Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Knicks 96, Magic 80

New York Knicks 96 Final
Recap | Box Score
80 Orlando Magic
Carmelo Anthony, SF 28 MIN | 6-16 FG | 5-7 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 19 PTS | +4

What would you do if some upstart snot tried to punk your Coach Killa’ crown? Punk him right back, that’s what. It took Melo a spell to get the engine revved, but once he did, there was little the Magic could do to stop it. Earl Clark tried to bully him right back. That failed. Hedo Turkoglu tried to break Melo’s wrist with his face. That failed – and bled – quite badly. Woodson wisely shut Melo down early in the second half, but not after some significant damage had been done. He was somewhat lazy at times on defense, but it’s probably easy to lose focus chasing Hedo Turkoglu around like some out-to-pasture mule.

Also, keep in mind that at least six of these ten misses came on one particular paint foray midway through the third. Then again, so did most of his rebounds.

Landry Fields, G 26 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-6 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +6

Forget having its bra stuffed; Landry’s shot needs season-ending surgery. I can’t remember the last time I saw an NBA guard miss six consecutive free throws, but then again I can barely remember to put the car in park. The total lack of ‘bounds and dimes is a little concerning, although they were offset by a handful of timely, momentum-sustaining buckets in the second half – including a pair of pithy slashes and the ugliest three pointers this side of Manute Bol. It seems like he’s finally aware that his is a seat growing hotter by the Manhattan minute. Which is probably why he thought it necessary to absolutely lay out referee Bill Kennedy in the third quarter. Total power move.

Tyson Chandler, C 35 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +4

Someone needs to get on inventing a letter to go in front of ‘A’ in the alphabet, just so we can slap a few dozen plusses on it and hand it to Tyson at the end of pretty much every game. Regardless of whether or not Dwight has officially checked out – my Magic 8-Ball melted in my hand when I asked – Tyson is clearly in Howard’s head.

As usual, it’s Chandler’s more unassuming contributions that deserve the biggest accolades: Things like pulling the chair out from Dwight just enough that he stumbles back and misses a bullet entry pass; or rooting him far enough out of the paint to make the subsequent double-downs that much easier. Coupled with a ho-hum 12-and-12, this was easily one of Tyson’s most inconspicuously dominating performances of the season. And, when he appeared to come up limping in the fourth quarter — after converting an absurd dribble-drive layup — I very nearly had a stroke. That’s how valuable this guy is.

Baron Davis, PG 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 5 PTS | -5

Let’s be honest, we’re all just happy Baron didn’t scurry far enough into the paint for Dwight to turn him into a formless pile of flesh. In fact, Dizzle managed to stay in his lane, for the most part, even if that lane is more restrictive than you’d find on most go-cart tracks. He took care of the pumpkin, offered up a handful of purdy oops to Tyson, and didn’t completely disintegrate on defense. Problem is, when that’s your benchmark for point guard play, you’re most likely playing on borrowed time anyway.

Iman Shumpert, G 37 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +7

Has anyone else noticed that Shumpert moves EXACTLY like a player in NBA 2K12? He doesn’t run so much as float very, very fast — a near pixelated blur wreaking havoc on an opposition set to “Rookie.” All in all, it was a solid, composed outing from the Jukin’ ‘Jacket, with the lightning quick defensive rotations on the perimeter being the most consistent contribution.

Steve Novak, SF 24 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | +14

I swear to God Steve Novak poured my Starbucks coffee, did my taxes, hauled away my lawn clippings, inspected my car, AND operated on my wife’s knee today. And he still had enough energy to lace up the Chucks and can some timely Js for the orange and blue. I know they don’t keep track of “pump fake bites produced,” but if they did, Novak might have the season crown locked up. Even more importantly, Novak continues to play some surprisingly staunch D down on the block, where he somehow prevented Glen Davis from absorbing him via osmosis.

J.R. Smith, SG 34 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 15 PTS | +19

By all accounts, Smith probably should’ve been suspended for his Goldberg takedown of Barbosa the other night. As it was, Earl responded to the subsequent undressing – by both media and skipper — with one of his most locked-in, me-second performances of the year. I mean, nine assists? When was the last time J.R. Smith had nine assists? New York Dolls?

Toney Douglas, PG 25 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 15 PTS | +22

Leave it to Toney Douglas to completely piss on the idea that coming back from the darkest of NBA doldrums doesn’t happen overnight. And really, with Baron Davis lurching ever closer to a permanent home in the Bibby Crypt, the timing couldn’t have been better. It’s clear Toney may not ever harness the kind of vision conducive to consistently running point in the NBA; but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a serviceable cog, or even one of the first guys off the bench on a good team. To the contrary, the Knicks are banking on it harder than Toney’s absurd fourth quarter hit over Howard. Seriously though, good for him — he deserved this.

Bill Walker, SG 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -3

The hell?

Josh Harrellson, F 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +12

I can’t decide whether Howard’s refusal to turn Jorts into a giant sandwich on the block says more about Dwight’s fragile psyche, or Harrellson’s backwoods-honed survival instincts.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Yes, the Magic are folding like cheap lawn chairs. No, their won’t be any second place votes for “Circus Shit Show of the Year.” But winning all but two statistical categories (in this case, free throws and blocks) is impressive no matter how you dice it. Perhaps most impressive was how well the Knicks took care of the ball — only 11 turnovers on the night, down slightly from their season average of 87. After all, if you’re hitching your wagon to half-court iso-ball, sooner or later you’re going to have to ditch the cavalier tendencies of the system that preceded it.
  2. When it comes to properly defending the Magic, simply “doubling Dwight” is far easier said than done. Over the years, Howard’s become quite adept at kicking the ball out to shooters who – even if they don’t end up taking the shot themselves – are trained to swing the ball around the horn as quickly as possible, where each link of the chain is just as deadly as the last. It’s therefore imperative that teams do exactly what the Knicks did tonight: recover quickly enough out of the initial trap to disrupt the first swing, and rotate accordingly – and quickly – thereafter. Even when Woodson decided to relent on the doubles, it was perfectly timed; the Knicks had already lapped, and Dwight’s psyche was such that him bringing the Magic back was about as likely as a blizzard breaking out in the arena. Good coaching, even better execution.
  3. I don’t know about y’alls, but I did not miss Ryan Anderson tonight.
  4. Hey! Both the Magic and the Knicks wore their NBA “Green” shirts tonight! No, silly, not that kind of green shirt! It’s part of a league-wide initiative to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and shit – the logo even has those conversing arrows and everything. Which really is super. I mean, any time you can use all CFL light bulbs, sustainably harvested court wood, farm-raised hot dog pork, organic sodas, low-flush toilets, cask micro brews, and….. what’s that? They’re not doing any of that? What’s that? You’re just throwing a bunch of money at the Natural Resource Defense Council, while doing pretty much nothing about the asteroid-sized amounts of trash you produce the rest of the season? Cool!
  5. Let’s get this out of the way first: As far as bounce-back games after a quantum meltdown goes, this was a thousand-sided gem – a testament to the newly-chiseled grit with which we seem poised to stake our forthcoming claims. Truth told, it would’ve been wholly un-shocking — even a smidgen understandable – to have left tonight’s gate ego-hobbled and come up lane short the first turn. But we didn’t. In fact, we did what too few teams seem capable of doing, and put Tuesday’s nightmare behind us. But lest we think for a second we’re safe from those Bucks

68 comments on “Knicks 96, Magic 80

  1. jon abbey

    Baron deserves a little better grade, he assisted on every Knick basket for the first 10 minutes of the third quarter. he also has only two total turnovers in the last three games in 77 minutes of play.

  2. Robert Silverman

    I’m about 80% sure that Amar’e's back rehab includes dancing the Pavane (as shown in the beginning of Jim’s Python clip) and singing “Hey Nonny Nonny.”

  3. Bruno Almeida

    awesome to see Toney Douglas contributing, if he can be at least mildly effective it’s already a big plus.

    by the way, Chandler is by far the best Knick free agent in recent memory and it’s not even close.

  4. Robert Silverman

    Bruno Almeida:
    awesome to see Toney Douglas contributing, if he can be at least mildly effective it’s already a big plus.

    by the way, Chandler is by far the best Knick free agent in recent memory and it’s not even close.

    I agree. Though there isn’t much competition. Alan Houston and…?

  5. jon abbey

    Chicago is just so well-coached and relentless for 48 minutes, it’s going to be tough to win either of these next two, especially without Amare. at least it looks like Jeffries will be back.

  6. johnlocke

    The collective play of JR, Novak and Baron will determine whether we win or lose going forward until back to full strength. Just need to look at the box score for those 3 and can determine whether we won or lost with good accuracy. Great win…need split with Chi to make up for Indiana loss

  7. CapB

    I thought Harrelson deserved at least a B-. Stats dont show it, but he made alot of plays in his short time on the court.

  8. WeirdJohn

    Wait, wait, wait. Bill Walker was in that game?

    Oh and in other good news, Boston got beat by the Bulls. Maybe the green shirts was some kind of Jinx?

  9. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    jon abbey: there was a guy named Amare who was second team All-NBA last year.

    Hah, like All-NBA teams actually mean something. Amar’e got it on a legacy vote. Once a superstar, always a superstar. I’m surprised Tracy McGrady didn’t make the all-star team this year.

  10. Will the Thrill

    Having a confident TD will be huge for us coming down the stretch. Seeing as how Baron probably won’t be able to play effectively for the rest of the season (hamstring) or forever (old). I am really hoping we get into the playoffs and Rose re-injures something so we have a chance in the first round. If Chicago has no person initiating the offense, I think our defense will be good enough to win games. But this is all assuming at least Lin is able to make it back by then so we will have a somewhat formidable offense going into the playoffs.

  11. ROUGH

    johnlocke:
    The collective play of JR, Novak and Baron will determine whether we win or lose going forward until back to full strength. Just need to look at the box score for those 3 and can determine whether we won or lost with good accuracy. Great win…need split with Chi to make up for Indiana loss

    Novak is on the scouting reports, he cannot get open anymore. The Knicks MUST work out plays to free him up more often.

  12. Doug

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Hah, like All-NBA teams actually mean something. Amar’e got it on a legacy vote. Once a superstar, always a superstar. I’m surprised Tracy McGrady didn’t make the all-star team this year.

    Classic THCJ!

  13. hoolahoop

    What stood out to me about TD was his defense. A few times I thought, “wow, Shump is all over that guy” then saw it was 23, not 21.

  14. ruruland

    Will the Thrill: Having a confident TD will be huge for us coming down the stretch. Seeing as how Baron probably won’t be able to play effectively for the rest of the season (hamstring) or forever (old). I am really hoping we get into the playoffs and Rose re-injures something so we have a chance in the first round. If Chicago has no person initiating the offense, I think our defense will be good enough to win games. But this is all assuming at least Lin is able to make it back by then so we will have a somewhat formidable offense going into the playoffs.

    TD might be the difference maker. Look, having Lin back will be huge, but he’s essentially a rookie, and rookies (especially primary ballhandlers) struggle in the playoffs.

    The biggest reason Lin is important is because he opens up Amar’e's game.

    If both Lin and Amar’e can accept Melo Iso’s, meaning they don’t just stand around and watch, but they anticipate the ball coming ot them and how they’ll beat the rotating defense and they dive cut at opportune times—-it will open a lot of things up.

    It will make Melo’s job easier. It will make the pnr easier. Did anyone else catch the Woodson play disguise Fratello showed on the broadcast?

    The more and more I sit and contemplate it and go back and talk with some of the Phx people, the less enamored I become with MDA. I honestly think he’s a poor NBA coach. We’re talking about a guy who left Phoenix because he refused a defensive coordinator, refused the idea of playing depth, and negatively impacted the organization’s ability to acquire young talent.

  15. ruruland

    hoolahoop: What stood out to me about TD was his defense. A few times I thought, “wow, Shump is all over that guy” then saw it was 23, not 21.

    TD is a good defender man. Gets over screens better than anyone on the team. Strong ball defender. Physically mismatched sometimes, but is overall a plus.

    If he makes shots again you can really have a nasty two way lineup with Shump, Jr, Douglas, Melo, Chandler — you’d everything you’d need right there.

  16. ruruland

    johnlocke: The collective play of JR, Novak and Baron will determine whether we win or lose going forward until back to full strength. Just need to look at the box score for those 3 and can determine whether we won or lost with good accuracy. Great win…need split with Chi to make up for Indiana loss

    To me, Novak’s play is essentially dependent on everyone else’s ability to space the floor, push the ball, and get into the lane.. Even when you set good screens on his guy in the half-court everyone is so aware of where he is. But, if he has this kind of accuracy you have to go out of your way to get him shots. I honestly believe now, having seen 30 games or whatever, that this guy was the best shooter JVG had ever seen.

    Davis can still give you 15 maybe 20 good minutes. But a huge dropoff it seems every minute thereafte…..

    Tried to start a discussion about how JR was treated in Denver and the importance of trust. I absolutely love how Woody has handled him. I said it would pay dividends because I think historically, a lot of his erratic play is attributable to a kind of nuerosis developed from getting yanked all the time.

  17. ruruland

    Will the Thrill: Having a confident TD will be huge for us coming down the stretch. Seeing as how Baron probably won’t be able to play effectively for the rest of the season (hamstring) or forever (old). I am really hoping we get into the playoffs and Rose re-injures something so we have a chance in the first round. If Chicago has no person initiating the offense, I think our defense will be good enough to win games. But this is all assuming at least Lin is able to make it back by then so we will have a somewhat formidable offense going into the playoffs.

    Offense is formidable now.

  18. ruruland

    “Question — What was Melo’s college position? Did he play much power forward? What was his playing weight in college?”

    I don’t think there’s much to compare here. But it does bring up something I’ve talked about for a long time: Melo at the 4. Look, he’s posted great seasons as a 3. He’s killed 3′s his whole career. He figured out Trenton Hassel, Bruce Bowen and Shane Battier (it took him a 1 1/2 years to figure out the first, 3 years to figure out the second, and 2 years to figure out Battier). He knows how to beat Lebron; he’s feasted on Durant, Gay and Granger…. It typically takes 50-60 possessions or so for him to figure out the super-athletic specialty defenders.

    The point is that against a lot of these guys he really has to work for his shot. He’s developed a game around tough-shot making, which is critical to one day winning a championship, but over a game I think zaps him a bit on defense, and over a year I think it wears him down.

    I think he can make a major move up efficiency-wise if he played a lot of his minutes at the 4.

    I think he’s good enough defensively and on the board to more than hold his own… If you look around the league, a lot of yesterday’s power forwards are today’s centers.

    I don’t care if the Knicks are 5-7 points per 48 less efficient on defense with Amar’e and Melo at 4 and 5, that, in combination with Lin, Shump and JR, could be the best offensive lineup in the NBA.

    I can’t think of a single team in the NBA that has a starting 4 with a prayer of guarding him.

    Nor is there a 5 in basketball that can guard Amar’e…

    Trying to double team Melo with a 4 makes a defense really vulnerable against a mobile 5, let alone Amar’e.

    20 minutes for Amar’e at 5
    20 minutes for Melo at 4

    10-15 minutes where they share the court as 3-4…

  19. ruruland

    Only Van Gundy wasn’t about to laugh along. He got out of there as quickly as he could, and left Howard alone to absorb the same kind of sucker punch he threw at his coach behind closed doors.

    “Stan just didn’t want to lie anymore,” said one league source close to the situation. “Letting this linger has already ruined the season, and there’s so much more beyond this that’s going on behind closed doors. If nothing else, by exposing Dwight, Stan did the next head coach a huge favor. Now Howard has to be on his best behavior in Orlando, at least until he leaves.”

    And yes, after all that opt-in, opt-out, opt-back-in drama, Howard will almost certainly leave the Magic sometime next year, probably for the Nets. Most superstars get to kill off only one coach, “and Dwight was also in on Brian Hill,” the league source said. “People forget that. Stan is the second coach he’s running out of there.”

  20. ruruland

    But instead Howard appeared disengaged, even willing to concede defeat. In the first half he took all of two shots, didn’t get to the foul line and allowed Carmelo Anthony to outscore him 17-0. If Howard was trying to make up with Van Gundy, he had the funniest way of showing it.

    He finally scored with 3.5 seconds left in the third quarter, on an uncontested dunk. “I thought Dwight played really, really hard,” Van Gundy actually said, if only because he’d already shredded his center enough.

    The Knicks made 13 of their 25 3-point attempts, and after their collapse in Indy they suddenly looked alive again.

    “I don’t think anybody would want to play New York [in the playoffs],” Van Gundy had said after his shootaround for the ages. “Any team that’s got Carmelo Anthony is going to scare the hell out of you.”

  21. pearl 15

    Baron’s doing exactly what’s needed. He’s making all the right plays and managing the team effectively. He hasn’t turned the ball over, Carmelo is prospering, and the team is winning games. What’s with all the hating? Why not give him an F before the game starts??

  22. jon abbey

    ruruland:

    The more and more I sit and contemplate it and go back and talk with some of the Phx people, the less enamored I become with MDA.I honestly think he’s a poor NBA coach. We’re talking about a guy who left Phoenix because he refused a defensive coordinator, refused the idea of playing depth, and negatively impacted the organization’s ability to acquire young talent.

    I pretty much agree with this, although it’d be interesting to see him with another top 10 NBA PG and gather some more data points.

    but it’s a real pleasure to have a coach who pretty much plays the guys he should be playing for once, sticking with Douglas when he just as easily could have gone with his old buddy Bibby paid off big tonight and hopefully going forward.

  23. jon abbey

    as for Howard, I think people are making it seem a little worse than it was. he was coming off two DNPs with a bad back, Chandler shut him down in their previous two meetings, NY was doubling him almost every time, and ORL got a lot of wide open threes after kicking it back out and a couple more passes (so he didn’t get credit for assists, but his presence did lead to the open shot).

  24. ruruland

    jon abbey: as for Howard, I think people are making it seem a little worse than it was. he was coming off two DNPs with a bad back, Chandler shut him down in their previous two meetings, NY was doubling him almost every time, and ORL got a lot of wide open threes after kicking it back out and a couple more passes (so he didn’t get credit for assists, but his presence did lead to the open shot).

    agreed. offensively he was making the right decisions. He’s often more agressive. To me the 8 rebounds told the story. Still think the Knicks are superior to Orlando, perhaps by a sizeable margin when both squads are at full strength with 60-80 games or so under their belts together.

  25. Bison

    ruruland:
    If both Lin and Amar’e can accept Melo Iso’s, meaning they don’t just stand around and watch, but they anticipate the ball coming ot them and how they’ll beat the rotating defense and they dive cut at opportune times—-it will open a lot of things up.

    So you want to turn the Knicks into Nuggets East. That’s no problem if you don’t mind early summer vacations for the team every year.

    Some of us, however, want more.

    We won’t get more if iso-Melo dominates the offence in the coming years. Melo is a decent shooter, but he is not Larry Bird. His passing and handles are good for an SF, but both are well below average by PG standards. What’s left is his slashing and post-ups, which are quite effective — until he runs into a brick wall in the playoffs, where the best defenders tend to lurk. In other words, there are things his teammates can do much better, and they can and should take most of the load. If the focus on offence is mostly on Melo, the team will buckle in the playoffs, as his Nuggets have done every year.

    The problem may have more to do with the Small Forward position than specifically with Melo himself. An SF is an awkward tweener: typically too slow to be a PG, and too light to be as physically overwhelming as a PF or C. Perhaps that is why so few SF-dominated teams have won championships. In fact, I can think of only one in the last 40 years: Larry Bird’s Celtics. LeBron could be the second example, but that has yet to happen.

    So unless you think Melo is as good as Larry Bird or LeBron James, you are dreaming if you think iso-Melo will win.

  26. Bison

    ruruland:
    The more and more I sit and contemplate it and go back and talk with some of the Phx people, the less enamored I become with MDA.I honestly think he’s a poor NBA coach. We’re talking about a guy who left Phoenix because he refused a defensive coordinator, refused the idea of playing depth, and negatively impacted the organization’s ability to acquire young talent.

    Actually, the owner was negatively impacting the talent pool. The Suns sold many of their draft picks over the years, so it’s no surprise that the talent slowly evaporated.

    Just thought I would mention that. I have no special love or hate for D’Antoni.

  27. Brian Cronin

    So you want to turn the Knicks into Nuggets East. That’s no problem if you don’t mind early summer vacations for the team every year.

    The Nuggets were one of the best offensive teams in the NBA, like, every year running Melo-iso driven offenses. Melo iso-driven offenses are not inherently a bad thing.

    I don’t think this particular group of players (with everyone healthy, that is) work well as a Mel-iso driven offense because asking Lin and Amar’e to give up dominating the offense so that Melo can dominate the offense doesn’t seem like a good trade-off to me (I’d expect the reverse to happen, that Melo would have to sacrifice so that the offense could run around Amar’e – the Knicks offense has looked the best it has recently during the stretch where that was the offense – Amar’e #1, Melo and Lin not far apart for #2 – and that was only because Melo was missing shots – if he started making them like he has recently, he’d be right up there with Amar’e and way past Lin as the clear #2), but the idea of basing the team around Melo isolations is not a bad one. Again, the Nuggets did it for years and it was a very efficient team on offense. So if you paired that with the Knick defense, it would result in a very good team. If Lin and Amar’e were different types of players, I’d be all for running a Mel-iso offense, but I don’t think they would be able to work in such an offense, so I don’t think the Knicks should run it.

    But there’s nothing wrong with a Melo-iso offense in general. Heck, it has worked fine these last seven games, with depleted personnel on offense.

  28. Brian Cronin

    Actually, the owner was negatively impacting the talent pool. The Suns sold many of their draft picks over the years, so it’s no surprise that the talent slowly evaporated.

    Just thought I would mention that. I have no special love or hate for D’Antoni.

    Yeah, if it were not for the owner, Phoenix would have had a much better team. Also, D’Antoni did not drive Joe Johnson away, Amar’e Stoudemire did.

    Don’t get me wrong, D’Antoni was way too stubborn at the end of his tenure in Phoenix, and I thought letting him go was extremely reasonable, but that team did not deteriorate because of him.

    As Jon notes and I agree, he should get another shot on a team with a good point guard so we can see how he would work with a team that can play the system he wants to play. As we saw with Larry Brown’s tenure with New York, if you don’t give a system coach the system they want to play (and said system coach is a stubborn jerk, which the Knicks seem prone to hiring) then it is not going to work, so why get said system coach in the first place if you’re not going to cater to his system? “Hey Larry Brown, you know how you like defense-oriented teams? Here’s a team where no one plays any defense! Good luck!”

  29. Bison

    Brian Cronin: The Nuggets were one of the best offensive teams in the NBA, like, every year running Melo-iso driven offenses. Melo iso-driven offenses are not inherently a bad thing.

    ….

    But there’s nothing wrong with a Melo-iso offense in general. Heck, it has worked fine these last seven games, with depleted personnel on offense.

    Well, that may depend on your goals. I did mention that only one SF-dominated team has won the championship in the last 40 years: the Larry Bird Celtics.

    So if all you want is exciting offense, iso-Melo is fine. But if you want the Knicks to win a championship, Melo will have to be as good as Larry, and I doubt he is.

  30. Brian Cronin

    Trends are not always predictive. They just tell you what has happened in the past. “All four number one seeds never make the Final Four.” Until they did in back-to-back years.

    People would constantly harp on size being the difference and then a team with awful centers won six titles in eight years. Then teams with great centers won six of the next seven titles (or whatever the percentage was – it was high).

    I just don’t see anything inherent in a small forward-based offense that makes it hard for such a team to win a championship. Heck, there’s a decent chance that the Finals could be Miami/OKC, which would both be small forward-based offenses.

    Does anyone seriously criticize OKC’s title chances because no one has won a title with a small forward-based offense since Larry Bird?

  31. jon abbey

    Bison: Well, that may depend on your goals.I did mention that only one SF-dominated team has won the championship in the last 40 years: the Larry Bird Celtics.

    So if all you want is exciting offense, iso-Melo is fine.But if you want the Knicks to win a championship, Melo will have to be as good as Larry, and I doubt he is.

    honestly, we all know the problems with Melo, but unless a young Larry Bird is walking through the door, not sure what your point is. yes, we’d all rather have LeBron or Durant, but we’re not getting those guys.

  32. Bison

    jon abbey: honestly, we all know the problems with Melo, but unless a young Larry Bird is walking through the door, not sure what your point is. yes, we’d all rather have LeBron or Durant, but we’re not getting those guys.

    My point is that unless Melo is as good as Larry Bird or LeBron James, iso-Melo is very unlikely to win the Knicks a championship. The evidence: only one SF-dominated team has won it all in the last 40 years: Larry’s Celtics.

  33. Bison

    Brian Cronin:
    Trends are not always predictive. They just tell you what has happened in the past. “All four number one seeds never make the Final Four.” Until they did in back-to-back years.

    Some things are way more probable than others. As I have noted, only one SF-dominated team has won the championship in the last 40 years. Less than one chance in 40 is not impossible, but it’s daunting. Our chances with iso-Melo are less than 1 in 40 due to Melo being not nearly as good as Larry Bird.

    Does anyone seriously criticize OKC’s title chances because no one has won a title with a small forward-based offense since Larry Bird?

    Durant is better than Melo. So is LeBron.

  34. Brian Cronin

    What position a team’s dominant player plays is completely incidental. All that matters is if the team has a good offense and a good defense. If it has both (or if it is really good at one or the other), then it has a chance at winning a title. Well, so long as it has health. Those are the three key ingredients. Good offense, good defense and healthy players. Melo’s teams have never had all three in a season, that I can see. But if they did, there’s no reason they couldn’t contend for a title. Certainly not that he happens to be a 3.

  35. Brian Cronin

    By the way, since Bird’s Celtics won three titles, it would be 3 in 40, so it’d be essentially 1 in 13. Which is actually not a bad chance at all, really. And that’s with me buying into the idea that what position your dominant player plays has any impact on your chances, which I don’t. Heck, taking it a step further, John Havlicek was the dominant player on the 1974 Celtics, so it would be 4 in 40 or 1 in 10.

    I certainly do concede that it is a lot easier to win an NBA title if you have one of the best centers in the NBA on your team. Centers do make things a lot easier, since you typically need a good one to have a good defense and the best ones tend to help a lot on offense, too. And the Knicks, by the way, happen to have one of the best centers in the NBA on their team.

  36. Brian Cronin

    So now that we know that 5 of the 13 NBA titles won from 1974 through 1986 were won by teams with a dominant small forward (with 2 more won by the 1976 Celtics where Havlicek was obviously still very important but he was just 35 years old so no longer the dominant player on the team and the 1983 Sixers who had some sort of Doctor fellow that was pretty good at the 3), do you think anyone in 1986 ever said, “You clearly need a dominant 3 to win an NBA title”?

    Hint: The answer is no.

  37. Bison

    Brian Cronin:
    By the way, since Bird’s Celtics won three titles, it would be 3 in 40, so it’d be essentially 1 in 13. Which is actually not a bad chance at all, really. And that’s with me buying into the idea that what position your dominant player plays has any impact on your chances, which I don’t.

    Okay, let’s look at it from another perspective. No SF-dominated team has won it all for the last 25 years in a row. I rest my case.

    And the Knicks, by the way, happen to have one of the best centers in the NBA on their team.

    Melo’s Nuggets had a Defensive Player of the Year (Marcus Camby). Yet the Nuggets continued to fail in the playoffs. Yet more evidence that iso-Melo will not work.

    I’m off to bed.

  38. Brian Cronin

    Okay, let’s look at it from another perspective. No SF-dominated team has won it all for the last 25 years in a row. I rest my case.

    Like I said before, when 5 out of 13 NBA titles were won by teams dominated by 3′s, did anyone say “Man, you definitely need a great 3 to win a title?” Of course not, because it was incidental. It has nothing to do with what position your best player happens to play, it is just about having a good offense and a good defense (and said good offensive players and good defensive players being healthy come playoff time). Whatever way you get to a good defense and a good offense is up to you, just so long as you get there. It tends to be a lot easier if you start with having one of the five best players in the NBA on your team, but if you can get there by taking a different path (like the 2008 Celtics, the 2004 Pistons, the Bad Boy Pistons, the 1978 Bullets and the 1979 Supersonics), then go for it.

    Melo’s Nuggets had a Defensive Player of the Year (Marcus Camby). Yet the Nuggets continued to fail in the playoffs. Yet more evidence that iso-Melo will not work.

    The year Camby won Defensive Player of the Year, they lost to the Spurs. The Spurs won the NBA title that year. That was a great Spurs team (fifth best offense in the NBA and second best defense). The Nuggets were 8th and 11th, respectively. They were not as good as the Spurs. It was not because Melo played the small forward position, it was because the Spurs were better than them. Melo’s Nuggets had one year where they were in the top 10 in both offense and defense, and that was the season they went to Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference Finals. Not a coincidence.

    Good offense plus good defense makes for good NBA teams. Not what position their best player plays.

  39. ruruland

    Bison: Actually, the owner was negatively impacting the talent pool. The Suns sold many of their draft picks over the years, so it’s no surprise that the talent slowly evaporated.Just thought I would mention that. I have no special love or hate for D’Antoni.

    No, that was precisely what I was alluding to. Sarvar was a luxury tax owner. He is a guy that’s consistently overpaid since SSOL. Why did they sell those picks? Perhaps in part because MDA refused to develop young players.

  40. ruruland

    Bison: So you want to turn the Knicks into Nuggets East. That’s no problem if you don’t mind early summer vacations for the team every year.Some of us, however, want more.We won’t get more if iso-Melo dominates the offence in the coming years. Melo is a decent shooter, but he is not Larry Bird. His passing and handles are good for an SF, but both are well below average by PG standards. What’s left is his slashing and post-ups, which are quite effective — until he runs into a brick wall in the playoffs, where the best defenders tend to lurk. In other words, there are things his teammates can do much better, and they can and should take most of the load. If the focus on offence is mostly on Melo, the team will buckle in the playoffs, as his Nuggets have done every year.The problem may have more to do with the Small Forward position than specifically with Melo himself. An SF is an awkward tweener: typically too slow to be a PG, and too light to be as physically overwhelming as a PF or C. Perhaps that is why so few SF-dominated teams have won championships…

    First of all, this is total misrepresentation of my argument.

    Secondly, the Nuggets would still have lost in the playoffs if they had Lebron or Larry Bird…. Maybe they take them deeper a few times, but they would have really struggled to win those first round matchups.

    The Nuggets lacked the requisite size, floor spacing and most signficicatly they lacked the shooting to first alleviate scoring pressure one Melo, and defeat one of these tops teams four times.

    Those issues had nothing to do with Melo.

  41. ruruland

    Bison: So you want to turn the Knicks into Nuggets East. That’s no problem if you don’t mind early summer vacations for the team every year.Some of us, however, want more.We won’t get more if iso-Melo dominates the offence in the coming years. Melo is a decent shooter, but he is not Larry Bird. His passing and handles are good for an SF, but both are well below average by PG standards. What’s left is his slashing and post-ups, which are quite effective — until he runs into a brick wall in the playoffs, where the best defenders tend to lurk. .P>

    Most importantly though in regards to the way you’ve tried to present my argument:

    I’m not saying the Knicks should run “isolations” or post-ups for Melo every time down the floor. I’m saying that they should run them a lot because it can make both Amar’e and Lin more efficient weakside attack players. There are plenty of usage oppurtunities for these guys when Melo is the first option… year after year Melo’s teammates thrived in those roles.

    However, I still want to see great doses of Lin/Amar’e middle screen roll 4-out. THere’s no indication Woodson is going to put the kibash on those. Melo needs to embrace his opportunities to catch and shoot and catch and drive when they come his way.

    The key for the Knicks is not Melo playing point guard. That’s the complete opposite of what I’m promoting, which is why I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.

    Melo in the low pick/wing is extremely effective — not because of his TS% but because of how it improves the play of his teammates.

    You don’t see his impact in assist numbers.

    The load needs to be evenly distributed. Moreover, less efficient offensive players have led their respective teams in usage to the championship.

  42. ruruland

    Brian Cronin: Like I said before, when 5 out of 13 NBA titles were won by teams dominated by 3?s, did anyone say “Man, you definitely need a great 3 to win a title?” Of course not, because it was incidental. It has nothing to do with what position your best player happens to play, it is just about having a good offense and a good defense (and said good offensive players and good defensive players being healthy come playoff time). Whatever way you get to a good defense and a good offense is up to you, just so long as you get there. It tends to be a lot easier if you start with having one of the five best players in the NBA on your team, but if you can get there by taking a different path (like the 2008 Celtics, the 2004 Pistons, the Bad Boy Pistons, the 1978 Bullets and the 1979 Supersonics), then go for it. The year Camby won Defensive Player of the Year, they lost to the Spurs. The Spurs won the NBA title that year. That was a great Spurs team (fifth best offense in the NBA and second best defense). The Nuggets were 8th and 11th, respectively. They were not as good as the Spurs. It was not because Melo played the small forward position, it was because the Spurs were better than them. Melo’s Nuggets had one year where they were in the top 10 in both offense and defense, and that was the season they went to Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference Finals. Not a coincidence. Good offense plus good defense makes for good NBA teams. Not what position their best player plays.

    Great post. And it needs to mentioned that Camby was not the same guy in Denver as he was in New York. His DPOY was a bit of a farce. His stats looked really good though, but he wasn’t a quarter of the defender Chandler is now.

  43. ruruland

    Bison: Okay, let’s look at it from another perspective. No SF-dominated team has won it all for the last 25 years in a row. I rest my case.Melo’s Nuggets had a Defensive Player of the Year (Marcus Camby). Yet the Nuggets continued to fail in the playoffs. Yet more evidence that iso-Melo will not work.I’m off to bed.

    That doesn’t even scratch the surface of analysis for those Denver teams.

  44. ruruland

    Bison: My point is that unless Melo is as good as Larry Bird or LeBron James, iso-Melo is very unlikely to win the Knicks a championship. The evidence: only one SF-dominated team has won it all in the last 40 years: Larry’s Celtics.

    No one is advocating that the Knicks run Melo isolations every time down the floor. I’m advocating that they run a lot of them so that Lin and Amar’e can thrive.

    Trust me, as Melo continues to get back to the player he was, the less single coverage he will see. This is what opens the doors for his teammates to be really effective.. For all his efficient scoring exploits, it’s not the kind of effect Durant has on a defense.

    and if you think an MDA-styled, 4-out LIn PNR every time down the floor was going to work, you’re delusional.

    Diversity is the key. What I’m hoping is that Melo’s teammates can embrace what he does and see how ti can help them.

    Melo may have iso’d with Amar’e and Lin but I don’t think they viewed it as an opportunity for themselves to score easily.

  45. ruruland

    Brian Cronin: Trends are not always predictive. They just tell you what has happened in the past. “All four number one seeds never make the Final Four.” Until they did in back-to-back years. People would constantly harp on size being the difference and then a team with awful centers won six titles in eight years. Then teams with great centers won six of the next seven titles (or whatever the percentage was – it was high). I just don’t see anything inherent in a small forward-based offense that makes it hard for such a team to win a championship. Heck, there’s a decent chance that the Finals could be Miami/OKC, which would both be small forward-based offenses. Does anyone seriously criticize OKC’s title chances because no one has won a title with a small forward-based offense since Larry Bird?

    I think it would be a misnomer to say that OKC runs a SF-based offense. But your point remains. Bison isn’t making sense.

  46. Ben R

    ruruland: No, that was precisely what I was alluding to. Sarvar was a luxury tax owner. He is a guy that’s consistently overpaid since SSOL. Why did they sell those picks? Perhaps in part because MDA refused to develop young players.

    I’ve never understood where D’Antoni got the reputation as a coach that didn’t develop young players. When he took over as the Suns coach Amare was a 2nd year player, Barbosa was a rookie and Joe Johnson was a 3rd year player, they all blossomed under D’Antoni. Diaw was a third year throw in on the Joe Johnson trade, that had never gotten a chance in Atlanta, and D’Antoni played him. In NY D’Antoni gave young players lots of minutes: Gallo, Chandler, Lee, Douglas, Shump, Fields, Mozgov, Jorts all played and flourished under D’Antoni.

    In Pheonix he didn’t develop young players because they didn’t give him any. In his 4 full seasons the Suns drafted 3 players, 2 2nd rounders that didn’t make it to a second year and one late (29th pick) first rounder that barely played and never got a sniff at a second contract. It’s not like he was refusing to develop high draft picks or players that caught on elsewhere, he simply didn’t have any young talent worth developing.

  47. david

    If Lin and/or Amare do come back and play in the playoffs, one possibility is that they come off the bench — as has been happening with Zach Randolph. Less likely with Lin (although he’s less likely to come back) and who starts isn’t particularly important (compared to overall minutes). But keeping Melo at the 4 for substantial minutes strikes me as really attractive (as does the added offensive punch created by having scorers like Amare and Novak play with the defensively minded guys like Shump, JJ and TD, if he keeps going.)

  48. Nick C.

    Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw were two first round picks that were “duds” or given up on by their original teams, but blossomed under D’Antoni. Though it seems like its either hit or miss no in between.

  49. Nick C.

    On a separate note. I did a WTF about the “Green” jersey event. So to promote the issue you create a whole new set of uniforms. Mind boggling. I would not be surprised if truck of them aren’t rolling into Manhattan headed for the NBA store as I type this.

  50. david

    Also, the debate about MDA in Phoenix misses the most important about his run there — they were really, really fun to watch. Stay up too late watching games fun. Probably the most fun to watch NBA team in the last 15 or so years (OKC and Miami when they get out and run are the only real contenders). I have always thought that fans are too focused on championships as the only metric of success. If you gave me knicks teams like his best Suns teams, I’d take that over, say, being a fan of the teams like the Pistons in the Billups era or the truly annoying early Spurs championship teams.

    As Knicks fans, we haven’t been able to enjoy much attractive basketball in, well, my lifetime. Our best recent run (the 90s) was entirely styleless (loved those guys, but it wasn’t a team that played beautiful ball for the most part). The problem with D’Antoni’s run here is not only that it wasn’t successful — it’s that, outside of the beginning of last season, it wasn’t fun or attractive. He should get another shot with a PG because it would make basketball — wherever he ends up and around the league — a more entertaining sport.

  51. Brian Cronin

    For the record, D’Antoni did not ask for the #7 pick in the draft to be dealt. That was all Sarver. He dealt it to save money and then he traded away the pick he got for the #7 pick for a worse pick in that same draft, all for money (he then traded the traded down pick, too).

    He sold Rudy Fernandez’s rights for cash. And Fernandez would not have even cost him any money that year (he was in Europe). Sarver just wanted the cash more.

    Sarver dealt Kurt Thomas along with two first round picks (one of the first rounders was used to draft Serge Ibaka) for one second round pick. All to save money. So even if you believe that D’Antoni did not want draft picks (which I don’t think is accurate), he sure as hell clearly wanted Kurt Thomas.

    The Suns made the Western Conference Finals in 2010. Sarver then asked his GM to take a paycut after the season!

    Sarver may have barely gone over the luxury tax a few times butI don’t believe he ever actually had to pay it, as I believe the escrow tax covered their luxury tax payments each time they went over the luxury cap, something that I would have to imagine Sarver was aware would happen.

    As a whole, while Sarver has definitely spent more money than some of the cheaper owners of the league he has also clearly made plenty of decisions designed to save money, not help the team win. Which is certainly his right, of course, just noting that it did not help the D’Antoni Suns in their attempts to win a title (heck, since Kurt Thomas ended up on the Spurs who then eliminated the Suns in 2008, it specifically hurt them!).

  52. daJudge

    There are different impacts from so called iso’s. I think Ru-ru discussed this at length, but if the point of the iso is to lead to either the iso shot or, with equal emphasis, the kick out to the weak side, it can be very effective. Particularly if the weak side beneficiaries can knock down the shot. If the iso player is an adept and willing passer and can draw a double, the offense buzzes. Further, if the iso can post in the block and draw the opposing Center to help on D, that obviously opens it up for our 5. While the Pnr may not thrive, the back door cut should also be available. This is very different from the point forward notion, which did not work too well IMO. I think the entry into Melo low can create numerous and varied opportunities on offense for our Boys. I see Novak, Chandler and JR as prime beneficiaries from this set. The problem I see is where Stat fits in offensively, unless of course he is playing the 5. Just an idea, but is it possible to have Amare down low on offense, more like a 5, but on defense, play the 4 and have Chandler down low. Perhaps just pulling Chandler out a bit on offense might allow the three to function together more effectively. I would love to see this attempted. Also, as always, nice write up Jim.

  53. Brian Cronin

    Taking a look at the current NBA leaders, Steve Novak is sixth in the NBA in threes made while not even being in the top twenty in threes attempted. Meanwhile, if he holds at his current percentage, his three-point shooting percentage will be the seventeenth highest single-season three-point shooting percentage in NBA history!

    So…yeah…he’s probably not going to be a Knick next year.

    Dammit.

  54. Brian Cronin

    That said, it appears as though we are in the age of specialists, as while Novak’s 3PT% is the seventeenth highest of all-time, it would not have led the NBA in half of the previous eight seasons.

  55. rocannon

    “where he somehow prevented Glen Davis from absorbing him via osmosis” –funny!

    That’s Glen Davis’s patented Amoeba offense.

  56. Brian Cronin

    Thinking more about Novak, what galls me is that the Knicks this year turned Novak into a legitimate NBA player. He could always shoot the lights out, but until this season he couldn’t prove that he could stay on the court and not be the worst defender in the history of sports (and that’s all he has to be able to beat to be worth putting on the court because of his stroke). So they save his game and revitalize his career and get repaid by him bolting after one season. I obviously don’t blame him for doing it, but it is still annoying.

  57. jon abbey

    Brian Cronin:
    So they save his game and revitalize his career and get repaid by him bolting after one season. I obviously don’t blame him for doing it, but it is still annoying.

    this didn’t actually happen yet, you know.

  58. Brian Cronin

    this didn’t actually happen yet, you know.

    True, but “yet” is the operative term. How can he not bolt? Dude’s sixth in the NBA in threes made while not even being in the top twenty in threes attempted!

  59. ruruland

    Brian Cronin: For the record, D’Antoni did not ask for the #7 pick in the draft to be dealt. That was all Sarver. He dealt it to save money and then he traded away the pick he got for the #7 pick for a worse pick in that same draft, all for money (he then traded the traded down pick, too). He sold Rudy Fernandez’s rights for cash. And Fernandez would not have even cost him any money that year (he was in Europe). Sarver just wanted the cash more. Sarver dealt Kurt Thomas along with two first round picks (one of the first rounders was used to draft Serge Ibaka) for one second round pick. All to save money. So even if you believe that D’Antoni did not want draft picks (which I don’t think is accurate), he sure as hell clearly wanted Kurt Thomas. The Suns made the Western Conference Finals in 2010. Sarver then asked his GM to take a paycut after the season!Sarver may have barely gone over the luxury tax a few times butI don’t believe he ever actually had to pay it, as I believe the escrow tax covered their luxury tax payments each time they went over the luxury cap, something that I would have to imagine Sarver was aware would happen. As a whole, while Sarver has definitely spent more money than some of the cheaper owners of the league he has also clearly made plenty of decisions designed to save money, not help the team win. Which is certainly his right, of course, just noting that it did not help the D’Antoni Suns in their attempts to win a title (heck, since Kurt Thomas ended up on the Spurs who then eliminated the Suns in 2008, it specifically hurt them!).

    This is the conventional explanation but I’m not sure it should be presented as 100% fact.

  60. ruruland

    daJudge: There are different impacts from so called iso’s. I think Ru-ru discussed this at length, but if the point of the iso is to lead to either the iso shot or, with equal emphasis, the kick out to the weak side, it can be very effective. Particularly if the weak side beneficiaries can knock down the shot. If the iso player is an adept and willing passer and can draw a double, the offense buzzes. Further, if the iso can post in the block and draw the opposing Center to help on D, that obviously opens it up for our 5. While the Pnr may not thrive, the back door cut should also be available. This is very different from the point forward notion, which did not work too well IMO. I think the entry into Melo low can create numerous and varied opportunities on offense for our Boys. I see Novak, Chandler and JR as prime beneficiaries from this set. The problem I see is where Stat fits in offensively, unless of course he is playing the 5. Just an idea, but is it possible to have Amare down low on offense, more like a 5, but on defense, play the 4 and have Chandler down low. Perhaps just pulling Chandler out a bit on offense might allow the three to function together more effectively. I would love to see this attempted. Also, as always, nice write up Jim.

    The idea with Amar’e is to get him the ball on the move. We’ve seen Amar’e make that quick cut from the wing to the elbow…. When there’s only a 5 down there to try to stop him it should basically be an automatic good shot.

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