Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

NY Post: David Fizdale desperately wants Knicks to play faster

From Greg Joyce:

David Fizdale wants the Knicks to pick up their pace.

Ranked 27th out of 30 teams in pace (98.65) — which measures the number of possessions per game — the Knicks spent Tuesday’s practice working with a 12-second shot clock to hammer the point across.

“We’ve got to get more possessions in the game to get over the hump and give ourselves more shots at the rim,” Fizdale said before the Knicks flew to Toronto for Wednesday’s game against the Raptors. “We’ve got to get to our stuff quicker. We’ve got to get up the floor faster, get into our actions faster. So hopefully there will be some carryover for that.”

The Knicks ranked 17th in pace (100.16) in Fizdale’s first season at the helm, and while it has been a big talking point during his tenure, the results haven’t shown. Fizdale said he didn’t know why they haven’t been able to play as fast as he wants, but he continues to push it as a point of emphasis.

“Once they get in there maybe for whatever reason we don’t play as fast as we’d like,” Fizdale said. “How they measure pace as well is not necessarily conducive to how fast you’re playing. Because sometimes if you don’t get a shot on goal it takes away from what your actual pace is. So the actual speed we’re playing at, I think, is fine.”

Gotta love it when the coach doesn’t know why they’re not doing what he wants them to do. Oh well, it’s not like he’s the coach or anything, what impact can he have on what style of play they run?

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56 comments on “NY Post: David Fizdale desperately wants Knicks to play faster

  1. Brian Cronin Post author

    I’ll try to get more new articles up on the offdays, as with the News Threads no longer posting, the recap threads DO get a bit overwhelming.

  2. Hubert

    “We’ve got to get more possessions in the game to get over the hump and give ourselves more shots at the rim,” Fizdale said before the Knicks flew to Toronto for Wednesday’s game against the Raptors.

    His reasoning leaves a lot to be desired.

    D’Antoni wanted to push the pace because he believed that often the first shot you get can be the best shot.

    Fizdale wants to push the pace simply to get more shots?? It’s not like you get more shots than the other team. The goal is to create good shots, open shots. Not more shots.

  3. Hubert

    Right? I want to give him the benefit of the doubt because it is unlikely an NBA coach can really be that dumb. But man, it sounds really dumb. Like, what the fuck does this mean:

    How they measure pace as well is not necessarily conducive to how fast you’re playing. Because sometimes if you don’t get a shot on goal it takes away from what your actual pace is. So the actual speed we’re playing at, I think, is fine.”

    ?

    It sounds like he’s saying “sometimes we run up the court real fast and turn the ball over quickly, but we don’t get credit for it”.

  4. Nick C.

    He’s not very smart is he? He doesn’t get that the other team gets the ball too. The problem is shot making not shot taking. I don’t know why this is such a complicated concept, but it seems to be so.

  5. KnickfaninNJ

    Despite the mangled wording, I agree with Fiz. They should play faster. In particular, Randolph should play faster and Ntilikina might be forced to be more aggressive. Randle seems to score better when he doesn’t take too many dribbles and the defense isn’t yet set. But he doesn’t do this enough. Ntilikina sometime runs a break but then just backs off and just sets up a half court offense. Both could use improvement and an urge to shoot soon could help.

  6. Jack Bauer

    David Fizdale desperately wants the Knicks to play better – there, I fixed it.
    This roster is unbalanced and untalented. Keep RJ, Mitch, and dare I say Frank (for now, his market value is lower than the chance he’ll improve to be an adequate player) – everyone else is expendable. Time to start over yet again.

    We need some divine intervention for more games like last night to slow the Mavs down, otherwise those picks will be in the mid twenties at best.

  7. ptmilo

    the irony of brian posting these quotes to make a clean break from yesterday’s cacophony of koans on the wisdom of inefficiency and the taboo of knowing not to score

  8. thenamestsam

    I think what he’s saying is that if you push the ball up the court and take a bad shot that registers as a “high pace” possession, but if you push the ball up the court, see that nothing is available and back it out, that registers as a “low pace” possession. But from a coaching perspective in both cases you’ve done the part of being “high pace” that you want (pushed the ball up the court) and the second possession is (arguably) what you want to do given that nothing good is there after you’ve pushed it.

    Now his point is still pretty silly because of course a big part of the reason you push the ball is because you hope it gets you good shots which you quickly take. But since he seems focussed on pushing the ball primarily to get into our “stuff” quickly (you can never have too much time to have various PFs shuffle the ball aimlessly back and forth) rather than to score it is true that the way “pace” is measured currently doesn’t really measure that very directly.

  9. ess-dog

    When the opponent scores a lot — as they tend to do against the Knicks — it’s hard to run the break.

    But this is all bullshit. What they NEED to do is run tons of screens and pick and rolls when they’re inevitably in a halfcourt offense like they did against Dallas. I would start DSJ/Frank/RJ/Randle/Mitch and just DO THAT, Jesus, it doesn’t have to be this hard…

  10. d-mar

    But this is all bullshit. What they NEED to do is run tons of screens and pick and rolls when they’re inevitably in a halfcourt offense like they did against Dallas. I would start DSJ/Frank/RJ/Randle/Mitch and just DO THAT, Jesus, it doesn’t have to be this hard…

    I much prefer Frank dribbling over the half court line and handing the ball to noted play maker Julius Randle. That usually ends well.

  11. Bruno Almeida

    @15

    It’s really mindblowing how this seems to be part of the coaches strategy, with either Randle or Morris. I just can’t understand how is this a part of any gameplan. Fizdale is simply a hack, at this point there’s no defending him anymore.

  12. Aten

    It was always my understanding that it is preferable in general for a bad team to play at a slower pace because actual results and ‘true’ results converge as each team’s number of possessions increases.

    After reading this I don’t give a shit how fast they play as long as it’s for a different coach.

  13. alsep73

    Yeah, the whole thing where the point guard (and both Smith and Payton often are asked to do it, too) hands the ball off at the top of the key so that Randle and/or Morris can iso for 15 seconds would seem to be one of the more obvious culprits of our slow pace.

    There may be some things Fiz is good at (I’m still trying to identify them), but designing a modern offense — or, really, any kind of offense — is clearly not one of them.

  14. TheOakmanCometh

    These are the defensive factors that allow a team to run more, and where we rank in each:

    FG defense: 17th
    3pt FG defense (i.e. generating long rebounds): 23rd
    Preventing FTA: 30th
    Defensive rebounding: 13th
    Forcing turnovers: 10th

    All in all, we’re a little below average in these factors. That says we should be better than 28th in pace. Of course, running requires aggressiveness, and our PG is Frank, so….. More DSJ minutes should help us run more.

  15. alsep73

    Of course, running requires aggressiveness, and our PG is Frank, so….. More DSJ minutes should help us run more.

    Eye test wise, Frank seems fairly aggressive at pushing the ball on the break. His tentativeness is much more apparent in the halfcourt (though he’s gotten better there this year).

  16. E

    This franchise offends me aesthetically, morally and now intellectually

    I think at this point he’s just literally making shit up to have something to say to make it look like he’s coaching.

  17. Owen

    I love a good word salad and Fizdale is a master chef.

    I think there is probably an interesting conversation to be had about pace and to what degree, if any, it matters to on court success. It’s not actually something that I have seen an intelligent synopsis of. Or if I have I have forgotten it. I do vividly remember the Paul Westphal Marymount teams, they were amazing, but that was an outright attempt to run the other team off the court, not generally what people talk about.

    A faster pace would seem to advantage teams with better stamina and depth (fouls etc). It should reduce variance I guess. But the actual impact or causes of a higher pace seem a little unclear. Having a great pg who can rebound seems like a good recipe as well as a coach who green lights transition threes. Having a great low block big man would slow you down presumably. Is pace just a function of personnel?

    It’s sort of a nebulous concept really. I am sure PTMilo will explain it all in 100 words but I have never had a solid grasp on why 5-15% differences in pace matter that much. Not to say it doesn’t but it always seemed a bit overused as an explanatory factor once you have exhausted the Team A has better players talk.

  18. GHenman

    Paul Westhead tried to play super fast at Loyola. It worked reasonably well in college when he had good players. He later tried it with the Nuggets, but that was a disaster.

  19. Nick C.

    Didn’t Fratello slow the pace down with Cleveland years ago as a means to combat a talent deficiency?

  20. Owen

    What would that even mean though really? It’s easier to outperform your pythag. It’s also easier to underperform it.

    More possessions should just reduce variance.

  21. GHenman

    @27 So did Pat Riley when he came here. He didn’t try to replicate showtime here because he knew he didn’t have the talent. Instead he decided to maul our opponents to death.

  22. rama picked up his option

    Didn’t Fratello slow the pace down with Cleveland years ago as a means to combat a talent deficiency?

    Indeed he did. Which is why Fiz’s intentions (never mind explanation) are so bass ackward.

  23. rama picked up his option

    I felt from the beginning of this season that the only way to 30+ wins would be to grind it out, slow it down, focus on defense first. I thought with our personnel, there is a group that could reasonably be expected to be middle-of-the-pack – Frank, Mitch, RJ, Mook, Dotson (or maybe Taj). Maybe even better than middle, like 12 or so? But the reason I predicted 24 wins was because I was sure that Fiz didn’t get that, and like the FO, would value scorers first.

    To his credit, he’s played some decent lineups and has sat Portis when he’s been (almost immediately) exposed. But this talk of pace…I mean, what can you say? It’s not internally consistent, it doesn’t reflect the players’ strengths…it’s hopeless.

  24. Silky Johnson, Fleet Admiral of the Tank Armada

    More possessions are good because they correlate with more 3s and rim attempts, and because early 3s are more likely to go in than later 3s (presumably in part because transition 3s are less well-guarded). Also, the defense is generally close to their basket in transition than they are in the halfcourt, making getting back easier, since, among other things, the shooting team isn’t going to compete for offensive rebounds often.

    Of course, if Fiz wants to just run faster so he can get his half-court Hoosier east-west weave sets going then there is zero point in doing that, since you’re declining to take advantage of all the positive effects of a fast pace while perhaps increasing your turnover rate. Moronic.

  25. Early Bird

    It was always my understanding that it is preferable in general for a bad team to play at a slower pace because actual results and ‘true’ results converge as each team’s number of possessions increases.

    Yes, Fizdale is a moron. Fewer possessions = less likely for teams to reach mean outcome.

    On the other hand, inflating our counting stats will help sell all our assets at the trade deadline.

  26. MKinLA

    “We’ve got to get up the floor faster, get into our actions faster”

    Everyone is focusing on the “faster” (with good reason), but what, exactly, are these “actions” he’s talking about? Has he communicated any of them to the people who are supposed to carry them out? Is he holding any of them accountable when they fail to do so?

  27. Silky Johnson, Fleet Admiral of the Tank Armada

    Just correcting an ambiguity in my @33. The offensive team is generally further away from the opposing team’s basket in transition, so it’s easier for the offensive team to get back after taking a shot since they aren’t trying to crash the glass as much.

  28. KnickfaninNJ

    Fiz isn’t thinking, more possessions mean more counting stats or of any overall general principles that say he should play faster. He’s seeing mistakes made by players that arise from trying to do too much taking too much time. or because they hesitate when they shouldn’t and he is trying to change those bad habits.

  29. ptmilo

    okay if we are going to actually dignify this with seriously basketball nerdery, there are two conjoined issues.

    1. yes, risk the friend of the underdog (when winning is all or nothing), so fewer possessions all else equal is better. in the nba, the practical limits on this make the underdog strategy of reducing total possessions in order to increase the variance of the outcome worthless to worry about. specifically, the variance increase you can get from reducing possessions is rather small and the cost of doing so probably outweighs it under most reasonable assumptions. the better way to increase variance for the underdog is to take more 3s.

    2. a different issue is the idea that playing faster is more efficient, such that your goal is not so much pace-as-a-goal as it is quicker, more efficient shooting, i.e. pace-as-a-byproduct. yes, fast breaks have higher PPP and early shots are, on average, more efficient than later shots. but this is not as easy a question as it looks, bc “pushing pace” usually doesn’t mean getting a lot of easy transition buckets (teams largely take those when available and have to make trade offs to get more). it mostly means getting into the offense quicker and perhaps getting a better, earlier shot.

    but note that you might actually be achieving perfect dynamic efficiency without all shots looking equal. google “optimal stopping” problem if you really wanna know the details. for those of you still on tinder it might come in handy anyway. most attempts to look at this conclude that nba teams are surprisingly efficient when it comes to optimal stopping (when to quit searching and shoot).

    it’s true that there’s a correlation between pace and efficiency but this doesn’t itself mean most teams should play faster.

    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Optimal-Stopping-in-the-NBA%3A-An-Empirical-Model-of-Goldman-Rao/23336d8dd9498bd7277eae5e0410cc038a14b687

  30. rama picked up his option

    the better way to increase variance for the underdog is to take more 3s.

    The Knicks are the only team in the NBA top ten in 3 point % and bottom ten in % of shots taken that are 3 pointers. If somehow Fiz is referring to changing this, that would be awesome….but I doubt it. It sounds like he wants to get that 3-man weave happening more quickly.

  31. geo

    i had a ham sandwich and some potato chips for lunch today…

    your discipline in the usage of the lowercase is becoming quite impressive…break those shackles of punctuation – and, you’ll be there…

  32. Silky Johnson, Fleet Admiral of the Tank Armada

    @38

    Yeah, I didn’t mean to imply that the correlation between pace and efficiency entails that all teams should play faster. But it seems near certain that the Knicks should, especially given their current 3pt%. And thanks for the link to the optimal stopping paper! Definitely gonna read through this.

  33. Stratomatic: Frequently wrong, but never in doubt

    Silly me, I always thought the issue of whether to play faster or slower was dependent the size, speed, skill sets of the players you have, system you are using, team focus on defense or offense, and not just some random foolishness based on teams possibly being more efficient in general if they play faster.

    If Fiz wants to play much faster, he could start by putting Randle on the bench and going with Mitch at C, Morris/Portis at PF, RJ at SF, Dotson/Ellington at SG, and DSJr at PG.

    He could go super small by playing Mitch at C, RJ at PF, Dotson at SF, Ellington at SG and DSJr at PG.

    The problem is there are tradeoffs. You are trying to maximize total team output on both sides given the players you have and their skill sets.

    For example, I’m more than willing to sacrifice some speed and boxscore stats from DSHr at the PG position to get better ball movement and impact defense from Frank.

    I’d way rather get Randle out of the lineup and go smaller to gain speed because Randle is not efficient on a team without much space, is not a good defender, and is not fast.

  34. TheOakmanCometh

    We’re #29 in points per possession and #28 in pace, so it’s not like playing faster is going to hurt our offense. In fact it should mitigate some of our offensive weaknesses in the half court (poor playmaking on the wing, Randle spin moves, RJ lack of shooting, iso-Mo).

  35. DRed

    the better way to increase variance for the underdog is to take more 3s.

    Guess where we rank in pace adjusted 3 point attempts?

  36. Stratomatic: Frequently wrong, but never in doubt

    This game is not only about high level generalized basketball stats/strategies and individual player stats.

    It’s also about understanding the SPECIFIC SKILLS, STRENGTHS, and WEAKNESSES of the players you have (and are trying to acquire), fitting them together properly, and using the appropriate strategy for those players to maximize a SPECIFIC LINEUP or TEAM output.

    It all depends on the players you have.

    The smarter you are at identifying the skills, piecing them together, and using the right strategy for that specific group, the better the results will be.

    Once you get past we have Lebron and Davis so we are obviously going to be very good, there’s a next layer that can take you either a lot further forward or backward.

  37. Silky Johnson, Fleet Admiral of the Tank Armada

    That’s a non sequitur strat (and a totally schematic non-answer). The argument is that the math (and the in-game facts that ground that math) indicates that a fast pace is better than slow pace, other things being equal. Not that every team should play faster than they currently are (as I clarified in a later post.) Note the optimal stopping problem that Milo mentioned.

    It’s obvious, however, that the Knicks ought to play faster given their 3 pt % and their horrific halfcourt sets. But Fiz wants to play faster to enter his horrific halfcourt sets earlier, which makes no god damn sense.

  38. geo

    Fizdale said Tuesday that he hopes that a faster pace will help players like Julius Randall and Marcus Morris get easier baskets. The onus is also on those forwards to run the floor and get out in transition.

    “Can you get up the floor and get you two layups? Can you get to the line three or four more times a game just because you ran the floor hard?” Fizdale said, referencing conversations he’s had with both Morris and Randall.

    i don’t know – sounds like coach speak for morris and randall need to get up the floor faster, can’t have them hanging around the basket looking for rebounds…cool, more rebounds for frank…

  39. dtrickey

    I think what Fiz is trying to say is somewhat correct, he just said it in a dumb way.

    I saw a stat on Twitter which was along the lines of Randle is shooting at a rate of about 45% when he holds the ball for 6 seconds or less on a possession as opposed to somewhere in the 30% range when he goes Zach Randolph black hole, so technically Fiz in on to something that the offence may look better if the pace is quickened. I will try and find the tweet if I can.

  40. ptmilo

    It’s also about understanding the SPECIFIC SKILLS, STRENGTHS, and WEAKNESSES of the players you have (and are trying to acquire), fitting them together properly, and using the appropriate strategy for those players to maximize a SPECIFIC LINEUP or TEAM output.

    not too long ago we had a recurring leak. as leaks do it would flood the basement when it rained. or not. it refused to be pigeon holed. we had all sorts of experts out to patch stuff or opine about stuff needing patching or both.

    one guy in particular came over for like the sixth time and i happened upon him delivering the leak version of sermon on the mount to my wife. if you’ve ever seen amazon’s patriot it sounded disturbingly like leslie explaining the structural dynamics of flow. he couldn’t explicitly use all caps, because he was talking, but he got by.

    apparently, my wife had asked him what he would normally try next if his current plan didn’t work. he didn’t approve of the invitation to stereotype our plumbing snowflake with normality, and so out came his inner khan academy. i interrupted to ask him how any of these facts about the INTERPLAY of GRADING and TRENCHING and SOIL CONDITIONS and JOINT EXPANSION might be used to fix our actual house. He said he didn’t want to get specific, it was too complicated.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=P5-9Rfrui9A

  41. dtrickey

    Also on a draft note, LaMelo Ball dropped a very nice triple double on Monday night and hit a clutch 3 to send the game into OT. Would not mind taking a punt on him. His shooting mechanics have improved and his IQ looks through the roof. I think Cole Anthony is still the preference, but Ball looks solid.

  42. rama got no use for your spurv plinth

    @49

    That speech must have been so much fun to write – but so brutal to perform! Mad props, Kurtwood.

  43. KnickfaninNJ

    I know that Fizdale is quoted as saying “ We’ve got to get to our stuff quicker. We’ve got to get up the floor faster, get into our actions faster. ”. But I don’t believe that means he wants to enter the same half court sets we’ve been using, only earlier. That would make no sense and not really be possible to do because it is those very half courts that take all the time, not bringing the ball up the court. Instead I’m sure he wants half court sets with quicker actions out of them.

  44. KnickfaninNJ

    I saw a stat on Twitter which was along the lines of Randle is shooting at a rate of about 45% when he holds the ball for 6 seconds or less on a possession as opposed to somewhere in the 30% range when he goes Zach Randolph black hole

    I’m sure this is the case. I commented after Randle had an actual good game that it looked he was shooting faster and then someone here looked up stats and indeed in that game he averaged one or two fewer dribbles than he usually does.

  45. ptmilo

    That speech must have been so much fun to write – but so brutal to perform! Mad props, Kurtwood.

    i think it would be easier for me to get a full phd in structural engineering and deliver a legitimate explainer than trying to front sixty seconds of ersatz gibberish as good as that

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