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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Monday Musings: Should Prigs Start Over Felton?

Tyson Chandler’s injury was a major blow to the Knicks. That’s to be expected when your team’s best defender, rebounder and most consistent player goes down. But Chandler’s absence has a more far-reaching effect than the team merely missing his presence — certain players on the roster are heavily reliant on his game. One such player is Raymond Felton, who with Tyson Chandler out shouldn’t be in the starting lineup and shouldn’t be playing starter’s minutes. Here’s why I think so.

Felton’s a skilled player, without a doubt. However, his single greatest contribution to this team — one that no other point guards on the roster can bring — is his prowess in the pick-and-roll. Felton’s scoring ability from mid-range pull-ups and takes to the basket, combined with Chandler’s dominant rolling off the screen, has created a tandem that is tough to stop. So much so that it was a huge key in getting Carmelo Anthony catch-and-shoot looks last season and helped the Knicks finish with the third best offensive efficiency in the league.

Problem is, outside of this very specific attack, Felton doesn’t have a real edge over the Knicks’ next-best one guard: Pablo Prigioni. In fact, Felton’s game has a major hole that Prigioni doesn’t. I’m, talking of course, about the defensive end.

The Knicks surrendered a third-worst league ranking in opposing points and field goal percentage from the point guard position last year, per 82games.com. Felton was scorched time and time again — too slow to be effective in the pick and roll, too short to contest shots and too lacking in concentration or IQ (who knows) to make the right rotations and help out defensively. As soon as Prigioni took the floor, the Knicks played their best basketball.

The Knicks’ NetRTG was highest with Pablo Prigioni on the court over any other player last year other than Kenyon Martin (who played in 60 fewer games and totaled 800 fewer minutes than Pablo) and Earl Barron (who played 36 minutes all season.) In the Playoffs, a similar picture appears: Prigioni once again was the largest positive influence for New York (behind James White, who played 9 minutes) with a 21.1 (!) points per 100 possessions increase when on floor.

Of course, this doesn’t all have to do with Prigioni’s pesky steals and timely help on defense, neither of which Felton brings to the degree that Prigs does. It’s also his shooting.

Prigs has been cooking so far this season, making 8-15 threes (53%) after shooting a solid 39.6% from long range last year. For an offense that is at it’s peak launching as many threes as possible, Felton’s 36% and 20% shooting marks from downtown in 2013 and 2014 aren’t exactly a great help.

In the remaining areas, both Felton and Prigioni have their own advantages, though none are too significant. Prigioni’s turnovers have always been a source of skepticism surrounding his game, but it’s to be expected from a player who’s put up .07 shots per touch this season. Where Felton is ahead in that regard, Prigs evens it out with his work on the boards: He was tied for 7th last year in offensive rebound rate among point guards per ESPN, whereas Felton just barely topped Prigioni in RPG despite the minutes gap.

Felton’s lone upside over Prigioni is his being a threat scoring the ball on the pick-and-roll. With Chandler out, there’s no reason to be playing Felton 34.4 minutes per game to Prigioni’s 19.9. Pablo has even developed a deadly pick-and-pop game with Andrea Bargnani, certainly not the weapon the Felton-Chandler P&R was, but a respectable placeholder:

The Knicks aren’t the same team without Tyson Chandler — not just for what he brought as an individual, but for the effect he has on his teammates as well. Although the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, Chandler’s injury has silenced Felton’s biggest weapon for this team: the P&R. If Mike Woodson is so indulged in the idea of this team making adjustments when called upon, perhaps he should give Prigioni the starting point guard slot for the time being. It couldn’t possibly be worse, right?

53 comments on “Monday Musings: Should Prigs Start Over Felton?

  1. TheRant

    Our friends in orange and blue need to make an immediate trade — James Dolan for a case of oral herpes.

    My best friend, though, thinks that a more fair trade would be James Dolan for a case of genital herpes.

    We need the help of the KnickerBlogger nation to resolve this important dilemma.

  2. Igno-Bot 3000

    For the “stats” guys here…

    Is there anyway to pull stats from a page like this on the NBA site and turn it into a CSV file or something similar that I can look at on Excel/R?: http://stats.nba.com/teamLineups.html?TeamID=1610612752

    I know there’s “generate image” but I”m not sure what use that has…

    Or do you guys just use Synergy to pull stuff? Or is there another site you use to get everything?

  3. chrisk06811

    My opinion…..we should go 2 PGs….Ray and Prigs, start Shump at the 2, Meta at the 3, Melo and Bargs. That’s right, we should be allowed to start 6 guys. it’s the only way.

  4. marxster

    The only thing that has me excited these days is the trade talk for Rondo. Yes, that’s probably not going to happen, but I can at least dream about it. Felton just isn’t getting it done.

  5. marechal

    Watching the Knicks’ erratic behavior makes me feel like Joseph K in The Trial. First, you get surprised at the arbitrary, bizarre behavior the organization displays (forcing a trade of Shump, signing Chris Smith, trading for Bargnani, etc). Then you try to use logic within those weird, illogical parameters (maybe Shumpert should have had his knee surgery early? Chris Smith is just an elaborate way to circumvent the CBA, late first round draft picks are not that valuable). You try to understand what’s happening by resorting to reason. But when you do that, you forget that the whole edifice is based on a surrealist notion (James Dolan owns the franchise) and nothing really makes sense. There’s no explanation. And by then you are as lost as the guys that seemed irrational to you.

  6. DRed

    It doesn’t matter to me who starts, but it should be obvious to coach by now that Felton needs to play a lot less, especially if he’s hurt. This team is not particularly good right now, but Woodson is killing us by refusing to play the guys who have been playing well more. Pablo getting a minute a night more than the Lesser Jowles is ridiculous. Playing a banged up Ray Felton 35 minutes a night is ridiculous. Playing poor Melo 40 minutes a night at power forward is ridiculous. Not playing Cole Aldrich at all is ridiculous. Etc.

  7. ephus

    If the Knicks can make the trade for Rondo/Wallace, they should leap at it. Shumpert is a real high ceiling guy, but I do not think his ceiling is as high as a healthy Rondo. Amar’e is a total loss and I expect that Wallace would be as well, but Wallace’s retained skills are defense/rebounding.

    The big down side for the Knicks would be the third year of the $11 million Wallace contract. The extra year of $11 million of Wallace is a problem for Jimmy Dolan (because of the multiplier for the luxury tax), but not a problem for the Knicks. Let MSG sop up the luxury tax, using the money from the full luxury boxes in the new “Garden of Dreams.”

  8. mase

    One of the biggest effects of chandler going down is the loss of the pnr with Felton. Good job pointing this out!
    If only we had a point forward on this team to help prigs, o wait we do …bargs

  9. Unreason

    David, you make a good argument for something I’ve wanted just because it’s been so painful to watch Felton flounder. I care less about starting than about mpg, but my starting 5 at this point would be Prigs, Shump, MWP, Anthony and AB.

  10. TDM

    Unless the Knicks are picking up another big that can play the PNR with Felton, I’m on board with giving Prigs more minutes. It can’t be much worse. And, Bargs is one of the bright spots since Tyson went down, so it makes sense to give him more opportunities to shine in the short term.

    Thinking about trade scenarios, Houston is imminently going to trade Asik. So I was thinking Shump / STAT to BOS, Rondo / Asik to NY, Gerald Wallace to HOU.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=n4k6b3y

  11. ephus

    TDM,

    Another question is why would Houston make that trade. Asik is a strong asset. Wallace (and his contract) is one of the biggest debits in the league. Ryan Anderson (if healthy) makes much more sense for Houston.

  12. TDM

    Mase – there are rumors that Knicks are chasing Rondo, for Shump / STAT, and that Boston won’t let him go unless we take back one of their longer deals (Wallace or Courtney Lee). I’m not sure how much faith to put in the rumor, but I don’t really see this rumored trade as BOS solely helping NY. I’m not sold that Rondo is happy on a rebuilding team. They may see the writing on the wall and not want to deal with the headaches – it may be in their interest as well. Shump is a good building piece for BOS, and STAT’s deal expires a year earlier than the pieces they would be trading.

  13. mase

    That trade is a fantasy by ny media… Unless you can make boston better they won’t listen to offers that involve their best player going to a rival team. If they are rebuilding they would need rondo more than ever. And they don’t hate Wallace enough to make that mistake trade. Not going to happen.

  14. iserp

    I think BOS wouldnt accept less than Shump/STAT/2018 first rounder for Rondo/Wallace/Lee.

    There’s one thing i totally dont understand: STAT’s minutes. STAT is only valuable when he is contributing at the offensive end. He is used to doing that, and wants that role. Then, it doesnt make sense to put him into the game so little. You have two options:

    1) Glue STAT to the bench, so he doesn’t disrupt the rest of the team.
    2) Commit to playing STAT 25 mpg at least, injuries be damned.

    But playing him 10 minutes sparkled over the 4 quartes is just doing more harm than good, and makes no sense. It disrupts the team… everyone looks lost when STAT is in there. If you commit to playing him, at least the team will know what are they doing. That, or dont put him in at all.

  15. thenamestsam

    Do we really think Boston is about to dump their sole remaining star to a rival for just Shump and the ability to get out from under a bad deal a year sooner? I find that extremely hard to believe. I just don’t see the assets to get Rondo. All the rumblings coming out do make it seem like a Shump trade is imminent though. I’m already moving past denial into acceptance.

    As for the starting lineup it seems obvious that something is wrong with Felton. Whether it’s a health issue or he is just lost without Tyson doesn’t really matter. Either way he’s beyond useless right now and his minutes hould be dramatically cut. The rumor is that Shump is about to lose his starting spot to KMart (with this decision apparently being made above Woodson’s head, which is always a good sign) though which might actually help Ray. KMart did a reasonable Tyson imitation at times last year and if he can do it again it might slightly rejuvenate Felton.

  16. mase

    Two questions, is melo going to stay with a team that isn’t a winner?

    And, is it better to look at options to trade than let him come off the books?

  17. Owen

    For the “stats” guys here…

    Is there anyway to pull stats from a page like this on the NBA site and turn it into a CSV file or something similar that I can look at on Excel/R?: http://stats.nba.com/teamLineups.html?TeamID=1610612752

    I know there’s “generate image” but I”m not sure what use that has…

    Or do you guys just use Synergy to pull stuff? Or is there another site you use to get everything?

    I would go to APBR and ask. Had the same problem yesterday looking for stuff. The sites I used to use seem to have gone off line, which reminded me the guys running them got hired by teams.

    http://apbr.org/metrics/

  18. KnickfaninNJ

    I shouldn’t point this out but I will., Rondo makes $12M a year. We could have just kept Lin, our second round pick Euro player rights, and we would have had Shump too and the salary would for Lin would not be much more.

    On the subject of Pablo starting, I like it overall, but have to say he has been very erratic this year, and it really hasn’t looked like he sank eight out of fifteen three pointers.

  19. Donnie Walsh

    When the Knicks started 3-8 back in 2010 it was because the PnR wasn’t clicking between Felton and Amar’e. Once they figured it out, the offense got a lot more efficient and they started winning games. But this year the problems seem a lot deeper than that.

  20. yellowboy90

    The reports are now a deal without Rondo and shump. I’d do it just to use the stretch provision this summer since lee’s and Wallace’s contract were after the new cba.

  21. TDM

    Four points on why I think Rondo will get traded whether or not it is to NY:

    1. He’s coming off a severe injury;
    2. He can be a moody and stubborn, and not a true leader;
    3. Celts aren’t going anywhere as currently constructed;
    4. Next year, he’ll only have a year left on his deal, so teams may not be willing to do a one-year rental.

  22. ephus

    If you give me a choice between Shumpert/Lin or Rondo, there is no doubt in my mind that Rondo is the choice. When he is healthy, Rondo is one of the five best PGs in the NBA. To my mind, if Rondo is a team’s second best player, that team is a playoff threat.

    I would jump at the opportunity to do Shumpert/Stoudamire/2018 first round pick (lottery protected) for Rondo/Wallace/Lee.

  23. flossy

    I would jump at the opportunity to do Shumpert/Stoudamire/2018 first round pick (lottery protected) for Rondo/Wallace/Lee.

    And the Celtics would die laughing at that proposal

  24. flossy

    Watching the Knicks’ erratic behavior makes me feel like Joseph K in The Trial. First, you get surprised at the arbitrary, bizarre behavior the organization displays (forcing a trade of Shump, signing Chris Smith, trading for Bargnani, etc). Then you try to use logic within those weird, illogical parameters (maybe Shumpert should have had his knee surgery early? Chris Smith is just an elaborate way to circumvent the CBA, late first round draft picks are not that valuable). You try to understand what’s happening by resorting to reason. But when you do that, you forget that the whole edifice is based on a surrealist notion (James Dolan owns the franchise) and nothing really makes sense. There’s no explanation. And by then you are as lost as the guys that seemed irrational to you.

    And then I turn into a cockroach.

    Oops, wrong Kafka

  25. Jack Bauer

    Agree with the posts above –
    Sit Felton – he is killing them. Hopefully he’s injured and gets better. They have capable replacements
    Play Amare 20-25 minutes so he can get some rhythm going or don’t play him at all
    Hope if they trade Shumpert, and I’m not sure they should, that they get an upgrade at PG
    Pray until Chandler gets back

    What jersey number do you think Melo will pick when he signs with the Lakers, back to 15, stick with 7, or something else ?

  26. johnno

    “Thinking about trade scenarios, Houston is imminently going to trade Asik. So I was thinking Shump / STAT to BOS, Rondo / Asik to NY, Gerald Wallace to HOU.”

    If the Knicks trade Shump and Amare, why would they settle for just Rondo and Asik in return? I think that they should try to package Shump and Amare for LeBron and maybe, if they add Chris Smith and Cole Aldrich to the deal, the Heat will give them Dwyane Wade too!

  27. Nick C.

    Prigioni is doing better than Felton, but a lot of that is addition by subtraction. At any rate, Woodson can barely bring himself to start Prigioni in a two PG lineup, I don’t see him starting him over someone who fits what appears to be his hidebound notion of what a basketball player is.

  28. johnno

    On another note, does anyone have any thoughts as to whom Melo was referring when he said that it was like “we” are not even trying? His body language at the end of the game Saturday and his comments after the game seem to indicate that he is really pissed at one or more of his teammates.

  29. Owen

    Lillard and Aldridge isn’t enough. They would have to throw Batum in there also.

    :-)

    But seriously, I would be fascinated to know what Melo’s trade value really is around the league.

  30. Zanzibar

    @32 Johnno Shump’s checked out but who could blame him the way he’s been treated by the Knick organization. And this latest incident concerning the surgery, ask yourself: would you trust the Knicks on any matters related to surgery, timing being one of them? That said, young Shump’s got a history of knee issues dating back to college so maybe a trade might be best. Dunno about that Rondo deal but Amare’s perfect for a team in all out tank mode after a top 3 pick. Taking Wallace and Lee… we have to hope for this twist on an old adage: Sometimes ’tis better to receiveth than to giveth. How ironic would it be if Rondo trade goes through, Rondo is a bust and we are stuck with large long contracts and Melo bolts for LA? Karma’s a bitch! Might as well start showing Groundhog Day on MSG’s overhead screen instead of the action on the court.

  31. mase

    Melo should have value, he is in his prime…but trading him is tough since he needs to agree to sign an extension. Basically he will have us over a barrel when the deadline approaches because he will only play in a major market like L.A., we would be lucky to get him straight up for gasol

  32. massive

    I know a Rondo trade is close to impossible, but a team with Rondo, Chandler, Melo, and this year’s Bargnani would probably be the 2nd best team in the conference. Even with 36 minutes of Captain Pipe. I’d trade Shumpert for that opportunity, and Iman Shumpert is my favorite player in the NBA.

    I know it won’t happen, though. The only trade I see as plausible right now would be for one of New Orleans’ guards if that team continues to suck. Something like Ray Felton and Iman Shumpert for Eric Gordon or something else that makes salaries match. That would be the most Knicks move we can make.

  33. Brian Cronin

    On another note, does anyone have any thoughts as to whom Melo was referring when he said that it was like “we” are not even trying? His body language at the end of the game Saturday and his comments after the game seem to indicate that he is really pissed at one or more of his teammates.

    He was most likely referring to a few guys. One dynamic on the team that is fascinating to me is the Melo/Bargs dynamic. I don’t think Melo likes Bargs at all (the looks he gives Bargs during games – hoo boy, they are brutal), but at the same time, he has taken a sort of big brother/kid brother approach to him, as well, in the sense that it is like “Only I can rip on him.” Like he’ll defend Bargs from anyone outside the team giving him shit.

  34. Brian Cronin

    Also, regarding the Celtics thing, the rumor is not that the Celtics are insisting that the Knicks take Wallace and Lee, but rather that the Celtics have told the Knicks that they’re not interested in a Rondo trade period, but if the Knicks are desperate to dump STAT, they’d be willing to take him for Wallace and Lee.

  35. JK47

    At the end of the day Shump will be traded for a volume-scoring forward, and his minutes at guard will go to the volume-scoring Tim Hardaway Jr., and the Isiah-fication of the 2013-2014 Knicks will be complete.

  36. max fisher-cohen

    @massive

    I think that you could work with Toronto too. I bet they’d trade Derozan and Amir Johnson for Stoudemire and Hardaway Jr. just to get out from Derozan’s unending contract. Lowry could be had probably for Shumpert and Felton. Gay, I’m sure is available as well although I have no idea what his market value is.

    Philly too I’m sure is open to trading Turner and Thad Young although they probably won’t make a move until they come back down to earth some. Thaddeus Young is one of my favorite under the radar guys, and he’s still only 25.

    A lot of these trades though depend on how serious NY is about having real cap space in 2015. If the (ridiculously stupid) trade rumor about Gerald Wallace and Courtney Lee for Stoudemire are true, then maybe they’ve already given up on having max space in 2015. Wallace will be untradeable unless we use him later to take on longer, worse contracts, which again prevents us from signing anyone of note in 2015.

  37. Brian Cronin

    By the way, the Jennings pass to Drummond was amazing, no doubt about it, but I dunno, should you really be breaking out moves like that in a close game in the second quarter?

  38. Brian Cronin

    At the end of the day Shump will be traded for a volume-scoring forward, and his minutes at guard will go to the volume-scoring Tim Hardaway Jr., and the Isiah-fication of the 2013-2014 Knicks will be complete.

    The fact that they almost traded him for Faried, though, suggests that they are being slightly smarter about this than we expected. Although, of course, that might have been a brief bout of sanity and then their next move will be Shump for, like, Monta Ellis or something like that.

  39. Brian Cronin

    A lot of these trades though depend on how serious NY is about having real cap space in 2015. If the (ridiculously stupid) trade rumor about Gerald Wallace and Courtney Lee for Stoudemire are true, then maybe they’ve already given up on having max space in 2015. Wallace will be untradeable unless we use him later to take on longer, worse contracts, which again prevents us from signing anyone of note in 2015.

    As I mentioned yesterday, wouldn’t that be the most Knicks-esque trade of all-time?

  40. Brian Cronin

    Honestly, speaking of Toronto, Fields actually would be an interesting fit here as a defender/rebounder at the 3. He’s played pretty well for Toronto this season in that role but they are so deep at the 3 that he barely plays. Toronto has way too many “decent” players and not enough above average guys. I know Fields would never actually be someone that the Knicks would want (since Melo and Woody don’t like him), but it would make some sense (as they’d need someone to play defense after dealing Shump).

  41. JK47

    I fear the possibility of a DeMar DeRozan trade. A one-dimensional volume scorer who is not efficient yet averages 20 ppg. And who has a contract that runs through 2017. This guy was born to be a Knick.

  42. Will the Thrill

    since Melo and Woody don’t like him

    I always wondered why Melo didn’t like Fields. Woodson? I’m not surprised by anything from him. But what is there not to like about Fields for Melo? He just didn’t like the way he played? His disdain for him is even more obvious when we play Toronto, and it looks like Fields knows this haha I just think its bizarre.

  43. Will the Thrill

    I fear the possibility of a DeMar DeRozan trade. A one-dimensional volume scorer who is not efficient yet averages 20 ppg

    He’s a shot creator, who takes the burden of shooting inefficient shots that other players would otherwise have to take. We need more like JR on this squad.

  44. ephus

    48. Will the Thrill
    November 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    I always wondered why Melo didn’t like Fields. Woodson? I’m not surprised by anything from him. But what is there not to like about Fields for Melo? He just didn’t like the way he played? His disdain for him is even more obvious when we play Toronto, and it looks like Fields knows this haha I just think its bizarre.

    Guesses (based on no inside knowledge):

    1. Melo did not like the Lin – Fields clique. Not sure if it was the Stanford/Harvard pedigree, the extremely nerdy pre-grame ritual or the conspicuous Christianity.

    2. Melo did not like Fields inability to hit a perimeter shot.

    3. Melo does not like anyone who feuds with Woodson (although my guess is that the causality runs the other way — Woodson does not like players who feud with ‘Melo)

    Any other wild ass guesses?

  45. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, it would just be speculation, but if I had to guess I would definitely go with a personality clash. Melo didn’t seem to be a fan of either Lin or Fields. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t help that the media kept ripping on Melo as they praised Lin. It would have been hard for him to not end up with a negative view of Lin, ya know? Especially as Lin didn’t exactly seem to shy away from the attention (remember that hilarious obviously false story they tried to sell to diffuse any tension about how it was Melo who was pushing for Lin to play more? Too funny).

    That said, it is likely not a coincidence that the Knicks had a quartet of “super best friends” on the team in 2011-12 who were visibly distant from Melo, JR, etc. and none of them are on the team anymore. On a team based on cronyism, Fields clearly picked the wrong group to hang out with. Shump is learning that same basic lesson now.

  46. flossy

    I always wondered why Melo didn’t like Fields. Woodson? I’m not surprised by anything from him. But what is there not to like about Fields for Melo? He just didn’t like the way he played? His disdain for him is even more obvious when we play Toronto, and it looks like Fields knows this haha I just think its bizarre.

    Melo probably thought Fields was a nerd, basically, and not very good at basketball. The former is a matter of opinion, the latter happens to be true.

  47. Donnie Walsh

    It wasn’t Anthony that froze out Fields as much as it was Billups. 7 Seconds or Less ended when Billups became point guard. He and Anthony ran the 2 man game for the last 27 games of that season, leaving Fields (and to a large part Amar’e too) to just bumble around the basketball court. It was too bad because they had good synergy before the trade with Denver. In the end, the inclusion of Billups in that trade screwed us pretty good, both that season and in the long run.

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