Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Friday, August 29, 2014

That Not So ‘Melo Feeling

High volume scorers are the most visible players on the court. Frequently having the ball in their hands and with a bevvy of moves at their command, they are often at the center of the fans’ focus. Even though playing good defense, rebounding, or setting a good pick requires timing, intricate footwork, and body positioning, they are often attributed to desire. Whereas scoring is commonly thought to be the major measure of skill for a basketball player. But high visibility doesn’t necessarily translate into productivity, especially for the scorer who lacks a well-rounded game. For years basketball statisticians have tried to quantify the volume scorer’s effect on a team, without any definitive conclusion.

A few months ago, former baseball-prospectus statistician and political polling guru Nate Silver attempted to answer that question with regards to the Denver Nugget’s Carmelo Anthony. Using +/- data, Silver concluded that Anthony has “made his teammates much more efficient offensive players” and that “upon a more careful examination, the argument that Anthony is a merely average offensive player turns out to be superficial.”

Anthony has played with his current teammates for over a month now, and I thought I’d check out how this effect has translated to New York. The table below shows seven Knicks, and their stats pre-Melo compared to today.

Player Pre-melo Currently Difference
  pts36 ts% pts36 ts% pts36 ts%
Amar’e Stoudemire 25.6 57.0 25.0 56.5 -0.6 -0.5
Landry Fields 11.1 61.5 11.4 60.9 0.3 -0.6
Toney Douglas 14.6 51.3 15.3 53.4 0.7 2.1
Shawne Williams 13.0 57.6 12.1 56.0 -0.9 -1.6
Ronny Turiaf 9.2 64.6 8.4 63.3 -0.8 -1.3
Bill Walker 13.3 60.1 12.9 58.3 -0.4 -1.8
Roger Mason Jr. 1.8 11.3 8.3 47.8 6.5 36.5

If we discard Mason’s tremendous improvement due to small sample size (he only played 82 minutes prior to the deal), then nearly every Knick has seen a decline in scoring productivity since Carmelo’s arrival. Only Toney Douglas has apparently reaped the rewards of a ‘Melo-centric offense. But like Mason, Douglas’ early season stats seemed to be below his capabilities, some of it due to a shoulder injury. Meanwhile Amar’e Stoudemire, Landry Fields, Shawne Williams, Ronny Turiaf, and Bill Walker have all been less efficient since #7 was inserted into the lineup.

In the case of “high volume scorers make their teammates better” versus “high volume scorers ruin the flow of the offense with their greed”, is this a definitive answer? No. There are a host of reasons to explain these numbers in the context of the former hypothesis. Perhaps a +/- inspection, or waiting to accumulate more data might reveal a positive ‘Melo-effect on the rest of the Knicks. Although the New York offense has gotten better (from 109.8 to 110.4 pts/100 poss) since making the deal, that doesn’t address the specific matter of Carmelo making his teammates better. And from the evidence at hand it appears that the theory of a great scorer opens up opportunities for his teammates is overstated.

120 comments on “That Not So ‘Melo Feeling

  1. bob cook

    A Song To The Knicks

    “You broke my heart
    Cause you couldn’t win
    You couldn’t even
    Beat the Cavs
    So now, I’m back
    To let you know
    It’s wait till next year. Again.”

  2. Nick C.

    jon abbey: yeah, it’s almost as if we’ve been playing without a PG. oh, wait…  (Quote)

    hahaha.

    To me the nubers look like the effects are negligible either way. Less than a point/36 other than Walker, whose playing time has been spotty, and E who has the finger issue. Also less than a percentage point on TSP. Definitely shows no benefit but no real negative either.

  3. Brian Cronin

    Miami’s Big Three, with their crazy “three guys having 30 points and 10 rebounds in the same game” stat, helped the Knicks out a lot with a victory over the Rockets.

  4. max fisher-cohen

    Nick C.:
    hahaha.To me the nubers look like the effects are negligible either way.Less than a point/36 other than Walker, whose playing time has been spotty, and E who has the finger issue.Also less than a percentage point on TSP.Definitely shows no benefit but no real negative either.  

    What it looks like from the chart is that Mike is comparing aggregate TS% for the entire season against pre-melo TS%. That would mean pre-melo #s are still affecting the aggregate #s in a major way, which would mean the difference between pre melo and post melo #s are about 3x what’s on the chart if the player’s minutes and usage stayed consistent.

  5. TDM

    I guess the point of the chart is that Melo has not made his teammates better. Any decrease (even a negligible one) in offensive production by his teammates makes this point.

    However, there are other reasons that could explain the numbers. The loss of Chandler, Felton and Gallo. I think the Knicks were a much more balanced squad pretrade.

    Also, it cannot be denied that the Knicks are hitting the wall. D’Antoni refused to play the bigs he had, and Walsh has refused to add others through free agency all season (possibly because he knows D’Antoni won’t play them). However, Amare is clearly tapped out. His career is going to be drastically shortened if he is required to keep playing the minutes he’s currently putting in. Same goes for Billips.

    If Amare is not demanding doubleteams, the other players on the team are going to be seeing more contested shots which also could explain a reduction in efficiency.

    Walsh has finally admitted that the Knicks need to get bigger (after giving up on AR and Moz). However, he doesn’t provide any hope that he will even try to solve this roster issue during the remainder of this season. Maddening.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/knicks/knicks_big_problem_fY5dk5oByQng0478DtmmRJ

  6. hoolahoop

    Us humans try to quantify everything so we can better understand what is happening. However, the game of basketball is an organism unto itself. There are far too many variables to consider that will explain the mess we’re in. Looking at a chart of numbers gives some answers, but can also be misleading. Ultimately, there’s one stat that is determining if this experiment is working, wins/losses.
    Grade: F

  7. hoolahoop

    RIP
    Things have got so bad that they may beyond repair. There’s so much negativity and low morale that this team may have to be blown up. That means bye bye to Dantoni and Walsh. Collateral damage. Melo and amare are going nowhere. Dantoni and Walsh don’t deserve the axe. They didn’t make this mess . . .unless their stamp of approval was on this trade. Melo has uprooted a lot of lives, and more to come. Us fans are victims too.

    In a way, you can’t blame Dolan. He knows nothing about basketball so must rely on the “experts” for advice. I’d guess that over 90% of the media (professional analysts, former players and coaches, were screaming for Melo at any cost. On this board I’d guess about it was about 60-40 in favor of the trade, (more surprising, about 15% or more posters on here still think it’s a good trade. How much proof do you need to see this was a failed experiment.) So, Dolan tried to follow the most audible, best minds. If it was against Donnie’s wishes, I wish Donnie had the balls to say so. Otherwise, as he, himself stated, he was on board.

    The knicks will find a new coach. We’ll hear the excuses about it takes time for the players to to learn a new system. That will buy them half a season. Then, they’ll make some move before the trade deadline – that won’t be the solution, and on and on the excuses go. I’ve seen this movie too many times.

  8. hoolahoop

    TDM: Walsh has finally admitted that the Knicks need to get bigger (after giving up on AR and Moz). However, he doesn’t provide any hope that he will even try to solve this roster issue during the remainder of this season. Maddening.

    Walsh must be reading this blog. . . . but he must have started at the beginning and is only up to the pre-trade posts. Many of us have been screaming this all along. Now, Donnie realized we really need a big?????

  9. Brian Cronin

    How much proof do you need to see this was a failed experiment

    I need Chris Paul and D-Will to both be on teams other than the Knicks in 2012 to call this a failed experiment.

  10. hoolahoop

    Here’s your answer, my friends.
    From the NY Post article referenced above:
    Walsh joked he would have been pilloried had he not made the Melo deal.
    (not good reasoning to make a trade . . . unless you’re more concerned about job safety and public opinion than actually what’s necessary)

    pil·lo·ry (pl-r)
    n. pl. pil·lo·ries
    A wooden framework on a post, with holes for the head and hands, in which offenders were formerly locked to be exposed to public scorn as punishment.

  11. tastycakes

    Nate Silver’s article on Melo’s supposed effect on his Denver teammates’ offense was so laughably bad and intellectually lazy that Berri didn’t even have to actively criticize it on his website — instead, his zombie disciples did it for him.

    If you’re going to use advanced stats (as Silver has obviously done in his previous life as a baseball geek), I’m going to expect you to take more than 15 minutes to build an excel spreadsheet to make a point.

    Anyway, would love to see Silver’s method re-examined at the end of the season when we have a little bit more data (plus the four-game playoff sweep). Unlikely he’ll address it from his ivory tower though.

  12. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    hoolahoop:
    In a way, you can’t blame Dolan. He knows nothing about basketball so must rely on the “experts” for advice. I’d guess that over 90% of the media (professional analysts, former players and coaches, were screaming for Melo at any cost. On this board I’d guess about it was about 60-40 in favor of the trade, (more surprising, about 15% or more posters on here still think it’s a good trade. How much proof do you need to see this was a failed experiment.) So, Dolan tried to follow the most audible, best minds.   

    So you’d argue that a Fortune 500 executive wouldn’t be to blame were he to get most of his financial advice from Jim Cramer and Mad Money, and consequently run his company into the ground?

    Dolan is positively to blame. He still hasn’t read the studies that show that winning, not “star” talent, leads to long-term profits.

  13. Owen

    I’d love to know what Silver’s model makes of the way the Nuggets have played over the last 16 games. Offensive efficiency of 111.

    And if it even needs to be said, Dolan is 100% to blame for what the Knicks have been and are.

  14. Brian Cronin

    Nate Silver is a smart guy. He just had a bad piece with the “Melo effect.” It’s not like he routinely does bad stats.

  15. Jim Cavan

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: So you’d argue that a Fortune 500 executive wouldn’t be to blame were he to get most of his financial advice from Jim Cramer and Mad Money, and consequently run his company into the ground?

    Dolan is positively to blame. He still hasn’t read the studies that show that winning, not “star” talent, leads to long-term profits.

    He doesn’t have to read the studies. He owns a team in the largest media market in the world. This isn’t Detroit or Cleveland or Charlotte — places where, when times are tough and the teams suck, fans simply don’t show up. I don’t think it would matter if we routinely went 20-62, MSG would still have bodies in the seats. Dolan knows this, and is just smart enough to realize that enough people will pay to see “stars”, even if the overall product itself is a terrible one.

    It’s the blessing and curse of New York: when times are good, the fans are rabid and passionate and loud and show up and it makes for the most exciting atmosphere imaginable. When times are bad, they still show up. In a city of near 10 million, filling seats isn’t a problem. Which means Dolan can afford to be lazy and incompetent and dumb.

  16. Nick C.

    But they hadn’t raised ticket prices in years…he saw his way out and forced the issue with his unwitting lackeys in the media drumming things up. Now what does he care. He got the excuse that he wanted.

  17. max fisher-cohen

    if the knicks, slowly and steadily work their way towards a 35 win season next year, are all the games still sellouts? Will enough people think OMGAMARECARMELO to fill MSG?

  18. Jim Cavan

    max fisher-cohen: if the knicks, slowly and steadily work their way towards a 35 win season next year, are all the games still sellouts? Will enough people think OMGAMARECARMELO to fill MSG?  

    No, they probably won’t all be sellouts. But you’re going to be a lot closer to capacity than pretty much anywhere else.

  19. Frank O.

    Here’s where I am:

    I want D’Antoni to wake up this morning and say to himself, “Fuck it. I’m going to focus only on offense because there’s too little time to figure out defense, and we’re going to outscore every fuckin’ team we play come hell or high water…”
    If this team is going to go down, I think they should go down with Amare’s, Melo’s and Billups’ fingertips smoking.
    I want to see Landry attacking the O boards with abandon.
    I want TD and Williams stroking the 3 so much that their wrists grow sore.
    Keep the defense simple. Don’t over coach on D because there won’t be time for an identity to form.
    Loose the hounds! Send them screaming up the court, and if we score 128 a game and lose, so be it, but at least give the fans something to be excited about.
    And, btw, I’m not entirely sure, but scoring like that the Knicks may just blow away teams that simply don’t have their kind of weaponry.
    Let’s do this! Just focus on the O. Get these guys running up and down. Stop the grinding play. Let them have fun.
    For the remainder of this year, let them be an offensive force. They’re not going to go far anyway, may as well have some fun!

    That’s where I am.

  20. KnickfaninNJ

    I think part of the problem here is two pieces of “wisdom” that all external analysts assume to be true. One is that stars sell tickets (and do so much more than good team basketball does) and two is that it’s not worth being good unless you can actually contend for the championship. Dolan obviously believes the first one, and he might be partially right. Look how many times the Knicks have been on national TV since the trade.

    The second “wisdom” is maybe not shared by everyone, but I think is the reason many people thought the trade was great. Before the trade we had only one big star, and this is supposedly not enough to win a championship, Now we have two and are closer to getting over the hump to three of them and being true contenders. By this logic it was worth blowing up the team this season, because by this standard just getting to the playoffs and looking reasonably teamlike in them doesn’t compare with a future chance to compete for a league championship.

    My personal feelings are that it would be nice to have a team that wasn’t a true contender but was good for a season or two to consistently get in the playoffs. A team like that with home grown stars would probably look like Atlanta does today. A team with that record and D’Antoni’s style would be very watchable, unlike the team of today. But of course the Knicks no longer have that path available. So we are all forced to choose either to watch really crummy basketball or give in to the “wisdom” above and not watch until the Knicks are actually a true contender.

  21. Brian Cronin

    I want D’Antoni to wake up this morning and say to himself, “Fuck it. I’m going to focus only on offense because there’s too little time to figure out defense, and we’re going to outscore every fuckin’ team we play come hell or high water…”

    Agreed, Frank, but my concern is that I think that that has been the plan, which is why their offense has been so disconcerting. I’ve seen a few comments like, “Why pick on the offense when it has actually slightly improved since the trade?” Well,

    A. I don’t know if that is even true anymore after these last few games (anyone know if the offense is still slightly better since the trade?)

    and

    B. The offense needs to be, and indeed, was intended to be what Frank describes in his comment – able to “outscore every team we play.”

    And it hasn’t been that good, and that is why the offense is concerning even thought the defense has been awful.

  22. jon abbey

    lessons in recent Knicks karma (from memory, I don’t feel like looking up the specifics):

    1) Steph Marbury proclaims himself to be the best PG in the league.

    result: NY immediately falls off a cliff.

    2) Dolan rewards a temporarily overachieving Isiah with an extension mid-season.

    result: NY immediately falls off a cliff.

    3) Dolan announces massive upcoming ticket price raises, again with a temporarily overachieving team.

    result: NY immediately falls off a cliff. (1-8 and counting, I believe)

  23. Brian Cronin

    The Marbury thing was the weirdest of the bunch. The way he just stopped being good as soon as he said that – sooooo weird.

  24. G

    I’m not even thrilled with the “big three” strategy as the end all/be all success of this thing. It means we now have a team that is not our real team for yet another two years until we can trade everyone away that we come to like to get Paul. Then it’ll take another year or so to gather/luck out on some good signings and draft picks necessary to round our roster. At that point, we should be a contender, but how many good years will Stat and Paul have left in their knees? So we give up many years for just a year or two to contend and the Heat will be far ahead of us in playing the same game of surrounding their big three with competent players. I know it’s unlikely, but I would rather give up Billups, try to fill some of our holes, and start to build, get to know, and come to like our team starting next year.

    This may say more about my preference as a fan than the best basketball strategy, though. The Knicks might play better than this next year, but if we are going to shuffle most of the roster again anyway—well, it’s hard to connect with placeholders.

  25. Frank O.

    Brian Cronin:
    Agreed, Frank, but my concern is that I think that that has been the plan, which is why their offense has been so disconcerting. I’ve seen a few comments like, “Why pick on the offense when it has actually slightly improved since the trade?” Well,
    A. I don’t know if that is even true anymore after these last few games (anyone know if the offense is still slightly better since the trade?)and
    B. The offense needs to be, and indeed, was intended to be what Frank describes in his comment – able to “outscore every team we play.”And it hasn’t been that good, and that is why the offense is concerning even thought the defense has been awful.  

    Brian, I’m not sure. I actually think they Knicks have been practicing defense most of the time, which is much. I think their first several games together, where the offense was crazy good and the big three were clicking, you had the sense that they were just running and not sweating D. But then they suddenly decided that they defense was so important that they decided to use the few practices they had to work defense.
    In hindsight, I think that was a mistake. You can’t make a zebra change its stripes overnight. Let the zebra do what it does best for now. Leave defensive learning to camp next year. Right now, focus on O. Have some fun. Right now, they’re all self-conscious and thinking about where they need to be on D.
    Loose the beasts!

  26. hoolahoop

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    So you’d argue that a Fortune 500 executive wouldn’t be to blame were he to get most of his financial advice from Jim Cramer and Mad Money, and consequently run his company into the ground?
    Dolan is positively to blame. He still hasn’t read the studies that show that winning, not “star” talent, leads to long-term profits.  

    Yes, I agree with you. Dolan is running the organization like crap. The knicks have the best venue in the world to attract players and the deepest pockets. And it’s NYC. There is absolutely no reason we should not have one of the best teams in the NBA.
    Dolan in a moron. But, that being said, so is Stehen A Smith, Chris Weber, and every basketball genius that screamed for this deal. If you’re a moron and know it, and listen to genius’s for advice, that makes sense. Problem is genius’s were all wrong.

  27. Brian Cronin

    The Heat have the second best point differential in the NBA playing with a Big Three and 9 placeholders. I’ll take that in year one no problem. Would there be concern about how long they would be a great team (with regards to STAT and Paul’s health concerns)? Certainly, but even if it is just four years at the top, I’ll take that.

  28. Frank O.

    jon abbey: lessons in recent Knicks karma (from memory, I don’t feel like looking up the specifics):1) Steph Marbury proclaims himself to be the best PG in the league.result: NY immediately falls off a cliff.2) Dolan rewards a temporarily overachieving Isiah with an extension mid-season.
    result: NY immediately falls off a cliff.3) Dolan announces massive upcoming ticket price raises, again with a temporarily overachieving team.result: NY immediately falls off a cliff. (1-8 and counting, I believe)  

    I think the ticket price increase is the most disgusting thing Dolan has done, which is saying a lot.
    If I’m Prokhorov, I announce now or soon that Nets’ ticket prices in Brooklyn will be half of what they are at MSG. I emphasize that the Nets will be the blue collar team in NYC, and I’d start undercutting the Knicks base.
    Dolan is stupid.

  29. Owen

    “Dolan knows this, and is just smart enough to realize that enough people will pay to see “stars”, even if the overall product itself is a terrible one.”

    I am not privy to MSG financials. But I don’t think what you say is accurate. First, the playoffs are a major revenue source for teams. A title run makes you a ton of money. So The Knicks will take a big hit if they only manage two playoff home games.

    Second. I don’t see how Dolan gets those price increases through with a team that looks as bad as the team currently looks. I have a few friends who are season ticket holders and they are pissed.

    Obviously, Dolan isn’t the Maloofs. But I think the Melo transaction will end up costing him pretty dearly. Which is fine with me I guess…

  30. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Jim Cavan:
    He doesn’t have to read the studies. He owns a team in the largest media market in the world. This isn’t Detroit or Cleveland or Charlotte — places where, when times are tough and the teams suck, fans simply don’t show up. I don’t think it would matter if we routinely went 20-62, MSG would still have bodies in the seats. Dolan knows this, and is just smart enough to realize that enough people will pay to see “stars”, even if the overall product itself is a terrible one.
    It’s the blessing and curse of New York: when times are good, the fans are rabid and passionate and loud and show up and it makes for the most exciting atmosphere imaginable. When times are bad, they still show up. In a city of near 10 million, filling seats isn’t a problem. Which means Dolan can afford to be lazy and incompetent and dumb.  

    Maybe I’m naive about attitudes about maximizing profits in business, but that sounds like an unacceptable answer in just about any other capital-generating industry on the face of the earth.

    Since when do businessmen not care about making as much money as humanly possible?

  31. Jim Cavan

    @ 32 & 33

    Dolan owns a completely vertical operation, each piece of which could practically be used to print its own money. Yes, the playoffs can be a huge source of revenue, including for the Knicks. I’m just saying Dolan isn’t missing the extra revenue as much as the Oklahoma Cities and Portlands of the world.

    I would revise my earlier comment in this small way: Perhaps Dolan isn’t so cynical as to believe marching out two stars and an incomplete, sub-par lineup will be enough to dupe fans into filling the seats and lining his pockets in the process. In all likelihood he genuinely believes that to have been a good move. What I’m saying is, by virtue of owning every piece of the Knicks operation, his margin for error is much larger than it is for most owners. Again, he can afford to be stupid, and he’ll make boat loads of money regardless.

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    Since when do businessmen not care about making as much money as humanly possible?  

    The owner of a small start-up or mom & pop absolutely does. They’re counting every penny and scrutinizing every aspect of their cashflow. James Dolan inherited a gigantic conglomerate. This doesn’t mean he’s not a businessman. It just means he can afford to play the riverboat gambler and lose millions because, at the end of the day, the nature of his vertical operation pretty much means maximizing profits happens almost in spite of his transparent ineptitude.

  32. John Kenney

    This losing streak is so bad I actively contemplated whether we were tanking to get as high a draft pick as possible while still making the playoffs- 15 being much better than 22- or to just 100% guarantee we don’t face Orlando.

    This is bad.

  33. Brian Cronin

    By the way, I totally missed that Mike had pointed out the answer to my question before I had even asked it. The Knicks’ offense still is slightly better since the trade.

  34. Nick C.

    Nice work. Though I must say to have the first sentences be the BS about needing a “star” kinda made me gag. I still think that is more a factor of mini-dynasties, recently SA, LAL x2, even Boston cover the last 10-15 years except for Miami and Detroit. Before that Jordan’s Bulls and Hakeem’s Rockets covered 15 years. Before that Rodman/Salley/Laimbeer Pistons, LAL and Boston. I guess I might be proving my point but I think its more that it is rare for a team to get real good and not have their best player or two be anointed as stars making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  35. JK47

    The whole notion of competing with Miami’s three stars is just dumb.

    No matter what, their three stars are going to be better than our three stars. LBJ/Wade/Bosh is pretty much better than Stat/Melo/Anybody, maybe unless that “anybody” is Dwight Howard.

    Why not try to beat them with depth? Or at least try to smother them with superior size? Even if we get Chris Paul, their big 3 still smokes ours. We’re not going to beat them at their own game, and it’s foolish to try.

  36. Frank

    Just in the last few weeks I have alternated between anger, sadness, disbelief, and hope – and I think I’ve settled on hopeful waiting.

    I know this team looks just horrible, but I really DO believe in the process of “gelling”.

    First – consider that in the VAST majority of trades, there are one or two players that change sides, and that those players get quickly assimilated into the new team’s culture.

    However – in this trade, we gave up four players who collectively used 60+% of our possessions, and essentially ALL of the ballhandling. That means that all of the decision-making on the court is coming from new players in a new system. In the midst of a playoff race. With no practice time.

    Denver, on the other hand, sent out players with a usage of 50% (Melo 30, Billups 20) but replaced Billups’s 20 with Ty Lawson, who knows the system and might be a better fit anyway. So really, they only needed to redistribute Melo’s 30. That seems way easier. in addition, most of the ballhandling and decision-making goes through the guards – Afflalo and Lawson, who were already there.

    So interior defense aside (what is up with Amare’s even worse than usual defense lately? and why he rarely runs down the court when the other team is on fastbreak??!?!?!?), I think our difficulties scoring in the 4th are due to total confusion about roles, no practice time, and the fact that this is essentially training camp.

    BTW – perhaps those with more access/knowledge about past trades – has there EVER been a midseason trade as big as this, both in terms of numbers of players and possessions used by those involved?

    Anyway, here’s to hoping that we still make the playoffs, that D’Antoni wakes up and takes Shawne out of the starting lineup and puts in Shelden, and that our big losing streak happens only now, not in the playoffs. That’s lots of hoping.

  37. Robert Silverman

    TDM: Nice work by Robert Silverman getting Knickerblogger some run on the Mothership:http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?page=5-on-5-110328  

    Thanks guys. Just FYI – ESPN edited out this line on the Melo question: “All of us at Knickerblogger have been very critical of the Melo trade before and after it occurred but for optimism’s sake I’ll turn to Chauncey…” etc.

    Guess all four writers bashing the Knicks was too much to stomach

    Maybe I’m a masochist but I was reading the comments on the ESPN site. This one’s my favorite:

    “Knickerblogger has that annoying, completely unearned fanboy arrogance. He should be posting anonymous comments on blogs, not writing a blog.”

  38. Brian Cronin

    The whole notion of competing with Miami’s three stars is just dumb.

    No matter what, their three stars are going to be better than our three stars. LBJ/Wade/Bosh is pretty much better than Stat/Melo/Anybody, maybe unless that “anybody” is Dwight Howard.

    Why not try to beat them with depth? Or at least try to smother them with superior size? Even if we get Chris Paul, their big 3 still smokes ours. We’re not going to beat them at their own game, and it’s foolish to try.

    Last year, the Phoenix Suns were a blown box out (something quite familiar to Knicks fans) of going to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals (or was it just going to overtime of Game 6- I actually forget). They did so with Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire and 46 tweeners as their rotation. There’s no way that Chis Paul (or D-Will), Amar’e Stoudemire and Melo (plus 9 whatevers) can’t be as good as that Suns team. STAT is all about being teamed with a great passing guard – he makes great passing guards look amazing and great passing guards make STAT look amazing. His best time of the season was when he had a mediocre passing guard in Felton. Now he’s playing with two shooting 1′s, If he had a Chris Paul or a D-Will – he’d be lights out. Then you have Melo there getting good looks instead of doing isos and the offense would be sooooooooooo good.

    I don’t think a Paul/Amar’e/Melo Big Three is much worse than Lebron/Wade/Bosh, simply because a great passing guard interacts with other great players a lot better than Miami’s system of having two scorers (plus Bosh). Lebron and Wade don’t maximize each other’s skills the way Paul/D-Will would with Amar’e/Melo.

  39. Ben R

    Brian – I disagree I don’t think Melo and Amare compliment each other at all. I also don’t think Paul helps the situation all that much. The addition of Paul would relegate both Melo and Amare as finishers not creators. If you are looking for a bigman who can finish on the pick and roll and a wing who can score off of great passes and open looks you can find cheaper players to fill those roles than Amare and Melo.

    Also I think a Paul/Amare/Melo big three is considerably worse than the Miami three especially when you factor in defense. We will have similar weaknesses; a lack of size and a thin bench while being less talented, older, more injury prone, more expensive, worse on defense and with alot less time to gel.

    So the best case scenerio for us moving forward is to become a less talented, injury prone copy of the Miami Heat. Awesome.

  40. Brian Cronin

    Brian – I disagree I don’t think Melo and Amare compliment each other at all. I also don’t think Paul helps the situation all that much. The addition of Paul would relegate both Melo and Amare as finishers not creators. If you are looking for a bigman who can finish on the pick and roll and a wing who can score off of great passes and open looks you can find cheaper players to fill those roles than Amare and Melo.

    If you got “I think Amar’e and Melo compliment each other” from my comment, then that was not my intent.

    It was only that Paul compliments Amar’e and by doing so, opens up shots for Melo.

    How can you look at last year’s Suns team and not think that it could be duplicated (nay, improved) with Paul/Amar’e/Melo. Paul has never played with a finisher like Amar’e, and Amar’e has been brilliant when paired with a passer like Paul. Unlike Amar’e, Melo has never played with a passer like Paul. Gone will be the days of iso-Melo when you have Paul orchestrating the offense. Look at the brilliant work Paul has done with weak offensive teams! David West is an All-Star solely because Chris Paul made him an All-Star. If Melo was getting the looks West gets courtesy of Paul…it would be very nice.

    And yes, Amar’e and Melo would be finishers – that is what they’re good at! That you frame them being finishers as being a bad thing is odd to me.

  41. Frank

    @45 –
    I think you forget the Amare may be the best pick and roll finisher of this generation – maybe not as good as Karl Malone in his prime, but I’m not sure there is anyone else close. It’s why he’s made All-NBA first team. His loss was so noticeable on the Suns that they essentially blew up the team with that J-Rich/Turkoglu etc. trade once they realized the same group minus Amare was a .500 team at best. The only reason he did not get more offers for the max is because of his knees – not necessarily just because of his defensive deficiencies.

    Paul/Amare/Melo is really quite good – quite comparable to Rondo/Pierce/Garnett, and possibly more synergistic than the Miami trio. Paul is a MUCH better offensive player than Rondo although not as good on defense (close though), whereas at this stage of their careers, I’d probably take Amare/Melo going forward than Pierce/Garnett, if only because of age. Those 3 seem to have done ok up there is Beantown. I think you are really not giving Chris Paul enough credit. Assuming he is healthy, he is the best all-around point guard in the league.

    And re: injury risk — Wade is an injury waiting to happen, and Bosh has missed more games per year in his career than Amare.

  42. Brian Cronin

    I think you are really not giving Chris Paul enough credit. Assuming he is healthy, he is the best all-around point guard in the league.

    Seriously.

    And D-Will is comparable to Paul (although I prefer Paul, even with his health risks).

  43. Brian Cronin

    Now don’t get me wrong, if you want to hang your hat on “they’ll never get Paul or D-Will,” then that is at least something. That’s an argument I get, and heck, it might very well be true. But “Paul/D-Will and STAT and Melo wouldn’t be a good fit?” No way.

  44. stratomatic

    Mike,

    I’ve been waiting for someone to write this article because the whole idea of a player making his teammates a lot better by shooting more is suspect at best and idiotic at worst.

    If a player is truly making his teamates better by drawing more defensive attention to himself and get double teamed, then he will get rewarded for it statisically with more assists (assuming he is actually using the situation to the team’s advantage). That assisted shot then translates into a high TS% for his team.

    If a player is taking “way” more than his fair share of the difficult shots that occur from time to time, that would only benefit the team if he was a “lot” better at them than his teammates. Other than that it’s fairly marginal.

    It might be intersting to look at the TS% of Denver’s players again also.

  45. Owen

    “Knickerblogger has that annoying, completely unearned fanboy arrogance. He should be posting anonymous comments on blogs, not writing a blog.”

    There is no question that the combo of New York Knicks fanboy and advanced basketball statistics hobbyist is a recipe for extreme arrogance. I wish I could be humbled and taught how little I know the way blazers, rockets, nuggets, and Thunder fans have been.

    As for Paul, I think he would pair fine with Amare and Melo. He is one of the top three players in the league. Certainly, you worry about how they work together after you acquire Paul and not before.

  46. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Paul seems to be the kind of point who could make Amar’e a .63 TS% player again.

  47. stratomatic

    hoolahoop: Here’s your answer, my friends.From the NY Post article referenced above:Walsh joked he would have been pilloried had he not made the Melo deal.(not good reasoning to make a trade . . . unless you’re more concerned about job safety and public opinion than actually what’s necessary)pil·lo·ry (pl-r)n. pl. pil·lo·riesA wooden framework on a post, with holes for the head and hands, in which offenders were formerly locked to be exposed to public scorn as punishment.  (Quote)

    I think this is actually a very relevant point.

    With the exception of this blog, virtually every single source of discussion and information about the Knicks is dominated by fans bloggers, beat writers etc… that are totally clueless about how to value players and why it’s essential to think long term and include cap space in the thinking . The exceptions are quite rare.

    I discussed the trade privately with some members of the media before it was actually done and some of them are borderline brain dead. Sorry to be so harsh, but even the most respected of them can’t get past points per game, athleticism, and reputation.

    When the fan base and media of a market are that ignorant and putting a lot of pressure on ownership and the GM to make an idiotic move (like happens in NY all the time), it becomes difficult for even a well intentioned person to say “no”.

  48. Frank

    I think one thing that D’Antoni can do immediately to help us is to stop playing Shawne Williams so much. When Shawne is shooting 60% from 3 point range, you can’t not play him. However, he hasn’t done that in the last 2 months. His +/- numbers are just terrible. He seems to make bad choices on defense, is a poor passer on offense, and can’t handle the ball. He’s woefully undersized to play the 5, and as a stretch 4 he’s ok on offense, but he only plays the stretch 4 when Amare is the 5, which results in maybe the worst defensive frontcourt in NBA history.

    I think he’s best off playing a Kyle Korver role – 18 min/game or so, maybe 22 if his shot is on. But unless he is shooting the 3 at 50% which he is not, he is really killing us.

    I’d much rather see Shelden Williams play more of Shawne’s 4/5 minutes, and Bill Walker rather than Shawne’s SF minutes. If you throw a lineup of Billups, Fields, Melo, STAT, and Shelden, you have jumpshooting – 2 guys shooting >40% from 3 in the backcourt, Melo who is shooting in the mid 30s from 3 – STAT as your inside scorer, and Shelden to grab rebounds and play post defense.

    Actually, I’ll take just about any lineup that doesn’t have STAT at the 5 and Shawne Williams at the 4.

  49. Brian Cronin

    Paul seems to be the kind of point who could make Amar’e a .63 TS% player again.

    Exactly.

  50. stratomatic

    Owen,

    I think Chris Paul is one of the best PGs in the history of the league (at least when he’s 100%). If he was added to the Knicks I feel sure the team would improve sharply overall. However, I still don’t think they could win a championhip.

    The combination of Melo/Amare is so poor defensively, I think the team absolutely needs a high level defensive big man to rebound, block shots, and cover for them or the team will continue to get eaten alive inside and on the boards. They needed a C before the trade too, but IMHO Melo is an even worse defender than I feared. Now it has to be the #1 and #2 priority.

    I don’t see how this team fits a quality C and also adds a player like Paul under the cap. I’m not even sure they can fit Paul assuming the team wasn’t already so badly gutted that it had the assets to make a deal.

  51. hoolahoop

    Jim Cavan: Dolan owns a completely vertical operation,

    As horrible a businessman as Dolan is, every time I go to the Garden or one of his venues I tell myself I have to buy some Cablevision stock. It’s a perfectly vertical business from content to distribution. And the venues can’t be beat. I was at Radio City last night to see Furthur (latest incarnation of the Grateful Dead / awesome show). That place is gorgeous, smack in the middle of midtown. The assets he inherited are phenomanal (MSG, Radio City, Knicks, Rangers, MSG network, Cablevision). I don’t think he’ll ever have to worry about whether he should splurge to get cheese on his burger.

  52. taggart4800

    I think this says a lot. 25 games in 45 days and a lot of good teams in there as well. It is terrible at the moment but there is an awful lot of cards stacked against them until they get some rest. I would actually like to see the stars get some rest and reduced minutes prior to the end of the season and let the role players get comfortable ready for the players.

  53. stratomatic

    Frank,

    IMO Shawn Williams is showing how important Wilson Chandler was to the team.

    Despite the bad play lately and “excluding potential upside development and cap space issues”, I think most would still agree that Melo + Billups > Gallo + Felton in this snapshot of time.

    However, when you also take 36 quality minutes away from Chandler, who could defend 3 positions quite well, score, block some shots, start or come off the bench etc… and replace them with less versatile, less productive, and inferior defenders, you give back as much or more than you gained with Melo and Billups.

    I was pretty upbeat about the Billups portion of the deal because I thought we could get another productive year out of him and Felton did not seem to be the long term answer due to shooting (TS%) woes. However, defense is one of the those things that is really difficult to measure from the box score. You really have to see it night in and night out. Now that I have, it’s fairly clear Billups is shot defensively.

  54. Owen

    “I think Chris Paul is one of the best PGs in the history of the league (at least when he’s 100%). If he was added to the Knicks I feel sure the team would improve sharply overall. However, I still don’t think they could win a championhip.

    I don’t see how this team fits a quality C and also adds a player like Paul under the cap. I’m not even sure they can fit Paul assuming the team wasn’t already so badly gutted that it had the assets to make a deal. ”

    I don’t know how we would add Paul either. I think most of us here like to imagine it’s a far more realistic possibility then it actually is because life would be totally unbearable otherwise.

    I don’t think Melo/Paul/Amare is a championship team either (of course). But if we got Paul we would at least have the upside/hope of possibly trading Amare or Melo (if there are any suckers left who would take him.)

  55. jon abbey

    but Walsh didn’t make this trade, everyone knows that, Dolan made it.

    this team’s only chance to win a title was with LeBron or if they get Howard next year. I don’t think any other way would have a shot, including staying the course with Gallo etc. or getting Paul or Williams next year. now Paul or Williams combined with someone like Tyson Chandler, maybe there’s an outside chance…

    I do think that the stats community overrates Paul like the conventional wisdom overrates Melo, though. I don’t think he’s as good as his numbers, I certainly don’t think he’s a top 3 player (LeBron, Howard, Durant), but of course I’d love to have him over the gaping black hole we’ve pretty much had at PG since Clyde was traded.

  56. hoolahoop

    stratomatic: I think Chris Paul is one of the best PGs in the history of the league

    I’ll say it again. Though I have not watched him that much, I just don’t see it. CP never lived up to the hype in any game I’ve ever seen him play.

  57. hoolahoop

    At this point does it matter who else we bring in. The core of this team cannot play together. What it may actually come down to is that Amare and Melo can’t play together.
    Could you imagine if one of them had to go and Amare was shipped out? I’d do to hypnosis therapy to rid me of being a knicks fan ever again.

  58. Brian Cronin

    Hey Jon, why do you think so highly of Durant?

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m with you (I’d have the same top three as you), but someone recently commented that he felt that the stats community was over-rating Durant, as well, specifically because

    A. His numbers are all down this year

    and

    B. His defense is not good.

    What do you think? I am unsure on the defense issue – I think he was a terrible defender when he entered the league, but I think he has shown demonstrable improvement.

  59. Brian Cronin

    I’ll say it again. Though I have not watched him that much, I just don’t see it. CP never lived up to the hype in any game I’ve ever seen him play.

    You should have seen him play the other night against Phoenix when he made Nash look ooooold.

  60. Frank

    @56 – I actually haven’t found Anthony to be that bad a defender. The real problems IMHO are that Amare has essentially given up any semblance of playing inside defense, Billups can’t guard anyone leading to free-running PGs in the lane, we can’t get a @%^#$% defensive rebound when it counts which leads to easy second opportunities, and our exceedingly crappy transition defense. Carmelo certainly hasn’t stood out as a bad defender.

    Actually, I think he’s been pretty good on offense too. Sure he could pass the ball more (I’d love to see another 9 assist game out of him — that was a winnable game if Amare didn’t shoot 6-24 or whatever it was). But I think even the Melo-haters on this board would be happy with 25 pt/36 on 56% TS, and 41% from 3 point range (in terms of production, not what it cost us to get that production).

  61. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, with regards to Melo overall, I think he’s been fine. But he’s basically just been the same as he was in Denver. One of the compelling sales pitches was that Melo would get better in D’Antoni’s system, which I had to admit at the time was a reasonable position. Instead, though, Melo has stayed the same and brought Amar’e down by not playing D’Antoni’s system. Amare’ in an iso offense is pretty much useless.

  62. Brian Cronin

    By the way, huge victory by Memphis over San Antonio. That puts them 2 and a half up on Houston.

  63. Brian Cronin

    Houston has 9 games left.

    Memphis has 8 games left.

    Houston is 2 games back in the loss column and owns the tie-breaker, so they only need to tie Memphis. Houston is 3 games back of New Orleans, who also has 9 games left.

    Houston’s remaining games:

    @New Jersey
    @Philadelphia
    San Antonio
    Atlanta
    Sacramento
    @New Orleans (big, big game, as New Orleans would own the tie-breaker if New Orleans wins this one)
    Clippers
    Dallas
    @Minnesota

    Memphis’ remaining games

    Golden State
    @New Orleans (big game for Houston, as they gain a game on the loser)
    Minnesota
    Clippers
    Sacramento
    New Orleans (another big game)
    @Portland
    @Clippers

    New Orleans’ remaining games

    Portland
    Memphis
    Indiana
    Houston
    Phoenix
    @Memphis
    Utah
    @Dallas

    Crap, that doesn’t look great for the Knicks’ chances of Houston not making the playoffs.

  64. Frank

    Brian Cronin: Hey Jon, why do you think so highly of Durant?I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m with you (I’d have the same top three as you), but someone recently commented that he felt that the stats community was over-rating Durant, as well, specifically because
    A. His numbers are all down this yearand
    B. His defense is not good.What do you think? I am unsure on the defense issue – I think he was a terrible defender when he entered the league, but I think he has shown demonstrable improvement.  

    I tend to agree with you — I think a lot of Durant’s advanced stats shine are a result of the ridiculous amount of foul shots he takes. Some of that is skill in drawing fouls, but watching him play, I’m convinced it’s because he weighs about 4 lbs – anytime anyone nudges him, he gets a foul called on him. This is called Dwyane Wade syndrome. If Amare, or God forbid Dwight Howard got the same calls as Durant does, they’d average 50 points per game and foul the entire opposing team out.

    Durant’s eFG is only 51% which places him comfortably as #82 in the league according to the Knickerblogger stat page, right behind the immortal Kyle Lowry. He’s not a great defender by any means, is 75th in the league in rebound rate (tied with Omri Casspi!), 155th in assist rate (just behind Casspi!). In fact, we should look into this Casspi guy.

  65. Brian Cronin

    Anthony Randolph, by the way, had his worst performance in his new role as a post player in Minnesota last night against the Celtics. He got into foul trouble almost immediately and did not even score a field goal in 16 minutes of playing time.

  66. stratomatic

    Frank,

    I can’t agree with you.

    He may has the “ability” to defend and do so in some stretches, but I consistently see laziness and lack of effort where I feel certain that Chandler would have done a much better job and Gallo would have at least given 100%.

    On offense, he’s been “Melo”.

    He’s a high volume scorer that’s not particularly efficient. I would WAY RATHER him become the Gallo we all hoped Gallo would eventually become.

    I’d rather see him continue to take the ball to the hoop and draw fouls, shoot open 3s when he has them, and eliminate all the ISO and mid range crap that makes him look like a moderately better version of Al Harrington.

    All those ISOs, long 2s, and mid range shots are very low efficiency shots that IMO almost NO ONE in the league should be taking very often. They are late in the shot clock shots that a team has to take once in awhile to get something off. He should be passing and making plays when he draws doubles instead.

    I think I could make a very good case that so far Melo is costing the offense points by using Gallo’s possessions less efficiently than Gallo used them and then grabbing the rest of his shots from Chandler (or whoever) and not being any more efficient they they were.

    It would be great if he could continue to hit 3s at a 40% clip. Then there would be some hope of his game evolving into something we could really value. But if that’s just a short term blip, I have no use for him at anything even close to the max. We don’t need a high volume scorer with an approximately average TS%. Almost no one needs that.

  67. ess-dog

    Nice piece. Would like to see an update to this at the end of the year and possibly a playoffs edition.
    I’ve tried to remain positive about Melo and kept out hope that there was a secret stat that would prove him to be the star we all want him to be a la Nate Silver, but that stat just doesn’t exist.
    No, he’s not a terrible but he does not deserve his contract. Maybe about half of it. And I know Dolan can’t wait to blow all his daddy’s money, but there are rules in the NBA, and unlike MLB, a stupid use of millions WILL DEFINITELY hurt the team in the standings.
    Chris Paul is a nice fantasy, but an unsure cap, no tradable assets, and a team playing like crap puts the odds of us getting him pretty low.
    Dolan is the only reason I would leave the Knicks for the Nets. Sure Proky is a cocky, egotistical oligarch like Dolan, but at least he’s a self-made cocky egotistical oligarch. He wants value back for his investment, this I’m sure of.
    But yeah I *guess* we’ll have to wait until the summer of 2012 to fully judge this Melo move, but it doesn’t look great right now.

  68. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Brian Cronin: Anthony Randolph, by the way, had his worst performance in his new role as a post player in Minnesota last night against the Celtics. He got into foul trouble almost immediately and did not even score a field goal in 16 minutes of playing time.  

    Kinda sounds like Chris Bosh.

  69. stratomatic

    Brian Cronin: Anthony Randolph, by the way, had his worst performance in his new role as a post player in Minnesota last night against the Celtics. He got into foul trouble almost immediately and did not even score a field goal in 16 minutes of playing time.  (Quote)

    Randolph is obviously extremely green. But he’s averaging close to 20 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes for the T-Wolves and his TS% is somwhere between 52%-53%. That’s not so terrible for a 21 year old starting or coming off the bench.

    He was so hyped and so many people were so high on him, it’s easy to trash his bad days, lack of consistency, and occasional blunders.

    But the fact of the matter is that I’ve seen very few 21 year olds that could put up some of the numbers he can despite missing a full season to injury and banishment.

    IMO, he’s still a prospect with solid all star potential if he works on his game, learns and matures. Even if he doesn’t, the rock bottom looks like a very useful role player off the bench.

    IMHO, it was a terrible idea to discard him so easily in the Melo deal.

    Even worse, it’s painful to admit that even Kahn got the best of the Knicks.

  70. Owen

    Not sure why you would cite Efg regarding Durant since he probably has one of the largest spreads in the league between his efg and ts%.

    And I wouldn’t sleep on Lowry. The guy has been closer to immortal this year than any Knicks point guard since Mark Jackson. There is a reason the Rockets have a better record than the Knicks….

  71. Frank

    Actually, this is an interesting exercise. For all the greatness that Kevin Durant is supposed to be, how does his season this year compare with Melo’s?

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=duranke01&y1=2011&p2=anthoca01&y2=2011

    It actually looks like the only differences are that Durant shoots a lot more 3′s, and makes about 1 free throw out of 20 more than Melo does. Re: the 3′s – perhaps Durant takes those shots instead of the long 2′s that Melo does, since they each take about 18 shots per game.

    Now consider that in his 19 game Knick career, Melo is actually shooting more 3′s (3.7/game vs. 2.6/game with Denver) and is shooting 87.5% from the line, and has his TS% up to 56%. It seems likely that if Melo stepped back 2-3 feet and shot two 3′s instead of two long 2′s per game, we would essentially have Kevin Durant on our team.

  72. Brian Cronin

    Randolph is obviously extremely green. But he’s averaging close to 20 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes for the T-Wolves and his TS% is somwhere between 52%-53%. That’s not so terrible for a 21 year old starting or coming off the bench.

    He was so hyped and so many people were so high on him, it’s easy to trash his bad days, lack of consistency, and occasional blunders.

    But the fact of the matter is that I’ve seen very few 21 year olds that could put up some of the numbers he can despite missing a full season to injury and banishment.

    IMO, he’s still a prospect with solid all star potential if he works on his game, learns and matures. Even if he doesn’t, the rock bottom looks like a very useful role player off the bench.

    IMHO, it was a terrible idea to discard him so easily in the Melo deal.

    Even worse, it’s painful to admit that even Kahn got the best of the Knicks.

    I totally agree. I only mentioned it because it’s only fair for me to bring up his bad games when I’ve been mentioning his good games.

  73. Frank

    Owen: Not sure why you would cite Efg regarding Durant since he probably has one of the largest spreads in the league between his efg and ts%.
    And I wouldn’t sleep on Lowry. The guy has been closer to immortal this year than any Knicks point guard since Mark Jackson. There is a reason the Rockets have a better record than the Knicks….  

    I chose eFG specifically because I think Durant benefits hugely from the fact that he is built like a toothpick and gets many calls that other players don’t get — much like Gallo gets a lot of calls because he looks really awkward. There is no doubt whatsoever that the officiating in this league is a huge problem in that some players get calls and others, especially big guys, get nothing despite getting pounded on every night.

    The problem with relying on officials is that sometimes you don’t get the calls, which we saw relatively often with Gallo. When he wasn’t shooting 8 free throws per game, he was relatively ineffective. In other words, his effectiveness was at the mercy of the officiating crew. At the end of games and during the playoffs when officials swallow their whistles, eFG is what determines your effectiveness, not TS. So that’s why I chose eFG.

  74. HellAtlantic

    if there’s a chance to trade Amare we should take it. get us a big like Gortat and a PG and 1 6th man caliber player and we’re looking at 50 game win seasons for the next 4 years. Amare is a ticking time bomb. those knees are gonna implode.

  75. Frank

    HellAtlantic: if there’s a chance to trade Amare we should take it. get us a big like Gortat and a PG and 1 6th man caliber player and we’re looking at 50 game win seasons for the next 4 years. Amare is a ticking time bomb. those knees are gonna implode.  

    and you base this on…?

  76. Owen

    Frank – They do have similar numbers. But Durant is a true small forward who plays some shooting guard. Carmelo plays a lot of power forward. So it isn’t really fair to compare them directly.

    Durant is also a lot more efficient. A 4% point difference in ts% is a big deal and generally pretty durable across player’s careers. A guy like Melo rarely transforms himself from a 55% true shooter to a 60% true shooter.

    Durant also has played at a slightly slower pace all year and is having a down year compared to last year.

    All that said, I feel comfortable saying that Melo has never had a year in his career as good as what Durant has done this year in a bad year and he never will

    Unless we include his year at Syracuse of course…

  77. jon abbey

    Durant is still only 22, I think the defense will come. right now, he’s the biggest offensive weapon in the game and he certainly doesn’t have the physical issues Paul has.

  78. stratomatic

    Brian,

    I sort of suspected that.

    I have just become an AR apologist because I was one of the people that so high on him before the season and still think he has a chance to become a very good ball player. When he was playing poorly for the Knicks and couldn’t get any time at all, I took a lot of SH$T, elsewhere. :-)

  79. HellAtlantic

    Frank: and you base this on…?  (Quote)

    i don’t know, maybe cause the Suns didn’t want to give him 5 years, he needs to ice his knees while on the bench like the twilight of the Ewing years, the Knicks couldn’t get insurance on him, he’s worn down towards the last quarter of the season yet was MVP-calibre during the early part of the season, not dunking the ball in traffic like he used to. we need to ship him out if someone wants to take him. year 4 and year 5 are gonna be brutal. if we move him we can get the pieces to be Nuggets East at least. not championship-caliber, but Dallas “50 win games a year and ousted in the 2nd round” caliber. that’s all i want. give me the illusion of competing for a ring instead of marching towards first round playoff exits.

  80. max fisher-cohen

    jon abbey: this team’s only chance to win a title was with LeBron or if they get Howard next year.

    I agree with you, jon, but it’s also much more fun to see a team that makes an attempt at a championship rather than one that locks itself into being decent, even if statistically the decent team is more likely to get more overall wins across the next 5 years.

    One stat that’s jumping out at me in the knicks’ game log is the # of TOs they’re forcing.

    since ‘melo trade, before Dallas game: 15.9 opp TO/game
    since dallas game: 11.4 opp. TO/game

    4.5 fewer TOs/game costs the knicks like 9 ppg. That’s like 4 more wins that we’d have had, maybe more seeing as we’re a very good transition team. Add in the crappy offense from Billups (who mostly just seems to be missing shots), and you have another 2-3 missing points.

    My best guess is it’s our bad offense creating offense for opposing teams. We miss a lot more, giving opponents opportunities in transition, making it hard for us to pressure defensively.

    re: chandler — I’m totally on board there. He could guard most power forwards capably, but I think the most important impact was that he could punish them offensively. With him at power forward, we could punish slow bigs in transition, often resulting in our opponents going small as well. You don’t have to be that fast to guard Shawne Williams, especially when he can’t make perimeter shots.

  81. taggart4800

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Like every other team in the league, taggart.  (Quote)

    I suggest you watch the tape from the Heat game, that is an entirely different team I just watched. Billups looked sharp running the floor and the team looked good with Melo handling the ball a little more. Not saying that you don’t have a point but they are playing just about every other night at the moment.
    I understand THCJ that the current stats post trade support one side of the Melo debate and agree there is a lot of room for improvement. You are entitled to your opinion and should not be labelled a ‘hater’ for that but I would counter by saying that the anti-melo sentiment, stats or otherwise, is perhaps a little sensationalist until next season or even complete failure in the playoffs. I only question the stats because they are so unstable and off kilter from what I would have expected them to be. Therefore I would rationalise that by saying there are other factors at work rather than Melo being a ball stopper and the Knicks not playing D. I think the ‘talent that doesn’t fit’ arguement is redundant when D’Antoni was able to make David Lee and Chris Duhon effective with a bunch of scrubs. David Lee is posting career efficiency lows by the way without D’Antoni and Duhon is on the inactive list for a bad case of hemorroids with all the sitting he has been doing. Melo, D’Antoni, STAT and Billups WILL sort this thing out and then we will be able to have the conversation again.

  82. HellAtlantic

    problem with Knicks (well, one of the many problems) is that Shawne Williams, Bill Walker, Roger Mason, Rony Turiaf AND Jared Jeffries are not top 6, top 7 players in any contending team’s rotation. they’re the 8th, 9th guys off the bench. Shawne Williams should not be starting. Jeffries just got cut from Houston and a few games later he was starting C for NYK. huh?!? what was that whole “i need to get my legs under me and then i can start dunking and finishing” bs? you only have one overpaid job – play basketball. what was he doing all year that he doesn’t have his legs under him? he didn’t participate in Houston practices?

    any way, these aren’t guys you want playing 6th man minutes, let alone starting games.

  83. Brian Cronin

    I think the ‘talent that doesn’t fit’ arguement is redundant when D’Antoni was able to make David Lee and Chris Duhon effective with a bunch of scrubs.

    Lee was effective before D’Antoni. Duhon was not effective with D’Antoni. I don’t have any real problem with your main point, but just noting that those examples don’t serve you well, as the one guy was already good before D’Antoni (and didn’t really change much under D’Antoni) and the other guy was bad before D’Antoni, was bad for D’Antoni and has been bad since D’Antoni.

  84. HellAtlantic

    Jeffries is the worst. he doesn’t have the defense and rebounding of Ben Wallace circa 2004 to make up for his total lack of offense. it’s 5 on 4 when he’s on the floor.

  85. Brian Cronin

    Speaking of Lee, he finally got himself over .100 WS/48 for the season with a monster game last night in a win over Washington.

  86. Frank

    @86 — so this is yet another interesting exercise, at least to me, and may illustrate the importance of 3′s and shot selection. Bear with me if y’all will.

    According to hoopdata.com, from 2007-2010 here is Melo’s shot distribution averages for the 4 seasons (made/attempts/%):

    At rim – 4.8 / 7.75 / 62%
    3-9 ft – 0.58 / 1.5 / 38%
    10-15 ft – 0.73 / 2.03 / 36%
    16-23 ft – 2.63 / 6.45 / 41%
    3 pts – 0.825 / 2.425 / 34%

    Let’s say we leave his shots from the rim to 15 feet the same. Then, let’s say he passes up one of the long 16-23 ft 2′s he takes, and takes a 3 instead, shooting and unshooting them at the same rate, and that he continues to shoot free throws at roughly an 85% rate on 8 FT’s game. Then we would have:
    At rim – 4.8 / 7.75 / 62% = 9.6 ppg
    3-9 ft – 0.58 / 1.5 / 38% = 1.16 ppg
    10-15 ft – 0.73 / 2.03 / 36% = 1.43 ppg
    16-23 ft – 2.23 / 5.45 / 41% = 4.46 ppg
    3 pts – 1.155 / 3.425 / 34% = 3.365 ppg
    Total points on shots = ~20 on 20.2 attempts
    Total points on FTs = 6.8 on 8 attempts

    Plugging that into our trusty TS% calculator, we find that just changing one long two to a 3 pointer changes his TS from 55% to 56.5%. Bear in mind I am using a 34% 3 point percentage which is artificially lowered by his 2007 season when he shot 26.8% from 3.

    If we change two long 2′s to two 3′s, the same exercise yields an increase of TS to 57.3%.

    Which, amazingly, is quite comparable to Kevin Durant’s career TS of 57.6%.

    So again – perhaps the only difference between the two is that Durant shoots 2 3′s per game instead of Melo’s 2 long 2′s. That should be coachable.

  87. Brian Cronin

    That’s what the hope was, Frank. That Melo would adjust to shoot less long twos, but so far it really hasn’t happened.

  88. Brian Cronin

    Meanwhile, I didn’t realize Melo’s shooting from 3-15 feet was so terrible.

    Remember at the end of the Milwaukee game when he drove on three Bucks players and got blocked? I bet there have been lots of similar shots in Melo’s past.

  89. taggart4800

    Lee was effective prior to D’Antoni with limited usage which jumped nearly as much as 10% at times whilst his efficeiency stayed more or less as good as it was. What is interesting to me is that his TOV% went down the years that D’Antoni was in charge.
    With regards to Duhon, no he wasn’t effective, but that is somewhat my point. The knicks were not good by any standard but they had a good offense with some seriously poor levels of talent and the fact that the P&R roll worked with a guy that couldn’t make a shot is perhaps testament to the fact that with some patience this team will get back on track.

  90. HellAtlantic

    yeesh, if you guys like stats so much you should watch baseball. basketball is a game of heart and balls. that doesn’t show up in your silly formulas. people are trying to have a conversation here and you guys are trying to be the next Theo Epstein’s of basketball. guess i walked into the wrong bar.

  91. Frank

    Brian Cronin: That’s what the hope was, Frank. That Melo would adjust to shoot less long twos, but so far it really hasn’t happened.  

    Actually, I didn’t realize this when I looked at it the first time, but if you look at the link I posted, he’s done almost exactly that — he’s shooting 1.3 less 16-23ft shots/game and 1 full 3 more per game. His TS is higher with us because he’s shooting 41% from 3, but conversely his 3-15 foot shooting has gotten even worse, and he’s shooting more of those.

  92. Frank

    HellAtlantic: yeesh, if you guys like stats so much you should watch baseball. basketball is a game of heart and balls. that doesn’t show up in your silly formulas. people are trying to have a conversation here and you guys are trying to be the next Theo Epstein’s of basketball. guess i walked into the wrong bar.  

    umm… yes I think you might have. This is a stats site! May I please introduce you to theknicksblog.com? (Which is not half bad by the way – just a different focus).

  93. hoolahoop

    Brian Cronin: Anthony Randolph, by the way, had his worst performance in his new role as a post player in Minnesota last night against the Celtics. He got into foul trouble almost immediately and did not even score a field goal in 16 minutes of playing time.  

    Be careful judging a game by a box score. that’s why “advanced” stats scare me. People assume it’s all encompassing. There are guys that can control the game and stats won’t capture it. . . .intangibles like hustle and attitude and leadership and plays that make other plays happen.

  94. taggart4800

    @103 There are a lot of players getting burn that weren’t regulars in the rotation and thus the system is hard to run. Melo and Stat are therefore forced to take lots of contested 3-15 footers.

  95. Frank

    taggart4800: @103 There are a lot of players getting burn that weren’t regulars in the rotation and thus the system is hard to run. Melo and Stat are therefore forced to take lots of contested 3-15 footers.  

    seems about right. one can only hope that they get this together before too long. This offense has always been point-guard dependent — it took Felton a whole training camp and about 15 games to get the system. Billups has had 19 games, 6 of which he spent sitting with injury. We’ll see.

  96. hoolahoop

    HellAtlantic: yeesh, if you guys like stats so much you should watch baseball. basketball is a game of heart and balls. that doesn’t show up in your silly formulas. people are trying to have a conversation here and you guys are trying to be the next Theo Epstein’s of basketball. guess i walked into the wrong bar.  

    Agreed.
    . . . and smarts.

  97. Brian Cronin

    I just saw an ad for Mike Bloomberg. He isn’t running for anything, right? How odd.

  98. taggart4800

    @108 I’m not sure it all falls on Felton and the point guard at the time, Billups in this case.
    It no doubt does take time for the point guard to become acclimated but if you are running a system and expecting to see certain people in certain spots and they aren’t there then you can understand how you would would just dump the ball to Melo or STAT as a way of making some sort of pass.

  99. max fisher-cohen

    Frank, very interesting post. I think the main issue here though is that no one can really create a 3 point shot for himself. Melo would have a hard time standing at the 3 point line and jab stepping, then leaning back for a three, and if he did, it’d be at much lower percentage. So he would have to play off the ball more to get these kinds of shots.

    But he has seemed to pull up from three a lot more often in delayed transition, which is the one time where a dribbler can generally get off a decent attempt.

    I really do buy that ‘melo is an very good shooter. The problem is he has an appetite for these very high degree of difficulty shots.

  100. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    HellAtlantic: yeesh, if you guys like stats so much you should watch baseball. basketball is a game of heart and balls. that doesn’t show up in your silly formulas. people are trying to have a conversation here and you guys are trying to be the next Theo Epstein’s of basketball. guess i walked into the wrong bar.  

    You’re right that basketball is a game with balls.

  101. Ben R

    I think people misunderstood me when I was talking about Melo/Amare/Paul. It would be a good team and Paul and Amare would be great together but it would make Melo a $20 million luxury. If all he is doing is benefiting from Paul and Amare dominating the PnR we might as well have Gallo out there taking those open shots and clear paths to the rim for less than half the money.

    I don’t see how getting Melo makes aquiring Paul in 2012 any easier and it makes the team much worse once we get him because we would have to drop everyone including Fields, our 1st this year and Douglas from our team. It would be Paul/Melo/Amare and 9 scrubs. That to me is a much worse team than Paul/Amare/Fields/Gallo/Chandler/Mozgov/etc would have been.

    I know people think this trade will make Paul more likely to come here but I don’t see how a struggling team that doesn’t really get along, gets crucified by the press and has no depth really seems like a better option than a young team, that really gets along and has tons of depth would be. It’s not like getting Paul or Williams was impossible pretrade in fact we would have had more trade assets, more cap space and a better team to tempt Paul with.

  102. Brian Cronin

    I don’t see how getting Melo makes aquiring Paul in 2012 any easier

    Because there might very well be a “deal” between these guys to try to make a point to play with each other, a la Wade, Bosh and Lebron. And since we already saw one group of players do that, it is surely not unbelievable that another group would (especially since two of them were teammates on that same 2008 Olympics team).

  103. Ben R

    Brian Cronin: Because there might very well be a “deal” between these guys to try to make a point to play with each other, a la Wade, Bosh and Lebron. And since we already saw one group of players do that, it is surely not unbelievable that another group would (especially since two of them were teammates on that same 2008 Olympics team).  (Quote)

    That might be true but if we are struggling to stay over .500 next year and looking mediocre then I wonder if Paul wouldn’t rethink that choice. Plus if there really was an under the table agreement then wouldn’t Melo have taken a little less money rather than forcing Paul to take a huge paycut while both he and Amare got max deals.

  104. Doug

    HellAtlantic: yeesh, if you guys like stats so much you should watch baseball. basketball is a game of heart and balls. that doesn’t show up in your silly formulas. people are trying to have a conversation here and you guys are trying to be the next Theo Epstein’s of basketball. guess i walked into the wrong bar.  

    Your forgot to tell us to go make love to our spreadsheets.

    I would be thrilled if the Knicks were run by a basketball version of Theo Epstein, instead of some blustering dinosaur that chooses willful ignorance over innovation.

  105. Owen

    “Your forgot to tell us to go make love to our spreadsheets.”

    In our mothers’ basement!

  106. HellAtlantic

    i’ll leave with this. the GMs/owners who attend these Sloan advanced conferences, like Darryl Morey of Houston and Mark Cuban, have 0 championships between them while Theo Epstein has 2 rings.

    basketball isn’t a sport where these stats matter. the elite players very easily stand out from Replacement Level Players and can be critiqued with the naked eye. you don’t need advanced stats to tell you how much better Dennis Rodman or 2004-Ben Wallace is than the 8th man off the bench or a D-League player cause its very apparent when you watch. there are no stats that show when Billups hits his threes. you look at last nite’s boxscore and you see he only hit a few 3 pters, but he hit them later in the when it mattered. heart and balls matter.

Comments are closed.