% last year.

Time will tell if Jamal will progress under D’Antoni, or if he’ll be the same frustrating off-balance shot taking player he’s been for the last 8 years. Considering the Knick coach doesn’t need his skill set on offense, and will expect more from Jamal on defense than the previous Knick coaches it’s possible that Crawford will see a reduction in minutes this year. Certainly Crawford isn’t likely to average the 39.9 minutes per game he played last year, and that will hurt his per game averages.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

21 thoughts to “Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part I”

  1. Prediction: he has a middling season until he gets traded to a playoff contender in need of a guy who can create his own shot (Lakers, Spurs, Magic, Suns).

  2. I think Crawford will be fine because I think D’antoni will adjust once he realizes that he doesnt have a team full of guys whose only skills are as standstill jumpshooters. You want a free flowing offense but everyone has to know and understand there role. Its more important for the starters that Crawford get going offensively rather than Q but thats what having a heady point guard is for.he has to know who should have the ball and when they should have it.

    I recall last preseason when Crawford and Marbury struggled and everyone was saying how they couldnt compliment Curry and Zach properly but on opening night on the road

    Zach 23 and 10
    Eddy 18 and 7
    Crawford 25 and 6 on 8-17 shooting and primarly playing off the ball

    There are very few set offensive plays called in D’antoni system it really is a matter of the ball coming your way and how the defense is playing you.

    One example I can give is during the preseason you see Crawford receive the ball on the wing the bigman steps out to set a screen and crawford take it draws the defender and passes the ball to the key who sings it to the wideopen Q in the corner and Clank. Now this never happened the other way around because Q never beats his man off the dribble or takes a screen so the easy open looks for Crawford only came on dribble drive by Duhon or on kick outs from lee or Zach .

    I would love to see the stats on the man who makes the pass that leads to the assists . :) I just dont feel the ball movement was there after the first two games.

  3. ronnie – I don’t totally disagree with what you’re saying about D’Antoni’s system, but I don’t agree with your conclusions.

    It’s not so much that JC isn’t a “catch and shoot” it’s that he isn’t a “catch and anything” guy. Talent-wise, I see JC as potentially the best PG on this team thanks to his ability to drive and stop and pop.

    HOWEVER — he doesn’t drive off the catch, he drives off several seconds of pounding the ball on the floor followed by a crossover. JC digs the clear-out. That’s a big no-no in D’Antoni’s system. Running clear-outs is pretty much the antithesis of D’Antoni’s system.

    More importantly, JC drives with his head down — not literally, but figuratively — how often do you see JC getting into the lane and making a nice pass when the defense shifts to stop him? Pretty much never. Once he goes toward the rim, he either stops and shoots a fadeaway or goes all the way — the sweet dish in the lane is not currently in his arsenal.

    He could prove me wrong — he’s got a lot of pure skill and he could learn to play a different game. But I honestly doubt it. More likely he will get traded or see his minutes severely reduced. Right now, I would prefer to see Stephon (ugh – can’t believe I’m saying it) starting at the 2.

  4. Danno Gallo seems to be getting better

    “Notes & quotes: Rookie Danilo Gallinari participated in his first full practice yesterday and performed well in the scrimmage. The 6-10 forward, who missed training camp while recovering from a bulging disc, said he felt better than expected.”

  5. Count Zero – you should publish that description somewhere; that’s Crawford’s entire game in 500 words or less. He’s going to fall to the bottom of the rotation in a 7 second or less system unless he suddenly stops being a streaky 7 dribble or more player.

    Marbury should definitely start at the 2. I thought his legs were going, but he came in so light and fast for camp. Nobody doubts his talent; it’s his head that everyone doubts.

    I think he’s got a different look in his eye this season. Maybe he’s come out of all that Isiah drama and personal trauma with a new resolve. You can’t discount his decision to convert to a born-again Christian, which indicates to me that he’s really to salvage his career and private life. Personally, I’m an agnostic, but I think religion can really help some people turn their life around. Maybe he’s trying to take a cue from George Foreman. Maybe he just wants to learn how to sell some more shoes and smile more, but I don’t think he’s the same cynical greedy bastard that he’s been.

  6. Thomas B. – that article is awful. It’s like someone who has seen the Knicks twice a year. You could get someone who has never watched the NBA to spend an hour on google & write the same article. Does anyone think that Marbury is the “best player on their training camp roster”? Or would anyone consider David Lee as a SF?

  7. Thanks a lot Mike K. I wrote that article for Way to hurt my feelings.

    Where did I put those sleeping pills?

  8. Did anyone see the game tonight? Why was Dlee 1-7. Was he hucking up jumpshots? What else happened. Looks like Crawford had a vintage effort. Did Collins earn that +16?

  9. It is pretty depressing that NBA scouts actually do probably think stuff like that.

    That’s why I cut Chad Ford slack for some of the crazy crap he says – he’s just repeating the crazy crap NBA people tell him.

  10. Did anyone see the game tonight? Why was Dlee 1-7. Was he hucking up jumpshots? What else happened. Looks like Crawford had a vintage effort. Did Collins earn that +16?

    The chemistry was awful and the D was beyond terrible. It doesn’t help when Carter is being guarded by our guards.

    Lopez looked really good. He’s a legit pro center.
    Crawford was indeed hot.
    Lee had most of his misses come on blocked shots from inside 8 feet. He also had another mediocre night defensively, but not as bad as others.
    Duhon went to the hoop well.
    Nate was not really a factor.
    Nets shot 60% in first half.
    Game was a blowout until 6 minutes left, then the scrubs went on a roll, led by PEJ, who had a nice corner 3 and 2 sensational dunks.
    Roberson finally showed why they took a chance on him, hitting a couple of Eddie House-like 3’s.
    Coach: Chandler’s athleticism was sorely missed.

  11. The game last night was overall boring untill the end when they finally made some big clutch shots and got it down to 1.

    Crawford had an excellent game, but, I cannot stand when Walt Clyde Frazier brags about how Crawford hit 7 clutch shots last season in situations like this.

    First of all, the Knicks had a lot of close games last season…. and Crawford got the ball at the end of every game… and choked on most. so 7 times out of like 50 is horrible.

    I cannot stand to see Crawford choke anymore… I hope D’Antoni can figure this out about Crawford – He can be an excellent player – but he chokes under pressure.

  12. Did anyone see the game tonight? Why was Dlee 1-7. Was he hucking up jumpshots?

    He missed two jumpers in the first half. He also had two or three shots blocked around the basket by Lopez.

    He had a really terrible, overzealous attempt at an outlet pass that he threw down the court to Devin Harris.

    Speaking of Harris, he walked to the hoop all night long.

    Lopez looked good, but after reviewing the box score, he had an awful night shooting (4-13), and he only had five boards in 33 minutes.

  13. I’m not too worried about Jamal’s playing time. Coaches love the guy. I doubt he improves much, but I think he’ll find a way to play a lot of minutes. Just when I thought he was struggling he drops 30 points for a one game TS% of 81%. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard for the coach of a losing team to sit a guy he knows could have a game or a quarter like that at any moment.
    D’Antoni might at least have the balls to cut his minutes when he’s not playing within the offense and/or coasting on D (at least when he’s not on fire). That alone might give him the discipline to improve a bit.

    What’s up with David Lee’s scoring efficiency? Anyone think he’s still injured?

    This is such a bizarro preseason, Malik Rose and Mardy Collins are playing as well as just about anyone on the team. Is D’Antoni really going to be able to settle on a short rotation when he never knows what he’s going to get on a given night?

  14. “Is D’Antoni really going to be able to settle on a short rotation when he never knows what he’s going to get on a given night?”

    I don’t think so, I said that here last week. it’s almost impossible to with our personnel, that was the first problem in the Larry Brown regime.

  15. Just read the SI article. Agree about the anyone could google this stuff point, nothing at all insightful. Sadly, I can’t really say that anyone on the roster is obviously better than Marbury. Love this quote, “If you’re asking me whether Curry and Randolph can play together, my answer is yes. But they won’t win.”

    I used to love season previews and “insider” predictions. I still irrationally love them, but don’t really see what the point is. For example, in last season’s first ESPN Power Rankings Marc Stein said that the Lakers had no chance of making the playoffs… I’m sure most scouts agreed.

  16. Having not seen the game last night (not on Comcast in my area) and reading the descriptions, I continue to be really concerned about our total lack of interior D (or any D for that matter). 60% shooting by an awful Nets team in the first half? That’s just not acceptable. I have no problem with D’Antoni’s up tempo style, but the problem is if we start missing 3’s and jumpers 7 seconds into the shot clock, we’re down 10-15 in a heartbeat because we stop no one at the other end. Boy, does this team need a shot blocker who can play 20-25 min. and at least challenge the other team when they waltz into the paint. I’m sure opposing coaches will tell their players before every game “Do NOT settle for jumpers, take it to the hole, the lane is WIDE open”

  17. Jared Jeffries may be able to fill that role when he’s back in a month or so, otherwise it’s going to be uncontested layups all season long.

  18. its not hard to see who is going to benefit most from the new sys.

    and of course nate

    the problem is that only Crawford and maybe soon chandler would be a top 4-5 player on a decent team.

    Lee is a 4 who has none of the strengths you need a 4 to have …how many 4’s in the league are considered starter quality when they aren’t standout defenders or not good enough on offense to draw consistent double teams…i dont think there are any really and if they are they are barely starters …which is why Lee wont be able to unseat Zach as long as he is here as a starter.

    nate is 5’7 1/2 and a 2 guard …so his ceiling is basically 6th man.

    Chandler is unproven but i think he will soon be a decent starter , as has been said many times , he is an inefficient scorer , but he does alot of things and his efficiency improved quite a bit over the course of his time last season and he’s done better in the preseason .

    but there is one big issue i see…the free throw line the knicks bigs aren’t getting there enough at all.

    marbury 147 min. 30 FTA 32 FGA
    nate 179 min. 38 FTA 94 FGA
    Crawford 199 min. 27 FTA 57 FGA
    Collins 98 min 13 fta 28 fga
    duhon 215 min. 8 fta 51 fga

    and the frontcourt
    zach 191 min. 18 fta 76 fga
    DLee 186 min. 19 fta 59 fga
    qrich 120 min. 2 fta 57 fga
    chandler 141 min. 12 fta 68 fga
    malik 92 min. 14 fta 20 fga
    curry 55 min. 18 FTA 10 FGA

    you have a team here who aren’t efficient enough shooters like D’Antoni had in phoenix, so they need to get to the line and only the guards (and curry) are really doing that…and curry might not even be in the rotation.

  19. count zero-

    Crawford essentially did everything you said he couldnt do in the last preseason game. He shot the ball well off of spot ups especially in transition.He found open players under the basket when he drove . I think its obvious hes at his best in the middle of the floor with the ball.

    I think D’antoni will use him more at point when the season starts but the one thing I must say about Crawford is that you dont want to pigeon hole him into one spot in the backcourt.Hes essentially a playmaker that you can move around on the perimeter until you find a matchup in your favor.

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