Interview With Donnie Walsh

Before the 11/6/09 Cleveland game I was able to ask Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh a few questions.


Mike Kurylo It seems like the team is struggling from three, except for Gallinari. In the preseason you had a few guys like Joe Crawford and Morris Almond who could knock down the three…

Mike D’Antoni Morris Almond was never in the preseason… He was in the summer league.

Mike Kurylo I’m sorry you’re right summer league. Are there any thought of bringing in another shooting guard?

Mike D’Antoni No.


Mike Kurylo Do you …

Donnie Walsh Where are you from?

Mike Kurylo KnickerBlogger.Net. It seems that there are a lot of guys that are free agents at the end of the year on your own team. So just by chance you may have a lot of roster spots open.

Donnie Walsh You’re wrong.

Mike Kurylo OK. I’m sorry for assuming.

Donnie Walsh That’s what’s happening. You’re writing what you think. I like the players on my own team.

Mike Kurylo But it seems that by chance some guys will just sign with another team. For instance if you have 7 free agents, it’s possible that you may only be able to resign 3 or 4. So I was wondering if you were looking at other avenues of signing players.

Donnie Walsh Of course.

Mike Kurylo Where are you looking? Are you looking in the D-League or in Europe?

Donnie Walsh All of the above.

Mike Kurylo How do stats fit into the picture with your scouting? Do you use them half and half or do you rely mostly on scouting?

Donnie Walsh I umm… [to Larry Johnson] Hey Larry how are you? It’s good to have you here.

LJ: Look at you always working.

Mike Kurylo So my question is: How do stats fit into the picture?

Donnie Walsh I don’t know quite what you mean. Am I impressed at how many point a guy scores per game? No.

Mike Kurylo How about other stats like …

Donnie Walsh If a guy is averaging 30 points per game and a scout calls me up and says this guy is the real deal, then I’ll go watch him.

Mike Kurylo What stats are you looking at? Are you looking at true shooting percentage and any of the newer stats?

Donnie Walsh Of course we’ve got all of that.

Mike Kurylo Are you familiar with John Hollinger or Dave Berri…

Donnie Walsh I’m not overly impressed if his true shooting percentage [is X] and that means something. It’s part of the picture.

Mike Kurylo I’m a big stat guy and I feel like in baseball that 80-90 percent of a player’s value is captured in stats, in my opinion. But in basketball it doesn’t seem to be as reliable.

Donnie Walsh Because basketball is a 5-man game that has to be played together. You’re not just getting [up to the plate] to hit a baseball.

Mike Kurylo Basketball is not a one-on-one game. And the defensive stats in basketball, blocks and steals, just don’t cover what happens on that end. Someone like Bruce Bowen…

Donnie Walsh You know it’s very difficult to [quantify this]. Coaches try to do it. They come up with deflections and challenges and different stats to determine who is doing a good job defensively. But you can see that by watching. You’re right. A guy that blocks shots may be good or bad [defensively].

[Inaudible due to loud music – but Donnie and I talked about a defensive scoresheet.]

Donnie Walsh Look I don’t think gut instinct is foolproof and I don’t think stats are foolproof. I think a combination of different things [are best.] We do a lot of checking and try to get as good picture we can of the guy.

Knicks 2010 Season Preview Part 2

[In case you missed it, Part I is here.]

Larry Hughes SG

What the Numbers Say
Through the first 4 preseason games, Larry is 1 fer 20. Yipes.

What the Team Says
“Larry Hughes is a guy that can score points and create his own shot. And I think that’s also very good in Mike’s system.” – Donnie Walsh (after the trade deadline deal that netted Hughes for Tim Thomas.)

What the Player Says
“I’m a proven scorer in this league, so it’s not a problem for me,” Hughes said after the Knicks held an open practice for fans at Fordham University yesterday. “It’s the preseason. I’m not too concerned.”

What My Gut Says
HeyLarryHughesPleaseStopTakingSoManyBadShots.com really just about sums it up. Alas, I fear good old Larry has the potential to be this year’s Marbury. No, I don’t mean he’s going to eat Vaseline, it’s just that he has a history of pitching a fit when presented with less playing time than he believes he merits. Nor does he seem to have a firm grasp on what his own abilities are. Proven scorer, my fanny.

Wilson Chandler – SG (in name only)/SF

What the Numbers Say
I can’t parse the stats for the life of me, but Wilson Chandler pops up all over the place in Dave Berri’s “Overrated players of 08-09” list.

What the Team Says
“He’s a great kid that works hard and I really think he has a chance,” D’Antoni said. “That will depend on him and the work that he puts in in the summertime, and he thinks he’s going to do it. I hope he does.”

What the Player Says
“Shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em up, shake ’em. Roll ’em in a circle of fellas and watch me break ’em” (a tweet in response to Nate Rob’s tweet) Apparently they like tweeting Ice Cube lyrics to one another. Good times.

What My Gut Says
For some reason, in spite of his rim-rattling dunks and blocks that send the rock into the (very expensive) seats, Ill Will fails to make much of an impression on me. Perhaps it’s because he has fewer facial expressions, succeed or fail, than Paris Hilton. He’s a nice two-way SF who if he develops a more consistent jumper and solid handle could be Shawn Marion-lite. A quality guy to have and could certainly be a part of the rotation on a contender, I’d still have dealt him for the 5th pick/Ricky Rubio in a NY minute (assuming that it was even remotely possible).

Danilo Gallinari SF

What the Numbers Say
Danilo Gallinari (2009, Age 20) .448 FG, .444 3FG, .963 FT, 4.8 reb/36, 14.9 pts/36
Dirk Nowitzki (1999, Age 20 ) .405 FG, .205 3FG, .773 FT, 6.1 reb/36, 14.9 pts/36
(Full player comparison at Basketball-Reference.com)

What the Team Says
“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen” — Mike D’Antoni

What the Player Says
“Wake up at 9.02 (because I do not like alarms perfect!) … Breakfast with milk and Nesquick … accompanied with biscuits or cornflakes in the morning … I need a lot of carbohydrates! Then long session in the bathroom to get ready, get dressed, I put the lenses, a bit of hair gel and so ready to go to training.” — Il Gallo

What My Gut Says
I amo Il Gallo! So, ciò sembra un po’gaio, ma è il suo soprannome. Che sono intendendo fare? One of the things that’s actually disappointed me in Danilo’s development is that his English has really improved. As a result, he sounds a lot less like Roberto Benigni/Chico Marx. It’s too bad. I was really looking forward with the post-game interview with Jill “Gimme A Minute” Martin where he screeched, “I want to make love to the firmament!” That said, I think he puts up Nowitzki-like #’s in year two (15 ppg, 6 rpg)

And even though he hasn’t officially made the team yet, I have to say that I‘m seriously pulling for Marcus Landry. Maybe it’s because he’s making the transition from undersized college center to SG/SF and the last player I can think of who pulled this off successfully was Earl Monroe, who played the pivot/with his back to the basket at Winston-Salem in the 60’s.

Pre-Draft Link-O-Rama

Here at Knickerblogger.net we want you to be informed. To that end, we have spanned the information super highway looking for the best pre-draft analysis and mock drafts. If you know of a good link that we missed, please share.

Dave Berri has some interesting views on the “top” point guards. After reading his work I am officially off the Flynn bandwagon and throwing my full support behind Stephen Curry. Check this cool production chart based on the last season of the players who attended college. Berri really likes Lawson. Maybe Caleb was right about Flynn. And Hollinger likes Lawson too.

Over at hoopsanalyst the love for Lawson continues while Ed Weiland goes all Andy Rooney on the pre-draft evaluation process:

It’s as if the scouts, GMs and other personnel men simply focus in on what goes on in the combine and workouts and ignore the season. As if they’re drafting players for a decathlon instead of the same five-on-five game these players were playing the previous winter.

Rooneyisms aside, I think Ed is on to something. Ed also evaluated combo and shooting guards. I’m sure he’ll get to forwards and centers too so check back in on him.

The combine measurement cheers and jeers continue at blogs all over but this one stood out for me. Hoopsreport.com reports that Eric Maynor’s stock is down:

Maynor’s height for a point guard is pretty good at 6-foot-3, but his weight was not impressive. Maynor weighed in at just 164 pounds, the lightest of anyone at the Combine. To successfully defend NBA guards, he will have to hit the weight room.

I don’t quite buy that given that length and speed are far more important to defense with the new backcourt defensive rules. Active hands and fast feet are better indicators of defense for guards. And what does weight tell you about the ability to play good team defense? You know, Stockton would be a late second rounder by today’ standards. Okay now I sound like Rooney. Moving on…

Matthew Maurer over at the draft review tells us of the 7 deadly sins of drafting. It’s a fun and quick read but we Knick fans will disagree with his assessment of Jared Jeffries’ “perimeter oriented skill sets.” Umm-no. Matthew should update his mock—its 3 weeks old—but I have a soft spot for this site as I won a draft trivia contest there a few years ago. My prize: a one size fits none T-shirt and really cool draft yearbook with stats and impressions on the top 20 players at each position. I don’t think they have published one since but I hope he tries it again.

Hoopshype.com has a mock draft powered by Jonathan Givony of draftexpress.com fame. I like that Givony mocks based on what the team should do rather than what the team is expected to do. For example, Givony has Memphis taking James Harden second. I find that to be a great move because of Rubio, Thabeet, and Harden, it is Harden that best addresses Memphis struggles with scoring (28th in Efficiency, 23rd in eFG) right away. Givony has Holiday to the Knicks and Flynn in the bottom half of the lottery as of 6/17/09.

NBAdraft.net updates their mock about every two days. You can also get opinions on hundreds of prospects. The countdown timer is cool too.

If you can tear yourself away from Jessica Gomes, CNNSI has a mock up as well.