Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Some Plays Count: Landry Fields (10/29/10)

In the last installment of Some Plays Count, I looked at Knick rookie starter Timofey Mozgov. Although Mozgov’s arrival was much ballyhooed, Landry Fields has made a bigger contribution to the team thus far. Fields, who has the knack for flying under the radar, is starting at shooting guard and is 4th on the team in minutes averaging 29.7 per game. I thought I’d take a look at his game against the Celtics, and see how he contributes to the team.

For those that are YouTube-ally challenged, Fields has a great ability finding an opening in the defense, cut to the spot, and finish around the hoop. Additionally he’s a tenacious rebounder, in one play showing great boxing out technique on Rondo and another one chasing down a board in crunch time. Finally his other great asset has been his court vision. He’s able to scan the floor, make quick decisions, and deliver the ball to an open teammate. The diagrammed play below is the second play, where Fields is left unguarded by Boston and cuts to the paint for an easy score.

Alt Text

Landry Cuts To The Paint


Image of the play created with FastDraw.

38 comments on “Some Plays Count: Landry Fields (10/29/10)

  1. rama

    Great post, Mike! Love the analysis. Shows concretely why Fields has a future in this league. Great court vision, good decisions, great moving without the ball. Wish I knew how to do that….

  2. Nick C.

    Fields is rapidly becoming my favorite Knick, though considering the roster is @ 75% new its not exactly a surpirse. Nice work Mike.

  3. hoolahoop

    I love those plays by Fields – moving without the ball and making things happen. Basketball is a thinking mans game. There are numerous ways to help your team win. Help your team win. That’s been lost in the NBA.
    I’d like to see Fields continue to develop his game. He’s the type of guy that becomes an ingredient in a championship team, albeit not the main ingredient. If the knicks move the ball better, space the court better, and move without the ball better a lot of w’s will follow. I’ve been perplexed at why D’antoni cannot demand this from the guys. It may be something that’s almost impossible to teach to new era players.

  4. ess-dog

    Wow, this is great Mike. The ‘Landry Edit’ actually makes the Knicks look like a division leader – a Spurs or Celtics type team. If only we could clone Landry five times…

  5. irvin00

    Great article!

    I hope Fields becomes a very good player for the Knicks; he seems to have the smarts and the work ethic. I also hope he is not eventually used as some trade bait for Melo or somebody else!

  6. Frank O.

    Mike:

    Nice job. One need to be reminded while watching him play that Fields is a rookie, but not like the rookies we have seen for several years now.
    He played four years of college ball. He also graduated from one of the best academic schools in the country.
    He’s way more polished, and way more skilled than most of the kids that come into the NBA these days.
    I especially liked your focus on his ability to handle the ball. He’s not a turnover problem like so many Knicks have been.

    Also, I can’t emphasize more how explosive he can be.
    What a nice find.

  7. rama

    Frank: With all due respect, I believe the “beggars can’t be choosers” saying applies here.  (Quote)

    Fair enough, except there was much debate this summer whether Deron would be a better choice in the long run because of CP3’s knees and so on. Responses seemed pretty mixed – and judging by things so far this season, that’s simply insane. There’s no comparison between the two players.

    Would Deron be better than Felton? Almost certainly, yes. But it seems to me the strategy should focus on CP3 above all else. If he really wants to play with Melo, then it would actually be worth it to (over)pay Melo the max just to make sure we are getting CP3.

  8. Ted Nelson

    rama: If he really wants to play with Melo, then it would actually be worth it to (over)pay Melo the max just to make sure we are getting CP3. 

    I think you definitely have a point. I agree that CP3 is way better when healthy than Deron Williams.
    The problem I see, though, is that if you have Amare making $20 mill and Melo making $20 mill… That plus a minimum of $5 mill in cap holds puts at $45 mill with little wiggle room to sign CP3. And to even get there you have to not pick up options that would lock in good players at great values (Toney Douglas and possibly Timo) and possibly let all your other young guys walk (not a big deal if you get Paul, but you might have to let WC walk and then strike out on Paul anyway). Once you do get him you’re going to have a hard time with a supporting cast, though I guess that’s worth it. Plus, one could argue that you have two overrated players in Amare and Melo to go with a player who is likely to start declining shortly after you get him… if you want to look at a bad case scenario. If you want to look at a good case scenario with the current Knicks you could assume they’re better off without Melo, that they have a better chance of signing CP3 to go with Amare and a deep young team that wins some games and competes even in most of their loses.

    You can say Melo isn’t getting $20 mill under the new CBA, but the overall cap probably shrinks by a similar % if the max salary is slashed…

    I’m not saying don’t go for CP3 if he’s available, I’m just saying you have to be careful. Signing Melo is no guarantee you get CP3 and might actually hurt your chances in the end.

  9. Ted Nelson

    irvin00: My point is that we fantasize so much because we don’t have any hope for the current team

    I don’t think this is necessarily the case… CP3 is about as good as any PG who has ever played the game. People fantasize because he’s amazing. No matter how much one loves Raymond Felton, you have to admit CP3 is better. I don’t care if you are Raymond Felton’s mother herself, you have to be able to see that Chris Paul is a better basketball player.

    I personally am pretty happy with this roster, but I’d still like to see them improve it over the coming years.

    irvin00: somewhere deep in our heart we are almost certain that this year we will see the same picture we have seen for the last 5 years.

    The general consensus here seems to be that this is an improved team and that this team should finish around .500 and make the playoffs or at least come close…

    irvin00: Whose fault is it? I say it’s the coach.

    I agree that there is a lot D’Antoni and the team did wrong the first 3 games, but how can you blame someone who has been coach for 2 years for the last 5 years?

    irvin00: but I don’t think this is a 30-win team either

    Let’s wait till we get a few more games into the season before deciding the Knicks are on a 30 win pace… On the downside they could have easily played a lot better, but on the positive side they have beaten a bad team and kept the game very close with two very good teams… This is too small of a sample to make any definitive predictions about their season. The Bulls have started something like 1-10 twice that I recall and made the playoffs.

    irvin00: When I see poor Douglas without a defined role: what is he supposed to do when he gets the ball? Score or pass?

    I agree that there are a lot of strategical issues and mostly agree with the other examples you give… this one, though? How about both? Either? Whatever the situation calls for… I mean there are tons of combo-guards in the NBA and no one is saying their role is not defined. If Toney Douglas struggles I don’t think he can blame that on his role. Just play basketball. He played well last season as a rookie and he’s not doing terribly this season (though I would have liked to see a lot more). If he is supposed to pass, he’s not doing it very well. Even if he’s not supposed to pass, he still needs to do it better. His scoring has actually been pretty decent and his defense and rebounding are good. He just needs to make some plays and turn it over less. I think that will happen to at least some extent over time.

  10. Ted Nelson

    By the way, great piece Mike!

    For all the people who say Amare and WC need to take 60, 70% of the Knicks shots in iso sets because no one else on the Knicks can play basketball… that it’s ok or the best thing for the team… all I can say is: “watch the above video.”

    The opportunity cost of iso sets where someone goes 1-on-5 and everyone else stands around watching is playing the kind of team basketball played in that video not only by Fields but also several of his teammates. Amare himself is involved in 2 good plays, which is my point: I’m not criticizing Amare or WC overall, just the way they are “trying to do too much” in iso looks. Just because a guy like Fields doesn’t force shots (doesn’t “have confidence”) doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t be trying to find him more often (Fields is just an example, I’m saying share the ball amongst everyone when you have 4 or 5 good scorers on the court and try to move a bit off the ball like Fields… for everyone who doesn’t think Gallo can do anything besides stand around and shoot, he has two nice assists to a good cutter in Fields during that video…).

  11. Frank

    I don’t think D’Antoni’s been great so far but he wasn’t brought here to coach/babysit the Eddie Houses and Larry Hughes of the world, which is what he was doing for the last 2 years. He was brought here to coach Lebron, sure, but he was also brought here to coach this kind of team – athletic, long, active. We’ve only played 3 games so far so I think it is VERY early to be sticking a fork in anyone or making statements like “the team has played the same for the last 5 years and will most likely do the same this year”. The athleticism and talent of this team (both on offense and defense) is completely unlike anything we have had since Sprewell and Camby were on this team. I have had my own run-ins with Ted over the last few weeks/months but I have to agree with him here – let’s just take a deep breath and give them a few games to get it together.

    At the end of the day, we beat a team we were supposed to beat and lost two very close games to teams that are probably in the top 8 in the league. And we didn’t just lose the one to Portland – we GAVE it away by shooting miserably from the line. So with any sort of normal free throw shooting, we could be 2-1 and talking much more optimistically.

    Meanwhile, this “asbestos” incident may have been the best thing to happen to the team. Gallo gets time rest his wrist and head, Randolph gets integrated, and maybe, just maybe, Felton and Amare start practicing this rarely used thing called the “pick and roll”.

  12. DS

    @ 19 – Frank, I’m with you. Another silver lining is that a possible loss to Orlando would not have been great for morale following two losses and preceding a game against the Bulls.

    Also, on an overly-optimistic note, I really hope the way that the Knicks fell apart against Portland grabbed D’Antoni’s attention and he will figure out a better plan next time the team begins to see a lead slip.

  13. BigBlueAL

    Well at least MSG is safe, games this weekend will go on as scheduled.

    Not to be too melodramatic but this weekend is kinda big for the Knicks, 2 home games against weak East teams. These are the games they must win all season long to make the playoffs. Hey by late Sunday afternoon Knicks should be 3-3 including 3-2 against the East so that would be a good start for the most part.

  14. Ted Nelson

    Frank: We’ve only played 3 games so far so I think it is VERY early to be sticking a fork in anyone

    I wouldn’t stick a fork in him by any means, but I would say that the offensive strategy/execution has been poor for the first 3 games. The Knicks are 23rd in offensive rating right now, just to give it a little context. The 3 pt shooting (lack of it really) does kill them, but it’s hard to say that is the root of the problem when you let your worst shooters take most of your perimeter shots.

    Can D’Antoni do better? I don’t know. I hope so and sort of assume he’ll make adjustments. What I’ve been going on about for 2 years, though, is that the only proof this guy can coach in the NBA is really a hyper-talented team that fit his system to a T. That’s a really small sample size. I think he’ll figure this thing out and go away from the iso-ball-hog offense he’s running, but there’s also a pretty decent chance that he’s just not as amazing an offensive genius as everyone thought.

    Frank: And we didn’t just lose the one to Portland – we GAVE it away by shooting miserably from the line.

    The 17-3 run in the 4th didn’t help either (a period in which WC and Amare combined for 0 pts on 4 perimeter Js, while the rest of the team had 8 pts on 4 perimeter Js). I agree 100% not to freak out yet, but I can’t look at the way the team played and not say D’Antoni has done a poor job. He has. If this is the team he was brought in to coach, he should be doing a much better job offensively. The defense is the best since JVG maybe, but the offense is also as stagnant as it’s been since JVG.

    DS: I really hope the way that the Knicks fell apart against Portland grabbed D’Antoni’s attention and he will figure out a better plan next time the team begins to see a lead slip.  

    And just figure out a better plan period…

  15. Frank

    Ted Nelson:
    I agree 100% not to freak out yet, but I can’t look at the way the team played and not say D’Antoni has done a poor job. He has. If this is the team he was brought in to coach, he should be doing a much better job offensively.

    Holy #$%^&$%. This is THREE GAMES. One of the teams (Boston) has just about the best defense in the league, which might throw off the offensive rating somewhat. THREE GAMES. With like 10 new players on the team. Show me 23rd in offensive rating when mid-December rolls around and then we’ll talk. For pete’s sake, at least give the guy 2 weeks with his new team before we start saying poor job.

  16. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    But it’s not a matter of the shots not falling, Frank. I agree that it’s too early to call for a coach being fired (or hell, even telling him to change his apparently-lax gameplan), but it appears to be primarily an issue of coaching. Chandler should not be green-lighted on all threes. Amar’e should be working with the P-and-R, not making drives from 18 feet out. He got a max deal, but that doesn’t mean he should stop doing what made him such an efficient player in the first place. If only Chris Paul would come and save this team from mediocrity…

  17. Ted Nelson

    Frank: For pete’s sake, at least give the guy 2 weeks with his new team before we start saying poor job.  

    It’s not about the amount of time. I’m not saying “this is a bad team.” I am saying “this is a bad strategy.” You can say that about one single game, or even one single play. How anyone can watch the iso-happy way the Knicks are playing or their worst outside shooters taking most of their outside shots and not think it’s a bad strategy… Can you honestly look at where Amare is getting the ball and how he’s getting the ball and say “that’s a great strategy, it will work, just give it some time…?” Can you say that isolating your bigmen on the perimeter and having them dribble into packed-in zones repeatedly is a good strategy? Can you say it’s a good idea to dribble against a zone in general?

    I am not just coming out of nowhere and saying D’Antoni is a bad coach because the Knicks are losing games, he stinks blah blah blah. I am pointing to specific examples of trends in the offensive strategy and why they are flawed… Can you really tell me the things I have pointed to are strategically sound and the Knicks should continue to do them at such a high frequency all season?

    Frank: Show me 23rd in offensive rating when mid-December rolls around and then we’ll talk.

    Again, that’s not the point. I do think they should improve their offensive rating as the season goes on, but I think they will do it by making adjustments. I don’t think the same strategy will significantly change their results over time.

    You are either misunderstanding or ignoring my posts. I did not say D’Antoni is a bad coach overall. I said:
    a. the offensive strategy is flawed and have pointed to numerous examples. This is hardly a new thing. The Knicks also came out of training camp last season with a flawed offensive system. Many people on this site were howling for a change, saying that this was not a 7SOL team. D’Antoni made that change, the Knicks went on a run, and their season sucked but they were 17th offensively. It didn’t happen through luck or magic, D’Antoni made a change in strategy.
    b. The flip side to your argument that D’Antoni should get a 100% free pass on the last two seasons is that he’s never won in the NBA outside of Phoenix. To say that a guy is a great coach based on a few years with a super, super talented team perfectly tailored to his style is just foolish. He has to prove it. This is his chance. My point is that he may prove it, he may not.

  18. BigBlueAL

    After tonight’s Eastern Conference action, the Knicks are tied in the 8th seed with the Wizards!! lol

  19. Frank O.

    You know, I’ve been joking that the knicks engineered the asbestos imbroglio so that they could avoid yet another tough game, and then they can play Orlando later in the season when, theoretically, they will be a better more familiar team.
    I was joking.

    This quote in the morning paper just made me bust out laughing:
    “The only thing we can do is take [the postponement] in a positive way, which would be when we do play [the Magic], we’ll be a better team because we’re young,” Mike D’Antoni said. “That’s the only way to look at it. And then get ready for Chicago. Just put it out of your mind and go ahead. Really, it doesn’t disrupt anything. We’re ready to go.”

  20. Frank O.

    Boy, I keep reading these intense exchanges.
    Far be it from me to pose as a voice of reason, but reading Frank – my brother in name only :) – and Ted, I find myself in agreement with both.
    Ted, you are right that the Knicks seem unprepared and that falls on the coach’s preparation.
    Frank, you are right that this is a completely new team, with players who don’t know each other, or the system very well. So is it reasonable to expected execution perfection or some facsimile of good execution? Probably not. And it is only three games, two of which were with very good teams who have played together. Essentially games that if they had won, it would have been an outstanding gift.
    I took relief in the fact that they played hard and well, given the circumstances. There was no head-hanging or back-stabbing, and they played hard throughout.
    We have seen that WC can become a strong second or third option. We have seen the strengths of Amare and some of his weakness. We have seen both good and bad from Felton.
    In each case, the bad parts of their game seem to require small adjustments that could accentuate their strengths.
    That is a hopeful sign.
    Gallo is a mystery. If there was anyone that benefited from the break, it would be him. He can get his wrist right and and we can determine whether it was the injury or we start calling him Knobloch.
    For me, if Gallo is as good as he was last year, the Knicks are 3-0 because each one of their losses were winnable games in the end.

    I also agree with Frank that if in the 23rd game this team is still making the same kinds of errors in scheme or play, then you have to question D’Antoni.
    I agree with Ted, however, that the team’s preparation could have been better to date. Some of the adjustments we all think would improve play have been slow to come.
    During and after the first game Ted and I among others were complaining about where Amare was getting the ball to start, and yet it continued for the next two games unabated.
    Now Felton says he’s having difficulty getting the ball to Amare and others on the PnR because teams are collapsing. He may be having trouble seeing it. He may be overcautious about turnovers.
    But it also may be that he’s not been well coached to date and simply this isn’t a strong suit…yet.
    I mean, Duhon ran the PnR with Lee effectively throughout last season and everyone knew it was coming. That’s the great thing about the age old PnR: executed well, it is virtually not defensible.
    So, it is an execution problem that either D’Antoni has been slow to correct, or Felton has struggled to execute. But one thing is clear, if it continues, it falls either to D’Antoni or Felton. If Felton can’t execute a play that they teach in high school, and simply happens on pick up courts with players who are barely ever coached (see me), it needs to happen on the court. If Felton can’t effectively run it, the Knicks better find someone who can, or this season is going to suck.

    Anyway, I think both Ted and Frank make good sound points that are not mutually exclusive. To a degree you guys may be talking past each other, iterating and reiterating.

    One thing is clear, D’Antoni warned that the season in the beginning would have its challenges because it was a nearly entirely new team. It is also clear that people who haven’t played together have difficulty executing under pressure because their actions are not instinctive.

    This will take time, but D’Antoni needs to correct the simple execution errors that are obvious and eminently fixable.

  21. Ted Nelson

    Frank O.: Anyway, I think both Ted and Frank make good sound points that are not mutually exclusive. To a degree you guys may be talking past each other, iterating and reiterating.

    I agree. I am not dooming the whole season, just the first 3 games. I never disagreed with Frank’s point that it’s only 3 games. I just said that his point is not particularly relevant to any of my points. I don’t think there was a reason for him to respond to “this is not a sound strategy, changes need to be made” with “it’s only 3 games” as if he were contradicting me.

    Frank O.: Frank, you are right that this is a completely new team, with players who don’t know each other, or the system very well. So is it reasonable to expected execution perfection or some facsimile of good execution? Probably not.

    I’m not expecting perfection. I’m just not expecting every possession to be an iso look on the perimeter for Amare or WC. D’Antoni has these crazy things called timeouts where he could potentially say “stop with this iso crap” if he were in fact upset with it. I know people say he’s hands-off, but when his mouth is moving during timeouts something basketball related has got to be coming out. He had all of training camp to potentially teach them a real offense and realize that isolating your bigmen and having them dribble into a packed in zone is a bad idea. He could pull Felton aside during a stoppage and tell him to try passing to someone not names Amare or Wilson once in a while. Since no adjustments have been made at any point–the potential game winning possession in game 3 was Amare going at a former DPOY from the perimeter and getting stripped… surprise, surprise–I have to assume this is cool with D’Antoni. This is what he wants.

    I *assume* (perhaps wrongly) that D’Antoni thought going into the season that where his team would have an advantage was Amare and WC being able to take their men off the dribble. Not a crazy idea, but… It hasn’t worked and I don’t see it ever working for Amare, so let’s get a new plan in place. Maybe the original plan called for more spacing with Gallo and others hitting more shots. When they didn’t hit those shots I’m not sure the right call was to just stop having them shoot altogether and still stick with the other 1/2 of the plan. It went from a balanced attack to a totally unbalanced attack. When the other guys did get a chance to shoot late against Portland, they hit! The combined TS% on non-WC/Amare jumpers was 1000%: 8 points, 4 shots.

    Frank O.: Essentially games that if they had won, it would have been an outstanding gift.

    Regardless of the probability going into the games, those were both very winnable games. A few more possessions result in points and those are both wins. The only gift I saw, to be honest, was the Knicks gift wrapping Portland a 17-3 run by not even trying to run an offense and just letting WC and Amare shoot on every possession. I didn’t expect the Knicks to win those games going in, but in hindsight they should have won. I don’t think it’s ok to just say “we’re going to lose to the good teams and beat the bad teams…” That’s not going to happen. You’re going to lose a game here and there to even the T-Wolves or Clippers, let alone the other middle-of-the-pack teams that are close in talent to the Knicks.

    Frank O.: I also agree with Frank that if in the 23rd game this team is still making the same kinds of errors in scheme or play, then you have to question D’Antoni.

    I agree here too. I am not saying that D’Antoni can’t or won’t fix this, I am just saying he needs to.

    Frank O.: We have seen that WC can become a strong second or third option.

    Not in the 4th Q.

    Frank O.: Gallo is a mystery.

    After 1.5 successful seasons in the league, I think he’ll figure it out. The probability that he permanently forgot how to shoot is so low (not impossible, I know) that I really do think you can say “it’s only 3 games” in this case. Good looks not falling can be sample size (and/or injury), repeatedly running the wrong plays is a decision.

    Frank O.: But it also may be that he’s not been well coached to date and simply this isn’t a strong suit…yet.

    He’s played for HOFers in both college and the pros… I think that’s a hard claim to substantiate. D’Antoni is a significantly better coach than Roy Williams and Larry Brown? This reminds me of a poster on riveraveblues yesterday who kept insisting that Golson is “only 25″ and will start hitting if Kevin Long starts teaching him to hit.

    The thing to me is that they weren’t even running pnr to Amare in the pre-season (and people on this site were pointing that out). TOs are pretty irrelevant in the pre-season, they could have gone for it and seen if it worked.
    Ultimately when Amare never rolls, it’s impossible to run pnr. It’s fully 1/2 of the equation. When you stand there for a hand-off, it’s no longer pnr but pick-and-hand-off. And at the same time, Felton barely even gets around the pick… he sort of gets to the pick, stops and hands off… the pick is designed to separate the PG from his man… The result of this p&ho play is that Amare is not double teamed by Felton’s man and trying to take 2 guys off the dribble with his mediocre handle. I don’t know who this laughable failure is on. I would just say everyone involved.

    I realize that I’m coming across very strongly, but these are strategical errors that high school teams wouldn’t make more than once because the coach wouldn’t allow it. Not using the pick or rolling on a pnr? You’re both on the bench in HS. Dribbling into a zone against a good defensive team when your handle is mediocre? Again, your coach is going nuts. Rarely moving off the ball? I don’t know if the Knicks are stupid or they think they are so talented that they can ignore decades of conventional basketball wisdom, but it’s really hard to watch. If it happened a few times, ok. But it’s been the set offense for 3 games. Whether it was supposed to be or not, in reality this has been their strategy. The video at top shows some examples of what can happen when you actually play team basketball and not playground style. (Perhaps D’Antoni’s strategy, just coming off the top of my head, was that this is not a team yet so we’ll just play to our strengths as a group of individuals… which I would also argue is a bad strategy both short and long term. That’s total speculation on my part and fairly baseless.)

    Frank O.: One thing is clear, D’Antoni warned that the season in the beginning would have its challenges because it was a nearly entirely new team.

    At what point is that an excuse and a self-fulfilling prophecy, though? “I know we are making millions of dollars and you people are paying good money to watch these games, I also know we had all offseason and all of training camp to devise a sound strategy and prepare for these games. However, don’t expect us to actually play well or like we’ve ever played organized basketball in our lives…”

  22. taggart4800

    I personally think you have to give D’Antoni credit for getting 10 new players to play such great team defense. They have focused so hard on that they seem out of the groove offensively and lack confidence on the offensive end as a result. But i am far happier sat here saying that our offense needs to improve than our defense. Improvements in that regard will come a lot easier than the defensive improvements over the summer. We have an All NBA power forward, who gained that accolade almost solely due to his offensive capabilities. There is only so much coaching time available and i for one am not going to sit here and criticise an almost entirely new team for not knowing each other well enough by game 3. I am not sure we even have a winning record by the All Star break because Azubuike will be back and have to be worked into the rotation and then i believe we will start winning games. Not solely because of him but because of his skill set, he is another 3 pt shooter that will take the pressure of others who are not shooting well. For now lets sit back and enjoy the fact we are finally a credible team and that we need to make more free throws to beat a western conference finals contender.

  23. Ted Nelson

    My speculation (and nothing more than that) on the pnr is that Amare doesn’t want to be known as a “dive man” who only scores relatively easy points at the basket off of Steve Nash passes. He wants to prove he is on the same level as a LeBron James sort of player (at a different position, but…), where you just give him the ball and amazing happens. A $20 mill per player. D’Antoni has maybe encouraged this by telling Amare he’s the man and he’ll give him something like the David Lee role where the offense runs through him. That’s totally unsubstantiated, but just my guess. I would say: get back to his strengths. Driving can be a strength for him if used in moderation. Mostly he should not be dribbling hardly at all. Especially not when the defense packs in.

    The reason I am even calling D’Antoni into question is that while he has adjusted in-season (some coaches don’t), he has to adjust in the first place due to poor planning and he’s been slow to do so. Both of the last two seasons he’s sort of started out with a “this is what’s worked in the past” or “this is what I think might work” philosophy. For a guy who is touted as maybe the best offensive mind of his generation, you might expect him to be ahead of the curve and know what is going to work before the season. As long as he makes the adjustments I guess it really doesn’t matter, I just expected that he was an incredible offensive genius which I guess is my own fault. It’s just frustrating for someone who only knows as much about basketball as I do to look at a guy who knows as much as he does (infinitely more than me) and be able to say “what on earth are you thinking?”

    Someone else mentioned last season’s start in reference to the team not appearing to take pre-season games too serious… At the time I sort of brushed it off because I don’t think W-L in pre-season means anything, but whoever said that might be onto something in that the last two years D’Antoni hasn’t seemed to make the most out of training camp/pre-season to get his team ready for the season.

  24. Ted Nelson

    taggart4800: I personally think you have to give D’Antoni credit for getting 10 new players to play such great team defense.

    I agree.

    taggart4800: They have focused so hard on that they seem out of the groove offensively and lack confidence on the offensive end as a result.

    I sort of doubt it… It’s not a “groove.” It’s tangible strategic problems. It’s not that they don’t play together as a team, it’s that the offensive set they are running is awful.

    I can also speculate about reasons why bad things are happening repeatedly. The thing we can both agree on that is not speculation, though, is that for whatever reason the Knicks are running bad offensive sets and need to start running good offensive sets. That having WC and Amare isolated on the perimeter every play is not going to yield good results in the long-term, so whatever the reason they are doing it… they need to stop doing it.

    taggart4800: Improvements in that regard will come a lot easier than the defensive improvements over the summer.

    Agree.

    taggart4800: We have an All NBA power forward, who gained that accolade almost solely due to his offensive capabilities.

    Yes, but he didn’t gain those accolades through isolation plays on the perimeter… which is the point: Get him doing what Amare do. We had no prior evidence that he could succeed in this role, and the evidence so far points to him being a tougher Jonathan Bender is what is largely a Jonathan Bender role. Why would you take one of the most dangerous weapons in the NBA and turn him into Jonathan Bender offensively?

  25. DS

    Ted –

    I’m not sure Amar’e and the Knicks are as confused as you’re suggesting about the best way to utilize Amar’e on offense. I thought during the pre-season the team was getting him the ball in the proper spots and he was punishing defenses.

    After the Portland game, Ray Felton was quoted the other night saying that he’s trying to find openings for Amar’e but that defenses are packing it in really tight on him and making the Knicks beat them on jumpers which they’ve been unable to do (he also said “I’m not Steve Nash” which I interpret as more of a f*** off statement than an outright refusal to run the pick and roll).

  26. DS

    Er, sorry for the typos. But you follow me… I also want to add that I really enjoyed “That’s Amar’e”; lyrics by Thomas B earlier this week.

  27. Ted Nelson

    DS: Ray Felton was quoted the other night saying that he’s trying to find openings for Amar’e but that defenses are packing it in really tight on him and making the Knicks beat them on jumpers which they’ve been unable to do (he also said “I’m not Steve Nash” which I interpret as more of a f*** off statement than an outright refusal to run the pick and roll).  

    I’ve addressed these points repeatedly and hate to be so repetitive, but people keep bringing them up as if they haven’t already been brought up 30 times:

    A. While I agree he got the ball in good spots against mostly soft pre-season defense, Amare and Felton did not in fact run pnr in the pre-season. I think that’s a legitimate criticism as it’s carried over into the regular season. You have what is arguable the best dive man in the NBA, and you don’t run the pnr with him ever? Again, most plays he stands there and Felton doesn’t even try to penetrate. If it’s because you are scared of the defense… ok, maybe I buy that though it’s still not the right reaction… however, if you are scared of the defense don’t then proceed to have Amare dribble right into it instead of Felton, who is a much, much better ball handler. Don’t have Amare try to shoot over the zone when you have much, much better shooters. If Amare only takes 10 shots one game but gets a lot of good looks for his shooters, so be it. He doesn’t have to shoot 30 times a game. There’s no rule that he should.
    It was mostly the same iso stuff in pre-season, just that the defense didn’t really care and/or wasn’t as keyed into stopping Amare. Defenses have adjusted to what the Knicks are trying to do, the Knicks have not adjusted back in a wise way.

    B. You can’t use the packing them in excuse when you don’t even roll to or set up near the basket. When he stands on the perimeter, he’s not trying to get the ball in good spots. If nothing else you can use him as a decoy if he rolls to the basket or sets up closer in. The defense really will pack in tight. When he stands on the perimeter and when he gets the ball on the perimeter he is playing exactly into what the defense wants him to do. The defense doesn’t have to pack in as tight, because Amare is not in the middle. That hurts the rest of the team by not optimizing defensive spacing. Amare himself is adjusting to these defensive looks by taking shots from the perimeter (a weakness of his) and dribbling into a packed-in zone (a weakness of anyone’s who doesn’t have a guard’s handle). Maybe this is not Felton’s fault (I’m not saying it is and really don’t think it is directly his fault to be honest), but it’s someone’s fault.

    C. The Knicks are able to beat teams with jumpers. They have a ton of good shooters and that doesn’t change just because someone is 0-4 on the night (ask Jamal Crawford). WC and Amare are NOT able to beat teams with jumpers. The rest of the team is. For some reason, though, against Portland WC and Amare combined to take 40% of the Knicks 3 pters on the game. They took 55% of the team’s jumpers in the 4th quarter… they scored 0 pts on those 5 shots. The rest of the team was trying to beat the Blazers by shooting over the zone, they just only got 4 looks because Amare and WC shot on every possession… They were 3-4 and scored 8 points on those 4 shots. TS%? 1000%.

    So, in short, this is not the strategy to beat a zone. You don’t have your worst perimeter shooters take all your perimeter shots just because of a zone. That’s not a sound strategy, it’s confusion. You don’t have your bigmen dribble into a zone. That’s not a sound strategy, it’s confusion. The Knicks are reacting to the defense exactly how the defense wants them to: panicking, losing confidence in their shooters after a couple of misses, and having WC (in the 4th Q) and Amare play to their weaknesses and into the defenses’ strengths.

  28. Frank O.

    Ted:

    I think it’s reasonable to question why D’Antoni hasn’t corrected some of this during games. I have been mystified by the hand offs also. Surely Felton a better ball handler than Amare and can get the ball closer where Amare is most effective, rather than Amare trying to make it there himself.

    One thing I noticed also: It kind of feels a bit like D’Antoni is using the start of the season as an extended preseason shake out to me primarily because he’s been running a first team/second team rotation, where the second team has been out there for extended periods.
    It has really surprised me and felt a bit like he was still trying to see what he had because the sampling size he had to draw from was too small.
    I don’t know that that is true; just pure speculation.
    But if that is true, it would explain, perhaps, his slow reaction to what appear to be some fundamental mistakes.

    BTW, I agree that the Knicks were in a very good position to win all three games, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say they should have won because we don’t know how Portland and the Celts would have countered what was happening. I know Pierce, for example, may have tried to be even more aggressive down the stretch and his efforts alone may have thwarted the Knicks successes. Hard to know that.

    What I do know purely statistically speaking is if the Knicks knock down 80 percent to 85 percent of their free throws, they improve their chances of victory in those losses significantly.
    Free throw shooting is a core mission. You make those, you are going to win a lot of games. Too many teams these days give away the charity stripe. It’s horribly stupid.
    Especially if your team is marginal. Little things like making free throws can be the difference between a 45 game winner and a 35 game winner in my view.

    Also, it does appear that D’Antoni has placed immense importance on defense, bolstered by Walsh’s signings. They may have emphasized defense early on, and figured the offense would come.

    Having said all this, it’s pretty nice to realize the Knicks played incomplete games with uneven performances and yet were in a very good position to take home wins primarily because their D kept them right there. This with a team sporting 10 new players, most of whom are starting. If they make adjustments, one can see this team beating bad and middling teams and occasionally upsetting very good teams.
    The Knicks aren’t an easy win anymore. ;)

  29. Ted Nelson

    Frank O.: I think it’s reasonable to question why D’Antoni hasn’t corrected some of this during games. I have been mystified by the hand offs also. Surely Felton a better ball handler than Amare and can get the ball closer where Amare is most effective, rather than Amare trying to make it there himself.

    Good point

    Frank O.: It kind of feels a bit like D’Antoni is using the start of the season as an extended preseason shake out to me primarily because he’s been running a first team/second team rotation, where the second team has been out there for extended periods.

    Could be, but I sort of have to question that strategy as well. There’s so much tape and stats available on these guys…

    Frank O.: I don’t think it’s accurate to say they should have won

    They were up 87-81 with 6 minutes to go. Tied 95-95 with 1 minutes to go. They lost 100-95… they should have won that game. They were outscored 19-8 in the last 6 minutes. You can’t blame anyone but yourselves for that.

    Frank O.: What I do know purely statistically speaking is if the Knicks knock down 80 percent to 85 percent of their free throws

    Definitely true. They also could have run a better offense in the 4th Q and won, though.

    Frank O.: They may have emphasized defense early on, and figured the offense would come.

    Could be, but I don’t really think it’s an excuse… These are pros paid million to play on both sides of the ball.

    I agree with the last paragraph, and overall it’s an exciting start. The lack of adjustments to things that clearly weren’t working erks me, though.

  30. Frank O.

    I am irked! Irked, I say! Indeed, I am vexed by the lack of adjustments as well. Perhaps we will be less vexed and irked after this evening’s running of the Bulls.
    :)

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