Some Plays Count: Knicks Defense, Good and Bad

Here are two video clips on the Knicks defense in their home opener. Both show the Knicks switching on every pick. The first one is of the technique working, as Miami struggles to find an open man. The other is two possessions showing different ways the Heat took advantage of this strategy.

[Note: There’s no audio on these clips for those at work. I’d like to say that’s by design, but as you can see I’m no Gian.]

Knicks 93 Heat 115

The Knicks lost the 2010 opener in Miami 93 to 115. New York tied the game at 46 on a Lee layup with 2:49 left in the 2nd quarter. But the game fell apart for them shortly after. Miami would score 10 consecutive points in the next 2:19 and then outscore the Knicks 34-15 in the third quarter.

Some notes on the game:

  • Jeffries took the opening tip, but that’s the closest he came to being a center. Immediately after the tip, and for most of the game, he defended the SF position.
  • Continuing from last year, the Knicks continued their strategy of switching on nearly every pick. There were a few communication issues in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, where Miami got players undefended in the paint.
  • One quirk Darko Milicic has is to tip defensive rebounds to his teammates, which might explain his low rebounding numbers. He took hook shots with both his left & right hand, sinking both. And his passing is certainly underrated (3 ast in 17 mins), especially in the half court set. He could have had at least 2 more assists, but Knick players were unable to convert close to the hoop.

    The defense looked good with him on the floor, and the Heat did their biggest damage (late 2nd, early 3rd) with him on the bench. He didn’t register a blocked shot, but a few times players were unable to get a shot off or make their shot in the paint due to his presence. Milicic hurt his knee in the second half, but did return to the bench.

  • The Knicks were ice cold from three point land in the first half. They hit only 4 of 19 (21%).
  • Wilson Chandler’s first three attempts were all of the 18-21 foot variety, he hit only one of them.
  • In his first NBA minute, Toney Douglas committed a foolish foul on Daequan Cook’s attempted three pointer, running into him after the shot.
  • Danilo Gallinari got hot in the second half, and finished with 7 three pointers on 13 attempts. Most of them were wide open, but he hit one at least 5 feet from behind the arc. However he didn’t do much else on offense, and only had a single shot from inside the arc. It was a drive off of a three point head fake, and was blocked by Joel Anthony.
  • David Lee started off the game well, with some baskets in the paint and he hit a jump shot. But he picked up 2 fouls early, and had to sit out most of the first half.
  • Al Harrington had a Crawford-esque line: 5-14, 0 reb, 0 ast, 2 to. At one point when the Heat were pulling away in the 3rd, his inbound pass got intercepted by Dwayne Wade for a spectacular layup.
  • Jared Jeffries had 2 points in 35 minutes. He helped in other areas, (5 reb, 4 ast, 2 blk, 1 stl), but he also had 3 turnovers. Two of them for inexplicably stepping out of bounds near the three point line.
  • The Knicks 2010 Over/Under

    This year I decided to have some fun and invite some NBA writers to participate in a little soothsaying. I proposed some possible scenarios via Over/Under and asked them to look into their crystal-ball and divine the outcome to these events. This year I got a good mix of people including: Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus, J.E. Skeets of Ball Don’t Lie, Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty, Howard Beck of the New York Times, Tommy Dee from the Knicks Blog, NBA analyst Gabe Farkas, in addition to some of KnickerBlogger’s own writing staff (Robert “The Animal” Silverman, Thomas B., Owen, Michael Zannettis, Kevin McElroy, Brian Cronin, and myself).

    The Youngsters

    Gallo 3 point shooting percentage: 40%
    My Pick: Under
    Gallinari shot 44% last year, but due to the limited number of minutes he played this could be a fluke. Most of our participants see him faring well from behind the arc this year.

    Gallo

    Jordan Hill minutes played: 1100.5
    My Pick: Under
    For Hill to go over, he would only need to average 13.5 minutes a game, which doesn’t seem like much. However the Knicks have a lot of depth on the front court, and Hill has looked unimpressive in the preseason. If he starts racking up DNPs, it’s not likely he’ll make this number. Only Pelton, Ziller, and Farkas see him getting this much playing time this year.

    Hill

    Toney Douglas True Shooting Percentage: 50%
    My Pick: Under
    The league average for True Shooting Percentage is 54%, so this should be an easily attainable goal for most NBA players. Our panel was split, but leaned towards the under.

    Douglas

    Lottery Pick Centers

    Darko Milicic total points on the season: Eddy Curry total points on the season
    My Pick: Over
    Once these two were among the hottest prospects in the draft, now they’re barely able to find court time on a 30-something win team. Darko scores much less per minute, but I guess that’s the point.

    Darko and Curry. Two halves of a great center don’t make a whole.

    — Mike Zannettis

    Darko

    UFOs (or I’ll Believe It When I See it)

    Jared Jeffries 3 pointers attempted per 36 minutes: 1.5
    My Pick: Over
    Another split decision by the group. I decided to go with 3 pointers attempted, because that’ll mean a fundamental shift in the way Jeffries plays on offense. And D’Antoni does allow players to shoot threes, even if they can’t hit them.

    I think Jared Jeffries will easily exceed 1.5 3 pointers attempted per 36 minutes–if he is healthy– in this offense. The better question is will he have more than 0.5 makes per 36 minutes. I don’t think he can do that without downloading a cheat code, and last I checked there is no slot for a Game Genie on JJ’s shooting hand.

    — Thomas B.

    Jeffries

    (Smells Like) Team Spirit

    Number of Knicks traded during the 2010 season: 0.5
    My Pick: Under
    Kevin Pelton is the lone dissenter. I wonder who’ll be gone?

    Trade

    Number of Wins From March 1 – April 14th: 9.5
    My Pick: Under
    The end of the schedule is just brutal.

    I ran the numbers on the Knicks’ last 24 games based on SCHOENE’s projections for them and their opponents, factoring in home-court advantage. The final estimate? 9.6 wins. Nice job on the over/under, then.

    –Kevin Pelton

    Wins

    Defensive efficiency: 110.8
    My Pick: Under
    This is the team’s mark from last year, so the question is technically whether the Knicks defense will improve. Again Pelton is the only one to break from the pack.

    DE

    Playoff Spots Earned: 0.5
    My Pick: Under
    Only 5 of 13 picked New York to make the playoffs. The measure of a true optimist.

    Although watching [some of the] pre-season games is enough to make one fondly recall even the dark days of Bob Thornton, Jammin’ James Bailey, Ron Cavenall and Chris McNealy, I (gulp) think these ‘Bockers are going to surprise. I’ve got no stat-based or even vaguely logical reason to believe so other than the fact that the conventional wisdom seems to be that this year’s Knicks model is gonna stink real bad. Maybe it’s my nature as a contrarian, but to me, “Conventional Wisdom”‘s as much of an oxymoron as “Jumbo Shrimp” or “Military Intelligence”. I.e. since the ESPN gang/the beat writers are all in agreement, I’m going to go the other way.

    In short, playoffs or bust, baybee!

    — Robert Silverman

    Playoffs

    The Free Agents

    Number of additional games Nate Robinson plays as a Knick in his career: 82.5
    My Pick: Over
    To go over, Nate would have to resign with the Knicks. The Magic 8-Ball says “Outlook not so good.”
    Nate

    David Lee’s Annual Salary in 2011: $7.5M
    My Pick: Under
    Lots of people went over, but perhaps this is a trick question. He can still average nearly $10M with a 10% raise over 6 years starting at $7.5M. Of course not every contract increases that way, but it’s possible.

    Whether or not you agree with it, Lee is a HOT commodity.

    — Gabe Farkas

    Lee

    TrueHoop Network 2009-10 Season Preview: New York Knicks

    CROWD SAYS/BLOGGER SAYS
    The consensus win total prediction of the TrueHoop Network bloggers and my own prediction.

    LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 32-50
    CROWD SAYS: 31-51
    BLOGGER PREDICTION: 35-47

    YES WE CAN!
    The sun is out. The seas have parted. The basketball gods are shining upon us!

    If I’m allowed to be optimistic, 2010 could be New York’s return to winning. Last year the team suffered from roster instability and a lack of depth. As the front office transitioned away from the Isiah era, 23 different players donned Knick uniforms. With Lee and Robinson signing one year deals, this season should see improved continuity as the core of the team returns with some reinforcements. Newly acquired Darko Milicic, a slimmed down Eddy Curry, a healthy Danilo Gallinari, the 8th overall pick Jordan Hill, and rookie Toney Douglas will give Coach D’Antoni some more options with his rotation.

    This year the offense should improve, especially if Gallinari plays more in his sophomore season. Gallo shot extremely well as a 20 year old rookie, and if his first year stats are indicative of his skill level, he’ll thrive in D’Antoni’s offense. Meanwhile Eddy Curry has always been able to score, but his Achilles Heel on offense has been turnovers. D’Antoni’s offensive scheme should use Curry in screens and off the ball more, as opposed to solely dumping the ball to him in the post. This should cut down on his turnovers while getting him the ball near the hoop more often, an area where Curry thrives. Defense will still be a weakness this upcoming season, but with the additions of Milicic, Hill, and Douglas the Knicks could see a modest improvement.

    Looking at the changes since last year, the Knicks have strengthened their roster, should improve their offense, and will remain about the same on defense. Hence it makes sense for the team to improve on their 32 win total of 2009. How much will be seen, but if the stars align in New York, it’s possible that they will end their drought of 8 consecutive winless seasons.

    NO YOU WON’T
    A rousing dissent from a rival blogger.

    The Knicks suck because they mortgaged their future on a pipe dream that hinges upon the rapid development of Wilson Chandler ans some guy that Italians call the Rooster.
    — Jared Wade, Eight Points, Nine Seconds

    ALL A TWITTER
    A 140-character insight into the soul of the team.

    nate_robinson

    “In the locker room sit n next to ill will chandler, try n to give him tips on how to stop mr. D.Wade aka Flash, good luck will kick a$$ !!!”
    5:05 PM Apr 12th from TinyTwitter

    Nate Robinson giving teammate Wilson Chandler defensive tips, right before the Heat’s Dwyane Wade scores 55 points on the Knicks.

    ON THE RECORD
    Single best quote concerning the team during the last 12 months.

    “Are they ******* kidding me? Are they ******* kidding me?”

    Coach Mike D’Antoni during the opening day laugher win against Miami while Knick fans cheered “We Want Steph!” In a single televised lip-read gesture D’Antoni showed, in a very New York-esque manner, that the inmates no longer ran the asylum.

    The 2008-09 Almanac
    Some key stats from last season.

    Offense: 17th
    Defense: 23rd
    Pace: 2nd

    Team Factor Strength(s): Free Throws Allowed (7th) Team Factor
    Weakness(es): Shooting Allowed (28th), Free Throws (28th), Offensive
    Rebounding (27th)

    Don’t expect the Knicks to lead the league in offensive rebounding anytime soon. Over the last 5 years, D’Antoni coached teams have finished in the bottom half in offensive rebounding percentage. Thrice his Suns finished last or second to last, and last year’s Knicks were 27th.

    YEAR - TEAM - RANK
    2005 - PHO  - 22nd
    2006 - PHO  - 30th
    2007 - PHO  - 29th
    2008 - PHO  - 29th
    2009 - NYK  - 27th
    

    THE PLAY
    Down a single point with 9.2 seconds to play in a must-win game. What’s the play?

    Needing a single point the Knicks should go with a Duhon/Lee pick & roll, while spreading the floor with Gallinari, Harrington and Robinson. Although Duhon struggles to score in the paint, forcing him towards the basket isn’t an ideal defensive approach. Lee is too efficient around the hoop to leave alone (and superb at scoring with contact) so teams would have to consider doubling him. Duhon is excellent at finding the open man should a defensive breakdown occur. And if anything goes wrong, plan B would be to give the ball to Nate (or Harrington) and allow them to improvise.

    THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
    The fan favorite the crowd will be chanting for to see some action.

    Unlike last year, the Knicks should have plenty of depth in the front court. Lee, Harrington, Curry and Milicic will see the lion’s share of minutes. Add D’Antoni’s penchant for small ball, and it’s hard to see a lot of minutes for #8 pick Jordan Hill.

    IF YOU’RE WATCHING THE BOTTOM LINE, YOU’RE WATCHING THIS
    The single biggest spreadsheet issue hanging over the team.

    For New York, the 2010 season doesn’t matter as much as the summer following it. Donnie Walsh has to balance between making the team competitive to lure a major free agent and having the cap space to sign one or more stars. A major question he needs to answer is: Can the team afford to keep David Lee and Nate Robinson long term? Losing either or both without compensation would be a tough pill to swallow for a team without a first round pick that is looking to be competitive.

    TEAM BLOGGERS SAY WINS*

    Bret Lagree | Hoopinion

    “The Hawks have not built, nor do they appear to be building, a championship contender. … Joe Johnson is poised to be a free agent in the summer of 2010. Johnson is not a franchise player, yet he’s the Hawks’ best player.”

    45

    Zach Lowe | CelticsHub

    “It seems reasonable to say anything short of an 18th championship would be a disappointment.”

    58

    Brett Hainline | Queen City Hoops

    “Great defense + equally bad offense = average. With an improving division around them, that equation does not get them their first playoff berth. But at least they won’t suck.”

    36

    Matt McHale | By the Horns

    “During the offseason, the Bulls lost free agent Ben Gordon, whom many people considered the team’s best or second-best player (after Derrick Rose). Memo to Chicago fans: Don’t sweat it. Seriously. Gordon will be replaced by John Salmons, who not only gave the Bulls almost as many points per game (18.3 versus 20.7) but was slightly more efficient in how he scored them.”

    43

    John Krolik | Cavs the Blog

    “After last season’s playoff heartbreak, Danny Ferry has changed up the equation … However, Shaq could disrupt the delicate offensive and defensive chemistry the Cavaliers rode to 66 wins and the conference finals, despite the fact he will be the best player LeBron has ever played with if he continues to play like he did last season. The big question for the Cavs this seasons whether they overreacted to two clutch 3s by Rashard Lewis, or made the risk they needed to take to finally get LeBron a ring.”

    61

    Rob Mahoney | The Two Man Game

    “’Rebuilding’ teams seek financial flexibility and the acquisition of young, productive assets. Quality squads amass veteran talent, no matter the cost, in pursuit of a title. Defying all logic, the Mavs have simultaneously moved in both directions.”

    50

    Jeremy Wagner | Roundball Mining Company

    “The only players still on the roster who exceeded expectations in 2008-09 were Nene and Birdman. It is reasonable to expect every member of the Nuggets, other than thirty-something Chauncey Billups, to improve.”

    53

    Dan Feldman | PistonPowered

    “However the minutes shake out between Chris Wilcox, Kwame Brown and Ben Wallace, they won’t be as good as Rasheed Wallace. But Sheed wasn’t that great last year. He looked old and disinterested, so the drop here won’t be too steep.”

    36

    Rasheed Malek |Warriors World

    “Under the ownership of Chris Cohan, the Warriors have made the playoffs exactly one time and have gone through numerous coaches, players and executives. Going into this season, Larry Riley is the man in charge taking over for Chris Mullin.”

    28

    Anup Shah and Brody Rollins | Rockets Buzz

    “The speed revolution has overtaken some of basketball’s peers, most notably football … Is basketball headed in the same direction? [Aaron] Brooks provides an excellent case study. Beginning the year as the Rockets number one threat on offense with Ron Artest’s departure and injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, Brooks will have every opportunity to prove that size really doesn’t matter.”

    39

    Jared Wade | Eight Points, Nine Seconds

    “It’s hard to believe that anything short of the postseason will remove the dark cloud over Conseco. … Ultimately, it will come down to one thing: [Mike Jr.] Dunleavy’s knee.”

    32

    Kevin Arnovitz | ClipperBlog

    “[Blake] Griffin and [Eric] Gordon may not be saviors, but they’re something. Griffin’s skills and his tenacious work ethic (the guy runs up sand dunes in his free time) will be a boon to a team desperate for cultural overhaul. Gordon offers an enticing combination of spot-up shooting and forays into the paint. He finished third in true shooting percentage among starting off guards in his rookie campaign, something that can only help a team that ranked dead last in offensive efficiency last season.”

    32

    Kurt Helin | Forum Blue and Gold

    “God, is it good to be hated again.”

    64

    Chip Crain | 3 Shades of Blue

    “The 2009-10 version of the Grizzlies have put together a starting five where every player scored 30 points or more in a game last year. The oldest starter is only 28 years old (Zach Randolph) and the youngest won’t turn 22 until after the start of the season (O.J. Mayo). They are young, talented and hungry for success. So why do most people focus on the two players not on a rookie contract this season?”

    20

    Matthew Bunch | Hot Hot Hoops

    “38.6 minutes. 30.2 points. 49.1 percent shooting. Five rebounds. 7.5 assists. 2.2 steals. 1.3 blocks. That’s what [Dwyane] Wade averaged last season. You’re going to keep that guy out of the playoffs? Good luck.”

    44

    Jeremy Schmidt | Bucksketball

    “If the Bucks get anything out of their three small forwards, if they can keep [Andrew] Bogut and [Michael] Redd healthy and if they get a season worthy of the number ten selection out of Brandon Jennings at the point, the playoffs will be within reach. But that’s a lot of ifs.”

    29

    Patrick Hodgdon | Howlin’ T-Wolf

    “”Ever since his arrival, David Kahn has had seemingly one mission, other than to look like the smartest guy in the room at every turn, and that is to get as much cap space for next summer as he possibly can. … The obvious question lies in whether or not the Wolves will actually be able to lure one of the better free agent players to come to Minnesota.”

    23

    Mark Ginocchio and Sebastian Priuti | Nets are Scorching

    “Lingering doubts about Brooklyn could spoil any change the Nets have of landing a top free agent next summer.”

    29

    Niall Doherty and Ryan Schwan | Hornets247

    “Enter Emeka Okafor. He’s a near match to a healthy Chandler, is more durable, and doesn’t look like he’s having muscle spasms when making a post move.”

    47

    Mike Kurylo | Knickerblogger

    “2010 could be New York’s return to winning.”

    31

    Royce Young | Daily Thunder

    “The Thunder may not win more than half their games, but with over half the roster unable to get an alcoholic beverage still, steady improvement and progression is the name of the game.”

    34

    Zach McCann | Orlando Magic Daily

    “Take away either Hedo Turkoglu or Courtney Lee and the Magic aren’t getting to face the Lakers in the Finals. No way. But does that mean the Magic were wrong to let them go? Were the Magic foolish to allow a borderline All-Star and a possible future All-Star leave the team when both clearly wanted to stay in Orlando? Absolutely not. I believe the Magic are an entirely better team than they were four months ago.”

    59

    Carey R. Smith | Philadunkia

    “The travesty of a deal that Billy King gave to Samuel Dalembert remains easily one of the worst contracts in NBA history. Hopefully this season Dalembert, his inflated self-worth and his contract will be dealt for a couple of expiring contracts and some much-needed cap space.”

    39

    Michael Schwartz | Valley of the Suns

    “Two years ago the Suns were chic championship picks. Last year, the Suns were (accurately) thought to be a fringe playoff team. This year there are almost no expectations outside of their locker room. … There will be no mistaking what the Suns are this season: a lightning-speed team that will score points in bunches and likely give them up almost as quickly while struggling badly on the boards. But they will once again be the most exciting team in basketball.”

    46

    Max Handelman | Beyond Bowie

    “The Blazers effectively bumbled their way to a 54-win season despite a mediocre performance from Greg Oden, the loss of Martell Webster for the season, and at times starting three rookies. This team is only getting better, kids.”

    53

    Zach Harper | Cowbell Kingdom

    “Enter Tyreke Evans — a bulldozer-sized menace who will test the strength of every team’s defense at its entry point. He immediately creates matchup problems against teams with traditional point guards and will look to have a similar impact as fellow Memphis alum, Derrick Rose.”

    22

    Timothy Varner | 48 Minutes of Hell

    During the Celtics heyday, Red Auerbach boasted a winning percentage of .719. In the modern era, Pat Riley’s Showtime Lakers played to the tune of .733. Phil Jackson’s Jordan Bulls dominated the 90s with an otherworldly percentage of .771. Jackson’s three-peat Lakers? .735. In his 12 seasons with San Antonio, Gregg Popovich, whose cynical disdain for the regular season runs more than skin deep, has, nevertheless, posted a winning percentage of .707. That’s the company the Spurs keep. What should we expect this season? 58 wins and a run at the title. Same as every other year.”

    55

    RaptorsRepublic

    “How is a rookie(ish) head coach going to integrate nine new players into a new system with two new assistant coaches?”

    41

    Spencer Ryan Hall | Salt City Hoops

    “With young Wesley Matthews providing the good luck charm, Boozer in a contract year, Deron Williams with a chip on his shoulder, and a new longer-haired version of Andrei Kirilenko the Jazz have no reason to be anything other than beastly this season. And I mean that in a good way. Every prediction from the Jazz camp, however, comes with the ominous caveat ‘If we can stay healthy.'”

    46

    Kyle Weidie | Truth About It

    “Flip Saunders has never gotten a team ‘there.’ That worn out cliché always runs rampant, plaguing almost every coach who hasn’t won … until they win. Red Auerbach (647), Larry Brown (1,900), and Dick Motta (738) all took their lumps before winning a championship (games coached before title season). Don’t be surprised when what you think is impossible becomes a reality. … 2010 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. Factor in Gilbert Arenas’ stomach tattoo and the fact that the Wizards play their home games in D.C.’s Chinatown, and all the cards are in place.”

    42

    * As predicted by a consensus of all TrueHoop Network bloggers.

    Third Party Summer League Assessment

    From the better late than never pile, Kurt from ForumBlueAndGold emailed me this evaluation of the Knick summer league players:

    I’m out in the sweltering heat of Vegas and I’ve now sat through two Summer League Knicks games, and since I have the time I thought I’d send you my impressions (informed in part by David Thorpe, who I was sitting next to for one of the games).

    Jordan Hill: I don’t know what to make of him. There are flashes of rebounding fire and he certainly has an NBA body, but he seemed almost invisible despite them. I’m not sure what he can do in the post, because he almost never got the ball there. In the first game I saw that was because Thabeet was on him, and he could not get into position to get the ball on the block because Thabeet has long arms that deflect entry passes. That and the Knicks guards seemed to fear the post entry pass like it was the swine flu. When he got into space, he showed some athleticism and ability to finish. The Knicks were not as offensively quick or sharp in the Summer League (at times leaning toward a “seven seconds or more” effort) so again it’s a little hard to judge what he will do in the the Knicks season setting. Thorpe thinks he is a player that will look better surrounded by other players, but was also of the mind that it may two years before we really know how good (or not) Hill is.

    Toney Douglas: I really like this guy, because players that make good decisions and play within themselves are such a rarity in Vegas. Ran some very nice drive and kicks, found open teammates in transition, played good defense, just was professional for a rookie, he didn’t look raw. The problem was he couldn’t shoot, his form looked good and he got open looks, but the ball just did not go in. I can’t believe that is long-term trend, but he never got it going in Vegas. He is not going to blow you away with his athleticism, but if he can find his shot he’s a solid backup PG.

    Morris Almond: He can score at the NBA level. Good moves from the post and in transition. Really finishes well around the rim. Nice shot from the outside. The downside is he cares not about rebounding or defense, he is like a mini Zach Randolph that way (save that really, Zach boards pretty well). Also, a few scouts (not Thorpe) told me comes with work ethic and attitude issues.

    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: 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.