Honestly I don’t know what to tell you. This game was probably the worst of the season in terms of actual appeal (I think the Utah one was a bit worse thanks to that dismal first half, but I’m getting to the point where I’m not caring about anything Knicks related for the season. It’s a side effect of the fact that we have so few rootable guys around, I guess) and I found my mind wandering around quite a bit during the game, so I’ll do something different: I’ll reverse engineer our roster, putting into Basketball Reference the exact combination of numbers from every Knick (points, rebounds, assists, minutes played) and selecting the matching performance with the lowest GameScore, just to see what sort of total failure would be needed to assemble a worst team than the one we have right now (hint: it’s possibile that this exercise won’t end with such a bad team).
Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the Alternate History New York Knicks:
At starting center (DeAndre Jordan, GmSc 7.2): Mehmet Okur (6 pts, 6 rebs, 3 ast, 20 mp, GmSc 2.2). Do you remember Memo? He was a stretch big when stretch bigs weren’t all the rage in the NBA. He wasn’t also a bad player at all, finishing his career with a WS/48 of .142, or .065 less than what Mitch Lob is sporting right now. Memo won an NBA title with the Pistons in 2004 as a competent backup big and then proceeded to cash out with Utah, where he was a part of those post-Stockton to Malone iterations that were pesky in the playoffs but never amounted to much. The only Knicks-themed thing I can think of, about Memo, is that Bargs was supposed to be the better version of Okur. Of course, he ended up being just the worse version of BJ Mullens. Anyway, a good choice for starting center. AHNYK start with the right foot. Advantage: tie (prime DAJ would have better than average Okur, but current DeAndre isn’t much better than the big Turk was in his full career).
At starting power forward (Mario Hezonja, GmSc 5.0): Bob McAdoo (8 pts, 5 rebs, 3 ast, 27mp, GmSc 2.9). Wow, really? So the combo PF-C of the AHNYK would be a good stretch five who made an All Star Game and an Hall of Famer? Uh, Mario, you might be in trouble here. Bob McAdoo, who has been a Knick for a full season and two half ones was, was a superb scorer in his heyday, leading the league in total WS in his third season and in PER in his second one, both with the Buffalo Braves. While he was at it, he went on and won ROY in 72-73 and MVP in 74-75. He’s currently 58th ever in career PER. Advantage: AHNYK (but Mario, don’t worry, that block will always be in our hearts).
At starting small forward (Kevin Knox, GmSc 6.9): Danny Manning (12 pts, 6 rebs, 1 ast, 28mp, GmSc 2.8). Oh, wow. Manning was a bit too tall to effectively play small forward even in his much less small-ball reliant era (he actually played just 47 minutes overall at SF since play-by-play data was available for B-R), but he was a pretty good player. The first overall pick in 1988, his career was effectively derailed by injuries, but he found a pretty good niche as a sixth man, winning the 6MOY award in 1997-98, but not before having made two All-Star Games in 1993 and 1994. In a weird stat, he’s 90th ever in personal fouls in the NBA. If someone told me Knox would become a Danny Manning-like player, I’d slap him and myself on the face from joy. So, advantage: AHNYK.
At starting shooting guard (Damyean Dotson, GmSc 6.6): Nate Robinson (11 pts, 0 rebs, 0 ast, 18mp, GmSc 2.7). I don’t think I have to tell you who Nate was, right? It would be strange seeing him start at SG, since he didn’t play a single minutes outside of the PG position in all of his career (his height, or lack thereof, pretty much prevented him from playing his more natural role of combo guard). But, did you know that Nate posted a quite respectable .096 WS/48 for his career? If you asked me before this weird exercise which was the career WS/48 number for the three-time Slam Dunk Champion, I would have guessed .050. He was better that I (we?) remember. He also has a Player of the Week honor under his belt. Advantage: tie (for height purposes, but average Nate was a better player than actual Dot is now).
At starting point guard (Emmanuel Mudiay, GmSc 3.6): Andrew Toney (7 pts, 0 reb, 3 asts, 21mp, GmSc -3.8). I’m quite in awe of the fact that I didn’t force any position in the B-R Game Finder search engine and it still found, in a total random way, a plausible starting five. I mean, I was quite sure this boxscore line (7/0/3 in 21 minutes) could have been posted by any single type of player. Amazingly, of the 23 such performances no single one was posted by a forward or a center. The tallest guy to post such a bad line was the 6’7″ Eddie Johnson. Anyway, Andrew Toney, the prototypical microwave scorer who was a very important cog in the 1983 NBA Champions 76ers, had a brief but prestigious career: two-times All-Star, one-time NBA Champion, an astounding 15th place in MVP votes in 1985. His Knicks ties reside in his running backcourt mate with the Sixers. Mo Cheeks, and the fact that TDDWTDD had Andrew’s surname as his name. Advantage: AHNYK (and if you switched positions and put Toney at SG and Nate as PG, both positions would result in an advantage for the AHNYK, who are actually built, until now, like a 5-th place in the East team).
First three reserves:
First one (Allonzo Trier, GmSc 18.3): Danilo Gallinari (22 pts, 4 rebs, 3 ast, 31 mp, GmSc 12.8). It turns out it’s hard to post a bad GameScore with these numbers, huh? Anyway, Gallo is another one I needn’t tell you anything about, apart from my #feels every time I see him play. I always liked his game, and I suffered like hell when we traded him away in the Melo package. Oh, about Melo: don’t look now, but the career WP/48 of Gallo is actually higher than Melo’s one. Here’s your curio about Danilo: he’s currently 20th ever in the history of the NBA in TO% and 14th ever in ORtg (really, look it up). If we strike out in free agency, I would be glad to welcome him back somehow. Advantage: AHNYK (sorry Zo, kinda good game, but Gallo is too good for you).
Second one (Mitchell Robinson, GmSc -0.1): Solomon Jones (0 pts, 5 rebs, 0 ast, 14 mp, GmSc -5.8). Who? Well, actually Solomon Jones was a no-nonsense bruiser who ended up playing 281 games in the NBA (2 with the Knicks in 2012-13, and he even started one!) while doing nothing well enough to grant him a real place in some team’s rotation. His career high in points scored is 14, in boards is 10 and in blocks is 5 (this one, not bad). Somehow, he ended his career with an average WS/48 of .078. You know who doesn’t have a WS/48 of .078 this season? Every current Knick not named Mitch, DeAndre, Kadeem, and Noah. Anyway, advantage: Actual Knicks.
Third one (Kadeem Allen, GmSc -7.4): Chucky Atkins (0 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast, 26mp, GmSc -2.2). As you can see, actually the worst ever has been our own Kadeem last night, but for the sake of this exercise I went with the next one, the perennial journeyman Chucky Atkins, an 11 season veteran sporting a not so bad .077 WS/48 for his career. Somehow he ended up playing the 20th most minutes in the whole league in 2004-05. Advantage: tie (only because I’m feeling generous).
It’s incredible: even cherry picking the worst outings in terms of Game Score with the same exact numbers, the Alternate History New York Knicks end up with this 8 man rotation: Okur/McAdoo/Manning/Toney/Nate Robinson with Gallo as their sixth man and two journeymen filling the other spots. They would simply crush us, like 128-92 crush us. In other news: we have a very, very bad team.
One quick note about the game: in the beginning of the third quarter, with the game already out of hand, Fiz elected to substitute the entire starting five out of the game at once. With 10:55 to go! I supported that move, but it goes to point out how much this game was a debacle.
See you on Wednesday!