The Melozoic Era, Statistically Speaking
When it comes to the Melo trade, there’s probably one thing everyone can agree on: the on-court results are a mixed bag. A thrilling win over Miami, blowout wins over New Orleans and Utah and a tough road loss to the Magic, but also a pair of embarrassing defeats to Cleveland and the latest stinkers against Dallas and Indiana.
At 6-6, the Knicks of the Melozoic Era (kudos to Jim Cavan for coining the phrase) have a worse record than the previous version. Subjectively, they’re disjointed and inconsistent. They’re not sharing the ball. They clamp down on D… except when they don’t. Is it a few problems, or a lot of them?
As usual, the numbers clear up the picture.
|Pace||Rank||Offensive Efficiency||Rank||Defensive Efficiency||Rank|
As Mike D’Antoni has modified his beloved SSOL scheme, the Knicks have turned – ironically – into a parody of a Mike D’Antoni team: all O, no D.
Some common complaints are unwarranted. The Knicks may or may not be uglier to watch, or more selfish, but there’s not much to complain about when they have the ball. Since the trade, their offense is the best in the league.
On the other end of the court – peeeeee-uw. I can hear it now: “Can you imagine how bad they’d be without DPOY candidate Jared Jeffries?”
The picture is muddied by Chauncey Billups missing five of the 12 games, but if anything a healthy Billups should make the trends stronger. Billups is one of the most efficient offensive players in the league, but the Knicks D isn’t much helped by his taking minutes from Toney Douglas.
None of this is shocking, but the effect has been more dramatic than most expected. Were Chandler, Gallinari and Felton that good on the defensive side? Is Melo that bad? Is it just a lack of practice time?
Quibble if you must over whether Renaldo Balkman deserves some burn, but D’Antoni has already thrown solid minutes to Jeffries and even Anthony Carter. It’s hard to envision big improvements through different personnel. A healthy Ronny Turiaf would help, but unless the Knicks find something to reverse their defensive collapse, the first round playoff series is likely to be short.
A note on the details: as I started doing the math, I discovered that different sources count posssessions differently, which – obviously – affects the efficiency numbers. I went with posession totals from Hoopdata, which gave me final calculations almost identical to ESPN and John Hollinger. That let me compare apples to apples in the rankings. If you see a slight difference – a tenth of a percentage point or two – blame it on the possession data. Here’s a game-by-game chart: Knicks 2010-2011 game log . You can see how bizarre an outlier was our latest Miami win.