Knicks 2010 Season Preview Part 3

[Part 1 is here.]
[Part 2 is here.]

David Lee – Power Forward/Center

What the Stats Say
Amid all the hubbub about David Lee “playing out of position at center” and the Knicks “needing to find a true big man so that Lee can move back to his natural position,” one simple fact has largely been lost: David Lee is better at playing center than he is at playing power forward. Don’t believe it? Check out this dichotomy (courtesy of 82games.com)

David Lee 48-Minute Production by Position (2008-2009)

POS FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
PF 13.7 0.491 4.1 67% 10.3 2.6 2.6 0.3 6.0 16.0 11.5
C 16.3 0.552 5.7 68% 16.6 3.0 2.5 0.3 4.3 22.4 22.0

Too small a sample size? Lee’s 2007-08 numbers, mostly compiled at the 4, tell a less extreme version of the same story:

David Lee 48-Minute Production by Position (2007-2008)

POS FGA eFG% FTA iFG Reb Ast T/O Blk PF Pts PER*
PF 12.3 0.543 4.7 74% 14.0 1.8 2.1 0.6 4.0 17.3 18.7
C 13.6 0.570 5.2 73% 16.7 2.2 1.6 0.5 4.8 19.6 23.4

Pretty overwhelming, no? Combine the two seasons and Lee has a solid starter’s PER at the 4 and approximately Patrick Ewing’s career PER at the 5. But when you think about Dave’s game, it all kind of makes sense. Emergent 15-footer notwithstanding, Lee scores and rebounds way more efficiently when closer to the basket. He draws more fouls (and gives fewer fouls) against centers than against quicker, more explosive power forwards. And everybody’s offense improves when there’s no Zach Randolph or Eddy Curry on the floor.

Given that Lee defends the five better than the four also (says so here), the idea that the Knicks can compete while playing a skinny young stretch 4 and a 6’9″ center may not be so crazy after all. (You know what, forget that I said that. It is crazy. Maybe not “We are completely confident that we can move Jared Jeffries’ contract “crazy, but certainly “Sure, Starks is 2 for 16, but I’ve got a good feeling about this next shot” crazy.)

What My Gut Says
It’s hard to be critical of a guy like Lee, who has been efficient, hard-working, and likable since day one. There’s no doubt that Dave is capable of being a key player on a championship team and, bless his heart, he actually seems to hope that team will be (a very different version of) the Knicks. His defensive shortcomings have been well-documented and his offense largely comes from put-backs and fastbreaks, but he’s excellent at what he does and there’s no reason to believe that he’s in line for a step back this year.

Al Harrington – Forward/Sneaker Salesman

What the Stats Say
That players generally perform better against bad teams than against good teams is essentially a truism. It is the rare player who is able to elevate his game to such an extent that he puts up his best numbers against the league’s elite. For the most part, players show a weak but consistent inverse relationship between opponent quality and statistical achievement.

And then there’s Al Harrington, whose shooting splits look like this:

Player Opp Gm Min Fga Fg% 3pA 3p% Fta Ft% Pts
Harrington Good 22 764 16.7 .398 6.2 .316 4.4 78% 18.6
Harrington Average 27 983 17.6 .432 7.0 .349 3.9 82% 20.9
Harrington Poor 19 632 15.8 .525 6.2 .436 4.4 79% 22.8

That all rounds out to a .457 eFG% against good teams (which, were it his full-season mark, would have been good for 161st out of 181 eligible NBA players), .501 against average teams (102nd of 181), and a staggering .611 against “poor” teams (3rd of 181, trailing dunk-and-layup-only centers Erick Dampier and Joel Przybilla).

The disparity in Harrington’s splits is by far the most extreme of any Knick, and likely tell the story of a player who feasts on open looks against undisciplined defenses but struggles to adjust his game when met with legitimate defensive resistance.

What My Gut Says
To watch Harrington in small doses is to wonder why he isn’t a superstar; to watch him every night is to wonder whether he could ever get serious minutes on a winner. His size, athleticism, shooting, and ball-handling ability provide him with an extremely rare skill set, but his streakiness, frequently poor shot selection, and puzzling inability (unwillingness?) to rebound suggest that he is less Dirk Nowitzki than (a poor man’s) Charlie Villanueva. He certainly fits the system, he seems to genuinely love being a Knick, and, on a bad team, he provides enough matchup headaches to be a net positive. But his long-term desire to remain in orange and blue will prove futile unless accompanied by a willingness to play for far below his perceived market value – he’s not an efficient enough scorer to be the second option on a contender, nor is he good enough at anything else to be an effective role player.

Jordan Hill – Forward/Center

What the Stats Say
According to kenpom.com, Hill was the 14th best offensive rebounder in Division I last year, which, if it translates, will be a major addition to a Knicks team that ranked 27th of 30 NBA teams in offensive rebounding rate last year. But, as is often the case with bootlegged copies of foreign movies and the entire musical career of David Hasselhoff, the problem may lie in the translation. To quote John Hollinger’s pre-draft player evaluations:

The other big surprise down here is Jordan Hill, who could go as high as No. 4 but rates 26th in the Draft Rater. Hill had solid rebounding and scoring numbers, but his percentages weren’t off the charts, and his poor assist and turnover numbers were a red flag. Although one might think that ballhandling categories wouldn’t matter for a power forward, apparently they do — pure point rating (a measure of how a player passes and handles the ball) is a pretty strong success indicator for frontcourt players, and only four prospects rated worse than Hill.

Time will tell.

What My Gut Says
Hill’s summer league performance doesn’t have anybody jumping out of their shoes. He disappeared for long stretches and, even at his best, didn’t do anything to suggest that he has anything approximating star potential. But, as has been said before, if you’re 6’10” and athletic, you’ll get your fair share of opportunities. Hill should get some burn this year, but his true worth will be determined down the road, after free agency clears up the frontcourt logjam and the Knicks’ intended investment in two high-priced free agents places an added premium on the value of young, inexpensive talent.

2009 Report Card: Chris Wilcox

The Knicks acquired Chris Wilcox in February in exchange for a barely used Malik Rose. It seemed that Wilcox was going to play center and push the undersized David Lee back to power forward, but instead Wilcox spelled Lee at center. Looking at his most frequent 5-man units from 82games, Lee doesn’t appear in any of them.

Watching Wilcox play, gave me a new appreciation of Lee. Both players have a similar style, but Wilcox lags behind in multiple areas. He was less efficient when it comes to inside scoring, and he was less able to stretch the offense. According to 82games, 80% of his attempts were inside. If the knock on Lee is his desire to stay near the hoop, then Wilcox must be tethered to it. And despite playing with the same support cast, David out rebounds Chris by a far margin. Wilcox’s one saving grace is his adequate block rate.

Name Jump eFG Inside eFG Inside % reb/36 to/36 ast/36 blk/36
Wilcox 35.0 57.3 80% 8.9 2.2 1.5 0.9
Lee 35.2 64.1 68% 12.1 1.9 2.2 0.3

Even though New York is still short on big men, they decided not to keep Wilcox for 2010. Newly acquired Darko Milicic and Eddy Curry are likely to take any minutes that would have gone to Wilcox. I guess the Knicks have filled their quota of lottery center busts.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
Teamwork: 2
Rootability: 1
Performance/Expectations: 2

Grade: D F I was going to give Wilcox a D, until I remembered this. If I recall correctly, he did this more than once as a Knick.

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Chris Wilcox 2009 TOT 13.2 .517 .496 15.3 3.3 9.5 1.6 0.9 0.5 2.6
.024 Pat Cummings 1983 DAL 14.6 .526 .493 15.8 3.5 10.4 2.2 0.9 0.5 2.5
.032 Rick Robey 1982 BOS 11.0 .511 .493 13.8 3.5 9.0 2.1 0.8 0.4 2.8
.033 Marc Jackson 2001 GSW 16.1 .534 .471 16.2 3.0 9.2 1.5 0.9 0.7 2.4
.045 Mike Jackson 1976 VIR 13.2 .549 .499 15.8 3.4 9.8 1.8 0.7 0.5 3.1
.046 Jason Caffey 2000 GSW 12.4 .515 .479 14.2 3.2 8.0 2.0 1.0 0.3 2.8
.054 Kenny Carr 1982 TOT 14.7 .543 .504 16.7 3.1 9.9 1.6 1.2 0.4 2.8
.061 Kenny Thomas 2004 PHI 15.9 .527 .469 13.4 3.5 10.0 1.5 1.1 0.4 2.3
.071 Armen Gilliam 1991 TOT 15.5 .542 .487 16.9 3.0 8.1 1.4 0.9 0.7 2.4
.073 Dwight Jones 1979 HOU 10.9 .505 .458 13.6 3.3 9.7 1.7 1.0 0.8 3.0

2009 Report Card: Jared Jeffries

It’s hard to believe that Jared Jeffries averaged a half a game’s worth of minutes (23.4 mpg) for the Knicks last year. It’s hard to blame D’Antoni because Jeffries was able to defend multiple positions, and the Knicks have been short on defenders at every position. Prior to the season start, D’Antoni wanted Jeffries to play center, but that never materialized. At some point during the season, the Knicks used the 6-11 forward to cover fast point guards. The idea worked for a short while, as Jeffries’ combination of length and quickness was able to disrupt the rhythm of smaller players. However it was short lived as eventually they just sped past him to the basket.

Other than defensive versatility, Jeffries doesn’t bring anything else to the table other than offensive rebounding (3.5 oreb/36). He doesn’t block a lot of shots or rebound well enough for a 6-11 guy. His scoring is dreadful, both in volume (8.1 pts/36) and efficiency (ts% 47.3%). By the way, if you hear rumors that Jeffries is working on his jumpshot this offseason, don’t get excited. Last year reports came in that Jeffries practicing his jumper, and he shot 26.9% on them, almost identical to the 26.7% the year before. New York could use to move Jeffries this season because it would give the team an extra $6.9M in free space next summer, but even D’Antoni’s offense can’t make Jeffries look good.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
Teamwork: 2
Rootability: 1
Performance/Expectations: 1

Grade: F

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Jared Jeffries 2009 NYK 9.4 .473 .441 8.1 3.5 6.3 2.2 1.3 0.9 1.8
.067 Joel Kramer 1983 PHO 8.8 .459 .423 8.0 3.2 6.9 2.9 1.2 0.5 1.7
.077 Danny Vranes 1986 SEA 7.8 .475 .461 6.9 2.6 6.4 1.6 1.4 0.7 1.3
.096 Reggie King 1985 SEA 6.9 .477 .423 7.0 1.8 5.1 2.2 1.2 0.5 1.8
.112 Keith Askins 1995 MIA 12.3 .493 .442 9.7 3.6 8.3 1.6 1.5 0.7 1.1
.113 Eduardo Najera 2004 DAL 11.5 .483 .451 8.8 3.3 7.8 1.2 1.7 0.9 1.4
.124 Mark Madsen 2003 LAL 9.3 .458 .423 8.0 4.0 7.3 1.8 0.7 0.9 1.2
.137 Johnny Baum 1974 TOT 11.6 .480 .450 12.1 2.4 5.9 1.8 1.1 0.5 1.4
.142 Jaren Jackson 1995 PHI 8.7 .446 .397 9.8 2.5 5.9 2.7 1.3 0.7 2.4
.144 Jabari Smith 2005 NJN 8.4 .482 .422 9.2 1.6 6.2 2.1 1.4 0.8 2.2
.145 E.C. Coleman 1978 GSW 9.1 .493 .475 9.3 2.3 7.5 2.0 1.3 0.5 1.9

Looking at the year column on this list, there aren’t a lot of players of Jeffries’ mold these days. Perhaps the almighty dollar has taught youngsters that developing scoring (at least in volume) is more important than other abilities. Or perhaps this list shows us that if you’re really tall, you contribute almost nothing and still be in the NBA. The difference between Jared Jeffries and Eduardo Najera or Mark Madsen is that they were fortunate enough to play on good teams. Had the Knicks been a great team in the last 5 years, trading Jeffries probably wouldn’t be as difficult.

And I’ll end with a quote from 2002:

Question: Is there a player in the NBA right now who you can compare your game to?

Jeffries: I’d say Danny Manning, a Dirk Nowitzki-type. I’m 6-11, so there are a lot of different things I can do as far as handling the ball and shooting, passing.

Knicks 2009 Summer League Roster

Looking over the Knicks’ roster there are 9 spots that are taken (Chandler, Curry, Duhon, Gallinari, Harrington, Hughes, Jeffries, Milicic, and Mobley). Two more are likely to be filled by Lee and Robinson. That leaves 4 spots possible for the summer league candidates, barring any offseason player movement.

Definites
It’s safe to assume that both draft picks Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas will be on the team’s roster come October. However it doesn’t mean the pair can relax in Vegas, as a poor showing could send them to D’Antoni’s doghouse before training camp even opens. Knick fans will expect both to make the rotation, Hill because of his status as lottery pick, and Douglas because of the lack of depth at guard. New York hopes both can help improve the team defensively, but they’ll need to prove that they’re capable on the offensive side as well. Both will need to play well now and in the preseason to make sure they aren’t sent to the D-League or practice squad. Considering their draft status and the competition, they should be able to give above average performances.

Probables
At the end of last year the team rotated in some NBDL players, and it looks like two stuck. Joe Crawford and Mouhamed Sene will be playing in the summer league, but they may need to prove their worth. Both of them combined for only 29 minutes last year, so the team isn’t committed to either. While Sene has more NBA experience, he’ll have tougher competition for playing time. New York has bolstered their front court by drafting Hill, trading for Darko, and hiding Eddy Curry’s Ring Dings. On the other hand Crawford will have less competition from the NBA roster, but might get pushed for playing time by Douglas and some of the other summer league guards New York. I wouldn’t bet on either player making the team, but they do have the inside track.

Possibles
One player that could push for a roster spot is Morris Almond. The Jazz selected him with the 25th pick in the 2007 draft, but Almond barely saw any NBA action in two seasons. However he was a prolific scorer in the NBDL, averaging 25.4 pts/36 over two seasons. Although this was due to his high usage (30.9%), to Almond’s credit his TS% was a robust 57.6%. One stat that did stand out in the NBDL is his free throw to field goal ratio. He hit .35 free throws for every shot attempted, and averaged 6.5 ftm/36. Clearly he’s skilled at drawing contact, and his 36.7% from downtown shows that he’s able to score from outside as well.

However Morris peripheral stats are weak. His rebounding numbers could be better for someone who stands 6-6, and his passing, steals, and blocks are weak for a shooting guard. Still he could provide some needed scoring off the bench and could be a poor man’s Allan Houston.

Another candidate is Blake Ahearn, a castaway from the Heat & Spurs. Like Almond, Ahearn dominated the NBDL, scoring 21.9 pts/36 on a sizzling 64.6% TS%. He connected on 43.4% of his three pointers, and was about as perfect as you get (95.5%) from the charity stripe. Unlike Almond, Ahearn has one peripheral stats that is above average, his 4.6 ast/36. At 6-2, Ahearn is more suited for point guard at the NBA level.

Doubtfuls
Yaroslav Korolev was drafted as an 18 year old by the Clippers in 2005 and spent two years in L.A. Yet even though he last suited up for an NBA game 3 years ago, he’s the second youngest player on the summer league team. Korolev is a 6-10 forward who’s father was a basketball coach and is rumored to have a sound all around game. At only 22 years old, he’s definitely young enough to be a “second draft” type of player.

Probably the last guy with a realistic shot at a roster spot is David Noel. He was a second round pick of the Bucks and didn’t play well in his one season. However he did well in the NBDL, scoring 17.1 pts/36 on 60.7 ts% and averaging 5.3 reb/36, 4.4 ast/36, and 1.7 stl/36. His free throw shooting was suspect (68.6%), but he was deadly from downtown (44.6%).

Please God No
Nokoloz Tskitishvili and Alex Acker are both 26 years old. Tskitishvili is looking for yet another chance at the NBA, while Acker is a combo guard who had 2 stints in the NBA (Pistons & Clippers). Nokoloz’s NBA numbers are laughably bad, while Acker’s D-League numbers aren’t very impressive (53.1% TS%).

Hey I Got Free First Row Tickets to the Summer League!
The summer league might be happy days for Valparaiso’s Ron Howard. Rashaad Singleton is a 7 footer, but barely played at Georgia. According to Wikipedia, Warren Carter plays in Spain and thinks Allen Iverson is the NBA’s best player. Wink Adams shot 26.9% from trey his last year at UNLV.

Who Am I Rooting For?
I think there’s the possibility that the Knicks could find a decent player here. I don’t think there are any NBA starters here, but certainly a few guys could contribute as reserves. After reviewing their numbers, Blake Ahearn is at the top of my list. I have a soft spot in my heart for snipers, and the Knicks really need more depth at point guard. I like Almond, but he scares me at the same time. His number suggest a typical me-first-shooter that’s indifferent to the other aspects of the game.

As for the rest, I hope Sene sticks around, even if it’s in the NBDL until New York moves Curry or Jeffries. Korolev has the most intriguing story, but his numbers are so bad as a teenager it’s hard to see him being good at this level. I don’t want Acker or Tskitishvili, and I sure hope the Knicks don’t fall in love with someone who is hot for a few games (*cough* Roberson *cough*). So that leaves Crawford or Noel. Perhaps Noel would be the better choice, considering D’Antoni had Crawford last year & barely used him.

2009 Report Card: Quentin Richardson

It’s amazing how Quentin Richardson’s 2009 season lines up with his career stats. Except for minor improvements in shooting and minor declines in rebounding, points scored, and free throw attempts, the two are identical.

Season G FGA TS% 3PA 3P% FTA FT% ORB TRB AST STL TOV PF PTS
2008-09 72 12.7 .510 6.3 .365 2.2 .761 1.3 6.1 2.2 0.9 1.4 2.5 13.9
Career 601 13.5 .499 5.7 .354 2.7 .712 1.7 6.4 2.1 1.0 1.6 2.6 14.7

Earlier in his career, Richardson was a more prolific scorer (16.8 pts/36 over his first 4 seasons) but it seems that injuries has robbed him of that ability (13.1 pts/36 since). These days Richardson’s main strength is his rebounding. He does try hard in other areas, including exerting effort on defense, but he’s just not very good at anything else. His three point shooting was at the league level (36.5%), but his overall offensive efficiency was way below it (TS%: 51.0%). The Knicks other swingmen, Chandler and Hughes, are both weak scorers around the hoop, yet they were still better at scoring from “close” (as defined by 82games). Of the three, Richardson had the lowest percentage made of “close” shots (eFG 51.1%) and the highest percentage of “close” shots blocked (17%). Quentin also sported the team’s lowest ratio of free throws made to field goals attempted (.13), a clear sign of poor inside scoring.

The problem wasn’t so much Richardson, but rather the Knicks’ reliance on him. Since coming to New York Q-Rich has started 85% of the games in which he appeared, including 51 of 72 last year. Wearing orange and blue, Richardson has averaged 28 minutes per game, far too much for someone approaching 29 with a moderate skill set.

For 2010 the goal should be to find a shooting guard that will allow Chandler to slide over to forward, or to get Gallo healthy enough for significant minutes at the three. Either of these should limit the time Richardson is on the floor. The Knicks were able to move Richardson this offseason for Darko Milicic to bolster the center position. This likely will open things up for Danilo Gallinari to assume more minutes at small forward.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
Teamwork: 4
Rootability: 3
Performance/Expectations: 2

Grade: D+

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Quentin Richardson 2009 NYK 11.6 .510 .483 13.9 1.3 6.1 2.2 0.9 0.1 1.4
.051 Wesley Person 2000 CLE 12.0 .528 .509 12.7 0.8 4.7 2.6 0.7 0.3 1.1
.058 Chris Mills 1998 NYK 12.7 .512 .462 12.8 2.0 6.7 2.2 0.7 0.5 1.8
.062 Raja Bell 2005 UTA 12.2 .527 .495 15.5 1.0 4.0 1.8 0.9 0.2 1.6
.064 Larry Krystkowiak 1993 UTA 11.7 .524 .466 13.6 2.0 7.4 1.8 1.1 0.3 1.6
.064 Walter Herrmann 2008 TOT 13.2 .494 .458 14.8 2.1 7.0 1.7 0.7 0.1 1.2
.075 Dennis Scott 1997 ORL 12.4 .519 .496 13.7 0.7 3.4 2.3 1.2 0.3 1.3
.079 Bob Hansen 1989 UTA 9.7 .512 .498 12.7 1.1 4.8 1.9 1.4 0.2 1.6
.079 Devin Brown 2007 NOK 14.3 .538 .493 14.5 1.2 5.4 3.2 1.0 0.2 2.0
.080 Keith Bogans 2009 TOT 9.7 .521 .481 10.3 0.9 5.7 1.8 1.2 0.1 1.2
.084 Maurice Evans 2007 LAL 12.1 .523 .476 13.3 1.9 4.6 1.5 0.8 0.3 1.2
.093 Tayshaun Prince 2009 DET 15.0 .516 .477 13.7 1.5 5.6 3.0 0.5 0.6 1.2

2009 Report Card: Larry Hughes

Larry Hughes arrived in a midseason trade with Chicago. The Knicks were in dire need of a shooting guard precipitated by the Cuttino Mobley injury, and Hughes’ poisoned contract made him available. Back in 2005, Hughes was a highly sought after free agent, but he never lived up to his contract as LeBron’s sidekick, and Chicago fans soured on him quickly. In New York, he arrived with lesser expectations as fans were just happy that he had a normal beating heart.

Hughes has a reputation as a good defender and he seems above average to the eye. However 82games had the Knicks’ defense 4.2 points worse with him on the court. I’m inclined to give him a pass, and wait until next year to make a better judgment on his effectiveness.

On the other end of the court, there’s no doubt that Hughes was a huge detriment to the offense. His shooting efficiency numbers were atrocious: 44.8% eFG and 49.3% TS%. Basically his shooting was so bad, if it weren’t for Jared Jeffries he would be the worst among the Knick rotation players. Hughes’ ability to slash to the hoop has been diminished as witnessed by his shrinking free throw attempts (6.9 fta/36 in 2005 down to 3.5 last year). One thing he has improved on is his three point shot. Over the last 4 years, Hughes has averaged 35.6% from downtown.

Even at his peak, Hughes was never a good scorer. He’s had an eFG over 46% twice, and never has had his TS% go above 53%. At this stage he should be a deep option off the bench for defensive purposes, and be given limited opportunities on offense. A good litmus test for rookie Toney Douglas will be if he can supplant Hughes in D’Antoni’s rotation this season. Like Hughes, Douglas is a defensive specialist and you hope that he can put up better offensive numbers than Hughes.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
Teamwork: 2
Rootability: 2
Performance/Expectations: 2

Grade: D+

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Larry Hughes 2009 TOT 13.4 .515 .469 15.6 0.4 3.9 2.9 1.8 0.3 1.7
.060 Byron Scott 1992 LAL 15.5 .537 .485 16.4 1.0 4.2 3.0 1.4 0.4 1.6
.061 Bobby Phills 2000 CHH 14.6 .524 .499 16.6 0.7 3.1 3.4 1.8 0.3 2.1
.068 Robert Reid 1986 HOU 13.7 .506 .468 16.5 1.1 5.0 3.7 1.5 0.3 1.6
.080 Mike Woodson 1989 HOU 12 .503 .455 16.7 0.8 3.1 3.3 1.4 0.3 2.2
.083 Lindsey Hunter 2001 MIL 14.8 .500 .478 14.8 0.6 3.0 4.0 1.8 0.2 1.2
.086 Blue Edwards 1996 VAN 11.9 .498 .463 13.5 1.3 4.5 2.8 1.5 0.6 2.2
.092 Todd Day 2000 PHO 13.2 .524 .491 15.1 1.2 4.9 2.5 1.7 0.8 1.9
.097 George McCloud 1998 PHO 12.7 .507 .488 13.5 1.3 6.5 2.5 1.6 0.4 1.9
.098 Trent Tucker 1990 NYK 12.0 .518 .496 13.9 1.2 3.6 3.6 1.5 0.2 1.5
.102 Cuttino Mobley 2006 LAC 13.1 .519 .467 14.1 0.6 4.1 2.9 1.1 0.4 1.8

Byron Scott was still a starter at the same age, but a year later would be his last as a starter. The year 2000 was Bobby Phils last, and Todd Day played one more season. I mention these three, because they have the highest TS% of the group, and they barely had careers in their 30s. It’s hard to imagine Hughes sticking around for much longer.

2009 Report Card: Nate Robinson

When the mainstream claims a player has a breakout season, it’s usually due to an increase in a player’s minutes per game which inflates his per game stats (see Eddy Curry’s 2007 season). Nate Robinson did see an increase in his minutes and had career highs in just about every per game stat. However his per minute stats verify that 2009 was a career year. The Knicks’ guard had career bests in per minute points, assists, rebounds, steals, fouls, and free throw attempts.

Year G FGA FG% 3PA 3P% FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL TOV PF PTS
2006 72 13.2 .407 3.4 .397 4.7 .752 1.3 2.6 3.9 3.4 1.4 2.7 4.7 15.6
2007 64 13.9 .434 5.7 .390 3.7 .777 1.5 2.6 4.0 2.4 1.3 1.9 4.2 17.1
2008 72 15.0 .423 5.6 .332 3.7 .786 1.0 3.3 4.2 4.1 1.1 2.0 3.6 17.5
2009 74 16.8 .437 6.3 .326 4.8 .841 1.6 3.1 4.7 4.9 1.5 2.3 3.4 20.7

Robinson has regressed from behind the arc posting his lowest seasonal percentage (32.6% 3p%), mostly due a stretch when he seemingly couldn’t buy a bucket. In December and January, Robinson was 37-175 (27.4%) from downtown. However his overall efficiency overcame this deficit with his ability to get to and convert from the line. In D’Antoni’s offense Robinson seemingly has carte blanche to go to the hoop, and he does with vigor. According to 82games, Robinson shot 59.6% eFG from “close”. Watching him, it’s amazing that the diminutive guard is able to score from inside so frequently and efficiently even with contact.

On the court Robinson has matured a little bit. His propensity to commit meaningless fouls has decreased, and D’Antoni keeps him from arguing with officials. Nate still has his eccentric theatrics, for example this season’s on the court Will Ferrell man-crush. It’s commonly thought that Robinson’s other big deficiency is his height. However teams didn’t exploit Robinson in this manner, as I rarely saw other guards post him up. Instead his true Achilles’ heel was revealed as he saw increased minutes this year: defending the pick and roll. Robinson goes under screens at a Jamal Crawford-esque rate, and frequently switches at ill opportune moments. At one point in the season Mike D’Antoni was visibly furious with Nate mid-game for his lack of effort on the defensive end. That Nate is unable to defend the pick and roll in a more physical manner is mind boggling, considering his football background.

Still all-in-all Nate was one of the more productive Knicks in 2009, and is worthy of a contract extension. His potent scoring is an asset alone, but Robinson contributes with passing, steals, and rebounds as well. He’ll probably always be a sixth man, partially due to his ability to create offense on his own with second team players. But it’s more likely that Nate will continue to come off the bench during his NBA career because of his lack of defense.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 5
Defense: 2
Teamwork: 2
Rootability: 4
Performance/Expectations: 5

Grade: B+

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Nate Robinson 2009 NYK 18.9 .549 .498 20.7 1.6 4.7 4.9 1.5 0.1 2.3
.052 Eddie Johnson 1980 ATL 18.0 .538 .489 20.1 1.3 2.7 5.1 1.6 0.3 2.6
.060 Purvis Short 1982 GSW 18.8 .530 .491 22.1 2.5 5.4 4.2 1.3 0.2 2.5
.062 Michael Finley 1998 DAL 19.3 .522 .477 18.7 1.6 4.6 4.3 1.4 0.3 2.3
.077 Jason Terry 2002 ATL 19.2 .549 .500 18.2 0.5 3.3 5.4 1.7 0.2 2.2
.090 Brandon Roy 2009 POR 24.0 .573 .512 21.9 1.3 4.6 5.0 1.1 0.3 1.9
.096 Butch Carter 1983 IND 14.9 .549 .513 17.8 1.3 3.1 4.1 1.6 0.3 2.5
.100 Steve Smith 1994 MIA 17.2 .552 .499 17.5 2.0 4.6 5.1 1.1 0.5 2.6
.102 Jason Richardson 2005 GSW 19.0 .518 .492 20.6 1.7 5.6 3.7 1.4 0.4 2.2
.104 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf 1994 DEN 16.7 .521 .476 19.8 0.4 2.3 5.0 1.1 0.1 2.1
.109 Andre Iguodala 2008 PHI 19.0 .543 .495 18.1 0.9 5.0 4.3 1.9 0.5 2.4
.111 Mike Glenn 1980 NYK 16.6 .557 .519 19.8 0.9 3.0 3.8 1.6 0.3 1.7

Looking over Nate’s comparable players is a decent list of players. Some offensively focused and defensively challenged shooting guards like Finley, Terry, Smith, and Richardson. Interestingly, there is a lack of undersized guards, not a single player on this list is shorter than 6’1, and the average height is just over 6’4. Nate certainly plays like a taller player, especially with respect to his rebounding and scoring efficiency. Overall his list is impressive for a player that will spend his career coming off the bench.