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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Taking a Look at Draft Scenarios

With three games left in the season, it’s a good time to look at the various scenarios for the draft (important for Knicks fans)

The Miami Heat (14-65) are locked into the #1 position for the lottery, so they will have the best chance (25%) at winning the #1 pick in the lottery, and the worst they will pick is #4.

The Seattle Supersonics (18-62) are not officially locked into the #2 position in the draft just yet, as if they win out and the Minnesota Timberwolves lose out, they would end the season tied. However, that is unlikely, so it’s safe to say that they are basically locked into the #2 position in the lottery, giving them a 19.9% chance of receiving the #1 pick in the draft.

Here’s where it can get a little bit interesting.

The Timberwolves are 20-59. The Memphis Grizzlies are 22-57. They play each other tonight, so if Minnesota somehow accidentally loses, then suddenly the two teams will be in a race with two games left to both lose out, or else they’ll be tied for 3rd.

That said, the chances of Minnesota not losing out are slim. So let’s put them in 3rd place, with a 15.6% chance of nailing the #1 pick.

Now it gets really interesting.

The Grizzlies (22-57), the Knicks (23-57) and the Clippers (23-56) are all within a game of each other.

Here are each team’s remaining schedules:

Memphis
Sat, Apr 12 Minnesota
Tue, Apr 15 at Portland
Wed, Apr 16 at Denver

New York
Mon, Apr 14 Boston
Wed, Apr 16 at Indiana

Los Angeles (who have done a wonderful tank job, losing four in a row to get to this point)

Sat, Apr 12 at Golden State
Tue, Apr 15 at New Orleans
Wed, Apr 16 at Houston

As you can see, the Grizzlies play one team that will try to lose to them, and two teams that likely will not care either way (Denver is likely to have clinched a playoff berth by that game, but perhaps not).

The Knicks play two teams that will likely not care (as Indiana will most likely be eliminated by then, but hopefully, they will still be alive).

The Clippers, luckily for them, are playing three teams who will all care about their games, making their three games pretty much locks for losses.

If everyone loses out from this point, the positions will be:

4th – Memphis (11.9% chance)
5th – tie between Knicks and Los Angeles (each will have a 7.5% chance), with a random drawing held after the end of the season to determine which team will be #5 and which team will be #6, which is a pretty big thing to be decided by a random drawing.

If Memphis beats Minnesota, the positions will be:

4th- three-way tie between Memphis, New York and Los Angeles (each will have a 9% chance), a random drawing held after the end of the season to determine which team will be #4, which team will be #5 and which team will be #6.

Those are the likely scenarios, but here are the worst and best case scenarios, just for fun:

WORST

4th – Memphis – 11.9% chance
5th – Los Angeles – 8.8% chance
6th – Knicks – 6.3% chance

BEST

4th – Knicks – 11.9% chance
5th – Memphis – 8.8% chance
6th – Los Angeles – 6.3% chance

After that, the Bucks are locked in at #7, while the Bulls, Nets and Bobcats can make things interesting for the #8-10 spots, as the Bobcats have 30 wins, the Bulls 31 and the Nets 32.

The Pacers (or, in the case of a shocking collapse, the Hawks) will likely be #11, leaving #12 and #13 to Sacramento and Portland, respectively.

That leaves whoever doesn’t make it between Denver and Golden State for #14.

In closing, Saturday night, root for the Timberwolves to tank like they’ve never tanked before, and luckily, since there is still a chance for Memphis to tie them, they will likely have a good reason to try to lose.

122 comments on “Taking a Look at Draft Scenarios

  1. Ess-dog

    I think the key to our draft scenario will be what is happening with Zach Randolph. Of course, we would all love to move him, but I’m thinking that he will stay put thanks to his monster contract.
    This will be especially annoying if we win the Beasley sweepstakes, which if it happens, then we really have to try to move Zach.
    If we get the 2 spot, I think we all agree that Rose will be everyones choice. The 3 spot will be interesting. We could go with Lopez, Mayo, or trade down if Rose is gone.
    Most likely, we’ll be picking at the 5 through 7 spot. Mayo could fall to 5, but I’m not sure we need another Marbury-style player. Iverson getting to the finals is the best a scoring point guard has done in the NBA, it rarely works.
    CDR has a nice game as does Westbrook and they both bring defense, but their scoring upside is somewhat limited. I do think whoever we pick has to be strong defensively. That’s why I have reservations about Eric Gordon. My guess is that we will be taking Bayless, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. He proved he could find the open man on a limited team, and he can score, not like Mayo, but pretty well.

  2. JK47

    The Isiah Thomas Knicks: bad enough to be a laughingstock, but not bad enough to get a high lottery pick. This is what hell looks like.

  3. Billy W.

    Whoa whoa a few comments to you, Ess-dog.

    #1. This is not the “Beasley Sweepstakes,” this is the “Rose Sweepstakes.” We don’t want another potential moping PF, we need a transcendent point guard. Someone whose upside is “N/A” (http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Derrick-Rose-1068/) Let’s hope we get there.

    #2. We are not going to be able to move Zach. All we can hope for is that our new coach, president and draft pick, can inspire him to some degree. If not, bench him for Lee/Chandler

    #3. Taking CDR or Westbrook somewhere 5-7 is too early. I’m down on Mayo, but he does play defense and has some size. It’s tough to decide between him and Bayless. Check out break-downs at nbadraftnet.net, draftexpress.com etc.

    #4. Unless we can move Curry or Zach on draft day, taking Lopez is a no-go. He’d be a good piece on a team that didn’t suck…

  4. Pete

    I’m not sold on Lopez. His numbers are good, but watching him in the tournament (admittedly a small sample) he seemed a bit stiff, and appeared to have to work really hard to score on much smaller guys in the post. I could see him having a decent career as an NBA reserve, but the Knicks need a solid starter out of this pick.

  5. Latke

    “we can’t move zach”

    did anyone here see that a soon to be (and now) 36 year old shaq was moved this season? Zach is 10 years younger and makes 7 million less per year. If you package him with something else that is more pallatable. He can be moved, it’s just a question of how much (or how little) you get back, and of whether or not you want or have to package someone who is more desirable with him.

    My opinion is that zach is the biggest cancer on this team. Marbury at least plays hard sometimes. He may be a little crazy, but if you take him out of the leadership position, he can contribute. And at worst, his contract is up after this season. The knicks were decent, remember, last year, before injuries – probably heading towards 38 or so wins. The most significant change since then has been the addition of randolph. Randolph = -15 wins more or less. WE need to do something to get him off this team.

  6. Ray

    Theres got to be someone that can take Z-Bo. Im sure Donnie will figure that one out. I say if they take Mayo early make a deal with another team. Select the pick that they want. Have them select ours. Make the trade and deal Zach in the process. Perhaps we can pick up a late first rounder or something for next year. I think we’ll need it. The Jordan Classic is at MSG next week. IF you guys want to check out some of the talent i believe that a lot of the guys will be there. Also, the pre-draft camps will definitely have an effect on a lot of these guys draft stock. So what we think will be will not once the end of may starts rolling around. Id like to pick(In this order)…Mayo, Bayless, Westbrook. I see Mayo and Westbrook having the most upside with Bayless not too far behind. Westbrook is super athletic. Ive watch a lot of their games and he can come in and chance the tone of things with his defensive intensity. That was just coming off the bench. Its really not a bad gamble with him. Ive already talked about Mayo on this board. Bayless faded at the end of the season it seems. There was not much of a team around him in my opinion.I like his handle, jumper and his first step is explosive. He’s very strong and can get to the lane and also shoot the 3. I think we are in a good place being that after Beasley and Rose there are no bonifide studs. Its going to come down to superior scouting and some luck.

  7. jon abbey

    well, no one wanted Randolph besides Isiah last summer, and now he’s got one more year of cancer-dom under his belt. good luck getting anyone to take him and his contract, I don’t see it.

  8. Latke

    jon,

    I admit that it is no easy task, but he would have been a buck if not for Kohl, and I think if we had taken a poll before the shaq trade… who is more likely to get traded shaq or randolph, the answer woulda been randolph. People are willing to take chances on players who have talent, and randolph does have talent (and perhaps randolph could be helpful for a team that is much more stable than the knicks). All I’m saying is that right now, I’d be willing to package nate robinson or chandler with him and take back shorter deals, or even untalented players (as the bucks deal would have been) who aren’t cancers. You can’t develop young players when you have a player who plays only for himself, only for #s. Right now, he and marbury are the only two big headcases, and marbury’s gone after next season.

  9. JK47

    We should be able to get someone who can help us even if we don’t land a top-two pick. Guys like Bayless, Gordon, Mayo and Westbrook could all help this team. Jamal Crawford is putting in 40 minutes a game for us– that tells you how badly we need quality guards. Not to mention the 25 and 28 MPG for Fred Jones and Quentin Richardson, respectively. That’s a lot of minutes of suck.

  10. Thomas B.

    “In closing, Saturday night, root for the Timberwolves to tank like they’ve never tanked before, and luckily, since there is still a chance for Memphis to tie them, they will likely have a good reason to try to lose.”

    hahahahahahahahahaha. Can anything go right for the Knicks. The funny thing about Minny’s win is hat if we had lost like we were supossed to Minny would be ahead of us now.

  11. americanbear

    I’m a believer that we can move Zach’s contract for a pick. How about this one:

    Knicks trade: Zach and Lee
    GS trades: Al Harrington, their #1 and a sign & trade (i.e. Pietrus or Barnes for 3 mill / one year), maybe give us Wright as well.

    This makes an already poor defensive team worse (but Harrington is no Charles Oakley), but it does make them a much better rebounding team with Zach & Lee.

    We can get a defensive big in the mid 1st round.

  12. Frank

    In the current state of things, the only way we will ever be able to move Zach is either by taking back a longer contract or by packaging him with either draft picks or players that other people covet — I feel like that pretty much means Lee — and even Lee’s trade value now is not great because he is up for a new contract soon and his current contract is not large enough to make it any sort of a trade chip for his new team in case he doesn’t work out there.

    The other possibility is that next year he plays so well that his trade value goes up. Good luck with that!

    So anyway, I think we are stuck with him.

    I don’t see Don Nelson wanting any part of that deal – GS’s cap situation actually is quite nice and I doubt they’d want to blow it up by getting Zach.

  13. Mulligan

    I was going to suggest GS as a possible trade partner – they don’t care at all about defense and the game the other night against Denver showed how much they need somebody who can score down low. Denver played zone for most of the game and it really screwed things up for GS.

  14. jon abbey

    the way that GS plays, they don’t need a post player. they miss Jason Richardson, he would have shot them out of that zone, Baron and Jackson are exhausted from carrying them all year.

    that being said, that above trade isn’t ludicrous, except the salaries don’t match.

  15. theinfamousjb

    I’ve got a job for Isiah (Zeke): Central Asian Director of International Scouting. He could get a nice office in Kyrgyzstan.

    That way Dolan won’t feel like he’s just giving money away (like he is with half the roster) and Isiah can use his draft evaluation skills he seems to have. Plus, he can languish in a corner of the globe not known for its room service, night life or transportation.

  16. W.C.

    The one thing I would not do to get rid of Zach is trade Chandler.

    A handful of things contributed to the Knicks decline this year.

    1. Substituting Zach for Frye took shots away from Curry and put them into Zach’s hands. Zach is the better all around offensive player, but he hits a much lower percentage than Curry because Curry gets much better shots. Curry should have continued to get more touches.

    2. Combining Zach and Curry made an already bad defensive team even slower and worse.

    3. QRich was absolutely horrible offensively and no bargain in any other way either. SF was by far out biggest flaw (and we have many big flaws).

    IMHO, we already have a solution to #3. IMO, Chandler is already a WAAAAY better player than QRich and also has a lot of upside. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone being worse than QRich was this year.

    WE need to move Zach, but I am not as worried about the SF spot anymore. Even if Chandler dosen’t become a star, he’ll be competent scoring threat at worst, decent defender etc… and that’s way more than Qrich was.

  17. Mulligan

    Jon, I disagree about them not needing a post presence – if they had someone who could muscle his way in down low, they wouldn’t have been so undone by the zone. The more I think about it, the more Zach seems like a good fit for them, since he can chuck it with the best of them but also can score in the post. Also, Harrington’s contract expires after 2010. The only weird thing is that GS only has like, 7 guys under contract after this season, so no trades could be done until later in the summer. What about Harrington and Jasikevicius? Or, if our pick drops really low, we could swap picks with them since they’ll be in the lottery as well. Then we wouldn’t have to give up Lee.

  18. W.C.

    Before the Knicks draft anyone, Walsh needs to lay down the law to a few players and see what kind of reactions he gets. That way he’ll know who he has to trade or buy out and who he doesn’t. Once he knows that, he can start thinking about who to draft.

    This is what he has to say to each:

    Curry – If you show up to training camp above 270 your fat lardy ass will be on the bench to start the season and until you get your weight down. And even if you get in shape, if you don’t give us effort at boths ends of the court your fat lardy ass will be on the bench and on the trading block ASAP.

    Marbury – If you don’t listen the coach and do things exactly the way he says, regardless of whether you agree or not, regardless of whether you are satisfied with your role or not, you will be benched in favor of some kid that at least tries. If you do even the slightest thing to disrupt the locker room and team chemistry you will be barred from the team.

    Crawford – If you don’t stop taking stupid shots and don’t start giving us some better effort on defense, you will be benched in favor of some kid that at least tries.

    Randolph – See Crawford and Curry.

    After he guages their reactions, then he can start thinking about trading and drafting strategy.

  19. Dr, Harvey Kindle

    To Brian Cronin: You did a great job explaining the draft possibilities. But things have changed with the T-Wolves beating Memphis. Could you please update your article, ASAP.

    Many thanks!

    Dr. Harvey Kindle

  20. caleb

    No reason to throw in a young player with Randolph yet, we have two more years to dump him, in which it’s only going to get easier (as the contract gets shorter).

    If we aren’t in the top 2, I’d definitely consider trading down if it meant being able to dump Randolph… I can see semi-viable trade partners like the Bucks, Pacers or Bulls. Would the Pacers swap Jermaine O’Neal, to move up from #10 to #5? Would they trade Tinsley & Murphy? Would we? What would the Bulls or Bucks be willing to do, to move up from #9 and #7, respectively? (or wherever they actually land)/

    But if not in top 2, I’d be trying just as hard to package the pick for multiple picks or young players. Not that Lopez, Bayless et al are terrible prospects – I just think #3-6 will end up being semi-reaches. Along those lines… we could try trading with the Nets, for #s 11 and 18. I know, they hate trading with the Knicks, but I could see them really wanting a shot at Lopez. Or we could trade down for a lower pick this year, and another 1st rounder next year — say, with teams in the 6-12 range (Clips, Bucks, Bobcats, Bulls, kings, Nets, Blazers..)

    If we are in the 5 range, along with the players mentioned, I’d have to take a hard look at Anthony Randolph. I have never seen him play outside a highlight reel, but the stats are impressive (way more than guys like DeAndre Jordan (and he’s exactly the “type” of player we need — long, lean, shotblocking rebounder). He’s #5 on Chad Ford’s draft board so even though he’s anonymous to the public it’s not like scouts don’t take him seriously.

    I had a soft spot for Mayo for a while, but the numbers just don’t add up — anyone taking him in the lottery will end up disappointed.

  21. Danis

    If we cant get top 2 i would be happy for Oj Mayo or I would trade down if it meant moving Randolph – i would kind of like to see Love play for the knicks if we traded down and had a pick around 10-12.

    I think Donnie Walsh wil be able to move Randolph I definitely think there is some value for a 20-10 guy.

  22. Ben Bow

    Am i the only one who remembers last year when the knicks extended isiah? they were actually playing pretty good ball untill a few injuries. i think if we just fix a couple things, in the east we could be a pretty good team. first of all, dont ever play marbury or randolf. if possible, trade randolf to a desperate PF team, but i’d be willing to just keep them both until their contract runs out. second thing, is run the offense around curry again. i remember when curry had like 15, 20 point games in a row. all the announcers on MSG were talking about how much he was improving and stuff. i think that he really can be the focal point of a winning offense. he is a really good shooter, and he makes a better percent then randolf. third, is stop playing quentin richardson, jerred jeffries, and malik rose. ive seen too many games we were in it until they came in. we should start chandler at the 3 and lee at the 4. balkman could come in for chandler, and the 4 spot ill adress later. the fourth thing to adress is our draft pick. i think if possible we should pick derrick rose, but if we dont get high enough pick jerryd bayless. both personally will turn into high quality point guards, and not combo guards like everyone we have. with our second round, if possible pick robin lopez. i think he is a really good player. if he’s not available, i’d pick whoever the best powerforward is, hopefully one with some talent who is really good at defense.

    LINEUP:
    1.nate(25)/rose or bayless(23)
    2.jamal(38)/nate(10)
    3.chandler(30)/balkman(18)
    4.lee(35)/draft pick(13)
    5.curry(35)/morris(13)

    personally, that is a playoff team. i really think if it focuses the offense on curry, we would have an inside out game. nate and jamal are real scorers, but we should try to pound the ball in more then we do. i think post play is the key to winning basketball.

  23. americanbear

    I think we should move both Nate and Lee now- their trade value is as high as it’s going to be. Lee could be a nice backup PF for a top team, but I don’t think he will be an all star. He is going to be 25 in a couple weeks.

    The above trade proposal does work salary wise:

    NY is at $16.5k
    GS is at $14.2k (Al 9.2, sign & trade Pietrus/Barnes/Hudson/whoever 3.0, #1 2.0)

    This falls within 125% necessary to make a deal. Also GS’s cap situation won’t be great when they resign Baron, Ellis, Biedrins and maybe one of the SFs.

    One point Mulligan brings up is only 7 guys under contract so no go on a trade- this I don’t know about, can you elaborate?

  24. Ted Nelson

    Nothing’s impossible and the Warriors might consider some changes after missing the playoffs, but do they really want a fat, slow PF?????? Goes completely against what they’re doing. Brandan Wright’s shown some promise and is a much, much better fit for them.
    I don’t know who wants Zach Randolph, but I don’t think GS is at the top of the list. No one is untradable (although Randolph is maybe as close as it gets), the Knicks are just going to have to be willing to take on one or more completely worthless salaries (as Portland did with Francis’), or an even longer deal (although they’d obviously get more value in that way in a year or more). They’re going to have to wait until a desperate team comes along.
    Shaq’s not a great example: Zach’s never been dominant and has a total of ZERO rings.

    “Am i the only one who remembers last year when the knicks extended isiah? they were actually playing pretty good ball untill a few injuries.”

    They were still a below average team and had no consistency. Extending Isiah was viewed by most as a huge mistake at the time, and has clearly proven to be one.

    Caleb,

    I’m warming up to the idea of moving down, but for now I’m just thinking positive thoughts about getting Rose…

    Anthony Randolph could be an interesting choice…

    americanbear,

    I’d definitely listen to offers for Lee and Robinson, but they’re the Knicks two best players. Their values are pretty high right now, but if they keep playing the way they have been they’re not going down…

  25. W.C.

    I still think it’s impossible to talk about who we should draft until Walsh decides who we should trade and who we should buy out (if anyone). They are related.

  26. caleb

    David Lee is probably a top 10 power forward right now, at least above average, so even if he never gets the least bit better… he’s a keeper. I don’t think it will take an outrageous contract to keep him – those only go to players who put up big PPG #s — see Randolph, Zach.

    Nate is a different story – as much as I like him, his perceived value is probably about even (or even higher) than his real value. Trading him (as a sweetener to a Randolph/Curry deal, or for a draft pick) instead of giving him an extension might be a smart cost-saving move, to help the cap situation.

    But… I never think any conversation should start with which players we need to get rid of. You start with thinking about who to bring in. Just know the true value of each current player, so you can tell what trade options make sense.

    Given the state of our roster, I don’t think it matters a bit who we keep, as far as drafting strategy. The ONLY exception would be if we end up with the #1 pick and want to think about taking Beasley — that would free up David Lee for serious trade offers. Of course Rose might be the better option, anyway.

  27. Thomas B.

    Caleb,

    RE: David Lee a top ten PF.

    Garnett, Duncan, Boozer, Howard, Nowitzki
    Gasol, West, Bosh, Marion….

    Lee?

    Remember that song they did on Sesame Street about things that don’t belong?

    “One of these things is not like to other.
    One of these things just does not belong.
    One of these things is not like the other.
    Can you tell me which one is wrong?”

    Oh! Oh! I know. I know. It’s David Lee. He does not belong.

    I love Lee, but he is not top ten yet. Above average, no doubt. Top ten, not quite. But it does not matter if he is top ten, top twenty, whatever. The important thing is that we can win with a guy like that on our team. So we should keep him and I think we can without breaking the bank.

    I think any conversation about improving the Knicks MUST involve making subtractions. Look at portland, they trade the leading scorer and rebounder, it puts them in the playoff hunt until the last two weeks of the season. They did that without the services our their top draft pick.

    I cant think of any combination of players that could make the Curry/Randolph thing work. One of them have to go. It is really no different than the Marbury/Francis issue. The flaws of each player are dramatically applified by playing them together. One needs to go.

    I say we must explore moving at least two of four current Knicks.

    Marbury
    Curry
    Randolph
    Richardson

    You may be able to send Curry and the expiring Malik Rose deal to Indy for O’Neal. His interior D will be helpful plus his deal expires in two years, cutting 22 million off the cap (hope the knee holds up). Buy out Marbury. Just give him the 21 million and send him on his way, wish him well. I think he has too many deep mental scars to pull it together. It will be hard to do but you need to move Richardson as well. His skills have just diminished too much (NBA really needs a diminished skills contract provision). If you can’t move him, hold on to him and maybe his expiring 10 mill can help you at the 2010 trade deadline.

    Now Caleb, if you point is that we should not subtract without considering what we bring in, then yes I agree.

  28. caleb

    “I love Lee, but he is not top ten yet. Above
    average, no doubt.”

    Off your list above, I don’t see much difference between Lee and Gasol or West, right now… and both those guys are few years older, smack in the middle of their prime.

    Dwight Howard is a center, straight up, and so is Tim Duncan. I’d probably call Marion a SF, but that’s debatable… Then again you left off Amare Stoudamire, and this year, at least, Jamison and Wallace have been better.

    All in all I only see 5 or 6 guys clearly better, then a whole bunch we could argue about. Top 10 or Top 15 isn’t much of a difference.

  29. caleb

    “I say we must explore moving at least two of four current Knicks.

    Marbury
    Curry
    Randolph
    Richardson”

    The ones we REALLY need to unload are Randolph, Curry, Crawford and Jeffries… the boys of ’11.

    Marbury and Richardson aren’t hurting anyone; no point in buying ‘em out when there’s an off chance they might be part of trades. Not to mention that Marbs is STILL the best point guard on the roster, which admittedly is saying very little. Of course that could be all the more reason to keep him out – tank next year, too.

  30. Ted Nelson

    W.C.

    Drafting on need is a questionable strategy… can lead to taking a Sam Bowie over an MJ.

    The tier system seems to be a decent strategy: you divide the prospects into “tiers” of more or less equivalent prospects (you might, for example, say that tier 1 in this draft is Beasley and Rose) and then rank the players within each tier by team need. Chad Ford wrote an article on it before last year’s draft.

    Who goes in what tier is still really subjective and what will ultimitely effect the outcome of your draft, but it would seem to help keep GMs disciplined: the idea is that you can’t draft a player from a lower tier over a player from a higher tier even if he fills a need.

    For the Knicks, with all their holes, I’d say deciding on a style of play/ Xs and Os strategy is the first order of business, so you need a coach. If you want to run it’s going to be hard to keep Curry or Randolph, likewise if you want to concentrate on defense… ok maybe the style of play doesn’t matter so much for who you keep, but definitely for who you bring in. Then again, if you get Rose, for example, it makes a lot of short term sense to go uptempo.

  31. caleb

    And the point about needing to subtract… as you say yourself, and as I’ve always argued… don’t play the guy you hate! Portland would have seen the same improvement if Randolph was on the roster, just sitting behind Aldridge…

    …or even if he was still playing. They didn’t get better because Randolph was gone, but because Roy, Outlaw and Aldridge improved (as you’d expect of guys that age) and Przybilla was back from injury.

    Of course it was a GREAT trade for them, because from 2009 onwards instead of paying $17 million to a guy they don’t need, they can give it to an actual great player.

  32. Owen

    Was going to write the same thing.

    Lee hasn’t had quite as good a year statistically as last year. Randolph has cut into his rebounds and shot attempts. But he still has the numbers of one of the top 15 big men in the league. And that is without a decent pg and amidst one of the most dysfunctional teams in NBA history.

    If he had ended up on the Lakers or the Hornets instead of Odom or West, I guarantee he would be getting many more accolades.

    He looks set for a stretch of years where he scores at a slightly above average rate, with a ts% above 60%, low turnovers, a rebound rate in the top 20, and solid defense. That combo is pretty rare in the NBA. If we can sign him to a reasonable extension, say 8-10, he will be a great building block for the future.

  33. W.C.

    Ted,

    I agree.

    I would never draft the 6th most talented player to fill a specific need if I had the #1 pick (to give an extreme example). But in many cases ranking the players is more or less a guess to begin with. We are talking about players of very similar talent and with similar prospects that even the best experts often can’t agree on. If you are in that position (which I suspect the Knicks will be in because they probably won’t get one of the top 2 picks), then I think it makes sense to start thinking abut filling specific needs.

    IMHO, the Knicks biggest need right now is a PG for the long term because Marbury will eventually be gone. However, if we are not going to buy out Marbury and instead allow him to play out his last year, we can’t draft Rose, and we trade either Curry or Randolph it might sense to pick up a solid defensive big man with similar prospects to one of the 2nd tier PGs available.

    There are a lot of combinations that Walsh could take that IMO change who we should draft once you get past the top 2 players. But we have no idea what Walsh’s plans are for Marbury, Randolph, Curry, and even Crawford.

  34. W.C.

    AS far as I’m concerned Richardson should be in the “D” league. I would love to get rid of him, but if we can’t trade him he shouldn’t play unless the other 10 guys are hurt. I can’t comprehend how he got so many minutes this year.

  35. Ted Nelson

    “… don’t play the guy you hate!”

    Trading him for someone(s) you like or at least someone(s) with a shorter contract(s) seems preferable. If somone doesn’t fit with your plans, I think you have to try to move him rather than paying him to sit for the next few years. Not sure I understand what you’re saying…

    Q Rich was one of the Knicks better players last season, I’m not sure he “HAS TO GO.” At least he’ll buy into a team concept. Not sure if his back is completely shot, but if not he could bounce back next season.

  36. W.C.

    Ted,

    There is no excuse for Richardson. Look at his long term NBA stats. He was always a horrible shooter. Last year was the aberration, not this year. In fact, if you think back to beginning of this year you’ll recall that we were reading articles about how he was jumping much better in pre season. He said he couldn’t wait for the season to start because he was playing without pain for the first time in a long time. He was one of the reasons that some people were optimistic about the season. There was some hope that a few of the young guys might improve and that Qrich would be in better shape.

    IMO, Qrich is probably the single biggest reason the Knicks were so horrible this year. I rate his terrible year as almost as big a problem as not being able to work out the Curry/Randolph combination.

    You can’t have a starting SF that’s shooting 35% when a lot of the rest of the team (starting and bench) also doesn’t shoot an especially high % from outside. That goes double when two of your main scoring threats get doubled down low. We were playing crippled for much of the season because of Qrich.

  37. Ted Nelson

    W.C.

    I agree that it’s hard to project how good someone will be in the future (Walsh himself took Jonathan Bender #5 ahead of Andre Miller and Shawn Marion among others). 3-12 or even 15 in this draft you could say the prospects are pretty even (maybe the guys projected to go towards the top of that group have higher floors but some of the guys at the end of that group might actually have higher ceilings), but every decision maker’s going to have his own opinion on each of those guys and I think he’s got to trust it… Basically, I don’t know who it’s going to be but I believe that there’s going to be a Dwayne Wade, Amare, T-Mac, Dirk, etc type suprise in this draft and I’d rather the Knicks not be the team who passed him up for the Rafael Araujo of combo-guards. (Maybe not a perfect example, but imagine the Heat had decided their biggest need was a center to put next to Butler and Odom in the front court ahead of Brian Grant and had taken Chris Kaman ahead of Wade). Also, if the Knicks are going to be a winning team in 3, 5 years not many of these guys are going to be around anyway.

    If we’re talking about needs, what PG do you want to take 3-7??? Most of the PG prosepcts after Rose (and maybe including Rose) seem to have a long, long way to go before they can run the point in the NBA. (I wouldn’t call Mayo a PG and think he’s better-off off the ball.) If the Knicks have a need, it’s not a scoring guard (see Marbury, Crawford, and Robinson). I’d rather draft the “best” guy and then sign a Chris Duhon or someone who can be steady at the point.

  38. Ted Nelson

    I agree that Q’s been terrible this year and hasn’t been a great shooter on his career, I’m jut saying that he might bounce back. Tt’s not like he’s a cancer (as far as I know, I mean I’ve heard mostly the opposite), and he was one of the Knicks’ better defenders last season as well. If I could get value for him (say a shorter deal) I’d move him, but if not you can always sit him and expect him to be a positive member of the team, which you can’t say for Randolph, Curry, or Marbury…

  39. caleb

    “Trading him for someone(s) you like or at least someone(s) with a shorter contract(s) seems preferable. If somone doesn’t fit with your plans, I think you have to try to move him rather than paying him to sit for the next few years. Not sure I understand what you’re saying…”

    I totally agree… I was arguing against the idea that we should package Q with a young player, or accept a long contract in return, as a way to trade him (or Curry, or Marbury, or anyone)… at any cost.

  40. caleb

    “I agree that it’s hard to project how good someone will be in the future (Walsh himself took Jonathan Bender #5 ahead of Andre Miller and Shawn Marion among others). 3-12 or even 15 in this draft you could say the prospects are pretty even…”

    Since it’s so hard to predict among this group, that’s why I would argue for trading down… to have two lottery tickets, as it were, instead of one.

    p.s. If Bender’s knees had held up, I don’t that would look like a bad pick at all…

  41. W.C.

    >If we’re talking about needs, what PG do you want to take 3-7??? Most of the PG prosepcts after Rose (and maybe including Rose) seem to have a long, long way to go before they can run the point in the NBA. (I wouldn’t call Mayo a PG and think he’s better-off off the ball.) If the Knicks have a need, it’s not a scoring guard (see Marbury, Crawford, and Robinson). I’d rather draft the “best” guy and then sign a Chris Duhon or someone who can be steady at the point.<

    I agree entirely.

    I guess I’m sort of saying the same thing, but I think there’s enough randomness in the results that even if we try to draft the best player among a few very similar prospects, X% of the time we are going to wind up passing on the next all star and he’ll play the position we needed (ouch).

    I’m not satisfied with anything other than our bench (that’s because I think a few of our starters belong there), but I think we can work with two of our starters if we fill in the other slots with all star caliber talent. We need to decide who that’s going to be.

  42. W.C.

    caleb,

    If we could trade down from a spot that would yield a ? to get two ?s, I think that would be a good idea because we have so many needs.

  43. Frank

    Agree with Caleb – when Bender was healthy everyone was just buzzing about his potential – so I don’t necessarily think that was a terrible pick by Walsh, just unlucky.

    I think we need to go best player available in the draft — doesn’t really matter to me if the best player is at a position we already have filled with one of our crappy players. Possibly avoid PF given the Lee/Randolph occupation currently, but otherwise, at what position do we not need help?

    Here’s my short prescription:

    1) Trade Marbury to Indiana for Jermaine O’Neal – at best JO regains his form as a pretty good if inefficient offensive player and a monster blocking shots in the paint. Wouldn’t that be something new? At worst, his contract comes off the books after 2010 and we get Marbury out of town. I see this as a win-win for both NYK and IND. They get cap space a year earlier and we get a player that doesn’t hurt our long-term cap future and who might have a lot left in the tank.

    2) Trade Malik Rose and his post-09 expiring contract to Seattle for Earl Watson and a 2nd round pick. Sam Presti won’t be able to help himself — he’s in such cap-clearing phase now that just the thought of $7M more coming off the cap next year will make him pass out with joy. Another win-win in my book – Watson was never going to be part of the long-term turnaround of that franchise. They’ll probably get a top 2 or 3 pick and can pick Rose or another one of the PGs to be the PG of the future for that franchise. And they’ll have a bazillion dollars to spend in free agency after next season or to pass forward to 2010, not to mention their 40 1st rounders over the next 2-3 years — and as a FA, who wouldn’t want to join a team with a core of Durant, Jeff Green, and maybe Derrick Rose? All unselfish good guys.

    For us — we get a defense and pass-first PG whose contract also comes off the books after 2010, right when we need it to.

    3) Pray for lottery balls and pick Derrick Rose.

    4) Assuming we don’t get super-lucky, pick either a PG who at least thinks defense occasionally (ie. Mayo or Westbrook) or a high reward high risk player that has actually shown some production (ie. Anthony Randolph, NOT DeAndre Jordan).

    5) Hope and pray someone will take either Jefferies, Crawford, or Randolph off our hands at some point. That seems doubtful.

    If we can pull this off, our lineup would like this for the coming year:

    PG: Watson, Nate – good mix there
    SG: Crawford, ? Mayo or Westbrook as combo-guards
    SF: Chandler, Balkman, QRich, possibly A Randolph
    PF/C: 4 man rotation of Jermaine O’Neal, Lee, Curry, and Z-Bo

    We could field a “Defense” team of Watson, Mayo/Westbrook, Chandler/Balkman, Lee, and O’Neal, or a quick offense team of Nate, Crawford, Chandler, and some mixture of the 4 guys up front.

    I just think that we need to look at post-2010 as our goal, and be willing to trade contracts that expire prior to that in order to load up on contracts that expire after 2010. we’ll never be under the cap before that, so it behooves us to use those earlier expiring contracts as trade pieces — just not to get anything that expires after 2010.

  44. caleb

    Frank, those are almost all good ideas – the one exception: I don’t think OJ Mayo deserves to be a top-15 pick, maybe not even top-25.

    Also, while a Marbury for O’Neal swap makes some sense for Indy, IMHO they can probably do better once they shop JO around the league. But it doesn’t hurt to ask! I’d also prefer to trade down — if we could grab Westbrook at 8 or 10 and get another pick in the bargain, that would be the best scenario.

  45. Thomas B.

    Caleb,

    Gasol v. Lee: I see your point but Pau has shown a much better offensive skill set than Lee has shown. I think Pau is better on blocked shots too. But Lee is not that far away. Howard= Center. Okay, you got that. Duncan=Center. No, I don’t think so. Yeah I left Stoudamire and Brand off but that only proves my point.

    Moving Randolph, Crawford, et. al.: Yeah maybe. I guess it turns on what you want to acomplish. It seems you have your eye on 2010 and the free agent bonaza. I get that. My thought process is that we can do both. I think that a defensive center can help Randolph much better than a defensive PF will help Curry. Randolph at least can rebound and not pick up offensive fouls. You could put Camby or Duncan next to Curry and he would still struggle to rebound and stay out of foul trouble. Plus his contract is better. Curry is the guy to move.
    Moving Marbury will let you give more time to the young players. Lets say we get a Derrick Rose, do you want Marbury in his head, even for one year? I say no.

    On Q-Rich: I am a fan of his attitude and effort but his execution is shot. He can barely jump anymore, which results in a flat 3. His rebounds are down and he is slower than ever. Once that back goes in basketball it does not come back. See Brad Daugherty, Larry Johnson, ect. Worst of all, he is eating time that Chandler or Balkman could be using. I think Chandler has a skill set that could make him what Q was back in L.A. Well, Chandler does not have Q’s post game.

    I think Frank has the right idea with O’Neal and Watson. We can improve the team while developing young players and reducing salary. Nice work Frank. So if we do that while making smart draft picks this year and next, we can get the right free agent, make a great run at the title and not even worry about that Utah pick in 2010 becuase it will be the 29 or 30 pick by then.

  46. caleb

    Thomas,

    If Duncan isn’t a center… who is the Spurs’ center?

    re: Marbury, I don’t think it will affect anyone else’s game to have him on the team. If we draft Derrick Rose, he’ll be getting the minutes whether or not Marbs is on the roster.

  47. caleb

    p.s. I’m totally happy to move Curry if we can… both he and Randolph fit the category of: incredibly easy to find a cheap (and better) replacement. In Zach’s case, he’s already on the team.

  48. Thomas B.

    Owen, Caleb et. al

    Just about every PF on my list is a great, in some cases dominant, defensive player. Lee is not there. He is an efficent (High TS%) scorer, who rebounds very very well. He is not a go to guy on offense (not that it is required for greatness) and he is not a shut down defender.

    My list has some great offensive players, some great defensive players and 3-4 guys that do both like Garnett, Marion, and Duncan. Lee does a number of things well but aside from rebounds, he is not dominant in any catergory.

    Okay here is the real test. How many PFs would you draft ahead of Lee? Let me get you started.

    Garnett
    Duncan
    Nowitzki
    Bosh
    Marion
    Brand
    Stoudamire
    West
    Gasol
    Beasley (yes you would don’t even lie and say you would’nt)

    Lee is a good cog but he is not a focal point or go to guy.

  49. Thomas B.

    “If Duncan isn’t a center… who is the Spurs’ center?”

    Uh…. David Robinson?

    Duncan is a PF on the All-Star Ballots. He is listed as PF/C on NBA.com.

  50. caleb

    “How many PFs would you draft ahead of Lee? Let me get you started.:

    Garnett – YES
    Duncan – HE’S A CENTER, MY FRIEND
    Nowitzki – YES
    Bosh – YES
    Marion – YES, IF YOU WANT TO CALL HIM A PF
    Brand – YES (ASSUMING HE’ HEALTHY)
    Stoudamire – YES
    West – RIGHT NOW, THEY’RE EVEN; FACTOR IN AGE AND I’D TAKE DL
    Gasol — RIGHT NOW I’D GIVE GASOL A SLIGHT EDGE BUT I’D TAKE LEE GIVEN THEIR AGE
    Beasley (yes you would don’t even lie and say you would’nt) — This is besides the point. It’s not a list of guys who *will* be better, or guys who *were* better. I mean, I’d take Karl Malone ahead of David Lee on career stats, but not for a game tomorrow. We’re talking who’s better right now. Lee > Beasley.

  51. Brian Cronin

    Duncan wasn’t a center when the Admiral was on the team, but he has been since then. Oberto/Kurt Thomas are the power forwards in the Spurs system.

  52. W.C.

    Personally, I don’t think the Knicks are going to give up on Curry yet. I think Zach is way more likely to be moved for multiple reasons.

    I also think the probability that Curry could return to being a 20 and 7 guy if we traded Zach and gave him as many touches as he had last year is 100%.

    His stats really weren’t that far down on a MPG basis. Any decline that did occur came about because of the presence of Zach. Zach took some shots and rebounds away from him while they were on the court together. It was obvious at times when Zach wasn’t playing that Curry’s game and effort would rise a notch. I think the whole “playing together” experience and the way Isiah handled him screwed him up a bit mentally.

    Curry is a somewhat fragile personality and needs to be handled differently to have any hope of getting his potential out of him.

    It might be a giant waste of time, but I think they are going to give one more coach and perhaps Ewing a shot at getting him into better shape and motivating him to play at both ends. There are very few good centers in the NBA. Even though Curry is wildly flawed defensively, IMHO he’s above average based on last year’s form. You just need to pair him with a different kind of PF and get some effort out of his fat lardy ass.

  53. Brian Cronin

    I’d definitely prefer Curry to Randolph.

    Curry is bad, no doubt about it, but at least he’s not so bad that he negatively affects the Knicks’ best player (Lee).

  54. Ben Bow

    theres no way i’d say lee makes top 10 PF rite now. caleb u keep contradicting yourslef. you say you’d take lee over west because of his age. like you said “We’re talking about who’s better right now.” you say age matters for west, then it doesnt for beasley. personally either way i take west. heres a list of rite now, and factoring in age. they aren’t in order, just when i think of them.

    NOW

    1.gasol
    2.west
    3.duncan
    4.jamison
    5.dirk
    6.amare
    7.garnett
    8.boozer
    9.bosh
    10.brand
    11.al jefferson
    12.josh smith
    13.hedo turkoglu(he is 6-10, dont tell me hes a small forward)
    14. lamarcus aldridge
    15.durant(again, he’s 6-9. he mite b playing SG at the moment, but he’d still make a better power forward.)
    16.jermaine oneal
    17.rasheed
    18.beasley(better then lee rite now. even with age difference.)
    19.drew gooden
    20.nick collison
    21.MAYBE lee.

    i’d put lee at 21 at his highest. now, even with age difference.

    1.durant
    2.beasley
    3.aldridge
    4.josh smith
    5.al jefferson
    6.boozer
    7.dirk
    8.garnett
    9.amare
    10.west
    11.brandon wright
    12.tyrus thomas
    13.brand
    14.darrell arthur(kansas)
    15.jermaine oneal
    16.lee, just because i cant think of any more.

    lots of people i’d take over lee even if they are older. put garnett on our team, stop playing randolf, and we are pretty good for the east. change garnett for any other superstar PF and it still works.

  55. Frank

    I’m not a Lee Kool-aid drinker but to put Nick Collison and Drew Gooden over him is just crazy talk. Durant, Turkoglu, and Josh Smith are all SF’s regardless of their height. Duncan is a center. Otherwise, though, I pretty much agree with you. The only ones that are questionable in my mind are Jermaine O’Neal (only because he is so injured all the time and has not played up to the level of a few years ago recently) and maybe Jamison because he really is more of a SF and doesn’t do a lot of the stuff real PFs do (ie. guard PFs and rebound).

    And then bringing up Tyrus Thomas, Brandon Wright, Darrell Arthur etc. in the 2nd part of your post is just trying to be inflammatory. I mean, really, let’s be serious. Wright barely plays at all, Arthur is the 3rd best player on his college team, and Thomas is a head case that does more stupid things than good things.

  56. caleb

    I thought I was pretty clear – saying Lee is as good (or better) than West right now.

    Your big list is ridiculous – Nick Collison? Drew Gooden? Kevin Durant (today)? Hedo Turkoglu as a PF? Why not throw in Jason Kidd, who’s a great rebounder, or Kobe, who’s a great post player? Or LeBron, just because?

    Quick Lee vs. West comparison:

    Scoring: West scores a lot more (21.5/4o vs. 14.8) but at a much lower efficiency (53.3 TS% vs. 60.8%). If they both got the ball an equal amount I’m not sure it would look a whole lot different.

    Rebounding: Big edge to Lee, 12.2/40 vs. 9.5 (and a lot bigger difference last year).

    Passing/Turnovers: West gets the edge, 2.4 assists/40 vs. 1.6, and slightly fewer turnovers as well. But last year they were almost exactly even, so I don’t know that it’s a huge difference.

    Defense: Awfully hard to compare. Hornets look a lot better, but they have Tyson Chandler in the middle and the league steals leader on the perimeter. Knicks have Curry, Crawford and Robinson. West is getting a lot more blocks than Lee this year, but he’s almost double his career average. Lee gets (slightly) more steals (per minute). West’s defensive +/-: -1.7. Lee: -1.8.

    Overall, based on defense, I’d probably give a slight nod to West — this year — but that’s with him having a career year, and Lee way off from last season.

    I could do the same comparison for most of the guys on that last. Drew Gooden? Nick Collison?

  57. caleb

    “Curry could return to being a 20 and 7 guy if we traded Zach and gave him as many touches as he had last year is 100%.

    His stats really weren’t that far down on a MPG basis.”

    This is true, but mainly shows why per-game stats are so misleading. Curry was well below average last year and even worse now.

    (Of course he’s better than the other centers on the roster, whereas Randolph is worse than his backup, so in terms of marginal value it looks a bit different)

  58. Frank

    Caleb – it’s tough saying “Overall, based on defense, I’d probably give a slight nod to West — this year — but that’s with him having a career year, and Lee way off from last season” — West is getting better each year and Lee has such a small sample size that one could easily just argue that last year was the anomaly and this year is what we should really expect out of him. I’d rather see a trend for improvement each year and project how good a player is/will be, than use the middle year out of a 3 year career and say that it trumps the other 2 years. I think at this point, West is just better — he’s a better scorer, better defender, assists more, turns over less, and is a competent rebounder with good stats EVEN THOUGH he is next to an absolute rebounding monster named Tyson Chandler. One could easily project that Lee would not have the same rebounding numbers if he were playing next to Chandler rather than Fat Boy Curry. In fact, we’ve seen that this year where a lot of his rebounds get siphoned away by Randolph when they play together.

    I really do think that right now may be the best time to trade Lee, if ever. He’s due a big extension after next year and Donnie Walsh will have to decide whether or not Lee is a part of the future championship puzzle. I think he very well can be, but he is also one of the best trading chips we can use to not only trade an undesirable contract like Zach/Crawford/Jefferies but also to avoid paying his extension if he’s not part of the big plan.

  59. caleb

    Frank,

    I read those numbers differently: small passing/assist edge… very slight defense edge… very slight offensive edge, at best (depends how you weigh efficiency vs. volume) vs. large rebounding edge (almost 30 percent better).

    Lee’s sample size, at this point, isn’t that small. And age is a huge predictor of improvement or lack thereof. What I’m saying is that even not close to his best, he’s STILL as good or almost as good as David West at an all-time peak. I strongly suspect that West will not be quite as good next season as he is now, and Lee will have a better season than he’s having now. Want to suggest a wager?

    “One could easily project that Lee would not have the same rebounding numbers if he were playing next to Chandler rather than Fat Boy Curry. In fact, we’ve seen that this year where a lot of his rebounds get siphoned away by Randolph when they play together.”

    While this seems true intuitively, it’s not. Lee’s numbers are barely different with Randolph on the floor, and last year at least they were siginificantly better with Curry OFF the floor.

    Anyway, I won’t call someone crazy if they want to argue that David West is better than David Lee. If they want to say that he’s dramatically better, that it’s not even close, then yes, they are crazy.

  60. caleb

    p.s. I would not even consider trading the best player on the team (which he obviously is) unless it’s to get another young “best player,” for example my notion of trying to swap him for Mike Conley.

  61. caleb

    while we wait for the medical report, here’s my last David Lee post of the eve…

    “an absolute rebounding monster named Tyson Chandler”

    Last year, David Lee’s rebounding rate (percent of missed shots grabbed) was 20.7. Tyson Chandler’s rate was 20.7. It was a career high for both players. Chandler, fyi, played about 25% more minutes.

    This year, Chandler’s rebound rate is 19.5; Lee’s is 17.4.

    Even now, Lee is a lot closer to Chandler in the board department than he is to David West, whose RR the past two years were 12.9 and 13.8, respectively.

    Also fyi, CHandler is 6 months older than Lee and West is 2 years older than Chandler.

  62. MJG

    Couple things.

    Duncan technically is the PF in the Spurs system. Oberto is the center. Before Oberto it was Rasho Nesterovic, then Nazr Mohammed, then Francisco Elson. I agree Duncan COULD play center, and he fills that position when they go small, but in the lineups and in their offense he is the PF.

    David Lee is comparable to David West?!? Guys. Statistics are nice, I’m all for them. But all the per-minute rankings in the world aren’t going to make David Lee anywhere near as complete an offensive player as David West. Lee’s a nice player, but seriously…

  63. Brian Cronin

    When the Spurs give their lineup, MJC, Duncan is listed at power forward and Oberto at center (and Rasho before him), so yes, technically, he is a power forward, because that is what the Spurs call him. But in the actual game, he plays center.

    Their defense revolves around funneling players towards Duncan so he can block your shots.

    Their offense involves Duncan in the middle, while everyone else plays in the perimeter (including Oberto/Thomas).

    In both instances, isn’t that precisely what a center does?

    I mean, if someone wants to come up with a new term for what Duncan is, like a “Power Center” or whatever, like he’s a 4.5, then fine.

    But if you have to pick between a 4 and a 5, he’s a 5.

    He’s listed as a four because that is how he came into the league, when he had Robinson with him playing the role of a 5, and I presume he doesn’t want to change listed positions if he doesn’t have to. If you’re a power forward for your first X amount of years, you probably don’t want to mess with your legacy.

  64. Thomas B.

    MJG,

    I second that. Lee is not in the same class as West. By no means does that make Lee a bad player. He just isnt top ten.

    Caleb,

    This has been by far the most fun debate I have had on this site. Thanks. Let me just leave you with this. Duncan is not a center. Every year the Spurs bring in anybody to play the 5. Now I know this is mainly done to keep Duncan from banging with the bigger centers (see Shaq) but the truth is they play him at the four. He really lays more of a four game than a 5 on offense. He lives in the high post and is dangerous spotting up or on the drive. That is much more typical of PF play than low post back to the basket play.

  65. jon abbey

    “Lee is not in the same class as West. ”

    this is pretty impossible to judge IMO, either way, as West has the best PG in the game setting him up and Lee has a black hole where that position should be.

  66. Frank

    Caleb – look, I like Lee a lot also and I hope that he improves as a player — but by any statistical measure he has taken a step back. And by all means, his sample size is VERY small. He’s been in the league 3 years, none as a starter (not really his fault). In those 3 years, the stats most relevant to him are (by year, 2006; 2007; 2008)

    TS% 60.7; 65.2; 60.8
    Rebound rate: 16.3; 20.7; 17.4
    A/40: 1.5; 2.4; 1.6
    P/40: 12.2; 14.4; 14.8
    TO rate: 13.5; 13.7; 10.6

    So what worries me about Lee is that year 1 looks much like year 3 — TS% identical, rebound rate in year 3 is much closer to year 1 than year 2, P/40 improved almost totally because of an improvement in FT shooting. TO rate is better.

    So now where is the extra production going to come from? He has worked hard on his ballhandling/post up moves and mid-range shot and just by watching him, they seem to have improved demonstrably — that has resulted in 0.4 points/40 improvement — hardly statistically significant — and has come at the expense of 4.5% TS%. And the way he is used by the Knicks (for better or for worse) basically means that his usage rate will not go up significantly — regardless of how much his post-up game improves, I would still rather see Curry or Randolph be the guy posting up rather than Lee. His FT% improvement is impressive but it is hard to see him getting much better than 81.5% from the line. So in terms of improving his offensive production, I worry that any extra points he scores will come at the expense of his efficiency, which is why we all love him anyway.

    So now that takes us to his other stats — rebounding, which has gone back to his 2006 level (so now he has 2 years at that production level and only 1 year at a higher level). And just so we have a good idea of how good a rebound rate of 17.4 is — he is currently 24th in the NBA in rebound rate, behind such vaunted rebounders as Antonio McDyess, Mutombo, Dalembert, Nazr Mohammed, Nick Collison, Joel Przybilla, Jeff Foster, Amir Johnson, and Erick Dampier amongst others. Tyson Chandler, by the way, has posted a rebound rate 19+ for 5 straight seasons so I do think HIS sample size is plenty to predict that he is truly a monster on the boards, not to mention a great shotblocker and defender (and Caleb, I don’t think his 25% more minutes/game affects his rebound rate — unless I am misunderstanding how that is calculated).

    And for all Lee’s efficiency, his TS% is only 22nd in the league.

    So my point is not that I am hating on David Lee — I just think we have really built him up on this board on the basis of last year, which was just 1 year out of a 3 year career so far. The 2 OTHER years (ie the majority of career to date) may actually be what he really has to offer us. He was GREAT last year and it was easy to say he was the best player on the team in 2006-2007. This year he may be the best player still, but that is really more an indictment of the rest of the team than any special statement about Lee.

  67. Frank

    Sorry – let me finish by saying that I think we REALLY need to at least consider trading him now while his value is probably still high and before we need to extend him (and his trade value drops accordingly). He would be a fantastic addition to a GOOD or GREAT team but we are NOT even a slightly good team. If we can use him to get rid of Randolph, Crawford, or Jefferies I think we seriously need to consider that. It would be a big blow to however many Knick fans are left because we all love watching him play, but if it brings us LeBron in 2010 I think we can all look past that.

  68. W.C.

    Frank,

    I think you are spot on about Lee. I think the love affair with Lee is based on the fact that the rest of Knicks either suck, are fat lard asses, or have disruptive personalities.

    Lee has been the only hard working professional on the team over the last 3 years. So people gravitate towards those intangibles.

    He’s a decent player and could get better, but if we actually had a decent team with hard working professionals on it, people would have a more balanced view of him.

    Has anyone noticed how many of his shots he gets blocked?

  69. Alec

    I love Lee, but would also consider trading him. I will say however, that if we can resign him to a reasonable contract, I think we should. He isn’t having a great year so I hope that means his value is low and will be signed cheap. If trading him for a draft pick or packaging him with a horrible contract it is something that Mr Walsh needs to consider.

    Off topic, how has Donnie Basketball not become his nickname is that papers yet?

  70. caleb

    Maybe I’m cranky but it is wearing thin to hear people say that Lee’s offensive game is extremely limited. Why would anyone think he’s at least in the ballpark as David West, if not better? Because David West scores 20 points a game? aiyiyiyi!

    Here’s some basic math: Lee has a usage rate of 14.4, and scores 14.5 points per 40 minutes. An unquesionably bad offensive player, Jared Jeffries, has the ball almost as much as Lee – a usage rate of 12.1; he scores 8 points per 40. Lee’s scoring rate, per touch, is 50 percent higher.

    David West has a totally different role in his team’s offense. His usage rate is 24.0 – Zach Randolph territory. (In fact his career TS% is just slightly higher than Zach’s). He scores 21.5 points per 40 minutes.

    If David Lee maintained his level of efficiency, while touching the ball as much as David West, he would score 23.8 points per 40 minutes. Intuition tells us that probably wouldn’t happen. If the offense ran through Lee, the defense would pay more attention to him and his efficiency would go down.

    But even if he sank to level of Jared Jeffries for all those additional touches – as he soared to a usage rate of 24.0 – Lee’s scoring rate, per 40, would be 20.7.

    If his efficiency dropped just 10 full points, from one of the top TS% in the league to well below average, his scoring rate would be around 22. Remember, David West is at 21.5.

    Is David West really a much better scorer than David Lee? Is he a better scorer at all? And even if you grant a small edge for ballhandling and defense, does it make up for Lee’s huge edge in rebounding?

    p.s. This is all based on Lee’s numbers THIS year. In other words, if 2007-2008 reflects his true level of play, and last season was a total fluke, he’s still as good as David West. He doesn’t “have” to improve, to be extremely valuable. That said, I think DL’s true level is probably somewhere in between…

  71. Frank

    Point taken Caleb although I have some problems with extrapolating stats based on DOUBLING the usage rate, which unquestionably changes so many factors in the way someone plays and is defended. I purposely left David West out of my post this morning because it remains extremely difficult to compare the two given their games are so different.

    West is much more of mid-range jumper player (64% of his shots according to 82games) and hits 43% of those and Lee gets most of his points around the rim (75% inside shots). I think the only way Lee could get his usage up above 20 would be to shoot many more jumpers, which he converts only at a 40.7% clip, which obviously would greatly decrease his efficiency. Overall they are both excellent but different players. West is asked to be the secondary or even primary scorer on the Hornets whereas Lee is hardly ever asked to create any offense for himself or others. Makes offensive #s very difficult to compare. That’s why I compared him above to Tyson Chandler, who has much the same offensive role on the Hornets as Lee has on the Knicks (ie. rebounding, junk points, finishing off other players’ action). I remain convinced that Chandler is a far superior player to Lee due to the fact he is one of the better defensive players at his position. If he could learn to shoot free throws just a little better he really would be something.

    Pretty impressed with David West nonetheless – touches the ball a lot, shoots it 48% overall, 85% from the line, and doesn’t turn it over much all things considered. Nothing not to like there.

  72. caleb

    “I remain convinced that Chandler is a far superior player to Lee due to the fact he is one of the better defensive players at his position.”

    I agree completely. I also think David West is a fine player, but a definite #3 to Chandler and CP3. I don’t think they’d miss a beat if they swapped PFs with us.

    re: OJ Mayo, maybe a Lopez comparison is unkind (although Felipe was a solid defender and actually had a long-ish NBA career)… but OJ doesn’t have anything like the otherwordly quickness that made Iverson a big-time player. I’m not a fan of AI’s game, either, but that’s sort of antoher story… Mayo isn’t much of a shooter, either… I just think that limits him quite a bit. I don’t think he belongs in the lottery; if I’m totally wrong I think the high-end would be more like a mini-Iguodala.

  73. Nick

    caleb- your posts never indicate that you have ever watched a basketball game. You just repeat the same tired old TS% numbers with no context. It’s hard to take anything you write seriously.

    The 82games numbers show that the only aspcect of shooting Lee is better at is dunking 94% to 87%. Lee’s TS% is high becuase of the fact that 75% of his shots are taken from “inside.” That seems like the very definition of limited. Granted, he has started to take the occasional jumper in the last month or two so it’s possible with work he will become proficient and expand his game. But to date the numbers that you choose to ignore scream limited player with an artificially high TS%.

    David Lee
    Shot selection Shot Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
    Jump 25% .407 66% 9% 1.5
    Close 52% .516 47% 19% 4.1
    Dunk 18% .944 77% 2% 2.6
    Tips 5% .296 0% 0% 0.2
    Inside 75% .606 57% 14% 6.9

    David West
    Shot selection Shot Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
    Jump 64% .429 63% 4% 9.4
    Close 29% .542 51% 11% 5.3
    Dunk 5% .877 60% 0% 1.4
    Tips 3% .455 0% 3% 0.4
    Inside 36% .578 50% 9% 7.0

  74. caleb

    p.s. Frank – I’m also not suggesting that Lee SHOULD get his usage rate cranked up. Playing the way he does, he leaves those shots for others, who can score more efficiently than he would be doing by jacking up a lot of jumpers. THis is one reason we think of him as a smart player — and why an efficient scorer is valuable.

    (Conversely, if David West or Zach Randolph lowered their usage rate to 14, by taking better shots, their efficiency would probably go up some. For a guy with a high usage rate – like West – a 53.3 TS5 isn’t bad, but it’s not very good either. By comparison, it’s almost identical to Jamal Crawford (23.8 usage, 52.6 TS%). There are 19 players with a usage rate between 23.5 and 24.5. Thirteen have a higher TS% than West.

    There are 23 players with usage rates between 13.9 and 14.9. Only one (Josh Childress) has a better TS% than Lee, and only one other (Dan Gibson) is even close. The 4th best TS% in that group is all the way down at 56.8 (Trevor Ariza). SO it’s not like it’s easy to score efficiently.

  75. caleb

    “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

    I’ll just add that it’s a GOOD thing he takes most of his shots from inside. I wish Zach Randolph were smart enough to figure that out.

    The bottom line is that David Lee plays a decent-size role in the offense (a 14.4 usage rate is average) grabs boards, gets himself in position for passes, gets to the line a lot for someone who doesn’t get plays run for him. When he has the ball, he knows what to do with it.

    I don’t care if you’re on the playground, church league, NBA, whatever, that’s how you win, not by chucking up long two-pointers, which, by definition, are bad shots.

    So, go pound it.

  76. Nick

    Caleb soon you are going to break your hand. So now your spinning is that Lee is some sort of genius for having no game outside of three feet. The fact that the numbers indicate he is worse than West on everything but dunks is immaterial to you. You neglect to take the shjot clock into account. Five Lees unwilling to risk their shooting percentages who have to pass the ball off outside of three feet means there are a lot of 24 second shot clock violations.

  77. jon abbey

    don’t forget a lot of shot blocks by the other team, I know at one point midseason he was leading the league in this ugly category (by a lot, too).

  78. Johnny Twisto

    “Five Lees unwilling to risk their shooting percentages who have to pass the ball off outside of three feet means there are a lot of 24 second shot clock violations.”

    Fortunately, in the NBA of 2008, you can only play one David Lee at a time. So in the context of an actual team, he is useful. When you start your Clone Wars league, you don’t have to draft him.

  79. Nick

    I don’t know that a 25% shooter on jump shots with 19% of his shots blocked can actually “shoot from the outside or go baseline”. When I see Lee go baseline I see a turnover waiting to happen that one in three times turns into a dunk. The jump shot is a work in progress.

  80. caleb

    Nick, assuming you’re looking at 82games you’re reading the chart wrong:
    http://www.82games.com/0708/07NYK11A.HTM

    Only 25% of Lee’s shots are jump shots. He makes 40 percent of them. (58% of Zach Randolph’s shots are jumpers, and he makes 39%). My numbers might be very slightly off – 82games uses eFG%, but neither of those guys are taking 3s so it shouldn’t be much different.

    Where do you see that 19% of his shots are blocked? That would seem to suggest that he makes about 75% of his non-blocked shots…

    I’m not too worried about getting blocked; it doesn’t stop him from scoring well or efficiently. I think Tim Duncan led the league in that category one year so it can’t be too bad.. .

  81. caleb

    oh, I see, 19% of in-close shots blocked. Not good, but like I said, not too important.

    Interesting – league leader is Yi Guan, 26%. Average looks to be around 12-14%.

  82. Thomas B.

    It pains me to say this, but jon abbey has a good point about West drawing a great benefit from playing with CP3. :-)

    Like West, Lee is a good finisher when he gets the ball in the right spot. So given Lee’s high TS% he could add 5-6 ppg if he got good touches from a top notch point.

    It also helps West that he shares the fron court with a guy that does not command a great number of touches on offense, Chandler. West gets to be the focal point of front court offense because Chandler is not an offensive player. Lee on the other hand is never the focal point of the front court. Between the touches Curry and Randolph get, Lee barely gets the chance to score other than we he grabs an offensive board or makes a move before Randolph gets the ball.

    The only problem with saying that Lee is a CP3 away from being West is that Lee is not the on the ball defender West is, and when we say Lee is a CP3 away we are forced to speculate. Unless we ha a way to put Lee into the same system West is in, we can never know if Lee could produce what West has.
    ——-

    “Also does it matter if 40% or 0% of your shots are blocked? (Assuming that your eFG% stays constant.)”

    Maybe it does matter. Let’s say the only time
    lee missed a shot is because it was blocked. So Lee goes 6-10 with four shots blocked. But what if a team has a better chance of getting a second chance to score when a shot is missed (offensive rebound) than when the shot is blocked (no change of possession no clock reset). What then?

    If a team only scores 5% of the time after a shot is blocked (I made up that number, I don’t know what the % is), but a team scores 10% of the the time after a shot is missed, then I would prefer Lee to go 6-10 with O blocked shots. That result gives the team twice the chance of putting more points on the board. Of course, my conclusion requires the success rate following a blocked shot, ditto for missed shots.

  83. Ben Bow

    heres a few arguements ill make that pretty much sum up all the things against me.

    1.
    if you were the hornets and put lee on your team instead of west for the whole year, whould you still be 2 in the west?
    hell no.
    you would still be a good team but nowhere near as good. west is a better shooter, and lee only gets his rebounds from ones that curry and randolf should get. last year he had a ton because all the easy ones he would snag up, when curry didnt go to them. playing next to someone like tyson chandler, lees rebounding would definitely be lower then wests. west is also a better post up player, and better at driving, better at defense, a better athlete, and better at pretty much every aspect of the game. lee is only close in statistical categories because of how little he plays. thats like saying carl landry is as good as boozer. at one point, i’m not sure about now, he had a higher PER then him. do you think anyone in the nba would take Landry over Boozer? no chance.

    2.

    if i was a team, who would i rather have playing the PF position?
    lee or durant
    deffinitely durant
    even if right now durant plays at a 2 guard, once his body develops he will definitely go to a 3 at least, but probably a 4 position. he is only playing so small right now because of his lack of muscle.
    turkoglu or lee?
    i’d take turkoglu at the 4 spot any day over lee. i’d call this similar to the tim duncan thing. i’d call turkoglu a 4 even if he does shoot 3 pointers. he is a much better 4 then lee is, thats for sure.

    3.
    if you were a seattle fan, wouldn’t you argue nick collison is better then lee? i know if i was one the arguement would be easy to make. you only think he’s better because you like the knicks. i like the knicks too, but if i liked seattle i’d be thinking the same thing.
    “david lee better then collison? no way”

    lee really isnt that great. i still dont see why everyone says he is. he cant hit a jumper, and all his shots are easy shots. he just happens to play in a position on a team where rebounds come easy, and you get clean up buckets/dishes for layups

  84. Brian Cronin

    Here’s a sentence that sums up your arguement, Ben.

    “Just trust me, I know best.”

  85. Frank

    Ben Bow – trust me I am not as big a Lee fan as some on this board, but you have lots of holes in your arguments.

    Your first point I actually agree with, partly. I am not as big a believer in per-minute stats and all the other normalized stats because I don’t fully believe (no matter in how many different statistical ways someone tries to prove it to me) that you can just multiply someone’s per-minute stats by X and figure out how they would do playing 40 min/game. I always thought that was the classic Mike Sweetney, Stromile Swift, etc. trap — sometimes it works and sometimes it is just way off. No one in their right mind would pick Carl Landry over Carlos Boozer no matter what the per minute stats say, so there are obviously weaknesses in the per-minute stat arguments.

    Your second point is much weaker. Turkoglu and Durant will never play power forward in this league because that is just not their skill set. They are both small forwards through and through. Just because someone is 6’9″ or 6’10″ does not make them a power forward. If you forced Turkoglu or Durant to guard 4′s for the whole game, they would probably get hurt within a week, not to mention get pushed all over the court by guys that are just far more physical and strong than they are. Durant, I guess, might one day get strong enough to hold up, but his frame is not such that he’s really going to put on much weight. Durant and Turkoglu are good players because they force mismatches when they are on offense because most 3′s are not tall enough to guard them and most 4′s are too slow, and they have good ballhandling and shooting skills for their size. But that doesn’t mean any team wants them as a power forward.

    Your third point I have no opinion on. I’ve really never seen Seattle play. Collison is probably a fine player.

    Your last point though, is more problematic. It is true that he doesn’t shoot the jumper as well as we might like and most of his shots are up close. But– if that were so easy, everyone would be doing it. And yet, very few players are as good at what Lee does as he is. He really has an uncanny knack for rebounding and putting himself in the right place on offense where is available for that pass or that offensive rebound that enables him to take that easy shot. Can you imagine if Eddy Curry had that knack? We’d be talking a hall of fame level center. The skills Lee has off the ball (ie. rebounding position, spacing on the break, when to go to the hoop when someone is driving, finding a seam where he is available for a pass, being able to finish in traffic with either hand) are all skills that are not easy to learn or teach, and are skills that are just as legitimate as an 18 foot jumper or a crossover dribble.

  86. MJG

    The Turk and Durant argument does seem weak, because neither one of those guys has the physical ability to play the 4 on a consistent basis.

    I still do think that the emphasis on statistics, while generally valuable, is leading some on this board very far afield in the David Lee v. David West debate. No GM in the league would take Lee over West, all things being equal.

    Using the arguments from this board, you could end up arguing that Cedric Ceballos should have taken more shots when he was with Phoenix or that Golden State’s offense should revolve around Andres Biedrins. The reason their offensive efficiency is so high is because they score on garbage. The reason they have low turnovers is because they never handle the ball or have a play run for them. Horace Grant’s shooting percentage was vastly better than MJ’s, and he probably was more consistent with his 18-foot jumper. He also committed less than 100 turnovers a year. Should the Bulls offense have rotated around Horace?

  87. Brian Cronin

    I totally agree that most GMs would take West over Lee without blinking, but if their contracts were the same, I also think that most GMs would take Randolph over Lee without blinking.

  88. Frank

    Totally agree with MJG – stats can only really be used to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. That is why controlled studies try to so hard to match the populations being investigated so they can see whether or not their drug or whatever intervention actually does anything over placebo.

    It’s true that basketball teams should try and take more high percentage shots around the rim, but a lot of time those shots just aren’t there, whether because of poor offensive execution or very good defensive execution. We’d all like to see a layup off a back screen 8 trips out of 10 down the court but that’s just not the way it works. An unfortunate amount of the time (on ANY team), scoring comes down to one-on-one play which will always be less efficient than the layup. But it’s more efficient than not taking a shot at all.

    That’s not even to mention that without proper floor spacing and the threat of a long jumper, all defenses would just pack the middle and take away all those close high-percentage shots. In order to shoot your way out of being defended by a zone defense, you’re obligated to shoot long jumpers, which will always be less efficient.

    So Lee’s TS% last year is GREAT but has to be compared not against players like Jamal Crawford but against guys like Tyson Chandler or Biedrins. He still stacks up reasonably well. The true superstars are guys like Nash who has a crazy ridiculous TS% of 64% despite shooting lots of long jumpers, or Garnett who has a TS% of 59% even though he is being double teamed a lot and is shooting jumpers much of the time, or Kobe who has a TS% of 58% in spite of all the defensive attention he gets.

    Lee’s rebound rate stands up very well, and it is icing that he doesn’t turn the ball over for the 3 seconds per possession he might hold the ball. And again, there is something to be said that he doesn’t play stupidly and try to force things he can’t do.

  89. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    “I am not as big a believer in per-minute stats and all the other normalized stats because I don’t fully believe (no matter in how many different statistical ways someone tries to prove it to me) that you can just multiply someone’s per-minute stats by X and figure out how they would do playing 40 min/game. I always thought that was the classic Mike Sweetney, Stromile Swift, etc. trap — sometimes it works and sometimes it is just way off. No one in their right mind would pick Carl Landry over Carlos Boozer no matter what the per minute stats say, so there are obviously weaknesses in the per-minute stat arguments.”

    Sure per-minute stats have their flaws – but their flaws are so much less than per game stats. As for per minute stats – I don’t even have to go back 3 years into the annals in Knick history to show its weaknesses. How many Knick fans were touting Mardy Collins as the next Jason Kidd because of the end of 2007? He had 3 double doubles, but of course people that don’t look into per-minute stats didn’t see that the production came in 40+ minute games.

    In other words his per game stats made him look like Jason Kidd. His per minute stats made him look like, well, Mardy Collins.

    There will always be things that can’t be accounted for by any statistical method including conditioning, practice habits, injuries, lack of desire, multiple personalities, etc. But it’s hard to argue that per-game stats are better than their per minute brethren.

  90. caleb

    A lot of this Lee debate totally misses the point — he is valuable as-is.

    No one has suggested for a second that he could lead the league in scoring if he wanted, or even that he’s a superstar. (I agreed with the consensus a couple of months ago that he’s probably a top 40, top 50 player in the league).

    I did argue – convincingly :) – that if he handled the ball and shot as much as David West, he would score about as much. That seems to have freaked people out – but when did we start talking about David West in hushed tones?

    I already pointed out that Lee’s scoring efficiency is head and shoulders above other players who handle and shoot as much as he does, while West is below average for players who have the ball as much as he does.

    I actually do NOT think that a vast majority of GMs woul take West over Lee, especially once you factor in age. (contract aside). Even for a playoff run tomorrow, I think a number of teams who are heavy with scorers, would much prefer a Lee (e.g. San Antonio, LA Lakers, Washington, etc.)

    p.s. “The reason they have low turnovers is because they never handle the ball or have a play run for them.”

    Don’t look at total turnovers — look at turnover rate, TOs as a percentage of posession. Lee was better than average last year and average this year. (West is slightly better than average)

  91. Ted Nelson

    MJG

    I don’t think anyone is looking at FG% as the end all and be all of analyzing basketball players.

    Frank
    “In order to shoot your way out of being defended by a zone defense, you’re obligated to shoot long jumpers, which will always be less efficient.”

    Taking a three is not necessarily less efficient in that it’s worth an extra point.

    “The skills Lee has off the ball (ie. rebounding position, spacing on the break, when to go to the hoop when someone is driving, finding a seam where he is available for a pass, being able to finish in traffic with either hand) are all skills that are not easy to learn or teach, and are skills that are just as legitimate as an 18 foot jumper or a crossover dribble.”

    Well said and very true.

    Ben Bow,

    In some cases your arguments are factually untrue (Zach Randolph is a bad rebounder???) and in other cases (as Brian points out) nonexistent.

    Caleb makes a really strong point on Lee/West.

    If you want to talk about a guy’s role and the guys around him, it’s also important to consider that David West plays with Chris Paul. Not to take anything away from West, but the Knicks have no one like Chris Paul especially not in terms of his playmaking abilities. (The Knicks also don’t have an interior defender like Chandler either.)

    If you want to say David West has been more productive overall this season than Lee, I have no problem with that. I agree. On the other hand, saying that you can predict how well they’d do in other situations based on the fact that West shoots jumpers at about 43% while Lee shoots them about 40% (82games.com) and because you know best is a bit silly.

    Collison/Lee seems like a much better apples to apples comparison. Both are strong rebounders (reb-rates above 17 this season) and low volume scorer (Collsion 13.7 pts/40 and Lee 14.8) on equally pathetic teams (both teams are in the bottom 6 in the league on both sides of the ball). Still, Collison’s TS% is 53 and his eFG% is 50, compared to Lee’s 60 and 55, so in a discussion that’s been revolving around shooting I’m not sure what the logic for calling Collison a better player is.

    Mike K makes a good point on per-min/per-game stats. I think this is what Mike was getting at but I would just say that per-40 stats show you how efficient a player was with the minutes he got more than they show you how good he would be if he got 40 minutes per game. You could also look at per minute stats, they just multiply the per minute stats by 40 (or 36) to give a frame of reference (i.e. a star player). Overall, whether you’re looking at per minute or per game stats you still have to use some common sense and I don’t think many people advocate judging players on stats without actually watching them play.

  92. jon abbey

    “the Knicks have no one like Chris Paul ”

    pssh, understatement of the year right there.

    David Lee is a very good player. if he’s coming off the bench as the first frontcourt guy, he can hold his own with anyone in the league. I think the people trying to put him into the top 10 PFs in the league are going way over the top, he’s a smart and efficient player (and looks even more so since he’s surrounded by inefficient idiots), but seems to be a bit less effective in games where he plays serious starter minutes.

  93. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    “David Lee is a very good player. if he’s coming off the bench as the first frontcourt guy, he can hold his own with anyone in the league. I think the people trying to put him into the top 10 PFs in the league are going way over the top, he’s a smart and efficient player (and looks even more so since he’s surrounded by inefficient idiots), but seems to be a bit less effective in games where he plays serious starter minutes.”

    I agree with everything but the last sentence. Just for giggles I ran a query on all games he’s played with 30+ minutes. (http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/tiny.cgi?id=kScfg)

    His stats:
    TS: 63.5%
    eFG: 59.1%
    PTS/36: 12.7
    REB/36: 11.6
    AST/36: 1.6
    STL/36: 1.0
    BLK/36: 0.5
    TO/36: 1.6

    These are all as good or better than his career averages, so I don’t see him struggling when given extra minutes.

    And to bring this back to the per-minute argument, this goes along with what I’ve found in the past: player’s per minute stats usually stay the same or improve with extra minutes. Feel free to read:

    http://www.knickerblogger.net/index.php/2007/09/17/one-more-nail-in-the-anti-per-minute-arguments-coffin/
    http://www.knickerblogger.net/index.php/2007/10/29/a-laymans-guide-to-advanced-nba-statistics/

  94. Nick

    Is it possible that players, particularly bench players, receive more minutes when they are playing well and being productive thus making it something of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Also I would be curious to see starting vs. bench numbers since that seems to be the “anti-per minute” argument and it doesn’t seem to be addressed.Of course ont he other hand most palyers will claim they play better with more consistent minutes, becuase they don’t have to look over their shoulder, get into a rhythm and so on.

  95. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    Nick – Jon’s statement was “[Lee] seems to be a bit less effective in games where he plays serious starter minutes.” So it didn’t matter if there’s a causality issue in play, since he was stating it in the actual (what Lee has done with extra minutes) as opposed to the hypthetical (what Lee will do with extra minute).

    Additionally you should read that first link I left. It deals with the causality (self-fulfilling prophesy) issue.

  96. caleb

    To recap a lot of previous posts and articles, players almost always play better with more minutes. As Nick suggests, this is probably due to a cause-effect issue — when a player is playing well, the coach gives him more minutes.

    But at the the same time, there’s no evidence at all that a player’s production drops when he moves into a starting role, vs. coming off the bench. That’s why per-minute stats are very illuminating.

    People have looked pretty closely at this – even run a handful of studies – a dig through the archives would find one good Knickerblogger threat from fall 2008.

    In Lee’s case, there’s no distinction anyway — he plays almost 30 mpg so he’s not playing any appreciable amount of time against “weaker” competition, compared to what a starter faces.

  97. Nick

    Mike K. the link mentions it but then doesn’t do anythign more than show that odd numbered and even numbered birth year players have more or less the same results. I was thinking more about during a game itself if you are playing well you will play longer and when you are playing poorly you won’t.

    Caleb-I guess the only way to test the starter vs. bench might me to check how a player does when he starts and maybe further refine it to the first 8 mintues of each half when he is most likely to be matched up with the other teams starters.

  98. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    No Nick, the implications go much further than that. It’s like looking at the fossil record and saying “that’s just a bunch of dirt”.

    “In the end what does this prove? Specifically this study removes the correlation between the role player group and players that saw extra minutes due to improvement. It debunks the thought that there is some kind of division between per minute stats, where the per minute stats of high minute players are more a representation of actual talent than those who play few minutes per game. But combined with the past works of Hollinger, Kubakto, and Ziller, among others, it makes an overall stronger statement. Players who receive 10 or more minutes per game are likely to keep the same per minute stats no matter what the increase in playing time is.

  99. Nick

    I think we’re talking apples and oranges. As I understand the study it looks at how players who play more in following seasons do, not how they do in individual games. The best analogy to what I am talking about would be how starting pitchers do when they pitch say 1-3 innings vs. where they pitch 7-9.

  100. jon abbey

    yeah, I knew that was all coming next, but I’m not buying it in this case. first of all, 30 isn’t a good cutoff (he averages 29), I’d go with 36 and above, and even then, the wear and tear from doing that every single game all season is very different from doing it once or maybe twice a week. sorry, but I don’t really trust studies on this, I don’t think there’s enough to judge from and there are too many variables to account for IMO.

    GS is a great example, last year and this year. last year, they had four perimeter guys who could carry the team for a stretch (Baron/Ellis/Jackson/Richardson), this year they were down to three after trading J-Rich and no one really stepping up to replace him. this led to Davis and Jackson being exhausted in the last few weeks, and GS falling out of the playoff race. so Richardson’s absence had a huge effect on Baron and Jackson and GS’s season, but you’d have to actually be paying close attention to figure that out, not just running the numbers.

    anyway, my bottom line is that I’m going to have to disagree with anyone who thinks Lee is an above average NBA starting 4, if he played 36-38 minutes all season long. he is by far NY’s best asset, though.

  101. caleb

    Not that these studies are perfect, but they’re pretty good and in the absence of any evidence at all in the other direction… I find them pretty convincing.

    For example, some of the players whose minutes changed, must have been forced changes — due to injury, or the “better” player ahead of them, being traded or something. If there were an appreciable difference, this would have dragged DOWN the overall performance. Instead, it goes the other way.

    How would you design a better study? I’m sure it’s possible, but I tend to think that any subset — e.g. players whose minutes radically change from night to night – would be very small, with even less reliable results.

    Jon, I’m not sure I understand your point re: Golden State. Plus, they actually had a better record this year than last…

  102. caleb

    Plus, it’s more or less mathematically impossible to play more than 24 minutes, and not be playing a majority of time against the opposition’s starters.

    (I say “more or less” because some starters play more, others less — I base that on a “starter” who plays 36 minutes, which is actually above average — I think the average starter plays something like 30 minutes, but that’s easy to look up)

  103. Frank

    Mike – I appreciate all the work you’ve put into the analysis and I _think_ I understand what the point of your analysis was in the link supplied above — namely that in the control group you set up the expected MPG:PER relationship, and then you compare it to that of players who got 5 minutes more/game than the previous year. As I understand it, the point was that players who could be thought of as benefiting from playing against lesser players in their previously limited minutes still actually did somewhat better despite more minutes the next year. Although the statistical strength of the positive relationship was weak, at least there was no trend towards worse production in the face of more minutes.

    I think I have that right. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    What I think it does not answer though is the whole chicken-egg problem with correlations. Could your analysis prove just that players that played better got more minutes, as opposed to players got more minutes and thus played better (or roughly the same). The other problem is that your control group is of questionable validity. As Brian M wrote in the 1st comment – I think using the same players as their own control from the year before would be much more instructive. Better yet, you should separate statistics from games within the same season in which the player played, say, 28 minutes. Presumably then, the player has not become a better or worse player from game-to-game and the analysis as to the effect of minutes on production would be slightly more valid. Then again, one could STILL argue that the reason the coach gave more minutes is because the player was playing better that particular day.

    So unless i am missing part of the analysis that removes this correlation vs causation argument, I’m not sure that your analysis debunks anything.

    last thing – your splay on your data points is quite large with just slightly fewer players playing worse with more minutes than those playing better with more minutes. So even if I accept your conclusion, you could never make an argument that any PARTICULAR player will do just as well per-minute-wise with more minutes as he did with less minutes. If you said that, you might guess right 52 times out of 100, but 48 times you’d still end up with Mike Sweetney or Stromile Swift.

    Last disclaimer – I actually do believe that per-minute stats ARE useful — I just find them more useful when extrapolating 25 minutes playing time to 33 minutes playing time as opposed to 11 minutes playing time to 33 minutes playing time.

    (by the way, I did not read through all the comments after that linked post, so I apologize if I am just rehashing what has already been said).

  104. Frank

    meanwhile did anyone read Howard Beck’s article today about rebuilding the Knicks? Here’s the part that caught my interest:

    “Lee, who is averaging 10.8 points and 8.9 rebounds, has improved every year and is probably the Knicks’ most coveted player around the league. One rival agent, citing Lee’s talent, upside and popularity, suggested he could seek a maximum contract — in the range of $13 million a season. The agent did not want to be identified talking about a player who was not his client.”

    Yikes.

  105. caleb

    It’s not just Knickerblogger posters who are high on Lee. Luckily, the market is so tight — not enough buyers — that I don’t think we’ll be forced into that range. I do think it will take about $10 million per. And — for all the David Lee fan that I am — if it costs more than that, I’d look harder at trade offers. If you’re spending $12-13 million in the summer of 2010, you can get a player just as good or better.

    Frank –

    I think you are right about the limitations of the study. BUT… it would be awfully hard for a sizable trend of part-time players doing worse, when thrust into full-time roles, to be buried in these results. It’s a fairly big sample.

    A few stipulations — of course it is going to be an even more reliable predictor when the increase is small (e.g. 27 mpg to 33, versus large)… and of course it won’t be true for ALL players.

    Hypothesis time. What type of player do you suspect would NOT maintain production, given more minutes? (I don’t think this would be true of anyone, but if it were, I’d guess older players.)

  106. Brian Cronin

    Well, the clear examples are players who can’t stay in shape (Sweetney, Oliver Miller) – or are old (Sabonis).

  107. MJG

    This discussion is really interesting and leads to a larger argument, I think, about how different basketball is from other sports, especially baseball. Baseball is much easier to quantify because (1) it’s a one-at-a-time game on offense, and (2) the defensive statistics, although flawed, are still better than what’s available for basketball. Fat Lever wasn’t a great defensive player, and neither is Marcus Camby, but if you judge by the stats they will appear to be.

    Caleb made the very good point that many GMs would take David Lee right now, because he fits better on their team. I totally agree with that. I was arguing that, in a vacuum, a talent evaluator would take West over Lee almost 100% of the time. (You can build around West, who can get his own shot and has demonstrated an ability to score in the 4th quarter of tight games.) But sure, if you *already have* a star, Lee fits right in to lots of different kinds of situations. What makes him so valuable is that he can be successful without the ball.

    Team chemistry is tricky stuff. I argue with friends all the time when we try to decide who we would play on an “all-star” team. If you have David Robinson, you can put him on almost any team, because although he can score 20 a game very efficiently, he doesn’t demand to do so. If you have Charles Barkley, your team revolves around Charles Barkley. Magic can be Magic with almost anyone, but you can’t put Dominique on a team of superstars because he needs the ball. The Knicks have basically proved the point this year by putting a bunch of talented scorers on the floor this year who couldn’t play together if Moses commanded it.

  108. MJG

    I don’t think he’s bad, he’s just a little overrated in my view. He’s a good shot-blocker who plays on a team that has poor 1-on-1 defenders and thus gets lots of opportunities. He himself is not a great 1-on-1 defender – you don’t seem him on KG or Duncan, etc.

    I didn’t really mean to pick on Camby especially. He’s probably going to be Defensive Player of the Year, however, and that’s going too far IMHO.

  109. jon abbey

    “Jon, I’m not sure I understand your point re: Golden State. ”

    just that how much a player has to carry their team really affects them and is hard to quantify. Lee has basically been playing garbage time all season, zero pressure. if you really think he could be a top 3 player for a 50 win team, I’m just going to have to politely disagree. but it’s pretty hard to tell either way, given the bunch of bozos he plays with.

    “Plus, they actually had a better record this year than last…”

    deceptive because they made the Indiana deal in the middle of last season (so it was a different team after mid-January), plus at the end of last year, they were rolling, whereas this year they ran out of steam about a month earlier.

  110. Thomas B.

    “How many Knick fans were touting Mardy Collins as the next Jason Kidd because of the end of 2007? He had 3 double doubles, but of course people that don’t look into per-minute stats didn’t see that the production came in 40+ minute games.”

    Guilty. Live and learn.

  111. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    “What I think it does not answer though is the whole chicken-egg problem with correlations. Could your analysis prove just that players that played better got more minutes, as opposed to players got more minutes and thus played better (or roughly the same).”

    I just find so improbable that only players who get better are the ones that happen to get more minutes. In the NBA there are so many injuries, trades, bad GMs, and bad coaches that the cumulative effect of all of those lead me to believe that can’t be true. Someone out there is give more minutes to a player because he has to, not because he wants to.

    Combine this with the studies that show that players don’t decline with greater minutes, and I think the evidence is overwhelming in favor of the consistency of per-minute stats. Mind you I don’t think this is irrefutable, but I’ve yet to see the body of work to show the contrary.

    In other words, if players that don’t improve (and looking at per minute stats – player’s don’t improve all that often – so this should be a majority of players) did get worse with increased minutes it should be seen statistically somewhere. But I’ve yet to see it.

    Since I used an apple example before, I’ll use another one here.

    Farmer Joe claims all of his apples are delicious during the month of May. You doubt this, because you’ve had bad apples in the past. So you go to Joe’s farm on May 1st. Joe tells you to pick any 10 apples you want. You comply and eat them all. They are all delicious.

    So Joe asks you if you believe his claim that he only has tasty apples on his farm in May. You reply “Nope – I must have only picked the tasty apples by chance.”

    While it’s possible that Joe’s farm has apples that aren’t tasty, so far there is no evidence for it. In fact it’s unlikely for you to pick 10 apples without having one average/mediocre/poor one. It would be impossible for you to eat all the apples on his farm – and that would be the only way to be 100% sure of his claim.

    However just because we can’t disprove his claim, doesn’t mean we can’t reasonably believe it to be true. Occam’s razor tells us Joe is probably right, since that is the simplest solution is most likely the right one. And without evidence of the contrary that’s the one that makes the most sense.

  112. MJG

    The apple analogy doesn’t work. In the farmer/apple situation, you are talking about picking out a representative sample of a larger whole THAT ALREADY EXISTS. The apples have inductive value because we can see that they were produced under the same conditions and represent an already-present whole.

    This is not true of the basketball situation – in fact it is precisely what is in question. An analogous question might be whether the apples will *continue* to be good if we radically ramp up production?

    (This is perhaps getting far afield from the subject at hand, but Occam’s Razor gets used far too often in these types of arguments. There are many instances in which Occam’s Razor is not a particularly useful principle — for example, evolutionary biology.)

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