Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Our New York Knickerbobblers

BOBBLE- (n.) A bad step away from the starting gate by a racehorse.

Every game I watch this year feels like it is has the same pattern. The Knicks play terribly in the first quarter, then spend the next three quarters trying to recover. As they did with their 2-9 bobble to start the season, they crush my hopes right at the outset. By the start of the second a deep sense of nausea has usually set in, compounded by feelings of guilt and shame as I check to see if Jose Calderon, Andrew Bynum, or the Blazers are available for viewing on League Pass.

As a stat junkie, I know these kinds of “feelings” and “intuitions” can often be deceptive. So with the help of Ben F. at APBRmetrics and his magic game log scripts I investigated further. It turns out my gut was correct. Our Knickerbobblers have been inept in the first quarter this season. At the end of the first 12 minutes, they have trailed their opponents by 7 points or more 16 times . They have managed to take a lead larger than 5 only twice. They don’t seem to be making many good adjustments coming out of halftime either. The raw +/- numbers by quarter tell the story.

1st Quarter: -155
2nd Quarter: -28
3rd Quarter: -70
4th Quarter: -2
In Overtime : -5
Total Pt. Differential -260

Games are said to be won and lost in “crunch time,” but 85% of the Knicks point differential this season can be attributed to their play in the first (-3.8 pts per game) and third (-1.7 pts per game) periods. They have been respectable in the 2nd, and have almost broken even in the 4th, perhaps due partly to the large amount of garbage time they have played this season. The simple conclusion I think is that in order to have a better second half to the season, the Knicks should focus on making a better start to each half of every game. Readers I am sure will have plenty of ideas about how they might do that.

My suggestion? Find a new jockey.

51 comments on “Our New York Knickerbobblers

  1. Brendan

    I’m actually a bit surprised by this; my memory is full of “played hard for 2 or 3 quarters, then died tragically” games, but I suppose it just goes to show you how memory is a deceiver. Confirmation bias & etc.

    A quick look at 82games.com and a consultation with conventional wisdom does the explaining, I suppose- the 2 best Knicks with rotation spots and positive Roland Ratings are reserves (Robinson, Lee) while only two starters (Crawford, Zbo) are at all in positive territory. Other regular starters (Marbury, Qrich, Curry, Jones) are far below the water line.

    If you kick off every game and most second halves with a very weak lineup, well, this sort of quarter by quarter spread will happen. It’s possible I’m unknowingly abusing statistics here, but this looks pretty cut and dried to me.

  2. John

    Playing from behind stinks! to solve our 1st QTR problems…you must start the players who are not going to accept playing from behind:

    Starters:

    Nate
    Crawford
    Curry
    Lee
    Jeffries

    Off The Bench:

    Jones
    Nate/Crawford rotation
    Zach
    Balkman
    Rose (Center)

    Rose might not be the best player, but you know he’s gonna play hard…so I say let him play hard for 5 fouls

    Qrich needs to get in shape then maybe we could slide him back into the rotation

  3. Nick

    Is anyone able to get a breakdown on those numbers for the few games that Nate and/or Lee started or when he puts Nate in to start the second half?

  4. Vishal

    Agreed…I think its more fuel to the fire that we need guys like Q and one of Eddy or Zach off the floor and need Nate/Lee/Balk on there.

  5. Ray

    Nate should be starting and then off the bench I would bring Balkman as the point foward. Run some screen plays for Nate and let him take his 3′s and 10-15 foot jumpers which he nails everytime. His shooting has improved so much.

  6. Vishal

    Just to further your thought Brendan, here are the actual roland ratings for our starters:

    [b]Marbury: -5.3[/b]
    Crawford: +2.7
    [b]Curry: -5.9
    Richardson: -9.5[/b]
    Randolph: +0.8

    And now our primary bench players:

    Robinson: +4.7
    Lee: +3.8
    Balkman: -0.9
    Jeffries: -3.4
    Jones: -4.4

    So would it help if we went out there with a SL of Nate, Craw, Balk, Lee and Randolph? I think so.

  7. Ben R

    Great article Owen – Thanks for putting in numbers what is our real problem.

    I hate to say it but I an starting to think Zach, who is maybe my least favorite Knick ever, is only the second worst player in our starting lineup.

    Q Rich is so incredibly ineffective I am shocked he is still the starter. Even Isiah with his unwavering ineptitude has to recognize that Q Rich is completely useless. Its not like Isiah has his reputation wrapped up in Q like he does with Zach and Eddy. Two of his most criticized moves Balkman and Jeffries would both be worlds better than Q and them playing well would make Isiah look good for getting them.

    Q Rich is so bad that even when he starts out hot its a bad thing because that just encourages him to shoot more and he has still failed to shoot over 50% even once this season. Even in the game against Washington in which he started 5 for 5 he had to keep shooting and ended missing 8 of the next 11.

    The first thing we need to do is bench Q and our starts would improve greatly. Then trade Randolph and start Lee and all of a sudden we might be a pretty solid team.

  8. Luke

    A big reason for the poor first quarters is the style of play that we always begin the quarter with.Its almost always going inside to Eddy and Zach or even on several occasions Q and if they are not ready to play right from the the start we are usually in trouble. When was the last time these guys showed up in the first to play at the same time ?

  9. Gorky

    But the thing about bench players is this, which I think was mentioned in the whole ‘Start David Lee’ movement of last year: they’re mostly playing against other bench players. That’s why their stats are so good.

    Though honestly, it would probably be better to start Nate/Lee over Richardson/Randolph.

  10. retropkid

    A big reason for these stats is that other teams have better starting fives than we do, while we probably do have better second fives than many. Some of us identified this fact before the season started.

    Like most of you, I prefer our bench guys to our starters, and wish they got more minutes.

    It’s our best shot at winning, but there is no guarantee our bench guys will do better against most starting fives in the league.

    As a team, we do a great job of putting lipstick on the pig…getting the final score closer late in a game, with little real chance of winning, just trying to make something ugly look a little bit better…and whatever stats get produced in that time might look nice to your agent, but they aren’t contributing to Wins.

  11. Roshi

    Fact 1: Isiah has blamed the players lack of intensity and the fans for the Knicks woes. The only person he hasn’t blamed is Walt Frazier.

    Fact 2: Isiah is always wrong.

    Thus, by the property of transitivity, Walt Frazier is the source of the Knicks problems. JoeV is correct!

  12. jon abbey

    Peter Vecsey reports today that Paul Allen vetoed an already agreed upon deal 2 years ago with NY:

    “Jeff Wechsler, Darius Miles’ agent, is pushing Portland hard to activate and play his client, out almost 11/2 seasons following dreaded micro-fracture knee surgery. A Paul Allen favorite, Miles would never have been re-signed by the Blazers had the owner not overruled the front office of Steve Patterson and John Nash on a deal (including Theo Ratliff) to the Knicks New York Knicks during Larry Brown’s glory year. Isiah Thomas had signed off on Jalen Rose, David Lee and, yipes, a No. 1 pick.”

    I mean, you couldn’t make this up.

  13. JK47

    Q has got to be the worst player on the team; I can’t recall ever seeing a player that inept log so many minutes. The numbers are mind-boggling:

    39 games
    27.9 MPG
    .327 FG%
    .293 3P%
    .595 FT%

    This guy is in the league for his shooting, and he’s under 60% from the line. What a horrific, awful, terrible basketball player. He’s the “unsung hero” of the Knicks’ quest for ping-pong balls.

    Jeffries or Balkman would of course be an upgrade, but at this point almost any small forward in the NBA would be an upgrade. Can anyone think of a worse starter in the entire NBA? I can’t.

  14. Roshi

    Off the top of my head, Sebastian Telfair, Troy Murphy, Rafer Alston, and Earl Watson are pretty lousy starters….but no where even close to the ineptitude of Q. All of these guys do at least one thing well. Q does nothing well.

  15. Thomas B.

    “Q does nothing well.”

    That is simply not true. Q is responsible for most of David Lee’s offensive rebounds. Where would DL’s offensive rebounding be without Q and his bricks?

  16. Roshi

    Yeah, but that’s the moral equivalent of botching shots on wide open fast breaks, so you can get the rebound and put it up again.

  17. ess-dog

    Wow… that Vescey/Darius Miles thing is crazy. Now I’m definitely certain we need to stay put and just continue to suck and wait for Zeke to get fired. He can’t make a trade to save his life!
    Yeah, I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that the starters aren’t working, esp. the FatBoy tandem. Then the younger faster rotation catches up a little.
    Hey, isn’t Vince Carter’s contract up soon? Maybe we can get him and Sean Williams for Zach and Balkman? I think the Nets are desperate to get rid of Vince and they really suck lately. I would even give up crawford if we have to- then drop vince next year. It would be worth it to get S. Williams, he will be a special player. I would only do a trade w/ the Nets if he was involved.

  18. Thomas B.

    “Yeah, but that’s the moral equivalent of botching shots on wide open fast breaks, so you can get the rebound and put it up again.”

    Not really because Q isnt getting the rebounds for himself. Q is a true team player, unfortunately it’s for the other team.

  19. Thomas B.

    Owen,

    About those stats. Good work. Is it possible to look at those stats over a shorter period? I am interested in whether the Knicks have improved from the start of the season or are they just as bad as we saw in Nov.

    I starting thinking about whether the Knicks have improved at all when I visited John Hollinger’s Playoff predictor. It was introduced on 12/6/07 and at the time it had the Knicks placed last in the conference. It predicted that at the Knicks current production they would win at best 39 games, at worst 15. Their odds of making the playoffs were less than 2%. One month later, the odds have doubled to 3.8% and the Knicks at best could finish with 41 wins at worst 17, a two game improvement. Miami now has the worst spot.

    So I am curious to see whether the Knick’s stats over the last month or so make a case that they are improving. Did we get better or like retrograde motion, does we only look improved when compared to Miami train wreck? Is that something you would be interseted in doing?

  20. Thomas B.

    edit

    Did we get better, or like retrograde motion, DO we only look improved when compared to THE Miami train wreck? Is that something you would be INTERESTED in doing?

    end edit.

    Lord, I need to proffread this stuff befour I post.

  21. Roshi

    During the Nets/Warrior halftime show, Barkley and Magic were pretty tough on Vince, pretty much saying that he’s done; his knees are gone, he doesn’t have the explosiveness, and isn’t the type of player that can transition to being a non-above-the-rim superstar. I happen to agree with them. It will be hard for the Nets to trade him, because they can’t get equal value.

  22. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    But the thing about bench players is this, which I think was mentioned in the whole ‘Start David Lee’ movement of last year: they’re mostly playing against other bench players. That’s why their stats are so good.

    Can someone tell me when the coaches of both teams have to officially take out all their starters and put in all their backups? It’s funny all these years I thought coaches substituted players one at a time (or a few at a time) so for a majority of the time on the court you have a mix of starters & backups.

  23. Nick

    “Can someone tell me when the coaches of both teams have to officially take out all their starters and put in all their backups? It’s funny all these years I thought coaches substituted players one at a time (or a few at a time) so for a majority of the time on the court you have a mix of starters & backups.”

    I get your point. Usually aren’t the last few minutes of the first and third into the beginning of the second and fourth quarters the by the book time to make substitutions. Also, until recently this was more with Nate than Lee, during “garbage time” when the Knicks go down 15-25.

  24. teddd

    I think this is a perfect example of how mismatched Curry/Randolph are together on both ends of the floor. Isiah is already burying his best perimeter defenders on the bench to start halves and then he complicates matters by putting two horrible help defenders on the back line. So he’s basically putting his worst defensive lineup on the floor to play against the offensive stars of the opposition.

  25. Frank O.

    Mike K.
    That is what is so glaring about what Owen has written:
    The fact of the matter is that at the start of the game and at the start of the 3rd quarter, 99.9 percent of the time you have your full starting lineup in and the Bricks are getting crushed.

    Q Rich has been the biggest liability this year.
    Curry is right behind him.
    Then you have Randolph.
    Marbury had been a disappointment and Jones simply should not be a starter.
    Crawford also over the entire year has been…a 40 percent shooter who plays a ton of minutes, takes a ton of shots, and plays literally no defense….

    What’s most shocking about all this is that there are still people out there saying how great Crawford is, what a bum rap Q gets and how Randolph is a great PF that is far better than Lee.

    It’s freakin’ Bricks wonderland on acid.

    And the Vecsey thing only confirms what I’ve been saying during this whole fantasy trade talk:

    Hope and pray that Zeke doesn’t get some kind of weird inspiration that leads to yet another stupid, kill-your-cap-for-the-next-half-century trade that makes the Bricks no better.

  26. Mattyxl

    While Q has had a horrible year, I have always been a Q fan. At least he plays defense to say he is not good at one thing is not true. Even with his dreaded offenses numbers this season he can still rebound and play D.

    On a team where no one plays D that is a great attribute to have. Even everyone’s golden boy Lee, is a horrible defender.

    While everyone is killing Q, I have read that some people want Jeffries to start.

    Now that to me is laughable, talk about a player that offers nothing, if he plays 25 minutes you will be rewarded with a whopping stat line of 3pts and 2 rebounds.

    Ive watched him many times, his defense is overrated, the last time he played with any zest was when he was fighting the nuggets in 06.

    There is no worst player than Jeffries, if Felton Spencer was still in the league I would rather see him playing small forward, yes a slow plodding center playing small forward is better than JJ

  27. dave crockett

    I think the slow starts are mostly a function of Isiah opting to pound-it-in-the-post at the beginning of halves. To me that’s ass-backward thinking. You run to get a lead and pound the ball to hold onto it, forcing teams to foul you so you can weaken them while increasing your lead with FTs. This team only runs when they get down double digits and go to the bench.

    I suspect Isiah wants to get Curry and Randolph off to good starts and put the other team in the penalty early. But, even if Curry or Randolph start off hot the double teams inevitably come. The offense grinds to a halt since neither is capable of making passes that lead to easy baskets, and what we get is one of those patented stretches of 5 or 6 consecutive turnovers–a 3pt lead becomes an 8pt deficit before Clyde even finishes his first anecdote.

    If we assume no changes in coaching or personnel in the immediate future the only other thing to change is strategy.

  28. Thomas B.

    How about Randolph and Rose to the Cavs for Hughes and Marshall? Hughes has less owed to him that Zach. Move Crawford to the point let Hughes play the two and you will have a backcourt that shoots 42% at point and 33% at the 2. Then you move Lee to the starting PF and let him pick offensive rebounds. Through Q’s 32% shooting in the mix and Lee’s offensive rebounds could end up higher than Curry’s total rebounds.

    At least Hughes plays some D.

  29. Frank O.

    Mattyxl:

    Come on.

    Q
    defensive rebounds per game: 3.9 (total 4.9)
    steals per game: .7
    blocks per game: .3
    assists per game: 1.8
    free throws: 59 percent
    fouls per game: 2.2

    The Bricks score and rebound more and give up fewer points when he’s on the bench, according to 82games.com.

    I’m sorry. He’s not doing anything defensively.

    And if you look at his assists, free throw and fouls per game, he’s not even doing little things.

    He’s a complete and utter liability.

    Except when he attacks a better player on the other team and they both get tossed.
    The Bricks don’t have to face the top opposition player and they lose Q.
    No down side there.

  30. retropkid

    At least we got Marbury out for the season, that’s a start…now if we could just get Curry hurt, and maybe Zeke gets some terrible illness, nothing life threatening, but enough to send him home for awhile…I do believe in addition by subtraction.

    Go Knicks!

  31. Owen Post author

    Thomas B – The Knicks are 5-5 over the last ten games, having allowed 9 more points than they have scored. And that was with a 24 point victory over the Pistons. I would say they are playing a bit better lately, but not much, and its a small sample. They took leads in just 2 of those games, conceded leads 7 times, and have actually been even worse than average in the first quarter at -43 over the last ten games.

    It’s funny the season has kind of had the same pattern as the game stats, Somewhat arbitrary, but 2-9 to start. Then a 6-8 stretch. Then a 7 game nosedive before our recent stretch of decent play.

    I don’t know if Lee, Robinson, and Balkman have been our best players because they play more against bench players. Really, I don’t think that’s the case. Lee was playing better last year when he was playing more minutes, and more minutes against starters. It’s possible though.

    I think Dave Crockett is right about Isiah’s strategy with Curry at the beginning of the game. I agree the idea is to use him as a weapon to accumulate fouls on the other team’s best interior player. It’s worth trying a different strategy. I was watching Curry use and abuse Glen Davis the other night, and it occurred to me. Why not bring Curry off the bench and throw him at the other team’s second unit center?

    ;-)

    Berri actually had a post on the Nets and Knicks today, and below is what he had to say about Lee. It’s an interesting question. Would Lee be playing much better if he were playing much more? I tend to think so, and Lee’s recent comments in the Times, when he mildly complained about how irregular his minutes have been, lead me to believe DLee thinks the same thing.

    “The big decision between now and then (2010) is the re-signing of David Lee. Last year Lee led the Knicks with 13.6 Wins Produced and a 0.378 WP48. This year his minutes, per-minute productivity, and Wins Produced have all declined. One should note that there is a link between declining minutes and per-minute performance. And I think it’s reasonable to think (although I have not studied this) that increasing the variability in minutes also adversely impacts performance.”

    http://dberri.wordpress.com/2008/01/25/pledging-allegiance-to-the-brooklyn-nets/#more-704

  32. Mattyxl

    Frank O.

    Granted, but what are the options?

    Jeffries, he’s a waste
    Lee while he may average a double double, his opponent will avg 25 and 10 himself
    Balkman – I wouldnt be opposed to this, but it would like the knicks playing 4 vs 5 on offense.

    At this point you might as well give Chandler a shot see what he has, and then bench Q.

    Ill tell you Trevor Ariza would be perfect (I know hes hurt) But Larry screwed that one up.

    So let me take back my last post, start Chandler, What the hell.

    How about we revisit Lee for Artest…Id have to consider that one

  33. Caleb

    Some of this stuff is silly… I don’t know why so many people think Lee is an awful defender.. I don’t see it, and it doesn’t show in the numbers.

  34. Ray

    I found a quote from Pat Riley from the 90′s when he was coatching the Knikcs. If the Knicks of today had this attitude very game MSG would be the Mecca of Basketball again

    “One thing a New York Knick will not be is anybody’s poster boy, even if the camera makes us like one. We ain’t one. It’s an attitude more than anything. Who wants to be the guy that’s going to open up the lane? Who want to make it convey for some superstar to kick your ass? Because if that’s how you’re going to play, you should leave right now.”

    -Pat Riley

  35. Caleb

    And the Trevor Ariza trade may have been an abomination, but Balkman is the better player (though Ariza is younger so we’ll see what happens down the road). Balkman is such good rebounder, solid ballhandler and non turnover-guy, it largely makes up for the lack of shooting range… he doesn’t seem to hurt the offense; the Knicks score more when he’s in the game than when he’s on the bench (1 point per 48)… and give up a whopping 10 points less, per 48. That’s astounding when you consider he’s alternating with Q and Jeffries. His defensive +/- was 9.8 last year (close to best in the league) so it doesn’t look like a fluke, either.

  36. Duff Soviet Union

    I’m a Blazers fan and I absolutely refuse to believe that we turned down that trade Jon mentioned upthread. I was going to wonder how good this team could be with Lee, but then I realised that if we had David Lee last year, we probably wouldn’t have sucked enough to get Greg Oden. Swings and roundabouts and all that.

  37. Mattyxl

    Caleb,

    I am a Lee fan, I know my post seems to suggest that Im not, however watching game in and game out he has defensive deficiencies (excuse the spelling) his lateral quickness is suspect, and usually gets torched when playing the three.

    Not having one true defensive force out there on your front line is a big mistake. Zach, Curry and Lee. Compared to those two softies yeah Lee looks like Scottie Pippen.

    As for Balkman I feel he is best suited off the bench, a guy like that if you play him too much I think you start to see the warts.

    If they still had Ariza, he would be a perfect starter for the knicks, he plays D, he was getting better at the half court game can run the break and plays good D.

    Just my opinion

  38. daJudge

    With respect to David Lee: Again, forget stats for a minute. Look at his game more subjectively. His D is average, no better. His rebounding is good. His inside game is average-above average. His passing is average, at best. His foul shooting is decent. His J needs work, but it’s not bad and his shooting form is at least average. From what I understand, his work ethic and tude are good. He’s a good, not great, young player. He’s a double/double guy who will improve. Even that Roland stat bears this out. As a power forward, he can fill that role. The problem I have is when you look at stats and performance, you need to look at the position. If you do not, it’s like saying your wide reciver really has bad hands, but he can throw a nice pass in the flats. We come now to Curry. He’s a Center. He can score, but he can’t rebound, play D or pass out of the double. He really doesn’t set great picks because he can never operate at the top of the key. He’s like the above-referenced receiver. This analysis must be applied position by position. Why can’t the Bricks management put a team together with complimentary players? Am I wrong?

  39. Mattyxl

    Right now if the Kings offered Artest for Lee straight up, I would have to do it, Artest would be a perfect fit at the three. As much as I like Lee and I am afraid of Artest going nuts in his home town I would have to do it.

  40. Thomas B.

    Owen,

    Thanks for the stat work! That is strange the streaks of horrid play booken a stretch of decent play. I have yet to see a five game stretch of very good play, heck I dont think we have had 3 very good games in a row.

    I’m going to look at sample you provided and see if I can find a pattern. Maybe a particular player or line up plays more minutes in the decent stretch. If I find something interesting I will share.

    Thanks again.

  41. jon abbey

    “I starting thinking about whether the Knicks have improved at all when I visited John Hollinger’s Playoff predictor. It was introduced on 12/6/07 and at the time it had the Knicks placed last in the conference. It predicted that at the Knicks current production they would win at best 39 games, at worst 15. Their odds of making the playoffs were less than 2%. One month later, the odds have doubled to 3.8% and the Knicks at best could finish with 41 wins at worst 17, a two game improvement. Miami now has the worst spot.

    So I am curious to see whether the Knick’s stats over the last month or so make a case that they are improving. Did we get better or like retrograde motion, does we only look improved when compared to Miami train wreck? Is that something you would be interested in doing?”

    Atlanta and NJ have both been in freefall, so everyone’s chances at the 7/8 spots have gone up in comparison, NY hilariously only 4 games out of the 8 spot now.

  42. Joe V TradeClyde

    Curious, why when the discusion came up about the allstar lineup they preview the players doing moves on the Knicks. Is that suppose to be some great achievement. Why not just show them making moves on teams throughout the league.They claim the knicks are so bad, why not show them making moves on a varsity team. I mean if your not a constant follower than you might see a clip of Yao dunking on Curry and feel worse about the knicks if that’s possible for some of you. I guess if they had to justify why Yao didn’t make it to the allstar they would have shown Nates leap into his face to block his shot under the basket. I guess reality can be anything you want it to be. It depends on the audience.

    BClyde was Much more tolerable in this game. Even though he reserves his dishing and swishing remarks for the oppisite team, despite a few that were made by Crawford, Maubury and I think even Zach made a good move to the basket.

    by the way, I was booted for some reason before I had to keep my Joe V and change the rest. I hope it does not happen again.

  43. jay d

    thomas loves q rich and that is bullshit. q rich can play but he is damned lazy and doesnt try. he has all the talent in the world. he cannot continue to start. marbz i still like at the point because he can play as well. if you can go small do that once in a while. nate, jamal and marbury or jones.

    starters:
    Marbury
    Crawford
    Lee
    Randolph
    Curry

    jeffies blows, and if randloph is lazy get him out of there for balk. i hate isiah

  44. kaseli

    I’m not surprised that many fans aren’t happy with Zach, but honestly guys, where’s the scoring going to come from if we play Zach less?

    There’s a lot of guys on this team that simply can’t score. Balkman, Jeffries, Q…

    You can’t have a team made up of only role players.

  45. Brian Cronin

    “Jeff Wechsler, Darius Miles’ agent, is pushing Portland hard to activate and play his client, out almost 11/2 seasons following dreaded micro-fracture knee surgery. A Paul Allen favorite, Miles would never have been re-signed by the Blazers had the owner not overruled the front office of Steve Patterson and John Nash on a deal (including Theo Ratliff) to the Knicks New York Knicks during Larry Brown’s glory year. Isiah Thomas had signed off on Jalen Rose, David Lee and, yipes, a No. 1 pick.”

    I remember this one from back then, which is why I was scared spitless that offseason that Lee would be traded in some ridiculous trade.

  46. joe

    When is the pain going to stop! I moved out of NY 14 years ago, I can never find anything good to hear from the Knicks. Why? We are still in the dark ages. Help Please

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