ESPN’s prediction method SCHOENE has rung a bell with Knick fans by predicting the ‘Bockers to only win 37 games in 2014. It’s an alarmingly low number, considering the team is coming off taking the Atlantic with 54 wins and a hard fought second round series. For most fans it’s hard to understand why anything could be so pessimistic on New York’s prospects. In 2014, the Knicks are coming back with largely the same cast. The 5 starters of their final game in 2013, ‘Melo, Chandler, Felton, Shumpert, and Prigioni all will be in orange and blue come November, as will 5th man J.R. Smith, backup center Kenyon Martin, and even the oft-injured Amar’e Stoudemire. Heck New York added some decent complementary pieces in World Peace, Udrih, and Bargnani.
I’ll admit I’m bearish on the Knicks 2014 outlook, with the hopes that I’m wrong. But my reasons are primarily based on what has happened outside of the MSG headquarters. I feel that most of the top of the Eastern Conference has improved at a greater rate than New York, which would result in a Gotham slide down to 5th place (“Gotham slide”™ is a registered trademark of KnickerBlogger.Net.)
On the other hand, there is reason to be concerned about the actual changes with the roster. Gone are Novak, Copeland, and Kidd, along with their TS% of 60.1, 58.3, and 53.2 respectively. World Peace, Udrih, and Bargnani will likely take the minutes of those three along with Brewer and White. One idea might be to take those 5,692 minutes from 2013 and give them to the new three, then look at the aggregate numbers. For the noobs, using their career averages seems like a reasonable place to start.
Looking at the projected numbers, the Knicks are likely to take a drop in shooting efficiency. Last year New York was 8th in eFG, but if they shot 50.3%, they would been tied for 12th. If we pretend the gains in rebounding and free throws offset the loss in turnovers, then it reasons that this projected 2014 New York team will see a decline in offense.
If we use the last 2 years stats for our players, the drop-off from 2013 is even larger.
Now this kind of “Maimonidenian mathematics“, as Father Knickerbocker would call it, isn’t very precise. The NBA isn’t as simple as taking individual statistics across teams and roles and copy and paste numbers into excel to generate a new team total. And that doesn’t even account for the improvement/decline of players or the yearly variation in stats. But it does provide us with a starting point to a conversation on what the 2014 might be like. And it does show why an objective assessment, like SCHOENE, would also be bearish on the Knicks 2014 odds.