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Thursday, April 17, 2014

NYT: Surprisingly, Offense Is a Knicks Weakness

A snippet from my latest entry for the New York Times Off the Dribble Blog.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the newly renovated Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defense has kept the team afloat while the offense has floundered. Last year the Knicks had a defensive efficiency, which measures how many points a team allows per 100 possessions, of 110.1 which ranked them 22nd in the NBA. Just 16 games into this season, New York currently has the league’s 10th best defensive efficiency, allowing 101.0 points per 100 possessions.

By way of the four factors, New York is having multiple failures on offense. The Knicks rank 25th in shooting (measured by effective shooting percentage or eFG%), 27th in turnovers (measured by turnover rate or TOV%), and 24th in offensive rebounding (measured by offensive rebounding rate or OREB%). The only area that New York is doing well is getting to the free throw line, where they rank third (measured by free throw rate or FT/FGA).

Read the full article.

66 comments on “NYT: Surprisingly, Offense Is a Knicks Weakness

  1. Nick C.

    Nice entry hopefully the readership is such that you aren’t just preaching to the chioir, but instead exposing people to ways of looking at and evaluating beyond PPG.

  2. ess-dog

    I knew there were a lot of turnovers, but I didn’t realize it was this big of a big issue. Another byproduct of Stat and Melo trying to iso people. Stat was getting a ton of turnovers last year and now that’s doubled with Melo.

  3. Ben R

    I hear people getting mad about comparing Melo to Marbury but it doesn’t seem that far off. Marbury comes “home” to the Knicks after years of ineptitude giving the Knicks the legit “superstar” they need to finally be able to compete again. In his first half season after initially struggling he leads us to the playoffs in which we get swept by a division rival. In the next year with high hopes the Knicks struggle out of the gate despite Marbury putting up the best season of his career, the coach gets fired midseason the Knicks fail to improve and miss the playoffs. During this season Marbury starts getting introspective as the bright lights and scrutiny of the NY media begins to wear on his psyche.

    We have not seen the end of the Melo story yet but right now it is shockingly similar to Marbury’s. I hope it either turns out better or we cut ties before the inevitable meltdown.

  4. Ben R

    Nice article Mike, I meant to post that last entry on the previous thread. It’s refreshing to see things like four factors in the Times.

  5. tastycakes

    Nice article, Mike.

    “For instance both Amar’e Stoudemire (42.5% eFG%) and Carmelo Anthony (44.0% eFG%) are shooting well below the league average (48.0% eFG%)”

    Isn’t it true that eFG% is a measurement of scoring ability from the field, rather than it is a measurement of shooting? It’s certainly more valuable than looking at individual FG% or 3PT FG%.

    And TS% is even better at accounting for the ability of a player to score points, as it factors in free throws.

    In both of these cases, Tyson Chandler is poster boy for how a high eFG% or TS% doesn’t indicate “good shooting.” It means that when he tries to score, he’s good at it.

    And when Melo and Stat try to score, they’re actually NOT good at it. Right now, anyway.

  6. hoolahoop

    Ben R:
    I hear people getting mad about comparing Melo to Marbury but it doesn’t seem that far off. Marbury comes “home” to the Knicks after years of ineptitude giving the Knicks the legit “superstar” they need to finally be able to compete again. In his first half season after initially struggling he leads us to the playoffs in which we get swept by a division rival. In the next year with high hopes the Knicks struggle out of the gate despite Marbury putting up the best season of his career, the coach gets fired midseason the Knicks fail to improve and miss the playoffs. During this season Marbury starts getting introspective as the bright lights and scrutiny of the NY media begins to wear on his psyche.

    We have not seen the end of the Melo story yet but right now it is shockingly similar to Marbury’s. I hope it either turns out better or we cut ties before the inevitable meltdown.

    Strangely familiar patterns.
    But in my Melo-bury rants, my reference was to the manner Marbury, a shoot first, second, and third point guard, would dump the ball off when he ran into trouble, to an unsuspecting player that was usually just standing and watching him. . . often with five seconds left on the clock.
    Also, Melo’s recent quotes reek of the Marbury’s hubris.
    “The ‘leader’ of the team that sees no reason to pass the ball or listen to anyone.”
    Yuk.

  7. Phil Brank - Alien Extraordinaire

    So if Melo The Point Guard is just like Marbury, i’ll take it, because Melo is NOT a point guard, and he should not be bringing the ball up the court every possession in the fourth quarter.

    Blame Melo all you want guys, he’s certainly been a problem with the knicks offense, but he is hardly the cause of every problem. The non-stop shooting, the selfishness, all stems from D’antoni, who hasn’t done a damn thing to stop ANY of it. As a matter of fact, he practically encourages it with the whole point forward thing.

    No player should be above the coach, if Melo does something dantoni doesn’t like, he should bench him, plain and simple. But that hasn’t happened, and how often do we see Melo iso’s coming out of a timeout.

    Once again, blame Melo all you want, but when D’antoni is encouraging the very behavior that is driving you all crazy, then i think that’s the bigger issue at hand here.

  8. MSA

    I don’t have any problem with Melo calling himself “the leader”. In fact, I think he should. After all, he have the biggest paycheck and came to NY with a big “Superstar” attached in his forehead.

    However, the unwillingness to recognize what’s wrong with the team is disturbing.

  9. JK47

    @8

    You’re deviating from the “everything is Melo’s fault” argument, which is the default setting around here.

    If Melo is on your team you are automatically one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA because all he does is ball-stop and besides he molested my dog.

  10. latke

    Obviously none of us know what’s goes on in practices or in player meetings. But based on D’Antoni’s history as one of the biggest advocates of ball movement and playing quickly, it’s truly hard for me to believe that

    A) MDA doesn’t harp on keeping the ball flowing all the time

    and

    B) Melo didn’t know that coming in.

    My only theory at this point is that MDA is waiting for Davis to come back, so when he does make that push to reduce Melo isolations, he has a guy running the point who can fully illustrate to Melo its effectiveness.

    By the way, I feel like this has been posted before, but just in case, TrueHoop had an article on NYK’s offense. We’re first in the percentage of our plays that are isolations, 28th in the points per play that our isolations yield, and last in the FG% that these isos yield.

  11. flossy

    Phil Brank – Alien Extraordinaire:

    Blame Melo all you want guys, he’s certainly been a problem with the knicks offense, but he is hardly the cause of every problem. The non-stop shooting, the selfishness, all stems from D’antoni, who hasn’t done a damn thing to stop ANY of it. As a matter of fact, he practically encourages it with the whole point forward thing.

    No player should be above the coach, if Melo does something dantoni doesn’t like, he should bench him, plain and simple. But that hasn’t happened, and how often do we see Melo iso’s coming out of a timeout.

    This is laughable. Do you think Mike D’Antoni actually *wants* Melo to play “point-forward?” Or did the lopsided trade for Melo force the Knicks front office to choose between having either a d-league caliber starting PG or d-league caliber starting center? I think it’s the latter, and the Knicks FO chose to spend on a center, which left us with no PG save for the corpse of Mike Bibby on the roster. So Melo is “point-forward” by default because he can handle the ball under pressure without wetting himself.

    Do you actually think D’Antoni says, “Hey Melo, we’ve got several seconds left in OT. When you get the ball, I want you to shoot it, no matter what. If you’re triple teamed, shoot it. If Toney Douglas and Landry Fields each have an entire time zone to themselves, that’s how open they are, don’t pass to them. Shoot it.” I don’t think so. I think that’s what Melo decides to do, without any encouragement (indeed, probably to the contrary of instructions) from D’Antoni.

    And really, you think D’Antoni is going to bench Melo? So he can run out a team with no PG *and* no halfway competent ISO scorer? So he can piss off his boss, James Dolan, by publicly punishing his shiny new toy Melo? …

  12. JK47

    @11

    The team IS playing quickly. They’re 3rd in the NBA in pace.

    If Melo is truly repeatedly iso-ing against D’Antoni’s will then maybe Pringles should have some guts and do something about it. There’s a bench and you can put players you don’t like on it: see Balkman, Renaldo. I don’t believe this is what is happening, however, since pretty much every single play coming out of a timeout is a Melo isolation. I think in the absence of a point guard, Melo-ball has been D’Antoni’s temporary solution. Sure, he probably wants Melo to be more like a point guard, but that’s like asking Prince Fielder to play center field. He can go out there and pretend to do it, but the results aren’t going to be pretty.

    Melo has been bad and the team has been unwatchable, on that we can all agree. But D’Antoni’s coaching performance has been very disappointing so far. He either can’t or won’t stop all the isos, and that is damning.

  13. flossy

    (cont.) I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but coaches tend to lose those kind of high-profile pissing matches with their star players. And Melo is the biggest “star” we’ve had in a long time. And D’Antoni is in a contract year, and who knows, maybe he’s a masochist who wants to keep this job. Carmelo Anthony is a grown man making like $20 million per year. Responding to coaching is a pretty basic part of the job description.

  14. JK47

    I would think if you’re so concerned with Melo hogging the ball all the time, you’d come up with a plan that doesn’t involve him, you know, having the ball all the time.

  15. xcat01

    flossy, I agree with you completely. Dolan did not bring Melo here because it was what was best for the team. He brought Melo here because it was what was best for ticket sales. For proof, just look at the current Time-Warner/MSG riff. Do you think that is happening because Time Warner wants to piss up customers? Or maybe because Dolan wants to extort more money from everyone because he brought Melo here. And if by some miracle that the Zen Master decides to coach the Knicks (highly unlikely), you can expect another bump in ticket prices. James Dolan is not Mark Cuban, he does not care if you are happy or that the team wins, he just cares that you give him your money.

  16. Phil Brank - Alien Extraordinaire

    flossy: And really, you think D’Antoni is going to bench Melo? So he can run out a team with no PG *and* no halfway competent ISO scorer? So he can piss off his boss, James Dolan, by publicly punishing his shiny new toy Melo? …

    Yes. I do. He’s the HEAD COACH. A player doesn’t do something you’re asking for: BENCH HIM. NO EXCEPTIONS. He very well might be waiting on Baron Davis, but there is no excuse to let the team be run by the players, plain and simple. And IF that is happening, he needs to be fired immediately, because that’s not how you coach a team, that’s how you be a towel boy. As the head coach, he should be making his players run his style of play so that the team wins games. He’s made Melo the primary ball handler, he’s running the offense directly through him (and that’s a quote) and they’re losing. Yet we see the same crap every night, as a result of coaching.

    Also, blaming Melo for wanting money is idiotic. I would do the same as him and expect the team that is trading for me to be able to manage their roster well enough to not cripple the team. Front office failures should never be blamed on the players.

    If i haven’t made myself clear, i do not think Melo is without fault or blame in all this, but to think that the team is this bad ALL BECAUSE OF MELO is foolish, short-sighted, and fueled by the rage i’m sure we’re all feeling after a 6 game losing streak.

    If you’re going to cast blame, you must hold all parties accountable. Melo, front office, D’antoni, they are ALL at fault. The primary way to fix these things i proper preparation, and proper coaching. The complete lack of change in any gameplan shows me that D’antoni is encouraging the type of play that is frustrating the hell out of all of us. And to me, that’s the biggest problem.

  17. Phil Brank - Alien Extraordinaire

    JK47: I would think if you’re so concerned with Melo hogging the ball all the time, you’d come up with a plan that doesn’t involve him, you know, having the ball all the time.

    THISSS!!!!!!!

  18. Phil Brank - Alien Extraordinaire

    flossy: (cont.) I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but coaches tend to lose those kind of high-profile pissing matches with their star players. And Melo is the biggest “star” we’ve had in a long time. And D’Antoni is in a contract year, and who knows, maybe he’s a masochist who wants to keep this job. Carmelo Anthony is a grown man making like $20 million per year. Responding to coaching is a pretty basic part of the job description.

    Sorry, don’t mean to triple post.

    D’antoni could lose his job in a lot of ways, but the easiest way is to lose games. If he wants to keep his job, he needs to make the team win, which i’m sure he’s trying to do. He’s not going to sit back and let the players do whatever the hell they want because that doesn’t give the team the best chance to win.

    Winning = Keep his job.
    Let the players do what they want = reflects badly on him, lose games, AND lose job.

    So what do YOU think D’antoni is going to do?

  19. hoolahoop

    Phil Brank – Alien Extraordinaire: Blame Melo all you want guys, he’s certainly been a problem with the knicks offense, but he is hardly the cause of every problem. The non-stop shooting, the selfishness, all stems from D’antoni, who hasn’t done a damn thing to stop ANY of it. As a matter of fact, he practically encourages it with the whole point forward thing.

    You’re absolutely correct, but do players not have responsibility to play ‘with’ their teammates. Melo is not without plenty of blame for the way he plays.
    Dantoni has to go unless he can get control of this team. BD is several weeks away from being in game shape, even by BD’s standards of what game shape is.

  20. hoolahoop

    MSA:
    I don’t have any problem with Melo calling himself “the leader”.In fact, I think he should. After all, he have the biggest paycheck and came to NY with a big “Superstar” attached in his forehead.

    However, the unwillingness to recognize what’s wrong with the team is disturbing.

    He says it over and over again. Strong leaders lead by action. Not by saying ‘NOW HERE THIS, I AM THE LEADER.’ And what is Amare supposed to think when he hears that??????????

  21. hoolahoop

    JK47:
    @8

    You’re deviating from the “everything is Melo’s fault” argument, which is the default setting around here.

    If Melo is on your team you are automatically one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA because all he does is ball-stop and besides he molested my dog.

    One thing to screw up the knicks, but if he molests your dog again i’ll kill him.

  22. hoolahoop

    latke: My only theory at this point is that MDA is waiting for Davis to come back, so when he does make that push to reduce Melo isolations, he has a guy running the point who can fully illustrate to Melo its effectiveness.

    Then, wouldn’t it make more sense to have that system up and running so BD can slide into?

    latke: By the way, I feel like this has been posted before, but just in case, TrueHoop had an article on NYK’s offense. We’re first in the percentage of our plays that are isolations, 28th in the points per play that our isolations yield, and last in the FG% that these isos yield.

    Question. Do you think D’antoni aware of these stats??

  23. hoolahoop

    JK47: Melo has been bad and the team has been unwatchable, on that we can all agree. But D’Antoni’s coaching performance has been very disappointing so far. He either can’t or won’t stop all the isos, and that is damning.

    That seems to be the case. There’s only one, very obvious, solution.
    It sucks, for us, the fans, because SSOL is exciting. . .and if you’re going to lose you might as well have a team that’s fun to root for.

  24. JK47

    Here’s an interesting stat.

    The Knicks are 3rd in defensive rebounding, yet 24th in offensive rebounding. This tells me that the strategy on offense is to NOT crash the offensive boards, and to prioritize getting back on defense, a la the Boston Celtics of recent times.

    This has definitely helped the defense, which has been better than expected this season, but has come at the expense of the offense, which is sputtering beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

  25. flossy

    Phil Brank – Alien Extraordinaire: D’antoni could lose his job in a lot of ways, but the easiest way is to lose games. If he wants to keep his job, he needs to make the team win, which i’m sure he’s trying to do. He’s not going to sit back and let the players do whatever the hell they want because that doesn’t give the team the best chance to win.

    Winning = Keep his job.

    Yes! Win games by benching a guy who makes 1/3 of your team’s total salary because he’s playing the way he has always played since he entered the NBA. Sitting Melo = wins, because it’s not like we gave up 4 starters for the guy. I’m sure the paper-thin, talent deficient shell of a team that surrounds him will do just fine without him and D’Antoni will teach Melo a lesson and keep his job.

    Meanwhile, back on planet earth, the reason Melo is given the green light to do whatever he wants is because we have no other capable playmakers or ball-handlers on our roster with the occasional exception of Iman Shumpert, a rookie! If you can believe it, watching Melo freeze out his teammates and chuck games away is actually the lesser of two evils!

    Get a grip buddy, star players don’t get benched. Did Phil Jackson bench Kobe for his shot selection? Hell no! Did Paul Westpaul get fired for fighting with Demarcus Cousins (a much lesser star than Melo)? Yep. Did Jerry Sloan, who has coached the Jazz for approximately one million years, get cut loose for getting into it with Deron Williams, you bet. Why the hell would D’Antoni bench Melo when the rest of the roster is so thin the team would still suck, and bonus, now James Dolan is extra pissed.

  26. KnickfaninNJ

    On a completely different topic, I looked up Nate Robinson’s stats just to see how he is doing in Golden State. I was shocked to see he’s averaging over 5 assists per game in 27 minutes per game in 10 games versus his career average of 2.6 assists per game in 23 minutes. His other numbers haven’t changed much from his career averages.

    I haven’t seen any of their games, but it’s enough minutes to really make think it might be real. Can anyone comment on this? Is Nate suddenly a different player? Is Mark Jackson a better coach than I would have thought?

  27. Z-man

    The Melo-bating (sic) is out of control here. Interesting, Mike, you make no mention of the Knicks league-worst backcourt or angstrom unit-thin bench situation in your analysis, which suggests that the problem is either with the frontcourt or with D’Antoni. One can logically attribute the current lack of depth in the backcourt to the trade for Melo, but do you or anyone else honestly think that there is another starting front line in the NBA that would have posted a winning record with Toney Douglas and Landry Fields as their opening day starters, with two rookies, Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries, and Mike (I might as well be Henry) Bibby as the bench? Please tell me who it is. Replace Amare, Melo and Chandler with LeBron, Bosh and (pick a center from Miami’s roster) and do you have an offensively efficient team?

    It is just shocking to see that smart people here don’t get how bad the backcourt play has been.

  28. ess-dog

    Ugh, we play Charlotte AGAIN!?

    Do I have to watch tonight?

    But seriously, I think the blame can be evenly distributed btwn the front office, D’Antoni and Melo.

    Melo failed at being the type of point forward that Lebron is, but D’Antoni certainly isn’t adjusting this initial idea, and to top it off, the F.O. left this team without a real distributor.

    Sure it’s a mess but Baron will help. Maybe even Lin will help. If I’m D’Antoni, I just keep TD and Shump away from the point an run a real ball movement offense out of the point. Oh and tell Melo to take easier shots. No biggie.

  29. Brian Cronin (@Brian_Cronin)

    Flip Saunders got fired. Honestly, I think that is for the best for him. I doubt anyone will hold him responsible for the Wizards being terrible and he can get a better job later on.

    By the way, looking at ESPN’s front page, there is a headline about the upcoming Super Bowl, using the teaser “Most blockbuster sequels flop, but hopefully this one won’t.” However, most blockbuster sequels don’t flop. Such a weird tease.

  30. MSA

    hoolahoop: He says it over and over again. Strong leaders lead by action. Not by saying ‘NOW HERE THIS, I AM THE LEADER.’ And what is Amare supposed to think when he hears that??????????

    It doesn’t matter if he is talking or acting like one.

    Melo and Amaré should be the leaders on the court!

    If you are the stockholder of a multibillion company, who do you want acting (or talking) like a leader?

    The CEO who earns millions a year and who was hired to be that or the intern who makes copies?

    unfortunately, Neither one is a true leader. But I wouldn’t expect for Billy Walker for that.

  31. ess-dog

    JK47:
    Here’s an interesting stat.

    The Knicks are 3rd in defensive rebounding, yet 24th in offensive rebounding.This tells me that the strategy on offense is to NOT crash the offensive boards, and to prioritize getting back on defense, a la the Boston Celtics of recent times.

    This has always been a D’Antoni strategy. But Chandler has jacked up our defensive rebounding.

  32. flossy

    Z-man: Replace Amare, Melo and Chandler with LeBron, Bosh and (pick a center from Miami’s roster) and do you have an offensively efficient team?

    Yes. I think you do. Because LeBron is exactly the kind of teammate-enhancing playmaker that Melo is failing to be in spectacular fashion. 6+ ast/36, 35% career AST and a 2:1 AST/TO ratio. That’s a guy who can actually run an offense. Honestly, I can’t think of a comaprison that leaves Melo looking worse. Of course, of course the Knicks would be better with LeBron and a similarly shallow team.

    In fact, our entire wonky roster seems to have been built around the fantasy that Melo = LeBron +extra swag, when in fact Melo is a much, much more one-dimensional player. Who happens to get paid more.

  33. ess-dog

    Wow, even Broussard is suggesting that NY/NJ do a Melo-for-DWill trade (and then bring in KMart.)

    Oh and he’s also reporting that we have no shot at Howard.

    :(

  34. Nick C.

    I think the backcourt play has been mentioned plenty, TD sucking, Landry etc. Of course its usually in reference to “but they were decent or better before you know who arrived.” lol
    Some of the issue is there are people who never posted here before this year who now only post (repeatedly) in response to any slights of Melo and have yet to reference or fly in on anyhting else.
    It’s hard for the board to have multi post arguments when everyone agrees …

  35. ess-dog

    flossy: Yes.I think you do.Because LeBron is exactly the kind of teammate-enhancing playmaker that Melo is failing to be in spectacular fashion.6+ ast/36, 35% career AST and a 2:1 AST/TO ratio.That’s a guy who can actually run an offense.

    To be fair, very few people are Lebron James. Melo is actually a prototypical “star” small forward in the Dominique Wilkins/Alex English/Paul Pierce mode. A team can win it all with him, I believe. You just have to surround him with some high percentage/low volume shooters, a great rebounder/rim defender, and of course, get proper ball movement.

  36. Z

    JK47:

    You’re deviating from the “everything is Melo’s fault” argument…

    If Melo is on your team you are automatically one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA because all he does is ball-stop and besides he molested my dog.

    I know you were a big proponent of the trade here, (I think you may even share an Alma Mater with the key acquisition of the trade), so I get your frustrations. We’re all frustrated– Mine just hit a tipping point this past weekend thanks to Gallinari’s timely career night.

    I don’t think Anthony is a bad basketball player, and I don’t blame him for all that has gone wrong so far this season. But I do direct my frustrations toward him because he is out on the court, wearing a uniform, and James Dolan is tucked away in some undisclosed bunker somewhere, immune to my rantings.

    So Melo becomes the whipping-boy, because of this simple fact: If you trade away your future in order to “win now”, you better do some goddamn winning in the now, and not make excuses while pointing to the future.

  37. hoolahoop

    Nick C.:
    I think the backcourt play has been mentioned plenty, TD sucking, Landry etc. Of course its usually in reference to “but they were decent or better before you know who arrived.” lol
    Some of the issue is there are people who never posted here before this year who now only post (repeatedly) in response to any slights of Melo and have yet to reference or fly in on anyhting else.
    It’s hard for the board to have multi post arguments when everyone agrees …

    I’ll take it you’re referring to me. First, I posted here for years, but always left because of the fanboy, herd-like mentality that used to pervade this forum.
    Second, every team, with few exceptions, needs a good point guard to win. I’ve played a lot of ball at high levels. I’m a PG. I know the value of a PG and this team is desperate for one.
    However, a PG cannot do his job when you have a ‘leader’ on the team that sucks up the ball play after play after play.
    Bottom line is for this team to change, it has to address the root of the problem.
    You can go back to making your ridiculous hypothetical trade ideas that will never happen as the answer to the knicks problems.

  38. Z

    flossy: Do you think Mike D’Antoni actually *wants* Melo to play “point-forward?”

    D’Antoni’s pitch to LeBron 18 months ago was that SSOL was perfectly suited for LeBron to be the point guard, a la Magic Johnson. Obviously Melo is no LeBron James, especially when it comes to facilitating an offense, but I do think that D’Antoni must truly believe that Anthony as point-forward must be a pretty good idea.

    What I don’t understand about D’Antoni and his relationship to the front office is that for 4 years we saw Walsh pass on players who weren’t good fits for the D’Antoni system. But in reality, the only thing D’Anoni’s system seems to require, above all else, is a great passing point guard. So he’s been here for 4 years, and they’ve gotten him 1) a great scoring PF; 2) a great scoring SF; 3) a great defensive big man; 4) Chris Duhon; 5) Toney Douglas; 6) Jeremy Lin.

    He’s said for 4 years now that he needs an “engine” to make it all run. So why haven’t they done everything in the world to get him one?? Chris Paul and Deron Williams, the two best PGs on the planet, were BOTH available this year!

    Yet here we are, with Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e in our car, and Fred Flintstone’s feet making it move.

  39. Juany8

    Actually, Lebron, Wade, or Kobe would do a lot to fix this team’s problems, but players like Durant, Dirk, or Pierce would leave us looking worse. We have one competent dribbler. The Lakers only have one competent dribbler too, and guess who is the only person who hogs the ball more than Melo? Wilkins or Pierce are actually pretty good comparisons for Melo, and neither guy can totally carry a team on his own, but you surround him with the proper players and you have a contender. That means having a real bench and a real point guard (Shumpert might develop into an Iguodala like player, although that might be too optimistic). Also D’antoni’s offense actually calls for a lot of quick shots. This would work if Amar’e, Douglas, or Fields could shoot like they used to, but they haven’t so far. We don’t run on the break a lot, but we tend to take a lot of shots early in the shot clock.

  40. Nick C.

    hoolahoop: I’ll take it you’re referring to me. First, I posted here for years, but always left because of the fanboy, herd-like mentality that used to pervade this forum.Second, every team, with few exceptions, needs a good point guard to win. I’ve played a lot of ball at high levels. I’m a PG. I know the value of a PG and this team is desperate for one.However, a PG cannot do his job when you have a ‘leader’ on the team that sucks up the ball play after play after play.Bottom line is for this team to change, it has to address the root of the problem.You can go back to making your ridiculous hypothetical trade ideas that will never happen as the answer to the knicks problems.

    not you i recognize you and more or less agree with you if not as striongly

  41. Z-man

    flossy: Yes. I think you do. Because LeBron is exactly the kind of teammate-enhancing playmaker that Melo is failing to be in spectacular fashion. 6+ ast/36, 35% career AST and a 2:1 AST/TO ratio. That’s a guy who can actually run an offense. Honestly, I can’t think of a comaprison that leaves Melo looking worse. Of course, of course the Knicks would be better with LeBron and a similarly shallow team. In fact, our entire wonky roster seems to have been built around the fantasy that Melo = LeBron +extra swag, when in fact Melo is a much, much more one-dimensional player. Who happens to get paid more.

    Even if that is true (and I disagree that it is) LeBron is arguably the most skilled forward in NBA history. Even so, Miami is only 6-4 in their last 10 games.

    Melo is not as good as lebron and I rarely see it argued by anyone here that he is. He has not played well since he got hurt, but was playing great the first few games of the season (ask THCJ, even he complimented him!) and is certainly capable of better play. While he has strengths and weaknesses, he is not a one-dimensional player by any means. You can argue that he is not worth a max contract under this cap structure, but is his play the root of our problems right now? Absolutely not. It is the D-League level play of our guards and bench that is the main and most pernicious problem.

  42. hoolahoop

    Nick C.: not you i recognize you and more or less agree with you if not as striongly

    In that case, please forgive me for my reactionary childish retort.

  43. flossy

    Z: D’Antoni’s pitch to LeBron 18 months ago was that SSOL was perfectly suited for LeBron to be the point guard, a la Magic Johnson. Obviously Melo is no LeBron James, especially when it comes to facilitating an offense, but I do think that D’Antoni must truly believe that Anthony as point-forward must be a pretty good idea.

    I cannot emphasize enough the “obviously Melo is no LeBron James” part of your comment. I think this is obvious to D’Antoni as well. It makes perfect sense to sell LeBron on being the point-forward in SSOL offense because he could have actually pulled that off. He is a very good playmaker and was the de facto PG for most of his time with the Cavs.

    I truly, deeply doubt that if given even a mediocre starting PG, that D’Antoni would have attempted the Melo as point forward experiment. But Toney Douglas is worse, much worse, than mediocre when trying to run an offense, and Melo can a) handle the ball, b) draws double teams and c) can execute a nifty pass. In theory, he should be able to be a decent point forward. Anyone who’d watched him play over the past seven years should have known that he totally lacks the temperament to put his passing skills to use as a team’s primary facilitator, but honestly, anything is better than leaving the offense in TD’s incompetent hands, or at least I’m sure that was the reasoning.

    I assure you that the Melo-as-point-forward experiment ends the moment Baron Davis sets foot on the court. The fact that Davis has his own shot selection issues aside, he at least knows how to run an offense, control the tempo of play and set up his teammates for easy baskets, none of which Melo does well despite occasionally throwing a nice assist.

  44. JK47

    The Miami Heat “3 stars model” may yet turn out to be a bust. The idea of having three max contracts and a bunch of MLE, veterans-min guys as the rest of your team is looking like it might not be the best idea, even in Miami. Miami’s trying to do it with two A-level stars and one B level star, and we’re trying to do it with three B-level stars. It’ll never work. One of Amar’e or Melo’s contracts will need to be moved unless some sort of feel-good Baron Davis miracle happens and the offense starts to dominate.

  45. flossy

    Z-man: You can argue that he is not worth a max contract under this cap structure, but is his play the root of our problems right now? Absolutely not. It is the D-League level play of our guards and bench that is the main and most pernicious problem.

    The conditions under which Melo came to be a Knick are the reason that we can afford to have an NBA-quality PG or Center but not both, and no bench in either case. Those conditions were equally the fault of Melo and James Dolan.

    On a deeper, more logically constructed team, Melo would not be pressed into service as the conduit of the team’s entire offense. But the team was totally gutted so that he could make $8m extra over the lifetime of his 4 year contract. So now, out of desperation, he is being asked to play that role, and he is failing at it, while taking up 1/3 of our cap and neutralizing the scoring abilities of the player who takes up another 1/3 of our cap.

    So yeah. At the end of the day, all of this is much more Carmelo Anthony’s fault than it is Toney Douglas’s.

  46. Owen

    Dominique and Melo are pretty good comparisons. I would say Nique grades out slightly better, but it’s close. Nique was a second or third tier superstar (first in the fan’s heart though), capable of taking the leading role on a 50 win team but not really championship material.

    “but always left because of the fanboy, herd-like mentality that used to pervade this forum.”

    Fanboy? Here?

  47. latke

    Phil Brank – Alien Extraordinaire: Yes. I do. He’s the HEAD COACH. A player doesn’t do something you’re asking for: BENCH HIM. NO EXCEPTIONS. He very well might be waiting on Baron Davis, but there is no excuse to let the team be run by the players, plain and simple. And IF that is happening, he needs to be fired immediately, because that’s not how you coach a team, that’s how you be a towel boy.

    This doesn’t work. All the “no BS,” hardnosed college coaches who have come into the NBA and tried that approach have flamed out. Pitino, Calipari, Carlesimo. It doesn’t work. You have to be able to control players in a more subtle way, because the truth is that NBA stars have much more power than all but the most reputable coaches. They can have a coach fired or undermined by just going over his head.

    hoolahoop: Question. Do you think D’antoni aware of these stats??

    He has to be. He talks about advanced stats way more than any other coach I’ve seen. I think he’s just never had to manage egos. He always had Nash in a leadership role to support any of his decisions. He certainly deserves criticism for this.

    Z-man: do you or anyone else honestly think that there is another starting front line in the NBA that would have posted a winning record with Toney Douglas and Landry Fields as their opening day starters, with two rookies, Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries, and Mike (I might as well be Henry) Bibby as the bench?

    Lakers are quite similar: Fisher is a dead man walking, and Matt Barnes is a pretty good comp for Landry Fields. Their bench is pretty dastardly as well. They have struggled this year as well though.

  48. Owen

    “Z-man: do you or anyone else honestly think that there is another starting front line in the NBA that would have posted a winning record with Toney Douglas and Landry Fields”

    Ray Felton would feel pretty good about himself if he were reading this. Apparently the lack of a player of his caliber is why we stink so bad.

  49. Z-man

    Owen: Dominique and Melo are pretty good comparisons. I would say Nique grades out slightly better, but it’s close. Nique was a second or third tier superstar (first in the fan’s heart though), capable of taking the leading role on a 50 win team but not really championship material. “but always left because of the fanboy, herd-like mentality that used to pervade this forum.”Fanboy? Here?

    Dominique was a victim of his times as much as anything else, just like Ewing, Barkley, and Malone. Danny Ainge said in no uncertain terms that if he played with the Celts instead of Bird, he’d have a ring. Having seen them both play, I think Melo is better than ‘Nique, but that’s just me.

  50. Z-man

    Owen: “Z-man: do you or anyone else honestly think that there is another starting front line in the NBA that would have posted a winning record with Toney Douglas and Landry Fields”Ray Felton would feel pretty good about himself if he were reading this. Apparently the lack of a player of his caliber is why we stink so bad.

    Even Chris Duhon would be a massive improvement.

    Look, I really like Toney and respect his work ethic and team first attitude. There is no defending his play, though. I think he has very poor peripheral vision, which is why he gets absolutely leveled on so many high screens and is slow on defensive rotations. Hardly a good quality for a PG. Landry has improved slightly in recent games, but the bottom line is that he is infinitely replacable if even this improved play is all he can bring to the SG position. Shump is potentially a star, but he is a rookie on a team that needs him to play like a veteran. Bibby, please, don’t get me started.

    If BD is healthy for 10-15 games, at least we will find out how much else we need in the long run. Without a legit NBA PG, you can’t really conclude anything about anybody.

  51. Z-man

    latke: Lakers are quite similar: Fisher is a dead man walking, and Matt Barnes is a pretty good comp for Landry Fields. Their bench is pretty dastardly as well. They have struggled this year as well though.

    I agree with this, somewhat. At least the Lakers have been together and the guys know each other’s games. And, Kobe is a guard, so he is much more capable of patching up behind Derek than Melo is for Toney/Bibby.

  52. d-mar

    Knicks catch another break, Augustin is out for tonight’s game.

    But whoever is his backup, get ready for “A Star is Born”. Bank on it.

  53. Z

    I kind of wish we could activate a parallel universe: one in which we traded Toney Douglas for JJ Barea back in December.

    Would we:

    A) be above .500 thanks to our starter-grade PG.

    B) still be 6-10 and complaining about how we miss TD’s above-average outside shooting and strong perimeter D.

  54. Brian Cronin (@Brian_Cronin)

    JJ Barea has an assist rate of 18.9%.

    Toney? 18.5%.

    So yeah, I’m going with B (except that I bet Barea’s mediocre shooting compared to Toney’s horrendous shooting would probably have won at least one game for the team, so let’s say 7-9).

  55. Owen

    Z-Man – We were a 500% team before Melo got here with a guard rotation of Felton, Fields, and Douglas. Those were our guards during that 13-1 stretch last year.

    We are four games under 500% since Melo’s arrival. With Billups, we were a 500% team. Obviously this year we aren’t.

    I don’t know, I just don’t buy having a league average point guard, if Davis can be that, is going to make a huge difference. I understand the view that basketball is not just sum of the parts, add the wins, etc. But I just don’t see it…

    But if the Melo fans want to kick the can down the road, that is fine with me….

  56. Juany8

    Actually when you consider how many games Billups missed with injury, and the fact that he’s as much of a shoot first point guard as I’ve ever seen, and that Chandler was a total god send to this team, I still think we need to wait to see how a good passed would work for this team. (Seriously at least Melo works for his bad shots, Chauncey just dribbles up and pulls up for 3) In fact I think replacing Billups with Lawson, and having multiple offensive players capable of splitting Melo’s former load, is what made the Nuggets an improved team, although I still doubt they can actually contend.

  57. bobneptune

    Z:
    I kind of wish we could activate a parallel universe: one in which we traded Toney Douglas for JJ Barea back in December.

    Would we:

    A) be above .500 thanks to our starter-grade PG.

    B) still be 6-10 and complaining about how we miss TD’s above-average outside shooting and strong perimeter D.

    barea has missed like 10 games this year with 2 hammy injuries, so the discussion is moot.

  58. gregor.samsa

    Saying that this defense is good at all is silly, given the level of opponents thus far.

    In comparing the number of points opponents scored to that opponent’s season average, the only game that sticks out as defensively exceptional is the Sixers game. Other than that the results are basically what an average team would do or worse.

    For example: holding the Pistons to 80 pts. looks great, but they only average 84 a game so it’s really not much to speak of. The feared Bobcats put up 90.7 a game on average and have dropped 91 and 118 on the Knicks. The Raps avg. 85 a game and put up 90 on the Knicks. The Wiz average 88, put up 96 on the Knicks. Kings avg. 90, put up 92 vs. NY … etc, etc. etc. The Knicks have played ONE above average defensive game out of 16, and yet you want to say their defense is keeping them afloat based on some half-cocked points per possession stat?

    People fall in love with these contrived statistics, but honestly, just watch the games. Mediocre players on bad teams are putting up career highs on the Knicks seemingly every night. Good defense? Boris Diaw and other Knick-made ‘top guns’ (sorry Clyde) beg to differ.

  59. Juany8

    Actually our only defense has some serious holes but overall it is vastly improved, just inconsistent from game to game and within each game itself. Chandler and Shumpert are a big reason why, but even Melo is a defensive upgrade over Gallinari. (Ignore their recent games, Gallinari got 20 free throws, few of which were caused by fouls from Melo, and Melo hasn’t been the same since he started racking up injuries, he was actually having his best year ever before he missed the Thunder game)

  60. dogrufus

    gregor.samsa:
    Saying that this defense is good at all is silly, given the level of opponents thus far.

    In comparing the number of points opponents scored to that opponent’s season average, the only game that sticks out as defensively exceptional is the Sixers game.Other than that the results are basically what an average team would do or worse.

    For example: holding the Pistons to 80 pts. looks great, but they only average 84 a game so it’s really not much to speak of.The feared Bobcats put up 90.7 a game on average and have dropped 91 and 118 on the Knicks.The Raps avg. 85 a game and put up 90 on the Knicks.The Wiz average 88, put up 96 on the Knicks.Kings avg. 90, put up 92 vs. NY … etc, etc. etc.The Knicks have played ONE above average defensive game out of 16, and yet you want to say their defense is keeping them afloat based on some half-cocked points per possession stat?

    People fall in love with these contrived statistics, but honestly, just watch the games.Mediocre players on bad teams are putting up career highs on the Knicks seemingly every night.Good defense?Boris Diaw and other Knick-made ‘top guns’ (sorry Clyde) beg to differ.

    Not really meaningful to cite point volume when we are top 3 in pace. Point volumes will be higher (as ours would be if our offense wasn’t terrible). In terms of efficiency, which is what actually matters, we are better than last season- even if we are actually only league average

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