Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Michael Sweetney: Big Mike’s Numbers and the Analysts Who Love Them

The foundation of the statistical analysis revolution in sports is the fact that subjective impressions are not sufficient measures of a player performance. Objective measurements, usually in the form of statistics, are needed to properly determine value. Using too much subjective impression will either overvalue or undervalue a player. By the basis of their objectivity, statistical analysts (statheads) are supposed to be immune to the rank subjective posturing that afflicts most general managers and sports writers. That statheads are impartial observers is itself a hypothesis, which like all scientific hypotheses must be tested against the evidence. For that end, let us consider the stathead commentary on our favorite misused Knick of the past three years, Michael Sweetney, a.k.a. Big Mike.

Just the very fact that I appropriately used the word “favorite” to describe Sweetney is telling in as much as it is accurate. First, take a great player like Lebron James. His talent is so obvious and properly reflected by the scorecard statistics that there is little in the way of evaluation a more advanced statistical analysis provides. On the other hand, Sweetney is widely viewed as a toad: short, fat, and slow. Therefore, statheads like you or me love Big Mike because it gives us a chance to prove our hypothesis: “Subjective impression is insufficient to gauge player worth, so we need objective measurements.” Big Mike validates our scientific enterprise because we “know” he’s a productive player, even if nobody else can see past his limitations.

In a sense too, we statheads are rooting for an underdog, seeing in Sweetney his inner prince .

Accordingly, statheads are willing to look past Sweetney’s warts: he is a poor open court player, draws too many fouls, and does not rotate well on defense. These are all real concerns in the current ecology of the NBA which favors quick perimeter players. But staheads still stare at his steadfastly efficient production as a scorer and rebounder and insist he has value.

Last season, while we were ruing the Knicks’ poor usage of Sweetney, not much was being said of the undervaluing of their best player, Stephon Marbury. That statheads would ignore Marbury’s Top-3 point guard PER (just a hair behind the league MVP Steve Nash) to complain that he “dominates the ball too much” is a curious case of selective judgement. Compare the two: Sweetney is a statistical monster, who upsets aesthetically, and Marbury is a statistical monster, who upset aesthetically. But statheads have been much more vocal in support of Sweetney than for Marbury.

The reason for this asymmetrical commentary is strictly subjective “liking” of a player (which admittedly was the motivation for why I wrote my first piece on Marbury). This author was outright flabbergasted at the subjective criticism levied against Stephon Marbury by statheads in the face of his outstanding statistical performance. As statheads we laugh at labeling a productive player like Sweetney as useless for being lumbering and oafish. However, we then turn around and bemoaned Marbury’s inability to improve teammate performance, even if we should know better. By our own advanced metric standards of Plus/Minus, Marbury made the Knicks 12 points better per 48 minutes, easily ranking him as a league leader in that category.

By our own standards, the criticism of Marbury’s cancerous effect on team play is completely unjustified.

An update on Sweetney’s performance demonstrates another limitation on statistics: They are for the most part reactive. They tell us what happened in the past, but even our informed opinions on the future are still educated guesses. Statheads expected Sweetney’s performance to steadily improve, thrusting him into the Top-10 Power Forward plateau. Unfortunately, much to our chagrin, he has regressed, now posting a PER as slightly below league average.

This PER depression is largely due to a dramatic plummet in TS%. Sweetney was a monster low-post scorer last season, but his Field-Goal percentage has sunk inversely to his weight. Sweetney’s foul rate was expected to decrease as he got older and saw more regular minutes, but that hasn’t happened either. One promising indicator is his turnover rate declined with increase usage, though that is tempered greatly by his lowered shooting efficiency. In all, we should take Sweetney’s unique player card and file it into our database in order to improve our models and hypothesis. The regression is especially alarming because Sweetney is short for a frontcourt player and those performers have historically had shorter (no pun intended) careers with quicker peaks. At this stage it might only be wishful thinking, and not statistical indication, to believe he will ever move into an elite tier of power forwards.

Statistical analysis does greatly improve the evaluation of player performance, but like any other science it must maintain its discipline to be both credible and effective. For that matter, we cannot only point fingers at the subjective media for filling their columns with mindless ruminations: we must also be vigilant in policing ourselves. There should be no rooting in the press-box, nor in the regression model.

Of course, we can in our own time take off our stat thinking hats too and place Sweetney’s framed player card atop our mantle, remembering fondly how on those horrifically bad Knicks teams sometimes the only entertainment was his periodic hip checking of seven footers out of the lane.

58 comments on “Michael Sweetney: Big Mike’s Numbers and the Analysts Who Love Them

  1. dave crockett

    One thing that seems almost impossible to account for statistically is whether (or how much) a player’s body type (other than height) compliments or hinders his production.

    Even ardent Sweetney supporters–I count myself among them–conceded that he had to keep his weight under control to be effective. At his height he couldn’t afford to lose any quickness or lift. Unfortunately, he hasn’t found a way to keep the weight under control.

    At the other end of the scale is Loren Woods, currently soaking up splinters at the end of the bench with the Raps (iirc). While at Arizona Woods had a superior skill set to Channing Frye’s; he did everything Channing does only with better ball handling, shot-blocking, and passing. He could never keep his weight above 205; just not big enough to play the 4 or 5 in the NBA.

  2. Brian Cronin

    I dunno, I see your point, but last year, I thought both Marbury AND Sweetney were getting bum raps.

    In addition, stuff like Hollinger’s stats just measure what players do, right? And it is then up to analysts to analyse the stats of what the player has done and then make predictions based on those numbers.

    Sometimes those predictions are accurate, sometimes they are not, but the numbers continue to accurately portray how good the player is.

    For instance, I think Sweets was a good player last year. Not amazing, but a very good, solid player. This year, he has been less so. In both cases, the stats back up the assertions.

    Where the fault lies is when we take his stats and extrapolate what will happen next. In Sweetney’s case (and, as Davy mentions, Loren Woods’ case), the extrapolations were off.

    However, those same extrapolations applied to, say, David Lee, when his PER was very good in 2-4 minutes a game, were correct as his PER stayed consistent even as he began getting 20+ minutes a game, and stayed consistent even as Brown decided to lower his minutes per game averages.

    So, basically, the stats are great – we just have to figure out how best to apply them, and that sometimes turns out to be more of an art than a science (like a person ordering items for a store – they base future orders based on past performance, but they have to draw upon many subjective elements to predict whether the past performance will continue).

  3. Kevin Pelton

    Whoa, slow down this train. I agree it’s important to police ourselves, and it looks at this point like we’ve missed on Sweetney. But …

    “That statheads would ignore Marbury?s Top-3 point guard PER (just a hair behind the league MVP Steve Nash) to complain that he ‘dominates the ball too much’ is a curious case of selective judgement.”

    Who said this?

    Hollinger in this year’s Pro Basketball Forecast:

    “Overall, it was unfortunate that his reputation kept Marbury off the All-Star team, because he was more deserving than several players who were there.”

    While Hollinger does say Marbury’s reputation isn’t “entirely undeserved,” the main public voice of the community, such as it is, certainly wasn’t that harsh on Marbury.

    Surely there are individual APBRmetricians who dislike Marbury, but to the extent that there is a group-wide line of thinking, I don’t think it is as anti-Marbury as you’re implying.

  4. Brian Cronin

    By the by, my brother got me ESPN Insider for my birthday, and since it comes with Hollinger’s individual player comments, I did not purchase his book this year (first time I have not gotten it).

    Are the team articles and the other articles still good enough that I should?

  5. Dave M

    Sweetney falls into category of a player who has been unable to decrease his fouls per minute. He needs good footwork to defend bigger players and avoid silly fouls but his conditioning level prevents it. His FG% plummeted because he was put in the starting line-up and against better players because he plays for the pitiful Bulls.
    He looks like at best an 8th man off the bench.

  6. JK47

    Dave M gets it exactly. Sweetney is good in limited minutes and in certain situations, but as a starting PF, he doesn’t cut it.

    We will regret trading the draft pick way more than we will regret trading Sweetney. Eddy Curry is a bad player, period. We have many years of Curry’s soft play to not look forward to.

  7. Gabe Farkas

    Um, Kevin, people in glass houses….

    (N.B. – I think the “bricks” analogy is especially appropriate here…)

  8. Nathan

    I think the problem with Sweetney on the Bulls might be – correct me if I’m wrong – that he is

    A. Guarding centers on defense
    and
    B.Drawing their best defender at the 4/5, since Chandler is a non-factor on offense.

    Besides that, his minutes are wildly inconsistent. While I agree that extrapolating stats tells you only part of the story, I don’t think this is necessarily the case with Sweetney. I think his lackluster performance thus far is more an indicator of ill-suited situation than talent (or lack thereof).

  9. Michael Zannettis

    In general, this article was written to the loyal Knicks fan base of statheads that reads this site, like me. Most of us were very vocal in admonishing Marbury’s aesthetics despite his stats, while paradoxically doing the opposite for Sweetney. (That’s why Hollinger’s opinion isn’t particularly germane and so was not included.)

    For very human reasons, there is indeed a phenomenon where fans, like me, become attached to our own players, propelling us to do things like randomly make the Larry Johnson ‘L’ sign at parties, which scare our friends.

    In this context, this article was intended to make sure that we don’t get carried away rooting for statistics, which makes us worse analysts. We should be able to evaluate Player X and Player Y, not “Starbury” and “Big Mike”.

    Ultimately, even if we were wrong about Sweetney, understanding why we were wrong may be more beneficial to us as analysts than if we were right about him in the first place.

    When I said include his player card in our stats box, it meant not that stats are stupid, but that we can understand them even better if we understand the cases that we get wrong, and why we were wrong.

    Sweetney’s next season will give us even more data to determine whether we were mistaken to insist he had starter talent or if it was just a poor situation that can kill a player’s production.

    Wouldn’t that be great knowing for sure, not just guessing, that we can’t just interchange rosters based on PER’s, but have to consider a whole team chemistry? It may be common knowledge, but you know how we statheads feel about common knowledge: Show me the numbers!

  10. Dave M

    Around the Horn on ESPN yesterday was saying that Knicks owner and others we meeting and that the result of the meeting will be Zeke will be fired. Anybody think there is any truth to this story?

  11. JK47

    You want to get depressed? Play the ESPN “Draft Lottery” game and realize that we essentially traded Mike Sweetney and LeMarcus Aldridge for Eddy “5 rebounds per game” Curry. Aldridge could be a monster NBA forward.

    And that’s not even counting the following year, when the Bulls will probably swap places with us and get our inevitable high lottery pick again. Of all Isiah’s moves, the Curry trade was the most disastrous.

  12. Seth

    we also eventually got Rose out of that trade. you’re completely right, but i’m just sayin..

  13. Campa

    When the Knicks get the first pick in the draft, the infamous Curry trade will become the defining moment of the Isiah Era. To trade an unprotected first round pick will be known as “to pull an Isiah”.

    JK47, you’re right: of all Isiah?s moves, the Curry trade was the most disastrous.

    And we are talking about the man who gave Jerome James a five-year deal.

  14. Brian Cronin

    I don’t think it’s fair to label this trade his worst move.

    The James move was a lot worse.

    Heck, this isn’t all that bad PERIOD. When the Knicks made the trade, no one in their right mind would have predicted that the Knicks would be in a very good position to get the number one overall selection in the NBA draft.

    Seriously, ANYone predict the Knicks as being one of the six worst teams in the NBA this year?

    Anyone?

    So if outside analysts didn’t think so, why would Isiah think so? He HAD to go in with the idea that, at worst, the pick given up would be a #7 or #8 pick, which he was quite willing to give up in such a weak draft.

    You can still dislike it WITH that in mind, as a #7 pick, Sweetney and the ability to swap picks could be too much to give up for Curry, but certainly not worse than signing Jerome James.

  15. Young T

    No way, the two worst moves were Nazr Mohammed for Malik Rose and Kurt Thomas for Q-Bitch. With those two veteran big men who can defend and rebound I’d say we would have been a playoff team this year.

  16. Young T

    Its pretty obvious to me, and even the hypercritical Charley Rosen, http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/5374340, that our main problem is the lack of defensive bigs. I think its no coincidence either that since Antonio Davis was traded that we’ve lost 22 of 23.

    Face it, Francis was a good trade, Curry was ok but Isiah didn’t have the foresight to protect the pick (don’t believe that Paxson thought the Knicks would be this bad), Marbury was a decent trade, Crawford can’t defend but an OK scorer off the bench.

    I think the real bad trades were the two Rose trades (both times losing defensive bigs), and as I said earlier trading away Kurt.

    I just can’t believe everyone overlooks these trades and points to the Francis and Curry trades as being the bad ones.

  17. mase

    Marbury and Crawford are both bad moves by Isiah because neither contract is tradable. Every trade by Isiah has been questionable or flat out bad. he should be fired and replaced.

  18. Dave M

    Zeke loves to tinker and without salary cap concerns he accumulates offense and personal stats guys who have never raised any team they have been with to a greater winning percentage. The fact we can rank so many trades and acquisitions as bad only reinforces we are screwed for years to come. We get Marbury and Frances and the Clippers get Cassell. We get Curry and the Clippers get Brand. I only mention the Clippers to torture myself more!

  19. JK47

    I still say the Curry trade was the worst, for many reasons.

    1. Curry is, was, and will always be a bad player. He doesn’t rebound, block shots or play good position defense. Plus he has health issues and a generally hangdog expression. He is a LOSER, plain and simple.

    2. Okay, maybe Isiah couldn’t have known we would be this bad. But, he’s supposed to be this draft genius. Surely he could have got something of value with the 7th or 8th pick. You’d think that he would at least get some protection if the pick was top three or number one overall. He did none of those things.

    3. Nobody in the NBA wanted Curry, so the Bulls had ZERO leverage. It’s not like he’s some superstar player. He was completely unwanted. Isiah was the only GM stupid enough to give up anything of value for Curry.

    4. We figure to be bad again in 2006-2007, so we will get to watch this nightmare play out for two years in a row. You think this trade is bad now? Wait until the Bulls get TWO overall #1 picks because of Isiah’s numbskullery.

    5. With his heart condition, Curry’s career could end pretty much any day.

    6. The Thomas and Mohammed trades were bad, but neither was a superstar player. There is a pretty decent chance that the player the Bulls eventually get with this year’s pick will be a superstar. Of course, we don’t know yet, but my guess is that Adam Morrison and LeMarcus Aldridge are going to be pretty sick NBA players. We really don’t know how bad the Curry trade is yet.

    I’m a Knicks fan and Mets fan. To me, the Curry trade is the equivalent of the Mets trading Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. Trading enormous upside for a known underachiever is a great formula for making a terrible trade.

  20. JK47

    Isiah’s Checklist

    Does he play defense?
    Does he play well without the ball?
    Does he pass well?
    Does he keep his turnover rate low?
    Is he a good teammate?
    Has he gone deep in the playoffs before?
    Does he have a reasonable contract?

    Before acquiring a player, Isiah makes sure that he can answer “no” to all of the above questions.

    In an article on ESPN today, Dolan said that the Knicks are bad, but that’s okay because they’re in “Year one of a three-to-four year plan.” Isiah was hired 2 1/2 years ago! Year one!?!!? What the hell is happening? There used to be a basketball team I liked to watch! James Dolan, you have taken basketball away from me!

  21. Kevin Pelton

    “To me, the Curry trade is the equivalent of the Mets trading Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano.”

    That’s funny, because earlier I came across this blog entry that made that comparison in Nov. 2004.

  22. Brian Cronin

    “Great piece from the Editor of The New Republic about the Knicks? mess: http://www.slate.com/id/2137214/?nav=tap3. ”

    Not a BAD article, Matthew, but, once again, the writer in question (Michael Crowley) just pulls one of those things I think I mentioned a week or so ago, where these sportswriters just can’t help but skew the facts to support their arguments, even when their arguments are sound with the facts as they actually exist!!

    To wit, in an attempt to paint the Pistons as the antithesis of the Knicks, Crowley calls the Pistons “humble.” Humble? Anyone here think that the Pistons are HUMBLE?

    “Keith Van Horn and Tim Thomas both hung around just long enough to confirm that, yes, they were as unimpressive as we’d feared they would be.”

    What was so bad about Van Horn? He sure seemed to be doing pretty well when they traded him, and the only reason they DID trade him was because it netted the Knicks both Tim Thomas AND Nazr Mohammed.

    “In Phoenix, Quentin Richardson was considered an underrated scorer; as a Knick he’s averaging eight points a game.”

    Who thought Quentin Richardson was an underrated scorer?

    “Eddy Curry would finally give the Knicks a post presence, right? Well, he’s averaging about six rebounds per game.”

    The only thing Curry IS doing is giving the Knicks a post presence, just only on offense.

    All of these are minor, but BECAUSE they are so minor, they are also easily avoided…so why does almost every sportswriter do it?

  23. Jason

    Don’t know where else to write this (sorry!), but is there something wrong with the Expected Wins computation in the stats?

    Somebody in the press has quoted this site for claiming that the Spurs had a 43-12 record but an expected win-loss of only 33-22. Today that number is 44-12 vs 32-24. Is that credible???

    Raw computation suggests the actual expected win-loss for the Spurs is 42-14, and for the Mavs it is 41-15.

  24. Les

    The Pistons are probably as humble as a team with the best record in the L, four All-Stars and two Finals trips in the last two years can be, Sheed notwithstanding. Remember how they kept saying that they didn’t care about breaking the 72-10 record, they just wanted homecourt in the playoffs? Even before they lost to Utah twice.

    KVH was being paid $13 million in 03-04 and that’s not what you pay a defensively-challenged small forward who doesn’t really provide anything else. Of course, Isiah traded for Jalen Rose.

    Q-Rich was averaging 17 as a Clipper and as the fourth/fifth option on offense in Phoenix last year, he was averaging 14. Considering the Knicks traded Kurt Thomas for him, you would hope that he could at the very least put up some numbers, since that Phoenix hasn’t missed a beat without him and JJ, and are now arguably better. And his back is uninsured.

    Finally, why should Curry get a free pass for being a terrible post presence on defense just because he puts up 13 PPG? Would you pay a player with an uninsured heart condition $60 million to give you six boards, a block, half a steal and three fouls a game? Zaza Pachulia makes $44 million less and gives you more defensive post presence. Oh, Zaza averages 12 PPG? Really? And the Hawks are above the Knicks in the standings? Huh.

  25. Seth

    “What was so bad about Van Horn?”

    That’s a good question. I remember, back in the day, when I wasn’t yet aware of Isiah’s psychosis, wondering what the motivation behind that trade was. I never liked Van Horn, but he was certainly having a productive season. Picking up TT just seemed like trading for the sake of trading. Little did I know.

    My word was “sighs”. Indeed.

  26. Matt Bernhardt

    “3. Nobody in the NBA wanted Curry, so the Bulls had ZERO leverage. It?s not like he?s some superstar player. He was completely unwanted. Isiah was the only GM stupid enough to give up anything of value for Curry.”

    I do wonder what would’ve happened if Isaiah just offered Curry the mid-level. Would the Bulls have matched and still forced him to take a DNA test before taking the court? I’m glad it didn’t shake down that way (cause it would’ve undoubtedly have headed to the courts).

    Maybe Zeke didn’t want his mid-level money tied up in an offer sheet for the 14 days and have the prize that is Jerome James slip through his fingers.

  27. NGLI

    Sweetney’s a BUM. Just look at him. He’s a fat BUM.

    No D. He can’t do anything unless he’s posting up. No game when he’s facing the basket. He gets a high number of offensive rebounds cause that’s what he does. He sits on the block like a big lazy fireplug and calls for the ball, so of course he’s going to get his numbers when he’s played in small amounts. He’s a decent player off the bench, but even Mo Taylor is a better player in every aspect. Just look at how useless he is in Chicago – he’s already on the bad side of Skiles, and the Bulls are LAST in the division.

    We got AD -> J. Rose, and Curry for a fat bum and an albatross. Sounds like a good trade to me…and we still have 2 first round picks this year, so you know…don’t think twice about it.

  28. NGLI

    Hummm. One more thing. I think the trade was a good thing, but I still think that Curry would be most successful in a role similar to Sweets role with the Knicks/Bulls. Bring him off the bench for 20+ minutes a game for some low-post offense, start Frye at PF and get a real starting center that’s a defensive specialist. C’mon Philly. Give us Sammy D.

  29. Young T

    “We got AD -> J. Rose, and Curry for a fat bum and an albatross. Sounds like a good trade to me?and we still have 2 first round picks this year, so you know?don?t think twice about it.”

    I agree with you 90% – but Zeke should have protected the pick if it fell in the top-5. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone had the foresight to know we were going to be this bad. Both Thomas AND Paxson probably thought the pick would be somewhere between 10 and 20.

  30. Ammad

    one thing that i have noticed with the knicks is that early in the game they feature curry which opens up the game for all of the guards.

    after a while he gets foul trouble or winded and he sits out.

    he sits out even when he is not in foul trouble for a very long time.

    when he comes back in to the game they don’t feature him any more.

    that coincides with the 3rd quarteer when the knicks begin to get blown out.

    my thought is that the knicks stand a chance only against teams that have a weak front line. for example against memphis until the knicks got some shots swatted by gasol who let’s be honest really isn’t a center he is too thin. they were in the game.

    tonight the knicks are playing the bulls who have only tyson chandler. curry will be dominant in a short stretch of time which is the way he has played. that will open it up for marbury and francis and even crawford.

    perhaps they can feature curry and then immediately after they can establish frye who has been playing a lot better as of late around the boards.

    also if you have noticed frye has filled out considerably from the beginning of the year. they go away from the post game and then have a lot of turn overs.

  31. NGLI

    “perhaps they can feature curry and then immediately after they can establish frye who has been playing a lot better as of late around the boards.”

    I wouldn’t even bother starting Curry at this point. I would start Frye/Lee up front. Curry’s just causing inadvertent turnovers cause they keep trying to get him established early. The whole problem with the Brown offense is that he keeps trying to play inside out. With this team, it’s just not happening.

    Our two best power forwards are Taylor and Frye, two guys who at their best, are knocking down the midrange shot with ease. James/Butler are worthless on offense, inconsistent at best. We have a plethora of great driving guards, so why not use them properly?

    I’d say just run more screens and pick and rolls for Marbury/Francis, and let them get the ball to him whenever they feel like it. Let him earn his way back in the starting lineup.

    “my thought is that the knicks stand a chance only against teams that have a weak front line.”

    Yup. Gasol is an extremely underrated shotblocker/defender, but still, that was pathetic. He’s good, but not THAT good.

    Malik Rose/Frye were stinking up the court, and Curry was a non-factor. At least M. Rose/Frye have that spark of competitive spirit; now, Curry…he plays like a loser. He’s got a terrible attitude, and he sulks all the time…and unlike our famous sulker Marbury, he doesn’t fight back sulky, he just plays sh-ttyer and sh-ttyer, and runs slower and slower. He should be dangled in every trade scenario. I would see if we could still get Ratliff for Curry/James. That’s how bad he’s been this season.

  32. JK47

    We got AD -> J. Rose, and Curry for a fat bum and an albatross. Sounds like a good trade to me?and we still have 2 first round picks this year, so you know?don?t think twice about it.

    When the Bulls get a high lottery pick, top 3, for two years in a row, get back to me about what a good trade it was. Curry for the 2006 #1 pick ALONE would have been a terrible trade. The Bulls have a very good chance of getting a franchise player with that pick. We are getting an overpaid, soft, sulking, below-league average center with injury and health problems. Then we get to do it all over again and swap our high lottery pick to the Bulls AGAIN in 2007.

  33. NGLI

    Yeah I know Curry’s been sucking. However, like Young T said, “I don?t think anyone had the foresight to know we were going to be this bad”. Hindsight is 20/20…and anyway, we needed a big center, and there aren’t any real bigs in the draft this year. And if nothing else, Curry is BIG. And talented. He’ll show that sooner or later, once we start winning.

    Although it would be nice to get an athletic wingman, we’ve already got three promising rookies, and we’ve got Jalen Rose (a player I’ve liked for years). Zeke should have protected this year’s pick, but I seriously doubt we’re going to be headed to the lottery next season. I still have faith that they’re going to pull of a serious draft-day trade if Zeke finds a rookie he likes.

  34. JK47

    And if nothing else, Curry is BIG. And talented. He?ll show that sooner or later, once we start winning.

    I really hope you’re right, but I don’t see anything in Curry’s makeup to suggest he will substantially improve. He will never be a good rebounder, that much is certain. That means you better have a monster, Dennis Rodman/Ben Wallace type rebounder next to him if you don’t want to get creamed on the boards every night for the next five years. And I don’t see any of those guys around. The frountcourt is screwed for years because of that stiff.

    He is a dismal player. How you can be 6-11, 285 and have a career rebounding average lower than Steve Francis is beyond me. You could get away with him if you had wing players who could defend, but our wing players are all, to a man, terrible defenders.

    Zeke should have protected this year?s pick, but I seriously doubt we?re going to be headed to the lottery next season.

    Dude, we are going to be in the lottery for the forseeable future. I don’t know where this optimism comes from. This is the worst team in the NBA, and we have mortgaged our future on top of it. And there’s no hope of getting better, because Dolan won’t fire Isiah, who is certain to screw the team up even worse.

  35. Seth

    Was it here that i heard about Curry claiming that he doesn’t like being touched by other people? Cause that was one of the worst thing I’ve ever heard coming from a center.

  36. Brian Cronin

    Please note that as soon as Mo Taylor went down, the Knicks started playing a lot better.

    Now if only someone could trip Malik Rose.

    FREE DAVID LEE!!!

  37. NGLI

    JK47: “Dude, we are going to be in the lottery for the foreseeable future…This is the worst team in the NBA, and we have mortgaged our future on top of it.”

    See, I’m optimistic cause there are so many trade scenarios that could improve the Knicks. They don’t even need a franchise player; they just need to balance their depth chart to be competitive. You’re right – that’s who they need: a rebounder and shot blocker, (and I would throw in a Speedy Claxton/Earl Watson/Eric Snow or somebody like that).

    I’m not sure how many of those Bulls games you watched last season, but Curry looked like the real deal playing next to Tyson Chandler. BTW, Chandler is playing like s–t this season, ’cause without Curry’s girth and ability to draw the double teams, he can’t get any open runs to the basket from 10 ft, and he’s simply to scrawny for his size to play center. Curry is looking like s–t this season, ’cause he isn’t a very effective on the defensive end.

    “I don?t know where this optimism comes from.”

    #1 – The optimism comes from Frye: he can block shots, he can defend, he can run, he can hit the 15 footer, and he’s bulking up and working on his post moves.

    #2 – If the Knicks had a decent defensive center, it would take a lot of the load off of Curry. Hell, maybe they should start that man that Jerome James should be, and let Curry come off the bench. Cause, lets face it, they’re playing Frye, a natural PF and Butler, a D leaguer at center. That’s when most of the bad s–t goes down in the paint.

    #3 – Maybe some people thought Curry was going to be “Baby Shaq” or some nonsense, but not me… In fact, I haven’t even been THAT disappointed in him, cause he’s doing the same thing he did with the Bulls: put the ball in the hoop at a high %, and average close to 3 TO’s a game. Actually, he’s getting a lot better at rebounding, cause he’s been playing less minutes than last season.

    #4 – Acquiring Curry was no quick fix, but he IS a good player and a true 300 lb 7 footer. Don’t get too pissed at him, get pissed at Jerome James. Curry’s got a big upside. It’s all about putting the appropriate players around him for him to be successful.

  38. Les

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

    There are a lot of trade scenarios that improve the Knicks, and none of them are possible.

    Seriously, you think any team in the league will give a young, tough shotblocker for Curry or Francis or J-Rose or the other Rose or Woods or Barnes or Marbury or James or Taylor or Richardson? Who are the young shotblocking centers with potential in the league right now? Dalembert, Bogut, Diogu, Darko, Ghostface Pryzbilla, Bynum maybe, though he’s years away.

    Sammy is decent, but he’s owed $60 million until his contract is up and if Isiah were to end up spending $150 million total on three centers who could only be the franchise cornerstone if it were possible to fuse them into one monstrous uber-center, you might see Isiah gunned down by an angry Knicks fan immediately thereafter.

    Milwaukee is building around Ford, Redd and Bogut for the future, and he’s putting up 9 and 7 while having to share his minutes with Magloire, Gadzuric and Joe Smith – there’s no chance they’ll deal him.

    Golden State wouldn’t pull the trigger on an Artest trade if they had to give up Diogu – they can’t possibly get any thinner on the front line, they’re not going to deal him for more gunning guards and mediocre forwards.

    Orlando starts Tony Battie, they aren’t going to give Darko up when the next guy on their depth chart at center is Mario Kasun.

    Ghostface has been consistently terrible in his contract year, last year’s productivity appears to have been a total anomaly.

    Kupchak is hoping Bynum becomes the next Shaq, they’re not going to deal him for at least another decade.

    The Knicks’ only trade assets are the rookies. Nate isn’t even getting any time now and won’t net much in return, and when Isiah deals them, he’ll probably deal some of them for Theo Ratliff, who has never been a big rebounder (6.3 RPG for his career), is turning 33 and is averaging his fewest BPG since he was a rookie (1.6).

    Speedy is probably the Sixth Man of the Year, and the Hornets often go to a CP3-Speedy backcourt when they want to slash at will. They won’t deal such a major component of their offense.

    The Knicks could have had Earl Watson but they didn’t want to deal Frye for K-Mart in the package, which is about the only time Isiah has _not_ pulled the trigger on a horrendous trade. Now he’s with the Sonics to spell Ridnour, and he’s probably suited for it because he’s always been a career backup.

    Snow is decent, though he’ll never put up numbers, but Cleveland won’t deal him because they would have to start Damon “Basketball” Jones, who has probably hit like 5 of his 3-point attempts all season.

    So here’s the thing: how can you be so optimistic about the Knicks’ trade prospects? Who, realistically, can they actually deal for in the offseason, with the assets they have right now?

    Oh! Oh! Bonzi’s contract is up then. He’d fit right in with the Knicks. I can already see him beating the hell out of Marbury and blaming it all on ‘black flashes’.

  39. NGLI

    You sound like Kareem in disguise.

    #1: We don’t need Ben Wallace or Sammy D. We just need a serviceable backup big man to get the rotations straight, so we don’t have to keep playing Frye/Butler at the center position. You know, the guy Jerome James was supposed to be? Somebody like Steven Hunter or Diop would be ideal, but even overpaid and aging centers like Theo Ratliff or Adonal Foyle would help the Knicks tremendously…and BTW. How bad can Pryzbilla be playing? He’s averaging almost 2.5 blocks a game. That’s gotta be worth something.

    #2: Coming this summer, Speedy’s a free agent. It would be a steal to get him, but there are plenty of serviceable backup point guards in the league. It’s not as if Earl Watson is something special or anything.

    #3: The Knicks team that we have now isn’t the same team that started the season, and it won’t be the same team next season. Two starters, J. Rose and Francis haven’t really been fully integrated into the team, and are still a bit out of synch (if that’s possible, with this team…). However, they’re both highly skilled vets, and it’s not going to be the same learning curve that you see with guys like Richardson and Curry.

    #4: We have 3 great rookies. Next season, they won’t be rookies anymore. This has been a real trial-by-fire for them, and each one of them looks like they?ve progressed significantly from the start of the season. One can only assume that they will continue to get better and continue to contribute to the team.

    I just don’t buy that this team as flawed as everybody makes it out to be. They have a bunch of good players to build around; it’s just a matter of a few personnel changes in the frontcourt, and the acquisition of another vet point guard.

    I?m not saying we?re winning any championships here; I?m just saying that there is no reason to think that the Knicks cant win 35-38 games in 06-07. A .400 team is watchable. A .271 team is not.

  40. JK47

    “See, I?m optimistic cause there are so many trade scenarios that could improve the Knicks.”

    You seem to forget that our GM is an idiot. Any trades that fool makes are certain to make the Knicks WORSE, not better.

  41. Les

    Hope is a dangerous thing, isn’t it.

    Look, this sort of argument always degenerates into name-calling, probably something like “You are SO GLOOM AND DOOM” then “You are SO NAIVE” and blah blah blah, so I’ll make one final point and concede the last word to you.

    Last last offseason, Isiah traded Mutombo for Crawford. There were some other parts in there (like JYD, but he’s retired) but the trade was a center for a shooting guard. Deke might have been thundering “WHO WANTS TO SEX MUTOMBO?” at passing cavewomen well before the extinction of the dinosaurs, but he’s still quite serviceable as a backup for Yao.

    Last offseason, he traded Thomas for Richardson (and rights to Robinson). A center for a shooting guard and a point guard who thinks he’s a shooting guard.

    Before the Spurs won the title last year, he traded them Nazr Mohammed for Malik Rose. A center who starts for the NBA champions in exchange for an mediocre power forward.

    This year, he traded away Tony Davis for Jalen Rose. A forward/center for a shooting guard/small forward.

    Now, given that he spent the full mid-level on a center who plays less than a fifth of the game and averages more fouls per game than points, rebounds, blocks, assists, or steals, why do you have _any_ faith that Isiah will make trades to balance the roster in the offseason? He was the one who unbalanced it in the first place.

    That’s all.

  42. Oak Tree

    Deke might have been thundering ?WHO WANTS TO SEX MUTOMBO?? at passing cavewomen well before the extinction of the dinosaurs, but he?s still quite serviceable as a backup for Yao.

    Haha. That reminded me of Mutombo’s ‘ZAVE ZEGZ’ advert.

  43. NGLI

    “WHO WANTS TO SEX MUTUMBO?” ^_^

    I dunno, you’re probably right. Zeke has really screwed over this team, but given the talent on the roster, the team has the potential to become a better team than the one that he inherited; we’ve got one of the deepest backcourts in the league, and a bunch of young players with some big upsides. It’s just that Zeke has no idea how to find the players necessary to create a cohesive team. I agree with you 90%, I’m just playing devil’s advocate a bit.

    I still have a bit of hope that LB will work with Zeke to make the roster changes he needs to run a successful franchise. Anyway, as a lifelong Knicks fan, I’m always hopeful…even now…to a degree. ^_^

  44. Dan

    I know we suck right now, but am I alone in liking Q-Rich and Malik Rose? They seem to be the only ones who rebound and play D.

  45. PTC

    I read the thread and I just want to post some random opinions:

    1)Thomas’ most diasterous move was only the Curry trade because we have hindsight. At the time there is no way any of us thought we’d be in the low lottery. This was just after we got Brown.

    To me a disaster trade is one where most reasonable people saw the horror right off the bat and knew Thomas was walking into a brick wall.

    While there was disagreement over the merits of the trade nobody…nobody thought it was Mike and a top 3 pick for Curry. Including Thomas.

    It was not a horrible trade, it turned INTO a horrible trade and while maybe it’s an argument of cimantics it is relevant.

    2) Some young players do not respond well to being benched for stupid reasons. Most of them feel like their hard work is wasted and they don’t have the fortitude to continue to work when they know they won’t be rewarded and that ability is not rewarded with time.

    Some players don’t mind that and can press on. Mike is a guy that can’t.

    I have tried but fail to see the argument that Mike was not totally misused when he was here. I also fail to see the argument that his early work and results were rewarded adequatly.

    Some players can continue to work hard, some get depressed and fall off the face of the earth. Mike is such a player.

    In my view there is blame all around. Mike should have been a tougher personality and tried harder, but I also blame the mgt and coaching staff here for not using him properly.

    While I haven’t looked too deep here I have a hypothesis that great players are great young as much because they are given the opportunity right away as that they are given the opportunity right away because they are great.

    Amare Stoudemire was set to be the backup PF for the Suns the year he was drafted. Yes the team DID put Tom Gugliotta ahead of him going into the regular season. Long story short Tom goes down and Amare is forced to start and “out of nowhere” wins the rookie of the year.

    How much of that was Amare already being great and how much of that was him not being yanked around and benched simply because of inexperience?

    Meaning he had no time to ride pine behind an inferior player and what did that do to his confidence and how much did it speed up his learning curve.

    In my opinion young players develope if they are allowed to PLAY. Not practice or scrimmage…but PLAY the games. Anyone who has ever seen young players in practice knows that practice is overrated. It’s one of the dirty little secrets in pro sports.

    Mike should be mentally tougher, but the team should have played him when his per-48 numbers dictated he play more. And that was very early on.

  46. Ben

    The thing with Michael Sweetney is that the Knicks should never had traded him. He is a little undersized for an NBA center, but who do they have that is any better? Sweetney is still developing in the NBA too. He loved it in New York and was becoming a fan favorite. Remember the Knicks traded him only after his second year. Isaiah Thomas should have looked at how much Sweetney improved in one year and kept him on the Knicks team. The Knicks basically have no center now and have lost their first round draft pick because of a stupid trade. Isaiah Thomas does not know what he is doing. He made a bunch of trades including the Sweetney deal and the Knicks ended up with the second worst record in franchise history and the second worst record in the NBA this year.

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