Looking At The Knicks Wins, By The Numbers

With the Knicks winning 3 of the last 4 games after an abysmal start, it’s a good idea to look at the numbers to understand why. So I’ve compiled the four factors of their last 3 victories.

PHO  96.4 102.7 48.1 17.6 23.1 32.5
NYK  99.7 126.3 56.8 12.0 35.2 18.9
NYK  91.8 124.2 64.7 13.1 17.5 16.7
ATL  91.0 117.5 47.8 6.6 31.6 23.3
NJN  93.3 103.9 53.1 15.0 15.6 15.0
NYK  92.0 115.2 50.6 17.4 33.3 36.4

In 2 of the games New York bested their current defensive efficiency of 111.1. But the points allowed per possession in these games aren’t particularly good. Additionally against Atlanta, New York played far below their average.

On the other hand in every game the offense has as good or better than the league’s best rating (115.3). In the Phoenix and Atlanta games the team shot exceptionally well (56.8% & 64.7% eFG%). Turnovers were slightly better in those two games as well. However against the Nets, New York was beaten in shooting and turnovers. Instead they rebounded extremely well and camped out at the free throw line against the Nets.

So what has lifted the New York offense? Chris Duhon had one good shooting game (25 points on 16 shots) but compiled only 12 points on 20 shots in the other two games. Meanwhile Chandler has one good game (14 points on 11 shots against the Suns), one average game (18 points on 17 shots against Atlanta) and one sub par game (6 points on 7 shots against New Jersey). So it appears that neither of these players, who have been hurting the offense all year, have become more consistent performers.

Instead the Knicks offense seems to be fueled by 3 players. In these wins they’ve gotten good scoring from David Lee (66 pts on 40 shots), Al Harrington (75 pts on 49 shots) and Larry Hughes (52 points on 33 shots). To a lesser extent you can add Danilo Gallinari to the list. Gallo missed the middle game, but still punched in a healthy 38 points on just 25 shots in limited minutes.

So what does this ultimately mean? First it helps when the defense is contributing. The team has done a good job of limiting opposing shooting percentage, which was one of D’Antoni’s goals at the beginning of the season. But it’s important to recognize that this roster won’t ever produce good results on that end of the court. I guess the Knicks just need not to play horribly on defense to have a chance.

The next thing I might assume is that it also helps when the Knicks get production from Duhon and/or Chandler. Each of them had one good game, and seeing that they play the most minutes, New York needs to get something from them other than a goose egg.

Lastly Lee, Harrington and Hughes have stepped it up. Lee has increased his scoring volume, Harrington his efficiency, and Hughes is playing his best basketball in years. However it’s unclear whether this trio can keep this level of play up. Although I’d expect Lee to contribute with his efficiency, I’m not sure if he can give the team 22 points every night. And conversely for Harrington, it’s not likely that he’ll average 3 points for every 2 shots he takes. As for Hughes, he’s clearly playing some of his best basketball now, and odds are it won’t last.

With D’Antoni shortening the rotation to these players plus Jared Jeffries and the occasional Toney Douglas sighting it’s unlikely that the Knicks are going to get a lot of production outside of this sextet. For the team to proceed with their winning ways, they’ll need these players to continue with their higher level of play. Only time will tell if this effort is sustainable.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

106 thoughts to “Looking At The Knicks Wins, By The Numbers”

  1. You know, the other factor is the synergy of these three guys playing well together. I’m on Blackberry waiting for a train, so I can’t provide detail to back this up. But if both your forwards are playing strong offense, and you sg is a genuine penetration and outside threat, it’s ridiculously tough to defend.
    It’s also not a bad dynamic to have a guy on the court whose entire focus is on D (JJ), while having a decent pair of defensive guards(Duhon, Hughes). And there are two guys (JJ and Duhon) who don’t take too many shots.Harrington takes a lot of shots, but Lee forages well. And Hughes not only is distributing well, but he’s scoring everywhere and unlike many knicks he’s getting to the line a lot.
    Having Gallinari shooting well, but the knicks not too dependent on him, is good for his confidence and development. Chandler is troubling to me. I’m not sure he’s very good for the team.
    D’Antoni’s ideology is that defense needs to be just good enough because his teams will score in bunches.
    The other factor that could be affecting the big three is that there appears to be far more continuity with this lineup. Not having Nate chuck 15 shots in addition to your three other scorers is huge, and, frankly, right now, Hughes’ game has more dimensions than Nate’s.
    I agree with Mike that it’s not clear that this kind of play will continue, but that’s all the more reason not to mess with this dynamic.
    There maybe something to the fact that these guys are enjoying playing together. And it may have dawned on all three of them that they’re playing for their next big contract.

  2. I have read the Wiz is trying to move Mike James’ expiring contract.
    He makes exactly what Jared Jeffries is making, but the trade won’t work on the Wiz’s end.
    So how could this work?
    It would seem to be worth doing.

  3. Of course the dynamic that exists will change because Curry is coming back and the Knicks need to showcase him…

  4. I mostly agree with Frank O. The shortened rotation and continuity has helped a lot. It’s shocking how different Hughes is from his 1 for 19 preseason.
    I also have to give a lot of props to the Muppet man, Big Al. Points in the paint are expected, but his current % is Boozer-esque. I can’t imagine he’ll keep rebounding this way, but his new found assists are very encouraging. Passing would go a long way towards making him MUCH more of a complete player. And his defense is steadily average.
    I feel bad for Nate, but this line up does appear to be working.
    I wonder how we’re going to work fat Eddy back into the scheme of things? He’s a must-play since we’re trying to unload him, but decreased minutes for Lee/Harrington could make them less effective.
    Chandler is becoming a problem. Maybe Douglas/Gallo will start eating into his minutes at the 2 and 3 respectively?

  5. I was thinking that with Curry returning, Lee and Harrington would keep their minutes up by eating into Chandler minutes.

  6. There are reports that DJ Augustin is in Larry Brown’s doghouse. He’s now buried behind Flip Murray on the depth chart. Is there a way to swing a deal for him? Larry Brown is kind of crazy after all. I know Augustin’s having a bad year, but then again, he’s a second-year point guard playing under Larry Brown. I remember reading tons on how Augustin tries to emulate Nash, and he showed some solid potential last year. I also just noticed he was an awful finisher last year, so maybe we don’t want to see more bricked layups from the one spot.

  7. BTW, i know this is off topic, but have you guys heard about the Sports Analytics Conference being held by the MIT Sloan School in Boston next year. It is March 6th and because I will be in town that weekend anyway, I was thinking about going. One problem, for non-students (MIT or other) is costs about $200. Although its pricey, i am seriously considering it. What do you guys think, worth it?..maybe we can get a thread devoted to this topic (Mike K?)

    Here is the link.


  8. That’s dumb, Sandy, true, but these things have always been opened up to any semi-celebrity who has an interest in them.

    Not just basketball statistics, any niche field – if a semi-celebrity shows a modicum of interest, they will fall over themselves giving them a prime spot at their conventions.

  9. re: Conference
    Not going to put a thread on it. I’d love to go, but I don’t think I have enough time to take out of my personal life to make it. I’ve heard very good things about it, however. One year I’ll make it there.

  10. cool. i agree with everyone else that shortening the rotation has done wonders for the knicks as well as the renaissance of a. harrington and l. hughes. i hope d’antoni keeps the lines of communication open with nate because i am sure, whether do to injury or lethargy, nate’s services will be needed later this year. if we are winning, i am fine with this, but permanently burying nate in the doghouse without any promise of minutes (if Nate works hard and keeps his mouth shut) would be unfair to the kid. im hoping d’antoni doesn’t go that route and handles this with more tact than was shown with marbury. i’m sure he will, but something to keep in mind.

  11. I don’t know…this is just wrong…

    From AP:

    “The Bucks played Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” as LeBron James and the Cavaliers were introduced before Sunday’s game.

    “This was an apparent jab at the franchise because James can opt out of his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent.”

  12. Great analysis, Mike. Very interesting to see the offensive rebounding effort. The Knicks were at the bottom of the league there early on, and not giving up the offensive rebounds might have been the biggest adjustment D’Antoni has made. The one consistent throughout the three wins.

    Jeffries has also been a contributor, certainly a whole lot more than usual. He had the best +/- on the team in both the Phoenix and New Jersey games, which may be noise but he was guarding Nash and put in solid efforts in both games. Over the three games he has 19 points on 9 FGAs (15.5 possessions… for a 61.3 TS%). He had 4 TOs against NJN, but in the 2 big wins didn’t turn it over once (which is huge for JJ). Not as important as the 3 guys Mike points out, but you really have to wonder if Jeffries can sustain this effort too.

    I agree Hughes effort is unlikely to last. He’s been giving a well rounded effort all season, but he’s just not a good shooter (2 of 8 outside the paint in the Nets game, for example). Harrington and Lee are two of the Knicks best scorers (along with Gallo and Nate and maybe Curry if you want to go there and maybe Douglas and Hill, too), so that’s somewhat sustainable although, as Mike says, not at quite this rate.

  13. “not giving up the offensive rebounds might have been the biggest adjustment D’Antoni has made.”

    I mean not giving up ON the offensive glass.


    If there’s anyway I can get to Boston on those dates, I would go. $200 doesn’t seem that bad. I mean, 200 bucks is an expense you have to consider, but the event could be very cool. For me getting to and staying in Boston are the bigger potential deal breakers.


    I like Augustin alright. You have to wonder if he’s in LB’s doghouse because of attitude, or simply because he’s played Chris Duhon level terrible this season… The fact that he’s following up a promising rookie year with this effort definitely raises the question of whether he just took the offseason off. I would send Wilson Chandler for Augustin, but might be more inclined to just ditch Chandler’s salary if there’s any chance that could make a difference this offseason.

  14. Yeah, I’d trade Chandler for him. I’m just thinking about PG possibilities moving forward. You know, ones that don’t involve going back in time and drafting someone instead of Jordan Hill.

  15. cwod,

    I think it’s a good thought. Augustin looked very promising as a rookie, as a scorer at least. Don’t know what’s going on this season.

    Frank O.,

    I agree with a lot of your points.

    I don’t know if that’s D’Antoni’s ideology or not. He seemed pretty adamant that the team needs to play good defense when he benched Nate. The Hawks and Nets were both well above their season OffEff against the Knicks, so the defense was obviously good enough but I think it’s fair to say the offense is winning games. (Besides Phoenix, which was just a butt kicking.)

    Having 3 high usage guys and 2 low usage guys is good when the high usage guys are scoring efficiently and great when everyone is. The big thing I take away from Mike’s piece, though, is that there’s no way those 3 continue at the efficiency they’ve had in the 3 wins. Harrington has a TS% of 67, Hughes of 60, and Lee of 73 in those three wins. Jeffries is chipping in a TS% of 61. When Hughes has a 1-9 night and Lee is getting defended by a really tough defender and Harrington’s scoring in starts-and-fits and Chandler is 0-18 and Duhon is drunk on the court and Curry is eating donuts… it would be nice to plug Nate in and get some efficient points.

    “Not having Nate chuck 15 shots in addition to your three other scorers is huge”

    Against the Nets Duhon took 12 shots (13 possessions used) and scored a grand total of 7 points (TS% of 27). If Nate has used those same possessions you would expect twice as many points, so yeah… that’s pretty huge.

  16. rule of thumb. not enamored with guards under 6 ft tall. obvious exceptions include chris paul who straddles the 6 ft boundary but real small guards typically have a tough time finishing around the rim and also shooting over larger defenders. they also end up being a defensive liability. being larger doesn’t guarantee you can finish (see Chris Duhon, percentage of shots blocked), but it gives you defensive versatility.

  17. is there any way to check the number of passes per offensive possession? NY has been moving better (although still not enough) in the halfcourt, and I wonder if this is reflected in the numbers this past week.

  18. I think that as a rule of thumb that’s fine. However, there are plenty of good guards in the league under 6’0″, now more than ever with the hand-check rules and general NBA preference for offense over physical play. It’s not that Augustin is going to save the Knicks, but if the Cats are willing to give up on him at some point this season or offseason he might be someone for the Knicks to look at. A potential impact rotation player acquired on the cheap.

    It’s also important to note that a player’s listed height may have little to do with his actual height. Pre-draft measurements are not infallible (Ty Lawson somehow grew 0.5 inches but lost wingspan between his two measurements two different years), but they are at least based on what a tape measure says rather than simply what a player or team says: http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-pre-draft-measurements/?page=&year=All&sort2=DESC&draft=0&pos=0&sort=

    Paul, TJ Ford, Jameer Nelson, Aaron Brooks, Ty Lawson, Jonny Flynn, Nate Robinson, Eddie House, Raymond Felton, Bobby Brown, … all under 6’0″, all contributors to varying extents.
    (Plus Speedy Claxton, Lester Hudson, Travis Diener, and Patty Mills… under 6’0″, not contributors.)
    All those guys measured under 6’0″ w/out shoes at the combine. However, a lot of their heights are misrepresented today. For example, Lester Hudson is listed on ESPN.com at 6’3″… he was 5’11.75″ before the draft…
    Other guards under 6’1″ in the NBA right now include: Earl Watson, Chris Duhon, Allen Iverson, Anthony Carter, Jeff Teague, Darren Collison, Jannero Pargo, AJ Price, CJ Watson, Chris Quinn, Jamaal Tinsley, Mo Williams, Ronnie Price, Mike Taylor, and Jordan Farmar.
    Toney Douglas measured 6’1″ flat without shoes. As did Steve Nash, Stephon Marbury, and Ben Gordon.

    Besides just height a player’s wingspan and frame also have a big impact on their game. Raymond Felton, for example, has a standing reach of 8’2″. In comparison, Jodie Meeks is 3.5 inches taller with the same standing reach. This has got to help Felton’s defense to some extent. Getting bogged down in a player’s wingspan can be as useless as pure height, but sometimes when you’re looking at a barrel chested 6’7″ PF with the wingspan of someone 7’2″ it can be important.

  19. great points. i realize my post was a probably a little quick and lacking in substantial backing, especially considering the change in the defensive rules which favor quick point guards. there are plenty of small points contributing big minutes on teams and reach is almost as important as height for sure. i am surprised all of those players are under 6’1″. a better rule of thumb may be looking at how a players finishes at the rim, his wingspan, his speed and taking a less of a look at height. i used height because typically players of smaller stature are limited in these other areas as well and are taken because they have had significant success in college (where everybody is collectively a few inches shorter).

    thanks for knocking me down a peg, Ted ;)

  20. Another problem with pre-draft measurements is that some guys grow once they’re in the NBA. Especially a prep-to-pro or one-and-done guy. (Or maybe anyone taking HGH or something.) I don’t think that 25 year old Lester Hudson great over 3 inches since the 2008 draft (when he was measured), though.

  21. Then again, Hudson has a huge wingspan and reach… so in a way it’s fair to say he’s taller than he is. Still inaccurate, though. Someone had a functional height metric, can’t remember who it was though.

    One sub-six footer I omitted is Mike Conley Jr. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Tony Parker were actually about 6’0″, too, but he’s not on draftexpress’ player measurements (presumably, like a lot of Euro prospects, he was never measured at the pre-draft activities).

  22. “I agree Hughes effort is unlikely to last. He’s been giving a well rounded effort all season, but he’s just not a good shooter (2 of 8 outside the paint in the Nets game, for example). ”

    Hughes is definitely an erratic shooter, but one aspect of his game I’ve been pleasantly surprised with is his passing. I would venture to say he’s the best passer on the team right now (although Al is making a run with his mind blowing 5 assists against the Nets-could that be a career high?) Maybe Duhon’s better on the pick and roll, but Hughes makes some really clever and creative passes. Let’s hope that aspect of his game (and his solid D) are not erratic like his shootingl.

  23. Your points about finishing do apply to Augustin, Sandy. Augustin is not a good finisher. I envision him maybe becoming a Mo Williams type if last season was more an indication of what he’s about than this season (Williams has developed into an efficient finisher, but is primarily a jump shooter). Extremely wishful thinking (and I don’t advocate making personnel decisions with this in mind unless/until it actually happens), but is Augustin is a Mo Williams type then he might fit in nicely with the Knicks’ #1 FA target… Between he and Douglas you might be 2/3 of the way towards a strong backcourt for LeBron. Add a solid SG with some size maybe (or play LeBron at the 2 and add a 3/play Danilo there).

    “a better rule of thumb may be looking at how a players finishes at the rim, his wingspan, his speed and taking a less of a look at height.”

    Yeah, I think it’s the total package. Height is a decent (and very commonly used) proxy to boil it down to one thing, but you lose a whole lot. Sort of comparable to FG%. This is what makes scouting and personnel decisions so difficult of course…


    Agreed. His passing has been good. He may be better off as one of the two low-usage guys in Frank’s 3/2 usage line-up, with Gallo and/or Nate as high usage guys with Lee and Harrington. If Duhon continues to have 2-12 nights… Hughes should probably be the primary PG. If he’s smart about it he can then vary his usage according to whether his shots are falling.

  24. I see no reason Hughes cannot keep up his current averages for the whole season. His numbers are all within the averages for his career and I think Hughes is very much playing within himself and I see no reason to believe that it cannot continue. The only thing that jumps out is his passing but I believe it is due to his role more than a streak of good games.

    The thing I like about Hughes this year is the fact that he is not dominating the ball and not overshooting. He is only taking 11.6 shots per 36, the lowest of his career. Of all the Knicks only Duhon, Darko and Jeffries average less shots per 36. He is not a terribly efficient player and the fact that he is out there playing defense and passing the ball instead of jacking up shots makes him effective. He seems to really understand and embrace his role this year.

    I still believe that Duhon will start to play better, his career 3pt% is 35.8% and his career TS% is 52.2% The fact that he is shooting almost 10% worse than his career in both categories and is not coming off injury or getting old makes me think he will return to the mean.

    As for Lee his increased usage does not seem due to a hot streak or good matchups but more just due to him developing a few more weapons and being more agressive offensively. I would not be surprised if he finishes the year averaging close to 20 per 36 with his normal high TS%.

    Harrington should regress a little because he is streaky but the last three years his TS% has been better than 54% so his 57% this year seems not too far out of bounds. He is being more agressive going to the basket this year which I like and his three point shot, which is normally good (last three years over 36%) has been coming back. He also has seemed like less of a black hole starting as opposed to coming off the bench.

    Gallinari will hopefully start getting more shots and minutes and will hopefully replace Chandler in the starting lineup.

    I think the whole Nate thing is a little blown out of proportion. Douglas is filling his role nicely (similar scoring, better defense, worse passing and rebounding), and I can see D’Antoni’s reluctance to shutting Duhon down. Duhon is struggling but should regain his form. I like Nate but we only have room for one short guard off the bench and I can see why D’Antoni is going with Douglas.

    The only concerns I have are Jeffries and Chandler. We can have one of them playing good defense and scoring poorly but when both of them are on the court and any one of the other three are having a bad game the offense grinds to a halt. Jeffries is actually preferable to Chandler because he is a better defender, rebounder and passer and while terrible on offense at least he knows it and shoots much less (5.0 shots per 36 as opposed to 13.5). They should never play together and should fill the same role, with Jeffries starting and Chandler backing him up.

    I look at our team and I think we have the talent to be an above average offense so if we can manage a little better defensivly while continuing to score well this team should be competitive most nights.

  25. I meant to say that Hughes all-around effort has been good all season, but it is unlikely that his scoring efficiency from the 3 wins will last (not his effort, as I originally wrote… I meant scoring effort). His season TS% is .512, which I think he can continue (not a good thing). In the past 3 wins his TS% has been 60%. His career high is .523, and he’s been over 50% only 4 of 11 seasons (one of those 4 being a 36 games season where he was at .504).

    Basically agree with your assessment.

    “He [Hughes] seems to really understand and embrace his role this year.”

    Agreed. He responded to being benched well. I guess that’s what D’Antoni is hoping for from Nate, too.

    “I still believe that Duhon will start to play better”

    I agree, but the question is when… Maybe we’re already there and The Hangover (aka his abysmal performance against the Nets) was an aberration that will only be repeated on early weekend games where he hasn’t recovered from the previous night (I’m being harsh, but the irony of suspending someone for behavior when the team captain and minutes leader is widely suspected of alcohol abuse and an unprofessional lifestyle is just too great). The Knicks may (total speculation) have won 2 or 3 more games and currently be in 7th place or something in the East if Duhon hadn’t played all season. Then again, some people would argue that they need his “distributing ability” and “defense” and would have won less games. The Atlanta and NO wins are the only one where he really beasted, but if you gave Nate and/or Douglas all Duhon’s minutes you have to figure they’d have exploded in far more than 2 game and not been as miserable in most of the others.

    My stance all along has been that in the long-run the Knicks might be best off with Duhon at PG. (I would have seriously considered Nate as a better option as early as second half of last season… but at the time they were playing a lot together.) So far this season, I don’t think they have been any better off than if they benched Duhon or just cut him. Seeing how little faith D’Antoni has in some players, why not sit down Duhon in one of the first 21 games? Give him a day off and see if he couldn’t get it together… of course, a day-off to Duhon might mean an excuse for a bender. Anyway, I’m hoping he’s busted out of it already with a few good games lately.

    WoW predicted how many games the Sixers would win by switching from Iverson to Miller. Wonder how Berri ranks Duhon’s play this season and how many more/less games he predicts the Knicks would win by switching to Robinson.

    “As for Lee his increased usage does not seem due to a hot streak or good matchups but more just due to him developing a few more weapons and being more agressive offensively. I would not be surprised if he finishes the year averaging close to 20 per 36 with his normal high TS%.”

    Me either, but 73% TS%? 67% for Harrington? 60 for Hughes and 61 for Jeffries? There may be another time in the season where all of those guys do that in 3 of 4 games, but clearly it’s not sustainable. My point was just that those 4 are not going to be as hot as they were in those three wins every night (especially not all at once). All are about 10 percentage points above what you would reasonably expect in the long-run.

    “I look at our team and I think we have the talent to be an above average offense so if we can manage a little better defensivly while continuing to score well this team should be competitive most nights.”

    I agree 100% that this can and should be an above average offensive team. I don’t think they have to play much better defensively, though. I think they need to continue playing well offensively. Of course playing better D would be great, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect them to be a top 20 defense unless another bigman gets serious minutes or they make a trade. They can make the playoffs if their O is 10-15 and their D is 20-25.

  26. Ted
    If the discussion is that nate should replace duhon, i’ve already said i thought nate at point might help him and the team.
    But no one is talking about nate in place of duhon in this particular thread. And d’antoni obviously isn’t giving the point to nate. He’s not even letting him play.
    So my comment about nate was that his playing time and shots would come at the dimunition of minutes for hughes, and reduce the number of shots by lee and harrington and hughes who are playing exceptionally efficiently.
    I like the current dynamic.

  27. Frank O.,

    Yes, I still think Nate could replace Duhon, or at least should have at some point earlier in the season.

    However, the exceptional efficiency has a 0% chance of lasting for long. Douglas has averaged all of 9 mpg over the 3 wins. On their careers Hughes and Duhon have TS%s of .489 and .522 respectively. On the season; .512 and .428. Duhon is a low-usage player and Hughes is best off as one (19 this season is still higher than I would like to see). Douglas has been impressive and I like him getting some minutes, but at this point I don’t think he can be counted on for 25-30 minutes a night on a consistent basis… I’ll have to see it first, anyway. Passing, spacing, offensive rebounding and other non-scoring considerations all play into a team’s offensive efficiency, but when 3/5 or 4/5 of the players on the floor (Duhon, Hughes, Jeffries and/or Chandler) are medium to low to very low efficiency players, can your offense really be efficient? Maybe if the other 2/5 are Shaq and Kobe or something. Realistically, I do not think you can hope to be efficient offensively when 1/2 your 8 man rotation are inefficient scorers. I do not believe the Knicks have any hope period of being efficient defensively. Maybe you can hide Duhon and Hughes in the backcourt offensively if your frontcourt is Gallo, Harrington, and Lee. Otherwise I think one at a time is enough. Robinson and/or Douglas getting more minutes and stepping up would make this offensive streak more sustainable. Robinson has consistently been an efficient threat both from outside and inside/off the dribble, and Douglas has shown the same in limited minutes.

    If Duhon can get back to the 57% TS% and 39% 3P player he was last season, this may be a mute point. His outside shooting and Hughes’ slashing might complement one another.

  28. That offensive foul call on Gallinari was such BS… He swatted away the hand-check. Too bad hand-checks are illegal.

  29. Good run for Douglas. Have to admit Lee’s jumpshot has improved greatly this season, although his post-up game is still non-exist (his only miss so far was on a post-up on Andre Miller) and he might be the worst help defender on the team.

    Lee’s passing is still excellent though.

  30. That Duhon hustle play was impressive.

    I was watching without sound for much of the 2nd quarter, but the Knicks were clearly outhustling PDX. I had forgotten what defense looks like!

    Also, looks like somebody in Portland has been reading my posts on Knickerblogger … a timeout to set up a play with 2 seconds to go before the half?? NICE.

  31. That’s the best 24 mins of basketball we’ve seen all season. The full court pressure by Gallo that lead to the Duhon steal was just cran-tastic. Color me impressed

  32. Does anyone think that throwing Nate into a trade (his cap number is small enough that the Base Year Comp thing shouldn’ matter too much) might be enough of a sweetener to make that Tyrus Thomas move people have been talking about? Or even better, some Jeffries-related move? I’m sure that stat heads around the league know that he was good last season and maybe we can get something for him.

    Also, is there a reason he can’t be traded? Trade Machine doesn’t allow it. Why?

  33. Who is this Knick team playing incredible team defense and hustling all over the court? Wha’ happened??

  34. I have to give it to the Knicks defense. They’ve been doing a great job. D’Antoni got a lot of long guys out there together and they were flying around. Roy is always a key for Portland, but probably more so without their coach and a few key injuries. If he can impose his will, they win. So far the Knicks haven’t been letting him do anything.

    I’m just going to give up the cynicism and jump on the bandwagon at this point…


    Yeah, I would be all for a Nate + Jeffries for expiring swap, and I think Walsh probably would be. I think it’s a reasonable possibility.
    Bulls might hesitate to deal a PG for a 5’7″ combo-guard, but maybe something that would work for both teams…
    He can’t be traded until Dec something because he re-signed this offseason. Use the realgm.com trade machine.

  35. Also Tastycakes, I have a related question to your excellent point about end-of-half time outs.

    When there are ten seconds left in a quarter and one team is holding the ball for the last shot, why don’t teams foul? Or at least play really aggressive defense?

    Let’s say the chances of scoring with 10 seconds left are 50%, when you throw in the chances of getting fouled or making a three, meaning that the average last second possession is worth an average of one point.

    If you foul a 75% foul shooter, they get an average 1.5 points. But you get the ball back. Let’s say the chance of scoring with 6 seconds left is lower than scoring with 10 seconds left, say 30% to be conservative. So your possession is worth 0.6 points.

    As I do the math, with scores by the other team being negative, -1 < -1.5 + .6.

    Why isn't this right?

    1.5 –

  36. I realize that the Blazers are entering into a state of clinical depression …

    But still, this is the best I’ve seen the Knicks play. It’s starting to feel less like a fluke that can be excused away and more like they are playing up to potential. Pretty satisfying!

  37. It’s just unbelievably sad that Portland picked Sam Bowie Part 2. Such a great city, so passionate about basketball, and so close to being legitimate contenders … but that Oden injury is just devastating.

  38. Man, really starting to feel like we have something to build on. And considering the cast of characters, a fair amount of credit has to go to D’Antoni, right?

    I kind of think D’Antoni took a page out of Phil Jackson’s playbook with this whole Nate situation. I don’t think the issue was Nate as much as everybody else – Duhon, Harrington, Hughes. I suspect that he used Nate’s antics (which are par for the course) as an opportunity to get the team’s attention and to get everyone else to play with more discipline.

  39. So sad, too. I read the guy was being carried off the floor and he just kept apologizing to his teammates, as if it is his fault that his knee cap broke.
    Gives you a sense of the pressure scrupulous people feel under the contracts they receive….
    Unlike fat James.

  40. Well at least you could say when was the last time the Knicks allowed the other team to score 12 straight points in the 4th quarter and still be leading by double digits.

  41. Bizarro Knicks: huge rejection by D Lee followed by Chandler muscling his way to the line.

  42. Wow… Chandler passed up a jumper and took it to hole. Drew a foul. Mike D’Antoni is a great coach!

  43. It is pretty funny that Chandler ended up at -16.

    Great win.

    I didn’t get home until 10 minutes ago, so I couldn’t make a thread. Sorry, fellas!

  44. Knicks 50 percent from 3 pt.
    but only 66 percent from the line.
    But six blocks, 8 steals, and 11 TOs

  45. TastyCakes —

    Your really excellent point about calling timeouts at the end of the half reminds me of a question I have about end of game strategy. Specifically, when a team is holding for a final shot, why don’t teams foul with some time left in the half? OR at least aggressively deny their best player the ball even if it means a high likelihood of fouling?

    Let’s say a team has a 50% chance of getting a bucket on a last second possession (worse than usual, but still pretty good given all the bailout foul calls and the possibility of getting more than 2 points.) So a last second possession is worth 1 point to a team.

    If you foul even a pretty good free throw shooter — say a 75% shooter — that’s worth 1.5 points to the team. But then you get the ball back. Unless you have a less than 25% chance of getting a bucket, it’s a good deal. If you foul before there are six or so seconds left, you’ll probably have a better than 1/4 chance of scoring, so it’s a good deal.

    What am I missing? Or are teams just thick?

  46. I think the reason coaches dont waste a timeout at the end of the 1st half is because they cant even move the ball to half-court like you can at the end of the 4th quarter.

  47. What makes this win extra satisfying is that Harrington was really off and other guys stepped up. We didn’t have to rely on Al going one on one for our offense. And it’s a totally overused expression, but Jeffries really does bring the intangibles, you watch him on defense, doubling, drawing charges, etc. and it makes all the difference in getting stops.

    How many of you guys were thinking when the Blazers cut it to 9 that the Knicks might blow this game and destroy all the good karma built up over the last week? That Gallo three was HUUUUGE.

  48. David Lee blocked a shot!
    David Lee blocked a shot!

    good win tonight, though I gotta be a debbie downer and say the refs were a little kind to us tonight. hughes again with some good decision making and we were able to weather an off night from a. harrington. Lee was solid. the defense was really, really good for the better part of the game. blocks, steals, forcing shots from the perimeter. really couldn’t believe my eyes. a few more of these games from jeffries and we can hopefully dump him off on the isiah thomas of the west, mike dunleavy. imo, chandler really has to start picking it up. he made some nice threes but he is playing such low i.q. bball out there. idk if the +/- is noise, but it speaks volumes tonight.

  49. “I’m just going to give up the cynicism and jump on the bandwagon at this point…” Ted Nelson

    It really is an alternate universe. :)

    So the Knicks are .500 over last 12 games, with five of the losses coming to the Celts, Lakers, Nuggets and Orlando twice. Their last 4 wins have come in convincing fashion. Harrington and Hughes are playing maybe some of the best ball of their careers. Chandler is going to the hoop more and shooting less. Duhon is coming around. Jeffries is the X-factor Isiah had hoped he would be. And all without Nate, Duhon, Curry, Hill, and Milicic. At some point, the coach has to get some credit from even his harshest critics.

    I heard an interview on the radio pre-game with assistant coach Atkinson, he talked about how the coaching staff uses advanced stats to come up with matchups, rotation players, and lineups specifically mentioning adjusted +/-. Mike K., you finally got through to them!

    Also heard Gus Johnson talk about a conversation he recently had with D’Antoni. Coach admits to getting caught up in the hype of the SSOL book. He said that he needed to slow the game down for the players that he has, and that he was initially too system-oriented.

    PS I don’t get all the Chandler hate around here. I have seen modest improvement in his game, particularly his decision-making, and he is still very, very young. Considering the excellent play of the team of late, it’s hard to criticize D’Antoni for sticking with him or Duhon and Jeffries for that matter. Or for benching Nate.

  50. If I had to pick a negative in the game, I would say Larry Hughes’ shot selection. His 4-8 from 3 is a big reason the Knicks won, but that’s not going to happen most nights. I would rather not see Larry Hughes have a line of 18 FGAs, 1 FTA, 1 ast, and 3 TOs. He went 1-on-1 a lot (or 1-on-2 or 3 when help came) and was even calling for the ball in the 4th. He was 2-8 in the 4th Q. Missed three long jumpers; although, he did try to get to the basket a little and just missed all his lay-ups (as I recall sometimes it was because he was going head down to the basket).
    I’m a little worried that this hot stretch has gone to his head and he’s convinced he’s MJ or something and needs to score a lot of points (which seems to happen to him pretty often). With a 3 game road trip and 4 winnable games coming up in te next 2 weeks I would rather see the high assist low FGA Hughes than the inevitable 1-18 clunker that will eventually come.
    Glad he picked up Harrington on an off-night (don’t know if you can really call it an off-night for Duhon and JJ since off is the status quo), but I’d like to see him get back to creating for others.

  51. The defense was as good as I’ve seen the Knicks in years, which made this the most satisfying win of the season I think. It didn’t feel flukey like one of those games where, say, Chris Duhon randomly drops 25 and 10.

  52. Who’s better – David Lee or Lamarcus Aldridge?

    One of those two players has a five year contract for a minimum of $65 million (maximum of $70 million if he hits all of his incentives).

  53. The win was great.

    I have to admit I kinda like Jeffries starting and Hughes coming off the bench. Jeffries, when he is playing with confidence, is a good defender and moves the ball on offense. He is a terrible scorer but barely shoots and as long as he is the only poor offensive player we can manage with him on the court. I would really like to see Gallinari start over Chandler though. I think if D’Antoni made that slight adjustment our rotation would be pretty good.

  54. I missed the game yal, but I just peeped at the box score and lemme say this: I am really impressed with D’Antoni’s coaching all of a sudden. I know a couple of weeks ago I was very down on his coaching. Obviously I’ve had a change of heart lol. Just lookin at the guys he puts on the floor, he is obviously focusing more on Defense-and it’s working. He somehow found a group of guys who were willing to compete on D and who don’t let their egos get in the way on offense. It’s the same group of guys he’s been playin all season, so he obviously got in these guys asses and told them to play right or sit…especially on defense. No more negative comments for me for the rest of the year, unless we do something inexcusable like being down 30 early to Sacramento or getting blown out by NJ or Minny…lol. Oh, and BC-to answer ur question..I’d love to have Aldridge in NY, but i’m happy with Lee. We jus need to find a center he can play next to. Besides, I don’t think Aldridge has the right frame of mind to play in NY. I remember reading an article about him in ESPN the magazine, and it sounded like those guys had to walk on eggshells around him. That said, I would think that Aldridge’s shotblocking gives him an edge over Lee, but he doesn’t rebound like Lee so that problee makes them even.

  55. Hmm…Good question Brian.

    Aldridge is a good PF. He reminds me a lot of his teammate Juwan Howard when he was in his prime, circa ’96. But he’s not an all-star and they overpaid.

    Lee is also a good PF, though he’s got a completely different skill set (and is playing center these days). He’s probably going to get 50-60 million dollar contract from someone this coming offseason and then he’ll be overpaid.

  56. Z-man,

    “And all without Nate, Duhon, Curry, Hill, and Milicic.”

    Interesting Freudian slip that you listed Duhon as one of the players the Knicks have been without through the last 12 games.

    “I don’t get all the Chandler hate around here.”

    I’ve never been very high on Chandler. 22 is not “very, very young” by NBA standards. I’m not even sure I would call it very young, probably just young. By your 3rd year in the NBA you’ve usually shown something on a consistent basis if you’re going to be any good. There are exceptions. Chandler has shown nothing consistently except mediocrity (he doesn’t turn it over, which is positive). If he gets it together he can be a solid rotation guy, but his ceiling is just not that high to get too excited about. He doesn’t do much well except take shots, not turn it over, and block shots (for a SF). Even if he can figure out how to make his shots at an average or slightly above average rate he’s not special. He’s overrated defensively, an average or even below average rebounder, and not a playmaker. I’d love to see him get it together, I just don’t expect too much.
    I feel like keeping him in the Knicks rotation is justified (since there aren’t too many options), but if at some point (probably not the point where Chandler is 6-12 from 3 with a TS% of 57 in this last 5 games and the Knicks have won 4 of 5) D’Antoni wants to try Landry for an extended run or let Nate or Hill or Douglas eat into WC’s minutes… I would have no problem with it. He is actually shooting slightly MORE FGAs per 36 over the past 5 games than his season average. He’s hitting his shots, though, and does seem to be getting to the basket more (1 more FTA/36… from 2 to 3). It’s just hard to believe it will last.

  57. I think tonite’s game is the very reason why Chandler has to be moved despite his “potential”. He may turn out to be a decent player..but not in this system. We won tonite, but we were a -16 with him on the floor. I think he needs a less wide open system. And he also should gain 10 more pounds of muscle and become an athletic 4, becuz he is not gonna be an effective wing for long stretches. Which is sad becuz although has his shortcomings, I don’t think he really is as bad as he’s played this season. But who else would want him?

  58. Yeah, the Aldridge vs. Lee question is a good one. Aldridge seems very overpaid, although a useful player. Will be interesting to see what Lee gets as a FA.

    I would lean towards Lee, even before considering money. Robert has a point that they have different skill sets and Aldridge seems to fit well with what Portland does. I would like to see him take less jumpers; although, last season Portland had THE BEST offense in the NBA and he was a big part of it.
    Defense is a big x-factor. Lee would look a lot better next to Oden and Przybilla than Harrington and Gallo… so a bit hard to say. Aldridge is longer and a better shot blocker.

    Career wise it’s a tough call. Lee’s low usage start brings up a bit of a quantity/quality point.

    This season:
    On the season Lee’s usage is higher, efficiency higher, assist rate higher, steal rate higher, block rate close, rebound rate higher. Only area where Aldridge smokes him is TOs.
    Lee has a respectable jumper now, which minimizes one of Aldridge’s former big advantages.

  59. The Knicks are looking good enough that I just bought tickets to four games over the next few months.

    I figured best to get them now before prices shoot up if they actually become good.

  60. It’s always like this:when I check the game result on Post or DN in the morning(09:00 am Central Europe) and there is no news about the game…the Knicks have surely won. At least Times is Knick’s friendly and reports good news instantly(and of course Newsday).

    It’s December madness(hope it lasts to may)!!!

  61. “I kind of think D’Antoni took a page out of Phil Jackson’s playbook with this whole Nate situation. I don’t think the issue was Nate as much as everybody else – Duhon, Harrington, Hughes. I suspect that he used Nate’s antics (which are par for the course) as an opportunity to get the team’s attention and to get everyone else to play with more discipline.”

    This is a really good point. These strategies sometimes work and sometimes don’t. It seems that now that they’ve accumulated some wins, D’Antoni has wrested some sense of control and power from the players. They know their minutes are at stake, but more importantly, they realize that they can be replaced and the team may be better off as a result. Were the knicks to have lost the last three games, D’Antoni would have lost much of his credibility.

  62. Let me say that I’m really enjoying this run. BUT I am unconvinced that we have turned a corner. I find it a little unsettling how reliant the team is on Larry Hughes’s shooting, because I’m not sure it’s sustainable. If his jump shot had not been falling I think you can take away the Nets win, the Hawks win, certainly the Pacers win weeks ago, and probably last night’s win! I confess that I didn’t follow his year with the Wiz or Cavs very closely so maybe someone can shed a light that he actually has always been a decent shooter.

    “The Knicks are looking good enough that I just bought tickets to four games over the next few months. I figured best to get them now before prices shoot up if they actually become good.”

    Brian! When an airline’s stock goes up $1.50 a share, you don’t buy!

  63. I don’t like Marc Berman’s articles very much, but here’s an interesting take on the Nate situation. http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/knicks/knicklehead_qwguEsDku1kKMjDJiP0WTN#postyourcomment
    I just hope D’Antoni can swallow that pill for a couple weeks and rebuild Nate so we can move him, if he’s that much of a problem. But I think what we need more than moving Nate is finding at least 10mpg for Hill so that he can grow at the same time as Douglas. Obviously, Douglas is hungrier and that’s why he’s recieving so much PT this early. I don’t think finding 10mpg for Hill would hurt, even when Curry comes back. We’ve kinda gor a reason for benching Nate, but whas up with benching Darko? I don’t think he was playing very bad when coach gave him minutes. Does he have an attitude prob as well?

  64. CYD 1) you have to treat any article whose entire premise is “a source” as not too reliable. especially in the Post. 2) On last night’s broadcast, Mike D talked about why he likes to keep such a short rotation; he doesn’t want his main guys looking over their shoulders, and he also likes the main guys to get in a rhythm. Those criteria must supersede what Hill and Darko could bring to a game.

  65. andy rooney says(to be read in his voice):
    “…i cant understand why people think its so absurd to suggest the Knicks will make the playoffs…clearly we are a good team for the first time in a long while. As far as I can tell we’re only going to get better…unless of course we trade away someone, like a Harrington, making 2010 one step closer to reality…funny how the past keeps creeping up on us !?!”

    “i’m andy rooney”

  66. Early Report Card?

    Duhon – Has been a below average starting PG his entire career, but he’s still the best PG we have right now. I assume D’Antoni has been patient with his very poor shooting because there are no injuries that might be impacting him. The assumption must be that this is just a short term random distribution of poor luck. It has been quite a bad one though. In his 25 point game you could see how knocking down his outside shot created a lot of extra space for the other players to operate in. If this team had a very good PG, I don’t think anyone would be complaining about D’Antoni’s brand of basketball or coaching.

    Chandler – A below average starter that doesn’t deserve as many minutes as he’s getting, but I find the fans’ impatience with him a little surprising given that he’s the same age as Hill and younger than Douglas. The primary qualities he displayed last year that generated some enthusiasm were above average athleticism and the ability to guard multiple positions. All reports suggest his ankle is still giving him trouble and limiting his athleticism on BOTH ends of the court. Despite that, he still often gets the most difficult defensive assignment of the evening. He guards players ranging from all-star PFs to all star-SGs. His offensive stats are slowly moving back to their 2008-2009 levels after his horrendous start. That may bode well for later in the season if he does regain his full explosiveness. His shot selection has clearly improved in the last few weeks and his number of 3 point attempts per game is down also. If he could learn to draw some fouls when he’s inside, it would improve his efficiency because he’s an excellent free throw shooter. I suspect D’Antoni is going to wait a few more weeks to see if he keeps regaining his athleticism and improving his shot selection before reducing his minutes. He’s either going to break out and develop into a solid starter later this year when he’s healthier or IMO he’ll be traded as part of a deal to fill a more pressing need.

    Robinson – I don’t get all the hoopla about his benching. I don’t think it has much to do with Nate’s playing ability and contribution to winning. I think it has to do with D’Antoni trying to change the culture of the Knicks. He wants a more serious, business like, and professional atmosphere. Nate is passionate, but he still allows his emotions to interfere with his decision making. If you recall, he was also called out by Duhon for fooling around in the pre game warm-ups before a big game earlier in the season. You can often find him dancing and joking on the bench. The Knicks are trying to create an atmosphere with the type of passion that Kevin Garnett brings to the Celtics. They want everyone to give 100% all the time and all the effort to be geared towards winning instead of personal achievement. They don’t want a class clown distracting from the singular goal. I don’t think there’s a stat that measures the impact of immature behavior, but I respect the coach’s goal and agree with it. There’s a time for fun, showboating, laughing, and ego, but when you are on the court it should be all business. That’s the way professionals go about winning championships.

    Gallo – Obviously a great 3 point shooter. I like the fact that he’s rebounding a little better, occasionally blocking a shot, and getting more aggressive in every way. Next up, he’s got become more active as a playmaker. He seems to have the passing skills and smarts to do so, but it’s not happening yet. This pick is looking better and better every week. There is elite all star potential here. God please let that back hold up!

    Harrington – I find Harrington very frustrating. He has the talent and skills to be an excellent offensive player, but he doesn’t have all the mental tools to do it consistently. I would be in favor of a trade for Tyrus Thomas because I’d like to take a look at a 23 year old with some upside that can rebound and block shots well. That’s two things the Knicks need more of. Harrington is out after this year anyway. So unless there’s a better trade out there, we might as well do that one. I really don’t care if it hurts our results this year when this season is really all about building towards 2010 and 2011 anyway.

    Hughes – I like Hughes more and more every day. He’s not an efficient or consistent scorer, but he does so many things well it’s hard to complain about him. He’s gone after this year.

    Lee – Lee remains a very efficient scorer and rebounder that has trouble on the defensive end. Good centers are too big and strong for him, good forwards are too quick and athletic for him, and he’s not a good help defender either. If they plan on keeping him, he’s going to have to be partnered with someone that can help on the defensive end. He’s the Knicks best player for now, but that’s mostly because the others have even bigger holes in their game than he does. The good news is that he keeps expanding his offensive arsenal. That has allowed him to effectively raise his usage and probably also made him more effective at the things he’s been doing well all along. He hasn’t peaked yet.

    Douglas – I like what I’ve seen so far. He’s been a pretty efficient scorer and played well on both ends of the court. At worst he’s going to be an excellent backup role player, but he could develop into more. I’m looking forward to the second half of the season when he may get more playing time and we’ll find out more about his potential to be the PG next year.

    Hill – I don’t dislike what I’ve seen so far, but the fact that he can’t break into the line up of a 7-15 team without much of a defensive presence is in itself a bit of an indictment. I hope he gets some time in the second half so we can at least start guessing about his potential. Passing on Lawson looks worse and worse every day, but at least passing on Jennings is looking more and more like passing on a different version of Iverson or Marbury.

    Jeffries – He’s pretty much useless on the offensive end, but he really is one of those rare guys that does little things that don’t show up in the box score. He does a good job of drawing offensive fouls, harassing PGs with his length, tipping balls, and other little things that have a very positive impact during the game. He doesn’t deserve the minutes he’s getting on the Knicks, but I think he could be a useful role player on a very good team that could absorb his lack of offense.

    Curry – I feel bad for him. He worked hard to get in good shape and deserves one more chance to salvage his career, as long as it’s not with the Knicks.

    Milicic – Europe is next.

  67. DS,

    Hughes has never been a consistently efficient scorer (even his career year in Washington his TS% was in the 520s). I guess you just have to hope that enough guys are making their shots on a given night to make up for the occasional off night from Hughes or Harrington and the consistent off nights from Duhon this season. Also, you have to hope that Hughes and Harrington and Chandler and Nate don’t fall into the Jamal Crawford habit of exaggerating a bad night by shooting as many bad shots as they can… At this point the Knicks have enough offensive options to spread the ball around and find the hot hand.


    Darko was playing poorly in the few minutes he got (http://www.82games.com/0910/0910NYK.HTM), and the Michael Jordan comment could be construed as a sign of an attitude problem.

    No idea if Berman is right or not. He uses a D’Antoni quote to support his argument, so it’s at least a plausible hypothesis. The one problem I have with the logic in the article, whether it’s D’Antoni’s or Berman’s, is that Dwight Howard was also “yukking it up.” Howard plays around a lot, but he gets it done on the court. Stan Van Gundy didn’t bench Howard for talking to Nate…
    It was good to see Nate congratulating his teammates and being the #1 cheerleader during last night’s game. A sign that he’s taking the sanctions the right way.

    I would also like to see Hill get some minutes. He’s raw, but it would be nice to see him play more when the game actually counts.

  68. Brian! When an airline’s stock goes up $1.50 a share, you don’t buy!

    I just find it hard to believe that Knick tickets will ever be $6 a ticket from here on out!

    Heck, while I was buying mine, other cheap tickets began disappearing.

  69. stratomatic,

    Good stuff.

    Duhon– I would disagree that he’s their best PG when he’s got a .426 TS%… As you said, when his shot is falling it changes the game and he plays with confidence. When his shot is not falling it hurts the team directly with misses and indirectly because the defense leaves him wide open and still stop him from penetrating by sagging off him… they already leave Jeffries wide open, so that’s two Knicks you can ignore offensively most nights. I appreciate that it’s a delicate situation: he’s the team leader/captain and you never know when he’s going to snap out of it (which he already has to some extent). I would definitely say it’s more than bad luck, though, and that there is some mental and/or physical explanation.

    Chandler– He’s young, but this is his 3rd year in the league and he’s shown very little. His only above average skills are taking (and mostly missing) shots, blocking shots well for a SF, and not turning it over. He took a big step forward from year 1 to 2: from bad to below average. He’s back to bad this season. It’s also a frustration with his infatuation with long jumpers. He takes 70% jump shots and hits about the same eFG% as David Lee (who doesn’t take 3 pointers and is widely criticized for not having a jumper).
    Despite his athleticism, I’m not sure WC has the skill to change his game in the way we’d like to see. He’s a 3rd year player and his handle is still noticeably terrible: he only goes in a straight line. He’s bad at finishing in the paint unless he’s dunking it. His outside shot has not become consistent. I feel his defense is overrated; although, he is the Knicks most physical defender. I still think he can become an average NBA player, but he’s really frustrating to watch. He plays to his weaknesses and away from his strengths so much of the time.

    Robinson– I think you’re right about changing the culture, and I for one have been making a bigger deal out of the benching than I probably should be. (Duhon didn’t call Nate out, but the team in general. It was assumed he was talking about Nate, which makes sense but I don’t think has been confirmed.)
    “They want everyone to give 100% all the time and all the effort to be geared towards winning instead of personal achievement.”
    This is why there’s such a heated debate on this topic. What does talking to Dwight Howard before a game or dancing on the bench have to do with personal achievement? I liked your start on Robinson, but then you get all preachy and lose me. The change in culture may be helping the Knicks (although all these wins can also be explained by luck if you so wish), but I find it unnecessary to attack Nate. Plenty of the best players in the league have fun during games (not necessarily on the court, but during breaks/before hand), I don’t think it’s a crime and in another situation his joking around might be exactly what the team chemistry needs (the Nick Swisher effect).

    Harrington– I see why he’s frustrating, but he has been a good offensive player consistently since coming to NY: his TS% is over 55% and his TO-rate only around 11%. He is largely a head-down, no conscience scorer, but he’s efficient.
    Ty Thomas is a decent, but not particularly good rebounder. His offensive production is almost entirely predicated upon dunks… http://www.82games.com/0809/08CHI14.HTM He would have to play the 5 in D’Antoni’s system, which might limit his defensive value. The Knicks are currently in the playoff hunt and the Bulls are desperate for offense (27th in the league), so the Knicks should get great value for Harrington… Ty Thomas will probably not be a Knicks next season, so a future 2nd rounder might end up being more valuable. I’m not totally against the deal, but I would push the Bulls hard to get everything possible.

    Hughes– The only reason I’ll start to complain is if he keeps shooting a lot once his shots stop falling. A couple of 1-18 nights and he’s back in my doghouse.

    Lee– I would disagree that good forwards are too quick for him. He’s far from a defensive stopper at the 4 and good scorers will get their’s against him, but he’s also not a big liability.

    Douglas– Agree.

    Hill– He’s done a good job with the minutes he’s had. He’s looked raw at times, too, though. Agree that we need to see more of him to tell.

    Jeffries– Yeah, absorbing the lack of offense is a key. If you’ve got 4 scorers out there with him he’s free to roam for offensive rebounds, cut to the basket occasionally, and even take the occasional (wide open) spot up 3.

    Curry– If he comes close to earning it he deserves a chance to salvage his career with the Knicks, so that they might have some chance of trading him.

  70. good job stratomatic and Ted. I have a question to Ted or really at large. I’ve seen it a lot as far as Duhon or Jeffries not having to be guarded being xconsidered a negative. Danilo opened things up (in Mikes sorely missed video breakdowns). But when this came up re: Lee or Curry the idea that a players aptitude or lack thereof would impact the rest of the offense was hissed down. Is there a fine distinction between the two camps, like Curry is a dunderhead who cannot pass while Gallo isn’t, or Lee is not completely inept wheras JJ and Duhon (until recently) are. It ssems ironic to see the shift (and no I do not play pool or bet on horses) :).

  71. Nick – The thing is Lee has even at his worst been a good offensive player that you had to guard. If teams sagged off Lee to double he got lots of offensive rebounds and easy baskets by cutting. JJ and Duhon are not even close to as good at punishing teams for leaving them open. JJ can be okay if he stays closer to the rim and crashes the boards and Duhon is a threat when his threes are dropping but neither is nearly as good as Lee even when Lee was a lower usage player.

    Curry could possibly be a good player at opening up outside shooters if he was able to be more in control, wait for the double and pass out, make a move when the defense gives him space, etc. Unfortunatly Curry does not have a good feel for when the double is coming so he often gets surprised which forces him to be out of control and leads to turnovers; bad passes, traveling violations, charges. The game seems to move a little too fast for him. Danilo on the other hand is such a dangerous outside shooter that his mere presence pulls his defender to him opening up the floor.

  72. Yeah, basically what Ben R said. It’s an interesting point, but not completely comparable. Either you don’t leave Lee or he makes you pay (even early in his career… even though the Knicks might not have been able to incorporate that particularly effectively into their game plan at the time), but so far this season you’ve been able to keep only 1/2 an eye on both Duhon (except a couple of games) and Jeffries.

    Lee was never as low usage as Jeffries (10.6 this season) and since his rookie year always above where Duhon (14.1) is. Lee’s usage has been at 15 or higher since his rookie year. He’s always been a very efficient scorer overall (61% TS% on his career), while Jeffries has never been (47% on his career) and Duhon has only really been once (last season… also alright in 05/06). Lee is very good at moving without the ball and a very good finisher around the basket, which a lot of people take for granted but are both skills. This season (a small sample, I know) he’s taken 57% inside shots at an eFG% of 70%. Duhon has taken 24% inside shots at an eFG% of 41%. Plus Lee is a good offensive rebounder.

    Jeffries is a solid offensive rebounder and that’s a risk in leaving him open, when he’s not camped out at the 3 pt line. He’s also a decent-to-solid finisher. However, he’s taking only 5 FGAs/36 this season and one of those is a 3 pter… where he’s 3-14 on the season (he does manage to get to the line more per 36 than Wilson Chandler, which is a pretty sad statement for Chandler). Lee has always managed at least 1 FTA/36 more than Jeffries is averaging this season.

    Duhon mostly takes jumpers (2/3 his FGAs this season are 3PAs) and is a poor finisher. When teams dare him to shoot the 3, they still often have someone positioned to discourage him from driving. Duhon relies heavily on his outside shot, and has never finished below 35% on a season. Don’t know what’s going wrong with him. You have to figure it will correct itself, and he has hit 41% over the last 5 games (54.5% in 2 games and 27.3% in the other 3, which very well may be normal… I don’t know).

    Wilson Chandler and Larry Hughes are both guys you want to encourage to take 3PAs, too. Giving them enough rope to hang themselves most nights.

  73. no games til friday. If Walsh is gonna make a move, now’s a good time. Something better than Tyrus Thomas preferrably..

  74. I think Chandler has played better in recent games. While he does not draw fouls well, he is at least going to the basket more. He had two putbacks of his own misses yesterday by quick jumping, can’t do that off of a fadeaway. He still does not look very comfortable on the drive or the finish, but not to the point where I see no hope.

    My biggest problem with Chandler is his decision making. However, the team as a whole is making better decisions and that seems to be rubbing off on him. Clearly, D’Antoni has told him to not settle as often for the pull-up jumper, especially early in the clock.

    When the Knicks dumped Balkman, and before that Ariza, many people here were pining about how horrible it was to give up on these two so early. I suggested that Ariza was benefiting hugely from Kobe’s presence and if he was still on the lousy Knicks, he would never have developed like he did. Look at Ariza’s stats for the first 20 games this years compared to Chandler’s. I threw Balkman’s in for comparison, although they are so paltry it is almost not worth it.


    I think Chandler has the potential to be at least as good as Ariza offensively and not far from him defensively (less steals, more blocks and rebounds.) I am curious to find out whether the recent better play by Chandler is a blip or a trend. Same for Ariza, is this the best he can do in a primary role?

  75. Thanks for the feedback. Thats whats great about this board, you can get well reasoned input on ideas and questions.

  76. Z-man,

    You keep tooting your own horn about the Ariza thing. The problem is that Ariza played well offensively in Orlando in 06-07 on a bad offensive team (22nd) when Dwight Howard was a 21 year old first time All-Star. It doesn’t simply look like the “Kobe effect”…

    I would agree Ariza needs to take less shots, and is best as a medium-to-low usage guy. He’s relying too much on a mediocre jump shot (he was on fire in the playoffs and it has improved from a few seasons ago, but last season he was still 32% from behind the arc)… he needs to cut down from 68% jumpers to closer to 55% (where he was last season). Where he’s really struggling, though, is on his close shots. I think it’s something that will correct itself to some extent over time. He’s not a primary scorer, but neither is Chandler.

    Balkman’s played 55 minutes in 7 games… it’s the sample size that’s paltry. His stats from last season were good, and although they don’t play him Denver thought enough of him to resign him.

    It’s definitely possible that Chandler could become as good as or better than both Ariza and Balkman, especially offensively. Chandler is the best jump shooter of the 3 (or at least if you go by what he did last season… which I’m worrying a little is an abberation since rookie and this season are both poor), but by no means Reggie Miller or Steve Nash or Danilo. A big difference between Chandler and Ariza/Balkman comes down to shot selection (well, not Ariza this season). Those guys take a lower % jumpers and dunk the ball a lot (regardless of where they’re playing… in Houston Ariza is taking as many jumpers but still dunking twice as much). Chandler has gotten only 4% dunks both this season and last season. He took 74% jumpers last season and 70% this season. If he can keep taking it to the basket and finishing efficiently, I’m on board. He has been scoring efficiently the last 5 games. It’s just a question of whether it’s just been mental or a combo of mental and skill.

  77. The problem I have is that people got all hot and bothered about letting Ariza go (beyond simply making a bad value trade) when for all intents and purposes he and Chandler are the same player. My feeling has been all along that these three are basically similar…versatile but limited wings that top out at mid-level exception-type value but can thrive in certain roles on the right team; and that these types were a dime a dozen.

    This is not to say that Chandler is, or will be better than Ariza, only that Ariza would not have been a difference maker with the Knicks had he been kept, any more than Chandler is, and would be getting paid a lot more $ for virtually the same level of play. I think by bringing up Dwight Howard, you only underscore my point, since he was already a dominant force defensively and probably drew double teams in the paint offensively, freeing things up for Ariza like no Knick since that time could have done.

    It also isn’t as easy as it may sound to cut one’s jumper % when the drive isn’t there because attention to Kobe (or Dwight) isn’t opening up the floor.

  78. I think that they are similar, sure. Raw, young, athletic wings. There are a lot of guys who fit that discription, though, and they have varying levels of success. (All also drafted outside the top 20 by the Knicks, and Isiah specifically.)

    If this superstar effect exists it should be pretty easy to show on a consistent basis. I have not done the research to say whether it exists or not.

    Ariza took the ball to the basket as much in NY as anywhere. He wasn’t efficient overall as a 19 year old rookie (was as efficient close as Chandler last season), but his usage was 18 and he played 1400 minutes. He dunked the ball 15% of the time and tipped it 5%, while only taking 51% jumpers. Was Stephon Marbury distracting the defense?

    The biggest point I was trying to get at with Ariza is that he’s having a bad season, in part, because he’s shooting too much (16 FGAs/36 compared to 10.6 on his career and a career high of 10.7) and shooting too many jumpers. The Rockets have the #14 offense thus far, so it’s not like he’s playing on a terrible team. His role, though, is primarily at SG next to Battier. Last season almost all his minutes came at SF next to either Bryant or Vujacic. So, it’s somewhat natural for his to take a more jumper heavy role… the sort of thing that even though it hurts him individually might help the team to some extent if those 5 guys (Brooks, Ariza, Battier, Scola, and Hayes) are on the court together. This season, Ariza’s most offensively efficient 5-man unit comes with jump shooters Chase Budinger and David Andersen, which might not be a coincidence (and neither of those guys is Kobe; although, I would put Budinger down as almost a DeJuan Blair level draft blunder by the NBA collectively…). Ariza’s an efficient slasher with an ok jumper, and switching roles to a high-volume jump shooting 2 apparently hasn’t suited him. I don’t think that takes away from the success he had on two very different teams, one with a very good offense and the other with a very mediocre offense. It’s just about putting him in the right role, or maybe it’s even a Chris Duhon level slump (maybe the pressure of being a #1 scoring option is stressing him out?).

    The thing with Chander is what role will he play? He has not shown the ability to be a slasher to date. With that size and athleticism you’d assume he can, but that doesn’t mean he will. I know that Ariza can be efficient as a medium usage slasher with a passable perimeter game. I don’t know that Chandler can be a slasher, and I don’t know if his jumper can develop any consistency. I know that Ariza can have a positive impact on a good defensive team, while Chandler hasn’t had a positive impact on a bad defensive team.

    I don’t think Ariza would be any sort of a savior for the Knicks, but at this point I would rather have him than Chandler. The Knicks have enough jump shooters on this team right now that Ariza could stick to his strengths. Even though guys like Jamal, Steph, Tim Thomas his first go-round, and Zach weren’t good jump shooters, they took a lot of jumpers anyway (plus there were Frye and Nate) and there were a few decent enough passers (Marbury, Jamal, Nate…) so I think Ariza could have been a slasher on those team as well. Though they rarely (never?) moved the ball as well as the Knicks have been recently.
    Plus that trade was just ridiculous. A backcourt of Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury? Really? In the year 2005? It represents not just Ariza, but a string of trades that cost the Knicks a bunch of young players (Ariza, Frye, soon to be 3 lottery picks, some second rounders… even guys who never worked out like Sweetney and Lampe… did I miss anyone? McDyess was also shipped out but he wasn’t young and no way to know if he re-signs) for a bunch of overpaid, underperforming vets no one else wanted. So, as much as they’d like to have Ariza on the team, I think people are probably also lamenting Isiah’s habit of making great calls (Ariza, Matt Barnes, Ime Udoka, David Lee, Nate Robinson… whoever he might have picked #2 and #9) and then taking a grenade to them with ridiculous decisions a 5 year old would have known not to make.

  79. A little weird to comment on my own post, but here are some clarifications:

    “(was as efficient close as Chandler last season)”

    Close to the basket, that is.

    “So, it’s somewhat natural for his to take a more jumper heavy role… the sort of thing that even though it hurts him individually might help the team to some extent if those 5 guys (Brooks, Ariza, Battier, Scola, and Hayes) are on the court together.”

    Not to say he needs to take SO MANY shots, just a more jumper heavy load… maybe.

    “The thing with Chander is what role will he play? He has not shown the ability to be a slasher to date. With that size and athleticism you’d assume he can, but that doesn’t mean he will.”

    The thing that stands out to me is how awkward he looks taking lay-ups and just driving to the basket in general. Plus he’s terrible at drawing contact. He generally looks scared of contact when he approaches the basket. Not calling him a whimp, maybe he’s scared of losing the ball. He is very low TO, after all.

    “I don’t know that Chandler can be a slasher, and I don’t know if his jumper can develop any consistency.”

    His jumper was more consistent than Ariza’s last season, but not efficient enough for him to take 74% jump shoots (eFG% of .442).

  80. I thoroughly enjoyed the win vs. the depleted Blazers. I was hoping for a game thread on that one. Oh well.

    It will be interesting to see how/if Eddie is worked into the rotation when healthy. He is certainly capaple of adding another dimension to the Knicks offense and I’d like to see Lee moved to his more natural position at the 4.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Nate moved for a decent point but with him not playing, who’d trade for the little nut-case?

  81. Strat —

    Really nice analysis. I would love to see Lee paired with a center who can block shots and shoot 3s and do not much else. Like Memhet Okur or the way Frye is playing for the Suns this season. More than anything else, a D’Antoni offense needs a) a pg; b) an effective player on the pick and roll; c) shooters. Right now we have the roll guy (lee, who is really very good at this — less explosive by far than stoudamire but almost as effective, I think. Are there pick-and-roll only stats to bear this out, stat people?) and we have a shooter and secondary offensive guys in Gallinari/Harrington (although his usage is way too high, despite his recent good play). I’d love to see Robinson on the court as either one of the wing shooters or the pg, with hughes being the other. I’m hoping either Hill or, if gets any run, Darko can be a jump shooting big, more of a Kurt Thomas than Okur perhaps, but still solid.

    But we’re rounding into form. The thing to remember is that this team has a *lot* less talent than the other 8 seed contenders. D’Antoni has been doing a good job, as far as I’m concerned, given that there’s less talent on this roster than there is on the Nets (ask yourself — straight-up trade Lee and Gallo for Harris and Lopez. Who do you take?) nevermind the Bucks, Bulls etc.

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