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Sunday, April 20, 2014

NBA News and Notes for May 3rd

* Wow, the Celtics and the Hawks are heading for a Game 7! The Celtics will almost certainly win this Game 7, but the sheer fact that they are going to a Game 7 is stunning to me, and must be quite surprising/depressing for all Celtics fans (it is too bad that Simmons’ next column will be after Game 7).

* What is not surprising to me is to see Doc Rivers once again take absolutely zero responsibility for the team losing. That guy weirds me out. He’ll blame the refs, he’ll blame his own players (and in real sleazy ways, like “Ray shot poorly from behind the arc tonight, but he’s a great shooter.”), but no blame to Doc.

* The Wizards and the Rockets get blown out to be eliminated. T-Mac had quite the first half, huh?

* Did everyone catch Charles Oakley’s comments about Lebron and Lebron’s teammates?

None of that would have happened if I was playing because they would have got it the other way,” Oakley said. “If [James] was fouled hard with me on the court, it would’ve been taken care of, no matter how many fines [NBA Commissioner] David Stern would’ve given me. I once told [Stern] that I have a job to do and he has a job to do, and my job is to do whatever I can to help my team win, including protecting my teammates.”

Despite the hard fouls on James, so far, his teammates have not exactly retaliated and that made Oakley laugh.

“I guess they don’t have anyone cut like that,” said Oakley, about the Cavs’ non-response for James. “But LeBron is big enough to get back at them, but they can’t ask him to fight, score, sell tickets, sell popcorn and park cars, too. Somebody else has to do something.”

That Oak, quite a character.

* Kobe Bryant to be named the league’s MVP. It could be worse, I suppose. No real complaints from me – he wouldn’t be my pick, but he at least had a good year.

* Rick Carlisle would fit in well in Dallas, wouldn’t he?

* I see Kelvin Sampson was hired to be part of Scott Skiles’ coaching staff in Milwaukee. I guess that will help address the Bucks inability to recruit good free agents.

135 comments on “NBA News and Notes for May 3rd

  1. mase

    “What was everyone saying about the Celts and Pistons being so much better than everyone else in the East?”

    u didnt agree?

    i always liked Atlanta’s team(Bibby trade excluded) and would love to see an upset on Sunday!

  2. jon abbey

    “What was everyone saying about the Celts and Pistons being so much better than everyone else in the East?”

    another product of the currently messed up system, as those two haven’t had to play games that really matter for months, and it’s evidently not so easy for them to turn it back on when they need.

    Garnett is showing once again why he’s never been nearly the player that Tim Duncan is, though.

  3. Z-man

    Looks like Carlisle is going to Dallas. Good, I didn’t like him, he alienates players.

    Avery! Avery!

  4. Z

    “Looks like Carlisle is going to Dallas. Good, I didn’t like him”

    I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Rick. I was at his Knick debut in 1988 and it was the game of his life. He probably scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting, but to an 11 year old starving for the Knicks to be good he looked like the Messiah.

    Anybody know of any way of finding specific box scores from 1988 on line?

  5. Z-man

    Out of respect for your touching comment, I will rephrase and say that Rick, while a good coach, is not as good a fit for the current Knicks as Avery. I mentioned in an earlier post (nobody responded) that I thought Avery could help get the most out of the guys we need to trade (Zach, Eddy, both JJ’s) and be better at getting the team to focus on D. After a couple of years, if Avery does not prove to be a coach that can navigate the playoffs, make a change.

  6. Z

    Thanks. I found the game: 12/1/1987. The struggling (4-9) Knicks sign Rick Carlisle. His Knick debut:

    34 minutes; 21 pts; 9-12 fg; 1-2 3pt; 2-2 ft; 6 assists; 2 rebounds (both offensive); 2 steals.

    Definitely the best line of his career. But for 24 hours I was to Rick Carlisle as Owen is to David Lee…

  7. jimmy p

    I’d have to call the 07-08 campaign successful if Atlanta wins Sunday….but that’s a long shot.

    I was pretty shocked by Glen Doc Rivers’ comments after the second loss…something to the effect of, “they’ve got to decide if they want it bad enough.” Huh?

    From what I saw in the second half Rivers was not responsive to Atlanta’s hot hand. Last night was a bit better, but not much. If your player can’t defend (Ray Allen) you’ve got to substitute and switch up.

    I have never understood Garnett in the playoffs. He’s looked good…and very good at times…but he needs to stare at opponents less and shoot more. Atlanta can’t defend him down low and he’s playing too far away from the rim, not asking for the ball enough.

    Rivers really sucks as a coach…never saw it this clearly before.

  8. Thomas B.

    RE: Atlanta

    A few months ago there was a discussion on the best young team in the NBA. Many posters voted for Portland but I said, “Look to the East.” ATL has a great young team. Possibly better than Portland.

    I think Josh Howard is just as good as Brandon Roy. Horford is better than Aldridge. Williams beats Webster. Ditto Childress over Outlaw. Law and Jack is a push. Portland has no back court player that is as talented as Joe Johnson (though he is not a “young” player).

    We can not put Oden in the equation until he plays at least 1 minute of pro ball so please save the “what about Greg Oden” comments.
    ——

    Of the available coaches, Avery Johnson is the best person for this team.
    ——–

    THe draft lottery cant get here soon enough. If we can get a top 3 pick we are in good shape. I see the draft as having five impact players: Rose, Beasely, Lopez, Bayless, and Gallinari. Of those five, Rose, Beasely, and Bayless can help the Knicks right away. A top 3 pick will ensure we get one of those 3 picks. C’mon ping pong balls.

  9. caleb

    I’m in Atlanta and the 37-45 record was a lot more surprising than the recent strong play — but with regard to the Portland comparison, you can’t ignore Oden — that’s why people think they have the best young team, not because anyone thinks Brandon Roy is the next Jordan. For them to be championship contenders, Oden has to pan out.

    btw — as fun as the Atlanta series has been, Boston has outscored them by 50 points over 6 games –not really an even match… more luck, than anything…

  10. dave crockett

    Thomas B said: I think Josh Howard is just as good as Brandon Roy… Ditto Childress over Outlaw.

    You mean Josh Smith, right? I like Josh Childress too–a lot. He’s the Afro Samurai.

  11. Ray

    I dont mind Avery coming in. If we draft a PG he will be hard on him like he was on Devin Harris. He really shaped him in his early years. I kinda would like to see all New Yorkers in management. Mark Jackson as coach. Kenny Smith as GM. I know they would do their jobs with a lot of pride and they know what it means to the fans to want to bring a title here. It might not be a bad thing. Kenny has done commentary here and he knows what changes need to be made. He knows we have a lot of players with the same skill sets. He knows we need to get involved in the European scouting game and the D. League. I just think it might not be a bad move. It really cant get any worse. We’ll , maybe it can but i dont think it will.

  12. nj hoop

    “David West requests some more respect from some people here, thanks in advance.”

    I’ve got nothing but respect for the guy. Is it possible for a guy who everyone says is underrated to still be underrated? Absolutely. Last night 30 pts. on 13-23 from the field, 9 boards, mostly against K. Thomas, a lockdown defender. This guy is a total beast, what PF would you take over him right now? Boozer, KG? I think I’d go with West.

  13. jon abbey

    well, that might be a bit too much respect, but what was impressive about his game last night (as well as Peja’s) is how many of those shots they had to create on their own in a 1-on-1 context, mostly difficult improvised shots against tough D.

  14. caleb

    Re david west, are you out of your mind?

    But yes, he had a great game. Not sure I’d call kurt thomas a “lockdown” defender, but he’s tough.

    Aside from paul, don’t you think tyson chandlers d was the key to the game? Duncan 1 of 9, wow. THAT is a lockdown defender.

  15. caleb

    That’s true, and no one leaves bigtime scorers in single coverage, but c’mon – a lot of teams double and triple team TD – it doesn’t work like it did last night unless you have tyson chandler (or a young mutombo, young hakeem, etc.)

  16. Owen

    David West did have four turnovers to go with those thirty points last night, but still, he is having a great playoffs so far. Good player, but I think at this point he is actually overrated. He has been an all-star already after all.

    Their is a huge amount of mystique to the mid range shooting big man. People put enormous stock in being able to cause matchup problems, draw your defender away from the basket, etc. But the bottom line with West is that he is not an extremely efficient scorer, and not a top 25 rebounder. It’s hard to call him an elite player.

    I think he is bound to get pretty much all the credit for the Hornets success that doesn’t, rightfully, go to Chris Paul. That’s because he does a lot of scoring, and that is how credit gets distributed. But to me Chandler is definitely the second best player on that team.

  17. Alee

    I’ve been waiting patiently for the draft lottery, but I’ve been thinking. There really is only one player that we need on this team to turn things around. Although Beasly will be a beast, we already have two big men who score very well but play no defense. Beasley fits into that mold. He’s a great scorer rebounds well but doesnt do it on the other end. If we dont secure the top pick (to obviously get Rose) I would trade the pick and package it with an untradable contract i.e. Curry, Randolph, Jeffries, James I could go on … if we could do that, hopefully moving Curry in the process and take on contracts that expire in the 2010-11 season we can make a run at the guy we all know we need. Any thoughts???

  18. jon abbey

    “But to me Chandler is definitely the second best player on that team.”

    I have a technical stat question: if a rebound is tipped out by a big man and captured by a guard, who gets credit for that? Chandler does this all the time, and it seems to me that the guard gets the credit, that’s how Chris Paul had a triple double in one game against Dallas.

  19. njhoop

    Sorry, I got a little carried away with my David West comments, but I really like the way the guy plays. He understands the game, takes good shots and plays solid D. I think he and Chandler compliment each other perfectly, and either one would be the best player on the Knicks right now.

  20. caleb

    Now that’s more like it! I’d still take david lee over west, but I could see the case either way.

    Hornets are really fun to watch… Before playoffs began I guessed the spurs to make the conf finals but NOLA has looked awesome… At this point I think I am rooting for them to take it all.

    And now that boston has won a series, they can reclaim their rightful place as most hated.

    Who would win a posturing scream-a-thon, KG or LeBron?

  21. caleb

    Btw, why do people still think of scott skiles as competent? Running chandler out of town was just one of his prize moves. At least he realized that curry is no great shakes.. But skiles is one of those guys who values veteran ‘savvy” over actually being able to play. That’s what worries me about avery johnson, tho his case is not as severe as skiles’…

  22. Latke

    I thought it would be interesting, instead of arguing back and forth about who we need to get rid of first, to just look at some stats from this season. I don’t know if this has been done before…

    the only thing on here that I think is kind of confusing is “differential b/w ‘knicks FG% differential’ and ‘opponent’s overall avg. differential’”. THe number you see there is the difference between how much these opponents usually outshot or undershot opponents (IE there avg overall fg differential), and how much they outshot or undershot the knicks in these games.

    I should say that all the no curry or randolph games came after mar. 8, when the knicks were playing young guys, and focused on losing. And also, “games without curry and randolph” were included in the stats for both “w/o curry” and “w/o randolph sections”. Curry really only got to play in 8 games without Randolph.

    knicks overall record: 23-59
    win%=28.0
    pt. dif=-6.6
    fg%=43.9
    opp. fg%=47.4
    differential= -3.5

    knicks record w/o randolph: 0-13
    win%=0
    pt. dif=-9.5

    avg of opponents’ overall fg%=45.969
    avg of opponents’ overall fg defense: 45.815
    differential (avg of how much opponent outshoots all opponents by): +0.154
    avg of opponents’ fg% vs knicks=49.023
    knicks avg. fg% in these games=44.108
    differential (how much knicks outshot opponents by): -4.915
    differential b/w knicks avg in these games and opponents’ avg in these games=-4.905
    differential vs. overall knicks avg fg%=+0.208
    opp. FG% in these games vs. their avg overall FG%=+3.1
    differential b/w ‘FG% differential in these games’ and ‘opponent’s overall avg. differential’: -5.069
    adjusted for knicks overall avg suckiness (adding the 3.5% the knicks lost by on avg): -1.569

    Conclusions: WIthout Randolph, playing against better overall defenses and better overall teams, the knicks were bad. They were outshot by opponents by 5% more than those opponents usually outshot opponents. Their offense, however, was actually slightly better than average, and surprisingly was better than they were in the curryless games, which were played against worse defensive teams. It was the defense that suffered most with Randolph out. Fancy that.

    knicks record w/o curry: 6-17
    win%=27.27
    pt dif=-6.125

    avg of opponents’ overall fg%=45.335
    avg of opponents’ overall fg defense: 45.865
    differential: -0.55
    opp avg. fg% vs knicks=47.696
    knicks avg. fg% in these games=43.752
    differential b/w knicks avg in these games and opponents’ avg in these games =-3.944
    differential vs. overall knicks avg fg%=-0.148
    opp. FG% vs. their avg overall FG%=+2.4
    differential b/w ‘FG% differential in these games’ and ‘opponent’s overall avg. differential’: -3.4
    adjusted for knicks overall avg suckiness: +0.1

    Without Curry the knicks look very similar to the knicks overall average across the season. They are slightly better defensively than they were without randolph, but worse than they were overall.

    knicks record w/ neither of them: 0-5
    win%=0
    pt. dif=-10.8

    avg of opponents’ overall fg%=45.5
    avg of opponents’ overall fg defense: 46.48
    differential: -0.98
    opp avg. fg% vs knicks=50.78
    knicks avg. fg% in these games=44.34
    differential b/w knicks avg in these games and opponents’ avg in these games: -6.44
    differential vs. overall knicks avg fg%=+0.44
    opp. FG% vs. their avg overall FG%=+5.28
    differential b/w ‘FG% differential in these games’ and ‘opponent’s overall avg. differential’: -5.46
    adjusted for knicks overall avg suckiness: -1.96

    These stats are probably pretty meaningless, as the knicks were in tank mode, but their defense was horrific, worse than in any of these other situations, and their offense looked about the same. Add to that that they were playing bad teams, and its an even uglier picture.

    Record with either curry or randolph but not both: 6-25
    win%=19.3
    pt. dif=-6.774

    avg of opponents’ overall fg%=45.57
    avg of opponents’ overall fg defense: 45.74
    differential: -0.17
    opp avg. fg% vs knicks=47.75
    knicks avg. fg% in these games=43.77
    differential b/w knicks avg in these games and opponents’ avg in these games: -3.98
    differential vs. overall knicks avg fg%=-0.13
    opp. FG% vs. their avg overall FG%=+2.18
    differential b/w ‘FG% differential in these games’ and ‘opponent’s overall avg. differential’: -3.81
    adjusted for knicks overall avg suckiness: -0.31

    I’m not gonna do the knicks’ avg for both of them playing because A) we know keeping both is foolish, and B) the numbers would be greatly skewed because the knicks were still playing to win, pretty much until curry went down, so they should have better #s.
    but in case you’re curious about some basics:
    knicks record w/ both of them: 17-34 – win%=33.33
    not all that impressive anyway.

  23. nj hoop

    Whoa, Caleb, I can’t let that David Lee comment slip by. If you think Lee could put up 30 points against the Spurs, I want what you’re smoking. He may be a slightly better rebounder than West, but beyond that, it’s not even close.

  24. jon abbey

    David Lee hasn’t played a truly meaningful NBA game in his life. it’s hard enough to compare guys from the top Western and guys from the top Eastern teams these days, but comparing numbers of one of the key players on a title contender to a guy who hasn’t proven he can play 35 minute games for one of the worst teams in the league strikes me as pretty ludicrous.

  25. caleb

    “Whoa, Caleb, I can’t let that David Lee comment slip by. If you think Lee could put up 30 points against the Spurs, I want what you’re smoking. He may be a slightly better rebounder than West, but beyond that, it’s not even close.”

    My extended comment was down in this thread…

    And then we argued about it here…
    http://www.knickerblogger.net/index.php/2008/04/19/coach-of-the-year/

    But basically, David West is a below-average scorer for someone who touches the ball as much as he does — and David Lee is far above average for someone who touches it as much as HE does. IMO they’re about even in scoring ability (details at the bottom here!)

    As others have pointed out, David Lee in his off-year is a 25 percent better rebounder than David West in his career year.

    Defense is harder to measure, but based on the numbers, and subjectively, West looks better — but not THAT much better. Don’t forget, Lee would probably look better if he Chandler behind him and the league steals leader next to him.

    Oh what the hell, save ya the trouble, here are some highlights of past threads:

    Rebounding: Big edge to Lee, 12.2/40 vs. 9.5 (and a lot bigger difference last year).

    Passing/Turnovers: West gets the edge, 2.4 assists/40 vs. 1.6, and slightly fewer turnovers as well. But last year they were almost exactly even, so I don’t know that it’s a huge difference.

    Defense: West is getting a lot more blocks than Lee this year, but he’s almost double his career average. Lee gets (slightly) more steals (per minute). West’s defensive +/-: -1.7. Lee: -1.8.”

    AND…
    “Last year, David Lee’s rebounding rate (percent of missed shots grabbed) was 20.7. Tyson Chandler’s rate was 20.7. It was a career high for both players. Chandler, fyi, played about 25% more minutes.

    This year, Chandler’s rebound rate is 19.5; Lee’s is 17.4.

    Even now, Lee is a lot closer to Chandler in the board department than he is to David West, whose RR the past two years were 12.9 and 13.8, respectively.”

    AND…
    “Lee has a usage rate of 14.4, and scores 14.5 points per 40 minutes. An unquesionably bad offensive player, Jared Jeffries, has the ball almost as much as Lee – a usage rate of 12.1; he scores 8 points per 40. Lee’s scoring rate, per touch, is 50 percent higher.

    David West has a totally different role in his team’s offense. His usage rate is 24.0 – Zach Randolph territory. (In fact his career TS% is just slightly higher than Zach’s). He scores 21.5 points per 40 minutes.

    If David Lee maintained his level of efficiency, while touching the ball as much as David West, he would score 23.8 points per 40 minutes. Intuition tells us that probably wouldn’t happen. If the offense ran through Lee, the defense would pay more attention to him and his efficiency would go down.

    But even if he sank to level of Jared Jeffries for all those additional touches – as he soared to a usage rate of 24.0 – Lee’s scoring rate, per 40, would be 20.7.

    If his efficiency dropped just 10 full points, from one of the top TS% in the league to well below average, his scoring rate would be around 22. Remember, David West is at 21.5.

    Is David West really a much better scorer than David Lee? Is he a better scorer at all? And even if you grant a small edge for ballhandling and defense, does it make up for Lee’s huge edge in rebounding?

    p.s. This is all based on Lee’s numbers THIS year. In other words, if 2007-2008 reflects his true level of play, and last season was a total fluke, he’s still as good as David West. He doesn’t “have” to improve, to be extremely valuable. That said, I think DL’s true level is probably somewhere in between…”

  26. jon abbey

    “Is David West really a much better scorer than David Lee? Is he a better scorer at all? ”

    yes, yes, yes and yes. please watch more basketball games not involving the Knicks.

  27. jon abbey

    I mean, the thing about comparing numbers like that, like I said above, is that you have guys in entirely different situations. the bottom line is that if Lee and West had flipped teams this past season, it’s pretty clear to me that New Orleans would be worse and the Knicks probably wouldn’t be too much different. NO needs West to score in the precise way that he does, pick and roll jumpers and one-on-one post moves 8-10 feet from the basket. Lee has many strengths in his game, but he is not capable of scoring like that.

  28. Owen

    “NO needs West to score in the precise way that he does, pick and roll jumpers and one-on-one post moves 8-10 feet from the basket.”

    I don’t know, I think this is a just-so-story.

    I think Lee would have a great time getting open for Paul’s feeds. With as well as he moves off the ball it might be a match made in heaven…

  29. Thomas B.

    Jon had a good point about West’s tip outs. Should West not get some credit for the tip outs that result in a possesion for his team? Is that action functionally the same as a rebound? If so, that would bring West closer to Lee in rebounding (assuming that you could quantify tip outs and assuming Lee’s tip outs are not equal to or greater than West’s…hell thats too confusing, forget it.)

    I would trade Lee for West without question. I like Lee but until I see him play in a big game, and with a center that is interested in rebounding, I cant say he is better than West.

    What we need is a simulator that trades Lee to the Hornets, lets him play 20 seasons with the team and we then take the average and see if it beats West’s production. Hell thats confusing too. Why dont we just agree that I’m right and end the debate.

  30. Thomas B.

    Caleb,

    Could the diff in Lee and JJ’s scoring per 40 be due to Lee’s ft%, which is something like 30% higher than JJ’s? Also, JJ plays a lot of sf and he ends up takin shots outside of the paint, which he should not do. Not defending JJ but it is an apple-orange comp you got there IMO.

  31. jon abbey

    my point was about Chandler’s tipouts, not West. Chandler is the one who does that seemingly 5-10 times a game, I don’t remember seeing West do it at all.

  32. Frank

    jon abbey – as you well know we’ve had this same argument about David Lee v whoever about 50 times on this board. You will never convince the more statistically minded people here that there is an inherent value to be able to take the ball in your own hands and score a bucket when your team needs it, irregardless of the offensive game plan. I for one think the ability to create a good shot when the offense breaks down is one of the most difficult things to do in offensive basketball. Again, not taking anything away from Lee, who is excellent at playing off other people’s action. Being able to create a good shot out of a not-ideal situation and knowing how to be available for a good pass and being able to finish it — they are two different skills that players have to varying extents. I just think it’s harder to find the former than the latter, but that’s just me.

  33. NIck

    I wish the numbers guys on Lee would actuallhy look at the numbers instead of distort them in favor of Lee. As the breakdown shows West is better both outside and inside. The only thing the numebers show Lee being better at is on dunks which make up 18% of his offense. So to constantly minimize things by saying oh I don’t weant a guy who shoots 5% better on jump shots when I could have an efficient player, is either a man crush on Lee or a miscomprehension of both the actual numbers and the game of basketball itself. Can we please inject a dose of reality into these arguments.

    David Lee
    New York Knicks
    2007-2008 NBA Season
    Player Stats | 5-Man Units | By Position | On/Off Court | Clutch Play

    Floor Time statistics
    Min Net Pts Off Def Net48 W L Win%
    59% -245 96.8 101.8 -5.0 29 47 38.2
    These stats represent how the team performed while the player was on the floor.
    The Net48 number shows the average +/- net points over a full game.

    Scoring
    By FG. FGA FG% eFG% Ast’d Blk’d FTM Pts
    Game 4.2 7.6 .553 .553 59% 13% 2.4 10.8

    Shooting Details
    Shot selection Shot Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
    Jump 26% .405 67% 8% 1.6
    Close 53% .515 48% 20% 4.1
    Dunk 18% .944 77% 2% 2.5
    Tips 4% .296 0% 0% 0.2
    Inside 74% .603 57% 14% 6.8
    Shot clock usage Secs. Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
    0-10 42% .607 45% 10% 3.9
    11-15 22% .543 75% 14% 1.9
    16-20 24% .476 71% 18% 1.7
    21+ 11% .529 68% 11% 0.9
    Crunch 35% .493 70% 16% 2.6

    David West
    New Orleans Hornets
    2007-2008 NBA Season
    Player Stats | 5-Man Units | By Position | On/Off Court | Clutch Play

    Floor Time statistics
    Min Net Pts Off Def Net48 W L Win%
    72% +409 102.0 95.2 6.8 49 25 66.2
    These stats represent how the team performed while the player was on the floor.
    The Net48 number shows the average +/- net points over a full game.

    Scoring
    By FG. FGA FG% eFG% Ast’d Blk’d FTM Pts
    Game 8.3 17.2 .482 .484 57% 6% 3.9 20.6

    Shooting Details
    Shot selection Shot Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
    Jump 65% .434 62% 4% 9.7
    Close 28% .540 51% 10% 5.2
    Dunk 5% .881 62% 0% 1.4
    Tips 3% .441 0% 3% 0.4
    Inside 35% .576 50% 8% 7.0
    Shot clock usage Secs. Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
    0-10 26% .554 54% 5% 5.0
    11-15 26% .479 63% 6% 4.2
    16-20 29% .492 56% 5% 4.9
    21+ 19% .383 56% 8% 2.5
    Crunch 48% .449 56% 6% 7.4

  34. z-man

    I would describe the difference between West and Lee as follows: West is a complete basketball player with no glaring weaknesses; Lee is an excellent athlete who has glaring weaknesses on both the offensive and defensive end. Caleb starts from the conclusion that Lee is great and then uses stats selectively to back up his case. For example, he says that 2.4 to 1.6 is only a small difference in assists, but percentage-wise it is a 50%increase, or a huge difference compared to Lee’s rebounding edge. Also, there are many “in the flow” hidden intangibles that the stats he uses doesn’t consider. For example, guys like West and, to mention another, Turkoglu, don’t have the luxury of hanging around the boards, they MUST score from the perimeter for their teams to be successful; this lowers their rebound numbers. Also, Lee’s shots from naywhere beyond point blank range are rarely contested and he never draws attention from any defender other than his own, who can often drop back to prevent penetration without worrying that lee might burn them with a medium range (or in Turkoglu’s case a long range) jumper. And, the fact that West has way more blocked shots than Lee and considerably more steals indicates that he is the superior defensive player by a large margin. Lee also did not get much better this year, and might have actually regressed, so it is highly debatable how much upside he has.

    Any GM who would even entertain the thought of trading West for Lee would be laughed out of the business. It would be almost as stupid as trading 2 lottery picks for a fat, lazy, one-dimensional center….

  35. retropkid

    Lee cannot run the floor with Paul. West can. I am a Lee fan, but West has more ability to create his own shot, and to fill lanes on th break.

    For all the success Tim Duncan has had, I laugh when people call him fundamentally sound. He has had big TO games throughout his career, very erratic with touches. And he is a lousy free throw shooter….and certainly his club didn’t make NO pay for the double teams — he is lousy at hitting the open man once the ball gets into him too.

    That said, I would be surprised if Spurs/Celts doesn’t happen. And we’ll see where KG stacks up in the bright hot lights. I think this might be his year.

  36. o_boogie

    “For all the success Tim Duncan has had, I laugh when people call him fundamentally sound. He has had big TO games throughout his career, very erratic with touches. And he is a lousy free throw shooter….and certainly his club didn’t make NO pay for the double teams — he is lousy at hitting the open man once the ball gets into him too.”

    even jordan had high turnover games, its gonna happen. duncan makes less mistakes and is more efficient than any active power forward and possibly of alltime. when teams double down on duncan in the post, it rarely seems like he forces a bad shot. duncan does an excellent job passing out of the double, up there with guys like shaq, webber and divac.

    the reason people call duncan fundamentally sound is because of said skillset and the fact he is so effective without all the flash and pizazz of guys like d-wade, lebron, shaq or kobe.

  37. z-man

    Again, stats, while telling part of the story, do not tell all. There is no substitute for watching the games and seeing how individuals affect the outcome in all areas of the game, as well as in situations where the game is in the balance. Duncan has proven himself time and time again to be a winning player who leaves a monstrous footprint on each game regardless of what his stat line says. He can take over a game, or make it easier for other players to take over, depending on the flow of the game. To me, it is his ability to do this that makes him fundamentally sound.

  38. caleb

    “You will never convince the more statistically minded people here that there is an inherent value to be able to take the ball in your own hands and score a bucket when your team needs it…”

    Speaking for myself, of course there is value in being able to create a shot. But how much? David West’s offensive numbers (volume, efficiency, points) are almost identical to Jamal Crawford. A decent offensive player, sure… All-Star scorer?

    You expect efficiency to go down when you shoot more, because it does take work to create shots. Likewise, if you shoot less, you should be more more efficient.

    But Nick misses the forest for the trees. The blizzard of numbers he has thrown out — the bottom line is that Lee manages to score a decent amount, at an extremely efficient rate. This is essentially becacuse he does not take bad shots — an underappreciated talent. He COULD take a lot more shots, and score more. I think he would score about as much as West. Maybe not – maybe it would only be 18 a game, not 20. (and maybe it would be 22!) But unless you think he is utterly incompetent, worse than Jared Jeffries incompetent, it’s pretty obvious that if he tacked on enough shots to shoot as much as David West, he would score close to 20 ppg.

    “Caleb starts from the conclusion that Lee is great and then uses stats selectively to back up his case. For example, he says that 2.4 to 1.6 is only a small difference in assists, but percentage-wise it is a 50%increase, or a huge difference compared to Lee’s rebounding edge.”

    1. I listed #s in every category – not selective.

    2. There was a relatively large difference in assists this year, but not in past years, which makes me question whether it’s a fluke.

    3. In relative terms, it;s a 50% difference; in actual terms it is 0.8 assists per game, compared to a difference of almost 3 rebounds per game (both adjusted for equal minutes)

    “Not defending JJ but it is an apple-orange comp you got there IMO.”

    My only point was a reductio ad absurdum — despite what some people have argued, David Lee is not a BAD offensive player; a bad offensive player puts up numbers and looks like Jared Jeffries.

    “Any GM who would even entertain the thought of trading West for Lee would be laughed out of the business. It would be almost as stupid as trading 2 lottery picks for a fat, lazy, one-dimensional center….”

    David West is very good player, and of course different teams have different needs, but when you factor in age and salary, his trade value is nowhere near David Lee.

  39. caleb

    *** WARNING — POTENTIALLY OFFENSIVE COMMENT ***

    The fetish for players who score 20 ppg reminds me of the way 16-year-old kids feel about giant breasts. It doesn’t matter if they’re fake — doesn’t matter what the rest of the body looks like — doesn’t matter if you share the same interests, or have the same sense of humor — you look at them, and it’s the only thing that matters in the world.

    But with a little more experience, you start to understand what really goes into a good relationship, or good sex for that matter…

  40. caleb

    “Again, stats, while telling part of the story, do not tell all. There is no substitute for watching the games and seeing how individuals affect the outcome in all areas of the game,”

    Not to come across as someone who doesn’t appreciate watching the game — but there’s not a stastical method out there (aside from points-per-game!) that doesn’t show Tim Duncan as one of the very best players in the league.

    Then again, Duncan isn’t as good as David West, who not only outscored him but is much better at putting the ball on the floor, and has a nicer-looking jumper, to boot.

  41. Deke

    Frank,

    “You will never convince the more statistically minded people here that there is an inherent value to be able to take the ball in your own hands and score a bucket when your team needs it, irregardless of the offensive game plan. I for one think the ability to create a good shot when the offense breaks down is one of the most difficult things to do in offensive basketball.”

    There are actually two camps on this. Berri values rebounds highly and does not place value on being able to create shots. His model has some problems, though. For an extreme example, a team made up of Chandler, Lee, Josh Childress, Ronnie Brewer, and Antonio Daniels playing the majority of the minutes would be predicted to win around 70 games (probably more, assuming that they have even semi-productive backups) according to Berri. Those players are all guys I like, and they fit their roles to a T, but that is a bit much.

    On the other hand, PER and other stats may overemphasize the ability to create shots, arguably overrating players like 76ers Iverson or Tracy McGrady of the last few years. To me, the ability to create offense is a very valuable skill, especially if a player can do so while avoiding turnovers, like David West can.

    Lee is fantastic and I would want him on my team, but someone made the argument that if Lee got the touches that West did and his efficiency held up, he would score a lot more. Frankly, that’s a pretty ridiculous point to make. Lee’s TO rate is higher than West’s with half the offensive responsibility, and he shoots higher percentages because he doesn’t receive as much defensive attention and usually isn’t forced to take bailout shots like West sometimes is. Lee’s lack of offensive skill relative to West would probably result in more turnovers and a lower FG% if they had the same offensive responsibilities.

  42. Nick

    Caleb,
    If efficiency goes down as usage goes up than why is Lee less efficient than West at every aspect of office but dunking despite taking less shots. Lee is a good player but really more of a Kurt Rambis type. I still don’t get the doesn’t take bad shots as being a sign of skill it’s a sign of timidity, lack of ability or giving him the benefit of the doubt in Lee’s case unselfishness. But neither Joel Pryzbilla or Dikembe Motumbo take bad shots but I don’t think you would argue that they are good or even competent offensive players and certainly not talented. A more accurate guage of Lee would be to compare his numbers to the league average from the various ranges.

    I don’t get the Jamal-West comparision. Jamal shot 80% jump shots and 41% whereas West shot 65% and .48%. So despite both takign 17 shots to get their 20.6 a game it’s from completely different styles.

  43. caleb

    “why is Lee less efficient than West at every aspect of office but dunking despite taking less shots.”

    This is what I mean by missing the forest for the trees.. Lee has a TS% over 60 (65 last year); West is at 53 – career high. Efficiency-wise, there’s no comparison.

    “I don’t get the Jamal-West comparision. Jamal shot 80% jump shots and 41% whereas West shot 65% and .48%. So despite both takign 17 shots to get their 20.6 a game it’s from completely different styles.”

    You are talking about style and I am talking about effectiveness.

    Deke summarizes the various camps well, except…

    “someone made the argument that if Lee got the touches that West did and his efficiency held up, he would score a lot more…”

    My actual argument was that he doesn’t need to maintain his efficiency on the additional shots; to score as much as West (on equivalent touches), he only needs to be as efficient as Jared Jeffries, to score as much as West. (assuming he still got the garbage points, fast-break points, etc. that he does now– and why wouldn’t he?)

    A question for those who say shot-creation is REALLY important: in the PER formula, if you take 10 additional shots, and miss them all, your PER goes up. Is this a feature or a bug?

  44. caleb

    “For an extreme example, a team made up of Chandler, Lee, Josh Childress, Ronnie Brewer, and Antonio Daniels playing the majority of the minutes would be predicted to win around 70 games (probably more, assuming that they have even semi-productive backups) according to Berri…”

    There is a law of diminishing returns… you can’t have 5 players on the court who do the same thing, because while they’re not doing that thing, they would just be standing around.

    Most people understand this intuitively, which is why they’re all squawking about how you wouldn’t win with five David Lees…

    …but the law of diminishing returns is equally (or more) true of scorers. If Isiah had realized this…

  45. cwod

    “Lee is fantastic and I would want him on my team, but someone made the argument that if Lee got the touches that West did and his efficiency held up, he would score a lot more. Frankly, that’s a pretty ridiculous point to make. Lee’s TO rate is higher than West’s with half the offensive responsibility, and he shoots higher percentages because he doesn’t receive as much defensive attention and usually isn’t forced to take bailout shots like West sometimes is. Lee’s lack of offensive skill relative to West would probably result in more turnovers and a lower FG% if they had the same offensive responsibilities.”

    I’m pretty sure the point has been that Lee’s efficiency wouldn’t remain constant with increased touches. However, the point has been argued that, even if Lee’s efficiency sank to Jared Jeffries levels with the added touches, which, given how awful Jeffries is, is unlikely, he would still score almost as much as West.

    “I still don’t get the doesn’t take bad shots as being a sign of skill it’s a sign of timidity, lack of ability or giving him the benefit of the doubt in Lee’s case unselfishness.”

    So, if Lee *did* take more bad shots, would that be a sign of confidence, of an abundance of ability, or of selfishness, even if those shots are terrible and hurt the team’s overall offense? I don’t follow. To me, shot selection, which is what people are basically talking about, is a skill that many other players could learn from, like Zach and Jamal. If, like Lee, they had a better grasp of their strengths and weaknesses, they’d take fewer jumpers and see an increase in their offensive efficiency.

    But of course, not taking bad shots would show that they’re timid and lack ability.

    I haven’t seen enough of West to know what kind of player he is. From afar, he seems like a nice piece, with maybe a more well-rounded game than Lee. Of course, we’ll have to see if this season was a fluke, as people have argued, or just nice improvement in a few categories.

  46. Frank

    “My actual argument was that he doesn’t need to maintain his efficiency on the additional shots; to score as much as West (on equivalent touches), he only needs to be as efficient as Jared Jeffries, to score as much as West.”

    This statement in itself should really make you question how you use your stats. This is just clearly not true in the real world no matter how you use stats to justify the statement.

    In order for Lee to get a higher usage rate/have more shots than he has now, he would be forced to do things that he is NOT efficient at — post ups, drives, shots. Assuming that he is successful at this, the other team would no longer guard him not at all or would switch a better defender to him, which would degrade his efficiency further. In addition, if he were to be a focal point of the offense, he would no longer be in as good position to get offensive rebound tip-ins etc. So to extrapolate his efficiency or scoring ability to the # of shots David West gets when the vast majority of Lee’s buckets come in very limited ways is extremely questionable to me.

  47. W.C.

    >It always comes down to the same thing, would you rather have the guy who has the ability to score five more points on six more shots. The guy who can score more or the guy who can score better<

    This is exactly correct!

    However, what the stats don’t tell you is that you NEED some guys that can create their own shots. Naturally you want them to be as efficient as possible, but the idea that a highly efficient guy is always better is wildly flawed.

    If you put 5 highly efficient guys on the court, but each didn’t have much ability to create his own shots etc… the team would be horrible offensively and the efficiency of all the supposedly efficient players would drop dramatically. They would all be forced to take way more horrible shots or watch the 24 second clock expire.

    Being able to create your own shot and score a lot of points is a valuable skill onto itself. The problem is that many of the players that have that skill wind up taking too many bad shots. Others are “forced” to take too many bad shots because the supposedly “more efficient” players on the team CAN’T CREATE for themselves and someone has to shoot.

  48. Deke

    I see what you’re arguing. Obviously, the team I proposed was ridiculous, but from what I have seen from Berri’s trade evaluations, he pretty much does transplant a player’s production from their old team to the new one, which doesn’t really take into account whether skillsets will overlap either.

    Given Lee’s current efficiency and West’s, the overall effectiveness of their scoring is probably closer than you’d think, but West is able to produce around the league average in TS% (I think) at a much higher volume with fewer turnovers. He’s also afforded more defensive attention, which has been one key for the Hornets this season.

    PER wouldn’t make someone who missed that many shots look good, but it might underrate the extent to which wild shooting hurts teams.

    I think there’s merit to both sides, and I’m somewhere in between. Even if I don’t really like Berri sometimes, he is never uninteresting.

  49. Nick

    “So, if Lee *did* take more bad shots, would that be a sign of confidence, of an abundance of ability, or of selfishness, even if those shots are terrible and hurt the team’s overall offense? I don’t follow. To me, shot selection, which is what people are basically talking about, is a skill that many other players could learn from, like Zach and Jamal. If, like Lee, they had a better grasp of their strengths and weaknesses, they’d take fewer jumpers and see an increase in
    their offensive efficiency.”

    To the extent that I came off as expressing a preference for Zach or Jamal or players of their ilk I apologize. There’s a difference between taking stupid shots ala Zach and Jamal and passing up makeable shots, just passing off to someone else or being a non-participant in the offense. I’m not suggesting that Lee or anyone would be better by taking contested jumpers with more than 5 seconds left on the shot clock, it’s more when you get under ten seconds or when you have an open look really the possession almost demands that you take it unless there is one that is immediately better rather than passing off.

  50. cwod

    Okay. Sorry. I was confused, because your original post used the phrase “bad shots.”

  51. Thomas B.

    “my point was about Chandler’s tipouts, not West. Chandler is the one who does that seemingly 5-10 times a game, I don’t remember seeing West do it at all.”

    Sorry, I’ll have to stop trying to post while I’m giving my son his 2 a.m. bottle.

  52. Owen

    “However, what the stats don’t tell you is that you NEED some guys that can create their own shots.”

    That stats in fact tell you that you need scorers. Berri will tell you that they are crucial, that every teams needs a few players who can score at a high rate.

    But the stats also tell you that scoring by itself is not actually that rare of a skill. You can bring Deshawn Stevenson in out of obscurity and he can pick up the slack when Gilbert Arenas gets injured. Not that he is a better player, but he did have a higher efg% this year than Gilbert did last year.

    Arenas took 19 shots per game last year. The Wizards managed to survive losing him and his last second shot taking ability very comfortably. There are a million examples of this phenomenon. It’s not as hard to “create shots” as most people think.

    The NBA is full of guys who can fill it up. It’s in fact full of guys who have spent their entire lives being the primary scoring option on their team.

  53. retropkid

    “Again, stats, while telling part of the story, do not tell all. There is no substitute for watching the games and seeing how individuals affect the outcome in all areas of the game, as well as in situations where the game is in the balance. Duncan has proven himself time and time again to be a winning player who leaves a monstrous footprint on each game regardless of what his stat line says. He can take over a game, or make it easier for other players to take over, depending on the flow of the game. To me, it is his ability to do this that makes him fundamentally sound.”

    No question Duncan is one of the best players in the league, and a first ballot HoFer. But it is his demeanor that is old school/fundamental, not his game. His foul shooting alone disqualifies him from being really “fundamentally sound” — or at least more sound than peers like KG or Karl Malone. By that definition, Shaq is fundamentally sound with a monstrous footprint, too, (and probably better passer out of doubles) but nobody ever uses “fundamentally sound” to describe Shaq. Why? Demeanor, image, temperatment, not skills…

    Duncan has an inordinate number of games with 4, 5 or more TOs in his career…he is fundamentally erratic, like Shaq, like Wilt!!… — and a tremendous ball player anyway.

  54. PeteRoc

    You can’t compare Lee and West…it’s apples and oranges. I love both players, but the statistical comparisons cited are deceptive.

    I have yet to see a statistic that shows % of points scored on catch-and-shoot opportunities vs. % scored after demonstrating a basketball move (there’s some subjectivity in distinguishing between the two, but something’s better than nothing). This is where I think you would see glaring differences in Lee and West (not that scoring one way is better than the other, but it would substantiate my claim of apples and oranges). I haven’t watched all of NO’s games, but my guess is that West gets a higher % from the latter while Lee gets more from the former. Qualitatively, I think its harder to get off a shot, let alone score when you’re in the latter group. As a result, you can only compare players in the same group if you’re making an argument for one over the other. If you accept my assessment of the groups from which Lee and West get their scoring production, an argument for Lee being comparable to West when given more “touches” is unfair to West. In effect, you’re really saying if Lee got more catch and shoot (dunks/open Js) opportunities vs. West having to demonstrate a basketball move to score over someone, then voila…Lee is just as productive if not more than West.

  55. retropkid

    West essentially carried his club to victory against the defending champs in a play-off environment. Lee has never been in a play-off environment, never been on a winning club, never carried his team….

    I love Lee, and he is a much better rebounder than West. But West was un-stoppable in crunch time in a huge game….My bet is he has a few dog games from here, and the Spurs will win the series, but even so, he is in terrain Lee hasn’t sniffed, with at least one scalp on his belt…

  56. W.C.

    IMO, there is interrelationship between efficiency, the number of shots you take, the quality of the shots you take, and your ability to create easy shots.

    Each team is going to take “X” shots per game depending on the pace and other factors.

    What they want to do is take the best possible shot they can on each attempt. By that I mean having the greatest probability of scoring the most points possible.

    This is the issue:

    There are some highly efficient players “according to the stats”, that cannot get open or create their own shot very often.

    - When they get an offensive rebound and put it back up and in, that’s great.

    - When they get away on a fast break and dunk the ball, that’s great.

    - When their defender misses an assignment and they get a layup, that’s great.

    - When they get a wide open look from short range because one of the more creative players got doubled teamed, that’s great.

    Guys like that have beautiful efficiency stats. But if you gave them the ball more often they wouldn’t be able to score much more because they wouldn’t be able to get many more easy shots (like I described above) than they already get. They don’t have the skill, athletic ability, talent etc… to get them. If you tried to force it, they would wind up shooting a very low percentage from the outside because they would be totally covered (sometimes aren’t very good outside shooters to begin with). Their efficiency numbers would plummet terribly even if their scoring went up a little.

    On a well rounded team there are also usually guys that can get to the hoop, beat a double team, shoot a decent percentage from the outside even when covered etc….

    Guys like that are often FORCED to take unattractive shots because they are the only ones on the team that can do so at a reasonable level of efficiency within the required 24 seconds. They are forced to because even though there are more efficient players on the team “according to the stats” those guys can’t get a shot on their own or hit anything difficult at anywhere near a reasonable efficiency.

    On the Knicks for example, Randolph and Crawford have pretty poor efficiency numbers. I’m not going to argue that they make all good shooting decisions (they obviously don’t). But they are not nearly as bad as people think based on their efficiency numbers. For better or worse they are the Knick’s best scorers. As a result, they often have to take a shot even though it’s not a great one because it just happens to be the best one available (highest probability of scoring). Crawford chucking up a three or Randolph shooting while double teamed is sometimes actually a better option than David Lee shooting from 18 with solid defensive coverage and much less of an ability to create something better.

    Shooting all those mediocre shots destroys their efficiency numbers, but the simple fact of the matter is that much of the time it WAS the best shot available even though the percentage was not that great.

    If for example we brought a great PG to NY that could draw double teams and score at a solid rate (like Chris Paul), the efficiency ratings of guys like Crawford and Randolph would rise sharply because they would no longer be forced to take as many mediocre shots. Very often the shot that Paul could get on his own would be a better option than a Crawford 3 pointer or a Zach 15 footer with 2 men on him.

    It’s all inter-related.

    You can’t just look at efficiency stats.

    The truly great guys are the players like Lebron James. He scores at a very high rate DESPITE being forced to take many mediocre shots because many of his teammates can’t create for themselves. In fact, statistically, I think his results are incredible. If he had some real talent around him, his PPG would drop a little, but his FG and efficiency stats would go through the roof. I don’t care what the stats say now, he is far and away the best offensive player in the NBA right now. His only slight weakness is at the freethrow line. He’a way better than Kobe (though kobe is also forced to take bad shots from time to time because of the limitations of his teammates).

  57. W.C.

    >If David Lee maintained his level of efficiency, while touching the ball as much as David West, he would score 23.8 points per 40 minutes. Intuition tells us that probably wouldn’t happen. If the offense ran through Lee, the defense would pay more attention to him and his efficiency would go down.<

    This is the fallacy.

    Not only would the defense pay more attention to him, David Lee could not get more of the same quality of shots he is getting now even if the defense didn’t pay more attention to him.

    His efficiency rating is high because he is getting offensive rebounds and putting them back up for an easy score, getting a layup because someone else got double teamed, getting a layup on a break away etc…. Those are all great opportunities, but they are limited. He can’t create more of them.

    If you ran the offense through Lee, his efficiency rating would plummet because he cannot create more terrific opportunities with his current skill set.

  58. caleb

    Pthe section of my pist that you’re complianing about makes the same point you are trying to make – that dl’s efficiency would go down if he shot more.

    But, I think he would have just as many easy baskets – those are “foun shots (or rather, “created” by his off-ball movement, hustle, o-rebounding, etc.

    I believe it is only on the “extra” shots that his efficiency would be lower.

  59. W.C.

    >I believe it is only on the “extra” shots that his efficiency would be lower.<

    Agreed, but IMHO, his efficiency on those extra shots would be wildly worse than the efficiency we are getting from the alternatives right now (even though even those numbers aren’t very attractive either).

    I guess what I am saying is that I believe efficiency is being overrated when applied to low and medium level scorers relative to high scorers that also retain a decent efficiency.

    Most high scorers could dramatically raise their efficiency if they wanted to by being more selective. They don’t because it’s not in the best interests of the team for them to shoot less often and defer to less talented/skilled players that might have higher efficiency ratings. The lower scorers could not raise their PPGs up to the level of the high scorers and still retain an efficiency level simlar to the high scorers.

  60. Owen

    “Most high scorers could dramatically raise their efficiency if they wanted to by being more selective. ”

    The only reason players don’t try to be more efficient is that you don’t get paid to be efficient in the NBA. You get paid for raw scoring.

    And it doesn’t help your reputation much either. Who thinks Kevin Martin is a better player than Allen Iverson?

    People will always prefer volume to efficiency. Why that is, I don’t know, but it is definitely true.

    But for those of interested in what others have to say on the matter, check out Basketball on Paper and “skill curves.”

  61. caleb

    “Agreed, but IMHO, his efficiency on those extra shots would be wildly worse than the efficiency we are getting from the alternatives right now…”

    I more or less agree, but it depends what you mean by “wildly worse.” In my thought experiment above, I hypothesized that he would be as efficient as Jared Jeffries — which is really awful, #313 of 324 NBA players with more than 500 minutes last year. (#306 was Quentin Richardson and #324, ta-da, Mardy Collins).

    I think that’s being conservative — after all, DL gets to the line more than the average NBA power forward, hits a respectable 40 percent of jumpers and is generally no scrub. He’s a first-round NBA pick, was a pretty big recruit out of high school… so it doesn’t seem like a stretch to say he could score as well as the worst players in the NBA. And that’s all he would need to do to score 20 a game, assuming our other assumption stays the same — that his “regular” scoring would be unchanged.

    Of course, it’s all hypothetical — there is no correct answer, at least not until David Lee becomes a go-to guy or David West becomes a part-time role player.

    So I have nothing more to add, except — anyone want to wager?: David Lee is up for an extension this summer. I predict he will get a bigger per-year contract than David West. West has an interesting deal — $10.6 million this year, decliing each year through a $7.2 million player option in 2011-2012. That’s an average of $9.1 million, counting this year.

    Any takers?

  62. Duff Soviet Union

    Reading some of these comments about David West, I remember what Bill Simmons had to say about him. Paraphrasing, he said that West was going to be one of those guys who is so underrated he eventually becomes very overrated. I think that’s already starting to happen. I would take David Lee over him pretty easily and I am neither a Knicks fan nor a Dave Berri disciple.

  63. Ray

    Enough about David West. What if Walsh drafted Lopez…how would that effect things?

  64. caleb

    Julian Wright looks sharp, doesn’t he? Crisp D, good hands (and as I was writing this he made a 3).

    Lakers will be awesome for a while but the Hornets could be right with them the next few years…

  65. jon abbey

    with D’Antoni seemingly heading for Chicago and Phoenix saying they don’t want Avery Johnson, it would seem like the Knicks have a shot at Avery. if he would actually come here (a big if), that would seem to be a decided upgrade on the unknown quantity and no experience of Mark Jackson.

  66. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    caleb Said:

    “So I have nothing more to add, except — anyone want to wager?: David Lee is up for an extension this summer. I predict he will get a bigger per-year contract than David West. West has an interesting deal — $10.6 million this year, decliing each year through a $7.2 million player option in 2011-2012. That’s an average of $9.1 million, counting this year.

    Any takers?”

    I would say this if Zach Randolph is on this team for the entire season, I’ll take the under. While I don’t agree wholeheartedly with Berri’s numbers, they do expose a weakness in NBA front offices: teams overvalue scorers. Due to Randolph’s ability (willingness?) to score more than Lee, he’ll be the starter for next season (unless we bring in a forward thinking coach). This will reduce the value for Lee because he’ll still be seen as a role player/energy bench guy.

    However if the Knicks move Randolph in the summer or mid-season I’ll take the over (especially if it’s for a center that can block shots).

  67. caleb

    You’re right about the dynamic — Randolph’s existence hurts Lee’s bargaining power. But I’ll stick with the over, either way… perhaps in a sign and trade, if Randolph looks to be staying. Close call.

  68. dave crockett

    The thing I find interesting about round #692 of the David Lee vs. [insert 20-point scorer here] discussion is that it continues to be framed as a “stathead” versus “observation” argument.

    To me the interesting question is on the observation side. (Note: I generally agree with the stathead argument about Lee. Despite his limts, he is by every measure a very good player.) If you had first round pick, would you take a guy with clear limits as a one-on-one scorer, but who is excellent off the ball, and try to add some one-on-one moves? Or would you rather take a guy who is a high volume/low-medium efficiency scorer and try to teach him to play off the ball?

    Unless a guy is really special I’d rather have the former everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. As for the D. West comparisons, I do think they’re apples and oranges to some extent. However, I have to disagree a bit with jon abbey’s take on why. I think he’s arguing that West is at a disadvantage because he plays better competition. True, but we could make adjustments that get at a reasonable comparison between the two. I argue that Lee suffers in any comparison with West because the offense he plays in is a joke. Having no point guard, no shooters, no decision makers and generally no floor spacing systematically understates what he does well (apart from rebound)–move without the ball to create good shots. If Lee played with Chris Paul he might never have to develop a back-to-the-basket game.

  69. z-man

    I find myself rooting hard for Avery. Really think he’s the right guy to patiently deal with the upcoming transitions. No way Jackson should get the edge over him. I’m not a big fan of D’Antoni either. We need a defensive-minded coach, and that ain’t him.

    Avery got a bad rap in the past two years because of the playoffs. I truly think it was a lousy mix of players that couldn’t deal with a young, athletic team who made someone other than Dirk beat them. (Wow, was Dampier a bust or what? I have to confess to wanting the knicks to sign him 4 years ago; well, he’s no worse than either JJ, or Curry for that matter!) You could say that SA was just better than Phoenix, but D’Antoni is clearly an offensive minded coach that is not a good fit with the current knicks, or any knicks long-time knick fans want to see(DEE-FENSE!)

  70. jon abbey

    “I have to disagree a bit with jon abbey’s take on why. I think he’s arguing that West is at a disadvantage because he plays better competition. True, but we could make adjustments that get at a reasonable comparison between the two. I argue that Lee suffers in any comparison with West because the offense he plays in is a joke.”

    I’m basically saying that it’s impossible to compare for a lot of reasons, but one of those is that New Orleans’ games (at least this season) are all meaningful and Lee’s career has mostly been irrelevant games, for NY at least. there’s a different level of pressure there, game in and game out, I don’t see how one could account for that. the primary pieces on New Orleans fit together extremely well, and Lee’s skill set wouldn’t fit as well there IMO.

  71. cwod

    Mark Jackson’s hiring will be announced this week? That’s apparently what ESPN Radio is saying.

  72. Owen

    A side comment to this whole volume/efficiency argument.

    DWest had a great game in Game 1, and was probably the critical factor in that victory. He then had a bad game in Game 2. 2-11 from the field, four turnovers. Win Score of 3 in 39 minutes.

    For the series he s scoring 20 points a game, with a ts% of 51.5%, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1 steal, four turnovers per in 40 minutes per game. To me, those look like good numbers, but not all that great.

    But from a reputation perspective, there is no substitute for having one huge game. People remember great performances in wins for a long time. The only truly memorable bad game I can think of is John Starks, game 7. I can remember a million great games.

    It seems to me that players who are very volatile in their performances, who have big highs and big lows, will always be rated higher than steadier players who are equally productive, because they will occasionally have monster games that capture people’s attention.

  73. MJG

    Arguably, players who are legitimately explosive should be paid the extra attention. Vernon Maxwell had horrible stats but you didn’t want to be there when he went for 40, and you certainly didn’t want him taking the last shot of any close game. Ditto Rex Chapman. Are guys like that more valuable than the Shane Battier/Rick Fox types? In the regular season, no doubt. In the playoffs, I think you want the explosive guy, because defenses have to plan for him. What do you guys think?

  74. jon abbey

    “It seems to me that players who are very volatile in their performances, who have big highs and big lows, will always be rated higher than steadier players who are equally productive, because they will occasionally have monster games that capture people’s attention.”

    but one of the reasons he had an awful game in game 2 was that his performance in game 1 forced the SA D to focus on him even more, and that opened up the rest of the team a bit.

  75. Owen

    “but one of the reasons he had an awful game in game 2 was that his performance in game 1 forced the SA D to focus on him even more”

    Perhaps. Frankly, he was canning a ton of difficult shots in game 1. It’s not like he was open all night. But fair enough.

    Lebron had an absolute stinker tonight. It’s hilarious that I said what I said above, since almost immediately someone has a game that I think people won’t forget for a while.

  76. Ted Nelson

    “New Orleans’ games (at least this season) are all meaningful and Lee’s career has mostly been irrelevant games, for NY at least. there’s a different level of pressure there,”

    There’s also a different level of motivation there. Being able to give your all every night and produce for a disfunctional team while the other frontcourt players eat donuts and the guards can’t touch the ball without shooting it seems as commendable to me as dealing with the “pressure” of converting CP3 passes while Peja spreads the floor and having Tyson Chandler cover for your defensive and rebounding limitations…

    If you’re a professional athlete (and even if you’re not), I think playing on a winning team pumps you up a lot more than it stresses you out. If not, you might want to reconsider your career choice.

    “Not only would the defense pay more attention to him, David Lee could not get more of the same quality of shots he is getting now even if the defense didn’t pay more attention to him.
    His efficiency rating is high because he is getting offensive rebounds and putting them back up for an easy score, getting a layup because someone else got double teamed, getting a layup on a break away etc…. Those are all great opportunities, but they are limited. He can’t create more of them.”

    “Anti-Lee” people are always complaining that he passes up jumpers; therefore, it would follow that he doesn’t have to “create” many more shots. He just has to take the jumpers he’s passing up.

    If he made 3 more 2-point jumpers at 40% shooting (without any additional free throws) he’d score about the same number of points per minute as David West with the exact same FG%. This is generous in that he’d have to continue hitting 7.5 more jumpers per 36 min. at the same % he’s hitting them now, but even if he fell to 35% shooting on those additional jumpers he’d still be shooting 46% with the same points per minute as David West: much better than some of the Knicks other options. Of course that’s an oversimplification, but I’d say that the easy looks from Chris Paul would roughly compensate for the fewer putbacks he’d generate by taking more jumpers.

    I’m not arguing that Lee is as gifted a scorer as West (or actual great players), but considering that West is considered an All-Star level performer Lee doesn’t have to equal his scoring output to be an effective starter (especially given his non-scoring skills).

    Imagine if Lee was playing 36 minutes per game, took 3 jumpers he’s passing up right now, and only made one of them (i.e. shot a miserable 33% on those three extra shots). He’d be scoring 15.4 ppg on 50% shooting and grabbing about 11 rpg (his career average is 11.2 reb/36), I don’t see much to complain about. His passing is average as is his defense. Not a “franchise player” but a pretty valuable piece in the right system with the right guys around him.

  77. Nick

    Lee plays in an offensive rebounders paradise, namely a team with Jamal, Nate, Jeffries, Collins, Q, Zach, Steph etc. so you might have to factor in those lost opportunities if he were playing with more competent and unselfish teammates.

  78. Ted Nelson

    The Knicks did have one of the worst FG% in the league (27th) but they also had no playmaker at PG. In contrast, Phoenix and Utah had the top 2 FG%s in the league, but Nash and Williams at the point.
    I don’t know whether you get more easy looks grabbing offensive boards or Nash/ Paul/ Williams/etc. passes. Without any numbers to look at I’m just sort of assuming it evens out, although theoretically it seems more difficult to grab an offensive rebound and convert than to convert off a good pass.

    One interesting stat to look at in the Lee/ West comparison is the assisted FGs. According to 82games Lee does have a higher % of his shots assisted (Lee vs. West, inside: 57% vs. 50%, jump: 67% vs. 62%), but not that many more.
    Guys like Amare Stoudamire, Dwight Howard, and Carlos Boozer (some of the better young bigs out there) have an even higher percentage of his shots assisted than Lee (Amare: 65% inside and 74% jump, Howard: 68% inside and 66% jump, and Boozer: 70% inside and 72% jump).
    Zach Randolph, not suprisingly, has less of his shots assisted than Lee: 47% inside and 54% jump.
    Whether these numbers reflect the ability to create shots, on the one hand, or the ability to play team basketball, on the other hand, seems pretty subjective.

    I guess it would be interesting to see how many missed shots would have been assisted vs. how many made shots were assisted.

    I also checked out Lee against “good”, “average”, and “poor” teams on 82games. His fg% was lower against “good” teams (.526), although it was higher against “average” teams than “poor” teams teams (.579 vs .549) so I don’t know if that says much.
    For what it’s worth, David West’s FG% improved significantly the worse his competition got.

  79. Nick

    I was being more tongue in cheek, but I guess among a thousand other things it does make for interesting debate.

  80. caleb

    Interesting #s, ted. On first blush I would say this shows that you are far more likely to have an assist on an inside shot, than an 18-foot jumper.

  81. Thomas B.

    Could David Lee be a better fit in the offense if he plays with a good PG? I think someone like CP3 would help Lee because CP3 would never give Zach the ball unless Lee was in the optimal position to score. I think West has shown how important it is to play with a talented true PG. West’s improvment is tied directly to CP3′s. Ditto for West’s defense. It helps a lot to know that you have a shot blocker like Chandler giving you help on the weak side.

    So I don’t think we will know how good Lee could be on offense unless he played with a CP3 type of PG. On defense, I don’t think Lee has the body, length, strength, or hops to compare to West, even if Lee had a top tier shot blocker behind him.
    ————

    Why isnt the draft here yet?

  82. Ricky

    Al Horford… what a great young player. Sad to see the Hawks get blown out in game 7, but that’s the way it goes. Just found out that one of my close friends from high school is dating him. Small world!

  83. retropkid

    Crawford’s shooting percentage won’t improve with a better point guard. Knicks FG% will improve dramatically just by reducing the number of shots Crawford pukes up.

  84. Z

    Reports say “The New York Knicks are preparing a ‘staggering” financial offer to lure Mike D’Antoni to become their new coach”.

    It’ll be such a confidence booster for the NY players to watch him accept half the money to coach the Bulls.

    (The biggest indictment of the Eddy Curry trade yet…)

  85. jon abbey

    yeah, I have to say it’s pretty ridiculous for Walsh to go after D’Antoni like this. Avery Johnson or Mark Jackson make way more sense to me under the circumstances.

  86. mase

    d’antoni is a winning coach who is highly respected and well liked by his players, considered a top -5 coach in the NBA.

    if he is available Walsh better get him!

  87. o_boogie

    if d’antoni is not interested in developing younger players, what happens to chandler, balkman, nate, dlee, and morris?

  88. caleb

    Not sure why people talk about him not developing young players… What abt stoudamire, barbosa? Esp boris diaw, a total benchwarmer in ATL until d’antoni found a way to use his talents…

    It is fair to say that he has maybe kept his rotation too short – but then again, he hasn’t had many options, what with PHO selling off all their draft picks..

    He also doesn’t seem to be a great in-game coach, but overall he’s been terrific.

    As a bonus – the team would be creative and fun to watch.

    I’m a big fan.

    Also, despite all the reports about chicago, even though the roster right now is def better than ours, I don’t think their mid- and long-range outlook is very good – lots of money tied up in marginal players. And donnie walsh has a much better track record than pax. I don’t know what’s in mike d’s head, but I don’t think CHI is a dramatically better job than here.

    I AM surprised that toronto hasn’t made a move. I guess there’s a good chance he is simply out of their financial range.

  89. Thomas B.

    D’Antonio is a good coach. He has shown creativity and adpatability but he has not shown that he cares to teach, preach, or value defense (given the Suns teams he has had, he didnt really need to teach defense).

    This team needs a coach that can teach the players to play team defense and get in their faces if they do not. All the more reason not to break the bank of D’Antonio. Even if this team becomes Sun’s lite, without defense we cant win a title.

    Clearly defense was the big problem last year. Yes, we don’t have the best players to create a lock down defensive team but even poor defensive players can be somewhat effective if they are taught to play team defense. Dallas did play solid D for a season or two under Johnson. That is why I like Avery Johnson.

    If we can’t get Johnson we should hire Jackson.

  90. Thomas B.

    “I don’t think their mid- and long-range outlook is very good – lots of money tied up in marginal players.”

    Good point, Caleb. The Knicks have the edge on Chicago on that one. Our money is tied up in TERRIBLE players. :-)

    Q. Rich 2 years 18.3 million left
    Jerome James 2 years 12.8 million left
    Jared Jeffries 3 years 19.4 million left
    Eddy Curry 3 years 31.5 million left (Dear Lord!)
    Z. Randolph 3 years 48.1 million dollars (Oh My GOD!)

  91. jon abbey

    I really like D’Antoni, and would probably be pushing for him if I was a Bulls fan (although I think I’d prefer Avery Johnson to him). he’s just a bad fit here, it’s wasted money, but beyond that, it’s a Larry Brown-like hire. you don’t hire D’Antoni with the level of talent we have on our roster, it just doesn’t make sense to me. I doubt he’ll actually come here anyway, but if he does, I think it’s a mistake, by both NY and D’Antoni.

  92. Ray

    You have to be a real dummy to pay Jarred Jeffries that much money. Who in the world would do such a thing? Jarred however is brilliant for having secured such a deal. What horrible contracts.

  93. Frank

    I thought Curry’s contract came off the books after 2010 and that the poison contracts we need to worry about (ie. expiring 2011 or later) were crawford, randolph, jefferies only…? i hope i’m right but am I wrong?

  94. Frank

    I also don’t think D’Antoni fits here. As I’ve said before, I would choose Avery Johnson or Thibodeau before either D’Antoni or Mark Jackson. New York fans like blue-collar defense-oriented basketball, not showtime although I’m sure it would be fun to watch.

  95. caleb

    Curry has player option for 2010-2011.

    And yeah, chicago is in better shape than us capwise (who isn’?) But not by much… E.g. They have 8m in hinrich thru 2012… Also nocioni… Will be overpaying ben gordon pretty soon… (Not to mention 14m in larry hughes thru 2010).. And a worse draft pick this year…

    And I don’t know that reinsdorf/paxson are a dream team to work for…

    Just sayin’, its better situation, but maybe not if were paying a lot more.

    On our end, obviously its a v diff situation than phoenix, but he’s not a carlisle style guy (or an avery j) who burns people out.

    I also just think he’s a creative guy….I know we’re not about to win 50 next year, but if he comes in for the long term I think he’ll do very well.

    Btw… I know he was an asst in phoenix for a while before getting the top job. That would mean he was there for marbury’s all-star years, right? Is that true? If so, would be a good example of getting the most out of what you have…

  96. Z

    “I AM surprised that toronto hasn’t made a move. I guess there’s a good chance he is simply out of their financial range.”

    Caleb– This has also been reported:

    “While D’Antoni was given permission from the Suns to interview with the Knicks and Bulls, he wasn’t extended the same courtesy when it came to former Phoenix GM Bryan Colangelo and the Toronto Raptors.”

  97. Ray

    On ESPN.com Chad Ford says Mayos stock is rising…can anyone cut and paste that article here? Thanks. I am not an insider

  98. Danisrob

    • It’s not easy for a draft prospect’s stock to move up much when teams can’t watch him play. But I’m hearing significant movement is taking place for USC’s OJ Mayo.

    As more NBA teams watch his tape and do background checks, the more it looks like Mayo may become the consensus No. 3 pick in the draft.

    Mayo’s stock suffered at the start of the season based on some pretty unrealistic expectations. He’s been on scouts’ radars since the eighth grade, and many expected him to be a LeBron James-type dominant player as a freshman.

    His per-game numbers were excellent for a freshman: 20.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 44 percent shooting from the field and 41 percent shooting from 3-point range. But they didn’t blow anyone away.

    Scouts complained about his shot selection and the fact that he didn’t appear to have the point guard skills they thought he might have. Many dropped him from the top 10 on their draft boards.

    But Mayo finished the season strong enough that teams had to go back and re-evaluate the tape. What they’re seeing now is generating significant buzz. Multiple GMs are now telling me that Mayo’s talent may be as good as advertised.

    “When you start to reassess a kid like that and quit looking at just the flaws, you see a very talented basketball player,” one prominent GM with a pick in the lottery said. “I think he’s going to be great.”

    But there’s another story, too, that’s helping Mayo’s stock. More and more teams are reporting that their background checks are coming back as positives for Mayo. Teams say that he earned good grades at USC and was a good citizen for coach Tim Floyd, and they report multiple instances of Mayo volunteering to help underprivileged kids.

    “Everything that we’re hearing is that he’s basically a good kid,” another GM said. “It’s a big deal when you’re drafting high. He’s got to be good both on and off the court. I had my worries about OJ. But my people are telling me he’s OK.”

    We’ve moved Mayo up to No. 3 on our big board and will do a more extensive report on him in the coming weeks.

  99. Johnny Twisto

    Yup!

    2-18, 10 TO
    6-24, 7 TO

    My two favorite lines of the year.

    Keep shootin, Tex.

    AND DON’T COME TO THE KNICKS!

  100. Ray

    Thanks Danis…if thats all true its starting to look like he’ll be off the board by the time we pick. That sucks.

  101. Ted Nelson

    Caleb,

    From what I’ve read D’Antoni has literally said his job is not to develop young players, and one of his and Kerr’s biggest clashes is over his not holding Amare and Leandrinho responsible for their mistakes. I’m sure this is something that Walsh has considered, though. I mean you can have one or more assistant(s) who concentrate(s) on developing young players, and it’s ultimately up to the players to improve (so maybe D’Antoni’s philosophy makes sense). He might also change his stance if he’s not coaching a 50/60 win team with some key veterans.
    As far as his actual record developing young players: it’s not bad at all. Of course, as an outside observer it’s hard to assign credit/blame between the player, coach, and GM. Young guys like Amare, Leandrinho, Diaw, and Joe Johnson have all flourished under D’Antoni, but it’s hard (if not impossible) to say whether he “developed” them/ gave them confidence or Bryan Colangelo just found some good players who “developed” themselves.

    Not that I have anything against D’Antoni, but I don’t really understand why he seems to be so much more desired than Avery Johnson…
    I don’t know what went wrong in Dallas or what his personality is like, but Johnson is 42 with a career winning % of 73.5% (of course he walked into a great situtation) and a western conference championship (in terms of his head coaching career). He’s someone who could be your coach for the next two decades.
    D’Antoni’s definitely a good coach, but the Suns have been underwhelming in the playoffs and average defensively. D’Antoni’s career NBA winning % without Steve Nash is 31.5% (35 and 76). I’m interested to see what he does in a new situation. The Bulls have some exciting athletes as do the Knicks, to a lesser extent, but neither has a Nash at the 1.

    re: OJ Mayo

    I saw Ford’s article, but Mayo’s actually slid on either NBAdraft.net or draftexpress.com (not sure which). He was #3 on one (if not both) recently, and is now #5 on both. No idea what their motivation for dropping him was or whether they or Chad Ford has a better feel where Mayo’s stock is, but I thought that was interesting.

  102. jon abbey

    “if thats all true its starting to look like he’ll be off the board by the time we pick. ”

    we don’t know when we’ll pick yet.

  103. Thomas B.

    If Mayo does become the 3rd pick as projected, that is good for the Knicks (if we remain at 5th). Mayo’s rising stock will push either Bayless or Lopez to five. If Memphis takes Lopez (they need a big with Gasol gone), the Knicks can get a player who I think has the skill set to be a Monta Ellis type player.

    I would be okay with Lopez. I think a Lopez/Lee frontcourt is better than a Curry/Randolph frontcourt.

  104. Frank

    “Yup!

    2-18, 10 TO
    6-24, 7 TO

    My two favorite lines of the year.

    Keep shootin, Tex.

    AND DON’T COME TO THE KNICKS!”

    Um – lines like these are what I look for when I play fantasy football or basketball – people start jumping off the bandwagon based on a bad game or two and are willing to sell. Johnny Twisto – if there’s a fantasy league you’re in that plays for money, I’d like to be in it.

    I’d take Lebron on this team in a millisecond. It’s not like Michael Jordan never had games like this — would you have said for MJ not to come to the Knicks based on two games?

  105. jon abbey

    Michael Jordan never had games like this in the playoffs, and certainly not two in a row. I agree that it’s ridiculous to knock LeBron too much, but he does look human for the first time. his teammates are dreadful, though, that certainly doesn’t help (but it does make it more likely he’ll leave when he can).

  106. Thomas B.

    Here is the list of OJ Mayo’s weakness as written by draftxpress.com

    • Stuck between 1 and 2
    • Poor shot-selection
    • Low shooting percentages
    • Turnovers
    • Reliance on outside shot
    • Does not get to free throw line enough

    Do the Knicks not already have a 6’5, 1/2, who played one season of NCAA ball, shows poor shot selection, shoots a low %, turns the ball over, relies on his outside, and does not get to the FT line enough? Gee, who could that be?

  107. Thomas B.

    How can a coach that doesn’t teach defense be a breath of fresh air in the Garden? The Knicks just fired one of those.

  108. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    There are a TON of problems w/the D’Antoni hire, (and odds are the ESPN leak/”story” is via D’Antoni’s agent — to drive up Chicago’s offer) but gosh golly, I’d definitely WATCH a D’Antoni-coached team. Heck, he might run out a starting lineup of:

    C Lee
    PF Balkman
    SF Chandler
    SG Nate
    PG (Hah!) Crawford

    And just let ‘er rip! Imagine if D. Rose magically “fell” into the Knicks’ lap to run the show (Don’t think for a moment that Stern isn’t beyond such hi-jinks).

    Yes, odds are Action Jackson will be the coach, and hoenstly, it’d be a good move/reasonable risk. But…(channeling my inner Dickie V)… 7 Seconds or less, baby!

  109. mason

    “How can a coach that doesn’t teach defense be a breath of fresh air in the Garden? The Knicks just fired one of those”

    WOW!

  110. Thomas B.

    Ken T.A.B.,

    Yeah I would watch that, but we are the die hard fans. We are likely to watch anything. I dont want to just watch, I want to enjoy, I want to savor the success. I want something to do in May other than wonder who the Knicks will draft (and why they havent fired D’antoni yet).

    —-
    Mase,

    I’ve thought about it a bit more and yes D’antoni would be a breath of fresh air compared to the emotionless posturing of our former coach. But D’antoni does not teach d. Can you imagine the back page of the Post after the knicks give up 140 points in the D’antoni premire?

    “Antoni!!”
    New Knicks coach forgets the D.

  111. caleb

    Phoenix D hasn’t been great, but not bad, either. 2004-2005: 16th in the league (defensive efficiency)
    2005-2006: 16th
    2006-2007: 13th
    2007-2008: 16th

    Same as offense — it really depends on personnel, more than coaching. They’ve had one great defender (Marion), one decent or pretty good one (Johnson, then Bell)… a couple of bad ones (Stoudamire, Nash — especially now)… middling defensive personnel, and middling defensive results… doesn’t look to me like (D)’Antoni is an especially weak defensive coach.

  112. Thomas B.

    Caleb,

    Yeah but every Suns player is a better defender than Crawford, Curry, and Randolph. If (D)antoni could get the Suns to the middle of the NBA in defensive efficiency with average defenders, where will the knicks be with their awful defenders?
    For a time the Suns had two very good front court defenders in Kurt Thomas and Marion. Bell is no sloutch either. The Knicks dont have anyone that compares to those guys. Plus Marion, Thomas and Bell each played D well before they met (D)antoni.

  113. caleb

    I don’t totally get your point – a coach’s job is to prperly utilize the players he has, not…. Whatever it is you’re suggesting. I mean, ewing and oakley were great defenders before they ever met pat riley.

    Anyway, the year D’antoni had kurt thomas, the suns had above average D (13th), so he knows what to do with a guy like that.

    Fwiw, every KNICKS player (practically every player in the league) plays better D than the guys you mentioned. The thing d’antoni does especially well is finding ways to get and keep his best players on the floor, and adapt to that (I mean, did anyone think the shaq trade would work out as WELL as it did?)

    The knicks aren’t going to be a good defensive team with the current roster, no matter who’s coaching, but they could be a lot better. Just one example — Balkman is already one of the best wing defenders around, and could be a total stopper with more experience and learning how to cut down on fouling.

  114. Ray

    I think Mayo has more upside than Craw and will turn out to be much stronger in the long run. Time will tell. On another note, if there was a way that we could land Chris Kaman that would be very nice. He is way under the radar but is up there in points ,blocks and rebounds year after year. With a healthy Elton Brand and a decent PG. The clips might have been a factor.

  115. Thomas B.

    Caleb,

    My point is that D’antoni does not insist on a strong defensive effort. Any defensive effort he got during his tenure was due to strong defensive players such as Thomas and Marion, who would have played strong D not matter the coach. But since the Knicks dont have anyone like that, I dont see how D’antoni will be able to improve the Knicks biggest problem, that being defense.

    The three best teams in the NBA, Celtics, Hornets, and Lakers are each good defensive teams. That is where we need to go. I dont want NY to be Denver, no D no conference finals.

  116. caleb

    “My point is that D’antoni does not insist on a strong defensive effort.”

    How would you know?

    They were an average defensive team, which – based on the roster – is about what you’d expect.
    re: Kurt Thomas, he’s a good defender, but even 8 years ago he wasn’t a Tim Duncan… and by the time the Suns had him he was 37 years old. He played most of this season in Seattle, which ranks 28th in defense.

    “The three best teams in the NBA, Celtics, Hornets, and Lakers are each good defensive teams.”

    Sure – but that’s because they have good defensive players. We sure need more, but that has nothing to do with Mike D.

    “I dont want NY to be Denver, no D no conference finals.”

    Denver was the 9th best defensive team in the league – they gave up a lot of points because they played at an incredibly fast pace. (Although, it’s true, their defense really collapsed in the last month or two).

  117. MJG

    For those trying to insist that the lack of defense on the Phoenix teams is personnel rather than D’Antoni, it’s D’Antoni. There was just a story last week that he keeps a sign in his offense saying ‘The best defensive team is the one that scores the most points.’

    However, the Knicks were their current personnel aren’t going to play defense anyway, and running and gunning for a couple of years while the team waits for contracts to run their course doesn’t sound so bad. If the Knicks became a contender after a few years, you would definitely want someone else running the show at that point.

    Another thing about D’Antoni; he only plays 7-8 guys so if David Lee ends up outside the rotation (for whatever reason) he will never play…

  118. caleb

    “There was just a story last week that he keeps a sign in his offense saying ‘The best defensive team is the one that scores the most points.’”

    I pay more attention to the results on the court than the signs on the door.

    “Another thing about D’Antoni; he only plays 7-8 guys…”

    This is because Phoenix sold off all their draft picks and no one beyond the 7th or 8th man could play NBA-level ball.

    p.s. Anyone who doesn’t think David Lee will see 35 mpg next year, under a real coach, isn’t really thinking…

  119. MJG

    I guess we’ll all find out together. But I personally think D’Antoni will be gone in 2 years or less. Phoenix fans may buy his constant blame-everybody-except-his-players-and-the-coach philosophy and the short rotation (it wasn’t just this year, it’s every year) but can’t see New Yorkers taking it. Press will have him for lunch.

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