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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Knicks 2011 Season Preview – Power Forwards

With the Knicks 2011 season almost upon us, it’s time to analyze the roster. Usually teams have some stability from one year to the next, but New York has only a third of the players returning. How New York is going to perform is more of a mystery than previous years. This year I’ll look at each position and attempt to address the critical question for those players.

Power Forwards: Is Amar’e really going to play the four?

The answer to this question is most relevant to how the Knicks will look this year. Having Amar’e entrenched at power forward forces D’Antoni to play Mozgov and Turiaf. Additionally Amar’e and Gallinari averaging 35+ minutes per night, doesn’t leave a lot of time at the forward spot for Anthony Randolph and Wilson Chandler. Mathematically there would only be 26 minutes per game remaining for the pair. Hence if Amar’e stays at center, that could mean either Chandler stays entrenched at SG, or Anthony Randolph won’t see many minutes.

However if the option to have Stoudemire at center is available, then New York can make a much more fluid lineup. With multi-position defenders like Randolph, Chandler, Gallo, Fields, Azubuike, and Douglas the team could go into a Swiss Army mode creating mismatches all over the floor. One of New York’s strengths is their depth and athleticism. As long as Amar’e mans the 5, the team will be fast enough to outrun the opposition whether they go big with the rest of the lineup (Felton, Chandler, Gallinari, and Randolph) or small (Felton, Douglas, Gallinari, Chandler).

At its core, the answer to this question will hint at the power dynamics between D’Antoni and Stoudemire. It has been rumored that with the Suns Amar’e wasn’t happy playing the five, and this caused a friction between him and his coach. Undoubtedly D’Antoni’s system runs best when he has the flexibility with his players. In the three seasons before Shaq arrived in Phoenix, the Suns averaged 59 wins with Amar’e at center. The Knicks coach has said many kind words about Mozgov, but it’s not hard to imagine D’Antoni itching to send the 7 footer to the bench and trot out a more sleek and energetic lineup. If the centers are getting a lot of minutes and aren’t producing, then you’ll know that Amar’e is serious about not playing the five and D’Antoni is restricted in his creativity.

49 comments on “Knicks 2011 Season Preview – Power Forwards

  1. Frank O.

    Interesting.
    I know you have felt Amare should be the center for some time, or at least that was my perception.
    But I’m hoping the Knicks play a more balanced game between defense and offense. As a result, I’d love to see more of Amare at PF and Mosgov and or Turiaf playing center.
    Both can intimidate in the paint, and it frees Amare to roam more because he’s not forced to be the last line of defense.
    Maybe D’Antoni doesn’t have a defensive gene in his body, but I kind of think this team is going to build off defense this year.

  2. Ted Nelson

    Frank O., I don’t think it has to be PF OR C for Amare. It can pretty easily be both. To me it really depends on how the guys around him play, who earns minutes.

    The way Anthony Randolph played in pre-season (and also the way Mozgov played) it looks like more PF for Amare, but if AR starts to get it together I don’t think you necessarily have a better defensive team with Turiaf than AR. I would prefer to see a big, defensive line-up than Wilson Chandler at the 4, almost definitely. So, at this point I pretty much agree. I wouldn’t mind also seeing an offensive, quick line-up out there for a good chunk of minutes, though. And if the back-court/wing players on the edge of the rotation are out-producing Turiaf/Timo… I have no problem with D’Antoni sitting them even if it costs the Knicks some defense (so long as it appears to be gaining them more offensively than they’re losing defensively).

    (By the way, why is everything Walt Frazier says about Turiaf about what a great rebounder he is????????? He’s a terrible rebounder. Even if you take it as a given that these guys have jobs, shouldn’t someone be educating them so they’re somewhat accurate in their analysis… Between Clyde on Turiaf and Breen talking about team PPG as a measure of who the top offense/defense is… I prefer silence.)

  3. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Frank O.: Interesting.
    I know you have felt Amare should be the center for some time, or at least that was my perception.
    But I’m hoping the Knicks play a more balanced game between defense and offense. As a result, I’d love to see more of Amare at PF and Mosgov and or Turiaf playing center.
    Both can intimidate in the paint, and it frees Amare to roam more because he’s not forced to be the last line of defense.
    Maybe D’Antoni doesn’t have a defensive gene in his body, but I kind of think this team is going to build off defense this year.  

    If Amar’e split time, I’d be happy. I think 20-24 minutes for the combination of Moz/Turiaf would be sufficient. Unless Moz is a fantastic rebounder, because the team really needs that. This isn’t the 1999 NBA. There aren’t that many lumbering centers these days, so having Amar’e at the 5 isn’t that much of a detriment. As I noted, Phoenix did alright with him there for 3 years.

  4. Ben R

    I’m with you Mike. I think Amare splitting time would be perfect. I think Moz should still get a full 20-25 minutes at the center spot though. He is the only presence in the paint on offense besides Amare. I think there should always be either Amare or Moz on the court because without them we become a completely perimeter team and our half court sets suffer badly.

    As for Turiaf and I’m okay if he gets 10-15 minutes a game and Amare sees very little time at center but at this point I think we might be better served going small when Moz is on the bench and using Chandler and Randolph at the 4 and Amare at the 5 and having Turiaf start the season out of the rotation.

    Then our big rotation would be:
    Amare – 12 minutes PF, 24 minutes C
    Moz – 24 minutes C
    Randolph/Chandler – 36 minutes PF (at this point 24 minutes Chandler, 12 minutes Randolph at least until Randolph learns to play more within the offense)

    That would then free Fields up to start at the 2 with Douglas backing up both guard spots and Walker backing up Gallo.

    Amare would then be starting the game at the four but ultimately playing more five as he splits the center position with Moz.

  5. Ted Nelson

    Mike,

    Like I say in #2, I think it depends on how the guys around him play. I’m not saying play him at the 4 or the 5 X minutes, just that it might be a bit trial and error, wait and see.

    There’s a high degree of variability for a lot of these guys (AR, WC, Timo, TD, Azu re: injury, Fields, Felton, Bill Walker, some would argue Gallo…). I wouldn’t make the decision just based on style of play, but on productivity of players. If Gallo continues to get 8 reb/36, it makes it easier to go small for example. If Timo and Turiaf are 2 of your best 7 or 8 players, it makes it hard to keep them off the court. If Fields, Azu, WC, and AR are all among your top 8 or so, on the other hand, going to be hard to play Timo and Turiaf.

    It’s not 1999, but that doesn’t mean defense isn’t valuable. A Timo or Turiaf is not just manning up on the other team’s bigman (and there are still plenty of good bigmen out there, most of whom have been destroying the Knicks in recent years), he’s also a help defender to deter penetration. As Knicks fans, we know how rough it can be defensively to lack that (while people might point to Phoenix’s decent D, they had guys like Marion, Bell, Kurt Thomas, Diaw…).

    If your frontcourt is Amare and Gallo, you’ve got as much chance for negative mismatches as positive so I wouldn’t be all in till we see how they play and how everyone else plays. You also have a lot of pro-Knicks match-up problems created by the massive line-up the Knicks could deploy with a traditional C, not least of which is Amare just destroying “stretch-PFs.” As much as people want to see Gallo develop a post game, he’s going to have a much easier time posting up a SG than a PF.

    There’s also the chance that a traditional line-up is a better option offensively if WC is still a .535 TS% guy, Randolph hasn’t improved, Azu doesn’t come back 100% from injury, etc. Timo may prove to be a very efficient scorer and is a better passer than I expected. Turiaf is also a good passer and has done some efficient low-volume scoring in the NBA.

  6. stratomatic

    I think the ideal line up right now is not the ideal line up later in the season.

    Right now I’d like to see:

    Mosgov – C
    Amare – PF
    Gallo – SF
    Chandler/Gouglas/Fields – SG (depending on the matchup)
    Felton – PG

    That line up has weaknesses at the C and SG.

    At C:

    Mosogv fouls too often, doesn’t rebound well for a C, and is at best OK offensively but not consistent enough.

    Turiaf brings some energy, defense, shot blocking, leadship etc… but not enough offense and at a tad less rebounding than we need.

    Randolph is not strong enough, turns the ball over too often, has bad shot selection, but IMHO has by far the biggest upside.

    At SG:

    Chandler doesn’t have a good enough shooting range to help space the floor or enough playmaking skills.

    Douglas isn’t tall enough to defend many SGs.

    Fields is kind of green to be be put in the starting role so soon and also may not have enough shooting range and playmaking skills to be a true SG at this point.

    However, by the end of the season we could see Randolph and Amare on the court together a lot more (at least that’s my hope). I don’t think it really matters who is officially designated as the C. Time will tell. Together they are long, athletic, good enough shot blockers, fast, verstatile, and good enough rebounders and scorers to get the C/PF job done (Randolph should get 9-10 boards per 36). It’s just going to take some some for Randolph to learn the system, reduce his turnovers, and improve his shot selection. Hopefully by the 2nd half of the season he’ll be ready to take a bigger role.

    By the seocnd half I also expect Fields to be solid at the SG. He’s already an efficient scorer, excellent rebounder, and seems to have a super high basketball IQ. With any improvement at all (which I fully expect from this kid) IMO he’ll be able to handle the assignment most nights. If he’s quick enough to defend the SG almost every night, he’s the man.

    A line up Amare, Randolph, Gallo, Fields, and Felton where Randolph has reduced turnovers and improved his shot selection is not just a playoff team. It’s a very competitive playoff team. The faster those two guys develop, the faster happy days are here again!

  7. jaylamerique

    why are all of expecting AR to get minutes in the rotation? Hahn reported that he might begin the season not getting any playing time

  8. Z

    Randolph may have looked pretty bad in preseason, but what exactly did Ronnie Turiaf do to earn minutes?

  9. ess-dog

    It seems like most teams have a 4-big rotation. Charlotte for instance will start Diaw and Nazr (not so great, eh?) with Tyrus Thomas and hopefully Kwame Brown or Diop if Kwame flops again.
    While Amare can clearly play the 4 or 5, our big rotation would seemingly be Amare and Mosgov starting with AR and Turiaf off the bench. Turiaf has done very little so far though (besides some nice passes and a few blocks) and maybe that’s why D’Antoni wants Chandler in there instead. Although Chandler gives up a couple of inches to Turiaf, he’s generally a better player.
    I’m also not sure if AR is still being considered for time at the 3, which I believe would be a mistake. He desperately needs to develop closer to the basket.
    I think what’s going to be most problematic is when both Amare and Mosgov are out of the game. This team will need one or both of them defending the post all game in which case, it might be better to start AR and Amare eventually and have Mosgov back up Amare and maybe Chandler back up AR. This likely won’t happen since Amare prefers pf, but we’ll just have to see what works over time.

  10. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    For what it’s worth, Landry Fields had the fifth-highest WP/48 score among rookies during preseason. He posted a .340 WP/48.

    http://arturogalletti.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/untitled70.png

    He’s got a good turnover rate from college (2.6/36) which should remain somewhat low, and as long as he’s not chucking ill-advised threes and getting hosed on defense, shouldn’t he be considered as a starter at SG?

  11. stratomatic

    I don’t like the idea of Chandler getting much if any time at the 4. He’s not a good enugh rebounder and there are some PFs where he’d clearly be getting the worst of the matchup. I’d rather try to force him into the SG role and backup Gallo at SF.

  12. stratomatic

    Ted,

    I think Wilson will easily be .53 – .54 TS% player again this year unless D’Antoni gives him the green light to shoot a lot of 3s.

    He was better than that after the first month or so last season and didn’t do it by some potentially random streak of good shooting. He did it by eliminating a whole bunch of 3 point shots. He could have been even better if he refused all of them. He’s been a weak 3 point shooter since the beginning, but his TS% on 2s alone has always been better and improving.

    If he can improve his mid range game and finishing ability further there is significant upside. The thing is, if he’s going to play SG he’s probably going to be asked to shoot 3s.

    I’m a big believer in TS% as a quick summary stat, but I think you also have to look at the FG% percentages from in close, from mid range, from outside, at the FT line, from outside the arc, from various locations etc… to really understand a player and how it would sometimes be easy to improve efficiency by changing their game. IMO, Wilson is an easy player to fix, but we may need more fro him than he can give.

  13. Ted Nelson

    stratomatic: I think Wilson will easily be .53 – .54 TS% player again this year unless D’Antoni gives him the green light to shoot a lot of 3s.

    My point was that if WC is only a .535 TS% guy again that is a *bad* thing for the offense. There may be other options this season that can put the ball in basket at a much higher rate. My hope is that he has improved to 55%+, and while I don’t have the numbers (and it’s a small sample, and the games don’t count) pre-season seemed encouraging. Timo may very well put up as many points as WC on fewer shots, same with some wing options… If WC hasn’t improved he might be squeezed from the rotation (or maybe should be, but D’Antoni loves him and he is the best perimeter defender on the team). Maybe Gallo can defend the 4 and WC can play there offensively…

    stratomatic: but his TS% on 2s alone has always been better and improving.

    WC was not better as a jump shooter last season, he was worse. Even if he is an ok shooter of long 2 pters… who cares? There are plenty of guys who can take a couple steps back and get you an extra point at the same or higher %.

    stratomatic: I’m a big believer in TS% as a quick summary stat, but I think you also have to look at the FG% percentages from in close, from mid range, from outside, at the FT line, from outside the arc, from various locations etc… to really understand a player and how it would sometimes be easy to improve efficiency by changing their game. IMO, Wilson is an easy player to fix, but we may need more fro him than he can give.  

    I never said not to look at how a guy shoots from different places, but TS% *summarizes* all of those numbers into one number. Ultimately if a guys TS% is X, I don’t care how he shot from different spots. What he contributed to the team was X. WC is a pending FA who’s got to contribute at this point in his career.

    How are you going to “fix” Chandler?

  14. stratomatic

    Ted,

    Last year I calculated Wilson’s TS% with 3s and without 3s because it was obvious he was terrible from beyond the arc. I was curious what his efficiency would have been if he never shot a 3 pointer.

    It’s been awhile, but I believe it was somewhere around 56% or 57% without 3s.

    The 53.5% from last year was basically a blend of the first month or so when he was shootong a lot of 3s and playing terribly overall and the rest of the season when he was shooting fewer 3s and playing better.

    Without any improvement as a shooter, IMO he could get to 56%-57% if D’Antoni simply put the screws on him because his effieciency around the basket and midrange isn’t that bad at all.

    So while his overall TS% told us what happneded last year. It didn’t tell us why it happened or how to potentially fix it. Unless Wilson has improved his 3 point shooting, all D’Antoni has to do is totally put the screws on him unless there just happen to be some specific locations that he’s good from. I haven’t seen shot location data.

    If he has actually improved around the basket and from mid range, IMO he can be highly productive. I just don’t see D’Antoni putting the screws on hom totally.

  15. Ted Nelson

    stratomatic: didn’t do it by some potentially random streak of good shooting. He did it by eliminating a whole bunch of 3 point shots.

    You can’t really say that based on one season. I’m not saying it was, but it may very well have been a “random streak…” He shot almost 70% on close shots last season after shooting under 60% on close shots the season before. On the other hand, his eFG% on jumpers went down. Is one or the other of those seasons the real WC? Has he improved one area or another? The pre-season has been encouraging, but you can’t just look at one season and say “obviously this guy is exactly as good as he was that one isolated season.” I’ve absolutely been encouraged by WC this pre-season, but I’m not ready to declare that he is or isn’t this or that until he actually does it.

    stratomatic: The faster those two guys develop, the faster happy days are here again! 

    First, I’d say the 1 is more of a weakness than the 2. The Knicks have a lot of options at the 2, all are decent, and one or two should step up. They probably have only 1 option at the 1 that D’Antoni will actually consider, and it’s not a very good one. There are also 3 options at the 5.

    While it would be nice if those guys develop and I like their odds, I wouldn’t say it’s a forgone conclusion. You can’t just decided that those guys will improve, but that Timo is “at best ok” and Chandler’s outside shot couldn’t have improved this off-season (9-17 from 3 in the pre-season was a good start…) and Fields will be better than Azu by the end of the season and TD is too short… I like the analysis that if those two promising young players step up (o continue to step up in Fields’ case) it will be good for the team, but I don’t like assuming they necessarily will do X and that other players can’t do Y. Even if a player has a glaring weakness, it doesn’t mean they can’t be very valuable… Timo’s defense, for example, could make up for his offense, which really isn’t bad at 13.4 pts/36, 1.7 ast/36, and a .565 TS% this pre-season. I also don’t like declaring the Knicks a very competitive playoff team by the end of this season, though of course I dream of it. There are also weaknesses in an AR/Amare frontcourt even in the best case.

    Like I said, though, I also like both of those guys.

  16. BigBlueAL

    Wow, no more than a 30% chance the Knicks miss the playoffs if A’mare stays healthy and projected for 44 wins?? I want some of that kool-aid!!!!

    Also I sure hope Basketball Prospectus is correct with those predictions for the Knicks. lol

  17. SeeWhyDee77

    I think Mike D should be resigned to live or die with Mosgov/Turiaf at the 5 while sprinkling in some Amare or AR at that spot. I also think Walsh should try and get Sean Williams off the street as the 3rd center. Why? Right now Amare has to be the teams everything. He pretty much has to take every shot and grab every rebound, while being our best interior defender. That doesn’t bode well for Amare. While he’s in great shape, I think he will break down playing that role. But if Mike D has guys he can put out there at center, and allow Stat to play the bulk of his minutes at the 4, then Stat most likely stays healthy and is a perennial MVP candidate. No 4 (or 5 for that matter) can guard him. No 4 is gonna push him around like alot of 5’s will. Stat vs the Rashard Lewis’/Troy Murphy’s/Pau Gasol’s/Andray Blatche’s and the like of the NBA sounds a whole lot better than Stat vs the Brook Lopez’/D Howard’s/Marc Gasol’s/Roy Hibbert’s/Shaq’s/Yao’s of the NBA. At some point, I believe our best lineup will be Stat/Rooster/Chandler/Douglas/Felton….but only in spurts. We have alotta versatility on the roster, but that doesn’t mean Mike D should play guys often at multiple positions. Coach should play guys where they are most effective at both ends. Guys like Stat and AR should focus on the 4 with AR perhaps gettin some burn at the 5 if he can gain 10 more pounds of muscle. If Chandler comes off the bench then he can play the 2/3/4. Fields and Azu should be ok at the 2/3. And Douglas should be ok as a combo guard. I’m not sayin not to use the versatility on the roster. But in Phoenix, I think the way Mike D used his versatility was to his detriment. The fact that Stat played alotta 5 and Diaw played alotta 4 hurt his teams. I don’t wanna see that happen here. We got alot invested in Stat and the gang, and I think we all would love to see them at the height of their efficiency in NY. For me that means Stat at the 4 with a big body next to him and Mike D not goin all Nellie with his lineups. He should take advantage of the versatility in spurts.

  18. Ted Nelson

    stratomatic: Last year I calculated Wilson’s TS% with 3s and without 3s because it was obvious he was terrible from beyond the arc.

    56%. The season before, though, he would have been at 52.4% with out the 3s. So, it’s not necessarily as simple as eliminating the 3s. I do think his finishing ability improves last season. 70% is really high, though, and I’d like to see him maintain that before taking it as a given.

    2 other things:

    1. He hit almost 33% of his 3s 2 seasons ago and I wouldn’t just assume he can’t improve. I hope he has and *can* play the 2.
    2. If he’s on the court with Amare, Felton, AR/Timo/Turiaf… basically 1/2 he Knicks rotation… he’s probably got to shoot some 3s, because those guys aren’t. Perhaps if Gallo’s rebounding remains as high as pre-season he can defend the 4 and WC can play there offensively in a small line-up…

    My point was merely that I think how much time Amare should spend at the 4 vs. 5 depends on how his teammates play. There are a ton of variables there, and I was simply throwing WC having a bad season out there as one of them.

  19. stratomatic

    Ted.

    1. I haven’t considered Wilson’s pre season in trying to determine if his shot has improved. I simply don’t know. All I’lll say is it wasn’t a bad. The only thing I’ve done is deconstruct his TS% from last year and concluded he would have been WAY more efficienct if he simply avoided 3 pointers altogether. If he had, the results would have been more than satisfactory. There is no guaratee of anything, but the general trend with young players is that their shot has been one of the most likely things to improve with time.

    2. My feeling on Timo is that his biggest weakness right now is rebounding. I’m kind of a Devid Berri disciple in that regard in that I think rebounding is critical from the C and PF. I think rebouding is probably underated by most fans/media types even if many people feel Berri himself tends to overrate it. The thing is, I don’t see rebounding as one of the things that players easily improve upon.

    I think shot making, avoiding turnovers, reducing fouls and other things are more likely to improve with time. So while I can certainly see Timo getting better, I think Randolph has the much bigger upside if he can ever get his act together. He’s already good at the things that are hard to improve at (rebounding, athleticism, shot blocking) and really bad at all the things that are easier to improve.

    3. I don’t consider Felton a really good PG. I think he will be about average if he can duplicate his shot making from last year. But I think there is some potential for an upside surprise if the system suits him better. I have no problem with him and think overall he’s an decent upgrade from Duhon who wasn’t much on either side of the ball.

    4. I have no problem with the players we will be using at SG. I just think none are clear cut SGs. All have holes in their skill set relative to the standard for the position and what this specific team needs from a SG. IMO we need another player besides Gallo to space the floor and also to make plays. Douglas can do that well enough but can’t defend the position a lot of the time because of his size. Chandler and Fields are missing 3 point range and playmaking. But I feel optimistic about Fields because he’s not that bad now and both his real IQ and apparently his basketball IQ are very high. I think he’ll learn and improve rapidly.

    So it’s not impossible that by year end we have a tandem at PF/C that is a tad above average for those two positions (if Randolph gets his act togther), an average or above average SF in Gallo depending on his progress (if any), an average PG, and an average SG with a pretty deep bench.

    I think we’ll be a below .500 club until such time that Randolph starts playing well, but if he and Fields develop, I think we can play like a 45-50 win club by the end of the year (maybe win 23-24 games in the second half after a slow start). It’s all contingent on the development of the kids but IMO the most important kid is Randolph because he rebounds well and we need that badly.

  20. Frank O.

    Ted and Mike:

    It’s nice that there are some options that don’t feel like terrible ones.
    I agree with Ted that the 1 is the most problemmatic and our achilles heel this year.

    But I can see D’Antoni running several types of line ups with Amare at the 4 or the 5.
    I have this feeling that Fields is going to get more minutes that WC at the 2. Fields feels like a more well rounded player (admittedly with few minutes to show) than WC.
    WC still looks like he’s still figuring stuff out, even after a few years.

    I don’t think Turiaf was particularly good out there, but what I liked was his willingness to mix it up and be a kind of enforcer. He’s a big body that hustles and takes no crap. I miss that.

    Also, I don’t think Mosgov is a classic lumbering center. He moves very well and runs the floor..
    He’ll get far more minutes than Turiaf.

    Ted also is right in that much depends on how some of these guys play as to whether Amare plays more 4 or 5. AR is a big question, and I’m not sure he’s going to get a lot of minutes in the first half of the year. D’Antoni needs to get this team to the playoffs and he won’t suffer immature play from AR for long. He was already getting impatient in the preseason.

    I think the two is going to see Fields, then WC and Douglas, with Douglas also backing up Felton.

  21. Z

    Re: Chandler– last year I heard Mike D’Antoni say he thought Chandler’s natural position was at the 4, then Howard Beck said the same thing in his interview with KB last week. What is it that makes people think he is a natural PF? He’s small for a 4, he’s not a great rebounder at the 4, he’s not a great scorer at the 4. He can’t defend the other natural 4s.

    I can’t imagine the Knicks are seriously in extension negotiations with him at this point (as reported by Mike Vaccaro today).

    That all said, check out how high on Chandler Spurs fans seem to be. They were jizzing in their pants at the prospect of dealing for him a few weeks ago. I had no idea people outside of NY even had an opinion on him, let alone a positive one.

    http://www.spurstalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=163087

  22. Ben R

    At this point I would not be too upset if Randolph started the season on the outside of the rotation. I would prefer 10-15 minutes so he could play himself into a bigger role but right now he looks totally lost on the offensive end. He actually hurts the Knicks offensively by floating around the court on offense. Multiple times in preseason I saw him run in front of someone rolling to the basket or drift too close to the ball handler making it easy for his man to double team. This on top of the fact that his offense in the half court comes completely from 1 on 1 play and you have a player who will hurt us alot more than help at this point. A couple of months learning the offense getting his confidence up would not be a terrible thing. Let Randolph learn how to play within a team and then put him into the rotation.

    Also Turiaf is fine in limited minutes but if he is out there you need all four other players looking to shoot and score because he doesn’t even look at the basket. He is a great passer but his lack of presence on offense makes it a little harder for everyone else when he’s on the floor.

    That’s why our best rotation is probably:

    Felton
    Fields
    Gallo
    Amare
    Mozgov

    Douglas
    Walker
    Chandler

    With either Turiaf or Randolph playing very limited minutes at the end of the rotation.

    I know we give up size off the bench but with Chandler at the four and Amare at the five for limited stretches we can push the tempo and pressure and possibly turn the mismatches in our favor.

  23. SeeWhyDee77

    Z: check out how high on Chandler Spurs fans seem to be. They were jizzing in their pants at the prospect of dealing for him a few weeks ago. I had no idea people outside of NY even had an opinion on him, let alone a positive one.http://www.spurstalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=163087  

    yup..my thoughts exactly. I read on that board where they said it would be a steal lol. Not quite…it would be an even exchange. But if Walsh can flip that pick into an improvement or even Melo w/o givin up Rooster AND AR, then it’s unequivocally advantage Knicks. I think Chandler would be great in San Antone…but they would hafta lose RJ.

  24. Z

    @ 25 Not just a steal, but: “the best steal since the Gasol trade.”

    Seriously, these Spurs fans are pulling their hair out hoping the Chandler trade goes through…

  25. Ted Nelson

    Z: What is it that makes people think he is a natural PF?

    I tend to agree with your assessment, but I think it’s mostly that he’s athletic and can’t shoot (at the 4 his shooting would actually almost be a strength). I don’t know D’Antoni’s opinion and haven’t even followed the press quotes, but late last season he said on his show in regards to why Jordan Hill didn’t play something along the lines of “at the time we thought WC’s position was the 4.” That would imply he no longer thought that. Then it cropped back up recently, perhaps because AR has disappointed and the SGs have impressed. D’Antoni might be able to get more talent into the rotation by bumping him up.

    Ben R: At this point I would not be too upset if Randolph started the season on the outside of the rotation.

    In a sense I think it might be best to have him out of the rotation to motivate him a little, rather than on the edge of the rotation. But he didn’t respond at all to whatever Nelson was doing in GS, so I can’t say how he’ll respond here.

    Ben R: Also Turiaf is fine in limited minutes but if he is out there you need all four other players looking to shoot and score because he doesn’t even look at the basket. He is a great passer but his lack of presence on offense makes it a little harder for everyone else when he’s on the floor.

    A. I think the Knicks can put 4 scorers around him. And B. If he did enough other things I don’t think it would be a problem (career .560 TS% on a usage of 14…), but he’s not great in other areas.
    I don’t really have a problem either way with Turiaf, unless something becomes really obviously wrong to a Duhon or not playing Nate extent.

  26. Kikuchiyo

    Hey folks, isn’t it time for predictions?

    Season is starting. Let’s commit.

    I’m going with 38 wins, I’m afraid. I’m expecting a big year from Amar’e, in terms of points, but some struggles getting wins. Haven’t seen enough starting level talent on this team yet. But all the important pieces are on the way up, so we’ll see. I’m definitely looking forward to it after the longest off-season in memory.

  27. jhathwell

    Kikuchiyo: Hey folks, isn’t it time for predictions?Season is starting. Let’s commit.I’m going with 38 wins, I’m afraid. I’m expecting a big year from Amar’e, in terms of points, but some struggles getting wins. Haven’t seen enough starting level talent on this team yet. But all the important pieces are on the way up, so we’ll see. I’m definitely looking forward to it after the longest off-season in memory.  

    I’d expect better, actually. I think this is a playoff-team, with or without ‘Melo or another blockbuster. Somewhere in the 42-45 win range sounds about right.

    Check out my Knicks preview here:

    http://sonofsambowie.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-york-knicks.html

  28. nicos

    I really don’t want to see Amare at the 5 for more than 8-10 minutes a game and then only against finesse centers. Let’s face it- right now he’s the only thing between us and last place (that may change if the young guys step up but for now…) and I know he played a lot of 5 in Phoenix but with the knee troubles and the eye I’d just as soon not have him getting banged around in the post- especially since he already takes more contact on the offensive end than just about anybody besides Dwight Howard. Amare playing 15-20 minutes at the 5 might make the most sense for the Knicks right now (esp. if Timo struggles out of the gate) but we’ve got him for 5 years not just this season. Regardless of where he plays I’m predicting 25, 9+, and 1.5 blocks and a ton of turnovers as he looks to carry the team by himself.

    As for AR- given his stricken facial expressions every time he makes a mistake I think he’s probably a little fragile mentally so I’m not sure how he’d take being left out of the rotation- especially with all of the high hopes the whole staff seemed to have for him this summer. And while he’s been lost on the offensive end it’s not like he brings nothing to the table- he didn’t rebound that well in the preseason but I’d say it’s still pretty likely he’s our best rebounder (something we need as much of as we can get) and along with Turiaf our best shotblocker so I’d try to find at least 8-12 minutes a game for him for at least the first couple of months in hopes he can get it together.

  29. ess-dog

    I’m not as down on AR as the rest of you. Last season he averaged around 23 minutes and had roughly a 19 PER despite a .521 TS before he got hurt. In other words, he’s better than most players we have. He’s kind of like this year’s Nate in some ways. One minute he’ll do something unbelievable and the next minute, unbelievably stupid. But the good is actually good enough to outweigh the bad.
    1. don’t forget, he’s coming back from injury.
    2. get him on the floor as the #5 option and not the #1 and you’ll see better shot selection by default.
    3. he will probably be our most effective player in transition. not a small deal on a D’Antoni team.
    4. even when he had those 1-7 pre-season games, he still played pretty well on defense.
    5. he’s only legally been allowed to drink for a few months!

    Re: Amare at the 5 and 4, I have a gut feeling that D’Antoni will try to keep most players at one position. Continuity helps a player with their role. Amare is probably the only Knick that could work at 2 positions since he’s familiar with the system. Possibly Chandler as well as a sort of “utility man”. But I don’t see D’Antoni jerking players around much once the regular season starts.

    Re: Chandler at the 4, he played the 4 his two years in college – unimpressively. He has bulked up after all, and it would help him cut out his deeper shots. But while his rebounding is good for a guard, I doubt it translates much once he’s playing in the paint against guys like Gasol and Boozer.

  30. Ted Nelson

    nicos: Let’s face it- right now he’s the only thing between us and last place

    I don’t think that’s true, and if it is the Knicks are not going to have a good season even with him.

    nicos: I’d just as soon not have him getting banged around in the post

    Is there any evidence that Cs get injured more often than PFs? I mean I see it logically, but I don’t know if it’s actually true.

    nicos: Regardless of where he plays I’m predicting 25, 9+, and 1.5 blocks and a ton of turnovers as he looks to carry the team by himself.

    Are Gallo, TD, and WC going to play significantly worse than last season? This is a pretty similar group to the one that finished 17th in offense last season. Amare will definitely be THE man, but I don’t think he’s got no one around him. Gallo and TD chip in a lot of efficient points. WC might this season, along with Timo/Turiaf/Walker/Fields/Mason/Azu… Felton is the only inefficient one.

    ess-dog: I have a gut feeling that D’Antoni will try to keep most players at one position.

    I don’t know, but you don’t think Douglas will split time between the guard spots (i.e. either Felton is playing 48 minutes or TD is playing limited minutes)? Danilo between the forward spots? Azu/Walker on the wings? Just because you are technically the 2 in one alignment and the 3 in another doesn’t mean your responsibilities are particularly different. I wouldn’t call it jerking someone around. These guys are all pros. Some have a year or two playing for D’Antoni.

    ess-dog: I’m not as down on AR as the rest of you.

    I don’t think I’m low on him. I think he’ll at the very least have his chances in the rotation this season and hope he makes the most of them. I sort of doubt his PER in the pre-season was 19, though. I do think the Knicks have other options. AR’s minutes will eat into the minutes of other contributing players like TD, WC, Fields, Walker, Timo, Turiaf, Gallo, Mason… I don’t think it’s a no brainer and I do think he was outplayed in pre-season. I don’t think he’s necessarily earned a rotation spot (though obviously I don’t know and am just going on what I saw in games and box scores… he has done some things so maybe he has earned one in D’Antoni’s mind), and I think there’s a chance that humbling him will make him realize how far he has to go and how much harder he has to work (then again maybe he a. is fragile and needs encouragement or b. rebels and has a tiff with D’Antoni like Nelson). I would call the beginning of the season the time to do that if D’Antoni is not happy with him rather than jerking him in and out of the rotation.

  31. SeeWhyDee77

    Ted Nelson:
    Is there any evidence that Cs get injured more often than PFs? I mean I see it logically, but I don’t know if it’s actually true.
      

    Ted, I think what nicos is tryina say is what i’ve been alluding to. Considering that we will rely heavily on Amare, we want to minimize the beating in the paint that he’s gonna take as much as possible. Theoretically, playing heavy minutes at the 5 would subject Stat to more of a “beating” nightly-considering that most 5’s are bigger than him. You gotta think that the staff would want to be as careful as possible considering the team gave him a 100 mil uninsurable contract-as long as it doesn’t stunt the development of the team.

  32. rama

    Ted – agreed with all your points in #32. (Stop the press!) As for AR, just about the only one who didn’t outplay him in the preseason was Felton, and even he looked much better in the more recent games. Fields clearly outplayed him, made few errors, contributed consistently…there’s a reason he might start at the 2.

    And Dee, I think D’Antoni is being careful with STAT, so I wouldn’t worry about him getting overused at the 5. He’ll probably play minutes there, but quite clearly D’A knows what value he has and is going to make sure he isn’t playing lots in back-to-backs, isn’t playing when ahead by a lot or down by a lot…just generally is being coddled. And with his knees, and the reality we could contend in a year or two with another couple max FAs, “coddled” in this case sounds great to me.

    Lastly, did anyone see Berman’s column last week where he called Amare “Stats”? I mean, if you cover the team, shouldn’t you have some freaking clue about the most basic stuff, like what a player’s nickname means? We know and we don’t get paid for this! (Except for Mike’s tens of dollars in T-Shirt revenue…) Not that “Berman stinks” is a news flash, but come on.

  33. Ben R

    I noticed Rama mentioned Felton having a poor preseason and Ted has commented on his play as well so I am going to talk about Felton for a second.

    I was not a big fan of his signing. (the short deal made it palatable but I was still pretty upset when it happend) But I have to admit after watching him in preseason I am cautiously optimistic. I by no means think he was outplayed by Randolph and by the end of the preseason he actually looks like he might be a pretty good fit.

    He started out the preseason playing poorly, he has out of control and playing way too fast. He missed 16 of his first 22 shots and had 11 turnovers over his first three games. D’Antoni commented on his bad play, my fears seemed justified and many of us Knick fans were rightfully worried. But then he slowed down, stopped forcing the issue and suddenly his play got much better.

    Over the final five games of the preseason Felton’s stats per 36 were:
    17.0 pts 7.8 asts 3.9 rebs 1.3 stls 2.6 tos 57.5% TS 46.2% 3pt

    I don’t expect his stats this season to be that good but his shot looks solid (much more like the player that shot 38.5% from 3 last year than the one who shot under 30% the two years previous), his passing and control of the halfcourt set looks good (he is no Nash but a huge step up from Duhon or Douglas), he seems to finish well around the basket (he seemed to improve last year and maybe this is a continuation of that improvement), and his defense is as good as advertised (he is not Rondo, Westbrook or even Douglas but solidly above average).

    Overall those last five preseason games made me hopeful that he will improve upon last season and not regress to the player he was over his first four seasons. If he can average 15 pts 7 asts and 3 rebs with 2.5 tos and a TS% around 54-55% and a 3pt% of 38-39% (which now seems possible after those last five games) then he will prove to be a great pickup and a valuable member of what I am predicting will be a playoff team this year.

    I know it’s only five games, but it was the right five games, and from what people were saying about him in camp his shot seems to be the real deal.

  34. Ted Nelson

    SeeWhyDee77: Considering that we will rely heavily on Amare, we want to minimize the beating in the paint that he’s gonna take as much as possible.

    I see the logic, I just don’t know if it’s any harder on your body/more likely to induce injury to bang a bit in the paint as it is to move around and also bang with PFs. You can damage your knee on a quick cut or through running the court (see a lot of PGs) just as easily as banging in close spaces if not more so (I am no medical expert). Especially if you were to say–I’m not sure but I sort of think so–that there is more scoring talent at the 4 than the 5 around the league… in which case he may actually have to work harder guarding 4s. I’m just saying that if there is a solid case there should be evidence, not that I am going to or really expect anyone here to do that study…

    Ben R: 15 pts 7 asts and 3 rebs with 2.5 tos and a TS% around 54-55% and a 3pt% of 38-39%

    Interesting point, let’s hope so. 15 pts/36, 7 ast/36, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 or so TO/36 would be right in line with his career numbers (given the increased pace of the Knicks, though TOs might jump a bit since 2.5 was the average in Charlotte), the only thing was out of line is his scoring efficiency. Maybe he really has improved his shot that much, but it would be really unusual for a guy whose TS% has been solidly under .500 through 5 seasons to suddenly jump to 55%… Even in his career season his eFG% on jumpers (63% of his shots) was .443, which is where Wilson Chandler’s was 2 years ago. I do hope he limits his volume, though, and maybe that will cut out some bad shots to increase the %.
    My big hope is that he doesn’t shoot too much and does a good job creating/running the offense and defending. If his shot has really improved a whole lot than I probably won’t have any problem with him.

  35. Ben R

    Ted – An increase like that is rare but not unprecedented:

    Joe Johnson – 3 years never above 50% TS% jumped to over 55% his fifth year never below 53% since

    Raja bell – 4 years never above 50.9% TS% (two below 50%) climbed to 52.7% his fifth then 58.4% his 6th never below 54.8% since.

    Gerald Wallace – 4 years never above 51% (two below 50%) jumped to over 57% his fifth year only below 56% once (54.7%) since

    John Salmons – 4 years never above 51.1% (one below 50%) jumped to over 55% his fifth year never below that since.

    I found these four in about five minutes of looking. I’m not saying Felton will join this list but sudden improvement does happen it’s just rare. All I’m saying is that Felton’s improvement last year looks, at least so far, to be a real improvement and not a statistical anomaly.

    If his three point shot is truly improved and he shoots it as good as last year we should see an increase in TS% based solely on the fact he will probably shoot more threes under D’Antoni. I think 54-55% is very possible and would be surprised if he is worse than last year.

  36. nicos

    Ted Nelson:
    This is a pretty similar group to the one that finished 17th in offense last season.   

    Not really- The offense last year completely revolved around David Lee and (as you’ve mentioned many times) Al H wasn’t bad offensively either. Gallo was excellent playing off of D. Lee and I expect him to do the same playing off of Amare- could he generate the same offense on his own? Based on how much of his success was based on kick out threes last year, I don’t think he’s shown that he can as of yet. Just take Amare off of the team and does our talent match up with NJ, Washington, Charlotte, etc… without Gallo, Chandler, or Douglas (or even two of the three) making a big step forward? You take D. Lee off of last year’s team and how many games do the Knicks win- maybe 22-25? Without Amare maybe we’d hit 28-30 if the young guys make a normal progression but I still think they’d be a lot closer to last than 8th.

    You may be right about 4’s vs. 5’s injury wise- I do think 5’s tend to take a lot more elbows to the face jockeying for position on the defensive end and given the detached retina I’d rather not put Amare in that position.

  37. nicos

    Oops, sorry Ted- I took your quote out of context a little bit- With Amare on the floor, you’re right it’s pretty a pretty similar offensive team to last year. Just judging by the preseason, Amare seems in full-on attack mode- really pressing the issue and I think it might take awhile before he gets a feel for where everyone else is going to be on the floor, hence lots of turnovers.

  38. rama

    Ben R – thanks for running the numbers. As said, his play was a lot better toward the end of the preseason, but it took hard stats to show just how good the numbers were, and for how many games he sustained that level of play. No, it’s not Nash or CP3 or Deron, but it’s a lot better than Duhon. And I think he can shoot reasonably well over a sustained period of time, based on a comment someone made in a thread when he was signed – he was asked to shoot late in the clock often to bail out the team, and he did not make a high percentage of those shots. Take them away and his improvement last year wasn’t a fluke…and of course, with D’Antoni’s offense, he won’t be shooting with a couple seconds left on the clock very often! So it’s possible he’ll be pretty decent all season, more toward the end of the pre-season numbers than beginning.

    He probably will get 36 mpg or so, which means that 15p 8a 3r and 3to could be his usual line…not so shabby, particular since he can actually D.

    Anyone notice that his pick and roll chemistry actually looked better with Mozgov than with Amare?

  39. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Kikuchiyo: Hey folks, isn’t it time for predictions?Season is starting. Let’s commit.I’m going with 38 wins, I’m afraid. I’m expecting a big year from Amar’e, in terms of points, but some struggles getting wins. Haven’t seen enough starting level talent on this team yet. But all the important pieces are on the way up, so we’ll see. I’m definitely looking forward to it after the longest off-season in memory.  

    Wednesday is the time…

  40. SeeWhyDee77

    Ted Nelson:
    I see the logic, I just don’t know if it’s any harder on your body/more likely to induce injury to bang a bit in the paint as it is to move around and also bang with PFs. You can damage your knee on a quick cut or through running the court (see a lot of PGs) just as easily as banging in close spaces if not more so (I am no medical expert). Especially if you were to say–I’m not sure but I sort of think so–that there is more scoring talent at the 4 than the 5 around the league… in which case he may actually have to work harder guarding 4s.   

    Good point. I’m just envisioning the bigger 5’s leanin and pushing Stat around more. But ur right, there is tons more scoring leaguewide at the 4 than there is at the 5. I didn’t even consider that age old tactic of letting ur best offensive weapon guard the opposition’s least talented offensive player of his particular position group. So I guess with Stat it’s almost a catch 22. In one scenario he’ll problee be checking bigger 5’s because they’re not as big an offensive threat in some cases, and in the other he would be checking talented 4’s (ORL, NJ, BOS, MIA, etc..). So I guess all Mike D can really do is make sure he doesn’t overuse “Stats” (gettin my Berman on lmao), if that’s at all possible becuz make no mistake-we will need every drop of talent he has and then some. Unless we add another reliable score or the youngins step up.

  41. Ted Nelson

    Ben R: but sudden improvement does happen it’s just rare.

    That’s all I’m saying is that it’s unusual. Especially for a guy in his 26 year old season with 14,000 NBA minutes logged across 5 seasons.

    Raja Bell and Joe Johnson are especially encouraging in that they did it playing for D’Antoni, so maybe he can teach efficiency. Joe Johnson, though, was in his 4th season, not his 6th. He was 23. He had played a lot of minutes, though. Raja Bell was almost 30 (encouraging) and was a very good 3-pt shooter who started taking more 3s for D’Antoni (also somewhat encouraging). Still, though, while it’s not impossible it’s optimistic to look at a .327 career 3P shooter and say, “hey I expect him to match his career best of 38.5% and do it in many more attempts.” His rookie season was also good from 3, so maybe he developed some bad habit(s) or something that he’s found and corrected.

    Salmons is also promising. Did it in his 5th season, but was 27. Also did it with a change in scenery. He struggled on his first team, though, and wasn’t getting as many minutes as Felton.

    Gerald Wallace, like Joe Johnson, was 23. He was getting his 2nd crack at really playing in the NBA. He was known for being especially raw and physically weak coming out of (1 year of) college. He was left unprotected in the expansion draft. Joe Johnson had similar problems, and was also accused widely of having confidence problems. Salmons was drafted as a college vet, but as I remember he was often accused of being weak in Philly. Basically, all of these guys are wing players, and 3 of the 4 may have matured physically and mentally to become more effective. Felton was a big-time college player known for being “NBA ready.” Still doesn’t mean he can’t do it, but I would be a lot more surprised if Felton turned it around than Wallace or Johnson.

    Allen Iverson is another guy who had his most efficient stretch from 30-32. There have been fairly effective PGs in the modern era with TS% under .500: Mookie Blaylock, Ron Harper, Eric Snow, Ron Harper, Rafer Alston, and Lindsay Hunter… Most of those guys enjoyed their success in the no-go ’90’s, though.

  42. ess-dog

    Ted,

    Re: Anthony, I don’t think he will be completely out of the rotation, but I could see D’Antoni saying something like “I’ll start you at 10 minutes a night and it’s up to you to earn more” or something of the like.

    He was clearly out played by Mosgov but Mosgov has 3 years on Randolph. He wasn’t really much worse than Gallo in preseason. Hopefully Randolph can learn what he didn’t learn in Golden State and be helped by a positive environment and a mentor like Amare. He’s a great rebounder, a good passer and blocks shots. These are things we need. He does not need to shoot the ball in iso situations.

    It’s strange how Wilson was our best preseason 3pt shooter, closely followed by Landry and Walker. As much as I like Douglas, he didn’t shoot that well this preseason overall. I think he’s better served as a bench guard.

    I mean, Wilson made a fair case to start this preseason. He could still improve his passing, but the shooting was strong. He and Landry we pretty close in terms of stats actually. Maybe it comes down to defending other 2’s in D’Antoni’s mind?

  43. Ted Nelson

    SeeWhyDee77: make no mistake-we will need every drop of talent he has and then some. Unless we add another reliable score or the youngins step up.  

    I don’t mean to nit-pick because I agree with most of your comment, but I still feel like the Knicks have good offensive talent around Amare.

    With no improvement from last season:

    Gallo: 16 pts/36, .575 TS%
    TD: 15.9 pts/36, .571 TS%
    Walker: 15.6 pts/36, insane TS%
    Chandler: 15.4 pts/36, .535 TS%
    Felton: 13.2 pts/36, .525 TS%
    AR: 18.5 pts/36, .521 TS%
    Azu (08-09, insane 09-10 #s but SSS): 16.1 pts/36, .562 TS%
    Mason (08-09, hand injury): 14 pts/36, .554 TS%
    Turiaf: 8.5 pts/36, .574 TS%
    Timo and Fields: N/A

    It would be optimistic to expect everyone to improve, but if you split the difference (some improve, some get worse, some remain constant, rookies do medium-case) you have an awful lot of guys who score at an above average efficiency. To have one AMAZING scorer and a bunch of above average scorers and not have a pretty good offense would require a ton a TOs and horrific offensive rebounding.

    Part of the reason the Knicks looked so terrible in the pre-season when Amare came out was that it often meant several other starters came out as well. D’Antoni played a sort of 3rd unit for entire quarters in the pre-season.

  44. ess-dog

    “a ton a TOs and horrific offensive rebounding.”

    Hah, this is pretty much what we saw in the pre-season. I’d like to think the TO’s will go down but the rebounding will be a problem unless Mosgov really steps it up. Between the frontcourt starters Gallo, Amare and Mosgov, I think we could have some pretty good rebounding potential if those guys really get after it. Maybe not great, but at least average.

    And while we don’t have a clear-cut 2nd scoring option (unless Gallo steps up there) I think all our starters have above average scoring ability at their positions: Felton, Gallo, Mosgov… even Fields was really more of a scorer/rebounder at Stanford. TD and Walker can really shoot off the bench and Chandler can get to the rim.

    We should be ok there. I think rebounding and passing are the biggest concerns.

  45. Ted Nelson

    ess-dog: I don’t think he will be completely out of the rotation, but I could see D’Antoni saying something like “I’ll start you at 10 minutes a night and it’s up to you to earn more” or something of the like.

    I don’t know what D’Antoni will do and I wouldn’t be surprised if AR is solidly in the rotation or out of it. The weird thing to me was how little AR seemed to play with the starters. I’m sure D’Antoni had a strategy, but I would have liked to see less iso and more 5th option easy looks to see what he could do in that role.

    ess-dog: He wasn’t really much worse than Gallo in preseason.

    Not a ton different. Gallo, though, had a 4 game stretch of excellence and then 2 awful games. I believe there was a play where he fell and hurt himself in one of those games, though I don’t know when it happened. Gallo also showed improvement in an area we were looking for in rebounding.

    Randolph’s pre-season was pretty consistent with what he brought last season: 16.5 pts/36 (down from 18.5), 52.6 TS% (same 52.1), 2.6 ast/36 (up from 2.0), 1 stl/36 (down from 1.3), 1.4 blk/36 (down from 2.5)… however, his rebounding wasn’t there at 6.2 reb/36 (10.3 last season) and his TOs were through the roof at 4 per36 (2.4 last season)… His blocks were also down. Maybe that’s the role D’Antoni was playing him in and it’ll correct itself with less dancing around. It’s hard to say how he did without knowing what D’Antoni was asking him to do. If D’Antoni was asking him to play his best basketball and help the team win… he didn’t. If D’Antoni was screwing around and trying to see what he could do… that’s on D’Antoni.

    ess-dog: He’s a great rebounder, a good passer and blocks shots. These are things we need. He does not need to shoot the ball in iso situations.

    I pretty much agree. I’m not sure why D’Antoni didn’t put him in that situation more in pre-season, though. He did start a game, but he was often the last guy off the bench coming in against scrubs. Perhaps D’Antoni is comfortable he can excel in the 5th option role and was just giving him a chance to develop/see if he could do more.

    ess-dog: As much as I like Douglas, he didn’t shoot that well this preseason overall. I think he’s better served as a bench guard.

    I also pretty much see his best role as 6th man, unless he can develop into a starting PG or prove he can guard 2s consistently. However, I don’t see how starting or coming off the bench impacts your scoring. Maybe last season was an aberration, but I’m not too worried about a guy who posted a .571 TS% in a good chunk of minutes (i.e. not looking at garbage time) as a rookie. His pre-season scoring was really inconsistent (some very good games and some terrible ones) but he averaged 14.9 pts/36 on a 55% TS% and 6.2 ast/36. I would have liked 20 pts/36 at 60%, but that’s not bad… especially considering how poorly he shot from the field (38% from 3 instead of 28% and he’s at 17 pts/36 at 62.6 TS%). Like Gallo he missed a game after an awful game, though unlike Gallo he was shooting more in that game not less.

  46. Ted Nelson

    ess-dog: Hah, this is pretty much what we saw in the pre-season.

    The thing, though, is I don’t know how those numbers break down between rotation players and scrubs. Granted the Knicks roster is fairly deep, but unless there are tons of injuries I don’t know how many real games (non-blowout situation) we will see a unit along the lines of, say, Rautins, Mason, Walker, AR, and Turiaf (totally made up example, but there were long stretches of pre-season with units that looked pretty much like that). You’re probably going to have at least 2 or so of your top 5, 6 guys on the court most of the time. In one of the last two games they really lost it without Felton or TD in the game and had a bunch of TOs. That’s probably on Rautins not being a PG yet and Mason not being one overall, but it was also a stretch without Amare, Gallo and Azu (both injured), and I think WC.

    ess-dog: the rebounding will be a problem unless Mosgov really steps it up. Between the frontcourt starters Gallo, Amare and Mosgov, I think we could have some pretty good rebounding potential if those guys really get after it. Maybe not great, but at least average.

    I’m just not that concerned. I mean I don’t think it’s going to be a strength and I’m not happy with Timo’s rebounding (after the way he killed it in Europe)… However, Amare is solidly average. Gallo consistently rebounded well all pre-season. AR has been a very good rebounder for 2 years. WC, Azu, and Fields must all be at least above average at the 2 (though at the 4 WC is probably going to be way below average without a miracle). Felton and Douglas board for guards. In getting to .500 I think they can live with a weakness or two. If they’re .500 I’m not really complaining, though of course I’d like more. If they can score and defend the way we’d like and not turn it over a ton, I

    ess-dog: And while we don’t have a clear-cut 2nd scoring option (unless Gallo steps up there)

    I think Gallo is a pretty good 2nd scoring option. He’s already in line with a Rashard Lewis type. Douglas is in line with a Jameer Nelson. So the Knicks don’t have a VC in this example, but Orlando was the #4 offense in the NBA. I could live with #11, where Orlando was in 08-09 with a WC/Azu-like Hedo.

    ess-dog: I think all our starters have above average scoring ability at their positions: Felton

    … had to comment on that…

    ess-dog: I think rebounding and passing are the biggest concerns.  

    I was pretty impressed with the ball movement in the pre-season. Felton did about what you’d expect (improving at the end). Douglas improved. I really liked the passing from the bigs, and overall there were some games where assists were scattered around throughout the likely rotation guys.

  47. Frank O.

    The Knicks are a better team than last year.
    I think Felton, flawed as he is, is an upgrade over Duhon.
    I think TD will be an improved player as a part time 1 and part time 2.
    I think Amare is an upgrade over Lee. I also think if the Knicks can keep games close in the end, Amare is the kind of talent that can win those games. I’m not sure Lee was that kind of player consistently. I’m sure there will be those that differ on that point.
    I think Fields is a much better player than people thought because the PAC 10 was devalued. He put up great numbers in college, is a polished player and will be a tough defend for other teams at the 2.
    I think WC off the bench will be an interesting energy guy who can score an defend with good size and versatility. I like him as a sixth man.
    Mosgov is a question, but it looksto me like he will be a solid defender who has some offensive skills. If the Knicks can get him to clean up his defense and hit the boards, he will be strong deterrent in the paint.
    I think Gallo will have a huge impact up or down for the franchise.
    If he matures the Knicks are a solid playoff team.

    But as good as the offense looks, based on the numbers Ted posted @45, the defense is where this team improves a lot.
    The Knicks will defend the paint and the perimeter better than last year. The key for them, and what may define this season, is whether they can defend their boards, an issue that caused some concern in the preseason. Part of that may be the fact that the first team did not play long minutes.

    But defense is going to be the defining issue this year. They have a guy that can get 30 points and 10 rebounds, when they need it. They have supporting players who also can score, and score in bunches.
    But if their defense shows an ability to limit penetration (something that killed them last year) and they can defend the long bombs, it will serve as a real catalyst for the kind of offense D’Antoni runs, and the scorers the Knicks have.
    If they can keep opponent scoring to 100 or less, this could be a nice season indeed.

    I don’t mind a little optimism to start the year.

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