Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Kurt Thomas, ’03 Knicks Rebounding Leader

I don’t know what I can say about Rasheed Wallace’s “foul” against Shaq late in game 2 that someone else hasn’t already said. So, instead I’ll talk about the Knicks. I think it’s been long enough.

According to Knicks Clicks (and the NY Daily News), Kurt Thomas may be traded. I’ve like Kurt since his early days as a Knick. Back then, I had a running argument/joke with a friend. I was the Kurt Thomas supporter, saying he should get more minutes, while he said Thomas’ fouled too often, and should head to the bench. I’m glad to have won that argument, since Kurt turned out some good production as the Knick starting PF/C the past few years. Let’s take a quick look at Kurt’s fouls over the years:

Year	Min/G	PF/G	PF/48
1998 23.6 3.2 6.5
1999 24.6 3.5 6.8
2000 27.6 3.7 6.4
2001 33.8 4.2 6.0
2002 31.8 4.2 6.3
2003 31.9 3.7 5.6

His fouls per game increased, but only because his minutes did as well. Kurt’s first three years he was committing 6.6 PF/48mins. In his last three, Kurt lowered his average to 6.0 PF/48. It’s not the biggest improvement, but to give you an idea, last year 6.6 PF/48 would rank you 12th in the league (Doleac), where 6.0 would put you about 23rd (Dalembert).

In the Daily News article, Kurt was quoted as saying:

I believe I led the team in blocked shots or was second (he was second to Dikembe Mutombo, 123-80). I think I led the team in rebounding (he did at 8.30 per game), so I think my numbers speak for themselves.

No disrespect Kurt, but that’s damning with faint praise. The Knicks’ these days aren’t known for their blocking or rebounding. Last year they were 19th in offensive rebounding% (28%), and 16th in blocked shots per game. Kurt Thomas got the most minutes per game last year at the PF/C positions, so shouldn’t he lead the team in those stats by default? That the 56 year old Dikembe Mutombo got more blocks than Kurt with 8 less minutes per game isn’t exactly a feather in Thomas’ hat. Neither is out producing Vin Baker (18Min/G), Othella Harrington (16 Min), or Michael Sweetney (12Min) by playing double their minutes.

In his defense, the Knicks were slightly better with Kurt on the court than they were with him off the court. His +/- was the 4th best on the team last season, and the team was +2 points (per 100poss) with him on the court instead of off. Of course this stat has many different interpretations. It’s possible that his replacements were bad, or the first team that Kurt normally plays were better than the second team that his replacements played with. Kurt has a reputation as a good man-to-man defender, but his opponents positional stats were a bit high for my taste. When he played, the opposing PF or C (depending on where Kurt played) had a PER of about 17/18. That’s a bit above average, and to give you an example, Kurt’s PER was somewhere around 14.

So here I am at a crossroads. Thomas was a favorite of mine since coming to the Knicks after his leg injuries, and he was a long shot to stay as the starter for this long. But now, his value to the team is questionable. He just doesn’t seem to fit their team mold anymore. Thomas worked well with Ewing and Camby along side him, since they provided the shot blocking and interior defense. If Isaiah can use Thomas to upgrade the team (the rumor this week is Shareef Abdur-Rahim) I would be happy with the deal.

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