Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part III

Part I here.
Part II here.

SMALL FORWARD:

If guard is the Knicks’ most plentiful position, then small forward is their least. Let’s take a look at these two players:

Name TS% EFG% PTS/36 PER
A 0.51 0.48 16.2 15.0
B 0.48 0.45 11.9 10.7

From these stats Player A is obviously superior. And that’s who the Knicks thought they were getting when they traded for Quentin Richardson. Player B is the player they actually got. (A is Richardson’s averages pre-New York, B is his averages in a Knick uniform). Despite a clear decline in play, Richardson will be the Knicks defacto starter at small forward, a position he’s had for the last 3 years. It’s painfully obvious that Richardson’s career has taken a downturn due to injuries. SI.com has a list of his injuries over the last two seasons: head, right ankle, flu, right knee tendon, back surgery, sprained right elbow, back spasms, and hamstring strain. We can only hope that Q-Rich takes his flu shot this year.

Richardson has a couple of positives. He has a familiarity with D’Antoni due to playing under him in 2005, and he exerts energy on the defensive end. How effective those two make him are another story. Quentin can hit the three (career 35.2% 3P%) and rebound (6.4 REB/36), but he has been a substandard scorer. Last year he was woefully inefficient (TS%: 44.4%, eFG%: 42.1%) and averaged a pitiful 8.1 points per game off of 8.5 shot attempts. The team would be better off playing him 20 minutes off the bench instead of the 28.3 minutes per game he averaged last year. Without a major turnaround in scoring efficiency, he’s bench material.

Unfortunately Richardson will more likely get the lion’s share of the minutes at small forward, because the Knicks don’t have many other options. The main reserve is 21 year old Wilson Chandler. A late first round pick, Chandler is an athletic 6-8 swingman. As billed by the “Ill Will” tatooes on his arms, Chandler is a good defender. He can contribute in a variety of ways: blocks, steals, rebounds, three point shots, and points. On the negative side of the ledger, Chandler is an inefficient scorer (TS: 48.0%, eFG% 45.7%) who isn’t shy about taking a shot.

There are lots of players similar to Chandler, under 21 year old forwards with poor shooting percentages, with varying results. For every Donyell Marshall, Trevor Ariza, and Al Harrington there seems to be a Lamond Murray, Sylvester Gray, or Yi Jianlian to match (for Net fans change that last name to Samaki Walker). At this point it’s unclear which path Chandler is on.

Wilson Chandler may be too young for a starting role, but if the Knicks went out to a nightclub, Danilo Gallinari would be waiting outside for someone to pass him Wilson Chandler’s driver’s license. [Warning from the KnickerBlogger.Net legal dept. – using someone else’s id to enter a nightclub is illegal, immoral, and more likely to have your night end in a White Castle than someone else’s bed.] Gallinari won’t be of legal American drinking age until next August. Additionally he’ll be adjusting to an entirely different country, game, and diet. (Sorry Gallo – you won’t have freshly made hand cut pasta on the road.)

Lamentably, there isn’t much to say about Gallinari’s game that wouldn’t be conjecture. He hurt his back in summer league and is just starting to practice with the team. Since D’Antoni said he didn’t want Gallinari to play in the D-League, it’s probable that Danilo will sit on the end of the bench for most of the year. Gallinari’s future will be at power forward, but considering he hasn’t grown into his body yet, his injury, and the Knicks lack of depth at the three, small forward is probably where he’ll get the bulk of his minutes. When Richardson eventually misses a big chunk of time, don’t be surprised to see Gallinari’s name get called in the second quarter of games.

All in all the Knicks don’t have a lot of options at small forward. Going into the season two of their three potential SFs are battling injuries: Chandler and Gallinari. Additionally Jared Jeffries (who isn’t listed here because D’Antoni plays him in the frontcourt) who could play SF is also injured. Patrick Ewing Jr., who at the time of this writing has a chance of making the roster, has played only 24 preseason minutes. Even if Junior makes the team, it’s possible he’ll start the season in the D-League. D’Antoni will use a three guard rotation at times, but if Richardson and Chandler both get hurt at the same time he’ll have some interesting decisions to make.

41 comments on “Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part III

  1. Italian Stallion

    D’Antoni is not going allow QRich to keep throwing up bricks every night like Isiah did last year. He’s not that stupid.

    Hopefully, Chandler’s knee injury is not as serious as last year’s and he’ll be ready to play opening night. He probably won’t get the starting job at SF for awhile. IMO, for now, he’ll continue to come in off the bench for at least a few weeks and play both SF and PF depending on the matchups etc..

    Hopefully in a few weeks Gallinari will also be ready to start contributing some productive minutes at SF.

    I think about a month or two into the season, Chandler will be more settled as a player, we’ll know what Gallinari is capable of giving us for now, and D’Antoni will have a more settled vision of what role Chandler should have. If there are any positive signs from either, QRich will be eased out.

    The bottom line is that Qrich was horrible last year and because of all the injuries and his age etc… the probability is massively higher that last year was the true indication of his current ability and not his overall stats. If so, he’s not a starter anymore. He’s not even a good backup in a system that needs good outside shooters.

    In Chandler we have a player that can do much more and that is clearly improving. Even if he remains only a tolerable outside shooter (I think he’s young enough to keep improving both his shot and his decision making), he’s still better than QRich.

    In Gallinari we have a player that keeps getting great reviews about shooting, handle, basketball IQ etc… Even if he’still weak defensively and doesn’t board that well, it’s still highly likely that by late in the season he’ll be better than QRich.

    It’s simply a matter of how bad QRich is and the fact that D’Antoni is not as dumb as Isiah and won’t allow QRich to drag the team down the way he did last year. The only questions are how good our two young players can get this year and what their full potential is 3-4 years from now as their skills develop and they learn more.

  2. David Crockett

    More and more I think the decision to deal Balkman was about some sort of tension with the front office. I have no idea what it could be, but it doesn’t make a ton of sense basketball-wise. There are more than enough minutes to go around between Chandler, Q, and Balkman.

    Also, from what I have read it looks like D’Antoni doesn’t see Jeffries as a perimeter player at all, more as a 4-5. So I have doubts about how many minutes he’ll see at SF. D’Antoni seems far more likely to play small.

    I see the Knicks trying to swing some sort of deal somewhere along the line.

  3. Z-man

    More and more I think the decision to deal Balkman was about some sort of tension with the front office. I have no idea what it could be, but it doesn’t make a ton of sense basketball-wise. There are more than enough minutes to go around between Chandler, Q, and Balkman.
    Also, from what I have read it looks like D’Antoni doesn’t see Jeffries as a perimeter player at all, more as a 4-5. So I have doubts about how many minutes he’ll see at SF. D’Antoni seems far more likely to play small.
    I see the Knicks trying to swing some sort of deal somewhere along the line.

    You also need to consider that Gallinari’s health was not really a concern at that time.

    I still don’t understand all the lamenting over the Balkman move. He is no more of a PF than Chandler is, and is going to be a liability against most good SF’s. He is not a heady player and a terrible FT shooter. He has absolutely no perimeter game. Granted, he is an excellent perimeter defender, but very foul prone. He also sustained a serious ankel injury during summer league and was caried off the court. Apparently, he is still having ankle problems (don’t know if related to previous injury.)

    Doesn’t look like Balk had much of a preseason. He had a strong first appearance, but in 4 games he went a ghastly 4 for 12 on FTs and piled up fouls at an alarming rate. His rebounding numbers weren’t that hot either.

    I’m not saying that dumping Balk for a 2nd rounder was a good deal, only that I don’t think he would be helping us much this season unless injuries become more of a problem, e.g. Chandler’s knee injury gets worse and Gallo and Jeffries have setbacks. The final analysis will depend on what Gallo shows and what Jeffries does when he comes back, and what Balk does with his opportunities in Denver when he recovers from this ankle thing.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?playerId=2986

  4. Italian Stallion

    I think it’s close to even money that Balkman will eventually be released. If the Knicks want him back, he’ll be available for next to nothing.

  5. Owen

    Z – man – I don’t care about preaseason statistics, but Balkman’s numbers were excellent in preseason as Caleb pointed out a few days back. While he missed a bunch of ft’s, he hit 64% of his fg’s, and his peripherals were exactly what we have come to expect from him. We gained nothing by getting rid of Balkman, and he would be a very useful player to have on the roster right now.

  6. Z-man

    Z – man – I don’t care about preaseason statistics, but Balkman’s numbers were excellent in preseason as Caleb pointed out a few days back. While he missed a bunch of ft’s, he hit 64% of his fg’s, and his peripherals were exactly what we have come to expect from him. We gained nothing by getting rid of Balkman, and he would be a very useful player to have on the roster right now.

    While he was 8 of 14 from the field, I think he went 4 for 4 in his first game, making him 4 of 10 for the other 3 (68 minutes). He also had 4 of 5 steals and 3 rebounds in 8 minutes in his first game, making for 10 rebounds and 1 steal in the remaining 66 minutes. In 76 minutes, he had 13 rebounds and 13 fouls. I would hardly call these numbers excellent.

    What we gain by not having him on the roster is more playing time for Lee, Randolph, Gallinari, Chandler, and Jeffries. Between them, I think that whatever void is created, other than perimeter D, will be filled by giving each of them a few more minutes, particularly Chandler and Jeffries.

  7. Owen

    Z – Man – Balkman injured his ankle in that game on the 11th, which definitely was his best, and has been dealing with it since.

    I think you know what you are getting from Balkman. He is going to have best in breed rebounding, steal, and blocks numbers. He is going to score modestly at about a league average ts%. He is going to commit a lot of fouls and have a big defensive impact off the box score, while struggling with injuries.

    I definitely like productive low usage players like Balkman more than most. Ad I still think he would be a very useful player to have on a Knicks squad that is loaded with scorers and which has two more scorers they are trying to develop in Chandler and Gallinari.

  8. Z-man

    Z – Man – Balkman injured his ankle in that game on the 11th, which definitely was his best, and has been dealing with it since.
    I think you know what you are getting from Balkman. He is going to have best in breed rebounding, steal, and blocks numbers. He is going to score modestly at about a league average ts%. He is going to commit a lot of fouls and have a big defensive impact off the box score, while struggling with injuries.
    I definitely like productive low usage players like Balkman more than most. Ad I still think he would be a very useful player to have on a Knicks squad that is loaded with scorers and which has two more scorers they are trying to develop in Chandler and Gallinari.

    I liked Balk too, but not enough to get overly upset when he was dealt. And while I agree with your take on positive intangibles, I also think that Balk has negatives that don’t show up in the boxscore.

    Balk’s total lack of an offensive game puts pressure on others to score and draws more defensive attention to others. Committing excessive fouls puts opposing teams in the penalty faster. Missing free throws is demoralizing to coaches, teammates and fans. Balkman has tended to get out of position by overpursuing and biting on fakes, which is part of the reason he has been so foul prone.

    I don’t completely agree that we are loaded with scorers because our scorers either score a lot or efficiently, but not both. More accurately, we are loaded with guys who score much better than they defend.

  9. Italian Stallion

    Z – Man – Balkman injured his ankle in that game on the 11th, which definitely was his best, and has been dealing with it since.
    I think you know what you are getting from Balkman. He is going to have best in breed rebounding, steal, and blocks numbers. He is going to score modestly at about a league average ts%. He is going to commit a lot of fouls and have a big defensive impact off the box score, while struggling with injuries.
    I definitely like productive low usage players like Balkman more than most. Ad I still think he would be a very useful player to have on a Knicks squad that is loaded with scorers and which has two more scorers they are trying to develop in Chandler and Gallinari.

    If you have two young players you think/hope will eventually be better all around players than Balkman and a couple of overpaid veterans that no one wants all competing for time at the same spot, how do you fit Balkman in?

    Balkman didn’t get much playing time before Chandler started to blossom. Now we’ve also added Gallinari. Even though Balkman’s defensive and rebounding talents are apparent, they aren’t of much use on the bench all the time or on a team with a lot of other poor outside shooters. To keep him, I think the Knicks would have had to sacrifice someone like PEJ. IMHO, PEJ has more potential than Balkman and may in fact develop into better version of him. Let’s just hope they keep him and he does get better in a year or two.

    It’s sad, but the Knicks still have a lot of overpaid players (stiffs) that they can’t get rid of. So it’s hard to keep all the young players like Balkman that might have a role.

  10. Italian Stallion
    Z – Man – Balkman injured his ankle in that game on the 11th, which definitely was his best, and has been dealing with it since.I think you know what you are getting from Balkman. He is going to have best in breed rebounding, steal, and blocks numbers. He is going to score modestly at about a league average ts%. He is going to commit a lot of fouls and have a big defensive impact off the box score, while struggling with injuries.I definitely like productive low usage players like Balkman more than most. Ad I still think he would be a very useful player to have on a Knicks squad that is loaded with scorers and which has two more scorers they are trying to develop in Chandler and Gallinari.

    I liked Balk too, but not enough to get overly upset when he was dealt. And while I agree with your take on positive intangibles, I also think that Balk has negatives that don’t show up in the boxscore.
    Balk’s total lack of an offensive game puts pressure on others to score and draws more defensive attention to others. Committing excessive fouls puts opposing teams in the penalty faster. Missing free throws is demoralizing to coaches, teammates and fans. Balkman has tended to get out of position by overpursuing and biting on fakes, which is part of the reason he has been so foul prone.
    I don’t completely agree that we are loaded with scorers because our scorers either score a lot or efficiently, but not both. More accurately, we are loaded with guys who score much better than they defend.

    I think you hit the nail on the head – especially in pointing out that our efficient scorers can’t create enough shots or score in enough ways to score a lot and our volume shooters aren’t efficient enough.

  11. Z-man
    Z – Man – Balkman injured his ankle in that game on the 11th, which definitely was his best, and has been dealing with it since.I think you know what you are getting from Balkman. He is going to have best in breed rebounding, steal, and blocks numbers. He is going to score modestly at about a league average ts%. He is going to commit a lot of fouls and have a big defensive impact off the box score, while struggling with injuries.I definitely like productive low usage players like Balkman more than most. Ad I still think he would be a very useful player to have on a Knicks squad that is loaded with scorers and which has two more scorers they are trying to develop in Chandler and Gallinari.

    I liked Balk too, but not enough to get overly upset when he was dealt. And while I agree with your take on positive intangibles, I also think that Balk has negatives that don’t show up in the boxscore.
    Balk’s total lack of an offensive game puts pressure on others to score and draws more defensive attention to others. Committing excessive fouls puts opposing teams in the penalty faster. Missing free throws is demoralizing to coaches, teammates and fans. Balkman has tended to get out of position by overpursuing and biting on fakes, which is part of the reason he has been so foul prone.
    I don’t completely agree that we are loaded with scorers because our scorers either score a lot or efficiently, but not both. More accurately, we are loaded with guys who score much better than they defend.

    I think you hit the nail on the head – especially in pointing out that our efficient scorers can’t create enough shots or score in enough ways to score a lot and our volume shooters aren’t efficient enough.

    Speaking of efficient scorers, did anyone notice Ken Berger’s column naming David Lee as the “least clutch Knick?”

    http://www.newsday.com/sports/basketball/knicks/ny-spbbhotshots265897488oct26,0,4008262.story?track=rss

  12. Owen

    “I liked Balk too, but not enough to get overly upset when he was dealt. And while I agree with your take on positive intangibles, I also think that Balk has negatives that don’t show up in the boxscore.”

    We already had a knock down drag out about Balkman, didn’t we? No need to do it again. I would say though that there is nothing intangible about Balkman’s positive contributions. They are highly tangible. And his ability to rebound on the offensive end, move off the ball, and finish around the rim made him a threat, even if he can’t can a jumpshot. You need to account for him on the floor at all times, just as you do with any other great rebounder and finisher.

    I still feel very strongly that Balkman is an above average NBA talent. With the “potential” of Wilson Chandler in the fold, and with Q and JJ available, the mistake that was made was drafting Gallinari. Even if Balkman hadn’t been on the roster, it would have been a mistake. Gallinari may turn out to be a solid NBA player (and if he turns out to be a star I will regret saying this.) But right now the tallest serviceable player on our roster is 6’9.

    We should have drafted whichever center we felt was the best player, trading down if necessary. Both the Lopez brothers would have filled a gaping hole in our lineup and wouldn’t have been any more of a gamble than Gallinari was.

    Also, if Lebron is the player we are aiming to get, why the hell draft a small forward project?

  13. Owen

    “Speaking of efficient scorers, did anyone notice Ken Berger’s column naming David Lee as the “least clutch Knick?”

    Interesting use and misuse of statistics by Alan Hahn.

  14. Italian Stallion

    Owen,

    Both Lopez boys are looking pretty good right now, but I think either would have been considered a questionable pick given the information and perceived risks we had at the time.

    I think the long term plan is for Gallinari to be a PF anyway (assuming his body holds up and he gets stronger). Despite Lee’s excellent reputation here and good start in pre season, I have a funny feeling the new management team is not 100% sold on him for the long term (just a guess). He’s not really a center and he doesn’t do some of the things D’Antoni likes/values from bigs in sufficient quantities. If they get their wishes, I think you are going to see Chandler and Gallinari playing SF/PF (who is whwre I’m not sure). The center will eventually be someome we are not even thinking about right now. If they both develop well, Lee will be traded for something else they need. If Lebron becomes a real possibility, then whoever is playing SF out of the two will either be traded for what we still need or sent to the bench depending on how good they actually are.

    I’m not stating what I would do. I’m just handicapping what I think Walsh and D’Antoni are thinking.

  15. Z-man

    “Since D’Antoni said he didn’t want Gallinari to play in the D-League, it’s probable that Danilo will sit on the end of the bench for most of the year.”

    If Gallo’s back is “stable” I doubt he stays on the end of the bench for long. My guess is that by the end of November, he’s playing 5-10 minutes a game.

  16. Owen

    “but I think either would have been considered a questionable pick given the information and perceived risks we had at the time.”

    I don’t know what you are referring to. What risks? What information?

  17. Italian Stallion

    “but I think either would have been considered a questionable pick given the information and perceived risks we had at the time.”
    I don’t know what you are referring to. What risks? What information?

    Basically, IMO neither Lopez brother was considered a no-brainer to become the type of a productive NBA center we will eventually need. If anything, I think both teams have been pleasantly surprised by the Lopez brother they picked.

    We also didn’t know that Gallinari was going to hurt his back. Based on what we saw in the 2nd half of his debut, perhaps we’d have a much different view of our draft choice if he was healthy.

    It’s easier to make these choices after you have some incremental information to work with.

    I’m worried sick about Gallinari’s back, but I’m not sure it’s justified because I don’t know anything about his condition or bad backs in general. However, I loved the pick when we made it even though I was very high on Chandler already. I was also wondering about the potential logjam at SF, but I think that’s all going to work out OK if Gallinari is healthy. He’s going to be good. We could always make a trade if they don’t coexist well and neither can play PF in the future.

  18. Owen

    “I loved the pick when we made it even though I was very high on Chandler already. I was also wondering about the potential logjam at SF, but I think that’s all going to work out OK if Gallinari is healthy. He’s going to be good. We could always make a trade if they don’t coexist well and neither can play PF in the future.”

    So you loved the pick despite the fact that:

    We had Chandler, Q, JJ, and Balkman at SF already
    Our main free agent target down the road plays SF
    Our two best players are Power Forwards.
    Gallinari was rated no higher than B. Lopez going into the draft
    Our only active center is Eddy Curry
    We had the second worst defense in the league last year
    03-04 was the last time we had a player average more than 1 bpg

    Honestly, your thinking is perplexing here to say the least.

    To some extent it doesn’t matter who you draft. After the top 3, it’s basically a crapshoot, and you can always trade talent later, as you say. But drafting for need was the way to go here. I felt that way at the time, and I continue to feel that way.

  19. Frank

    “I loved the pick when we made it even though I was very high on Chandler already. I was also wondering about the potential logjam at SF, but I think that’s all going to work out OK if Gallinari is healthy. He’s going to be good. We could always make a trade if they don’t coexist well and neither can play PF in the future.”
    So you loved the pick despite the fact that:
    We had Chandler, Q, JJ, and Balkman at SF already
    Our main free agent target down the road plays SF
    Our two best players are Power Forwards.
    Gallinari was rated no higher than B. Lopez going into the draft
    Our only active center is Eddy Curry
    We had the second worst defense in the league last year
    03-04 was the last time we had a player average more than 1 bpg
    Honestly, your thinking is perplexing here to say the least.
    To some extent it doesn’t matter who you draft. After the top 3, it’s basically a crapshoot, and you can always trade talent later, as you say. But drafting for need was the way to go here. I felt that way at the time, and I continue to feel that way.

    I think you need to look at where Walshtoni wants to take the Knicks. First of all, the fact that Lebron can play SF does not mean one should be incapable of drafting a SF that you think can be special. If you could get Danny Granger on this team, wouldn’t you do it even if Lebron might come here in 2 years? Second, D’Antoni clearly doesn’t like your standard back to the basket center (why he signed off on Shaq is completely beyond me). So that takes out Brook Lopez, and makes the fact our only active traditional center is Eddy Curry a moot point. I think he’d much rather have a Jared Jefferies type that can run and do multiple things on the floor (albeit poorly, like dribble, defend, etc.) Robin Lopez is nice but I think we have our energy PF in David Lee. Robin Lopez is not any sort of a building block for the future– he’s a complementary small piece to an already good team, and a bench player on a bad team.
    In terms of “our two best players are PFs”, I assume you mean Lee and Randolph. We all think Randolph is not part of the future here, so that point is easy to dispute. Lee on the other hand is good, but he is a completely different player than Gallinari, so it’s not like we’re duplicating things here.

    Lastly, in terms of defense, there were no really solid defensive big men in this draft. I guess Robin Lopez is ok but certainly no one would take him 6th.

    So thinking in Walshtoni’s shoes, I’d take the 6’10” kid who’s got attitude, great shooting touch, already relatively proven in high level basketball, who has a high ceiling, rather than plodding big man (Brook Lopez otherwise known as slightly skinnier Bryant Reeves) or his sideshow Bob brother who is a 7th man on a good team. You call IS’s thinking “perplexing”, but this is the best draft pick we’ve had in many years, and you want to spend it on the Lopez brothers? THAT’s perplexing. When you’re a horrible team and you have many horrible players, you draft for talent and potential– and this is not Skita who was completely unproven — this kid played against grown men in Europe at age 18-19 and held his own– was the best player on his team. So let’s give him a chance to grow and not worry that he might play the same position as Lebron in 3 years.

  20. daaarn

    You know, I completely forgot about Gallinari. I don’t expect him to contribute much at all this season (in fact, I expect him to spend a hefty amount of time on IR when his back, IMHO, inevitably acts up again in-season). I wasn’t high on the pick then, and nothing so far has changed my opinion (thanks to him sitting out for so long). I’m willing to give him a couple years of course, but for now, I can’t help but wonder if we should’ve tried making a draft day deal or just picked another player period.

  21. Ben R

    My biggest concern with Gallinari and I said it at the time is I think he is a tweener. He seems a little slow to stay in front of quick SF’s, and his rebounding in europe was not good enough for a potential 4/5.

    If our lineup for the future is Chandler/Gallinari/Lee then Lee and Chandler might be able to pick up Gallinari’s rebounding slack but it still worries me a little. I think the only way Gallinari becomes a truly valuable player is at the 4, I do not ever see him being able to stay in front of smaller faster wings, but if he gets stronger and becomes an average rebounder he could be the good hybrid PF that D’Antoni covets.

    I do think that Chandler is more suited for SF. He has a prototypical SF’s body and athleticism. His decision making is still not quite where it needs to be but he is our best and most natural SF. I hope D’Antoni realizes that and gives him the starting nod. I would love for him to average 30+ minutes and score lots of points. If his efficiency increases then we have our SF of the future if it remains in the low 50’s then we potentially have a valuable trading piece. Either way we are better for it.

    Balkman still makes me sad. He is at least better than Jeffries as a third bigman and definately better than Q at anything.

  22. Owen

    I don’t have any idea where Walshtoni is taking us. At this point, I really don’t understand a lot of the things they have done. I don’t mind what I am seeing on the court but I have little confidence we are getting better.

    I agree 100% with Ben. Gallinari doesn’t project well. He looks too slow to guard the perimeter, and not strong enough to rebound inside. And he shot 42% in the Euroleague. We shall see though.

    Honestly, who we drafted doesn’t really matter. We are going to stink for a few years no matter what. But it’s absolutely killing me that three years after his arrival, Eddy Curry is the only center on our roster.

  23. Mustafa

    Isiah and his coaching staff would’ve destroyed Bynum’s career.
    Bynum would’ve been perpetually in Isiah’s doghouse along with Balkman.

    Do you honestly think that Isiah would’ve had the foresight to hire a Jabbar, a Walton, or a Willis Reed to tutor and guide Bynum? Zeke, in his first season as GM/Pres. had Jabbar as a Special Consultant. Kareem got bored twirling his fingers and left.

    Mark Aguirre to nurture Bynum??? Yeah, that blends perfectly.
    Allow me to puke after I hit the Submit Comment button.

  24. ess-dog

    It’s still a little early to judge Gallinari either way. He wouldn’t have been my choice, but I’m going to root for him. And although Lopez has looked impressive, I wouldn’t have wanted him on a D’Antoni team. I would’ve preferred Gordon, Augustin or even Randolph, but that pick is done.

    What hurts our young players is a lack of talented veteran leadership on the floor. I guess that’s what D’Antoni wants from Duhon: we’ll see.

    What’s good about this offense is that we don’t need a traditional center on the floor, so Lee can play center if needed (or whoever else fits the bill.) And Curry can work on his tatts.

    I like Chandler, but he needs time to develop. He’s not even at a consistent place where young players like Salmons or Martin are now for the Kings, and they are not competing for anything, so it’s hard to project just yet.

    If Q gets off to a good start, great. Maybe we can trade him for a bag of balls before the season ends. Same with Jeffries. I don’t see anything solid for the future at SF, so I’m not worried about who we go after in free agency and the overlap. The Bucks had no problem moving Yi.

    As far as Gallinari’s game. I definitely think he’s a 4. He’s 19 with probably zero workout regimen/roid access. In 3 years he will be a filled out PF (The back health is another issue.) Could he be the next Dirk? If Sarah Palin could become president someday, then it’s within the realm of possibility (don’t place money on it though.)

    Wrapping up, I can’t possibly imagine what this team will look like in 3 years. I just wonder if Lee will see the payoff of ever playing with a halfway decent team in New York.

  25. Brian Cronin

    Nice preview, Mike, thanks!

    Hey, did anyone see Simmons’ column where he says it is a lock that Crawford gets dealt this season? Is that really the buzz around the league?

  26. Italian Stallion

    “I loved the pick when we made it even though I was very high on Chandler already. I was also wondering about the potential logjam at SF, but I think that’s all going to work out OK if Gallinari is healthy. He’s going to be good. We could always make a trade if they don’t coexist well and neither can play PF in the future.”
    So you loved the pick despite the fact that:
    We had Chandler, Q, JJ, and Balkman at SF alreadyOur main free agent target down the road plays SFOur two best players are Power Forwards.Gallinari was rated no higher than B. Lopez going into the draftOur only active center is Eddy CurryWe had the second worst defense in the league last year03-04 was the last time we had a player average more than 1 bpg
    Honestly, your thinking is perplexing here to say the least.
    To some extent it doesn’t matter who you draft. After the top 3, it’s basically a crapshoot, and you can always trade talent later, as you say. But drafting for need was the way to go here. I felt that way at the time, and I continue to feel that way.

    1. I am not as big a Balkman as you and others here. IMO, he’s never going to be more than a minor role player unless he develops a bit of a mid range game and can hit some free throws (or is on a very unique team). He has shown no desire or ability to improve on those things to date.

    2. I generally don’t think drafting for position is such a great idea, but can see it from time to time under some circumstances. To me, the Knicks needed everything (unless Chandler does develop a lot) if we were thinking about 2010 as opposed to just improving this year. I think Gallinari was the best prospect available at #6 and also fit some specific Knicks needs.

    3. I think Gallinari is exactly the type of player the Knicks needed last year (and will probably need this year too). They need a high IQ, team oriented player that can pass well and shoot well from the outside. Too many of the Knicks scorers are not very good outside shooters and/or don’t make their teamates better. The rest can’t shoot at all.

    Anyway, that was my thinking at the time. :-)

  27. caleb

    If Balkman gets released, it’s a good bet that something is going on beneath the surface… he’s a perfect George Karl player and his preseason numbers have been terrific (whine all you want about the FTs; he’s shooting almost 70% from the floor for a 61% TS; and averaging 3+ blocks and 9 rebounds per 40 – great for a swingman and better than our power forward of the future, Wilson Chandler). He’s been just as good in actual NBA games, when given the chance. That he didn’t get minutes ahead of Q or Jeffries just says our last coach was demented, not that Balk can’t play.

    Sure, fouls, health and mental status are issues… but the logic here is ridiculous. Forget the unloadable vets – in Balkman’s place we kept Mardy Collins, who has all of Balkman’s weaknesses but none of his strengths. And either Anthony Robertson or PEJ. It makes no sense at all, unless a) the medical staff concluded that his ankle will never be healthy; or b) he is Ron Artest/Dennis Rodman loco.

    If he’s half sane and the ankle holds up, no doubt at all he’ll be an impact player in the NBA.

  28. Caleb

    It’s still a little early to judge Gallinari either way.

    Considering he’s played one summer league game for us — I concur!

    I’m not overly enthused, but I do think you have to draft for talent, and forget your needs. Compared to the guys taken around him… we’ll see. The only players clearly better, IMO, were pegged (and picked) much later. I’m looking at you, Mareese SPeights! And he’s a quiestion mark, too, lots of red flags.

  29. Ted Nelson

    Owen,

    I’m confused by your support for picking for need. If you want to say Gallinari wasn’t a better prospect than Brook Lopez, that’s one thing. But to say that Walsh should have just taken the best center on the board because it was his biggest need, he had a long-jam at another position, and might go after a SF in free agency in 2 years? IMO, you always take who you expect to become the best player, between the potential opportunity cost of not taking the best player (missing a stud) and how few players drafted will ever become good NBA players.
    I see your point about the crapshoot, but I do think there’s a method to it as statisticians have seemingly proved.

    Again, if you think Brook Lopez was the best prospect on the board I don’t have a problem with you stating your opinion, but if you think throwing a dart at a board and taking a Center was the best move I’m seriously surprised.
    I also wouldn’t pass on Lopez because of D’Antoni’s system, though, if I thought he were clearly the best player available.

    “We had the second worst defense in the league last year”
    The biggest knock against Brook Lopez going into the draft was that he was too slow to be a good help defender, so it’s hard to say that the Knicks passed up an obvious solution to their defensive problems. I personally thought he fell too far in the draft, but no one was mistaking him for Hakeem.
    I’ve also resigned myself to watching the Knicks defense stink it up and hoping D’Antoni finds a way to get the offense above league average. If he does that for the offense and they’ve around 25th defensively (i.e. not despicable) I think they’ll stay in the EC playoff picture. Of course, getting them in the top half of the league offensively and the top 25 defensively is no easy task. I think it’s better to be, say, 14th offensively and 25th defensively than 20th on both side, but I don’t really know.

    ——————————————-

    As far as Gallinari himself, I’m optimistic but certainly can’t say for sure how he’ll develop. If he hadn’t gotten hurt (I have no reason to believe this was a pre-existing condition) I think people would be a lot higher on him. No idea what his production would have been like in preseason, but I think he’d have at least looked very “promising” (likely a more efficient scorer than Chandler, but without the “peripheral stats”) and just about everyone would be excited. If he’s healthy I don’t think he’ll have a problem seeing the floor, as like Duhon he’s “D´Antoni’s guy.”

    His European numbers weren’t amazing, but they were strong for a 19 year old. A good starting point, and since I really like his “character”/”presence”/”aura”/whatever I’m optimistic that he’ll develop if his back heals. After Bargnani and Bellinelli (the 2nd was a very obvious bust, IMO), Italy’s due for a breakout NBA star. So far all they’ve really had is Argentines with Italian passports (am I missing anyone?).

    Seriously though, I think he was about as good a pick as anyone on the board. About as much upside as most anyone available, with a strong character and little chance of being a total bust given his professional stats (besides a freak injury…).

  30. Italian Stallion

    If Balkman gets released, it’s a good bet that something is going on beneath the surface… he’s a perfect George Karl player and his preseason numbers have been terrific (whine all you want about the FTs; he’s shooting almost 70% from the floor for a 61% TS; and averaging 3+ blocks and 9 rebounds per 40 – great for a swingman and better than our power forward of the future, Wilson Chandler). He’s been just as good in actual NBA games, when given the chance. That he didn’t get minutes ahead of Q or Jeffries just says our last coach was demented, not that Balk can’t play.
    Sure, fouls, health and mental status are issues… but the logic here is ridiculous. Forget the unloadable vets – in Balkman’s place we kept Mardy Collins, who has all of Balkman’s weaknesses but none of his strengths. And either Anthony Robertson or PEJ. It makes no sense at all, unless a) the medical staff concluded that his ankle will never be healthy; or b) he is Ron Artest/Dennis Rodman loco.
    If he’s half sane and the ankle holds up, no doubt at all he’ll be an impact player in the NBA.

    Do you really think that all the great (and not so great) basketball minds in the history of the NBA haven’t experimented with players like Balkman in the past and concluded they were getting better results by using players with a more balanced skill set?

    Did you ever even consider the possibility that the stats you, WOW, and others are focusing on are overweighting some things the same way most other people tend to overrate inefficient scorers.

    I don’t know for sure, but it seems it’s worth considering.

    He probably does have some “personal issues” and that’s partly why he was let go in NY. But IMO a player that shoots 40% or so from the free throw line and that can’t hit anything other than a dunk or layup is always going to be a marginal role player playing against the 2nd and 3rd stringers unless he’s on a team with some great offensive talent to offset his limitations or he’s simply incredible as a rebounder, defender, shot blocker etc…. He’s terrific at those things for a SF, but he’s not great like Rodman etc… That’s just a fact of life in the NBA.

    He’s got a good chance to make in Denver because they have a lot of offense, but if he doesn’t make it there his career is probably close to over unless he decides to actually work on his shot instead of smoking joints.

  31. Owen

    Do you really think that all the great (and not so great) basketball minds in the history of the NBA haven’t experimented with players like Balkman in the past and concluded they were getting better results by using players with a more balanced skill set?”

    Great basketball minds like Isiah Thomas? Like Donnie Walsh?

    Or like Red Auerbach?

    http://dberri.wordpress.com/2006/11/13/the-wisdom-of-red-auerbach/

    How about Jerry Sloan?

    http://dberri.wordpress.com/2008/10/14/jerry-sloan-repeats-himself/

  32. jon abbey

    Gallinari was a fine pick considering what was out there at the time, he should end up being a great fit in this offense, a big guy who can bust threes and pass. it would be nice if we had a quality C and/or PG again before I die, though.

  33. Italian Stallion

    Do you really think that all the great (and not so great) basketball minds in the history of the NBA haven’t experimented with players like Balkman in the past and concluded they were getting better results by using players with a more balanced skill set?”
    Great basketball minds like Isiah Thomas? Like Donnie Walsh?
    Or like Red Auerbach?
    http://dberri.wordpress.com/2006/11/13/the-wisdom-of-red-auerbach/
    How about Jerry Sloan?
    http://dberri.wordpress.com/2008/10/14/jerry-sloan-repeats-himself/

    Owen,

    Not everything has to be black or white or one extreme or the other.

    Few here would argue with the proposition that inefficient scorers tend to be overrated by the media, public, and some basketball executives. That automatically translates, into things like defense, steals, blocked shots, rebounds etc.. tending to be underrated.

    However, when you are talking about fairly extreme deficiencies in offense, perhaps some of these statistical models are flawed in the opposite direction???

    If they aren’t, you would have to assume that virtually everyone in the NBA is totally idiotic despite the fact that they’ve been coaching for decades, playing for decades, observing actual results on court for decades with these specific types of players in and out of the line up etc…

    By the way, I added “not so great minds” specifically with Isiah in mind. LOL

    However, you should keep in mind that it WAS ISIAH that drafted him so early despite his known offensive deficiencies.

    So what was it?

    Was Isiah very smart for seeing his potential and hidden value and drafting him so early or was he really stupid for not playing him once he got to see him in action and found out what he really had and how it complimented the rest of his pieces?

    I love stats and models as much as the next guy, but IMO if you become a slave to them and stop thinking you wind up like all the Wall St guys with 180 IQs that go broke and take out the financial system. Sometimes you have to actually look at what’s going on and the results you get without trying to create a model to explain it. Things are sometimes so complex, they defy good modeling in some areas.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean I am right. We will eventually find out over time whether Balkman becomes a key or major role player for Denver (or some other team) or falls by the wayside. My view is clear. He will always be a very marginal role player unless he improves his mid range game and free throw shooting, but his best shot is on a team with a lot of offense like Denver.

  34. Frank

    I personally loved watching Balkman play but also think that his value is limited. He’d light up the garden at times with his energy and hustle, but just as often he’d overplay a passing lane causing an easy layup or he’d pass up an wide-open 10 foot jumper, drive to hoop, get fouled, and miss both free throws. One second he’d hound Carmelo into a bad shooting night, then the next he’d make some second-rate opponent look like the next coming of Michael Jordan. And then it’d be the middle of the 1st quarter and he’d have 3 fouls and sit the rest of the game. His numbers per minute are great but if you commit 3 fouls in the first 15 minutes you play you’ll never be anymore than a bit player. His TS% may be great but if the other team is in the penalty with 6 minutes left in the quarter that’s not good either.

    And even though he’s a good rebounder at the SF position, it’s not like he’s really big enough to play PF or C, where things like shooting from more than 6 inches from the rim are less important. Optimistically, one could call him a Ben Wallace or Dennis Rodman type, but #1, he’s not as good as either of them, #2 he fouls way more than they do, and #3 he doesn’t play their position. Especially in a D’Antoni system (like it or not, that’s what we’ve got now), the SF (and preferably the 4 and 5 also) has to be able to shoot — and given his reported poor practice habits, utter lack of improvement over 2 years here, foul- and injury-prone nature, I think all the anguish over him leaving is a bit of an overreaction.

  35. Ted Nelson

    IS,

    All NBA coaches/GMs probably don’t think exactly the same. It could be that those who recognize what’s important–consciously or not–consistently outperform those who do not. Pretty hard to test, though.

    Again, I don’t think Balkman’s deficiencies are that extreme. He certainly has “deficiencies”, but I’m not sure having Balkman on your offense hurts as much as having most Knicks on your defense. For example, as a rookie (06-07) Balkman took 1 more FGA/36 than Camby in 07-08, and the Knicks played at a slower pace. His TS% was better than Camby’s from last year (.531 to .498). His offensive rebounds were higher (3.3 to 3). The only offensive edge Camby has over Balkman as a rookie is passing. (I know, Camby’s a center. I’ll get to that.)

    “Things are sometimes so complex, they defy good modeling in some areas.”

    I’m not sure that the game of basketball is comparable to the US financial system in its complexity. One common subject is incentives: perverse incentives lead various groups within the financial system to act against the interests of the system–and society–as a whole, while salaries and fame being assigned based on ppg creates a perverse incentive for basketball players.
    There’s not one definitive model to explain a player’s worth or evaluate talent (hence the competing models), but I do think that there are multiple statistical models that have proven more effective than the average GM.

    IS and Frank,

    Any analysis is going to reveal that Balkman regressed from year one to two and has some big holes in his game. He’s also been inconsistent and doesn’t appear to be a hard worker. I hope we’re all on the same page there.
    I see where you guys are coming from: a SF who can´t shoot is different from a C who can’t shoot. First, I’m on the record saying that I think Balkman can play the 4 (especially if he gets in the weight-room). He’ll get abused by Tim Duncan, but who doesn’t? In Denver, for example, Nene can guard the more dangerous post scorers while Balkman does the help defense thing and slows down quick, athletic PFs. Not necessarily for 40 mpg, but between the 3 and the 4 I think he should be a solid rotation player–25 or so MPG–just by building on his rookie performance. Second, in this day and age, you’ve got centers like Okur and Bargnani who wonder the perimeter and leave room inside for the Balkmans.
    As far as fouls, I’ve shown before that most defensive stoppers have at least a season or two where they foul way too much early in their career. Balkman may never learn, but it’s definitely reasonable to assume that he will.
    I don’t know if he’ll be a Dennis Rodman or Ben Wallace, who share 6 defensive player of their year awards between them (due at least in part to circumstances beyond their control, of course). However, just as not every scorer can be Nash or Dirk and not every passer can be Magic or Kidd, there are lesser players with limited offensive games. Jerome Williams and Michael Curry come to mind.
    He may never make it, but I think there’s a good amount of evidence to take a risk on him.

  36. Owen

    IS –

    You definitely draw very logical conclusions from watching the Knicks over the past five years.

    Yup, too many 180 IQ guys building spreadsheets in their mother’s basements. Overuse of stats and models has really killed us.

    Here is my reading selection for you this afternoon….

    http://www.knickerblogger.net/?p=358

  37. caleb

    players like Balkman in the past.”

    I’m not going to belabor this, but this is what our running argument boils down to: I say there have been very, very few players “like” Balkman in the past. He has real flaws in his game but also major strengths. Many people compare him to “energy” guys like Eduardo Najera, or PEJ, but they have not produced anything like Balkman has on the court.

    btw, why do people insist on seeing him as a potential power forward? I guess he can do it in spots, because he is such a strong rebounder for a 3. But he can just as easily guard the 2… he’s plenty quick, and only weighs about 210.

  38. Ted Nelson

    JYD was quite similar to Balkman statistically. Maybe he didn’t have Balkman’s quickness, but did play some SF.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=balkmre01&y1=2008&p2=willije01&y2=2005

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=balkmre01&y1=2007&p2=willije01&y2=2004

    Grant Long was actually the most similar at the same age as last year according to Hollinger. http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/players/hollinger?playerId=2986&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba%2fplayers%2fhollinger%3fplayerId%3d2986

    I’m not saying it’s his best position, but I think Balkman can play the 4 for a few reasons. His rebounding and shot blocking are strong even for a PF. There are also a lot of PFs out there who make their livings floating around on the perimeter and driving past slower PFs. In both cases, Balkman’s a good fit. He probably wouldn’t do well is extended minutes against a big-banger like Boozer or Brand–not that many players do a great job blocking them–but could be a different look to throw at them for a few minutes. Offensively, he gives you quickness and some ball-handling that a lot of 4s don’t.
    You take away one of his main strengths–perimeter defense–by moving him to the 4. If Denver wants 3 of AI, JR Smith, Melo, and Kleiza on the court at the same time, though, Balkman can guard the 4 or Melo/Kleiza can. Both those guys have a bit more bulk.

    A sort of 2nd tier of starting PFs (Jamison, David West, Josh Smith, Ron Artest, Turkoglu/Lewis, Lamar Odom, potentially Beasley, Al Harrington, Drew Gooden) are virtually made for Balkman to guard. Some starting PFs have size advantages on Balkman and could take advantage of him in the post, but rely on their jumper and/or quickness to an extent where he might hang with them as well as most PFs (KG, Dirk, Bosh, Pau, Sheed, LaMarcus Aldride, Villanueva). And then there are the big boys (TD, Boozer, Brand, Randolph, Scola, even Jason Maxiell maybe) who might own him on the blocks. If he has the work ethic to stick in the NBA, he figures to put on some weight–or at least strength–over the years if he knows he’s going to be spending time at the 4.

  39. caleb

    Yeah, he is quite similar to Jerome Williams. Statistically speaking, the only real difference (in their careers so far) is that Balkman blocks a lot more shots. Strange, since Williams was much bigger.

    Grant Long – I don’t know how he does those player comparisons. That doesn’t seem remotely right.

    I don’t disagree that Balk can play the 4 against some opponents; I’m just saying he can guard 2s just as well. It’s not like he has to go to the bench because Garnett is in the game. Not many players have that versatility. Obviously, to be a difference maker he’ll have to cut down on fouling and stay healthy.

    I know it’s ridiculous we’re still talking about RB this much – I guess I am burned out on Chandler-talk and most of the other Knicks are so completely forgettable. Aside from that, RB is fun to watch and is so “extreme” in many ways that it will be fun to see what happens to him.

Comments are closed.