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Sunday, April 21, 2019

New York Knicks 100 – Orlando Magic 114 – Game Recap

This early April games are seldom relevant, even during non-tanking seasons. There are only a handful of games bearing any sort of importance, what with most of the seeding and qualfication threshold being already handed out. Well, this wasn’t one of them. Orlando needs every win it can get to sneak into the playoffs (the Magic began the night being 9th, down 0.5 games from the 8th spot held by Miami), and the Knicks need every loss they can get to ensure their place amongst the top tanking teams ever. That said, the game wasn’t as bad as you could have guessed from the premises.

The Knicks actually started guns a-blazing, hitting 7 of their first 13 shots and with Mudiay doing his best impression of an average passing PG, dishing in traffic and (mostly) on the perimeter. Watching Mudiay play in the first quarter you had the feeling he stayed up late to watch tape of the latest Westbrook heroic: Mud had 5 assist in the first 6 minutes, while shooting terribly and notching only 2 points from the line in the whole period. Meanwhile, Mitch was beasting on well-timed cuts and well-executed finishes at the rim, with a couple soft layups in stride. Kevin Knox was also pretty good attacking the rim (!), never settling for that ugly floater of his but going strong to the rack with the ball up high. Intensity level wasn’t high by any measure, but it was a competitive game nonetheless. After the Knicks went up 8 (22-14) the quarter actually ended with the teams perfectly tied at 26.

The second quarter was a debacle, as shots weren’t falling at the same rate for the Knicks but mostly the offense was inconclusive while the defense was porous at best. After returning from the bench, Mitch was looking winded with more than 3 minutes to go in the second: banging bodies with Vucevic without some sort of help from anywhere else (since we started Hezonja as our power forward, making good of a promise Fizdale made to him) would do that to a rail-thin rookie with an up-and-down stamina. The quarter ended 58-45 and we knew the game was over. From there, it started the Mitch-block-streak watch, since by halftime Mitch had none, a very rare occurrence.

The third quarter saw the Knicks come very close behind lots of drives from Mario, who played a nice all-around game (save for defense, but we could expect that): the Knicks were down 2 with just 1:23 to go in the third, before three straight trifectas from Terrence Ross sent us at the last break down 11.

The fourth quarter saw the Knicks putting up a fair fight, but never coming closer than 7 points, despite the efforts from Mario (again) and Knox. We went on to lose and that was ok. I was just sad because during the telecast (and the NBA League Pass extension confirmed that) it looked like Mitch’s streak of 2+ blocks did come to an end. Alas, it was not to be. Sooner or later it had to happen, and it was more than acceptable for it to happen against Vucevic, who’s more than a handful to contain on defense and would tire a lot of guys around the league. Well, I thought, it was good until it last (and by the way Mitch would have been second all-time among rookies anyway, only tied with the Admiral).

Imagine my surprise, then, when I went to open the boxscore to write this recap. Two blocks? I remembered a clear one on a Terrence Ross jumpshot early in the fourth quarter, but where was the second? I went on to check and there it was: it was credited, with 7:02 to go in the fourth (so less than two minutes after the first) against an Aaron Gordon tip-in. And you know what? They were right! It was a block, only it happened in a split-second and in real time it looked like Gordon’s attempt just clanged onto the rim.

The streak goes on! 26 games with at least 2 blocks for Robinson, putting him in sole possession of the second place all-time among rookies. If the Knicks were a 35-win team (god forbid), I think Mitch would have a clear shot to be nominated for the second All-Defensive team. Being the Knicks a 15-win team, I don’t think his effort will be rewarded (this year). But then again, maybe it’s best not to be put in the spotlight too soon, especially with the summer of AD ’round the corner. Don’t take away my Mitch please, I want him here forever.

A few notes:

– Mitch’s streak is also the 12th longest ever in the history of the League (non only rookies). Doncic and Young might be better (they are, as of now), but Mitch’s season has been nothing short of historical. It’s the best rookie season for a Knick since Ewing, bar none. Last night (and mind you, he really was gassed in a few stretches) he posted a 12/9/3/2 line (3 steals, 2 blocks) and it looked like he wasn’t even trying that much. If his offseason is just average, he’ll come back ready to plaster opposing players all over the court. He’s just too good.

– Mario went nuts tonight in his return to Orlando (byt the way: I don’t understand why you have to make a promise to start a guy against his former team, which selected him 5th overall and repeatedly saw him fail to live to expectations, but still. I’m ready for the Ntilikina night in 2020, when Frank will start against the Knicks and put up 7/3/3): 29 points on 20 shots, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. It would be so easy to root for him if he only cared to play real basketball more than once every two weeks. The 29 points are his new career-high. If he has a few more games like this one, maybe he’ll ditch his negative WS/48 for the season, who knows?

– Mario’s season reminds me of those friends who talk always like they’re such big shots in every area, and most of the times (rightfully) nobody believes them. Then one night you go to a restaurant and you see that there’s, say, Bruce Springsteen seated two tables from you. At the end of the dinner Bruce comes to your table and greets your friend, telling him “hey, we have to check back on each other! Remember that night I backed you on vocals in front of 3,000 people?” and your jaw drops to the ground. Next day, your friend will claim he had a burger with Elon Musk on Wednesday and you’ll go back not believing anything he says. Last night, the stepover dunk, the LeBron block: the Bruce meeting. Everything else: utter crap.

– Do I need to say anything about Mudiay? Yes, I do. If Mudiay learned to play every night like his first quarter, I’d be more than ok with keeping him on board. I don’t care that much that he misses his shots if he keeps the offense humming. Sadly, he was able to do that only for 10 minutes. Still, a well rounded box score: 13/7/10/2/1. He just was inefficient (13 points on 13 shots, 3 turnovers) and the usual minus on defense. He also can’t play the PnR, but in the open (or semi-open) floor he found Mitch three times, which has to be a season high for him.

– Did Knox turn the corner in terms of offensive efficiency? In March, he was able to shoot a respectable (for a rookie) 53% TS. In April he’s at 62% (ultra small sample size, I know). I mean, he still sucks, but there’s some improvement here and there. 21 points on 13 shots, 4 boards and 2 steals aren’t that bad.

– Billy Garrett Jr had his NBA debut thanks to the fact that we’re out of bodies in the backcourt. He was nothing special, but he can run the PnR much better than Mudiay. I know, that’s like saying that 3 is higher than 2. Mudiay has to be one of the worst 5 pg in the league (10-day contracts included) in running the pick and roll.

– Kornet was thoroughly abused by Vucevic. It’s not exactly fresh news, but normally he’s at his worst when asked to man the 5 without some enforcement (be it Vonleh or Mitch). He collected a game-low -21 plus/minus (Mitch was +7 for what it’s worth).

We’re getting closer and closer to the last spot (we need two losses, two Phoenix wins, or any combination of those). I guess next game will be a blowout, so we’re due!

See you against the Rockets!

 

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110 comments on “New York Knicks 100 – Orlando Magic 114 – Game Recap

  1. chrisconley

    Nice cap. Does anyone know of a site that tracks 3pts blocked? Mitch had one again last night. He has to lead the league by a mile despite his low mpg. He got Harden twice in the same game and according to the broadcast was the first person to ever block Luka’s step back 3 during our last meeting with Dallas (Jan 30). I’ll set the over/under for his 3pts blocked per game at 0.6 (same as his apg).

  2. Farfa Post author

    If I understood correctly, he has blocked 23 threes for now and it’s a new NBA record (previously held by Draymond Green with 18; keep in mind that they don’t track this from the beginning but from ca. 1998. Smart money, though, says that because people shot a lot less threes before 1998 there were less chances for a block, so… it’s very likely it’s a full-flegded record. Another one).

    If that’s true, he’s blocking 0.37 threes per game.

  3. DS

    Mitch has one more block per 36 minutes than Myles Tuner. He’s the best shot blocker in the NBA as a rookie second rounder! So was Manute Bol, but anyone who employs that as an argument is being a troll.

  4. rama got that Fizdale Magic

    I’m ready for the Ntilikina night in 2020, when Frank will start against the Knicks and put up 7/3/3:

    Genuinely laughed at this, even though I’m still on Team Frank!

  5. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I don’t think Booker is very good, but he’s the Suns’ best chance at winning games, and now he’s done for the season. The magic number is 2 with 7 games remaining. Any combination of Knicks losses or Suns wins will lock us in.

    There’s virtually no chance of beating Houston on the road, but WAS, CHI and DET are wildcards. The Suns are up against NOP, HOU and DAL, so it’s not hard to see them stealing one.

  6. Farfa Post author

    I don’t think there’s a chance that we can win against Detroit, not with the current standings. Chicago is a surefire win, Washington is a coin toss. It’s gonna be a last-second thriller.

  7. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Right, that’s going to be a must-win game for the Pistons. Hopefully they’ll treat it like a playoff game.

  8. Jack Bauer

    Looked at the Bulls box score from last night and I recognized exactly 3 names. It appears they’ve picked up a whole squad from the local YMCA and are running them out there.

  9. Bruno Almeida

    The Bulls are starting the most random lineup I’ve ever seen in my life, and yet they beat the Wizards yesterday. Walter Lemon Jr, Wayne Selden, Luwawu-Cabarrot, Shaquille Harrison and Robin Lopez.

    The Suns at the moment have literally all 5 starters injured, so I really doubt they’ll win any more games. There’s a prime chance for one of the typical annoying Knicks moments where they somehow win those 3 games and lose the tiebreaker for worst record with the Suns.

  10. DRed

    The game where Manute hit six threes in a half is a really good highlight to watch. The Suns crowd goes nuts (Manute was on the sixers at the time).

  11. geo

    the Knicks are Chevy Chase, the NBA is blackjack, observers of the NBA are Wallace Shawn, and the reality we all live in is National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation.

    that was funny, I had never seen that before:“just give me half your money, and we’ll go out in the back, I’ll kick you in the nuts, and, we can call it a day”

    yes, very apropos…

  12. Brian Cronin

    So we’re all just going to sit here and pretend that Ric Bucher didn’t say KD to the Knicks is a done deal?

    Man, do I hate shit like this Bucher thing, where dudes just make bold claims and they figure, if they’re right, they get lots of attention and if they’re wrong, no one really cares. Bucher has done this same shit in the past (“Kobe to the Bulls is a done deal”) and noone notices. Now if Durant does end up as a Knick (which is obviously a real possibility), Bucher can crow a lot about it and if he isn’t, no one will remember what Bucher said back in early April.

  13. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    @15

    +1

    So we’re all just going to sit here and pretend that Ric Bucher didn’t say KD to the Knicks is a done deal?

    I still have mixed feelings about this. I was more on board when we had KP. At 31, KD puts us in “win now” mode. At the very least, we are in “win very soon” mode like the Lakers were coming into this year. When we had KP, we arguably had 2 of the 3 significant scorers we needed to contend. From there it was a matter of adding the 3rd scoring option and role/bench players over the next year or two. We could do that via trade, free agency, internal development (Robinson could become the 3rd option and a couple of other players might improve to become solid role and bench players), or a combination of the above.

    Now it feels like if we bring in KD we are WAY more likely to do something extreme to get that second and third star scorer here immediately so we don’t wind up like the Lakers this year.

    I think you need a good mix of youth and experienced veterans to have a serious basketball team that can sustain good play for a long time. I don’t think we should blow up what we’ve been building with young players to bring in veterans. If KD comes, we better do this right. I 100% don’t trust Mills and Dolan and I really don’t trust Perry either.

  14. Owen

    This is sort of an amazing piece on Knicks fans in Germany. Obviously, we Knickerbloggers know all about passionate European Knicks fans but still interesting. Not sure I agree with everything (or almost anything really) they say but with them on this…

    Members share memes in a WhatsApp group chat, wear club paraphernalia, and pay €10 a year in dues for various administrative fees. “In a perfect world, [the Knicks] would pay you,” Thümer said.

    https://deadspin.com/germanys-small-but-devoted-group-of-knicks-fans-has-ple-1833617473

  15. d-mar

    @15 Stephen A. has been living off his LeBron to Miami call for like 8 years now. And you who you never hear from anymore? Chris Broussard. He was constantly on the air saying “my sources say” and nothing he predicted ever happened.

    I guess after too many whiffs no one wants to listen to him. (understandably)

  16. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Broussard is also now on Fox, which no one watches. Not sure if that had to do with his terrible non-sports opinions cropping up on national TV, but I suspect that it has to do with him leaving the corporate-sports mothership.

  17. geo

    @17 that’s cool to know that our pain is shared throughout the world owen…

    one of the things I appreciate most about our community here is that we have folks not only from all over the country, but also the world, whom share their perspective (in much better english than I myself can even communicate in) on the knicks…

    honestly, if the knicks were a successful well run organization – talking about them wouldn’t be nearly so much fun…

    yeah, it must really suck right now to be a patriots or warriors fan…

  18. Farfa Post author

    While I’d like seeing the Knicks become an instant contender, I’m not sure I’d have a lot of fun recapping a December win against the Wolves where Kyrie and KD go for 30 apiece and our roster is littered with veterans on minimum contracts.

  19. JK47

    I dunno, all the losing and rooting for losses and games where the offense is being run through Emmanuel Mudiay is getting a little stale to me. I’m out of pessimism and snark at this point.

    I might be the most cynical and pessimistic regular on this blog, and yet it feels like the actual results are always worse than my most pessimistic projections. I’m rarely pleasantly surprised by the goings on around this team.

    I wouldn’t mind winning some games for a change.

  20. Farfa Post author

    Of course! But from a pure excitement point of view it would be crazy fun to have a 45 win team made by youngsters growing right in front of us.

  21. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    @21

    +1

    There’s something to be said about a home grown team that slowly develops a couple of stars and then adds the finishing touches and maybe the last star around them.

  22. abk

    The good thing is we have to give up exactly nothing to sign KD and Kyrie. If they want to come, great. If not, keep building upon what we have. We don’t have any need to trade Mitch and others for peanuts though, even if we sign those guys.

  23. Bruno Almeida

    Yeah, the same kids will still be on the team. I would understand wanting to see the team growing organically if it was a new Melo trade scenario, but it’s not.

    I’m sick and tired of the pointless losing, so I really want us to either get Zion or the superstars (or both of course). I’d be fine waiting if we had actual potential superstars on the roster, but the only real piece we have is Mitch and we can’t really expect him to be the main centerpiece of a very good team.

  24. swiftandabundant

    Well, if KD is for sure coming (I will believe it when it happens), then I think its also very likely Kyrie or Kemba or Butler is coming too. KD coming in tow with another star player is better than Lebron going to LA by himself.

    If all we are doing is signing two guys of that caliber outright with free agency cap space money and we’re not trading away our young players and gutting the future, then I’m 100 percent on board. Especially if the pick we get this year turns into a star player (whether that’s Zion or someone else). Even if its not a championship team, I could live with a couple of 50 plus win seasons while the youngsters get better. We’d be adding draft picks (including the ones that we get from Dallas), to the team. Its not anything like trading away the farm for Melo.

  25. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Getting KD and Kyrie would mean they didn’t spend the cap space on Boogie, Kemba, Klay, Harris or Horford, so I’d be very happy with that outcome.

  26. dtrickey

    Cousins is an interesting one. Based on the few Warriors games I have been able to watch, I don’t think his “auditions” would justify him getting a max; so I am not super worried we max him. I mean I am not totally ruling it out given our history, but hopefully if we strike our on KD and/or Kyrie we stay the course with the young guys and avoid a STAT 2.0 situation.

  27. chriskZIPCODE

    its been a few days since I heard anyone here compare someone’s D to Farfa’s mom. I’m disappointed

  28. chrisconley

    @2, Thanks Farfa! That’s exactly what I wanted. Wow. Probably an all-time record. Not surprised. I overestimated his 3pbpg, but I almost nailed it per 36 min ;) For those that are interested, Mitch blocks 0.67 3pt shots per 36.

  29. Hubert

    This is sort of an amazing piece on Knicks fans in Germany. Obviously, we Knickerbloggers know all about passionate European Knicks fans but still interesting. Not sure I agree with everything (or almost anything really) they say but with them on this…

    Members share memes in a WhatsApp group chat, wear club paraphernalia, and pay €10 a year in dues for various administrative fees. “In a perfect world, [the Knicks] would pay you,” Thümer said.

    This is fantastic, Owen. I’m going to make it my mission to get in this WhatsApp chat.

  30. Hubert

    Is Kemba definitely a max guy?

    If we got KD, I’d rather get Kemba for $24mm than Kyrie for $32.7. But if Kemba is going to get the max, never mind.

  31. Brian Cronin

    Is Kemba definitely a max guy?

    He started in the All-Star Game and his current team desperately wants to keep him.

    In other words, yes.

  32. Bruno Almeida

    Yes, there’s less than zero chance Charlotte offers less than the absolute max, and I don’t think he leaves the city for less than a max sonewhere else. He might simply not leave too, he seems to love Charlotte and want to try to win there.

  33. Z-man

    its been a few days since I heard anyone here compare someone’s D to Farfa’s mom. I’m disappointed

    Farfa’s mom has been secretly working with Kerry Kittles.

  34. Brian Cronin

    Ok fine.

    I don’t think he’s worth a max but it only takes one person to.

    Generally speaking, with so many teams with cap space, if there’s a guy out there that you think, “That guy might get the max,” then he’s getting the max, ya know?

  35. Bruno Almeida

    Yeah, and Kemba is probably on the fringe in terms of guys who may or may not deserve a max anyway, it’s not like it’s otherworldly to think he might be worth a max contract.

    Giannis has decided he’s going to personally destroy the Sixers today, and holy hell did he do it.

  36. Owen

    I was about to say the same. Those were several of the most impressive minutes I have seen anyone play this year. Giannis completely changed the game on both ends.

    He’s my MVP. He might be the best defensive player in the NBA and his offense is more than ok.

  37. Owen

    I mean seriously, 45 points on 32 true shots with 13 boards, six assists, five blocks, and zero turnovers…

  38. Bruno Almeida

    Yeah, the way he took over the game in the 4th was so incredible. It’s a shame either him or Harden won’t get the award, because they both truly deserve it. Giannis might be the best defensive player in the league, but Harden is more valuable in the sense that he’s carrying a flawed roster with so many injuries to a very good record with his performance.

    I guess I would vote for Giannis today but honestly, I’d probably just flip a coin and give the award to whoever comes up.

  39. Farfa Post author

    Farfa’s mom has been secretly working with Kerry Kittles

    Ooooh, so that is why she’s cut down her foul (mouthed retorts) rate down!

    Joking mom, you’re a pure sweetheart.

  40. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Giannis > Harden

    The scary part is that he’s going to get better.

  41. Frank

    Is Kemba definitely a max guy?

    If we got KD, I’d rather get Kemba for $24mm than Kyrie for $32.7. But if Kemba is going to get the max, never mind.

    1000% chance that MJ will offer him the max, so yes, he’s a max guy. And certainly he’s not going to take less than the max from a team with $70+MM in cap space that can offer him the max.

    The only thing Kemba has over Kyrie is durability – has missed <4 games/season over the last 4 seasons. Otherwise their non-scoring stats are basically identical, and in terms of scoring, Kyrie is just a lot more efficient across the board. And we know that Kyrie comes up big in big games whereas Kemba has a career FG% if 39% and TS 51% in 11 career playoff games, ie. when teams can gameplan for him.

    I mean, we may not have a choice about it (i.e. Kyrie may go elsewhere), but I'd easily choose Kyrie over Kemba.

    btw Knox over the last 15 games (not that small a sample size – 451 minutes) has a TS of 55.2 and usage of 20.6. he's still doing basically nothing else on the floor (reb/assists/steals) and his defense has been bad, but the improved scoring efficiency is a good sign. And while this is obviously cherrypicking since it's a 15 game sample and not a whole season, it's quite rare for a teenager to be able to score at average-to-above average efficiency on average usage — in fact the only guard/wing player who has reached USG 20+ and TS 55+ as a teenager for a whole season is Kyrie (Luka is at 54.5, Trae Young is 20yo, etc)

  42. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Kyrie is a strange guy. I don’t think we can be sure what he might do based on money, basketball, or common sense. He may decide to go to Brooklyn if he wants to be “the man” in a big city.

    That’s the risk with our current position as opposed to when KP was here. If Durant comes they are likely to bring in another star player with the rest of the cap space because they don’t want to become another LA. If it’s not Kyrie, it could easily be an older player like Butler (30) or a player we don’t really think is worth the amount they are going to spend on him (and without the upside).

    Unless we put ourselves in a position to contend quickly (1st or 2nd year), I don’t see the point behind signing Durant to begin with.

  43. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    @45

    Working in Knox’s advantage statistically is that he’s very young. Even though the sample is small, it’s somewhat more likely to represent some real improvement than if it was a 15 game sample from someone that has been around for years. If I had to guess, he’s probably somewhere in between what he was earlier in the season and what he’s doing lately. It’s progress. He should come back a lot stronger next year. That should help him finish and rebound better. There’s just sooooo much he has to improve on, it’s going to take years assuming he ever gets there.

  44. lavor postell

    The only thing Kemba has over Kyrie is durability – has missed <4 games/season over the last 4 seasons. Otherwise their non-scoring stats are basically identical, and in terms of scoring, Kyrie is just a lot more efficient across the board. And we know that Kyrie comes up big in big games whereas Kemba has a career FG% if 39% and TS 51% in 11 career playoff games, ie. when teams can gameplan for him.

    Look at the teams Kemba’s been on. There’s literally been nobody else to gameplan for. I would like to see Kyrie in the playoffs on a team without LeBron James, or just generally lacking in offensive talent like Kemba’s been on.

    I would definitely prefer Kyrie to Kemba, mostly because he’s younger and I think while he’s less consistent his highs are all-time great level scoring binges, but Kemba’s just been in such a garbage situation his entire career. I think his efficiency would bump up alongside a scorer with gravity like KD and jsut generally on a team where he doesn’t have to initiate every time down the floor.

  45. Frank

    A 6’10” combo forward who can shoot 38-40% from 3, score in transition, and be at least a secondary ball handler will be in the league a long time, even if bad on defense. I mean, a reasonable median outcome is probably someone like Jonas Jerebko or Jeff Green – a rotation player who stays in the league a long time – not a great outcome but not a disaster with a late lottery pick. seriously, Jeff Green has been traded a bunch of times for a first round pick, right? And Knox is only 19 and might have a fair amount of room to grow.

  46. Frank

    Look at the teams Kemba’s been on. There’s literally been nobody else to gameplan for.

    I really think you are underselling Frank Kaminsky. That dude is so good that MJ wouldn’t trade his draft slot to the Celtics for four #1s.

  47. DRed

    I can see a lot of people overthinking the east playoffs instead of going with the best team with the best player. I’m looking forward to Giannis dismantling the Celtics.

  48. Farfa Post author

    Giannis is so good (and Bud is so smart) that the Bucks have more than a puncher’s chance to win it all. I think the Raptors will put up a fight in the ECF but ultimately the Finals will be Bucks/Warriors or Bucks/Rockets.

    The Celtics could lose in the first round.

  49. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    I can see a lot of people overthinking the east playoffs instead of going with the best team with the best player. I’m looking forward to Giannis dismantling the Celtics.

    I’d give the edge to the Bucks because they are deeper when healthy, but imo Toronto is finally a legit contender. With Kawhi and the emergence of Siakam as a bonafide star, they are damn good also when at full strength. They also added Gasol which allows them to play big or small with Ibaka at C or coming off the bench.

    The 76ers have a very good starting 5, but they aren’t deep enough and Embid is a chronic injury risk.

    The top of the east is WAY better than it used to be.

  50. Brian Cronin

    Giannis is so good (and Bud is so smart) that the Bucks have more than a puncher’s chance to win it all. I think the Raptors will put up a fight in the ECF but ultimately the Finals will be Bucks/Warriors or Bucks/Rockets.

    It kills me that the Knicks were basically just a year away from being the exact sort of team that Budz would love to coach.

  51. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    The one team in the playoffs I think is a total fraud is the Nuggets. They have a terrific overall record because they have a huge home court advantage. They’ll carry that advantage through most of the playoffs, but its value diminishes in the playoffs relative to the regular season because no one will be going to Denver on a back to back or flying into Denver the day of the game. There’s a day off between each playoff game and both teams will be traveling the same way and have ample time to get used to the altitude. They’ll still be tough at home like any other good team, but between being young and that reduced advantage, I’ll be surprised if they go far.

  52. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    It kills me that the Knicks were basically just a year away from being the exact sort of team that Budz would love to coach.

    Budz is smart. He would not join a team run by Dolan, Mills, and Perry unless he had some power over personnel (at least veto power).

  53. DRed

    Yeah, Toronto has a shot at the Bucks, and even Philly and the Celtics do if some flukey shit happens, but the Bucks are comfortably the best regular season team in the league, have home court and the best player in any matchup until the finals.

  54. Frank

    I think I’d go with Toronto in a matchup against the Bucks.
    Toronto’s defensive potential is just freaking amazing, and if anyone can guard Giannis 1-on-1 it’s Kawhi, and Siakam probably could do a very good job also. Seriously, a healthy/motivated Lowry + Danny Green + Kawhi + Siakam + Ibaka/Gasol — that is freaking amazing.

  55. DRed

    I’d love to see someone look into Philly late game because the eye test tells me they go to Embiid isos way too often. Maybe they were just missing Butler last night.

  56. Hubert

    I can see a lot of people overthinking the east playoffs instead of going with the best team with the best player. I’m looking forward to Giannis dismantling the Celtics.

    I was thinking about this when I laid my bets against Golden State a few weeks back. I really wanted to go with just Houston and Milwaukee, but I think Toronto might have an extra gear that Milwaukee doesn’t so I hedged. I took Milwaukee at 8/1 and then put half the amount I put on them on Toronto at 12/1. Also took Houston at 15/1 for the same amount I bet on Milwaukee.

    And then the Warriors crushed Denver the next day and a few days after that they won in Houston to make me feel like a complete idiot who just set money on fire.

  57. Hubert

    Even so, I feel like the odds on Toronto and Milwaukee were really favorable because, like you said, people are overthinking it and being blinded by the stars on Boston and Philadelphia. I shouldn’t get 8/1 on the best team in the NBA. I’ll probably lose that bet anyway, but it’s good value. (This is why there should be a secondary market for sports bets, but I digress.)

    Ironically, you’re kinda supporting the argument that every one opposed: the best team with the best player (Milwaukee) is better than the teams with the most stars (Boston, Philly).

    What Milwaukee is doing is why, if we get Durant (arguably the best player on the planet), I would surround him with as many good players as possible instead of spending $32.7mm on another max player and searching for scrubs.

  58. Hubert

    Side note: I’ve completely checked out and can’t recall the last knicks game I watched. Do we still like Noah Vonleh? His numbers have regressed.

  59. Bruno Almeida

    The thing is that Giannis has truly ascended to a level we haven’t seen since Lebron started his run, I’m pretty convinced about it. Just like prime Lebron, there’s no way a team can nullify his impact, because he’s a legitimate two-way superstar who’s so physically imposing that I don’t think anyone can handle him for 4 quarters. Even if you limit him on offense he can still distribute and play elite defense everywhere on the court, and the Bucks have enough weapons around him that other guys can pick up the slack if necessary.

    I’d still say the Warriors are favorites because they just have too much, but it really wouldn’t surprise me if the Bucks get to the finals with a chance of winning. I think the Raptors are also extremely good and I won’t underestimate Leonard ever, but I think the Bucks are better coached and can match the Raptors depth pretty easily, and they’ll have the best player in the series and home court advantage.

  60. Farfa Post author

    Vonleh isn’t playing anymore thanks to a nagging injury, but yeah, he started to be a true disappointment after the trade deadline. The good news is that it’s unlikely he’ll receive more than a vet min from other teams, so maybe we can keep here for pennies (if we want).

  61. Farfa Post author

    I think the Bucks are better coached and can match the Raptors depth pretty easily, and they’ll have the best player in the series and home court advantage.

    Essentially, we’re rewatching 2007 LeBron all over again (the one who destroyed Detroit in the ECF that year). But with a much better roster around him.

  62. DRed

    The Warriors won in Houston by 2 points to take their record to 1-3 against the Rockets this season. I mean I wouldn’t bet anything close to even odds on Houston beating the Warriors in a series but it’s definitely something that could happen. 15-1 is a great price for Houston winning a title.

  63. Bruno Almeida

    Yeah, it really seems like it’s Lebron 2007 all over again in terms of Giannis individual level. The Knicks still suck but damn, we’re very privileged in basketball terms to go from the Lebron era to this situation, watching the Giannis takeover in the 4th quarter of last nights game was one of the most joyful basketball moments I watched in a while. All this from a Greek-Nigerian kid who also happens to apparently be a really nice overall dude.

  64. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Toronto is an excellent team and could steal a series win from them, but Giannis is just too good to lose 4 of 7 when he’s playing 45 minutes a night. Shouldn’t need to do that with all the depth behind him, but if I’m Budenholzer I ride him as soon as the series looks like a tossup. The Bucks won’t have to play both of Philly or Toronto so they seem like odds-on favorites to win the conference. I could see Sixers/Raptors going seven scrappy, physical games so the Bucks should have an advantage in roster and rest. I’d be way too excited if I had taken preseason odds for the Bucks as NBA champs.

  65. Hubert

    Got it, re: Vonleh.

    I’m trying to thing of best value signings available to surround Kyrie and Durant. I know, I know, counting my chickens, but it’s a slow Friday.

    Maybe we’ll get lucky and 33 year old Paul Millsap, after earning $130mm, will be open to pulling a David West and signing for the room. Super long shot.

    My favorite NBA2k19 move, by the way, is overwhelming the Sacramento Kings for Buddy Hield. Our #1 pick this year plus another #1 from our inventory plus Trier and throw in Frank for shits and giggles. Maybe they love Barrett or Culver? I don’t know. But with an elite SG like Hield on the roster at $4.8mm, it really opens up some possibilities.

    I’d go to war with this:

    1 Kyrie, veteran backup
    2 Hield, Dotson
    3 Durant, Knox
    4 TBD, Kornet
    5 Jordan, Mitchell

  66. Brian Cronin

    Without speaking to the wisdom of your proposed Hield deal, you would also still need to trade Knox, as well, to clear up the room to re-sign Jordan to even an $8 million deal.

  67. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    My favorite NBA2k19 move, by the way, is overwhelming the Sacramento Kings for Buddy Hield. Our #1 pick this year plus another #1 from our inventory plus Trier and throw in Frank for shits and giggles. Maybe they love Barrett or Culver? I don’t know. But with an elite SG like Hield on the roster at $4.8mm, it really opens up some possibilities.

    Lol are you serious

  68. Brian Cronin

    It’ll be interesting to see how Jerry Stackhouse does with Vanderbilt. If he succeeds, I wouldn’t mind seeing him become a Knicks head coach in the future.

  69. d-mar

    Would it be fair to say that the three greatest scorers in the history of the NBA are playing right now? Durant, Harden and Curry? Have any past players scored as much with close to the same efficiency?

    (BTW, astounding Steph statistic – he ranks 5th all-time in career TS% (.623) , behind Artis Gilmore, Deandre Jordan, Cedric Maxwell and Tyson Chandler. Those guys weren’t exactly volume shooters. )

  70. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    I’d keep Vonleh as a role player if the numbers work. He had a rough couple of months in January/February, but then he closed the season well the last few game before he got hurt. It’s possible some of the struggle was playing with Jordan. I didn’t like that combination right from the start. They are too redundant. That doesn’t account for his bad shooting, but they were horrible together in 172 minutes.

    Vonleh plays defense, switches well, rebounds well, can make plays, handle, and isn’t a zero on offense. Overall, he was improved and he’s still young enough to continue that improvement. He gets my thumbs up as very underrated.

  71. Owen

    Would it be fair to say that the three greatest scorers in the history of the NBA are playing right now? Durant, Harden and Curry? Have any past players scored as much with close to the same efficiency?

    Kareem was a pretty good scorer. So was Michael Jordan. I guess the question is how much to consider league average efficiency when making the call. Current league average TS% for this season is 55.6 and in 69-70 it was 50.6. Not sure how the standard deviations work out.

    They are definitely in the conversation….

  72. Silky Johnson, Fleet Admiral of the Tank Armada

    @77

    Michael and Kareem round out the top 5 in terms of scorers I think, and how you order them is ultimately up to personal taste. But yeah this is a great era for watching the ball go into the basket with great frequency.

  73. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    I’m not sure what everyone else actually thinks of Hield, but I think he’s a pretty good two-way player. I wouldn’t mind having him on the team, I’m just not giving away much to get him.

  74. Silky Johnson, Fleet Admiral of the Tank Armada

    Buddy Hield is a good two way player in a nearby possible but in the actual world is mediocre to bad on the defensive end

  75. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    I guess the question is how much to consider league average efficiency when making the call. Current league average TS% for this season is 55.6 and in 69-70 it was 50.6.

    The rule changes, style changes, and even the greater knowledge players have today are all factors.

    It’s hard to know what to think about that.

    I have no problem trying to equalize for rules, but if you tell me Kareem would be stretching out to the 3 point line now you are getting into more speculative areas. What I don’t think is speculative is that Bird would shoot a LOT more 3s, score more, and would have a higher TS% in today’s game.

  76. Farfa Post author

    Buddy Hield is a good player (better than Devin Booker, if you ask me) but there’s no need to trade anything valuable for him. The Kings value him too much. If you want to pry someone from Sacramento, try WCS or Harry Giles.

  77. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Buddy Hield is a good two way player in a nearby possible but in the actual world is mediocre to bad on the defensive end

    He’s NOT bad. It depends on what you consider mediocre or good. I don’t think he’s a liability on defense.

  78. JK47

    Somebody should do a stat that’s TS%+, similar to OPS+ or wRC+ in baseball, which weighs your TS% against the league average. It seems like that’d be real simple to do.

  79. geo

    random friday musings: had a chance to watch saturday night fever last night…

    i wasn’t even 16 yet when that movie came out in ’77…I remember though what a huge impact it had on the culture (at least out on long island) at the time…man I wanted to dance and be cool like tony manero…

    the dancing still looks good, and, the comedy (especially around his house) still holds up…

  80. lavor postell

    Somebody should do a stat that’s TS%+, similar to OPS+ or wRC+ in baseball, which weighs your TS% against the league average. It seems like that’d be real simple to do.

    This isn’t that exactly, but Jacob Goldstein posted a spreadsheet updated through last season that he shared which you can view here.

    It’s updated through last season.

  81. alsep73

    .@ZachLowe_NBA discussed Kevin Knox on his pod:

    “Knox has struggled exactly the ways I would expect a 19-year-old rookie to struggle… He’s bad defensively. He takes some difficult shots. He’s just trying to understand what the hell is happening. I’m not worried about Knox”

  82. Early Bird

    Jordan without hand-checking and with the defensive 3-seconds rule would be a scary player.

  83. Early Bird

    I think the problem with Knox is that he projected poorly coming into the NBA and he’s done nothing to overturn that assumption. There’s a Bayesian prior saying Knox sucks, he’s confirmed the prior with his play so far. Knox didn’t dominate college, he didn’t dominate high school–why would we think he’ll dominate the NBA, or even be passable?

    Both Ntilikina and Knox were brought in as projects. Both should be given more time to develop, they were never going to be good in their first two years. The problem is how long is too long to wait for that development? If we had a longer timeline, I have no problem tanking with them for a few more years until we need to re-up their contract; however, if we bring KD and Kyrie in, we don’t have the time to bring them along.

  84. Hubert

    I’ll eat crow if this is an insane opinion. But yeah, if we signed Kyrie and Durant and ended up with the 4th or 5th pick in the draft, I would trade RJ Barrett and next year’s #1 for Buddy Hield. In part because he’s an elite 26 year old 2 guard, and in part because his $4.8mm salary opens up a world of roster building flexibility.

    Without speaking to the wisdom of your proposed Hield deal, you would also still need to trade Knox, as well, to clear up the room to re-sign Jordan to even an $8 million deal.

    No, you wouldn’t. That team I put up has Jordan at $10.5mm and comes in at $104mm with cap holds. The guys you’d trade are Frank, Dennis Smith, and Trier.

    You want to trade two first round picks for one season of Buddy Hield?

    Why one season? We could re-sign him.

    Buddy Hield is a good two way player in a nearby possible but in the actual world is mediocre to bad on the defensive end

    I can’t speak to knowing him beyond his statistics. They’re fucking beautiful, though, I don’t understand why no one would want to give up Barrett or Culver and a late first rounder for this kind of performance:

    https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/h/hieldbu01.html

    Again, I’ll eat crow if this is foolish on my part. But what about 43% from 3 and a .589 TS% for a shooting guard garners so much scorn? You think RJ Barrett or Jarrett Culver are going to give you more in the 2-3 years of Durant’s peak?

  85. Brian Cronin

    No, you wouldn’t. That team I put up has Jordan at $10.5mm and comes in at $104mm with cap holds. The guys you’d trade are Frank, Dennis Smith, and Trier.

    You didn’t mention trading Smith Jr. in your comment! In that case, yes, if you trade the pick plus all of the other players making over the minimum, then you could have room for Jordan and Hield while keeping Knox.

  86. JK47

    Bojan Bogdanovic is pretty much the same player as Buddy Hield. You giving up two first rounders for Bojan Bogdanovic?

  87. ptmilo

    buddy is a league pass must watch he is the only player i’ve ever seen that runs around more than redick. he plays basketball like it’s an aerobic sport. if there were a basketball biathlon he would obliterate the rest of the league.

  88. Bruno Almeida

    I really like Buddy Hield, but he’s soon to be paid and he’s mostly still just a shooter. A very good one, obviously, but one that is likely to be overpaid. He’s also 26 already, so even if we can expect his game to age well because of his skill set, there might not be much room for improvement anymore.

  89. billybaggs

    If we keep our pick wherever it may fall…would a package of Knox and D Smith Jr be worth it to a team for their own pick? I would love to see a backcourt of Jah Morant and Jarrett Culver for the next decade!

  90. Hubert

    You didn’t mention trading Smith Jr. in your comment!

    Got it. I assumed bc I didn’t list him on the team, it was clear.

    I’m not gonna get mad at everyone lol’ing at me, but I think y’all missed the overall point. It’s not just the pick for Hield. His ridiculously cheap contract allows you to sneak in another starting caliber player, like Jordan. So it’s two picks for Buddy Hield and DeAndre Jordan (or whoever you want with 10.5mm in cap space).

    And it’s the fact with Kyrie and Durant, you’re in win now mode. This is the point in the win curve where the picks have less value than the players.

    You really want Jarrett Culver/ RJ Barrett and a late 1st 2020 draft pick more than Buddy Hield and DeAndre Jordan during three years of prime Durant and Kyrie??

    I don’t really care that Hield gets paid after this, and nor
    should you. We’ll be completely over the cap. And we’re getting his age 27-30 seasons during our title window.

  91. abk

    It’ll be interesting to see how Jerry Stackhouse does with Vanderbilt. If he succeeds, I wouldn’t mind seeing him become a Knicks head coach in the future.

    A lot of the UNC fanbase is speculating that he’s on a potential shortlist to replace Roy if he succeeds at Vandy. We’ll see if he can recruit like Penny has at Memphis. Exciting times for college basketball in Tennessee.

  92. Hubert

    Bojan Bogdanovic is pretty much the same player as Buddy Hield. You giving up two first rounders for Bojan Bogdanovic?

    Can I get bojan for $4.5mm? If so, sign me up and keep the picks.

    Come on, you’re talking about this like it’s in a vacuum. A stud at a position of need for $4.8mm when you’ve got two max guys is worth a lot more than he would be in a normal situation. I wouldn’t consider that trade without Durant and Kyrie.

    But with those guys, what would you rather have?

    A) two all star starters playing with them

    B) a 19 year old prospect and a late 1st round pick in the following season.

    I know the same 8 guys love to pounce on things that seem ridiculous, but I don’t think you’re seeing the forest through the trees here.

  93. thenoblefacehumper

    I like Buddy Hield a lot, but yeah that’s totally insane. I mean, Trier is having a better rookie season at 23 than Hield had at 24. It’s not inconceivable that he alone could get to, say, 70% of Hield’s production before too long.

    In other words, hell fucking no to trading a top-5 pick and another pick for an expiring Buddy Hield.

  94. Early Bird

    I like what Hubert is trying to do with Hield. We get to maximize our championship chances and sign an extra player this year. It’s an overpay, but it would be the right time to overpay. You get a big upgrade at the 2-spot immediately and more stability at center or an upgrade at PF. Hield should also fit in well with KD and Kyrie, he can be effective without the ball in his hands. Trier absolutely cannot.

    The only hole left in the starting lineup is PF, which can be filled with Noah Vonleh without giving up too much. Dotson, Mitch, Kornet, and point guard isn’t a terrible bench either.

    I don’t value Barrett highly. So if the choice is between him a low pick next year versus Hield, I’m fine taking Hield. Remember, a pick when we have KD and Kyrie won’t be nearly as valuable.

    I don’t love the move, but it seems perfectly fine for a championship push.

  95. DRed

    he’s an elite 26 year old 2 guard

    He’s got a .113 WS/48, a 1.2 BPM, where’s the elite player? He’s a terrific shooter, and maybe he gets even better next season, but maybe you just have up a high lottery pick plus another for an average player

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