Hill Fails To Impress (& Knick Tidbits)

Knick fans that hoped the 2009 #8 pick would pay immediate dividends are going to be disappointed. Mike D’Antoni said Jordan Hill “got a ways to go” with regards to being NBA ready. A quote like this would be expected if New York grabbed a teenager from Europe like Ricky Rubio or Brandon Jennings. But Jordan Hill is 22, and spent 3 years in Arizona. Shouldn’t he be ready to contribute to the NBA now?

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the Knicks recent power forward draftees. Channing Frye, like Hill, was 22 year old #8 overall pick from Arizona and managed an 18.1 PER in 1500+ minutes his first season. David Lee, taken in the same draft, had a 15.4 PER in 1100+ minutes that same year. The 9th overall pick in 2003, Mike Sweetney, was buried on the IR due to incompetent management. But he still was able to perform on an NBA level with a 17.2 PER his first season. Even Nene Hillario who was traded by the Knicks on draft day put up a PER of 15.4 in 2200+ minutes as a 20 year old rookie for Denver.

Hill’s defenders say he started playing basketball late, and that he’s still learning the game. But 2010 is a win now year, with the Knicks not owning their own pick in the upcoming draft. And Walsh didn’t really seem interested in spending money this summer to improve his team, even on his own players. The only trade they made this summer was for a backup center in Darko Milicic. So with no other avenues to improve the team now why would the Knicks take a player who was a project? Surely there was someone that was more ready to contribute this season (Blair seems the part, and Lawson had a nice preseason). Perhaps Walsh didn’t mind taking someone unpolished, but then he should have aimed for someone that was younger or had a bigger upside.

It sounds rough to be critical of a rookie before the season even starts. I can understand Hill not making the rotation, especially with the veterans ahead of him. But I would have liked to hear the coaching staff speak more positively of him. Maybe something along the lines of “he’s good, but he’s going to have to wait his turn.” Perhaps a better showing in either summer league or the preseason would allow me to look past his current state. I’m sure Hill will get some minutes at some point this year, and I can only hope that he can get some positive reviews for his on the court play.

Other News:

  • You can throw away any chance of Eddy Curry getting into the rotation early in the season to increase his trade value. Curry talked about his offseason conditioning publicly on Twitter, then hurt his foot in the first practice. Although it was initially thought that the injury wasn’t serious and he’d be back quickly, Eddy didn’t play in a single preseason game. The team has told Curry to not come back until he reaches a certain weight, implying that his summer regimen wasn’t as advertised. Curry threw away his 2009 season, and so far he’s on pace to do the same in 2010.
  • Not only are Eddy Curry and Jordan Hill out of the rotation, but it seems that Larry Hughes didn’t make the cut either. Hughes probably didn’t expect this to occur (he started 57 of 68 games in 2008, and 20 of 55 last year), and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds. Although the Knicks could afford to let someone like Stephon Marbury hang in the wind (especially considering Marbury’s actions after the team let him go), the front office and coaching staff could lose serious face if this situation gets that ugly.

    From a simple perspective it seems that Hughes was beaten out by Toney Douglas (and perhaps Danilo Gallinari) who are likely to eat the bulk of his minutes along with Nate Robinson. But it’s more likely that this is just coach D’Antoni going with his youngsters.

  • Looks like the Knicks have a new end of bench guy, for now. Marcus Landry replaces Joe Crawford (and Chris Hunter) as the Knicks rotate in a new 12th man yet again. Sorry if I’m indifferent on this signing, but New York seems to grab these guys and tend to never use them in a meaningful way. The best analogy I can come up with it my 2 year old who’ll snatch a toy the minute another child becomes interested in it, not really play with it, and then casually discard it when the next shiny thing comes along.
  • 2009 Report Card: Eddy Curry

    When the Knicks acquired Eddy Curry, he was supposed to be the future of the franchise. Although there were signs that he would never reach that level of play (namely every stat but fg% and pts/36), his size and flashes of scoring lead many to believe in his potential.

    In 2009 Eddy Curry had his most disappointing season, playing a grand total of 12 minutes and scoring only 5 points. Immediately after the season ended, Curry vowed to get in shape, and immediately began twittering about his work out regimen. In the weeks since, his private trainer “leaked” that Curry lost 30 pounds, and Eddy appeared before the Knicks brass at the summer league. It appears that Curry is doing what he does best. He appeals to the optimist in Knick fans, while producing almost nothing.

    Report Card (5 point scale):
    Offense: 1
    Defense: 1
    Teamwork: 1
    Rootability: -87
    Performance/Expectations: 1

    Grade: F

    Similarity Scores:

    I’ve decided to look at his 2008 season, since he barely played in 2009.

    z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
    .000 Eddy Curry 2008 NYK 15.0 .578 .546 18.4 2.6 6.5 0.8 0.3 0.7 3.0
    .132 Craig Smith 2009 MIN 16.9 .599 .562 18.4 2.4 7.0 1.9 0.8 0.5 2.6
    .161 Mike Jackson 1975 VIR 13.9 .584 .528 17.7 3.3 8.1 1.5 0.8 0.3 3.8
    .171 Wayman Tisdale 1990 SAC 18.1 .565 .525 21.5 2.3 7.3 1.3 0.7 0.7 1.9
    .172 Hakim Warrick 2008 MEM 16.2 .555 .512 17.5 2.5 7.3 1.1 0.7 0.6 1.7
    .184 Armen Gilliam 1990 TOT 16.6 .565 .515 18.9 3.1 8.9 1.5 1.0 0.8 2.7
    .184 Othella Harrington 1999 HOU 16.1 .559 .513 15.9 2.9 9.8 0.6 0.2 1.0 2.4
    .185 Zan Tabak 1996 TOR 12.4 .554 .543 13.9 3.2 8.6 1.7 0.6 0.8 2.7
    .196 Orlando Woolridge 1985 CHI 19.5 .608 .554 22.6 2.0 5.6 1.7 0.7 0.5 2.3
    .198 Frank Card 1970 WSA 15.3 .556 .528 17.4 3.1 9.5 1.8     2.9
    .198 Ike Diogu 2009 TOT 20.3 .611 .534 19.9 4.4 9.4 0.5 0.5 0.5 2.0

    All of these players are 6-9 or shorter, except for 7 footer Zan Tabak. Curry is 6-11, but plays small due to his lack of rebounding & blocked shots. In this list Curry is the second worst rebounder, the worst passer, and second worst at coughing up the ball. There aren’t a lot of good players on this list, which speaks volumes for those aspects of Curry’s game. [And yes, Virginia had an ABA team.]

    For fun I ran the similarity scores for Eddy Curry in 2005, his last year as a Bull. For irony’s sake I’ve included the 11th person. (Note Ike Diogu’s 2006’s season is the most similar to Curry, but I excluded it because in 2005 it wouldn’t have happened yet.) Not a whole lot of franchise centers here.

    z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
    .000 Eddy Curry 2005 CHI 16.3 .583 .538 20.2 2.3 6.7 0.7 0.4 1.2 3.2
    .132 Bill Cartwright 1980 NYK 17.9 .608 .547 20.4 2.2 8.3 1.9 0.5 1.2 2.5
    .152 Lorenzo Charles 1986 ATL 11.5 .587 .557 16.1 1.7 5.1 1.1 0.3 0.8 2.4
    .170 Tom Chambers 1982 SDC 15.0 .553 .525 18.7 2.8 7.5 2.0 0.8 0.6 3.0
    .183 Rasheed Wallace 1997 POR 18.4 .588 .565 17.8 2.3 8.0 1.4 0.9 1.1 2.2
    .184 Joe Barry Carroll 1981 GSW 16.4 .534 .491 19.1 3.4 9.4 1.4 0.6 1.5 3.0
    .200 Tim McCormick 1985 SEA 14.7 .606 .557 16.5 3.3 9.0 1.8 0.4 0.7 2.6
    .209 Gary Trent 1997 POR 16.8 .569 .536 16.6 2.9 8.0 1.6 0.9 0.7 2.4
    .214 Eric White 1988 LAC 15.2 .597 .536 18.2 3.2 6.3 0.9 0.7 0.3 2.1
    .222 Walter Berry 1987 TOT 16.8 .561 .531 22.7 3.1 7.0 2.4 0.9 0.9 3.5
    .224 John Wallace 1997 NYK 13.0 .571 .521 14.9 2.3 7.1 1.7 1.0 1.1 3.5
    .229 Mike Sweetney 2005 NYK 16.4 .592 .531 15.5 4.0 10.0 1.0 0.6 0.7 2.6

    KnickerBlogger Turns 5

    This week marks the 5th anniversary of KnickerBlogger. When I started this venture, I didn’t imagine it would last this long. Five years ago, blogging was still in its infancy. There were less than 2 million blogs when KnickerBlogger came into existence. Just six months after, the number of blogs had doubled. Today it’s unknown how many blogs there are. One estimate is 200 million. Many of them are powered by individuals like myself.

    More important than the number of blogs is the role they perform. Once derided by the mainstream media, just about every newspaper, magazine, and network hosts their own blog. They are now an essential part of the world’s information and entertainment. Blogs fill an important niche in the world. Previously the only avenue for the common man to voice his opinion was through those who held the keys to kingdom. Often his voice was not heard by the public. Blogs have taken the words of the everyman and projected them from the world’s tallest soap box.

    Five years ago my goal with KnickerBlogger was to create a platform for those who felt their opinion was not represented in the mainstream. Judging by the other readers who come here to share their thoughts and my affiliation with True Hoop Network that allows me to bring these voices to the mainstream, it seems that I have succeeded. I can only wonder what KnickerBlogger will be in five more years.


    To celebrate this anniversary, I’m announcing the KnickerBlogger Quinquennial Team. To assist in this matter, I’ve looked at the overall PER and the single season PER for that period.

    Stephon Marbury, PG – As painful as it is to admit, Marbury has dominated the team in many ways during the lifespan of KnickerBlogger. As his career with the team comes nearer to it’s disappointing end, it’s hard to remember that he was a productive scorer early on. He has the highest single season PER (21.9 in 2005) as well as the highest PER (18.4) during the KnickerBlogger era. His defense was mediocre and his contract was suffocating, had the two been reversed he would have been a shoe in for the Hall of Fame.
    Reserves: Chris Duhon, Nate Robinson, Frank Williams.

    David Lee, PF – It may shock many to see Lee here, but those that have watched him play aren’t surprised that he’s been the second most productive Knick by PER standards over the last 5 years. Looking at things from a objective standpoint it’s hard to find a more deserving PF. Randolph’s PER is the same and his weaknesses are similar to Lee’s (blocked shots, defense). However, Lee has played 4000 more minutes while costing the team $10M less. After Randolph are Mike Sweetney and Kurt Thomas. Sweetney ate himself out of the league, and Thomas wasn’t nearly as productive on the offensive end. Of all the starters on this list, Lee is the one who is most likely to also appear on KnickerBlogger’s Decennial team as well.
    Reserves: Zach Randolph, Kurt Thomas, Mike Sweetney.

    Nazr Mohammed, C – Surprised it’s not Curry? Nazr played exactly 81 games for the Knicks in 2 seasons, and would rank 4th in Knicks PER over the KnickerBlogger era. Mohammed was a great offensive rebounder, pulling down 4.0/36 oreb/36. To put that in perspective that’s a higher rate than Lee’s career 3.6. During the Isiah era, Nazr was eventually replaced by Eddy Curry. Comparing the two, Nazr was outscored by Curry (19.2 to 13.7), but Curry did it with almost double the turnovers (3.5 to/36 to 2.0). Additionally Mohammed had nearly double the blocks (1.3 blk/36 to Curry’s 0.7), triple the steals (1.4 stl/36 to 0.4), and more rebounds (10.6 reb/36 to 7.4). With that in mind, it’s clear that Nazr deserves the nod here.
    Reserves: Eddy Curry, Dikembe Mutombo.

    Van Horn/Renaldo Balkman, SF Keith played only 47 games for New York, but he put up some good numbers while he was here. Van Horn was criticized for being a tweener that had trouble defending, but he rebounded well and scored efficiently. However Van Horn only played 1500 minutes for New York. That’s about as much as Al Harrington. If that’s too little for you, then Balkman is next on the PER list. Considering how PER doesn’t account well for defense, then it makes sense that he was probably unrepresented by his stats.

    One note on Keith Van Horn: shortly after Isiah Thomas took over the team, he traded Keith Van Horn. At the time Van Horn was a popular player who had just been acquired that summer, so the trade felt hasty. Since then New York has suffered through instability at the small forward position, something I’ve called “the Curse of Keith Van Horn”. The list of small forwards since the Knicks jettisoned Van Horn: Anfernee Hardaway, DerMarr Johnson, Tim Thomas, Trevor Ariza, Shandon Anderson, Jerome Williams, Matt Barnes, Jalen Rose, Ime Udoka, Qyntel Woods, Jared Jeffries, Quentin Richardson, Renaldo Balkman, and Wilson Chandler. Hopefully the curse will be broken in 2010
    Reserves: Tim Thomas, Junk Yard Dog.

    Jamal Crawford, SG – The default pick, since there really haven’t been many other shooting guards in recent Knick history. Robinson is the only other one that merits any mention. Crawford can drive Golden State fans crazy for the next few years.
    Reserves: Nate Robinson

    Lenny Wilkens, Coach – I’d like to choose D’Antoni, but he’s only been around for a half season. Wilkens got the team to the playoffs until they tuned him out a year later. In retrospect that should have signified there was something wrong behind the scenes. In his latter years, Wilkens was an adequate coach, which says a lot about the coaches the Knicks have had over the last 5 years.

    Most Minutes 5: Curry, Lee, Richardson, Crawford, Marbury
    Least Minutes 5: Trybanski, Randolph Morris, Matt Barnes, Jamison Brewer, Jermaine Jackson

    Best Defensive 5: Mutumbo, Kurt Thomas, Balkman, Ariza, Frank Williams
    Worst Defensive 5: Curry, Randolph, Jalen Rose, Crawford, Marbury

    Drafted 5: Frye, Lee, Balkman, Ariza, Nate
    Toughest 5: Kurt Thomas, Balkman, Collins, Robinson, Frank Williams

    Best Shooting 5: David Lee, Tim Thomas, Van Horn, Nate, Marbury
    Worst Shooting 5: Bruno Sundov, Malik Rose, Balkman, Shanderson, Collins

    All Name 5: Cezary Trybanski, Othella Harrington, Qyntel Woods, Anfernee Hardaway, Moochie Norris
    Scrappiest 5: David Lee, Jerome Williams, Renaldo Balkman, Jermaine Jackson, Frank Williams

    If I had to choose a Starting 5 from this era: Nazr, Lee, Balkman, Robinson, Duhon.
    Reserves: Mutombo, Van Horn, Ariza, Sweetney, Frank Williams, Gallinari, Chandler.
    Coach: D’Antoni

    It’s sad but I think this is the best the Knicks could do combining all the players over the last 5 years. I’ve left Marbury off for obvious reasons. New York would have a tremendous rebounding starting lineup, with enough balance of offense & defense on the bench. If you wanted, you could substitute Randolph or Kurt Thomas for Sweetney. But this being KnickerBlogger, I thought it’d be good to give the guy a second chance. The same goes for Frank Williams, who is playing well enough in the NBDL to get another shot at the NBA. Gallinari & Chandler make the list because of their youth. If this team were looking at a title, then I might choose Tim Thomas and Crawford. But I think this is a .500 team that will need some youth.

    Two Games Over .500?

    Stephon Marbury was the point guard with Allan Houston at the 2. Kurt Thomas and Tim Thomas were the forwards and Nazr Mohammed was in the middle.

    The bench players were Mike Sweetney, Anfernee Hardaway, Jerome Williams, Trevor Ariza and Moochie Norris

    That was the Knicks team on January 1st, 2005, when a Knick three-game winning streak came to an end with a loss to the New Jersey Nets, 93-87. The Knicks ended the night at 16-14, the last time they were two games over .500 until last night. Read More

    Preseason

    Although the season is still a month away, the Knicks preseason is almost upon us. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind until the season begins.

    The Bubble Boys

    With 18 players on the roster, there are definitely some players on the bubble. Let’s assume that Chandler, Crawford, Curry, Duhon, Gallinari, Jeffries, Lee, Marbury, Randolph, Richardson, and Robinson make the team. Jeffries will start the season on the injured list, and let’s assume Gallinari joins him (or ends up in the D-League). That leaves 3 spots on the 12 man roster, and 1 spot on the innactive roster for Collins, Ewing Jr., Grunfeld, Houston, James, Roberson, and Rose. If my math is correct, three of those players are going to be cut.

    Of the veterans Rose is likely to make the team outright, and reports have Jerome James playing a lot in practice. With Walsh’s comments about his dislike of buying out players, it’s likely the team will play James or force him to retire due to injury. Mardy Collins’ can defend but do little else, and with Duhon on the roster the Knicks already have a perimeter defender. Meanwhile Allan Houston is pretending he’s 34 years old again, but unfortunately he was out of the league at that point of his career.

    Of the youngsters, Roberson’s preseason play earned himself a guaranteed contract. With the trade of Balkman and the injuries to Jeffries and Gallinari, the Knicks are thin at small forward. This could be good news for Ewing Jr. However both players are far from a guaranteed spot, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if both were cut. Dan Grunfeld could probably beat his dad in a one on one game, but probably not anyone else on the roster.

    With a new regime, it’s hard to guess what the Knicks will do. My guess is that Rose, James, Roberson, and Ewing Jr. make the cut. They can stash Roberson or Ewing Jr. in the D-League or leave them inactive. But if the Knicks wanted to go young, they might jettison James/Rose for Collins. Or maybe they see the team too offensively heavy at guard (Crawford, Marbury, Robinson) and not enough defense (Duhon) and keep Collins instead of Roberson. Or they might want a smaller lineup and leave Ewing off in lieu of one of the guards. Definitely something Knick fans want to keep track of during the preseason.

    The Starting Lineup

    It’s obvious that Jamal Crawford will be the starting SG, and you have to think that Quentin Richardson’s familiarity with D’Antoni’s system gives him the edge at SF over the inexperienced Wilson Chandler. At point guard, the team has signed Chris Duhon and coach D’Antoni has been playing him exclusively as the first team point guard. However the Knicks have refused to buy out Stephon Marbury, and the Knicks starting PG of the last four and a half years is still on the roster. For Marbury to get his starting job he just needs to impress his new coach and win over his teammates that he’s alienated over the last few seasons. And President Ahmadinejad might join B’nai B’rith International.

    As for the frontcourt, most likely the Knicks will start Zach Randolph, even if only to keep his trade value high. D’Antoni was experimenting with Jared Jeffries at center before Jeffries’ broke his leg, so it looks as if that spot is open for competition.

    Ever since Mike D’Antoni was announced as the Knicks’ head coach, pundits have wondered out loud how Eddy Curry would handle the physicality of an up-tempo offense. Curry has been unable to practice due to an illness so you wonder if he’ll get enough practice to be ready by the start of the season. Most likely the Knicks will turn to David Lee to play alongside Randolph.

    The Offense

    There’s no question that D’Antoni’s offense was successful in Phoenix. The Suns finished either first or second in offensive efficiency in the years he was coach. But the question remains how the 7 second offense will work in New York. D’Antoni won’t have a single All Star to work with, where he had three with the Suns (including a two time MVP). Additionally the Knicks’ offense hasn’t been very good. They’ve only been above average on offense twice since 2000. This makes sense because the Knick offense has been stuck in the 90s with isolations and post scoring emphasis. It’ll be particularly interesting to see how Randolph, Crawford, Curry, and even Marbury responds. The preseason might shed some light on how D’Antoni’s offense will work with average players.

    The Youngsters

    It seems that during Isiah’s tenure the Knicks youngsters has been stuck behind veterans. Just about every draftee over the last 5 years has had to struggle to earn playing time: David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Renaldo Balkman, Nate Robinson, Randolph Morris, Mardy Collins, Trevor Ariza, Mike Sweetney, and Frank Williams. And it’s not as if New York has had a winning team in that time span.

    If the Knicks are rebuilding then it makes sense for the kids to get a lot of run, especially in preseason. Most likely David Lee will win a starting spot, so he should be getting plenty of playing time. I’ll be curious how much playing time Robinson, Chandler, and Collins get, and how they perform inside the Knick offense. It’ll also be nice to get a look at Roberson, Ewing, and Gallinari to gauge their strengths against stronger NBA competition. That is if all these players are on the roster (and in Gallinari’s case healthy).

    The Schedule

    Oct. 8 Toronto Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ONT 7:00 p.m.
    Oct. 10 Philadelphia Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA 7:00 p.m.
    Oct. 14 Philadelphia Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 7:30 p.m.
    Oct. 17 Boston TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA 7:30 p.m.
    Oct. 20 New Jersey IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ 7:30 p.m.
    Oct. 21 Boston Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 7:30 p.m.
    Oct. 24 New Jersey Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 7:30 p.m.

    2007 Knicks Preseason Roster Crunch

    jon abbey Said:

    Mike, can you do a piece on the roster situation? I read that Houston takes them to 20 guys, do we have a list of them somewhere? when do they have to cut that to 15, by opening night?

    Sure thing Jon. And I do believe we have to cut the roster to 15 by opening day (or thereabouts), with only 12 suiting up each night. Up to 3 players can be inactive, with the option to send players to the NBDL. If a veteran player is on the inactive list, they usually make up a fake injury by throwing darts on an injury labeled dartboard.

    Definites: 7

    No Player Pos Ht Wt Born College Yrs
    32 Renaldo Balkman F 6-8 208 Jul. 14, 1984 South Carolina 1
    11 Jamal Crawford G 6-5 200 Mar. 20, 1980 Michigan 7
    34 Eddy Curry C 6-11 285 Dec. 5, 1982 Thornwood HS (IL) 6
    42 David Lee F 6-9 240 Apr. 29, 1983 Florida 2
    3 Stephon Marbury G 6-2 205 Feb. 20, 1977 Georgia Tech 11
    50 Zach Randolph F 6-9 260 Jul. 16, 1981 Michigan State 6
    23 Quentin Richardson G/F 6-6 235 Apr. 13, 1980 DePaul 7

    Barring a trade these guys will be on the roster in November.

    Probables: 3 (10)

    No Player Pos Ht Wt Born College Yrs
    4 Nate Robinson G 5-9 180 31-May-84 Washington 2
    5 Randolph Morris C/F 6-11 260 Jan. 2, 1986 Kentucky 1
    25 Mardy Collins G 6-6 220 Aug. 4, 1984 Temple 1

    I’d be hard to imagine one of these guys not making the team, but if I had to choose one of the three I could see Collins being the odd man out. Yes Isiah gave him the keys to the team at the end of the year, mostly because of a decimated lineup. The guy is a fine defender, but he can’t hit a jumpshot anywhere on the court. And while you can live with that at a few positions, point guard isn’t one of them. Personally I like Collins, and this team definitely needs a perimeter defender of his caliber. For how much we think NBA front offices are clueless about per minute stats and shooting percentages, I could see them evaluating Collins poorly.

    Possibles: 3 (13)

    No Player Pos Ht Wt Born College Yrs
    20 Jared Jeffries F 6-11 240 Nov. 25, 1981 Indiana 5
    31 Malik Rose F 6-7 255 Nov. 23, 1974 Drexel 11
    21 Wilson Chandler F 6-8 220 10-May-87 DePaul R

    It’s not so much that I don’t think Chandler will be cut, but it’s possible that he ends up in the NBDL instead of the NBA. Remember when the Knicks drafted Sweetney and had too many PFs? Sweetney started the year in the developmental league, and Chandler may just find himself in a similar situation. Looking above, there are already 5 guys that can play SF/PF. Randolph and Lee should eat up all the minutes at power forward. At small forward you have Richardson, Balkman, Jeffries, and possibly Lee & Rose. Oh don’t forget that Isiah likes to play 3 guards every now and then. If Chandler does make the roster, he’ll likely see more time at the end of the bench.

    Of course the other options are cutting Collins above or buying out either Jeffries or Rose. None of these are particularly easy pills for Isiah to swallow. Jeffries is too young and has 4 years left on his deal. On the other hand Rose is the only defensively minded power forward on the team, and he has 2 years on his contract as well. Of the three Rose is more likely to go, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. It seems that Isiah tends to buy out Knicks that he’s burned his bridges with, as opposed to ones that have outlived their usefulness.

    On the Outside Looking In: 3 (16)

    No Player Pos Ht Wt Born College Yrs
    2 Fred Jones G 6-2 225 Mar. 11, 1979 Oregon 5
    1 Jared Jordan G 6-2 190 Oct. 14, 1984 Marist 1
    35 Demetris Nichols G/F 6-8 215 Sep. 4, 1984 Syracuse R

    The two rookies are intriguing. Considering that Isiah keeps them, both should play in the NBDL this year. Although if I had to choose one to make the team it would be Nichols. Having an outside shooter on the bench will be useful when teams zone it up on Curry/Randolph.

    Isiah coached Mr. Jones from his days in Indiana. The problem is Indiana Jones couldn’t crack 20 min/g for a losing Portland team last year. Yes he’s athletic and can (supposedly) play defense. But I’d rather roll my dice with a younger more useful Mardy Collins.

    Oh God Please No! 2 (18)

    No Player Pos Ht Wt Born College Yrs
    13 Jerome James C 7-1 285 Nov. 17, 1975 Florida A&M 8
    ? Allan Houston G 6-6 205 4/2/1971 Tennesse 13

    It’s time to cut Jerome James. Isiah inserted him into the starting lineup for a stretch last year & he still couldn’t manage to stay on the court for long. James only managed 272 minutes on the season. As for Allan Houston, he was most useful for the Knicks when the team had lots of talent at the other spots. If he’s serious about a comeback he should find a team that fits that description.

    Who? 2 (20)

    No Player Pos Ht Wt Born College Yrs
    6 Walker Russell, Jr. G 6-1 170 Oct. 6, 1982 Jacksonville State R
    26 Roderick Wilmont G 6-4 205 Jul. 28, 1983 Indiana R

    Usually I’m pretty thorough with my research, however there is such a small chance that anyone other than the above makes the team that I won’t even bother with anyone this low on the depth chart.

    Who makes the team?
    How the roster shapes out depends on two things. The first is how badly Isiah thinks he needs a third center on the roster. Cato had that role and only saw 95 minutes total last season. With a roster this tight, that seems to be a luxury. The second factor is how Isiah feels about the NBDL. If he’d rather the rookies see action there instead of having front row seats to NBA games, then he might be more likely to play it conservative and stick with Rose & Jeffries.

    Personally I would cut Jones, Rose, and James, keep Chandler on the roster, and put Nichols and Jordan in the development league until a few spots open up due to injury. I have a feeling that Isiah may do the same, but I wouldn’t be surprised if James is around as center insurance/team clown and Chandler is in the NBDL (in favor of Rose) until Quentin’s back acts up.

    Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Eddy Curry

    KnickerBlogger: I’m sure anyone that only goes by per game stats thinks that Eddy Curry had the best season of his career. Early in the year, the mainstream media was quick to catch on to Curry’s 11 straight game of 20+ points. In 2007, Curry had career per game highs in points, rebounds, free throws, and possibly hugs of Jamal Crawford. (Am I the only one that notices that Curry does this?)

    However closer analysis of Curry’s season shows little improvement. Comparing his last 3 seasons by per-minute numbers, Curry’s 2007 isn’t much different from his career averages. Surprisingly Curry showed no big improvement in his per minute scoring, and his per minute rebounding was the second lowest of his career. Statistically, Curry’s big improvement was in his personal fouls. Obviously fouls are important for a budding big man, since foul trouble can limit the amount of time a player can stay on the floor. Curry was able to play in 10 more minutes per game this year, partly due to his ability to stay out of foul trouble. (The other factor was his improved conditioning). Eddy Curry showed minor improvement in one other category, his assists. Although his passing is still below average, Curry seemed to improve as the season wore on.

    Per Minute Stats from www.basketball-reference.com
    
    Season Ag Tm G MP FGA FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
    2001-02 19 CHI 72 1150 13.1 5.6 3.9 5.6 9.5 0.9 0.6 1.8 2.4 6 16.8
    2002-03 20 CHI 81 1571 14.6 7.3 3 6 9 0.9 0.5 1.6 3.5 5.8 21.6
    2003-04 21 CHI 73 2154 15.6 6.5 2.7 5.7 8.4 1.3 0.4 1.5 3.3 4.8 19.9
    2004-05 22 CHI 63 1808 16.2 6.9 2.6 4.9 7.5 0.8 0.5 1.3 3.6 4.5 22.4
    2005-06 23 NYK 72 1866 12.8 10.4 3.1 6.2 9.3 0.4 0.6 1.2 3.8 5.1 21
    2006-07 24 NYK 81 2849 14.3 9.3 2.7 5.3 8 1 0.5 0.6 4.1 3.7 22.1

    Looking at Curry’s 2006 numbers it seems that Larry Brown had 2 positive effects on him. Under the stern Knick coach Curry’s rebounding peaked and he doubled his free throw attempts per minute in 2006. While Curry’s rebounding returned to his pre-Brown numbers last year, he seemed to retain the ability to draw fouls at a higher rate.

    Curry’s per-minute stats for 2007 show two disturbing trends. As I mentioned before, he reduced the rate in which he fouls opponents, but that may have come at the expense of his shot blocking. Already a poor defensive presence in the paint, Curry’s shot block rate was nearly half his career rate. Of all centers that played more than 12 min/g, Eddy Curry was the third worst at blocked shots per minute, only ahead of Andrew Bogut and Marc Jackson. Additionally Curry’s turnover rate spiked to the highest of his career as he became the focal point of the Knick offense. Usually players commit fewer turnovers as they age, but it seems Curry has become more turnover prone over the years.

    KnickerBlogger’s Grade: C+

    2008 Outlook: Unfortunately for Knick fans, Curry is a one trick pony at a premium position. All he provides is scoring, albeit he is a very efficient scorer from the floor. Curry is poor at holding onto the ball, bad at passing, worse at rebounding, and non-existent with his help defense. New York’s management has declared that Curry is their center of the future. If this is true, the Knicks are going to need more than just his scoring to become a successful team during his tenure. At only 24 years old (25 in December) Curry still has time to develop into a more complete player. But what is Curry likely to improve on in 2008?

    Seeing at how lackadaisical he is on defense combined with the drop in his rebound and block rate, it seems that Curry’s isn’t likely to get better on the defensive end. However he did show an increase in his assist numbers, and he looked to be a better passer late in the season. So Curry’s best hope to become a better player in 2008 is to work on his passing. Improved passing ability will allow Curry to make opponents pay for double teaming him, which will in turn force opponents to stop doubling him. That in turn should mean Curry’s scoring would increase. Improving his passing should drop his turnover rate as well, as some of those turnovers came from poor passing out of double teams. A change that would effect those areas would make Eddy Curry one of the best offensive players in the league.

    Dave Crockett: I have to disagree and say Curry earned a solid B. Scott Skiles criticized Curry for being the same player in New York as he was in Chicago on a per-minute basis. [Disclosure: I can’t stand Skiles and felt like he was just being an ass on principle.] For the record, I think that criticism misses something pretty fundamental apart from my dislike for Skiles. His reference was clearly to Curry’s offense. Well, the only way for Curry to be a monumentally better offensive player is through higher efficiency or greater usage. Big efficiency gains seem pretty unlikely in a players already as efficient as Curry. Even still, Curry has in fact improved his efficiency in NY. He’s been a 60.4% true shooter in NY, up from 56.7% in Chicago. He might improve his efficiency by shooting in the 70s from the FT line, a point to which I will return, but from the floor he’s pretty darn efficient. The only other way to see a big-time jump in per minute scoring would be through increased usage. As offensive centerpieces go Curry’s 23.1 usage rate isn’t modest but it’s also not Ben Gordon’s ridiculous 27.3. By my count only eight players shot 60%+ TS and were used less than Curry in 07. So while you’re not likely to see big per minute scoring jumps from a player with Curry’s profile that doesn’t mean he hasn’t improved.

    Curry has faced two primary challenges since coming into the league: 1) Can he improve his conditioning and cut down his fouls so he can play more minutes to take advantage of his already efficient offense? 2) Can he develop facets of his game other than scoring?

    He has managed to address the first challenge, which is no small feat. How many of us Knicks fans thought back in 05 that Mike Sweetney would be better than Curry no matter what Kevin Pelton said? If it were a trivial matter to get in good enough shape to add 10 minutes of playing time when you were already averaging over 20 then Sweetney and Ollie Miller, both far superior rebounders to Curry, might be perennial all-stars.

    Obviously, Curry has not been able to address the second challenge anywhere near as well as the first. Yet even though this is undoubtedly true it is not a statement that should be made without caveat. It is not clear that Curry’s increased minutes really did come at the expense of his (admittedly) sub-par defense. As KB has detailed, Curry never provide much shot-blocking but provided virtually none this past season. However, this must be balanced against the fact that his +/- (+5.3) and defensive rating (110 vs. 106 league avg.) remained unchanged from the previous season while his fouls have steadily declined (to a career low 3.7 per 40 in 07). So it’s not clear that he’s hemorrhaging layups despite not blocking shots and fouling less. My observations suggests to me that Curry’s improved conditioning has led to better positioning and footwork (a la Jason Collins) allowing him to stay away from some of his notorious cheap reach-in fouls. I’m not suggesting Curry is a better defender but he’s not necessarily a worse one. Further, it may not be such a bad idea to have Curry forgo blocking shots when he so clearly cannot block them.

    If, as KB suggests, Curry is likely to remain a one-trick pony (and 35 minutes of efficient scoring ain’t such a bad trick) then in addition to improving his passing he must become a better free throw shooter. That is one area where Curry could make a noticeable jump in efficiency. He got to the line frequently–40 times for every 100 shots–but shot a career-low 61.5% last season (career 64%). Curry does not have a broken down stroke in need of rehabilitation, like Shaq, Ben Wallace, or Chris Dudley. In fact, Curry has a good looking stroke with no obvious hitches. If Larry Johnson could shoot free throws in the high 70s-low 80s with his hideous mechanics there is no earthly reason Curry shouldn’t shoot consistently in high-70s. He just needs decide to become a decent free throw shooter and park his butt in the gym until he becomes one. That’s one thing I’ll be looking for right away in 08.

    Brian Maniscalco: Let’s take a closer look at Curry’s increased floor time and usage.

    season  mpg   poss / 40min   poss / game   fouls / 40min   off fouls / 40min   def fouls / 40min 
    2005/06 25.9 21.3 13.8 5.1 1.4 3.7
    2006/07 35.2 23.1 20.3 3.7 1.3 2.4

    Curry?s 06/07 mark of 23.1 possessions used per 40 minutes was only a small uptick from the previous season. Nonetheless, that mark was a career high and the first time he led his team in usage rate (tied with Jamal Crawford). In total, Curry?s possessions used per game increased by almost 50% over the previous season because of all the extra minutes he played. Of course, a critical contributing factor to Curry?s increased court presence was his ability to cut down on personal fouls. However, somewhat contrary to popular perception, Curry?s drop in fouls per minute came entirely came from a decrease in defensive foul rate. (Although an improvement in offensive foul rate is also evident on a per-possession basis.)

    Does the dip in defensive foul rate indicate an impoverished defensive effort from an already poor defender? In 07, Curry experienced an anomalous, precipitous drop in both overall fouls (3.7) and blocked shots (0.6) per 40 minutes compared to his prior career averages (5.1 and 1.5, respectively). So the data is suggestive that Curry’s decreased aggression in attempting to block shots is directly tied to his decreased defensive foul rate, sacrificing shot blocking attempts for more court time. As Dave points out, though, existing defensive stats (coarse and imperfect as they may be) portray Curry as an equally bad defender in both his seasons as a Knick, despite blocking half as many shots last season. A moment’s reflection shows that this is not too surprising, given that fouling fewer times on defense means fewer free throws for the opposition. According to 82games.com, the Knicks allowed 21 opponent free throw attempts per 48 minutes with Curry on the court, down from 26 the previous season. Likewise, Curry’s net +/- for opponent free throw attempts per 48 minutes improved from -6 to -14.

    Just about every per minute and per possession measure of offensive efficiency will tell you that Curry was about as effective on offense in 07 as in 06. However, this is impressive given that Curry played 1000 more total minutes in 07, used more possessions and attempted more shots per minute, and drew more double and triple teams from defenses primarily geared towards slowing him down. With all those factors working to suppress his efficiency, the mere fact that he was able to maintain prior levels suggests some degree of improvement in an already strong offensive attack.

    Unfortunately, there is one straightforward way to substantially slow down Curry?s Goliath act in the paint: double team him, triple team him, and do whatever you can to get the ball out of his hands. Not only does this tactic prevent Curry from getting up a shot, but it also often leads to a turnover.

    Passing, ball handling, and turnovers (all stats per 100 possessions used)

    season  assists   off. fouls   bad passes   ballhanding TOs   misc TOs   TOs   assists / bad passes 
    2005/06 1.9 6.7 2.2 6.2 2.8 18.0 0.9
    2006/07 4.3 5.6 2.9 6.9 2.5 17.9 1.5

    Curry is a poor passer and a turnover machine. Much of what he giveth in terms of post offense, he taketh away (or rather, giveth away) with his turnovers. His per-possession turnover rate ranked among the 10 worst in the league last season, which is especially damaging considering the number of possessions Curry uses. Among the 10 worst ball handlers, only Dwight Howard offered a comparably poisonous mixture of high usage (20.8 possessions / 40 minutes) and high turnover rate (19.3 turnovers per 100 possessions). It is no coincidence that the Knicks? Achilles? heel on offense during the Curry era has been turnovers (worst in 05/06, second worst in 06/07).

    Is there hope for a better ball handling tomorrow? The outlook is hazy.

    Curry actually managed to commit 1.1 fewer offensive fouls per 100 possessions used in 07 than in 06. That’s a crucial improvement, given that offensive fouls produce the double whammy of a turnover and, potentially, foul trouble. The dip in offensive fouls is also another piece of evidence that Curry did in fact refine his post offense during last season. Indeed, subjectively it seemed as if he committed far fewer of the egrigiously bulldozing, bull in the china shop kinds of offensive fouls that plagued him in his first season as a Knick.

    Unfortunately, Curry?s improvement in terms of offensive fouls and miscellaneous turnovers was almost exactly balanced out by an increase in passing and ball handling turnovers. This is especially troubling because these are exactly the sorts of turnovers you would expect to be generated by an aggressive, double teaming defense looking to get the ball out of Curry?s hands. This is the kind of defensive pressure Curry is going to experience for as long as he remains the main focal point of the offense. It will take significant effort on Curry’s part to improve his court vision, passing, and overall savvy to the point where he cannot be taken out of a game by swarming defenses.

    There is at least a bit of a silver lining here. Curry?s assist rate also increased last season. The increase of both assists and bad passes per 100 possessions suggests that Curry may simply have been passing more overall due to double teams forcing his hand. And in fact, we do see that Curry?s assist to bad pass ratio improved as well. So on the whole it seems like Curry?s passing game did improve, in spite of what his increased rate of bad passes might lead one to think. Of course, he still has a long way to go before his passing is passable.

    Silver lining part two: Curry?s turnover rate has been substantially worse in his two seasons as a Knick than it was during his time with Chicago (averaging 14.5 TOs per 100 possessions, with the highest mark being 15.3). So Curry is not doomed to be an 18 TO / 100 possession guy for the rest of his career. It?s unclear exactly why his turnover rate spiked after coming to New York. It?s unlikely that the rise in turnovers has followed from a more prominent role in the offense, since Curry?s usage rate has been remarkably constant across his career. The most likely explanation is that there is something about playing in the context of New York?s offense that makes Curry more turnover prone than he was when playing with the offenses of his Bulls teams. So it is possible that the right kinds of changes in team personnel, and/or the right kind of changes in New York’s offensive system, could be a significant help in easing Curry?s turnover woes.

    But ultimately, make no mistake: Curry?s ability to successfully handle the pressure of aggressive double teams without turning the ball over is the next big hurdle in his development as an offensive weapon. It is the looming roadblock on the horizon and how he responds to it will in large part determine the course of his career. If he does not substantially improve his ball handling in the face of defensive pressure, his defining strength will always be mitigated by a great weakness, and his net effectiveness as an offensive force will therefore always be limited.

    For dropping his foul rate enough to play significant minutes for the first time in his career, and for maintaining outstanding offensive efficiency in spite of becoming the true focal point of his team’s offense for the first time in his career, I give Curry a B. Curry managed to make some non-trivial first steps towards becoming a legitimate first option on offense. Now let’s see if he can improve the defense and rebounding (not holding my breath) or cut down on the turnover rates (seems plausible, if not particularly likely).

    Brian Cronin – Quick question, what exactly is a Win Score? I get that Wages of Wins and all that stuff is generally best done as a rate stat (and as a rate stat, Eddy Curry finishes very low in the league, like 150th or something like that, comparable to players like Mark Blount and Stephen Jackson). Fair enough, but then what is the point of having a “Win Score,” which I presume is a counting stat?

    Because, interestingly enough, Eddy Curry had the 75th highest “Win Score” last year.

    John Hollinger’s PER had him with the 70th highest PER (17.07).

    The similarities amused me, but I presume that “Win Score” is basically meaningless if you’re a Wages of Wins fan, right?

    Anyhow, as the other fellows have pointed out so nicely, your evaluation of Eddy Curry’s performance is generally based upon how much of an importance you place upon effective scoring. Curry is one of the more effective scorers in the NBA, and as we see, such effective scoring leads to double teams, which are usually useful, but not so useful when Curry

    A. Can’t kick the ball out, because he is a terrible passer who instead will usually turn the ball over if attempting to pass

    or

    B. Manages to kick the ball out to a player who can’t/won’t take the open outside shot the double team on Curry has provided.

    You really would think that the Knicks would have given Curry some outside shooters, no? And apparently, according to the most recent rumors, they’re not even going for an outside shooter in the draft!! Ah well…there’s always trades, I suppose…

    So Eddy Curry – tremendous scorer who can’t do anything else – while Wages of Wins thinks that is effectively useless, I think I lean toward Hollinger’s take on Curry, which is that Curry is currently around one of the top 15 centers in the NBA, and I think he deserves the C+ that KB gave him.

    Let’s hope he improves this year!!