Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

So Far I See Some Progress…

The Knicks played a pair of games this weekend, and came out with a 1-1 split. I figure I’d split my thoughts between the pros and cons…

PROS:

  • First off I was pleasantly surprised to see the Knicks be competitive early and take the lead at times against the defending Eastern Conference Champs on the road. New York had a 5 point lead going into the fourth quarter. Last year they feel behind early so many times, and folded against the league’s better teams.
  • The most drastic change I’ve noticed is in Jamal Crawford. So far on the season, Crawford has hit 16 of 32 shots, and 15 of 16 free throws. Had he given back to back performances like this last season, I would have chalked it up to luck. Whereas in the past he’d use his shake and bake crossover for creating separation on a 20 foot jumper, he’s now using that same move to get closer to the hoop. Not only is this giving him better shots, but he’s also finding his teammates more. Normally I don’t get excited over 50% shooting over 2 games, but I’ve noticed this change in Jamal during the preseason. If he keeps this up, he could crawl his way out of my doghouse and into my five.
  • Nate Robinson is getting good playing time, at least until he tweaked his hamstring half way through Sunday’s match. Robinson is scoring at a phenomenal rate, and lost at least 2 assists to fumbled passes. Robinson showed he’s taken a major step in his maturation with his hard foul on LeBron. James was going in for an easy layup, and Robinson fouled him the proper way – preventing him from scoring while not crossing the line into a flagrant foul. LeBron even acknowledged the foul by slapping hands with Nate after the play.
  • During the offseason, many people wondered if Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry could co-exist. Much like free markets and communism in China, the two supposedly destructive forces are working fine together. As I said earlier, both players are seeing their scoring dip slightly, but otherwise there is no matter/anti-matter explosions. Randolph’s rebounding on the defensive end is a pleasant addition as well.
  • I like the shortened rotation. Take out Balkman’s 40 seconds in game 1, and you have two 8 man rotations. I couldn’t be more thrilled than to see Malik Rose and Jerome James get 2 DNPs. And while I would love to see Wilson Chandler, Randolph Morris, and Mardy Collins more, if the Knicks are a competitive team, they shouldn’t be giving lots of minutes guys that need to develop. In a way if my choices are not seeing those three in order to keep Rose, Jeffries, and James on the bench, I’m all for it. Letting the Knicks’ main rotation get more familiar with each other early is a good tactic for early in the season. Later on they can ease the rest of the team in.

CONS:

  • You can’t like David Lee getting only 25 minutes a night. Lee has played well in the minutes given to him, but no matter what he does it seems he can’t earn more. He definitely compliments the team better than the duo of Curry & Randolph. There have been so many times that Lee gets himself open close to the hoop, and he’s a strong finisher. Lee also showed a new knack for creating his own shot from the low post. And of course he’s one of the best rebounders in the league.
  • The Knicks are awful on defense – especially on the perimeter. Without further inspection it’s hard to pinpoint the exact problem, but I’ve concentrated on Marbury tonight and he’s definitely one of the culprits. His biggest weakness is staying focused on the defensive end. A handful of times tonight he collapsed towards the middle, and lost track of his guy. Unfortunately Marbury’s man would be found by his teammates for an open trey. New York let Cleveland shoot 54.5% from three, and Minnesota 52.9%. Those are awful numbers, and must improve.
  • Despite all the individual progress, the team hasn’t shown much improvement. While I noted Cleveland is the defending Eastern Conference champs, they’re shorthanded, and some people aren’t predicting them to be amongst the league’s best teams this year. Meanwhile Minnesota is practically last year’s Boston team that won 24 games. Yet the Knicks lost to the first, and the latter had the ball with 11 seconds and was only down by three points. With all this improvement you’d expect a tad more from New York. It’ll be interesting to see how they proceed this week with Denver, Orlando, and Miami.

50 comments on “So Far I See Some Progress…

  1. DNM

    The perimeter D is absolutely horrific, there is no way we can compete with great shooting teams like Toronto or Phoenix (thankfully we only play them twice). Q has yet to show up this year, maybe his back is still hurting. Balkman needs to get into the flow a lot more than he has been.

    The 2nd unit definitely plays harder than the 1st…I don’t know how long Isiah can go with his starters, he has to change up the line up to bring some balance. Right now the “all offense” unit still falls behind in the 1st and 3rd quarters.

  2. birchnbrook

    The Knicks have a ton of talent at this point, and should be good enough to win 41 games. I like the shortened rotation – unless the Knicks are playing a PHX speed, whereupon I’d say play 10 deep – there is no reason (unfortuntately for Balkman) to play more than 8, and maybe 9. Hubie-ball only goes so far, and with this team, guys like Zach need to be out there at least 35 minutes a night. A few points to make:

    1. Curry and Lee must switch minutes distribution, the smiling weasel will never do it. He is so invested in to “proving” he was right about Curry, that he has to play him. I don’t believe the spouting “the best players play” because it simply doesn’t apply to Curry. Just like Dolan is wrongly locked into IT, IT is wrongly locked into Curry. Curry would be FANTASTIC playing 23 minutes a night, subbing for Zach and destroying the league’s 2nd unit 4′s and 5′s. Play him any more than that and his lack of defense and woeful rebounding begin to hurt the team. Lee simply is a perfect complement to Zach and should get more court time.

    2. Marbury needs a good kick in the pants, but he is huge for this team. He is unquestionably the leader of the squad, and had a good season last year. The more he defers, the more the teams wins. He just doesn’t have the leadership qualities or the court sense that J-Kidd does during the ups and downs of a game – when to push, when to let others do their thing. When he is good, though, he is very good.

    3. Nate – the jury is still out, but as a 3rd guard, he looks adequate so far.

    4. QRich – man, what happened to him? He needs to be more aggressive. The Knicks win when he plays well – ’nuff said.

    5. Crawford – in control, and looking good.

    But for a Boobie Gibson splash down (did the Knicks watch the Finals?), the good guys would be 2-0. Prelminary returns look good. Hope is in the air.

  3. Z

    “During the offseason, many people wondered if Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry could co-exist. Much like free markets and communism in China, the two supposedly destructive forces are working fine together. As I said earlier, both players are seeing their scoring dip slightly, but otherwise there is no matter/anti-matter explosions.”

    Yeah– they are not hurting each other, but are they helping much? I think that they are close enough to the same player that you only need one on the court at any given time. You don’t gain much by having them both out there. Lee compliments both Curry and Randolph better than they compliment each other.

    And KB, on the con side should probably be Q after his half hour performance tonight. Friday night he had the excuse of having to guard LeBron James all night. Tonight he had 0 points in an invisible 30 minutes of PT.

  4. Mike Hersh

    Just going to throw out some +/- from tonights game vs. the T-Wolves. Do what you want with them.

    S.Marbury -8
    J.Crawford +1
    Q.Richardson -12
    Z.Randolph -3
    E.Curry +1
    D.Lee +12
    R.Balkman +19
    N.Robinson +10

    The three guys off the bench killing it, like none of us saw that coming. Suprising to see the negatives for steph and z-bo, thought they both played well. 30 minutes and -12 for Q, suprising.

  5. Funky

    While I agree that Crawford’s offense was improvede these past two games, he still dribbles too much and turns the ball over too much (5 tonight).

    On defense, he is the worst perimeter defender on the Knicks (which is saying a lot).

    I’m really hoping we see more Renaldo Balkman. You got to love that +/-.

  6. Ken "The Animal" Bannister

    Would’ve been nice to see Lee get some minutes at SF – especially since he had a reasonable matchup v. Ryan Gomes.

  7. STEVE

    They look like they still have 3 pressing needs:
    1. A true point guard to move the ball into the right spots at the right time; a leader who sometimes must make Zach plant his butt into the post instead of settling for Jumpers. The Steph of 5 years ago, maybe. A younger, faster type who can stay with his man at the perimeter. I think Collins will play a greater role by mid-season, because he fits that bill. If he could shoot a lick, he would have a serious shot at starting for this team.

    2. Another wing player who can hit the 3 ball and open up the paint for Curry. That was supposed to be Q’s job but he’s been lacking early. I suspect his ankle is bothering him more than he is letting on. He’s also probably still shaking off that torch job LeBron did on him on Friday.
    Balkman’s great, but it seems like every team has 3 or 4 guys that consistantly hit the Trey but NY.
    Curry was still being double/triple teamed in the post and they couldn’t get him the ball. Teams know the Knicks are not a good perimeter shooting team, which I still think is going to determine whether they make the playoffs.

    3. A true shot blocker. Someone, anyone. Curry is too heavy, I don’t think he is lazy, he just can’t lift 280 for 35 minutes a night. Shaq was never a great shot blocker (good on the boards, though) in his prime.

    I am probably the only person who believes Jeffries can still help this team. He is long,
    doesn’t care about scoring (he can’t, so no hangups) and is unselfish. He has a golden opportunity to fit a critical defensive role that is going to be there all year. Did I say he was long?.

  8. Who

    I don’t think Jeffries can help this team at all. I’d rather not see him on the court. He’s a very limited player.

    I think Quentin Richardson needs to be dropped from the starting lineup. I can’t pinpoint what he’s doing wrong but the team just looks disjointed whenever he is on the floor. Not enough movement maybe?

    I think Zeke has to be thinking about starting Nate (never thought I’d say that).

    Balkman should start. That starting 5 needs some energy injected and desperately.

    The Curry-Zach combo … gosh I just don’t know. Give it more time and see what develops. Curry is a hard guy to play with and they haven’t had a lot of court time together yet. But I’m still doubtful on it. Curry will have to find more ways to impact a game and I don’t think he’s mentally ready to take that challenge.

    Steph, he’s letting me down. I’ve always been a big fan of his. He has limitations but he also has his strengths. When he was younger he was much better at differentiating the two, now he just seems to rolling through the motions instead of taking the game by the scuff off the neck and controlling it. He’s starting to play like he is on borrowed time and Nate is taking advantage.

    When all is said and done we might have to trade Eddy, Q and replace Steph. We’ll see …. they have a lot to improve on.

  9. Ben R

    I might be the only one but I think the team looks better with Curry/Lee over Randolph/Lee. Everyone is pretty down on Curry but I think he has looked great and much better than Randolph.

    Curry has only three turnovers in two games this year and is shooting 62.5% , while Randolph has 6 turnovers and is shooting 39%. Curry has scored 4 less points on 17 less shots.

    I think Randolph not Curry should be the one coming off the bench.

  10. Brian Cronin

    I was going to make a comment like, “If it was anyone but Isiah Thomas at coach, he would realize that Lee, Balkman and (to a lesser extent) Robinson should be playing a lot more than they have been,” but then I realized, “Wait – we had practically the same exact scenario with Larry Brown, so I guess the Knicks just love coaches who are stubborn beyond belief.”

    Hey, anyone know where (if anywhere) Jackie Butler caught on to after getting cut by Houston?

  11. gmal

    evident- curry has the iq of a potato, continues to be soft on defense, can’t come up with 2 or 3 big stops on his own man and can’t hit even 50% of his foul shots.
    evident- taz is a one trick pony, if he can’t develop a mid range jumper or low post moves then all he is ever gonna be is a second stringer and potential trade bait. His Offensive game is better suited for a more uptempo team where his ball handling skills and speed will give him a long career in this league.
    evident- stephanie, its time to go to italy.

  12. Frank

    Comments from last night —

    Re: Curry — another poor performance from the foul line, but I actually thought that he played relatively well. The Wolves were fronting him in the post and floating someone behind him as well, making it very difficult for him to score on his usual post-ups. He scored most of his hoops and dishes from other players (mostly Crawford) and other such non-iso plays — was nice to see him be able to score in a way other than back man down until he falls down (getting either an offensive or defensive foul called).

    He also got some big rebounds in traffic although he just doesn’t really have a rebounder’s mentality. He just looks at the ball bouncing around sometimes rather than feeling like he owns every ball. I’m still amazed how good a rebounder Randolph is despite having no hops at all. I guess that’s what long arms, positioning, and the will to rebound will do. Curry could learn lots from that guy.

    Other thoughts:

    Q is not the same player as he was — he looked slow on defense and with Curry/Randolph manning the post 100% of the time he loses his ability to post up as well. I think he has to go to the bench and let Balkman take over in the starting lineup. The lineup needs a guy who doesn’t want shots, can fill the lane and finish with speed and power, and can defend multiple positions. Marbury, Crawford, Randolph, and Curry do none of those things.

    That being said, we won the game, and I think a pattern is developing. I think our team is going to be might difficult to stop on offense. There is really so much offensive talent on this team. Positives include shooting 77% from the line as team on 30 something FTs and 48% from the field — that is solid. We got manhandled on the defensive boards but that got better as the game went on. Crawford threw up some bad shots but still shot 8-15 from field, 7-8 from the line, and had 7 assists. The 5 TOs were no good but I think there were 2 palming violations called and 1-2 travels, so at least it’s not stupid passes, presumably that won’t happen every game. And Curry again had just 2 TOs, both on charges which to my eye were obviously flops by Theo Ratliff (who is down for 2 blocks in the box score but to me looked like he blocked about 8 shots).

    The negatives —

    1) it is obvious that Nate and David Lee need to be on the floor much more. Lee needs about 32 minutes a game and Nate again played great. He deserves at least 25 minutes/game with how under control he is playing. Not sure at who’s expense his minutes will come (both Crawford and Marbury played well last night, with Stephon getting 7 assists against just 1 TO, shot well from the line, and did a respectable job on Telfair), but maybe both Crawford and Marbury could play 35 minutes and Nate picks up the 7-8 minutes spillover in addition to the 17-20 minutes he’s getting now.

    2) Soft interior D – there were so many times where Curry and Randolph didn’t even put up a hand to a shooter 5-8 feet from the basket. Not sure why it is so hard to contest every shot! I can’t imagine Isiah doesn’t see that live and on film, but you never know with him. And they made Craig Smith look like the next coming of Kevin McHale.

    3) 3 point defense – better than the previous game — the only guy that really shot wide open all night was Gomes, who I’d be happy with shooting 3′s (although he did shoot 3-4).

    Anyway, I thought it was a good win. More positives than negatives.

  13. Mike

    Ben R nailed it about Curry and Zach. Curry has been a plus (+3) in both games and Zach has been a negative (-6) in both games.

  14. Owen

    Mike – Minnesota might be the worse team in the league this year. Beating them by 4 is nothing to be impressed with.

    I was shocked looking at Randolph’s line. 6-18, no steals, no blocks, no assists, 10 boards, and 3-5 from the ft line.

    I don’t know how this can work, having your starting power forward out there pretending he is a shooting guard. He has a ts% of 41% through the first two games.

    His rebounding has been excellent, which makes up somewhat for his failings as a scorer, but really it’s just a ridiculous approach. Even Karl Malone, who could hit a jump shot, made a lot of hay at the foul line. He went to the line 10 times per 40 in his career. That’s the only way you be a jumpshooting power player in the NBA. It’s pretty much impossible to shoot well enough to make it work that way alone…

    Crawford looks good on offense so far. He deserves high praise for his ts% of 63%. And as many commentators have pointed out, that comes at the foul line. Great offense in the NBA happens at the foul line. It’s too hard to score at a high percentage otherwise. And his turnovers have been fine, 3 per 40. I do wonder how he played 40 minutes and only had one rebound.

    I don’t know what is up with Q, but he is stinking up the joint, big time.

    Steph actually had a nice line last night, WS of 8.5, well above average…

    Add me to the list that thinks the second unit is better than the first unit. I think I have been on that list for about nine months now, but put me down in in blood this time…

  15. IMissBernardKing

    The interior defense is just as putrid as the perimeter defense — except when Lee and Balkman are in the game at the same time. They had a few nice moments on defense that led to transition baskets. Craig Smith was destroying them inside. Craig Smith!??!!??? With the addition of Randolph Im afraid the team needs a more defensive minded low post presence than Curry (perhaps Morris can develop into something resembling that?).

    Looks like the same-old same-old to me from last year. virtually the same team without the blight of Steve Francis and with a second option in the low post.

  16. IMissBernardKing

    Given Q’s propensity to get injured, I would think moving him to the bench would make sense and give us an off-the-bench scorer who can rebound. Right now he looks terrible. Good thing we have 3 dead weight guys on the roster and no Demetris Nichols to develop into a scoring, rebounding and tough defending SF. Thank god we have Big Snacks, Malik Rose and Jared Jeffires there.

    I agree though that moving Curry is something the team should consider (although that wont happen until Zeke is out). He has value and probably would be best served in a 2nd unit designated post scorer capacity. Great 7th man. Crappy guy for 35 min a night though due to his one-dimensional game.

  17. Mr. Black

    IMissBenard King,

    I would have liked to keep Nochols as well but I dont think he would have ever become a tough defender. Thomas routinely blasted Nichols’ defense in practice. Plus, not to sterotype, the guy was an Orange Man. The ‘Cuse are know for being great mam to man defenders.

    Frank,

    I agree with everything you said most of all the point about getting 5-8 more minutes a game for David Lee. How does IT accomplish that? Does he split the minutes available at center and PF evenly, then Curry, Randolph, and Lee all get 32 per game. But if what BIRCHNBROOK said is true, that being IT is locked into Curry’s success, they only way to keep Curry’s numbers down is if he is foul trouble.

    What do you guys think about cutting back Q’s time by about 5 minues a game and letting Lee play a few minutes with Curry and Zach. I know that Lee doesnt have the range to play SF fulltime, but this should not be a problem in short bursts. I think for those five minutes Lee will have to play much like Balkman does. He needs to slash/crash for scores. With Curry and Randolph on the floor Lee wont be able to post up (Lee suprised me with the effective post moves last night).

    About the perimeter defense:

    I see three big problems, (1) the guards do not fight over screens, (2) the defensive spacing is poor (e.g. playing passing lanes instead of playing the man), (3) I dont think the defensive communication is very good. It is great to contest a shot but it’s better to be with the shooter when he cathces instead of when he releases. I often see Marbury, Crawford, and Robinson trying to figure out which of two players to defend when the ball is in the post. That brings up another thing, can we do a better job of harrassing the post player so he cant easily find the open outside shooter?

    Mike Hersch,

    Thank you for the plus minus info. Not to take anything away from Balkman, whom I love to see on the floor, but is his +12 the result of playing against Minny’s not so good reserve unit. Look, I think our second unit good be one of the best out there, but do they just take advantage of weaker benches or are they really better than the starters? It is clear from two games that the team plays much better when Robinson, Balkman, and Lee are on the floor.

  18. Owen

    Howard Beck, or the editors at the Times, are a joke. The header for the Knicks piece was,

    “Zach Randolph, making his home debut, sealed the Knicks? first victory of the season with one big rebound and one critical free throw in the final seconds.”

    Really? He sealed the game by grabbing a rebound and making 1-2 free throws?

    How about, “he made it very difficult to defeat the worst team in the league by going 6-18 from the field.”

    It’s just weird to me how reporters work. Obviously, the story of the game was going to be Randolph’s debut, no matter how he played. He waited until the very end of the article to note,

    “For the second game in a row, it was the Knicks? bench that rallied them. Robinson, David Lee and Renaldo Balkman started the second quarter and orchestrated a 29-13 run that saved the Knicks from an early disaster.”

    The Knicks were down 28-21 at the start of the second quarter, and led by 5 at the end of it…

  19. bmj320

    I agree Q needs to come off the bench or have his minutes cut back. He doesn’t look totally healthy and I believe he is taking precious minutes away from Chandler who I believe in a couple of years will be the starting small forward. Balkman should start now at the 3 and Chandler should be his backup. Q should see only time at the 2 backing up Crawford. Realisticly, until the Knicks get a defensive presense in the middle the might make the playoffs but will not go very far. They have the worse interior defense I have ever seen with the big men that they have. They should have looked to pick up Magloire this summer.

  20. Mr. Black

    Owen,

    Point taken. How about you author an objective piece on the game?

    Sports writers each bring their own perspective to the article, lets see yours. Let me gues how it might start….

    KNICKS MAKE FEWER MISTAKES THAN WOLVES,
    BARELY WIN HOME OPENER

    New York- Christmas came early for the Knicks as they were given a true treat; they faced one of the few teams that make more mistakes than they do. This gift came from the Minnesota Timberwolves, yet it seemed that the Knicks were looking for a gift reciept as they did everything they could think of to give this win back.

    Zach Randolph headed the trip to the “Returns/Refunds” line by shooting an anemic 6-18 from the floor. Zach didnt really need a gift, his stocking was full of bricks. Not far behind, with gift reciept in hand, was Jamal Crawford, his 25 points may have looked like he wanted to keep Minny’s gift but those 5 turnovers and terrible defense shows me otherwise. Thankfully, Antoine Walker showed up to declare, “Sorry, all sales final” with his brick from 25 feet. And with that, the Knicks were stuck with their win. Maybe they can still sell it on Ebay.
    —————————–

    I’m just kidding. I’m not trying to pick a fight.
    I just think its funny how we knicks fans have been hurt for so long that we cant even enjoy a win and the good words that follow it.

    BTW, I dont think it was Randolph’s 6-18 from the floor that was the big problem. Yes he forced some shots and fell in love with the 17 footer. The problem was the poor defensive rebounding, poor perimeter defense, and the mental mistakes (Curry’s lay up attemp with 15 seconds to play. Though, he might have been thinking, “let me try to shoot this before they fould me and I miss both free throws”.

  21. tastycakes

    Not sure why folks are down on Z-Bo after a poor shooting performance. He was pretty solid in Game 1. Furthermore, jump shots are his game. Everyone seems to think that there’s something anomalous about a big man taking all these 15-18 footers, but he hits them with a pretty high degree of accuracy, most of the time. He is also a more dangerous offensive weapon because of his versatility.

    Of course I’m not pleased with the lack of dimes, steals or blocks in Game 2, but he has passed the ball more than I initially expected.

    The second unit last night — with Lee, Robinson, and Balkman on the floor — was so much superior to the first unit.. I was surprised that Isiah went back to the starters at the end, which of course helped the Wolves get back into things. We haven’t really seen D Lee at the 3, but I’d rather have him out there with Curry and Z-Bo than Q-Rich (who has been awful).

    I never thought Lil Nate would turn into a legit NBA player, but he’s been awfully solid. Dude is an intelligent player who clearly has the desire to get better, and is showing that he deserves to be out on the floor. Of course, he doesn’t help WRT our defensive deficiencies.

  22. tastycakes

    Mr. Black — hilarious.

    Of course we all know that the Knicks are fatally flawed but just ache to see true progress. As I watched last night, I kept thinking, “This is a team the Knicks should blow out.” Wouldn’t it be nice to see them play dominant basketball for once? I can’t remember the last time they did.

    One positive is that in two games I can’t recall them ever seeming overmatched, which happened far too frequently last year (way too many bad starts with the second unit scraping the team back into the game).

    Anyway, I like the product, I just hope they gel in unexpected ways. So far it looks fairly status quo. I’m a Z-Bo fan (it helps having him on my fantasy squadron two years running). D Lee, Balkman, Nate, Jamal .. those are guys I can root for. Curry has been alright. Steph is our Achilles Heel.

  23. DMull

    Balkman needs to start and Nate/Lee need more minutes – couldn’t agree more, this is so obvious. Also couldn’t agree more with the poor spacing on the floor…seems as if no one gives up as many open looks from downtown as we do. A lot of this is probably a problem with how bad most of our interior defenders are…the guards are constantly trying to give them help and then forced to sprint back to their open man after a kick out or swing pass.

    Also, everyone citing all these statistics through two games – the sample size is way too small to extract any type of meaningful conclusions. It would be like watching Derek Jeter go 0-8 in the first two games next season – it doesn’t mean he won’t start hitting. Z-bo is a career 46% shooter and he’ll likely end up somewhere around there when it’s all said and done. I too would like to see him taking it to the basket a little more too, but the man can shoot it.

    An interesting test tomorrow with Denver.

  24. bmj320

    Being that Okafor declined the Bobcats offer, could the Knicks make a play for him? Doesn’t Curry have an opt out option coming up? Im sorry, I’m tired of Curry and his one-dimensional play send him to a team that needs low post scoring. How perfect would Okafor be next to Randolph.

  25. Mr. Black

    Tastycakes,

    This team needs to take baby steps. Yes, on paper we should have blown the Wolves out, but last year we would have dropped a game like this one. On paper, we should have beaten the Bobcats everytme out last year.

    I think it is a good sign that we found a way to win a winnable game at home. This is how a team builds confidence, by winning games they should win. I think it would be harmful for the team to beat Minny by 18. This team needs to learn that it cant coast and if it seems to easy they just might start coasting. They need to realize that they are not good enough to beat teams with average effort. They need to dive for loose balls, fight for rebounds, and for the love of GOD CLOSE OUT ON THE SHOOTERS!!!

  26. Owen

    Field goal percentage is a misleading statistic. Not as misleading as points per game, but not all that useful, especially with a player like Randolph.

    Zach Randolph has a career TS% of 51.9%. That is the critical statistic. It reflects the fact that he doesn’t get to the line very much. He had a few bad years due to injury, so you can argue he should be slightly better than that. But he was at 53.7 last year, which was a very good year for him, so it probably isn’t reasonable to expect him to be much better than that. Caleb and I in fact have a bet on whether he will go higher than 54% this year. He had one year, 02-3, when he was at 55.5. Other than that, sort of abysmal. For the Knicks, a lot depends on Caleb winning that bet.

    Zach is a good mid range jump shooter, but that is by far the least efficient way to score points on a basketball court. If you are going to shoot the ball, you should be shooting from three. It’s hard to make a living just inside the three point line.

    I have said it before, what is good about Randolph is his rebounding, not his scoring. His scoring is actually very pedestrian and always has been. He has been slightly more efficient than Jamal Crawford as a scorer, a little less efficient that Marbury, if that puts things in perspective.

    He needs to score as least as well as he did last year for him to be a productive player at all for us. Really, for him to be a star, he has to score better.

    And from what I have seen in the first two games I don’t see it happening. As much as the jump shot is mythologized, it does in fact get easier to score the closer you get to the hoop. And Curry is the man who is close to the hoop right now.

    Since the second the trade happened that has been the question lurking menacingly in the background. With Curry on the block, how does Randolph score efficiently?

    My thesis remains that he can’t. And the first two games are somewhat strong small sample size evidence of that. I think its very possible, although I know its just two games, that Zandolph is headed for the kind of season he had from 2003-6, where his ts% was just 50.7.

  27. John

    Knickerblogger,

    Will you be posting your stats for the 07/08 season like you did last year? Please say yes

  28. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    John – yes. Spent a few hours this weekend working on it. Will try to get it up asap.

    “It?s just weird to me how reporters work. Obviously, the story of the game was going to be Randolph?s debut, no matter how he played.”

    This is very true. I’ve learned it first hand.

  29. xduckshoex

    “Curry is too heavy, I don?t think he is lazy, he just can?t lift 280 for 35 minutes a night. Shaq was never a great shot blocker (good on the boards, though) in his prime.”

    Shaq is 9th all-time in total blocks and 13th all-time in blocks per game. He wasn’t Mark Eaton, but he was very good.

  30. brian quinnett's left nipple

    we’re using stats and analyses that isiah (and, to be fair, 75% of coaches in the nba) don’t even know exist and couldn’t care less if they did. they’ll tell you that +/- is a hockey stat, not basketball, and that PPG and RPG is what you look at. simpleminded, yes, but have you seen an NBA team’s offense recently?

    in isiah’s mind (and in the minds of most NBA coaches), marbury > nate, crawford > nate, q-rich > balkman, and you know how it goes with lee.

    does it make sense? no. can we change it? no.

    they’ll say that lee, nate and balkman “bring energy and enthusiasm to the game and the team rides that” but not see that it’s so much more than that. we live in a cliched world.

    it’s a shame because it’s so obvious how much better we are with them on the court.

    damn.

  31. Funky

    Just to throw this out there- I think that if we can expect anybody on our beloved bench to get more minutes as the season goes on, it will be Nate. Isiah has called him “the best player on the floor in practice.” That’s pretty high praise.

  32. Larry

    You said it well with Marbury. It looked like especially against Gibson that he was indecisive as to do a full-blown double team on LeBron James and that by the time he realized what to do, it was too late – either James had begun his move to the basket or had found Gibson open in the corner where he had ample time to set his feet, square up and shoot it.

  33. Mr. Black

    Larry,

    I agree. Its not just Marbury. Crawford and Robinson do that as well. The problem is that when the Knick backcourt leaves to double the post, they do not fully commit to harrassing the post player. They should make it very difficult for the post player to find an open man, they should force him into making a dangerous cross court pass. Instead of doing that, they provide token pressure to the post, this does not cut off the passing lanes. So now the post player can find an open shooter and one of the back court players is left to scramble back. Usually they reach the shooter just after the release, this is too late of course.

    I say stop trying to play both sides. If you are going to double team the post, then do it right. make it too hard for the post player to find the open man. This would be much easier if Curry and Randolph put more initial pressure on the post entry. Al Jefferson was able to catch the ball deep in his comfort zone against Curry and Randolph. Since he did not have to put the ball on the floor to get position, he did not have to worry about the double team. He quickly turned and fired. When Lee defended Jefferson he made a point of pushing Jefferson out of his comfort zone. (Just one more reason Lee needs to get 32 per night) Most big men are in trouble when they have to dribble into position. But Jefferson rarely had to do that. He would just catch, turn, and shoot. And it wasnt just Big Al, Craig Smith looked like a lottery pick on several plays.

    So, the big need to do a better job of making post players put the ball on the floor and the backcourt needs to truly commit to the double teams with actual pressure.

  34. Brian Cronin

    This is very true. I?ve learned it first hand.

    Right, the infamous “I am going to quote you in such a way as to back up what I wrote, whether you agreed with my point or not” incident.

    So lame.

  35. Islamatron

    I agree wholeheartedly that Q has played terribly thusfar but have you guys considered that he could be the key to the starting five?

    As a good rebounder he should be helping out in that dept to help make up for Curry’s rebounding deffiencies.

    Q, when healthy, is probably the best perimeter defender the Knicks have, helping ease the pain of watching Crawford on D.

    And lastly Q is probably the best 3 point threat the knicks have. Crawford & Marbury being slashers and Curry & Z-bo being post up guys Q should be getting and knocking down alot of 3 point shots.

    I think the Knicks coaching staff is envisioning a Bruce Bowen/Shane Battier type role for Q that Balkman(as much as I love his game) cannot provide for the Knicks because of his lack of outside shooting.

    Hopefully Q can get healthy quick… as in Tuesday! Cause we’re gonne need him to help “contain” ‘Melo.

  36. ken

    The distribution on minutes to Lee and Balkman is my biggest concern so far. The idea of the best player on a team only getting 25 minutes a night is assinine. And if Richardson isn’t going to score, isn’t Balkman a MUCH better player? He brings the fast break element, better rebounds, and more activity. If there are 144 frount court minutes available per game, here’s what i think they should do with them:

    Zach- 35
    Curry- 30
    Lee – 35 (some time at SF couldn’t hurt)
    Balkman – 29
    Richardson – 20

    The second biggest concern is defending the 3 point line. I think Zeke needs to make a symbollic benching or two– give Fred Jones and Mardy big minutes for a couple of games to send a message to Steph and Jamal about the need to bust your ass and defend the perimiter. It wouldn’t work long term, but messages can be important. Remember Starks and Mason getting benched?

  37. Justin

    Thanks for taking Zach Randolph from us. Enjoy the 20/10 stats, and keep wondering why your defense is so terrible… their might not be a worse PF on defense in the league.

    And to team him up with who might be the worst defensive C in the league? Have fun with that…

  38. Mr. Black

    Justin,

    Thanks. Enjoy Steve Francis, oh wait you guys got enough of that. Well at least enjoy Channing Frye and his great interior defense. And you guys didnt lose much giving up 20/10 to get him. After all Channing is giving you double digit, well um, minutes. Yeah 15 minutes per game. Dont worry, I’m sure he is going to block a shot any day now. And that first steal is on its way. Seriously, Channing stats per 40 minutes are killer: 13 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 9.2 fouls. The shame of it is that he could be an effective player if you guys would just let him shoot.

    Finally, I know you should not kick a man when he is down, but I’m short and it is much easier for me to do that when he is down. How much defense is Greg Oden giving you guys this year? Would you say its more or less than Curry. Personally, i think its a push.

  39. JustFoundOUt

    Eddy Curry as a seventh man for some other team is a great idea. Five years from now, he could be the next coming of James Edwards, the Pistons sometime starter, sometimes second-stringer who was all offense for the pistons second unit…

  40. Frank O.

    Mannix is right, however.
    Marbury and Crawford…I can’t think of a worse defensive pairing,other than Curry Randolph…
    That David Lee, Nate Robinson, and Renaldo Balkman aren’t getting a solid 30 per night by now is mystifying since they each are outplaying the guy above them on the depth chart.
    Q is done.
    Crawford is a great sixth man option.
    Randolph and Curry should be on a rotation. Curry should start. He is a far more efficient offensive player and Randolph gives the O a different look when he is out there instead.
    Lee is the perfect balance for either player.
    Balkman and Lee and Nate bring an energy to the team that is hard to match,and they play on both ends of the floor, which is more than I can say for Randolph, Marbury and Crawford right now.

    It is hard to feel good about the win when they gave up so much from the 3 to a bad team. Basically they played last year’s Celtics, without Paul Pierce, a team that went something like 2-20 down the stretch.
    Nice to get a win, but it was a gift.

  41. danvt

    Mike,
    Great post. You really affirmed alot of what I have been thinking. As to the DNP’s the only guy I wouldn’t mind seeing a little of is Fred Jones. He should come in the first time one of our guards doesn’t come within ten feet of a three point shooter.

    Just to play devils advocate though, do you think teams are going to get 50%+ on threes against us often? It seems that even with our present level of committment it is hard to imagine that happening very often.

    Lots of shots do splash down against this team, however. Lebron said, in a telling post game comment that when Boobies that open it’s “like a practice shot”.

    So, what’s the answer, I see the best shooters completely fail in three point contests, yet against the Knicks it seems like the hoop and the ball are magnetically attracted. In the NBA you do need to double team. Is there a chance the Knicks luck will change or do teams average 50% from three until they figure it out?

  42. brian quinnett's left nipple

    isiah feels the same about opposing three point shooters as he does white season ticket holders.

  43. Oaktree

    2 games in. There was 1 loss. And 1 4pt win over the worst team in the NBA. It’s too early to be declaring any progress was made.

  44. caleb

    Most encouraging – Eddy Curry with only 3 turnovers in two games. If he’s really turned over a new leaf there, he will be a great offensive player. (still terrible on defense and the boards, but hey!) Crawford’s been great, too. ANd Nate – but, despite all the surprised looks, he was just as good last year.

    Most discouraging – David Lee riding the bench. Quietly, though not surprisingly, he’s been the best player – as usual. Per 40, I believe he is averaging 16.8 points and 12 boards, while shooting 70 percent and playing better D than any other big. The +/- is outrageous.

    I’d mention the limited minutes for Balkman, too, but I suspect he is still working back from his injury, so I’ll reserve judgment.

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