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Sunday, October 26, 2014

New York Knicks Preseason Preview 2011

[The good folks at CelticsBlog.com, have been kind enough to invite us to participate in the 5th annual blogger preview. Here is my entry.]

Team Name: New York Knicks
Last Year’s Record: 29-53
Key Losses: David Lee, Al Harrington, Chris Duhon, Tracey McGrady, The Stench of Futility
Key Additions: Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, Ronnie Turiaf, Roger Mason Jr., Landry Fields, Timofey Mozgov

1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?

If you’re reading this section curious about what New York has done, then you’ve probably just awoken from a coma. Although if you’ve been a Knick fan over the last decade, that’s understandable. In any case, let me be the first to give you the good news. New York signed All Star Amar’e Stoudemire this offseason and has room to sign another top free agent. The bad news is that the team was aiming for two of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Instead the trio have formed the most hated thing this side of Justin Beiber.

The Knicks also inked Raymond Felton to replace the inept Chris Duhon. Although the team did let home grown All Star David Lee go, getting Anthony Randolph in return could neutralize this loss if the young forward can reach his potential. Ronnie Turiaf will provide much needed shot blocking. Second round pick Landry Fields looked quite impressive in summer league, and Timofey Mozgov showed promise for Team Russia.

2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?

The Knicks greatest asset in 2011 should be their athletic versatility. There’s no arguing that Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, Anthony Randolph, Ronnie Turiaf, and Timofey Mozgov are more physically able than David Lee, Chris Duhon, Jared Jeffries, Al Harrington, Darko Milicic, and Earl Barron. With a core of Felton, Randolph, and Stoudemire, the team could go big (add Gallinari, and one of Turiaf, Mozgov, Curry) or small (add two of Azubuike, Fields, Walker, Douglas, Mason, or Rautins). D’Antoni should be able to put out some interesting lineups, causing mismatches for their opponents. If Randolph or Gallinari can run the offense like Lee did last year, the Knicks could get very creative on the floor in a point guard-less offense when Felton needs a rest.

If I had to choose a second strength it might be D’Antoni’s offense. The past two seasons New York featured a ragtag lineup due to the state of the franchise from the Isiah Thomas era. In back to back years the Knicks finished 17th in offensive efficiency, and this year’s team seems more tailor made for the coach. Given the pick & roll tandem of Stoudemire & Felton, the outside shooting of Azubuike, Mason, and Rautins, and the development of youngsters Gallinari, Douglas, Walker, and Chandler, D’Antoni should have plenty of weapons to assault opposing defenses.

3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?

New York has been a bad rebounding team for D’Antoni’s tenure, and this is one area Donnie Walsh failed to address in remaking the team. Stoudemire, Gallinari, and Turiaf aren’t good rebounders, and the loss of hyalophile David Lee will hurt the team as well. According to my stat page, the Knicks were 27th on both offensive and defensive rebounding last year. Knick fans who cringe at their team forgoing any second opportunities while allowing tip ins from the opposition will have a furled brow for much of the season. Perhaps Randolph and Mozgov can work their way into heavy minutes and help prevent the bleeding.

Last year the Knicks were tied for 3rd worst defense in the NBA, and it has been a recurring issue with the team for the last decade. The Knicks have some good defensive pieces in Azubuike, Randolph, Douglas, and Turiaf. However most of the team (including the coaching staff) leans to the offensive side of the spectrum. If New York isn’t among the 10 worst defenses this year, it should be considered an accomplishment.

4. What are the goals for this team?

On April 29th, 2001, Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell combined for 44 points and led a Marcus Camby-less New York to victory over Toronto. Despite being up 2 games to 1 in a best of 5 series, the Raptors would win the next two games and knock the Knicks out in the first round. That was the last New York playoff win. The Knicks should aim to end that drought before the streak reaches its 10th birthday. To do so, they’ll need to do better than the 8th seed, since that spot will likely face the Miami Heat, who will likely sweep their first round opponent.

A playoff spot would mean success for the Knicks. A playoff win would be a nice bonus. Anything beyond a second round appearance would be a Gotham fantasy. On the other hand, entering the draft lottery would be seen as a complete failure considering the team has offered Houston the right to swap picks.

5. Who is D’Antoni going to alienate this year?

In 2009, Stephon Marbury was exiled from the team. In 2010 Nate Robinson was chained to the doghouse for most of the year, and was joined by Darko Milicic and Larry Hughes. As I mentioned last year, the D’Antoni Rules aren’t kind to players who aren’t in the rotation. The combination of D’Antoni’s short rotation and his inability to communicate with his players inevitably leads to a player being irate over a lack of playing time. This year’s likely candidate is Mozgov, given his inexperience and D’Antoni’s gigantasophobia. If I had to put money on a dark horse I’d take Turiaf or Chandler. The former has a Twitter predilection that might hit a nerve with the communicationally challenged D’Antoni. The latter because after having no competition at shooting guard for two seasons, Chandler might find himself on the outside looking in. Azubuike, Fields, and even Mason could push Wilson for playing time, and those players fit D’Antoni’s offense better than Chandler.

48 comments on “New York Knicks Preseason Preview 2011

  1. DS

    Thanks, KB. With so many roster changes it’s hard to make predictions on how it will all turn out or to focus on what changes are most significant.

    I am interested to know more about what you think Mosgov is capable of this year. His name came up in almost every section whereas I assumed he’d be an after though. I watched a couple of his games at the WBC but didn’t get much of a read on him.

    Also, I know about Gallo’s, TD’s, Walker’s, and Randolph’s efficiency; I’d like to know who YOU THINK will get the big minutes, the big stats, contend for “Most Improved Player” this year.

  2. Die_Hard_Knick_Fan

    I am extremely excited about this years team. Just for the fact that they actually have a chance of making the playoffs. I have been a dedicated and loyal fan since I was 11 years old. I am now 30 and have watched the years of Ewing, Oakley, Starks, Mason, Harper, Ward (who I really liked) and then Curry, James, Marbury, Francis, Milicic and so on. The team is FINALLY getting over the horror that was Isaiah Thomas’ era, and it seems there may be a glimpse of light. I agree that a playoff win will be a successful season, I love the Knicks, but I am also realistic. They are a better team, but they still have building to do. At least this should be the first season after a decade, where the team will actually take some steps forward. I expect nothing less than 40 wins.

  3. rrude

    The obvious candidate for who gets alienated is Curry. D’Antoni didn’t care a bit about Marbury’s expiring contract and the possibility of trading him. He won’t care about Eddy either. Eddy hasn’t been able to stay on the court and the brief moments he did play last year the team looked terrible.

    Or maybe MK doesn’t feel like Eddy is even worth a mention since he is so far removed from being a regular, productive player, and seems very unlikely to transform suddenly into one.

  4. BigBlueAL

    No predicted final record?!?! Poasting and Toasting said 42-40 and Bandwagon Knick had 40-42. I will be slightly more optimistic and say 43-39.

    Of course it could very well as easily be 35-47….

  5. Ben R

    I would say 46-36, our division is weak and I think D’Antoni will be able to get alot out of this group. It’s optimistic but I look down the roster and it is well balanced with great size, athleticism and, for the most part, efficient scorers.

    I don’t see us being a great defensive team but I would be surprised if we don’t at least sniff average defensively. (15-20 range) Felton and Douglas are upgrades at the 1 and Mozgov and Turiaf are huge upgrades at the 5. Those are the most important defensive positions and we should be above average at both.

  6. massive

    I’m gonna go with 44-38. I also think we should be a better team defensively this year than most would expect. We don’t have many below average defenders on this team, and 3-5 above average defenders (Felton, Randolph, Turiaf, Azu, and Chandler). Almost every interview I’ve seen with Amar’e, he talks about how the Knicks must commit to playing defense. I think we’ll move up 10 spots to 17th this year. Maybe our offense moves up 10 spots to 7th too.

  7. Mike Kurylo Post author

    BigBlueAL: No predicted final record?!?!Poasting and Toasting said 42-40 and Bandwagon Knick had 40-42.I will be slightly more optimistic and say 43-39.Of course it could very well as easily be 35-47….  

    Those other blogs just give it all up right up front, eh? I’d like to think I’m not as easy. ;-)

  8. d-mar

    I’m going with BBA – 43-39. As optimistic as I am about this team and as happy as I am with the job Donnie is doing, we tend to look at our team in a vacuum. There aren’t many teams (if any) that we can pencil in as automatic W’s, even with our revamped lineup. And to do better than 43-39 we’d have to win a few games we’re not supposed to win (road games against West playoff and bubble teams, e.g.) I don’t know if we have the personnel to do that. Whatever our record, this will be one hell of an interesting season, cannot wait until opening night!

  9. ess-dog

    It’s hard not to agree with the write-up. With so many new, young faces, it will be impossible to predict the Knicks season. You can try to look at what is closest to being a “given” and work down from there:
    Stoudemire: Should roughly do what he usually does when healthy. His efficiency might take a small dip as he will try to be “the man” more often than not on offense, but he will get his points, and hopefully his rebounds. It will be interesting to see how much center he plays, and how that affects his defense. I could see him playing 50/50 pf/c this year.
    Felton: Not so much a given… had a big boost in his contract year, but only got a 2 year deal to prove himself for his next contract, so he should be motivated. Can’t imagine the new system will work against him, quite the opposite in fact. No Steve Nash, but a far cry from Duhon and hopefully will look like a faster, more athletic Hinrich/Mo Williams combo.
    Gallo: You have to figure there will be improvement from last year. Another year away from the back surgery, a summer working with Kobe’s trainer, I predict a similar shooting season with a jump in rebounds, assists and points in the post. His defense should be solid. Overall can probably expect a Deng-like level of play, but with a game closer to a combo of Peja and Rashard Lewis. Right around cracking the top 10 sf’s if healthy, might even play some pf.
    Turiaf: A little tougher to predict. Never has played more than 20 min. a game. Somehow his eFG was way up last year but his PER and Win shares went down. His rebounding is on a steady decline but he defends the paint and can actually pass a bit. Would be ideal as a back up center but might have to start. I think with a 2nd unit, could play some great defense and actually get to show his scoring chops a bit, but will definitely be a 5th option as a starter. Coming off of injury too.
    Douglas: Should at least repeat what he showed in his limited minutes last year. Very solid and improving defense, good 3 point shot, speed in the open court, and very little ability to find the open man. Could play more sg than pg. Maybe a poor man’s Aaron Brooks?
    The rest of the rotation: Randolph, Walker, Chandler, Azu, Mosgov, Fields, Mason. No idea what these players will provide this year. But at least two need to be solid contributors and one should become above-average if we even want to sniff the playoffs. Looks like a .500 team to me. Would love to see us get a 7th or 8th seed and build on that.

  10. JK47

    If Anthony Randolph can stay healthy and is good enough to play major minutes, we will be in pretty good shape. We are absolutely going to need Randolph’s rebounding. I am really concerned about our rebounding if we can’t get lots of minutes out of AR.

  11. TheRant

    Indeed it will sting the first time we play the Warriors and David Lee pulls down 52 rebounds, 21 of them offensive rebounds.

  12. Brian Cronin

    Question – how much money under the cap are the Knicks? Or in other words, how big of an offer can they make to Erick Dampier? You can’t tell me that he wouldn’t be helpful in the middle on a short-term deal.

    The idea of Dampier signing with Miami scares the bejeesus out of me.

  13. Brian Cronin

    Crap, never mind, I looked it up and the Knicks have very little to offer. They can pretty much only offer the same amount that the Heat can offer. So here’s hoping some team out there still has their mid-level and wants to use it!

    Did Atlanta ever use their mid-level? I’d hate to help out a team in the Eastern Conference, but better Atlanta than Miami.

  14. Z

    Nice preview Mike!

    In the “significant moves” section, I’d not only mention the players that were added, but also the players that weren’t added, which is just as significant, considering the amount of money Walsh had to spend and the bandwidth of players available.

    Loaded with so much cap-space and so many players to choose from, there was much angst from fans, worried that if LeBron opted not to take his talents to Gotham, that the Knicks would go and burn their cap space on consolation prizes, spiraling back into the fiscal abyss that Knick management seemingly loves to wallow in. But instead of seeing through the “2 max FAs” plan, he used his hard-earned flexibility to ensure even greater flexibility to continue the rebuild, an as the dust settles on the 2010 FA bonanza, Walsh has come out of it having earned a confidence that Knick GMs have not enjoyed for a loooooong time.

    Knicks got younger, more athletic, and better defensively, but considering all that we’ve been through in the past 15 years, the most important “change” this off-season is an $82 million team salary dropping to $56 million, with Amar’e and a cheap Ronnie Turiaf as the only commitments stretching into 2011.

    Who would have thunk that a team that lost it’s best player, its lottery pick, and got spurned by it’s top three FA choices would come out of the summer fully re-stocked and excited?

    Best Knick off-season ever.

  15. DS

    @14 Minnesota doesn’t have anything in the works:

    Letter:
    “The reality is, we are still lacking a dominant player – our version of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade or Kevin Durant – and that will remain an item at the top of the To-Do list.

    It’s possible this player could emerge from within the roster…

    However, if one of our players fails to emerge, we will be prepared to find more talent for our team – and we will seek a singular move rather than a series of moves, as we did these last 14 months.”

  16. Ted Nelson

    ” hopefully will look like a faster, more athletic Hinrich/Mo Williams combo.”

    Those guys are both strong shooter and poor athletes (for NBA PGs)… Felton is a poor scorer and a strong athlete.

    I just hope Felton refrains from shooting the basketball. His usage needs to be closer to 15 than the 21.1 he’s averaged on his career. If he doesn’t heave the ball towards the orange circle too much, maybe he’ll be passable.

    “Maybe a poor man’s Aaron Brooks?”

    I’ll take Douglas over Brooks. http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=brookaa01&y1=2010&p2=douglto01&y2=2010

    JK47: I am really concerned about our rebounding if we can’t get lots of minutes out of AR.  

    I’m not really. D’Antoni had no rebounders in Phoenix and he purposely ignores the offensive glass… Anyway, AR is a very good rebounder, Amare is good, Timo should be good… Knicks shouldn’t be awful rebounding even if they are bad.

    Brian Cronin: You can’t tell me that he wouldn’t be helpful in the middle on a short-term deal.

    The idea of Dampier signing with Miami scares the bejeesus out of me.

    Maybe it helps, but how much? With he and Amare in the front-court together it’s that much harder to run, which is presumably still what D’Antoni wants to do. Despite huffing-and-puffing to the contrary, I expect Amare to play a healthy amount at the 5 (maybe Randolph there defensively). Dampier could eat into minutes for younger players to gain maybe a couple of wins, while changing up the team’s style for a one year rental of a 35 year old career underachiever… I might bring him in to compete with Turiaf and Timo for what’s basically the back-up C position. In the playoffs big bodies might help if the Knicks play Boston or Magic 1st round.

    I don’t really expect the Knicks to compete with Miami sans-Dampier, so I’ll let Lakers, Celtics, Magic, etc. fans worry about the Heat.

    Brian Cronin: I’d hate to help out a team in the Eastern Conference, but better Atlanta than Miami.  

    The Knicks have a legitimate shot to be competing with Atlanta to me (optimistically for a mid-playoff seed–have doubts Atlanta can repeat 2009-10 success–but also to actually beat the Hawks when the two teams meet), so I would probably say better the Heat than the Hawks.

    Z: Best Knick off-season ever. 

    Good points, Z

  17. adrenaline98

    I only have one comment on Eddy Curry: Whenever I see his picture in the paper, I feel so incredibly sad for him. He had world class talent, a large body, decent hops, great hands, a big soft touch. Players like him come around once in a long while, with everything put together, short of a motor. What could have been with Curry is so far from what has been with Curry that it’s truly sad. If only he had the motivation to go get that extra rebound.

    I’m more optimistic on the Knicks as a whole at 46 wins. But I think they’re built more for the regular season than a playoff run. So while I think they will make the playoffs, I don’t see them making much noise at all beyond the first round, and possibly not even in the first round when rotations get cut short.

    I see none of the rookies making any impact short of D’Antoni like stints (ie. Toney Douglas). I think a big reason people are so high on Mozgov is, again, they see the potential in this guy. Big, athletic, PnR’s well, looks to have a motor. He’s probably the best Knick bigman prospect since Ewing (if you can even call Ewing a prospect back then as a rookie). Like I said in the other thread, I’m excited to see what Mozgov will be able to do in his limited minutes, but I expect just that, very limited minutes. I don’t see him making an impact immediately, but will show signs of being a solid player. I think a lot of people will be disappointed at how much of an impact he plays, given the comments on here that have such high expectations of the kid.

  18. ess-dog

    Ted Nelson: ” hopefully will look like a faster, more athletic Hinrich/Mo Williams combo.”Those guys are both strong shooter and poor athletes (for NBA PGs)… Felton is a poor scorer and a strong athlete.
    I just hope Felton refrains from shooting the basketball. His usage needs to be closer to 15 than the 21.1 he’s averaged on his career. If he doesn’t heave the ball towards the orange circle too much, maybe he’ll be passable.“Maybe a poor man’s Aaron Brooks?”I’ll take Douglas over Brooks. http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=brookaa01&y1=2010&p2=douglto01&y2=2010

    Maybe a better shooting Ramon Sessions? Felton was close to .400 on 3 pointers last year. Not really sure he has an ideal comparable, but was thinking maybe just short of Mo Williams in terms of overall production, not game per se.
    Clearly this team needs CP3 (as does every other team.) We need a BETTER player than Amare to add to our current squad to even think of competing with the better teams, especially Miami. We are hopefully putting ourselves in the position to get CP3 in 2012 while collecting assets. It’s too bad about our dearth of draft picks, but c’est la vie.

  19. Ted Nelson

    adrenaline98: I’m more optimistic on the Knicks as a whole at 46 wins. But I think they’re built more for the regular season than a playoff run. So while I think they will make the playoffs, I don’t see them making much noise at all beyond the first round, and possibly not even in the first round when rotations get cut short.

    46 wins sort of implies they are not built for the playoffs: not one team that advanced to the 2nd round last season had less than 50 regular season wins.

    adrenaline98: I see none of the rookies making any impact short of D’Antoni like stints (ie. Toney Douglas).

    I don’t understand what you mean by “D’Antoni like stints (ie. Toney Douglas).”

    adrenaline98: I don’t see him making an impact immediately, but will show signs of being a solid player. I think a lot of people will be disappointed at how much of an impact he plays, given the comments on here that have such high expectations of the kid.  

    Let’s define what your expectations are and what other people’s are… I don’t think anyone else has called Timo the Knicks best bigman prospect since Ewing (which implies he’s a better prospect than Charles Oakley, DPOY Marcus Camby, and David Lee among others). He’s 24 years old, he’s not some 20 year old developmental prospect. Odds are he will improve, but if he’s a total zero at 24 the odds of him ever being an “impact” NBA player are slim. The impact people expect him to make is something you generally have or you don’t: athleticism, rebounding, and ability to finish at the basket. He may improve his bball IQ, discipline, defense, shooting, post game all dramatically after he’s 24, but I doubt he gets more athletic, rebounds better, or finishes better as he ages.

    I don’t know if you have a good grip on other people’s expectations. People are expecting 10-20 mpg. Mozgov himself is on record saying that. Toney Douglas played 20 mpg last season. People are expecting Timo to *compete* for minutes with the *great* Ronny Turiaf… who has never averaged 20 mpg. Hoping he can be a serviceable NBA center. No one is calling him a better young bigman than Charles Oakley, Marcus Camby, or David Lee. If he puts in a few dunks, grabs some boards, and defends the paint when Amare’s on the bench… most people will be happy. Anything above that and they’ll be thrilled. I’m still not sure where in the last thread you got the impression anyone expects him to be an All-NBA C as a rookie… Maybe one or two comments came across that way, but that was definitely not the general tone of the discussion.

    I can’t get my head around saying maybe he’ll play 20 mpg like Douglas, but he won’t have any impact or saying he’s a better prospect at 24 than Oakley, Camby, or Lee, but he’s not an impact player. Those are both contradictions.

  20. Ted Nelson

    ess-dog: Felton was close to .400 on 3 pointers last year.

    But he only made 60 3s all season… 0.8 per 36. It’s a small sample with fairly large variability (in a larger sample he may trend back towards his 32.7% career average… or maybe he’s really improved) and he’s probably taking mostly wide open 3s (that’s total speculation on my part, but if you’re that selective you’re probably selecting the better looks). His overall eFG% on jumpers puts him below Duhon last season (.443 to .473) and no where near a Mo Williams (.535)

    ess-dog: Not really sure he has an ideal comparable, but was thinking maybe just short of Mo Williams in terms of overall production, not game per se.

    I’m not sure either… Duhon seems like a great comparison to me :) because they are maybe the two worst offensive starting PGs in the league… Both come from storied NC programs, have “intangibles,” and “will” “improve” playing for D’Antoni…

    It’s hard for me to compare Felton to Mo Williams in terms of overall production, because all Mo really does is shoot well. He never goes to the basket and he’s an average playmaker and defender at best. Defining the trade-off between Mo’s shooting and Felton’s defense, driving, and playmaking is tough.

    Maybe Johnny Flynn is comparable? Not sure how he’ll develop yet, though. Best case TJ Ford with less playmaking and more defense… Worst case a faster Anthony Johnson. Fat, no effort Baron Davis?

    I really hope Toney Douglas is so good he forces D’Antoni to sit Felton…

    ess-dog: We need a BETTER player than Amare to add to our current squad to even think of competing with the better teams, especially Miami.

    Would be nice, but short of that they need a bunch of good players and a balanced roster. The 90s Kings, for example, didn’t have anyone better than C-Webb (Amare-ish) or Peja (Danilo?)… They still managed to contend for a good stretch. The Knicks’ Amare-Gallo-AR core *could* already have that talent, with some good talent to surround them.
    I know everyone wants to have a clear shot at a title, but winning 50-60 games and making some noise in the playoffs for the next 5-10 years would be infinitely better than the last 5-10 years (and that’s probably still a huge understatement…).

  21. Ted Nelson

    I have an irrational vendetta against Raymond Felton–though rationally I’m still not high on him–but Tony Parker could be a good best-case comparison… Felton doesn’t score as much–though he scores in a similar way–but he’s a better defender. I would call Parker the better playmaker, but the way he’s used in their offense his ast% ends up just above Feltons’ most seasons. It’s not out of the question that Felton could be as good as Parker this season at 1/2 of the price.

  22. DS

    @6 Re: # of Wins – I ran through the Knicks’ schedule.

    If the Knicks beat every team who did not make the playoffs last year PLUS won the 4 games vs. the Bobcats that would give them 43 wins (or one upset over a ’09-’10 playoff for every game they lost to the non-playoff teams).

    That will take some serious consistency and an ability to close out games…

  23. Frank O.

    @14
    Sounds like the kind of wonder weapons Hitler kept hoping for that would turn a lost war into victory overnight.
    Kahn sounds desperate.

    I watched the big Russian play a few games and I have to say he has great hands, moves really well and is explosive around the hoop. He does seem to box out very well, but NBA-style ball is more about attacking the basket for rebounds these days. It seems like just an emphasis thing.
    If the Knicks focus that guy on defense and boards, and he seems to have the ability to do well there, then he would be a great contributor to this team.
    The Knicks don’t need him to score. They need a center to watch Amare’s back.
    He’s also not intimidated. He plays very hard and physical. If they can eliminate his ticky-tac fouls, he could extend beyond 20 minutes. Without foul trouble, he could average 30 per game. The only reason he’s not playing more now is his tendency to get into foul trouble.
    I’m excited about this team, for more reasons than one, but I have to see them play well and consistently before I get too excited.

  24. MSA

    If Mozgov makes that kind of “block/foul” as he did on Rose in the WBC every time Lebron goes for the layup, I will be perfectly happy with him…

  25. ess-dog

    Ted Nelson: I have an irrational vendetta against Raymond Felton–though rationally I’m still not high on him–but Tony Parker could be a good best-case comparison… Felton doesn’t score as much–though he scores in a similar way–but he’s a better defender. I would call Parker the better playmaker, but the way he’s used in their offense his ast% ends up just above Feltons’ most seasons. It’s not out of the question that Felton could be as good as Parker this season at 1/2 of the price.  

    Too late. You already depressed me with the Duhon comparison. Sessions sadly might have been a better signing (better on offense, worse on defense) but what do you do…
    I’m hoping that potentially, Gallo can take over some playmaking duties in the half-court sets.
    At least Felton is 1. fast, 2. can defend, 3. doesn’t turn it over, and 4. can generally find the open man.
    Ideally, this is why I think we need someone like Walker as a starter – a shooter who can get to the rim. I think Gallo and Amare need more help carrying the offense, and Walker is the only proven/healthy shooter/scorer we have that remotely fits the sg position. It will be an interesting battle for that spot in camp.

  26. ess-dog

    Also, we could maybe get the REAL Tony Parker next year if something better isn’t out there, which would be an upgrade.

  27. Ted Nelson

    Frank O., I think that’s an optimistic projection given Timo’s game, the Knicks roster, and D’Antoni’s coaching style…
    -Timo’s limitations extend beyond fouls.
    -Knicks have a lot of Fs and wings competing for minutes (Randolph, Gallo, WC, Azu, Douglas, Walker, Fields) along with 2-4 other Cs (Turiaf, Amare/Randolph, and maybe even Curry).
    -When did D’Antoni ever worry about a “center to watch Amare’s back” in Phoenix or one to watch Lee’s in NY???

    It’s certainly possible Timo gets 30 mpg as a rookie, but I wouldn’t call it likely. Would take pretty much everything going right for him and/or quite a few things going wrong for other players. Only 5 Knicks got 30 mpg last season. That was also the norm in Phoenix.

  28. Ted Nelson

    ess-dog: Walker is the only proven/healthy shooter/scorer we have that remotely fits the sg position.

    I agree that D’Antoni is likely to get shooters out there somehow. Putting Randolph and Chandler and Felton on the court together with Amare is not really a D’Antoni line-up (or Turiaf, Amare, Felton, and Chandler). Gallo would be literally the only 3-pt shooter on the floor.

    There are other candidates, though: Azu, Douglas, Roger Mason, and Fields. D’Antoni may also just tell WC to fire away if his shot looks improved in training camp…

    If Walker can continue anything near his ridiculous hot shooting from last season… sure, D’Antoni will probably find room for him in the rotation. Since he has little other value on the court outside scoring, though, I’d say he’s pretty vulnerable. He may get beaten out in camp and have a hard time working his way back into the rotation (especially if the Knicks start hot without him), or start out in the rotation and fall out once he misses a few shots.

  29. ess-dog

    Well,

    Azu probably won’t be 100% to start the season and Fields just doesn’t strike me as a guard in any respect.
    I forgot about Douglas at the 2 which is very possible. All he lacks is about 3 inches. Mason fits the bill – tall guard with good three point shooting – but does he still have it? I can’t imagine he does all that much.
    I was impressed with Walker’s athleticism last year. His ability to elevate and move without the ball was impressive especially considering two knee injuries (his ball handling and first step less so, but hopefully work during the summer and the weight loss will help that.) He was not a good shooter in college but by the time he was in the D league he was an excellent 3 point shooter. He seems willing and able to improve his game and is still rather young when you factor in the injuries. His defense is probably slightly below average, but perhaps he can improve that. He has a history of working well with and excellent post player (Beasley) and I think he could work well off of Stoudemire.
    But who knows? We could have Fernandez on the team by the beginning of training camp. Mostly I would just like to see Chandler as the back up 3 where he belongs and where he would be the most effective.

  30. massive

    An interesting take on Timofey Mozgov from ESPN Insider’s Fran Fraschilla:

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/blog?name=nba_draft&id=5575977

    “The 7-foot-1 Russian’s four quick baskets against Team USA in the quarterfinals showed why Donnie Walsh and the Knicks signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract.

    Mozgov, who was not drafted two years ago, is a late developer with excellent strength and above-average athletic ability. He runs the court well, will bang inside and can be a defender around the rim.

    On the other hand, his offensive low-post package of skills is nonexistent and he has average hands, at best. He is a forceful roller in the screen-and-roll game, though, and he provides a large target when he gets to the rim.

    Mozgov would have been a top 15 pick in what I thought was a weak draft. Guys like Ekpe Udoh, Hassan Whiteside, Cole Aldrich, Larry Sanders, and Greg Monroe, who were all 1st round selections, would have been hard-pressed to play the way Mozgov did in Turkey.”

    A top 15 pick? Maybe he could have gone to New Orleans with the 11th pick.

  31. Caleb

    I mostly agree with the take om Mozgov – likely a good backup, a ceiling probably around Martin Gortat (though Mozgov is bigger, so who knows).

    But I think people are underestimating what he could do this year. Being 24 isn’t a negative, it means he’s more NBA ready. He may be “raw” in the sense that fouls a lot, and doesn’t have any moves on offense, but IMO he looks like he knows how to play, and he’s definitely more ready – physically – than any of the other big man rookies. I don’t think top-15 is a stretch at all.

    But my guess is that D’Antoni won’t play 3 centers, meaning the Russian has to compete with Turiaf for any serious minutes at the center spot – assuming Stoudemire plays a chunk in the middle. In a Mozgov vs. Turiaf battle, I think Mike D will prefer Turiaf’s passing ability from the high post.

    It sure would be a nice change, to have more than one competent center on the roster.

  32. Z

    Ted Nelson:
    …a bunch of good players and a balanced roster. The 90s Kings, for example, didn’t have anyone better than C-Webb (Amare-ish) or Peja (Danilo?)… They still managed to contend for a good stretch. The Knicks’ Amare-Gallo-AR core *could* already have that talent, with some good talent to surround them.
    I know everyone wants to have a clear shot at a title, but winning 50-60 games and making some noise in the playoffs for the next 5-10 years would be infinitely better than the last 5-10 years (and that’s probably still a huge understatement…).  

    Interesting comparison. Perhaps the Webber led Kings are a decent blue print for the 2010 Knicks to follow. That was a fun, “D’Antoniesque” open court team that was a legitimate title contender. Main difference is that they had great passing skill at every position, especially their big men.

    Still, I like the Gallo-Peja comp and the Amar’e-Webber comp as well. Though there are way more parallels between Webber and Randolph! Both were hated by Don Nelson and kicked out of Golden State before they were even old enough to drink. Both are active, athletic, good ball-handling 6’10” PFs. Both are inefficient scorers, but do so much other stuff well that even TS%philes have to turn a blind eye.

  33. Ted Nelson

    ess-dog,

    Not saying it won’t or can’t be Walker. Just saying he has competition. D’Antoni did seem to take an immediate liking to him… perhaps he loves him or perhaps it’s also cause he knew BW would be back this season.

    “I forgot about Douglas at the 2 which is very possible. All he lacks is about 3 inches.”

    Even with his height disadvantage… not clear Walker is a better defender…
    I don’t see Douglas technically starting anyway, but he could still be a top 5 minute getter coming off the bench.

    “does he still have it? I can’t imagine he does all that much.”

    Roger Mason never had all that much, but it’s not that usual for a 29 year old to suddenly forget how to shoot a basketball. Last season he had an awful shooting season, but I would expect him to regain his form unless his knees are gone or something and he can’t get anything on his shot.

  34. Ted Nelson

    massive,

    Thanks for the link. I disagree with Franny on the top 15 pick status, though. This was one of the best, deepest drafts for bigmen in a long time, so I’m not sure what he’s on calling it a weak draft. Hassan Whiteside was not, in fact, a 1st rounder… Greg Monroe will be 20 this season, while Timo will be 24. It’s hard to just ignore age completely. It’s like saying Rudy Gay did well, but Derrick Favors would have struggled… DUH! Same stupid crap Hollinger pulled with Rubio. Fewer teams are drafting to have a solid rookie than to have a good long-term piece. Aldrich I’m not that high on, but he’s got a much more refined game than Timo. Udoh and Sanders opinions are pretty split on.
    Even being a top 15 pick doesn’t mean much of anything, since plenty of busts for top 15.

    Caleb: Being 24 isn’t a negative, it means he’s more NBA ready.

    My point was that being 24 means that if he’s not NBA ready at all as a rookie, there’s a good chance he never will be… If you’re 20 you’re not supposed to be NBA ready and have tons of time and development ahead of you. *If* he’s totally lost on the court as a rookie at 24–and he got lost on both sides of the ball a fair amount in the WCs–the chances of him getting it all together will be slim.

  35. Ben R

    Ted Nelson: Roger Mason never had all that much, but it’s not that usual for a 29 year old to suddenly forget how to shoot a basketball.

    Roger Mason’s struggles last year came from a hand injury that is now healed. I think it is a resonable and likely expectation we will get the Mason’s before the injury which is a 39%-40% 3pt shooter with a 54%-56% TS%.

    07-08
    39.8% 3pt% – 57.3% TS%
    08-09
    42.1% TS% – 55.4% TS%
    09-10 – October-January:
    39.2% 3pt% – 54.3% TS%
    –Injuries Hand–
    09-10 – February-April:
    25.2% 3pt% – 40.6% TS%

  36. Jafa

    Mike, based on #5 of your prediction, here is my opening day rotation prediction:

    PG: Felton
    SG: Mason
    SF: Gallo
    PF: STAT
    C: Turiaf

    Bench: Douglas, Chandler, Randolph

    Upset player due to exclusion from rotation: Mozgov. After all, his agent was promised he would be the back-up center.

    Upset player due to communication issue: Mason or Chandler. After Azu is fully recovered from his injury, either Mason or Chandler will get dropped from the rotation, and will have an issue with Mike D’s communication, or lack thereof.

    Upset player due to his own incompetence: Curry. No explanation needed.

  37. Frank O.

    @31
    Ted, I agree with most of what you wrote. Mosgov has some limitations. I was saying he “could” get 30 minutes. But I think foul trouble is one of his greatest shortcomings and if he gets that right, he could get more time. If he doesn’t get his foul problems under control he’ll be fortunate to get 20.
    The Knicks do have a bunch of wing players. But on that list, the only guys I believe must get 30 at least are Amare, Randolph and the Rooster. Chandler, Walker, Douglas and Fields only get attention right now because the Knicks have been so staffed with mediocrity that they were all fans or coaches had to hope for. None of them have shown themselves to be starters (perhaps some would differ with me about Chandler), and most of them have shown that they deserve only limited playing time, IMHO. I have to remind myself often that many of these players were marginal on one of the poorest teams in the NBA.
    Personally, I think Amare should play power forward mostly. He doesn’t like playing center, and he’s better as a forward.
    Turiaf and Mosgov could be a good tandem at C, with either one playing into more minutes. I don’t think offense from either guy is terribly important. I want them to rebound and guard the paint. We have some decent scorers.
    That Amare didn’t have a center to back him in Phoenix and Lee at New York isn’t reason enough to think it’s not important to do. I don’t think either team had a strong center to play that role in either case, so I’m not sure I understand your point there.

    @34
    I have to say I’m a bit shocked at the bad hands comment. He made some very nice catch and shoot plays of the PnR in traffic. I think the US team made a point of saying the guy was tought to contain so they worked hard to get him in foul trouble. He’s a true 7’1 with a strong, athletic body. There are so few of those guys around. Turiaf has been a modest, although very likeable player, C. He’s undersized at the position and likely will have trouble against big centers.

    Perhaps we’re destined to watch a two-headed beast at center, but at least we have centers this year who appear viable. I think Amare will be a far better contributor at PF.

    BTW, I think the season rest on the shoulders of Felton. It isn’t enough that he won’t be scortching the Knicks twice a year for this trade to work out…:)
    If he can leverage his strengths (speed, ball handling, passing), and limit his weaknesses (shooting) this could be a nice year. If he falters, the Knicks could face another catastrophic year.

    No matter what happens, I think we need to view all of this with skepticism, however optimistic we may want to be. The East got a hell of a lot tougher, so however much the Knicks have improved, I think 2011-2012 will be a far better season. I think we will be frustrated this year at times. If they make the playoffs, I’ll be happy and probably a little shocked.

  38. cgreene

    @31
    “The East got a hell of a lot tougher, so however much the Knicks have improved, I think 2011-2012 will be a far better season. I think we will be frustrated this year at times. If they make the playoffs, I’ll be happy and probably a little shocked.”

    I don’t agree that the East got that much tougher. In order for the conference to be significantly tougher and thereby make the Knicks’ schedule more difficult it would mean that there are more good teams in the conference. The reality is that two teams made significant improvements that should show up in their regular season records in Miami and Chicago. With that, however, are three teams that current opinions believe have taken significant steps back in Cleveland, Toronto and Charlotte. So although there is a bit more weight at the top of the conference that is offset by new teams that will be no good at all. The reg season schedule for the Knicks should not be more difficult.

    Adding some conjecture to that, I think that Atlanta runs the risk of being not as good having made no improvements and, frankly, having their confidence crushed by Orlando last year and a new coach. I think you will see Boston running at 3/4 speed during the regular season and dealing with limiting the minutes of their core 3 in order to have the ready for a playoff run. The Bulls will also be figuring things out at the beginning of the year w a bunch of new players and a new coach (I thought that of all the players at FIBA that Rose looked least impressive especially as a point guard distributor type and his shot was awful).

    The Knicks season hinges first on Felton, second on Gallo and third on the emergence of 2 of Randolph/Moz/Fields/Chandler/Azu/Waker/Douglas. If 2/3 of those factors happen for the good, we win 42-43 games. If 3/3 then the ceiling is as high as 47 or 48 IMO.

  39. Z

    2011 Eastern Conference final standings:

    Miami: 63-19
    Orlando: 59-23
    Boston: 51-31
    Atlanta: 49-33
    Chicago: 48-34
    Milwaukee: 46-36
    New York: 43-39
    Charlotte: 42-42

    Philadelphia
    Indiana
    New Jersey
    Cleveland
    Washington
    Detroit
    Toronto

  40. ess-dog

    I think that’s an optimistic yet fair take, Z, depending on injuries. You never know I guess. Milwaukee is one injury away from being an 8 seed instead of a 6. Of course, we are one injury away from not being a playoff team at all. But I like our chances of at least getting that 8 seed and being a .500 team.
    It will be interesting to see just how badly Cleveland and Toronto suck this year. Will it be a huge drop off or not as much as we might think? Those players have a lot to prove…

  41. Ted Nelson

    Ben R,

    I forgot about the hand injury, but that’s what I was saying: last season was more likely a glitch than him falling off a cliff long-term. He’s a very limited player, anyway, though. He can fill a role, but I have a feeling Toney Douglas will fill the same role far, far more capably.

    Jafa: who is going to score points for Denver?

    Billups, Lawson, Nene, K-Mart, JR Smith, Iggy, Birdman, Al Harrington… I don’t think Denver lacks for capable scorers if they trade Melo for Iggy. Their offense may get better if Melo’s shots are redistributed to more efficient scorers like Billups, Lawson, and Nene.

    Jafa: Also, if Melo wants to go to a bad team that he can lead them to the playoffs in the East, I think the Nets are a better fit.

    Since he’s not a free agent yet, he can’t really make that decision in any way besides refusing to sign an extension… Philly may not mind a one year rental with the worst case being Iggy’s contract off the books… Or maybe they do mind that, I have no idea.

    Frank O.: I think foul trouble is one of his greatest shortcomings and if he gets that right, he could get more time. If he doesn’t get his foul problems under control he’ll be fortunate to get 20.

    I haven’t seen much indication he’ll get it right… Maybe you tell him to give less effort defensively, but then is he worth having out there? I think the best thing is to let him go wild for limited stretches and figure out the foul thing over time. Fouls do hurt a defense and having your C foul out in 20 minutes isn’t good, but when they come on hard fouls protecting the paint that will be mixed in with some intimidation and blocked shots… probably worth it for the Knicks. When he gets the ticky-taky touch fouls… just shoot him.

    Frank O.: Chandler, Walker, Douglas and Fields only get attention right now because the Knicks have been so staffed with mediocrity that they were all fans or coaches had to hope for. None of them have shown themselves to be starters

    -I was quite impressed with Toney’s rookie season, and don’t see why he can’t be one of the better combo-guards in the NBA. Guys like Manu, Leandro, or Jason Terry can command 30 mpg (heck, Manu might have been the best or 2nd best SG in the NBA for a 5 or so year span).
    -Fields hasn’t shown anything. He was commonly called one of the top 5-10 players in Vegas by scouts and analysts, though.
    -Walker has shown that he can score the ball at a very high efficiency inside and out. Hard to keep a 60% TS% guy glued to the bench if he can actually maintain something in that neighborhood.
    -Chandler I’d call mediocre offensively, but he’s played over 33 mpg each of his seasons for D’Antoni and is the Knicks’ perimeter defensive specialist.
    -Plus Azu and Mason. Plus Felton, who is the only real PG on the roster. Hopefully Douglas and Mason push him, but after he stuck with Duhon I have a hard time seeing D’Antoni ditch Felton.
    -No way all those guys get 30 mpg, but there are only going to be 5 or 6 guys getting that much burn in all likelihood. Amare, Gallo, Randolph, and Felton are probably 4 of the 5-6, with WC also likely to get minutes (especially if AR disappoints). After that there’s a lot of competition for minutes.

    Frank O.: Personally, I think Amare should play power forward mostly. He doesn’t like playing center, and he’s better as a forward.

    Who says he’s better as a forward besides him? The Suns had a whole lot of success with him at the 5. D’Antoni likes to have 4 perimeter players on the court, and I’d prefer to keep Amare scoring inside than push him out to the perimeter… He’s not a bad jump shooting big, but he’s also not very good. It’s not his strength.
    If the Knicks want to have a more traditional line-up, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t, then D’Antoni is probably not the coach for them.

    Frank O.: I don’t think offense from either guy is terribly important. I want them to rebound and guard the paint. We have some decent scorers.

    I have to honestly question how many scorers the Knicks have should they play Amare at the 4. Felton is an awful scorer and should see a lot of minutes. Randolph is not a good scorer, especially if he’s playing on the perimeter with Amare at the 4 and a C. WC is not a good scorer and not a good jump shooter. My point is that a lot of the Knicks good scorers outside of Amare and Gallo are perimeter players. Playing Turiaf and Timo all the minutes at the 5 effectively pushes one or two of those guys out of the rotation. It puts a bunch of guys in the rotation who want to be scoring at the hoop: Amare, Timo, AR, WC, Felton… while likely taking a shooter out of the rotation.

    Frank O.: I don’t think either team had a strong center to play that role in either case, so I’m not sure I understand your point there.

    My point is that you can win 60 games with Amare as your center. If the Knicks win 60 games I will shit myself out of joy.
    Again, this is D’Antoni we’re talking about. Guy is not going to put a line-up with only 1 shooter in it on the court.
    Also, if there is a real offensive/defensive trade-off between Amare at the 4 and 5… I don’t know. Turiaf is a solid defender, but not great. Timo is raw defensively. I think the Knicks are likely to lose more offensively than they gain defensively. One or both of those guys has/ve a chance to compete for the 15 or so mpg Amare is on the bench (unless Randolph beats them out that badly). And then more minutes depending on match-ups. I don’t see the need to force them 48 mpg combined and change the offensive system completely if they don’t actually earn the minutes and beat out the wings for rotation spots.

    Frank O.: I have to say I’m a bit shocked at the bad hands comment. He made some very nice catch and shoot plays of the PnR in traffic.

    All the scouting reports say as much. I don’t think they’re particularly terrible, just not David Lee-style good. It might also be based on old play, and he’s improved.
    Most of his rolls to the basket in the tournament that I remember didn’t come in much traffic.

    Frank O.: I think the US team made a point of saying the guy was tought to contain so they worked hard to get him in foul trouble.

    He was in foul trouble most of the tournament and most of the professional season as well…

    Frank O.: I think Amare will be a far better contributor at PF.

    Based on what?

    Frank O.: BTW, I think the season rest on the shoulders of Felton.

    Then we’re screwed.

  42. Ted Nelson

    I think Cleveland has a decent chance to make the playoffs. They’ve still got some quality players. Their defense should still be good with Moon taking over for LeBron and Varajao sliding up to the 5. Mo, Jamison, Hickson, Gibson, Parker, Powe… offense might not be completely terrible. I see why people think they’ll be terrible, but I could see them surprising people. 27 wins would mean that LeBron/Shaq/Z/West combined for 34 wins last season… WS has them at a combined 27 wins, for what that’s worth.

    I think Z’s rankings in #44 are pretty plausible. I don’t know that Toronto gets that much worse and I don’t know that NJ gets that much better. Who knows, though.

    Frank O.: If they make the playoffs, I’ll be happy and probably a little shocked.  

    I’ll be disappointed–though certainly not shocked–if the Knicks DON’T make the playoffs. It’s going to take a bunch of things going right, but I will be quite disappointed in Walshtoni if in their 3rd season they can’t put a mediocre team on the court (one below average team in each conference makes the playoffs every season).

  43. Frank O.

    Ted:
    On Amare as PF, I think he will be better, in part, because that is where he wants to be and I think he would cause mismatches against other PFs.
    I’m sure he also might cause mismatches against 5s, and perhaps that is the adjustment: facing big 5s, Amare is the C. Otherwise he’s a PF.
    I see your point about if you make him a 4, you lose a scorer, but, frankly, I’d like D’Antoni try to run a little D this year. It has been a long time since the Knicks have had a defense-minded C, and i’d love to see other teams avoid the paint because they know the Knicks have a guy that will foul hard and challenge shots.
    But frankly good teams only need two main scorers and contributions from any number of others who start or are subs. If you have Amare/Randolph and Gallinari/Chandler and Azu/Toney getting the majority of the scoring, and then others contributing, you’re not doing too badly…and with some defense you may just win some games because you stopped the other guys from getting easy buckets. I can’t remember a Knicks game in recent years when the other team couldn’t penetrate at will.

    You may be right about Mosgov regarding how tough he plays on D, but it is the ticky tack that kills him. I did see him make some nice catches in traffic against the US.

    I said I would be a little shocked if we made the playoffs a) because it has been so long and b) because we’re still very thin. If Amare or Felton goes down, we’re genuinely fucked.

    And, also, the season really does depend on Felton playing well.

    Another reason I’ll be a little shocked if we make it is because that would mean Felton played consistently well.

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