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Monday, September 22, 2014

Preseason

Although the season is still a month away, the Knicks preseason is almost upon us. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind until the season begins.

The Bubble Boys

With 18 players on the roster, there are definitely some players on the bubble. Let’s assume that Chandler, Crawford, Curry, Duhon, Gallinari, Jeffries, Lee, Marbury, Randolph, Richardson, and Robinson make the team. Jeffries will start the season on the injured list, and let’s assume Gallinari joins him (or ends up in the D-League). That leaves 3 spots on the 12 man roster, and 1 spot on the innactive roster for Collins, Ewing Jr., Grunfeld, Houston, James, Roberson, and Rose. If my math is correct, three of those players are going to be cut.

Of the veterans Rose is likely to make the team outright, and reports have Jerome James playing a lot in practice. With Walsh’s comments about his dislike of buying out players, it’s likely the team will play James or force him to retire due to injury. Mardy Collins’ can defend but do little else, and with Duhon on the roster the Knicks already have a perimeter defender. Meanwhile Allan Houston is pretending he’s 34 years old again, but unfortunately he was out of the league at that point of his career.

Of the youngsters, Roberson’s preseason play earned himself a guaranteed contract. With the trade of Balkman and the injuries to Jeffries and Gallinari, the Knicks are thin at small forward. This could be good news for Ewing Jr. However both players are far from a guaranteed spot, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if both were cut. Dan Grunfeld could probably beat his dad in a one on one game, but probably not anyone else on the roster.

With a new regime, it’s hard to guess what the Knicks will do. My guess is that Rose, James, Roberson, and Ewing Jr. make the cut. They can stash Roberson or Ewing Jr. in the D-League or leave them inactive. But if the Knicks wanted to go young, they might jettison James/Rose for Collins. Or maybe they see the team too offensively heavy at guard (Crawford, Marbury, Robinson) and not enough defense (Duhon) and keep Collins instead of Roberson. Or they might want a smaller lineup and leave Ewing off in lieu of one of the guards. Definitely something Knick fans want to keep track of during the preseason.

The Starting Lineup

It’s obvious that Jamal Crawford will be the starting SG, and you have to think that Quentin Richardson’s familiarity with D’Antoni’s system gives him the edge at SF over the inexperienced Wilson Chandler. At point guard, the team has signed Chris Duhon and coach D’Antoni has been playing him exclusively as the first team point guard. However the Knicks have refused to buy out Stephon Marbury, and the Knicks starting PG of the last four and a half years is still on the roster. For Marbury to get his starting job he just needs to impress his new coach and win over his teammates that he’s alienated over the last few seasons. And President Ahmadinejad might join B’nai B’rith International.

As for the frontcourt, most likely the Knicks will start Zach Randolph, even if only to keep his trade value high. D’Antoni was experimenting with Jared Jeffries at center before Jeffries’ broke his leg, so it looks as if that spot is open for competition.

Ever since Mike D’Antoni was announced as the Knicks’ head coach, pundits have wondered out loud how Eddy Curry would handle the physicality of an up-tempo offense. Curry has been unable to practice due to an illness so you wonder if he’ll get enough practice to be ready by the start of the season. Most likely the Knicks will turn to David Lee to play alongside Randolph.

The Offense

There’s no question that D’Antoni’s offense was successful in Phoenix. The Suns finished either first or second in offensive efficiency in the years he was coach. But the question remains how the 7 second offense will work in New York. D’Antoni won’t have a single All Star to work with, where he had three with the Suns (including a two time MVP). Additionally the Knicks’ offense hasn’t been very good. They’ve only been above average on offense twice since 2000. This makes sense because the Knick offense has been stuck in the 90s with isolations and post scoring emphasis. It’ll be particularly interesting to see how Randolph, Crawford, Curry, and even Marbury responds. The preseason might shed some light on how D’Antoni’s offense will work with average players.

The Youngsters

It seems that during Isiah’s tenure the Knicks youngsters has been stuck behind veterans. Just about every draftee over the last 5 years has had to struggle to earn playing time: David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Renaldo Balkman, Nate Robinson, Randolph Morris, Mardy Collins, Trevor Ariza, Mike Sweetney, and Frank Williams. And it’s not as if New York has had a winning team in that time span.

If the Knicks are rebuilding then it makes sense for the kids to get a lot of run, especially in preseason. Most likely David Lee will win a starting spot, so he should be getting plenty of playing time. I’ll be curious how much playing time Robinson, Chandler, and Collins get, and how they perform inside the Knick offense. It’ll also be nice to get a look at Roberson, Ewing, and Gallinari to gauge their strengths against stronger NBA competition. That is if all these players are on the roster (and in Gallinari’s case healthy).

The Schedule

Oct. 8 Toronto Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ONT 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 10 Philadelphia Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 14 Philadelphia Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 Boston TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 New Jersey IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 Boston Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 24 New Jersey Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 7:30 p.m.

80 comments on “Preseason

  1. Z-man

    Good post, Mike.

    Re cuts:

    Grunfeld is a no-brainer, he’ll go to Spain.

    I would cut Rose. He serves no purpose on this restructured team and would a deprive a younger player of an opportunity.

    I would keep either Roberson or Houston, but not both. If Houston is even 70% of what he was, his size and shooting ability could make him a nice weapon to have at the end of the bench. His veteran presence and perserverance is a plus, making Rose even that much more unnecessary. Unless Roberson is clearly superior to Houston during preseason games and might have an impact, Allan would make the better story. Neither is likely to play much, so I’m OK either way.

    PEJ is a good PR move and does potentially fill a need, so I’d like to find a way to keep him around.

    Mardy needs to be played 10-15 mpg in preseason. He could be valuable defensively vs. bigger PG’s if his offensive game and athleticism has improved as advertised.

    I’d keep the jury out on James until he plays some preseason games as well. He does fill a void, made even bigger now that the other JJ is injured. In any event, either he or Rose should be cut.

    So, right now, I cut Grunfeld, Rose or James, and Roberson or Houston. Does that leave 15?

  2. Thomas B.

    “For Marbury to get his starting job he just needs to impress his new coach and win over his teammates that he’s alienated over the last few seasons. And President Ahmadinejad might join B’nai B’rith International.”

    Oh ye of little faith, but much humor.

    “D’Antoni won’t have a single All Star to work with, where he had three with the Suns (including a two time MVP).”

    Okay this is a bit nit-picky, but do All Stars appearences and MVP awards really matter? Nash could have not won either MVP and he would still be a great talent, right? So, it really comes down to talent rather than acomplishment. MVP does not mean best player (though I would argue that in his first MVP Nash was the best player in the game). Having said that, the Knicks do not have the same amount of talent to work with.

    I guess in determining cuts we look for those players that can best fill a need. I hope the needs will be made clear during the games.

    “If the Knicks are rebuilding then it makes sense for the kids to get a lot of run, especially in preseason.”

    Agreed. If the vets can not get it done you need to know what the youngsters can do. If this is a 9 man rotation you need to know which of your young players can crack that rotation. I think Lee and Robinson can be inked in. You should expect some PT from Chandler, especially since JJ went down. I think Collins will find a way to hang on. His size gives D’antoni a few more options. Plus I have heard good things about his quickness and finishing around the basket (stay near the basket because you cant shoot).

    I dont see how Roberson can take minutes from either Marbury or Robinson (if they are the second string backcourt). Even with JJ down, I dont see how Ewing Jr. can get much time at the forward spots. I’m thinking Roberson and Ewing are out. I dont like it but they are the cheapest cuts. I think by the time the team is through preseason Houston’s knees will have shown if he can keep up with the rigors of the NBA. I’m not holding out hope. Not many 2′s can play much at 37 without knee problems. And at the pace D’antoni wants. It Houston, Roberson, and Ewing. The only way one of those three can stay is if Rose/James or Marbury is let go.

  3. justin

    for everyone that lives in the tri state, here is a question…will the knicks be showing all pre season games on msg?

  4. Reebok1303

    I heard somewhere today, maybe on WFAN, that the Knicks were experimenting with a starting lineup of PG Duhon, SG Marbury, SF Crawford, PF Randolph, and C Lee, which seems like the fastest but smallest lineup possible. How awful defensively and at rebounding would this team be?
    Would it be better of worse than the assumed current lineup of Duhon, Crawford, Richardson, Randoloph, and Lee?

  5. Captain Merlin

    I’d take the former…at least it’d be quite interesting. And plus, the less time Q is on the court, the happier I’ll generally be. It’s a shame that there already was a “Pooh” Richardson, because Q has the EXACT same facial features as the lovable AA Milne character’s cartoon-edition appearance…easily close enough to warrant such a nickname. See links below…

    http://disney-clipart.com/winnie-the-pooh/Pooh-Bear/pooh-rumbly-2006.jpg
    http://www.cbc.ca/gfx/topstory/sports/richardson_q051107getty.jpg

  6. Thomas B.

    Reebok,

    Disagree on the rebounding. Randolph and Lee are good rebounders. I think Lee as starting center could grab at least 12 a game. The Defense may not be great but what unit could you put on the florr that would be defensive? Duhon, Collins, Richardson, Rose, and James? ure you get some D but at what cost?

    Looks the Knicks have to play to their strength. The only one they have is offense. So let them play small ball and see if they cant pull a golden state this year.

  7. Z

    They are both terrible lineups. Truly horrible.

    As for Rose– his only worth is as an expiring contract at the deadline. If Walsh isn’t going to use him as that there is no reason to keep him on the team (it wouldn’t even be a buy out, as he’ll be getting paid not to play either way).

    Perhaps a 3 for 1 is out there where we trade Rose and Collins and Q for a scrub like Larry Hughes (there must be a match out there for teams interested only in saving a buck or two with no regard for the actual players involved, right?)

  8. cbrooklyn

    i just cant wait to see what these guys look like under dantoni. anything average is better than last season, and i hope he can at least get some average decent ball play back to the garden….hope houston makes the cut ala grant hill…so what if he knees only hold up 45 games…ide take that over 82 games of an out of shape curry or rose taking up space!!

  9. Owen

    Ah yes, straight bangin’, got to this and had to let it go….

    “Given that he has the worst offensive abilities in the Association and was on the Knicks mostly because he was bipedal and could jump, Balkman’s departure felt good in the pants.”

    I think somewhere in the 30-36 range works for me.

  10. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. – Posting & Toasting predicts a 36 win season for the Knicks. Straight Bangin sees only 30 wins in his crystal ball.

    Yeah, but what do the amateurs think? Seriously, I cant put too much faith in a website that lists Fredric Weis’ contact as a key loss. Weis’ contract is worth less than 10,000 shares of Bear-Sterns. C’mon.

    And as for “Straight Bangin,” lets just say when I typed that into Google the first five hits were not baskeball related and not at all family friendly. (Gotta activate the content filter)

    Why does no one acknowledge:
    1.This team underperformed last year.
    2.Teams play better when they have a competent coach whom the players respect.
    3. The East is still very weak outside of the top 6 teams.

    Sure the Knicks will struggle on defense, but how many East team can you say are strong defensive teams? Folks tend to look at this team in a vacuum. Where/who this team plays oes matter. I do not think the Knicks are a good team, but I think they can take advantage of the teams in the conference that are also not so good. In the East, being best of the worst can get you to 40 wins. Doe anyone here think ATl was a “good” team going into the playoffs? They were just the best of the bad teams and they got a playoff berth by default. That could be the Knicks.

  11. ObamaBeBallin

    Any lindup is worth a try right now…we have plenty of room to experiment. Im hoping Donnie is holding out on a Marbury decision to perhaps trade him sometime in February. IF we could pull in some draft picks for Marbury , Rose, ZAch in FEb id be very happy.

  12. TDM

    “Why does no one acknowledge:
    1.This team underperformed last year.
    2.Teams play better when they have a competent coach whom the players respect.
    3. The East is still very weak outside of the top 6 teams.”

    I agree, and would say a 40+ win season is not out of the question. There are a lot of question marks surrounding ATL, CHA, CHI, IND, MIA, MIL, NJ, WA, and even TOR. I’m not saying that the Knicks are contending to win the east, but they do have the pieces to at minimum be competitive. They are arguably better on paper than 7 of these teams. Whether D’Antoni can bring the talent out of them is another question.

    Regarding cuts, I agree with Z-man and would cut Rose. Between Houston (assuming he survives preseason)and Roberson, I’d take Houston because he brings the leadership we would lose by cutting Rose and is a better shooter than Roberson.

  13. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    I agree, and would say a 40+ win season is not out of the question. There are a lot of question marks surrounding ATL, CHA, CHI, IND, MIA, MIL, NJ, WA, and even TOR. I’m not saying that the Knicks are contending to win the east, but they do have the pieces to at minimum be competitive. They are arguably better on paper than 7 of these teams. Whether D’Antoni can bring the talent out of them is another question.

    The reason the Knicks don’t have “a lot of questions” is because we already know the answers, and they aren’t good. You could say there are “a lot of questions” concerning every NBA team (Boston, Spurs, Lakers, etc.). The Knicks don’t have the talent of Toronto, Washington, Miami, or Chicago, and probably not the talent of Atlanta or Chicago either. We’ll be competing with the Nets and Pacers this year.

  14. jon abbey

    I don’t think it’s clear at all that this team underperformed last year. Thomas B wasn’t interested in my statement about how whoever our best player is (DLee? Jamal?), he’s probably the worst “best player” of any team in the league. so how about this one? we don’t have a single above average starter at any position, with the possible exception of Lee proving capable of handling starter minutes at center, something that certainly remains to be seen.

    I agree that it is possible that D’Antoni’s system could make everyone better collectively, but I certainly don’t think it’s probable.

  15. Z-man

    I would say again that how we lose (and win) is more important than how many we lose (and win). That being said, anythinng less than 30 wins would be tough to take, even with improved play; anything more than 40 and/or a playoff berth would be a very pleasant surprise; anything above 1st round playoff elimination would be an orgasmic shock. I think a good over/under # is 32 wins.

  16. Z

    “I don’t think it’s clear at all that this team underperformed last year.”

    Interesting.

    It really is possible that we over-performed last year. Looking back on the way the team played, all the distractions, the blowouts, the coaching melt-down, the Stephon side show, the worst defense in the league, etc…

    We were only the 6th worst team!!

    We are returning the exact same core. If we aren’t the absolute worst team in the league this year we will be over achieving for the second straight year.

  17. foliveri

    I have never been a big fan of this team as constructed, but a major part of the problem was the way it was coached.
    Often there was no game plan, like, for example, Isiah’s let-Crawford-dribble-down-the-clock-and-heave-a-prayer approach to the end of a close game.
    There was no starting consistency. There was little or no player development – see Balkman, D Lee, or Robinson.
    There was no continuity, i.e., the Knicks are a low-post team, then a running team, a big team, a small team, Curry’s team, the twin tower team, the Zach attack team. Then there was: Marbury is my guard, Collins is my guard, Crawford is my guard, Robinson is my guard team (during summer).
    It was ridiculous.
    If the Phoenix Suns, with all that talent, had been handled that way, they would have won 28 games. I firmly believe that.

    And then there was Isiah’s need to prove his choices, favoring Marbury, then Curry, then Zach. It was outrageous.

    If this is a fresh start, and it seemed that way if Jeffries was number one at center on the depth chart, then player decisions will be driven by performance, and performance will be assessed not individually, but as a team, then I believe the Knicks can win 40+ games….
    I realize some will call me crazy, or simply ignore this post as irrelevant – hell, in real terms it is irrelevant since this is just a blog note – but with a concept and some discipline on the part of the coaches, we may all be surprised.
    Besides, I recall last year, there were plenty of people on this blog predicting 43 wins, based on the talent level.
    I’m not predicting great things, just a little sanity.

  18. Thomas B.

    jon,
    The Knicks do have a few above average starters. I’m not sure how you define “above average.” If we use PER then an above average player has a PER over 15 as the average NBA PER is 15, yes?

    So then, is there a Knick starter with a PER over 15? Yes, just barely.

    Crawford 15.68
    Randolph 17.69
    Robinson 15.05 (if average is a ‘C’, then Nate scored a B— but is still counts)
    Lee 17.65

    So, if a PER over 15 makes you above average, the Knicks have three above average starters (projected line up of Duhon, Crawford, Richardson, Randolph, and Lee).

    Using PER, our best player is Randolph. I went around the NBA checking highest PER on the teams and found the Bulls, Sonics (Thunder), and Grizzlies had team leading PERs (among rotation players) lower than Randolph’s.

    So the Knicks have the 4th worst best player in the NBA. At least they did last year. I do think this year will be much better.

  19. miika

    This is how I see the D’Antoni depth chart:

    PG: Duhon / Robinson / Collins
    SG: Crawford / Houston / Roberson
    SF/SG: Richardson / Marbury / Gallinari / Ewing
    PF: Randolph / Chandler / Rose
    C: Lee / Jeffries / Curry / James

    I think D’Antoni falls in love with Nate’s ability to push the ball and he becomes the backup PG.

    That said, I think D’Antoni will go with 3 guards a lot. Marbury has actually done a good job of defending bigger guards and small forwards. Putting Marbury at the 3 (with occasional PG duty) keeps the ball out of his hands until it’s time to shoot.

    Not too much has been said about Chandler this preseason, but I can imagine D’Antoni using Chandler much they way they used Marion in Phoenix. Chandler certainly looks strong enough to defend most fours and is definitely a match up problem if he’s guarded by a PF.

    As for the two cuts: I think it’s Roberson (I don’t see what he gives you that Nate or Houston don’t already), and Ewing Jr. (who I’m just assuming is the odd man out). Somehow I think Big Snacks and Malik stick around if only because of Walsh’s reluctance to buy anyone out. I don’t see Houston playing a big role at all, but I think he would make the team if his body can handle it.

  20. jon abbey

    “if we use PER then an above average player has a PER over 15 as the average NBA PER is 15, yes?”

    no, an above average starter, not player. do we have anyone who would be in the top 15 at their position? possibly Lee at center, I think that’s it.

    also, PER doesn’t include defense, which drops Zach Randolph quite a bit in the real world.

  21. Reebok1303

    I agree with Jon Abbey. According to WOWJ Lee has been easily in the top 10 at PF the past 2 years.

    http://www.wagesofwins.com/15PF0708.html

    The shift to center (and most likely going against bigger and stronger players) could certainly hurt some of his stats, but given his likely increased playing time, a more efficient and higher tempo offense, and the fact that he’s entering what could be a very important contract year, I would expect Lee to continue to post above average performances.

  22. Italian Stallion

    I have to admit to being a huge fan of Nate Robinson. I think he’s one of the greatest pound for pound/inch for inch athletes I have ever seen. However, I’ve never been overly enthusiastic about his possible contributions to the Knicks and probably even advocated trading him from time to time.

    I am changing my mind.

    I sense significant improvment in his level of maturity combined with a will and desire to be a much better player that we can only hope spreads among some of our other young players. I think he’s going to be an absolutely terrific backup and add a lot of intangibles to this team. IMO, we are very lucky to have him!

    Does anyone else sense the change?

  23. jon abbey

    Robinson seems like a very good fit to D’Antoni’s style, I was surprised that Phoenix gave up his rights to us on draft day (although now that I realize we also took the corpse of Quentin Richardson, it makes more sense).

  24. Z-man

    I have long expressed that Nate was, in my opinion, potentially the Knick’s best player, and now a system is in place that will maximize his talents. If he can get his 3-pt % up to 40% on 4-5 attempts a game, he will be tough to game plan against. His height is an issue on D in the half-court game, but if he can play smart and under control, he can dominate in transition both ways.

  25. Ess-dog

    Get ready for Knicks / Raptors tomorrow at 7pm:
    Please return to your regularly scheduled fall/winter of your discontent.
    As for Nate-Dogg… “if he can play smart” is a huge if..
    I haven’t seen any improvement in that category since he got into the league. I’m all for having a good time, but it looks like he’s playing 3 on 3 YMCA street-ball out there. I do think he will fit well into the system though. All I know is, come November, someone is going to be griping about playing time. My money’s on Marbaby.

  26. Thomas B.

    “if we use PER then an above average player has a PER over 15 as the average NBA PER is 15, yes?”
    no, an above average starter, not player. do we have anyone who would be in the top 15 at their position? possibly Lee at center, I think that’s it.
    also, PER doesn’t include defense, which drops Zach Randolph quite a bit in the real world.

    It is hard to respond when I cant nail down what you mean.
    An “above average starter.” I took that to me a starter who is above average. I take it that you meant the average of all starting players. Well fine even if you did mean that, how do we define average? We cant use PER since it does not take defense into account. I’m not a stat head, what stat tracks the total value of the player? Roland rating? We need good parameters for this discussion. Otherwise this becomes subjective. I’m smart enough to know that I cant persuade a person to change their mind if they base their decision on subjective factors such as their own view of average (nothing wrong with that btw). It’s just hard to discuss this with you when I dont know what average means to you.

    Its almost like being interviewed by Fox News. They ask a question, you try to answer, they tell you that you are wrong because you didnt respond to their definition of “financial crisis.” Of course they don’t define the term until after you answer and they tell you that you are wrong. I bet you’re dating Greta Van Susteren aren’t you? :-)

  27. Thomas B.

    I sense significant improvment in his level of maturity combined with a will and desire to be a much better player that we can only hope spreads among some of our other young players. I think he’s going to be an absolutely terrific backup and add a lot of intangibles to this team. IMO, we are very lucky to have him!
    Does anyone else sense the change?

    Yes. In my long list of Knicks beliefs, I noted my belief that Nate Robinson has matured. I hope I’m right. If he gets his head together he can be a very dangerous player. He just has to stay out of his own way.

    Do you think Marbury has matured or is he just playing nice? I read he did reach out to teammates to discuss any problems they may have with him. I take that as a good sign. If he is in shape and his head is together he could be a dangerous player too (also one of my beliefs).

  28. Thomas B.

    Robinson seems like a very good fit to D’Antoni’s style, I was surprised that Phoenix gave up his rights to us on draft day (although now that I realize we also took the corpse of Quentin Richardson, it makes more sense).

    I was somewhat suprised but not shocked. My initial thought was, there must be something very wrong with Q, if Thomas is trading for him. But I figured Nate must be something special becasue Thomas was involved. Thomas did the same with David Lee by taking Rose but getting the pick that became Lee. ANyway, the Suns wanted to unload the Q-Rich project to make room for the blossoming, later fattening, currently congealing Boris Diaw. They had to throw in a pick to move Q’s contact. The Suns dont seem to mind selling picks. They seem to prefer picking up a cheap vet rather than signing a two year deal with an unknown asset. The move was consistent with their recent draft approach.

  29. jon abbey

    of course it’s subjective to an extent, we’re talking hoops, not rocket science.

    if you really think that there’s a Knick starter who’s better than an average NBA starter (meaning, I’d think pretty obviously to a smart Rutgers boy like yourself, in the top 15 starters in the league) besides Lee at C (who has no track record there), then tell us who and I’m sure someone will be glad to list 15 guys better.

    it looks like the candidates are Randolph at PF, Jamal at SG and Duhon at PG, maybe Q at SF. it’s pretty clear that Q and Duhon are towards the bottom (which doesn’t mean that Duhon isn’t an upgrade from what NY had last year), Randolph actually makes the team worse and Jamal is pretty universally despised here (I like him more than most).

    so, any nominees?

  30. Owen

    Well, here are some elements of a best case scenario.

    Lee splits the difference of his stats the last two years, while being guarded by the opposing team’s center. He plays 3000 minutes, is top ten in rebounding and scores 17 points per game on 58% ts%. He is one of the top 15 most productive pf-c’s in the NBA,(at least in my WOW estimation.)

    Randolph, who was marginally above average last year other than on defense, plays a little better on both ends. Playing at a higher pace, there are more shots to go round, and he doesn’t feel the need to dominate the ball.

    Nate crosses the average mark and hits Barbosa levels of productivity, which in my book is decent.

    Q returns to his form of two years ago, when he grabbed 7 rebounds per game and scored at an above league average ts%.

    Duhon and Marbury give average levels of productivity, as they have shown themselves capable of in their careers.

    Jamal plays a little better than he did last year, hitting 55% ts% for the first time in his careers, and dialing back the matador defense.

    Chandler and Gallinari don’t amaze, but surpass expectations and give the Knicks some quality minutes.

    Jerome James awakens, and eats up some minutes in the frontcourt providing a crude semblance of a defensive presence.

    Eddy Curry breaks his leg on the last day of training camp. (seriously, has anyone looked at his =/- in the last two years. Unbelievably bad, and I put no stock in the stat. -10.1 and -11.6. Just amazing)

    Jared Jeffries recovers fully from his injury, thrives in the system, and gets back to being the marginally above average low usage role player he was in Washington.

    Nobody gets too badly injured

    The Knicks, after one of the worst seasons on and off the court in any franchises history, put aside their personal agendas, (taking as many shots as possible in order to get the biggest contract possible), think of Ted Nelson, and actually start to play some semblance of team basketball. Because they know their fans will kill them if they don’t

    That’s what I can think of. I could see 40 wins in this scenario. And I assign it a 1.5% chance of happening.

  31. Ben R

    Going by PER we would end up looking like a pretty solid team but unfortunatly PER overrates exactly the kind of player we have in abundance. High volume scorers, regardless of efficiency look good according to PER.

    That is why Randolph has looked good his whole career, he scores alot and then to look even better rebounds alot, unfortunatly he varies from barely average to below average when it comes to efficiency, on top of that he tends to hold the ball too much and play outside of the offense, so he actually makes his teammates worse by disrupting flow.

    Crawford is another player that has spent his whole career ranging from below average to barely average in terms of efficiency. He also has a tendancy to play outside the offense but I think that is actually more due to bad offensive systems than his own personal shortcomings. Marbury another high volume scorer tends to hold the ball too long also disrupting flow and has been average or below in efficiency most of his career as well.

    The only bright side is if D’Antoni’s system really works and Crawford, Randolph and Marbury all hit close to career highs in efficiency, Lee plays alot of minutes, Duhon, Nate and Richardson’s shooting returns to season before lasts form, Curry keeps his turnovers at this years rate while shooting like year before last and Chandler plays like he did at the end of last year then we could have a very good offense.

    That offense paired with the bad defense we will definately have could result in us being a 40 win team with good offense and bad defense.

    The only problem is that alot of things must go right just to have us reach average, more likely a couple of players will do well in the new system and a couple of players will struggle and instead our offense will improve to average while our defense is still terrible and we win 30 games.

    Remember we were actually worse than a 23 win team last year, it took a three game win streak at the end of the season to not end up as the 2nd or 3rd worst team in the NBA.

  32. Italian Stallion
    I sense significant improvment in his level of maturity combined with a will and desire to be a much better player that we can only hope spreads among some of our other young players. I think he’s going to be an absolutely terrific backup and add a lot of intangibles to this team. IMO, we are very lucky to have him!Does anyone else sense the change?

    Yes. In my long list of Knicks beliefs, I noted my belief that Nate Robinson has matured. I hope I’m right. If he gets his head together he can be a very dangerous player. He just has to stay out of his own way.
    Do you think Marbury has matured or is he just playing nice? I read he did reach out to teammates to discuss any problems they may have with him. I take that as a good sign. If he is in shape and his head is together he could be a dangerous player too (also one of my beliefs).

    I don’t believe Marbury has matured. I think he has realized that the new management team is willing to sit his ass or send him home if he doesn’t behave. He also knows that to have any kind of career in the NBA next year, he’s got to behave and get playing time in order to demonstrate he’s still got some game.

  33. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    That’s what I can think of. I could see 40 wins in this scenario. And I assign it a 1.5% chance of happening.

    Optimist!

    BTW the best case scenario for Eddy Curry is that he scores a bunch of points off the bench – enough points to make other teams give him a look.

    Am I the only one that thinks Curry will do well in D’Antoni’s system? Or at least well by his standards? For the last few years the Knick offense has consisted of giving Curry the ball in the post & have the rest of the team stay glued in place. You’d imagine he’d get the ball in better situations with D’Antoni.

  34. Owen

    Add it to the list of emerging plotlines, Eddy Curry thrives in seven seconds or less offense.

    I give the market a better chance of finishing flat for the year though than of that happening.

    I have to say, I have been so down on the Knicks all year, but for some bizarre reason I am starting to get excited about the season. It’s really strange and I don’t fully understand it, but I am actually getting psyched to win 33 games, with little hope of improvement for the foreseeable future.

  35. Italian Stallion

    I’d like to take an informal poll. ;-)

    Which will melt down first?

    A. The U.S. Financial System

    B. Stephon Marbury coming off the bench.

  36. mase

    “Jerome James awakens, and eats up some minutes in the frontcourt providing a crude semblance of a defensive presence. ”

    hopefully he never plays another game and we get a medical exemption.
    if it werent for the 2 games he played last season we would be rid of him, his salary would be off the books.

    looking ahead, Curry could succeed in this season big time!
    thats something to look forward to; see also Lee, Chandler, nate and jeffries(how about that starting 5? it has speed and size)

    I dont think Crawford will succeed as well as advertised unless he plays the point which he wont because of Duhon/collins are better decision makers. It makes me wonder if the addition of Duhon will hurt Crawford’s minutes more than Marbury’s.

    I have almost no hope for Zach, he is the antichrist of the 7 second offense, aside from screen and rolls he is useless in this system.

    there are reasons to be optimistic this season because there are so many x-factors, i think it will come down to who understands the coach’s offense best.

  37. Ben R

    Mike K – I agree about Curry. I see this offense as the perfect fit for his offensive skill set. If he can actually get in good enough shape to play in this offense he will have the oportunity to put up very good numbers.

    Curry’s biggest offensive problems happen after the double teams come, theoretically in D’Antoni’s we will shoot too fast for anyone to have time to double Curry.

    His explosivness combined with his good speed will make an in shape Curry a very good weapon in this system. He does have to get in very good shape for it to work though. Maybe being in shape will also help on the defensive end because he will be able to stay with his man better.

    What is happening to me?

    I am getting all optimistic and unrealistic, Thomas B must have slipped me some of his kool-aid. I am actually looking forward to tonight.

  38. TDM

    Regarding the Knicks competing in the East, more bad news for Washington. Not only is Arenas out until at least December with his third knee surgery in less than 2 years, but it looks like they have lost Brendan Haywood for 4-6 months. Doctors have indicated that he needs surgery on his wrist.

  39. ess-dog

    maybe now we can trade Big Snacks Curry to the Wiz for junk and draft picks… just a thought…

  40. glidernyc

    I don’t believe Marbury has matured. I think he has realized that the new management team is willing to sit his ass or send him home if he doesn’t behave. He also knows that to have any kind of career in the NBA next year, he’s got to behave and get playing time in order to demonstrate he’s still got some game.

    I agree. If he is a better teammate this season it will only be because of selfish reasons. His annual pre-season quotes of being a different, more mature guy are pretty played out at this point. He says the same stuff every year. Reminds me of how Daryl Strawberry used to come into Met camp each year proclaiming his “rededication” to the game. By my count, at this point, Marbury is at the Triple Secret Rededication stage.

  41. ess-dog

    man, the Blazers could go to the show THIS YEAR they look so good. Fernandez, Roy, Outlaw, Aldridge and Oden will prove to be a dominant starting 5. Gawd! I’m so jealous. At least our team can take some credit for helping build that future juggernaut.

  42. Captain Merlin

    yeehaw, first preseason game tonight. Time to vitalize that Houston-Grunfeld-James-Pej-Roberson lineup. Yeah, the one that will lead the team to glory over the regular season.

  43. jcon

    Watching the game right now and I can tell this much: They may not win, but they will be alot more entertaining this year.

    They have already run about 15 more pick and rolls than they did all last year and one of the with Crawford and Chandler unleashed a Chandler for a nice facial jam on Oneal.

  44. Italian Stallion

    Yea, you can actually see that they have some plays (LOL) – unlike last year when it looked like a bunch of strangers playing together for the first time.

  45. Owen

    Halftime comments -

    The Knicks looked pretty good in the first half. So far, I feel good about the seaso.

    Lee looks excellent. (got to start with that) He and Randolph are pairing very well on the offensive end. Lee fed Randolph for all three of his foul shooting opportunities. And Randolph returned the favor once. On the defensive end they look just ok. Nobody can guard Bosh.

    Randolph has taken nine shots, ton of rebounds, and has four turnovers, having thrown an outlet pass out of bounds and gotten stripped by Calderon under his own basket.

    Wilson Chandler is looking extremely good out there.

    So is Marbury. Looks very quick and strong out there, seeking contact in the lane.

    Duhon stuggling. Many turnovers.

    Nate probably looking for his shot a little too much, but had a few good moves.

    Many mentions by Mike Breen of the fact that “your stats will get padded in this system.”

    So far very positive start

  46. TDM

    The Knicks have shot 24 FTs by half time, to Toronto’s 9. That’s a nice change. However, 0-12 of their 3Ps. Ugh. . . more of the same.

  47. Thomas B.

    of course it’s subjective to an extent, we’re talking hoops, not rocket science.
    if you really think that there’s a Knick starter who’s better than an average NBA starter (meaning, I’d think pretty obviously to a smart Rutgers boy like yourself, in the top 15 starters in the league) besides Lee at C (who has no track record there), then tell us who and I’m sure someone will be glad to list 15 guys better.
    so, any nominees?

    Other than Lee Let’s see…
    Are there 15 centers better than Curry (if Lee does not start)? Well maybe not in the WNBA.
    15 PFs better than Zach? Well since you insist on including defense (like that matters) then no he is not better than average.
    15 starting SF’s better than Q? I could name about 28 maybe more.
    SG. Crawford might be at or slightly above the average 2. Maybe?
    PG. Duhon, see the response to Q.

  48. Italian Stallion

    From this one game I can already tell that Lee will be a better player this year than last year.

  49. Owen

    The Knicks have a bunch of around average players who are overrated because of their high scoring totals. And they have Lee. That’s pretty much the story.

  50. jon abbey

    taped the Knicks, will watch some or all later.

    “man, the Blazers could go to the show THIS YEAR they look so good. Fernandez, Roy, Outlaw, Aldridge and Oden will prove to be a dominant starting 5. Gawd! I’m so jealous. At least our team can take some credit for helping build that future juggernaut.”

    I think Webster might start over Outlaw, so he can be the sixth man, and Fernandez might come off the bench too in favor of Blake (a real PG, Fernandez is more of a SG). they’ve also got Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez as backup PG options, and Przybilla should fill out the rotation if everyone’s healthy. they’ve got at least a couple of years window with that team, I can’t wait.

  51. Captain Merlin

    Lee has looked very sound tonight, even popping out to about 20 feet a couple times and not mucking it up too terribly. If he has that sort of jumper figured out over the season, he might be sparkle in the shitbed that draws me to the garden to catch a few games.

  52. Italian Stallion

    The Knicks have a bunch of around average players who are overrated because of their high scoring totals. And they have Lee. That’s pretty much the story.

    By the end of the year they will have at least 2 good players. Chandler will be the second and we can still hope that Gallinari will be the third.

  53. Italian Stallion

    I think they played a little better in the first half. There was better ball movement and they were getting better shots. In the second half, they are getting their shots off quickly, but they often aren’t good shots. It was more or less rush and chuck.

  54. Owen

    Lee is a great player. He has had two consecutive seasons near the top of the league rebounding charts and with a 60%+ ts%. There is a very good possibility that people will notice it this year if D’Antoni does the intelligent thing and gives him the 38-40 minutes per game it’s been obvious he deserves for a long time.

    Zach Randolph. I hate him. I had forgot how much, what with his WP48 at least being above average last year. 5-13 with four turnovers, jacked up 3 threes, bah….

  55. Italian Stallion

    Randolph is very frustrating because he has plenty of talent. He just makes some very bad shooting decisions. They should just forbid him from shooting any 3s unless the shot clock is about to expire. If he does, bench him. That alone would improve his efficiency.

  56. daaarn

    I guess this is to further evaluate the players, but it seems like D’antoni is playing the starters a bit long for a preseason game.

  57. Owen

    If he had talent he would score more efficiently, it’s as simple as that.

    In the last five years, he hasn’t sniffed a 55% ts%, which is the minimum for an elite frontcourt player.

    Randolph understood something very basic when he came into the league. Take a lot of shots, score a lot of points, and someone will pay you a lot of money, whether you help your team win or not.

    It got him 13 million per. Why should he change now?

    By the way, he took and made a half court shot at the end of the game and padded his totals. The man loves money and he loves to shoot, who can blame him?

  58. Italian Stallion

    Owen,

    I really can’t agree with you on the talent issue. Part of this game is mental. He has the physical talent, but he doesn’t have a high basketball IQ. I think the only way to get him under control and improve his efficiency is to simply bench him whenever he shoots a 3 pointer. There are very few PFs in the league that should be shooting 3s and he’s not one of them. Eliminate that and his numbers would look a lot better.

  59. Owen

    IS – His three pointers are irrelevant. They were only 80 of his 1058 fgs last year, and he made 24. Total non-event.

    Talent is as talent does. Zach Randolph is not an efficient, high volume scorer. That’s the way things have been for the last five years and they are unlikely to change.

  60. Z-man

    Plus side: Lee, Nate, Chandler; overall offensive play and effort on court; Zach/Lee chemistry, rebounding

    Minus side: Perimeter and interior D efficiency; Duhon (clearly a backup at best)

    Jury’s out: Q, Steph, Jamal

    Overall sense: They will be way more entertaining to watch. The ball moved much better than last year, especially when Lee and Zach got a defensive board. Defense currently looks too weak to beat good teams.

    Toronto appears to be very good this year. Bargnani looked better. Who’s this guy Humphries?

  61. Z

    “Overall sense: They will be way more entertaining to watch.”

    You don’t learn too much from preseason. Last year the Knicks went 4-3. They beat the Celtics in preseason. And that was smack in the middle of the sexual harassment trial with distractions at their highest.

    We all know how the real season went last year. The same players are all back.

  62. jon abbey

    Sign Lee to an extension before the season, Donnie!
    It will save you a lot of money!

    yeah, I agree with that, it’s quite obvious at this point if it wasn’t before. he might lead the league in rebounding this year if he gets the minutes.

    Chandler looked good also, I’m becoming a believer in him. Duhon couldn’t have been worse, but I’m pretty sure that’s an anomaly.

    the main problem with D’Antoni trying to bring this system to the Knicks is that it’s so reliant upon three point shooters, and we really don’t have many of those. Nate will be key because of this (maybe he’ll end up as the starting PG at some point?), and maybe Gallinari has that kind of range once he’s healthy. but if we have to see Q shoot 6 or 8 threes a game all year, it’s going to be a long season (well, it is anyway, but you get my point).

    and no, that doesn’t mean that Allan Houston should make the team.

  63. Italian Stallion

    IS – His three pointers are irrelevant. They were only 80 of his 1058 fgs last year, and he made 24. Total non-event.
    Talent is as talent does. Zach Randolph is not an efficient, high volume scorer. That’s the way things have been for the last five years and they are unlikely to change.

    I wasn’t literally talking just 3 pointers, but that’s a great place to start. He should be benched every time he takes a 3 pointer unless the shot clock was running out.

    He has a decent mid range game. Anything past 15 feet or so is a problem and he needs to have that drilled into his head. (BENCH HIM)

    IMO, a mid range game is a valuable tool in the skill set of a big man. That’s what makes Lee’s willingness to take a few last night (and hit them) such a positive sign. Defenders won’t be able to sag off him and clog up the middle as much anymore. If Lee shoots those shots when he’s wide open, his scoring will go up, his efficiency will go down, but overall he will be a better player as long as the decision making about WHEN to take the shot is good.

    We have the opposite problem with Zach. He takes too many. If he stopped, his scoring would go down but his efficiency would go up.

  64. Ted Nelson

    Nice best case scenario, Owen, would be a nice change if all the stars will finally align for the Knicks… and thanks for the shout-out.

    The general feeling on the board is strongly pessimistic, and understandably so. However, I join Owen in feeling surprisingly optimistic about this season (despite Walshtoni giving away Balkman before camp even started, and our lottery pick blowing out his back). I have no idea what the win total will be, but like most everyone else I don’t expect it to be particularly impressive (I could see anywhere from 20 to 40, which seems like the accepted worst-case/best-case range). As others have said, what I’m optimistic about is seeing a team that competes every night, isn’t consistently down by 20 in the 1st Q, runs a coherent offensive system, gives some effort on D, and has a future. (An actual NBA basketball team.)

    I’m especially optimistic that if the Knicks can reach those seemingly manageable goals, there will be some interest in their 4 long-term contracts at some point (Randolph, Curry, Jeffries, and Crawford…who I don’t think would be particularly hard to trade right now…). Each has some redeeming qualities as a basketball player and none is “over-the-hill” age wise. I’m feeling pretty good that they can be traded to a team with a need for exactly their skills, playoff/ title contention aspirations, and maybe a desperate/incompetent GM.

    I see Indiana as a promising trading partner between Walsh’s ties there, their abundance of expiring contracts, their playoff aspirations, their reliance on unproven and mediocre players to fill out their rotation, and their potential holes matching up well with the Knicks’ “untradeable” parts (inside scoring, and depth on the wing behind Granger and Dunleavy). Cleveland’s another obvious candidate if they find themselves in 6th place or so at the deadline, although there’s the whole LeBron to NY thing that might get in the way.
    Hard to say how things will play out, but I can definitely see a perfect storm for most teams that could lead them to overpay (or at least pay) for one of the 4.

    Here’s a rough list of sizeable contracts I could see being traded relatively cheaply that expire before offseason 2010 (potential to develop an age/attitude problems in parenthesis):

    Atlanta: (Mike Bibby), Speedy Claxton, Zaza Pachulia
    Boston: Brian Scalabrine, Eddie House, Tony Allen, Patrick O’Bryant
    Charlotte: Adam Morrison, Raymond Felton, Sean May
    Chicago: Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Ben Gordon
    Cleveland: Ben Wallace, Wally Sczcerbiak, (Zydrunas Ilgauskas), Eric Snow, (Anderson Varejao), Aleksander Pavlovic
    Dallas: (Jason Kidd), (Jerry Stackhouse), Devean George, Eddie Jones
    Denver: (Allen Iverson), Steven Hunter, Chucky Atkins
    Detroit: (Antonio McDyess), Kwame Brown
    Golden State: Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson
    Houston: (Ron Artest), Rafer Alston, Chuck Hayes
    Indiana: Radoslav Nesterovic, Marquis Daniels, Jeff Foster, Jarret Jack, Maceo Baston, Travis Diener, Shawne Williams
    LAC: Cat Mobley, (Marcus Camby), Tim Thomas, Eric Gordon, Jason Hart, Ricky Davis, Al Thornton, Jason Williams, Brian Skinner
    LAL: (Lamar Odom), Derek Fisher, Chris Mihm
    Memphis: Antoine Walker, Darko Milicic, Hamed Haddadi, Quinton Ross
    Miami: Mark Blount, Udonis Haslem, James Jones, Dorell Wright, Shaun Livingston, Daequan Cook, Jamal Magloire, Chris Quinn
    Milwaukee: Luke Ridnour, Damon Jones, Tyronn Lue, Adrian Griffin, Malik Allen
    Minnesota: Brain Cardinal, Jason Collins, Randy Foye, Mark Madsen, Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth
    New Jersey: Bobby Simmons, Stromile Swift, Trenton Hassell, Jarvis Hayes, Maurice Ager
    New Orleans: Mike James, Rasual Butler, Hilton Armstrong, Devin Brown, Ryan Bowen, Sean Marks
    OKC: Chris Wilcox, Earl Watson, Desmond Mason, Joe Smith, Robert Swift, Damien Wilkins, Saer Sene, Johan Petro
    Orlando: Tony Battie, Brain Cook, Keith Bogans, JJ Redick, Anthony Johnson, Adonal Foyle
    Philadelphia: Donyell Marshall, Theo Ratliff, Kareem Rush
    Phoenix: (Shaq), (Raja Bell), Matt Barnes, Alando Tucker
    Portland: Raef LaFrentz, Steve Blake, Martell Webster, Ike Diogu
    Sacremento: Brad Miller, Kenny Thomas, Shareef Abdul-Rahim, Bobby Jackson, Mikki Moore, Shelden Williams, Quincy Douby
    San Antonio: (Kurt Thomas), Matt Bonner
    Toronto: (Jermaine O’Neal), Joey Graham
    Utah: Matt Harpring, Jarron Collins, Brevin Knight, Ronnie Price
    Washington: Etan Thomas, Antonio Daniels, Brendan Haywood, DerMarr Johnson, Juan Dixon

  65. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Ted nice list. And if I’m allowed to be optimistic, then I’m going to agree with your assessment that the Knicks will be able to move some of their long term contracts this year. Early on I wanted the team to move Randolph in the preseason, but with the price skewed against the Knicks it is best that they kept him. I think he’ll do well enough in D’Antoni’s offense to gain value on the market and the Knicks will be able to move him by mid-year. And I still have hope that the team will be able to do the same with Curry/Jeffries. I have no hope that they’ll move Crawford, because it seems that Walsh really likes him.

    My dream situation: Randolph is traded after two months for cap relief and Curry steps into the starting lineup. Curry’s counting stats are so good in D’Antoni’s system that a contending team offers an expiring contract for him (and perhaps throws in a future first) for that scoring punch off the bench. The Knicks sign a NBDL guy for the frontcourt depth (Jamal Sampson, Rod Benson, Brandon Wallace, Cheikh Samb) who takes the John Starks route of turning into a decent NBA player.

  66. Duff Soviet Union

    To steal a joke from Bill Simmons, they should make that guy Benson, because even if he sucks he’ll at least boost the traffic to the team website.

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