2010 Report Card: Earl Barron

The Earl of Barron

Earl “The Pearl” Barron

Earl “The Duke” Barron

Ah, the late season gem. Over the last ten years (Can we start calling it “The Lost Decade?”), Nix fans have had precious little to root for as the calendar hit March and April. The 8th seed was a lofty place where our boys could find no purchase . What we did have in abundance, was 11th/12th men and/or D-League call-ups who’d capture the fancy of the maddening throng by putting up some nice/solid efforts in otherwise meaningless games, the most surprisingly effective of which (Sorry. Courtney Sims. You do, however, win the award for “Knick whose moniker sounds the most like that of a Porn Starlet”) was 2010’s Earl “Insert Pun-tastic Nickname Here” Barron.

For those unacquainted w/his personal bio, The Earl was an undrafted 7’ Center out of Memphis in 2004…

Stop. Let’s take a moment to ponder that seemingly innocuous fact. If you’re 7′ tall and play for even a semi-viable college program, you will get drafted by the NBA. It’s the corollary of Parcells’ “earth-movers” theory – to wit: there are a limited number of sentient beings who are 7′ tall who have operant limbic systems and one absolutely must have one of these massive individuals on one’s roster in order to win. Ergo, go git that big mofo!

Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen the likes Patrick O’Bryant, Rafael Araujo, Curtis Borchardt, Hasheem Thabeet. BJ Mullens, Spencer Hawes, Jason Smith, Hilton Armstrong, Saer Sene, Johan Petro, Robert Swift (sorry ex-Sonics fans), The Immortal Pavel Podkolzine (I think Pavel P. and Chad Ford ended up getting an apartment together – Darko’s moving in next year), DeSagana Diop, (Channeling my inner Jack Horner/Burt Reynolds here, those are great names!) all taken 5-10 spots in the draft ahead of where they should have been selected b/c…well…”You can’t teach height.

So the fact that The Barron went completely undrafted suggests that, while he may not have been vertically challenged, the varied talent evaluators thought he didn’t even possess a glimmer of the ancillary skills required to play professional basketball at the highest level. (See Mike K’s excellent Eddy Curry Autopsy for further reading on this subject.) The early part of his career certainly suggested that the wags were correct as he toiled for Tuborg Pilsner in the Turkish league, the Hunstville Swift of the D-League, and w/Red Bull Barako in the Phillipines from 2003-05.

Pat Riley did bestow him a towel-waving gig for the champeenship (refs…cough, cough…refs) Heat in ’05-’06 and he managed to stick around for another two seasons, but nothing in the numbers suggested he was anything more than a big body taking up space:

So when the Nix signed him to a 10-day, the odds of Early Barroness doing anything of note were somewhere between slim and none (And Slim’s outta town and I ain’t no nun!)

But lo! Somewhere in his wanderlust, The Earl acquired a very solid 15-18 ft. jumper and prowess on the boards that was eerily reminiscent of David Lee’s early work. Now whether he can maintain this pace, or this seven-game blip is just a statistical anomaly another matter altogether. After all, for a 10-games or fewer stint, you know how many centers averaged 10 ppg and 11 rpg at age 28 or later? One. Earl Barron!

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

Final Grade: B+

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS eFG PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Earl Barron 2010 NYK 14.7 50.8 44.1 12.7 4.8 11.9 1.2 0.6 0.6 1.7
.068 Mike Brown 1992 UTA 12.3 51.5 45.3 12.8 3.8 9.6 1.6 0.8 0.7 2.1
.083 Derek Strong 1997 ORL 13.6 51.3 44.7 12.6 3.1 9.3 1.3 0.8 0.4 1.8
.087 Olden Polynice 1993 DET 14.6 49.5 49.1 13.5 5.0 11.6 0.8 0.9 0.6 1.5
.124 Joe Smith 2004 MIL 16.6 51.0 44.0 13.3 3.7 10.3 1.2 0.8 1.5 1.3
.125 Joe Kleine 1990 BOS 10.5 52.9 48.0 11.5 3.1 9.4 1.2 0.4 0.7 1.7
.154 Drew Gooden 2010 TOT 16.9 54.7 47.9 15.7 4.2 11.1 1.0 0.8 1.2 2.2
.159 Dan Gadzuric 2007 MIL 11.9 48.2 47.4 11.1 4.0 10.5 1.2 0.9 1.4 2.1
.161 Mark Bradtke 1997 PHI 9.6 46.3 43.1 8.5 3.7 9.8 1.0 0.7 0.7 1.3
.167 Jim Chones 1978 CLE 14.9 50.3 47.2 15.2 2.7 10.5 1.6 0.6 0.7 2.3
.168 Eddie Lee Wilkins 1991 NYK 10.5 47.4 44.7 15.0 3.7 9.7 0.8 0.9 0.4 2.7

In a very limited sample size Barron hit open J’s, hustled after loose balls, and was a reasonable facsimile of a defensive presence, which as all well know, the ‘Bockers have lacked since Mutombo made his cameo in ’03. We can only hope that he’ll be eternally grateful to D. Walsh for plucking him from obscurity and sign a reasonable deal to provide solid minutes off the bench next season. Then again, w/the utter dearth of bigs, who knows? He might get a poor man’s McIlvaine/Koncak/Jerome James-type deal from some poor, addled GM out there. Isiah?

Earlimart Barron

“The universe opens up the door
and we go right in, it’s there, it’s new, it’s cool
it’s something we ain’t seen before”
–“Happy Alone”, by Earlimart

The Knicks signed Earl Barron on April 2nd which could have been misconstrued as a late April Fools Joke. At 28 years old Barron can hardly be considered a prospect. He went undrafted out of Memphis, played in Turkey, the NBDL and 3 anonymous seasons in Miami. However upon joining the Knicks Barron immediately found himself in D’Antoni’s rotation and due to The D’Antoni Rules™ #1 & #2, is seeing a lot of playing time.

I’m as shocked as anyone, especially how the Knicks coach has treated 7-footers in his New York tenure. Last year Cheikh Samb, Mouhamed Sene, Courtney Sims, and Jerome James totaled a mere 35 minutes on the season. So far in 3 games this year, Barron has played 91 minutes. That’s more than either Eddy Curry (62) or Darko Milicic (71). And to make things more bizarre, Barron is playing exceptionally well. The last is unfathomable, because his 3000 or so minutes in the NBDL and NBA indicated that he was unlikely to be a solid NBA player.

Granted I expect Barron’s numbers will eventually decline from their current sizzling level. I don’t expect that he all of a sudden turned into Moses Malone on the glass (13.1 reb/36) or gained a Nowitzki-esque jumper (54.3% eFG). Earl is shooting 70% from 16-23 feet, a rate that I think he’ll have trouble sustaining.

But in a season where there has been little to cheer about on the court, the Knicks look good with Barron on the floor. Perhaps it’s because he gives them their first legitimate center in years. Perhaps it’s a novelty, like when excitement was generated after they traded for McGrady, House, and Rodriguez. Perhaps he’s actually the right fit for D’Antoni’s scheme, one that could enhance his strengths and help mask his weaknesses. Maybe it’s because the Knicks are actually winning. For a team struggling to get to 30 wins, taking 2 of the last 3 will make that beer taste more refreshing. Whatever it is the team has gotten more pleasant to watch, and as a long time suffering Knick fan I’m going to enjoy the moment while it lasts.

Knicks Signed Courtney Sims

Thanks to TDM from the forums for the heads up. New York has let Cheikh Samb’s 10 day contract expire, and has signed Courtney Sims instead. Sims brings a different skill set to the team. DraftExpress praised his hands (“his touch is absolutely terrific”) and said he was more refined scorer than the other D-League big men due to his ability to create his own shot. Unfortunately his defense is suspect.

Defensively, Sims still has plenty of room for improvement, as he gave up position far too easily in the paint and also did a poor job for the most part rotating to meet slashers in the paint. He has the length to contest shots, but does not have very good awareness on this end of the floor, probably lacking some toughness as well as strength. Considering what his role would be in the NBA, this is definitely an issue if he’s to see quality minutes as a rotation player. He seems to lose his focus quite easily, especially when a bad call goes against him—leading him to completely lose his composure.

I took the time to compile his full D-League stats, and they show him to be a more well rounded player than Samb. The 22pts/36 sticks out the most, especially when accompanied by the high efficiency. The rebounding is adequate, and the blocked shots are above par. It’ll be interesting to see how that translates to the NBA level. Of course the biggest obstacle is D’Antoni who holds the keys to Sims’ minutes. Hopefully we’ll see a little more of Sims than his last two NBA teams (4 games, 13 mintues) to get a better understanding of his skillset.

MPG   FGA FG% FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB  AST STL BLK TOV  PF  PTS ts%
33.5 13.8 61% 6.7 74% 3.5 6.8 10.3 1.4 0.5 1.8 2.6 3.4 22.0 66%

From insidehoops:

The New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that free agent center Courtney Sims has been signed to a 10-day contract. Sims, a member of the Iowa Energy, became the 16th Call-Up of the 2008-09 NBA Development League season.

Sims, 6-11, 245-pounds, was undrafted out of the University of Michigan and has played a total of 13 minutes in four NBA games with Indiana and Phoenix over the last two seasons. The Roslindale, MA-native was signed as a free agent by Indiana on Oct. 2, 2007 and played in three games last season with the Pacers before being waived on Dec. 19, 2007. Sims spent the remainder of the 2007-08 season and the beginning of this 2008-09 campaign with the NBA Development League’s Iowa Energy. He signed two 10-day contracts with the Phoenix Suns beginning on Jan. 20, 2009 and appeared in one game for the Suns this season.

Cheikh Samb’s 10-day contract had expired and the club elected not to re-sign him. The Knicks roster stands at 14 players.


To comment on this article, please use this Courtney Sims forum topic.

Knicks Slide Due to (Lack of) Interior Defense

The 2009 Knicks have been tough to watch. After a promising early start and a couple of trades, the team has been on a losing streak. New York has dropped their last 6 games and are a Jets-eque 3-10 in December. Although I’ve said many times that I don’t care how many games the Knicks win this year, it’s clear what’s causing New York’s woes: interior defense.

When you think of the Knicks in a historical context, you tend to think of good defense. Stalwart centers like Ewing and Reed first come to mind, followed by Clyde, Debusschere, Oakley, Harper, and Camby. But watching the modern day version, there are few good defensive players on the roster. It’s hard to pinpoint which is the Knicks best defensive player. Chandler? Jeffries? Duhon? Jerome James? The list of candidates is short and laughable.

It really doesn’t matter what lineup the Knicks put on the floor, because there aren’t many capable defenders on the team. New York only has one player in their rotation that averages at least one block every 36 minutes: Wilson Chandler (1.0 blk/36). Their second best rotation player is Tim Thomas (0.5 blk/36), and that speaks volumes of how bad the Knicks are in this department.

And it seems the Knicks opponents have noticed this as well. Looking over yesterday’s play-by-play, Denver was 24-32 on shots labeled “layup” or “dunk”. The Nuggets made 45 shots, which means nearly half were in the paint. That’s a staggering amount, and to make matters worse, D’Antoni decided to use a bigger starting lineup of Duhon, Chandler, Jeffries, Thomas, and Lee. Obviously that had no effect.

Unfortunately the Knicks don’t have a lot of options. The team might turn to Eddy Curry, who might be ready to play in January. Even though Curry is a weak shot blocker for a center (1.1 blk/36 career), he’d be an improvement over David Lee (0.3 blk/36 this year). They could play Jerome James, but his weaknesses in the other areas of the floor would offset any gain from the shots he would turn back. (Although for Knick fans hoping for a better draft pick this might be a win-win situation). New York could look to sign a player to a 10 day contract, which they could do starting January 5th. A player like Courtney Sims (6’11, 2.2 blk/36), Richard Hendrix (6’9, 1.7 blk/36), or Chris Hunter (6’11, 1.9 blk/36), might be able to provide some immediate help with possible upside.

Other than inserting Curry into the rotation, it’s not likely that the Knicks will improve much in this department. I don’t see D’Antoni using James on a consistent basis. Isiah tried using James as a starter next to Curry, and that experiment didn’t last long. And it’s unlikely that New York will turn to a developmental league player to solve one of their problems. So Knick fans are going to have to live with a few more months of other teams exploiting this glaring weakness.