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Monday, September 1, 2014

Knicks 2011 Season Preview – Shooting Guards

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’s I’ll look at each position and attempt to address the critical question for those players.

Shooting Guards: Who will be the starter?

It’s hard to believe, but the longest tenured Knick after Eddy Curry is Wilson Chandler. Over the past few seasons Chandler has been the starting shooting guard due to a lack of alternatives. Offensively he’s miscast at the two because of his hurtful three point shooting (30.8% career) and his inability to get to the free throw line (0.15 ftm/fga). Both of these make him less than a perfect fit in D’Antoni’s offense. Defensively he’s about average; at times his length is helpful, other times his lack of speed is a liability.

The time for Chandler, who stands at 6-8 and 220lbs, masquerading as a two could come to an end this season. There’s been talk of D’Antoni using him at forward more, and he started at PF when Amar’e sat out a preseason game. But more importantly is that Donnie Walsh brought in numerous shooting guards in an attempt to shore up the position. At the top of the list is Kelenna Azubuike. In fact if it weren’t for his injury, it’s likely that he would already be the starter. Career-wise compared to Chandler, Azubuike is a better three point shooter (40.9% to 30.8% 3p%) and slasher (3.4 to 2.7 fta/36). Unfortunately his inability to participate in preseason along with his murky timetable for return (Dr. D’Antoni says Christmas, while Dr. Azubuike says Thanksgiving) means that the Knicks will have to look elsewhere to find an opening day starter.

If Chandler is moved to forward, and Azubuike isn’t healthy, then Bill Walker is probably next on the depth chart. I’ve talked in the past about Walker’s incredible efficiency:

Walker doesn’t average a lot of points (15.4 pts/36 in 2010), but his efficiency (64.9% ts%, 62.5% efg%) is through the roof for a small forward. Only 10 players 6-6 or shorter had a true shooting percentage of 60% or better last year, and no one other than Walker was north of 62%. According to HoopData, Walker attempts the bulk of his shots from behind the arc (50%) or at the rim (33.2%); he doesn’t take a lot of shots in between those areas. So far his career NBA three point shooting percentage is a sizzling 42.7%. Walker relies on his hops to take the action to the cup, including converting a fair share of alley-oops. He moves better without the ball, and doesn’t cough it up much (his turnovers per 36 minutes were a minuscule 1.3).

However his deficiencies (rebounding, defense, and passing) just scream bench player. And the same could be said of Roger Mason. Primarily a three point specialist, Mason does a tiny bit of everything. Emphasis on the word tiny. From the numbers alone it seems he lacks the athleticism (rebounding, free throws, steals, etc.) to be effective. Mason can play the point in small stretches, and he might find some minutes there as well.

Like the point guard position, there’s a spot here for a rookie with a steep climb up the depth chart. Landry Fields has been as impressive as one can get for an unheralded second round pick. At the risk of using a cliche Fields is a “glue guy” or a “heady player.” In other words he doesn’t score a heck of a lot, but does it efficiently and has a well rounded game. More specifically through 5 preseason games he’s averaging 14.5 pts/36 on a sizzling TS% of 66.4%, in addition to 6.1 reb/36. If those numbers are any indication of his true level of play, he’d be a better choice than either Walker or Mason.

In short, I can sum up the Knicks shooting guard starter through a logic statement.

  • Is Azubuike 100% healthy?
  • Else is Wilson Chandler still a SG?
  • Else does D’Antoni trust Landry Fields yet (alternatively is it after March)?
  • Else flip a coin between Walker and Mason.
  • Else if the coin landed on its side Then Toney Douglas.
  • Last Year FGA 3PA FTA ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
    Azubuike (2009) 12.8 3.2 3.5 1.7 5.6 1.8 0.9 0.8 1.4 16.1
    Chandler 13.3 2.3 2.5 1.4 5.4 2.1 0.7 0.8 1.7 15.4
    Mason 11.8 6.3 0.8 0.3 3.8 3.3 0.7 0.3 1.4 11.9
    Walker 10.9 5.4 2.3 0.7 4.1 1.9 1.1 0.1 1.3 15.4
    Career FGA 3PA FTA ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
    Azubuike 12.5 3.7 3.4 1.8 6 1.7 0.9 0.7 1.4 15.6
    Chandler 13.5 3.1 2.7 1.4 5.8 2.1 0.8 0.9 1.7 15.3
    Mason 12 6.2 1.4 0.3 3.4 2.8 0.7 0.3 1.5 13.4
    Walker 10.6 4.3 2.6 0.8 4.3 1.9 1.1 0.2 1.7 15.3

    Last Year PER TS% eFG% 3P% FT%
    Azubuike (2009) 19.8 56.2% 52.0% 44.8% 80.8%
    Chandler 13.7 53.4% 50.2% 26.7% 80.6%
    Mason 9.7 49.0% 47.8% 33.3% 79.4%
    Walker 14.6 64.9% 62.5% 43.1% 79.6%
    Career PER TS% eFG% 3P% FT%
    Azubuike 14.3 55.7% 51.9% 40.9% 77.0%
    Chandler 13.1 51.9% 48.7% 30.8% 77.9%
    Mason 11.2 53.1% 50.7% 38.1% 87.1%
    Walker 13.8 64.8% 62.4% 42.7% 76.4%

    Poll

    Who will start the most games for the Knicks at SG this year?

    • Wilson Chandler (38%, 136 Votes)
    • Kelenna Azubuike (28%, 100 Votes)
    • Toney Douglas (17%, 61 Votes)
    • Landry Fields (11%, 39 Votes)
    • Bill Walker (4%, 16 Votes)
    • Roger Mason (2%, 6 Votes)

    Total Voters: 358

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    48 comments on “Knicks 2011 Season Preview – Shooting Guards

    1. d-mar

      Another great preview Mike. Toney has been playing a lot of 2 alongside Felton and they make a pretty good defensive backcourt. This may sound crazy, but after watching TD this pre-season, I’d almost be sadder to see him go in a Melo trade than Gallo or Randolph. He’s playing with a ton of confidence right now and his steal numbers are off the charts.

    2. ess-dog

      Jeez, I knew this was a conundrum but now it’s been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. Although Wilson has performed well thus far in preseason, we could still find a much better compliment at the 2. Our shooting guard just seems destined to be a “glue guy”. I think if worse came to worse (a Melo trade that emptied the cupboard for instance) Walker, TD and Fields could ably man the position together.
      TD worked so well at the two spot last night because his shooting really helped space the floor for Amare. This is something that D’Antoni has been talking about for a while and it was good to see it working in action. Walker helped with this as well. TD also provides stellar perimeter defense.
      If a Melo trade happens, we will really need TD’s 3 point shooting and defense. But I cringe thinking about the rebounding from a Felton/TD/Melo/Amare/Mosgov lineup.
      As for right now, I would consider using TD/Walker at the 2 and use Chandler to back up Gallo who should be on a short leash. But that’s me.

    3. DS

      Very good preview. I think it has to be Kelenna whenever he comes back.

      I love the idea of the starters playing their natural positions; Felton, Azubuike, Gallo, STAT, and Mosgov.

      I think Chandler will play his best if he is a sub for Gallo, STAT, and Mosgov rather than forcing him to act like a shooting guard. He may be better than Kelenna but he can get 25 – 30 mpg w/o starting.

      Hopefully Kelenna, Douglas, Walker, and Fields can cover enough minutes at shooting guard w/o forcing Chandler to play there or without having to use Mason Jr. much.

    4. Ben R

      It was good to see Walker back on the floor last night. It seems his amazing efficiency from last year might not be a fluke. He is continuing his great shooting from last year. If this continues to be the case I would love to see him getting 15 minutes a game backing up Gallo. That way we always have great shooting at the 3.

      As for the 2 my big concern is that Mason is still getting major time in the rotation. I don’t mind Chandler starting at the 2 especially if his improved outside shooting and efficiency continues, but Mason should not get any minutes on the floor unless multiple people go down with injuries. I would love to see Fields and Douglas splitting the backup minutes at the 2 until Kelenna gets back. I am worried that D’Antoni seems to be trimming down his rotation and Fields is on the outside and Mason is on the inside.

      Once Kelenna comes back if he wins the job and Douglas and Walker continue to play well we need to think about trading Chandler, even if he is playing really well. It all depends on whether we want Kelenna or Chandler long term at the 2 because it would seem between Douglas, Fields, Walker and Randolph there is no room coming off the bench at the 1, 2, 3 or 4 for the next couple years. So if either Chandler or Kelenna are the solution at the 2 long term then the other one is expendable, if neither is the solution then Chandler needs to be traded so we don’t lose him for nothing. I want us to either commit to keeping, or at least trying to keep, Chandler or trade him by the deadline.

    5. Frank O.

      I know that this isn’t the prevailing view, but I see a Douglas/Fields platoon at the 2, with Douglas doing time at the point.
      I can’t tell you how important I think it is to have skilled, smart players running the floor. We’ve been through years of the guys who came out of college too early as raw talents. I love that Fields had four years of college. He’s one of those guys who can do everything well. Maybe not great at any one thing, but good across the board.
      Douglas is making a believer out of me, and the more he plays in pre-season the more minutes I think he needs to play during the regular season. He’s another guy that does some many things well, and he’s got skills across the board.
      I think Wilson has been miscast as a 2, but his game has benefited from having to learn that position. His shooting has shown improvement, his defense has been solid, and he’s generally a better player. Take those skills to sf or pf and he could be more formidable. I’d love to see him hitting the boards more.
      Walker does feel like a bench guy, I haven’t been impressed with Mason, and Azu is an unknown and could take time to get back and then time to figure out how to play with this team.
      His chances of starting are hurt by those two factors.

      —-

      I think it is fascinating to watch the impact Amare is having on this team.
      Given a lot of minutes, last night he played 37 minutes, Amare’s likely to make Felton and Douglas better players and boost their assist numbers. I think that was evident last night in Felton in particular. Douglas played the 2 mostly.
      Amare playing a full game and being the monster he can be, there will be a lot of assists to him alone.
      Conversely, I think in the short run he’s going to have a negative impact on guys like Chandler and Gallo, who have never played with a dominant good-to-great player like Amare. They will be challenged to figure out how to play with and around him. Last night, Amare took 24 shots and 19 free throw attempts.
      Felton and Douglas were the only two other Knicks to take more than 10 shots.
      Gallo took seven and Chandler 3.
      Now both guys also played far fewer minutes. Both had to share with others.
      Nonetheless, they will be challenged to get shots. And neither has been terribly aggressive in general, which further affects their impact.

      In the long run, however, Amare will draw double and triple teams. It is at those points Gallo and Chandler will be able to shine. If they can get themselves going, it could be a very productive year for both, IMHO

    6. Loathing

      ess-dog says:
      October 20, 2010 at 11:34 am

      “If a Melo trade happens, we will really need TD’s 3 point shooting and defense. But I cringe thinking about the rebounding from a Felton/TD/Melo/Amare/Mosgov lineup.”

      True, but how often are these guys gonna miss?

    7. nicos

      Barring trades, I expect Chandler to continue to start- even when Azu comes back I think he’ll be fighting Walker for whatever minutes he can get- like just about everybody else on the roster he’s really more of a 2/3 than a pure 2 (not a great ballhandler and a poor passer) and I think coming off a knee injury his defense is likely to take a hit.

      Like in last night’s game, I think against teams with smaller 2′s TD is going to play with Felton a lot. He’s as efficient (if not more) scoring the ball as any of our other options and adds some much needed play-making ability (not great for a point guard but pretty good for a 2) to a passing challenged team. And as long as he isn’t asked to guard someone who’ll take him down into the post like Kobe or Joe Johnson, he’s the best defender. While he may not have as high a ceiling as Randolph or Gallo, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he’ll be our 2nd best player this year- in fact he may be our second best player right now so I’d I have no problem seeing him get 20+ minutes a game at the 2.

    8. Z

      OT– just read on Page 6 that Oakley, apparently a mentor of LeBron’s from the Cleveland days, told James not to play for the Knicks because they “treated me bad”. He said he advised him to play with Wade in Miami.

      Sorry for treating you so bad, Oak! (Not sure why we fans should pay for Checkets and Grunfeld’s sins, though…)

    9. d-mar

      I guess we better get Melo, SI has us finishing 11th in the East behind NJ. Wow.

      Although on the bright side, ESPN has us in the 7th spot.

    10. latke

      Here’s why I believe Walker will continue to shoot well: His success in general seems to predicated on control. He has nice body control, and whether it’s close up or on the perimeter, he seems to always have a fluid and stable release. This is not just a matter of skill but of mentality, and to me, what makes being a consistent shooter difficult is not just having good form, but being able to consistently keep that form in game situations (i.e. playing in control). Walker’s mentality suggests that now that he has found out how to shoot from distance, he will continue to do so.

    11. ess-dog

      Let’s face it. We look like garbage without Amar’e.
      I’d trade all these guys for Melo. As long as we can hold onto DWTDD, Fields and Mosgov. And I guess Felton since he’s our only pg.

    12. Z

      ess-dog: Let’s face it.We look like garbage without Amar’e.
      I’d trade all these guys for Melo.  

      All “these guys”, meaning the guys that are playing like garbage? No Amar’e, no Gallo, no Chandler… Who would we beat with this line-up? Not even Armani Jeans.

    13. ess-dog

      Z: Jrue Holiday, btw, is looking a lot better than Ray Felton in this one.  

      Was just about to post that. He will be pretty damn good. Walker looks ok against 2nd teamers, but his D as a starter is an eyesore.
      Landry’s the only one who showed up today (but to be fair, he didn’t play yesterday.)

    14. ess-dog

      What else does Landry need to do to cement a rotation spot? Aside from Douglas, he’s outplayed every non-starter this pre-season. Time for some Shawne and PEJ…

    15. Z-man

      4th game in 5 nights, 3 starters out, I’d let this one go.

      Very disappointed in Randolph. He has a low b-ball IQ, lousy hand-eye coordination, can only go left, and can’t shoot. Other than that, he’s really good. I hate to say it, but he’s reminding me of Jared Jeffries at his worst. Not ready to give up hope on him just yet, but I was hoping for much more.

      Mozgov missed lots of shots in the 3rd but was very active and has stayed on the court for 2 games in a row. He also looks more fluid every game.

    16. Frank O.

      @21
      yeah, you bury this one and never think about it again. They had guys out there who have basically been getting minutes late in the fourth in pre-season. Walker and Mason just do not impress. Felton looked good early, but then things just started to break down. The ball didn’t move well, and Randolph just looked lost. I actually on at least two occasions saw him cut right in front of his own point guard’s attempt to penetrate. He just doesn’t understand the flow of a game and how to play with others.
      In an earlier post, some one mentioned that he appeared to be looking at things in isolation, like I’m going to drive here and try to spin there. It’s all very clunky and awkward. I’m beginning to see why his old team gave up on him.
      I kept saying “stupid” as I watched him make mistakes. How many times in a row did he get blocked embarrassingly in that first period? How about a fake, or if you’re 6’11 and that close, how about jamming the ball home and receiving the foul. What’s with the French pastry fingertip roll? You’re not a guard, you’re a power forward. Battie made him look like a joke.
      And our boards are terrible. I mean Randolph, 3 boards in 27 minutes, was just standing around. I’m not sure how he could ever play center. He’s not very strong.

      On the other hand, the Knicks defense was pretty terrible. Three blocks all night.Six steals. Out rebounded 54-38, and they gave up 11 offensive boards.
      35 percent shooting. 27 percent from 3-pt.

      Yeah, bury it.

    17. BigBlueAL

      No Amar’e, Gallo or Chandler and playing their 4th game in 5 nights. Honestly who gives a crap how bad they looked tonight.

    18. Z

      Frank O.: @21
      Randolph just looked lost…I kept saying “stupid” as I watched him make mistakes. How many times in a row did he get blocked embarrassingly in that first period? How about a fake, or if you’re 6’11 and that close, how about jamming the ball home and receiving the foul. What’s with the French pastry fingertip roll? You’re not a guard, you’re a power forward. Battie made him look like a joke.  

      I was a moron when I was 21 too :)

      Keep in mind Landry Fields isn’t just a Stanford man, he’s also a year older than Anthony Randolph. I think Randolph is a work in progress, and the team that is most patient with him will be rewarded in the long run.

    19. latke

      Z-man: Very disappointed in Randolph. He has a low b-ball IQ, lousy hand-eye coordination, can only go left, and can’t shoot. Other than that, he’s really good. I hate to say it, but he’s reminding me of Jared Jeffries at his worst. Not ready to give up hope on him just yet, but I was hoping for much more.

      Randolph’s numbers per 36 mins last season were 18.5 pts, 2.5 blocks, 1.3 steals, 10 rebounds. He is undoubtedly at least a decent rebounder and a very good shot blocker.

      However, if you look more closely at his scoring, he only shot over 50% from the field 6 times in 22 games (27% of games). In the games where he shot ten or more shots, he was only over 50% from the field twice (14% of games). Last season he averaged 15 FGA/36. In the preseason so far he is averaging about 16 FGA/36 (not including the sixers game). Let’s say a reasonable upside for him is Shawn Marion — Marion at his peak in the Phoenix run and gun offense only averaged about 15 FGA/36, and he was a far more complete offensive player. The reason AR hurts his team is because he is shooting probably about twice as often as he should be.

      It seems to me that we don’t need AR to become an offensive dynamo, or even a good offensive player. We don’t even need him to learn too much offensively. All we need to tell him is that he should not be shooting unless he’s at the rim or wide open from within 18 feet. If he can only do that then he can be an asset when he’s on the floor. Randolph also seems a capable ball handler, so there’s no reason why he can’t get a rebound and push the ball a little on the fast break, as long as he gives the ball up and doesn’t try to be Michael Jordan.

      Beyond that, his mental energy should be focused on defense. His defense is already strong enough that even without learning much more in terms of technique, he can have an impact (athleticism will do that). These rules seem to me to be simple enough that AR doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand them, and D’Antoni doesn’t have to make any kind of subjective judgments to enforce them. If he tries to put the ball on the floor in traffic or to shoot in traffic then he’s going to the bench. If he doesn’t, there’s no reason he can’t play 30mpg.

    20. rama

      Tonight was our second team against their first team, and we played them even for half the game. I’m not worried.

      I was confused, though, why Mozgov kept rolling to the basket on the p’n'r and rarely got a pass. He could have had at least three more dunks that I saw. Hope this isn’t like Gallo last year, when guys simply wouldn’t pass to him.

      Continue to be impressed by Fields. Can’t see why Mason would get burn over him. Talk about looking lost – Mason’s bringing nothing right now. At least AR has an impact (though it’s a negative impact nearly as much as positive!).

    21. Frank

      i’m linking to this piece again because no one seems to be talking about it even after it was linked to before:

      http://www.roundballminingcompany.com/2010/10/19/carmelo-anthony-efficient/#

      really great analysis by this writer. really makes the point that if someone can get Melo away from the 1 on 2 or 3 game that he too often plays, his efficiency may go WAY up. Perhaps, say, someone whose offensive system is predicated on getting shots up in, say, seven seconds or less before the defense has a chance to dig in. I wish we knew a team that had a coach who has a system that wants to shoot in seven seconds or less.

    22. SeeWhyDee77

      RE: 2 Guard: If Azu comes back fully healthy..then we’re set at the 2 with him starting and Mason, Fields, Walker, and Chandler backing him up at the 2. No doubt about that. Chandler, becuz of his versatility and lack of a consistent outside shot, is problee better for us off the bench. Unfortunately, whichever way the roster ends up I don’t see too many minutes out there for Fields-even though I think he’s earned his way into the rotation. In order for him to get consistent minutes, Walsh would have to ship away at least 2 of the crew battling for 2 guard minutes. I almost forgot TD is a lock to get minutes at the 1 and 2.

      RE: Melo: I’ve said time and time again that he replicates Stat. If we were 2 land him, would he pass enough and take better shots? Who knows. Me personally, I doubt it. But on the flipside of that, we would have 2 extrordinary offensive toys to play with in him and Stat. In addition to his lack of passing, defense and efficient scoring-he doesn’t really space the floor very well. Unless Felton ups his shooting percentage from distance, then I see it bein tough to truly make defenses pay. Now with Stat and Melo on the squad, we’ll get buckets. I’m just sayin with the proper spacing, buckets will come much easier. Both Stat and Melo are pretty much money from midrange and in, but we would REALLY need shooters around those 2. I love Rooster..but he’s no bench player so he would most likely HAVE to be moved in any trade for Melo. No if Denver all of a sudden becomes smitten with AR’s ability at the 4 and we can keep Rooster, then i’d have no prob with a starting lineup of Stat, Rooster, Melo, Azu and Felton. For shits and giggles, would AR, Chandler, and Curry work for both sides? I know it would work for us..I guess it’s a matter of Denver bein satisfied with potential and cap space. That’s the only way I would do that trade. Which is possible becuz of the preseason Rooster’s having. Who knows? Maybe Walsh should do what it takes to land Melo becuz maybe Stat breaks down trying to be the do it all guy. This, without a doubt, is one of those situations where the smart Walsh has to take over becuz u don’t wanna give up 2 much (Houston trade), but u also don’t wanna wait too long and miss the train.

    23. Nick C.

      Thanks for the re-link Frank. Interesting study I ‘ve always wanted to see something along the lines of SPCT on various types of shots vs. a league or positional average. Interesting or odd that Melo conmverts a higher percentage of open and contested shots than Martin while havign a lower TSP, etc. Chalk it up to b-ball IQ or importance to the offense or some other factor. and did you catch that LeBron’s #s are padded at least slightly by uncontested layups, I believe the term for other players is basket hanging or cherry picking and from a caustic person stat padding.

    24. Ted Nelson

      With the way he’s playing and how much D’Antoni has always played him, my guess is WC.

      ess-dog: we could still find a much better compliment at the 2.

      If WC has actually improved his outside shot and overall game as much as it looks like he might of, I’m not sure this is true. A big, strong, athletic defender with a good outside shot and strong finishing ability is a pretty solid “compliment.” The only way I really see to get a better “compliment” is to get a better player… it’s not like he’s a one dimensional player where another one dimensional guy with a different skill would be a better fit.

      DS: I think Chandler will play his best if he is a sub for Gallo, STAT, and Mosgov rather than forcing him to act like a shooting guard.

      He is a wing player, so I’d much rather have him on the wing than in the frontcourt… He rebounds like a wing, is a very strong defender on 2s, and his shooting has looked much improved. I think that at the 2 he creates more match-up problems than he causes, and at the 4 it would be the other way around.

      Ben R: I am worried that D’Antoni seems to be trimming down his rotation and Fields is on the outside and Mason is on the inside.

      He had no problem trimming Larry Hughes right out of the rotation last season although he was a vet D’Antoni originally played, so I’m not too worried about it. D’Antoni does show favoritism, but in non-Duhon/Nate situations he does a pretty good job of getting his best players on the court. Fields is also a rookie, he’s going to have to earn his spot.

      Ben R: I want us to either commit to keeping, or at least trying to keep, Chandler or trade him by the deadline.  

      I tend to agree, but Walsh could also (try to) do what he did with Lee and Nate to get one more year of Chandler before the big 2012 free agency year and then have some more options.

      Frank O.: Conversely, I think in the short run he’s going to have a negative impact on guys like Chandler and Gallo, who have never played with a dominant good-to-great player like Amare. They will be challenged to figure out how to play with and around him.

      I disagree… Gallo will sit at the 3pt line and can jumpers like he always does, having a dominant force inside should only help a spot-up shooter so long as the ball is moving. WC especially doesn’t seem to be having any problem adjusting, he’s playing arguably the best ball of his career.

    25. Ted Nelson

      latke: Here’s why I believe Walker will continue to shoot well

      I don’t think anyone is disputing that Walker will probably continue to shoot *well*. If he continues to shoot *as well* as last season he’s going to be one of the all-time great shooters in the history of the game, though, maybe the greatest. I’m not saying it’s not possible (he did the same thing for a few minutes his rookie season and in the D-League, so it’s not unprecedented for him), just that it’s not all that likely which is why some people think his scoring efficiency will trail off at least a bit this season.

      The problem is not shooting, though, even if he doesn’t sustain his incredible .648 career TS%… The problem is that he doesn’t do anything else well besides score. So he has to score really efficiently to earn minutes, and I think he probably will but his deficiencies in other areas probably limit his minutes when the Knicks have several other wings who can score pretty efficiently themselves and do a lot more as well.

      ess-dog: Let’s face it. We look like garbage without Amar’e.
      I’d trade all these guys for Melo.

      It wasn’t just Amare, but the starters at the 2, 3, and 4… The Lakers would probably look like crap without Kobe, Artest, and Pau as well…

      Both Gallo and WC are rumored to be in a package that would get Melo and weren’t playing…

      ess-dog: What else does Landry need to do to cement a rotation spot?

      He needs to be patient and play well in games that actually count. He played more minutes than any other non-starter tonight, so it’s not as if D’Antoni is ignoring him. He’s just making him earn it and showing respect to the veterans. We don’t know if he’s got a rotation spot or not yet, and the rotation that starts the season may well not be the rotation a few weeks in let alone by the end.

      Frank O.: how about jamming the ball home and receiving the foul.

      He did get to the line for 12 FTAs in 27 minutes… I mean I understand the head-scratching, but overall he’s doing a good job of getting to the line.

      Frank O.: I mean Randolph, 3 boards in 27 minutes

      He’s rebounded the ball well across 2 NBA seasons, so I’m not worried about his rebounding.

      I of course see why people are disappointed, but this is about what I expected. People who had visions of a young Marcus Camby, I was really wondering if they’d ever seen Randolph play… AR’s flawed and a work in progress, but he can still do enough to be a valuable player. Even in the short-term, but especially in the long-term. He had 2 blocks and a steal, 12 FTAs… On a normal night where Amare and Gallo and maybe WC/TD are carrying the offense and Walker + TD don’t shoot 16% on 18 3PAs and AR gets a couple more boards, that’s going to be a nice contribution even though some plays are going to make you yell at the tv.

      This is random and subjective, but what Toney Douglas do does not seem to be multi-task… seems like every time he concentrates on playmaking his scoring is atrocious.

    26. Nick C.

      Ted on Walker, how much of the TSP is due to and I’m paraphrasing here from the interview Mike K. “I only take shots I can make.”?

    27. Ted Nelson

      Frank: really great analysis by this writer. really makes the point that if someone can get Melo away from the 1 on 2 or 3 game that he too often plays, his efficiency may go WAY up. Perhaps, say, someone whose offensive system is predicated on getting shots up in, say, seven seconds or less before the defense has a chance to dig in. I wish we knew a team that had a coach who has a system that wants to shoot in seven seconds or less.  

      My thoughts:

      10 games isn’t a good sample size for predicting anything or saying this is how good a player is. I know he makes an effort, but there’s a lot of noise when you’re only dealing with 10 games from the same season. He takes 10 different games and his results may be totally different. He’s got to at least repeat with a few more 10 game samples to prove these numbers are reasonably predictive of the larger picture. His numbers don’t look totally crazy, but they’re just not reliable.

      FG% is a useless stat, so to me the guy does all this great work and it means nothing between the sample size and use of FG%. A 3-pt shot is worth an extra point. Just lumping together 3s and 2s makes no sense. And then there are FTs… He’s talking about scoring efficiency, but completely ignoring efficiency in his analysis.

      The author assumes Melo has the skill necessary to be a great (very efficient) scorer based on his own subjective judgement. He may not. It’s not as if Melo is inefficient, he’s just not *very* efficient. LeBron or Durant, on the other hand, as insanely efficient scorers. Melo is almost as efficient, for example, as Kobe Bryant. There’s nothing wrong with not being one of the absolute very best human beings ever to play the game of basketball. Only a few guys are that. Seems like LeBron and Durant are, and Melo and Kobe are not.

      Wade’s career TS% is 20 points higher than Melo’s, so there is a pretty sizable difference. The author has more of a bone to pick with Kobe, but he’s still more efficient than Melo.

      Nick C.: did you catch that LeBron’s #s are padded at least slightly by uncontested layups

      The guy creates more uncontested lay-ups for himself than any other player in the game… I mean Melo is just not the athlete LeBron is to be able to absolutely blow by an entire team in transition. LeBron can put it into a higher gear and just move 2x faster than anyone else on the court. I seriously think he must be generically engineered.

      I would not call it stat padding when you’re the best transition player in the world… It’s like saying Reggie Miller was stat-padding by taking so many jumpers… Mutombo was stat padding by blocking all those shots… Rodman was stat-padding by grabbing all those boards…

    28. Ted Nelson

      Nick C.: how much of the TSP is due to and I’m paraphrasing here from the interview Mike K. “I only take shots I can make.”?  

      Yeah, it’s an interesting point. I don’t know the answer. Walker definitely seems conscious about efficiency and isn’t a high volume scorer, but it also helps to be able to make a lot of shots. Jared Jeffries, for example, might as well retire if he’s only going to take shots he can make with any consistency.

      I do think Walker will remain very efficient, but if he stays around .650 TS%… that’s just insanity. He’s done it consistently across a few small samples, so it just might happen. He’s a real freak if it does, though.

    29. Garson

      Just read that Gus Johnson will no longer be calling knick games on MSG or the radio this season… What a loss!

      Was excited to hear him go nuts when amare or randolph threw it down this season again and again. If he could make our past knicks watchable … he would have had alot to work with this season.

      By far the #1 knicks call from Gus…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO1nUfObERw

    30. ess-dog

      The good news from D’Antoni on Fields:

      “The only thing noteworthy in last night’s 118-91 Sixers’ victory over the depleted Knicks was Fields officially earning a rotation spot, Mike D’Antoni said after the game.

      “It means he’s going to find some time,” D’Antoni said. “I’ve got to find some time for him. He’s played well. He’s made the case.”

      The bad news from D’Antoni on Randolph:

      “I didn’t think he came out with any energy,” D’Antoni said. “He’s not that physically strong. I saw a weakness out there.”

      All in all, not much has changed except that Landry has exceeded expectations. He’ll probably back up the 2 and Randolph will still back up the 4.

      Chandler’s still the starter in my mind, but, like Felton, he’s probably in the bottom half of starters in the NBA, at least for now. He probably ranks somewhere between Shawn Marion and Jamario Moon/Martell Webster. Or maybe DeRozan or Caron Butler if you go with guard comparisons. He has defensive skill, but is usually a bit slow to guard 2′s.

      The funny thing is, he’s not that far off of promising “younger” guards like OJ Mayo and Eric Gordon:

      http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=chandwi01&y1=2010&p2=mayooj01&y2=2010&p3=gordoer01&y3=2010

      He’s only a year older than Gordon and the same age as Mayo, but has an extra year of experience. He’s less of an assist/3pt.fg guy and more of a rebound guy than those two. Less steals, more blocks. If he can bring himself to that their level of play this year – not a huge jump – he could at least be a solid starter or a valuable trade piece.

      I think most agree that the player that Azu WAS would be a great fit for us at the 2 – we’ll just have to see how he rebounds from a bad injury.

    31. Brian Cronin

      I’ll miss Gus, as well, but the Knicks/MSG sound pretty reasonable here. I can’t remember how many times I tuned into games with a fill-in announcer for Johnson. It seemed like it happened constantly, so I bet that annoyed MSG a lot. Mike Crispino is a fine replacement.

    32. Frank O.

      Just an observation about Knickerblogger.net:
      So nice not to be chewing over pie in the sky trades anymore. I mean, the Melo chatter is okay, but it was getting kind of insufferable for a while there.

      Ted @31 and Z @24
      You’re probably right that I may be too hard on Randolph. But I think D’Antoni’s observations are illustrative. His inability to dunk at the hoop, where he was rejected twice trying to complete a soft shot, reflected a lack of strength on his part. He was out-muscled by a more mature defender. He is rather willowy. Camby has similar problems early on, but he was brazen and, coupled with his athleticism, he seemed less meek.
      The concern about Camby was that he would get hurt because his thin body took such a pounding as a result of his own aggression. With Randolph, he not only comes across weak muscled, but kind of timid. I guy with that kind of athleticism around the hoop should just be able to explode above the rim. That is not something that gets blocked; it gets fouled.

      But he is young. He is a project.

      If WC and Gallo were held out because a trade was imminent, that’s pretty exciting. I was struck by the fact that Gallo allegedly had a sore wrist or forearm, but his work out prior to the game looked like he was fine. I remember thinking it curious that an injured guy would be out there doing lay up drills…
      Either way, the Knicks could probably afford to move both to ensure bringing in Melo. They have depth at the 2 and the 3 that isn’t a huge drop off in performance, IMHO, and getting Melo, obviously, fills the 3.

    33. iserp

      “I would not call it stat padding when you’re the best transition player in the world…”

      While true, a team only makes a limited number of transition opportunities. LeBron is naturally the best player in the world to finish them. But that also means that LeBron’s efficiency doesn’t add up as easily as you would expect. Let’s say that if Wade’s and LeBron’s share the transition plays, then their TS% will decrease slightly (OTOH, they will take less forced shots, since they will share that responsibility, and their TS% should increase slightly from that).

      Actually, the most intriguing aspect of the Miami Heat is defense. I would expect that Wade and LeBron defending the wing will shut down many teams, specially those without a scoring center. Defense definitely adds up, and that’s really the question on Melo. We already have a go to scorer in Amare, do we really need another? If Melo’s D isn’t going to be a factor, we might be just replicating a bit too much the same set of skills.

      Melo definitely would help when the other team doesn’t need to double team Amare; and he is clearly an upgrade over what we have now (and probably over what we will became), but the price is steep, and would leave the roster stripped; i would have patient and try to get him next summer.

    34. david

      I think Chandler playing more than a few minutes a game at the SG spot is a recipe for disaster — we need spacing, and he ruins it because he can’t hit 3s. Until Azu comes back, I think Douglas will (or at least should) get a lot of burn at SG — he helps us space the floor, gives us a second option for running the pnr, and will only be taken advantage of by the bigger sgs on defense.

    35. Ted Nelson

      ess-dog: He has defensive skill, but is usually a bit slow to guard 2?s.

      I haven’t really seen that. Everyone is going to get beat off the dribble at times in the NBA, but I think WC did a good job on 2s last season. If there’s a quick little combo-guard TD and Mason are options and if it’s a freak like LeBron/Wade or Durant or something… good luck to whoever is guarding him.

      ess-dog: Chandler’s still the starter in my mind, but, like Felton, he’s probably in the bottom half of starters in the NBA, at least for now.

      I really think it depends. I have never been very high on WC based on his production and up till this point I would definitely agree, but if he’s as efficient as I feel like he’s been this pre-season he could definitely be a solid starter. At 23 and based on preseason play and historical trend of their stats I feel like he’s a good deal more likely to improve than Felton.

      And again, I don’t find it that valuable to line-up everyone in the league at a position. Say you have a certain scale of measurement. #20 could be 1 point behind #10 or 30 points on the same scale. He would still be #20 in both cases. If WC does about what he did last season with a TS% above .550, I can’t see him being too far from middle of the pack. Again, I can’t see Felton being close to middle of the pack (average).

      Frank O.: He was out-muscled by a more mature defender. He is rather willowy. Camby has similar problems early on

      Again, I just don’t see too much to the Camby comparisons. Camby was a center and Randolph is a wing. He’s been a perimeter player for his career, I don’t understand why people expect him to suddenly be an All-Defense type of C. Camby spent 3 years at UMass and was the premier center in the country. Randolph does need to spend more time inside and develop just about every aspect of the game… but I just didn’t have any realistic expectation that he’d become a true center like Camby this season.

      Again, though, how can you criticize a guy who had 12 FTAs in 27 minutes or whatever for not getting to the line enough? No doubt he needs to get better. Sometimes, like with Nate, the bad really stands out subjectively. If he had just missed a couple shots instead of getting blocked the results would have been the same but you probably wouldn’t even remember.

      Frank O.: If WC and Gallo were held out because a trade was imminent, that’s pretty exciting.

      Or disappointing… Is Amare also being traded, though? It’s the 4th game in 5 nights. Maybe there’s a trade, but I wouldn’t jump there yet. Chances are it would be announced by now if they couldn’t play last night, no?

      iserp: While true, a team only makes a limited number of transition opportunities.

      The number is not fixed, though. My point is not just LeBron taking a dunk/layy-up on a 3-on-1 fast break where another guy could also take it… My point is that he creates his own transition opportunities with rebounds and causing TOs, and that every time he’s in the open court there’s a chance he blows by everyone for a transition basket. Don’t remember the exact wording to the article, but I’m not sure it was even transition but just uncontested lay-ups/dunks (no player within arm’s length). Even in the half-court LeBron could be blowing by 3 guys on one play for an uncontested lay-up/dunk.

      iserp: he is clearly an upgrade over what we have now

      I really think it depends… If the Knicks give up Gallo, WC, and AR for him, that’s a steep price. If WC really has turned around his efficiency you’re getting more efficient points from 2 of the 3, better D from probably 2 of the 3, and better rebounding from 1 of the 3.

    36. ess-dog

      I think “recipe for disaster” is a little extreme. Chandler is shooting well this pre-season. As long as he can hit around .330 on limited 3pt attempts – he did it in ’08-09. Maybe he will split time with Douglas. Although one or both could easily get traded.

    37. Ted Nelson

      ess-dog: I think “recipe for disaster” is a little extreme. Chandler is shooting well this pre-season. As long as he can hit around .330 on limited 3pt attempts – he did it in ’08-09.

      Agreed. Even though I’ve long been less enthusiastic about WC than some over the years, it’s very hard to ignore how well he’s shooting the 3 this preseason (9-14). The volume probably won’t be big, but I think he could have improved his shot enough to hit 35+% from 3. If that same kind of improvement carries over to jumpers in general, you’re not going to be able to sag off or leave him open on the perimeter. Therefore, he shouldn’t hurt the team’s spacing.

    38. AY

      This preseason has reinforced for me that one very good/great player (e.g. Melo) is worth more than a bunch of maybes. Gallo and AR are maybes. Chandler’s a probably not.

      Thank God for Landry Fields and TD. I’d be more broken up over trading TD than Chandler or AR at this point.

    39. david

      Ted and Ess,

      But the volume is the key for spacing the court. I’m not worried about Chandler jacking up a lot of bad 3s — I’m worried about the lack of any credible 3 point threat other than Gallo resulting in less space for Amare on the post or the pick and roll. And if he’s standing around at 18 feet when the PnR starts, that makes it easier for a swarming defense to collapse. I guess we’ll see, but I’m quite skeptical that he can make defenders honestly chase him outside. But given that felton isn’t a serious threat from 3 either, it’s a lot of guys who need to get to the paint in order to be efficient scorers….

    40. Ted Nelson

      david: But the volume is the key for spacing the court.

      How so? It’s the threat of (making) a shot that spaces the court, not the actual shot. The defense cannot sag off a guy who will make the shot. They sag off, he makes a shot or two, they respect him again, the floor is spaced. WC doesn’t even have to take any 3s with a hand in his face, for spacing purposes it only matters that when the defense leaves him alone he makes them pay. If teams want to sag off or even ignore WC and his stroke is as improved as it looks, that’s a good thing for the Knicks. Then the “spacing” on the floor is in the Knicks favor because if they double Amare off WC he’s going to kick it out for a nice 3 points.

      It’s also harder to ignore WC because if he gets a head of steam going to the basket he can make you pay… he’s not just standing around on the perimeter.

      david: I’m worried about the lack of any credible 3 point threat other than Gallo resulting in less space for Amare on the post or the pick and roll.

      It’s a small sample, but 9-14 seems pretty credible to me. I felt the same way going into preseason. However, outside shooting is one of the easier basketball skills for an individual player to acquire. Something that can be worked on and can improve in the middle of a player’s career. Jason Kidd is like 40 and he finally learned how to shoot. WC is 23 and hit 33% of his 3s two seasons ago, so he very well may have improved to the point where his 3 and outside J in general is solid or good.

      Mike D’Antoni is also regarded as one of the best offensive minds in basketball… I’ll trust him to know whether more spacing is needed or not. He’s not usually shy about putting shooters into the rotation.

    41. Z

      Ted– it should thrill you to hear Wilson Chandler say this:

      “Coach says I pass up a lot of shots. That’s the biggest part. The confidence to take shots.” (NY Post, 10/23/10)

      …Just when you thought Wilson had finally turned a corner, Lieutenant D’An is trying to get him to go back to jacking up more low% jumpers!

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