Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Turtle-Knicks

Aesop taught us when we were very small that the slow and steady tortoise can beat the hare. Have the Knicks been slow and steady in their improvement, or did they, like the hare, wait around, give only partial effort for half the season, assuming that all the other NBA teams were wearing half-shells?

Many point to the firing of D’Antoni as the moment when the Knicks woke up and began to run for their lives. However, if you take a look at the chart below, you can see that this year’s team should be called the Turtle-Knicks, for they have slowly and steadily improved throughout the year. Each game, their adjusted margin of victory has improved by 0.24 points, and that trend has been pretty steady throughout the season.

What the chart shows is the Knicks’ margin of victory in each game, adjusted for both difficulty of opponent and whether the game was home or away (strange observation: the Knicks outscore opponents by a ridiculous 8.7 fewer points when on the road). Bizarrely, in spite of the series of injuries this team has suffered through, those injuries (color coded onto the chart) seem to have far less of an impact than we might expect.

What else can we take from this? It seems that the firing of D’Antoni did scare some of the Knicks to life, as the Knicks had five straight games where they performed above the trendline, which indicates how we could have expected the Knicks to perform each game.

Likewise, Linsanity was real. Even after adjustments, six of the seven games the Knicks won during their seven game streak were above the trendline.  That six game streak was the longest streak of over-the-trendline games the Knicks have had this season. Their worst streak? The four games before the close loss to Chicago, after which D’Antoni resigned.

Some other information I gleaned from the data:

1)   The Knicks before D’Antoni resigned improved by an average of 0.13 points/game. However, if you exclude the games after Linsanity, when Anthony admitted to dogging it, they improved by an average of 0.3 points/game.

2)   The Woodson Knicks are trending downward by 0.6 points/game. However, if you exclude the Portland blowout, they are only trending downward by 0.2 points/game.

3)   The most stable period for the Knicks was during Linsanity as well. You’ll note that the chart knives up and down far less violently during that win-streak.

4)   Stoudemire and Anthony were a part of most of all the losing streaks. Both of the longer win streaks occurred with either Anthony or Stoudemire missing some games.

With so much roster instability, it’s hard to predict how this information will affect our playoff performance. You could argue that our consistency in spite of injuries shows the Knicks’ great depth. You could also argue that it is indicative of the frailty of the marriage between Stoudemire and Anthony. Either way, it’s nice to see that the players likely did not nap through half the season, and instead were slowly working their way into shape, learning the defense, and learning how to play together.

114 comments on “The Turtle-Knicks

  1. danvt

    So, do you still stand by this post, Max?

    “Last word on this (at least for a week or two!): I guess it’s time for another morbid father analogy. You’re the father of a fuck up kid named Knick. Knick does great every time he takes a standardized test — he clearly has a lot of talent — but he spends his days both in school and after, experimenting with various illegal substances. Then he gets arrested for possession and spends a year in juvey, and when he comes out, re-enrolls in high school and for three weeks just gets A after A!

    Put yourself in Knick’s dad’s position. First, you are absolutely enthralled with the progress. You have real hope for the first time in a while. However, do you BELIEVE now, after those 3 weeks, that all of Knick’s problems are in the past, that they’ll never come up again? I highly doubt it. You’ve dealt with him his whole teenage trainwreck of a life, and you still haven’t seen evidence that his social anxieties and self-destructive behavior aren’t sitting there just beneath the surface, waiting to be triggered.”

  2. jon abbey

    they’ve had like six different teams so far this year, there may have never been an NBA team in history where overall yearly numbers are less relevant. personally I think everything pre-Woodson is irrelevant at this point.

  3. Doug

    max fisher-cohen: “Last word on this (at least for a week or two!): I guess it’s time for another morbid father analogy. You’re the father of a fuck up kid named Knick. Knick does great every time he takes a standardized test — he clearly has a lot of talent — but he spends his days both in school and after, experimenting with various illegal substances. Then he gets arrested for possession and spends a year in juvey, and when he comes out, re-enrolls in high school and for three weeks just gets A after A!
    Put yourself in Knick’s dad’s position. First, you are absolutely enthralled with the progress. You have real hope for the first time in a while. However, do you BELIEVE now, after those 3 weeks, that all of Knick’s problems are in the past, that they’ll never come up again? I highly doubt it. You’ve dealt with him his whole teenage trainwreck of a life, and you still haven’t seen evidence that his social anxieties and self-destructive behavior aren’t sitting there just beneath the surface, waiting to be triggered.”

    While I understand Max’s attitude expressed in that post, we have to recognize that it’s completely subjective and largely irrational. It is no more correct or incorrect than anyone else’s emotional impression of this Knicks team – ruru’s incorrigible optimism, jon abbey’s outspoken tough love, or THCJ’s unhinged fundamentalist insanity.

  4. Cousyfan

    Look out you turtle guys! Lin (our hare!) is back. He is running; the next thing is cutting and jumping, but that’ll be a piece of cake. He has already started to stress his knee with all the impact and shock of running/jogging.
    CHEERS!

  5. Jafa

    Is it me or wasn’t it reported that Mike D’Antoni quit as opposed to being “fired”? You fluctuate back and forth between fired and resigned all over your article. Also didn’t know that he asked for a DWill for Anthony traded. Interesting.

  6. Owen

    Interesting post, Max! It’s amazing how clearly the graph shows the key points of this season’s narrative.

    Just an addendum to last night’s thread…

    Ruru – “I mean, I’ve talked about this for a long time (the Melo effect). So why do you argue with me when we talk about interaction effects and how Melo improves his teammates efficiency through attention and shot creation???”

    First, it’s a little crazy that you have never brought up the Silver study or this piece on this site before. The “layman’s guide” hangs above the door. This is not just any old fan site. We do discuss things like that here.

    Second, as the quotes below illustrate, while Kevin Pelton does feel these impacts exist, he feels uncertain about their magnitude and isn’t really sure how stable and consistent they are in a different context. With good reason it appears, because they haven’t materialized yet, as we have discussed.

    And the reality check for any Knicks fan reading that article is that Melo needs the boost from this effect to be an All-Star caliber player. Which is unlike most genuine All-Stars, who get there with very measurable production. No is debating how much value Lebron provides by improving the play Mario Chalmers.

    “it appears to be larger than zero and substantial enough to make him an All-Star-caliber player despite his other shortcomings.”

    “Ultimately, this method shows Anthony having a smaller impact on his teammates’ True Shooting Percentages than Silver found, especially when we account for the fact that his presence tends to make a greater difference for infrequent shooters.”

    “there is still an important aspect of “fit” that cannot be removed from the numbers. Denver has been able to build a lineup around Anthony’s high usage. The Nuggets have put a series of low-usage, defensive-minded shooting guards alongside him on the wings, for example. With another team already blessed with shot creators, like the Knicks, the value of…

  7. token4

    This is a really interesting graph! I’ve been thinking about what kind of graphic would best represent the roller coaster ride of a season the Knicks have had. ESPN (ABC?) had a cheaper roller coaster graphic one of these past few games that didn’t really do it justice.

    I’m interested in knowing how exactly you “adjusted” for strength of schedule and home/away. Also, it would be interesting to see an overlay of the same graph without these adjustments. Also, would be interesting to see other variables on the y-axis: total team assists or maybe fg%.

    On a separate note – I wonder how this thing would look for these poor 76ers. Even after all their crazy losses since the all-star break, they are at +4.43!! You could test your assumptions with the 76ers season – I wonder if it’ll show that their losses really are based on strength of schedule or just an overall downward trend.

    Either way, great stuff! Clearly, I love the numbers but I have to agree with Jon Abbey above – the Knicks have been like 6 different teams this season with more than a dozen different starting lineups, and importantly, two coaches. Who knows what the future holds? Win these last two games and you have real momentum and who knows what happens from there?

  8. Caleb

    You might say the Sixers – a young team, with basically the whole roster returning intact – were a perfect candidate to come out of the gate fast, in a season with no pre-season and games jammed together.

    The Knicks aren’t an old team, but they’re a lot older than the Sixers, and have had more roster turnover – by far – than any team in the league.

  9. thenamestsam

    Interesting post and a fascinating graphic.

    On an unrelated note does anyone know how they decide which series are on which days? Meaning is there anyway of predicting what days the Knicks playoff games will be, or do we just have to wait until Thursday (Friday?) to find out? If it is indeed Miami, and it looks like it will be, that’s going to be THE marquee matchup of the 1st round. More likely to be the Sunday afternoon game then I’d think. Am I wrong?

  10. John Kenney

    Ok, I have serious questions about what you mean by “that trend has been steady throughout the year.” They’re obviously playing better now than they were at the start of the year, so any regression or line of best fit designed to produce a straight line will indicate some upward progression. But what you’re saying about “they were improving by this much under D’Antoni, excluding this segment” indicates the OPPOSITE of your thesis. It’s just that there have been roughly equal numbers of ridiculous streaks of winning and losing. To use an example: Let’s say we give team X a performance value of 75, then 25 days later their value is 100. You could say “steady improvement of 1 a day! The tortoise keeps climbing” or you could look at each day and go, “Whoa, it nosedived to 50, then flew up to 90, then back down to 60, then over 100 to 105, then down to 80, and now at 100″ and the reality would be that whatever value you’re analyzing has been pretty volatile and not, as claimed, steady improvement. Getting from point A to point B cannot simply be divided by time and then referred to as steady.

  11. Juany8

    Owen, I think even Ruru is over the fact that Melo is not as good as guys like Wade, Lebron, and Chris Paul. Unless you have some magical way to get a player of that caliber to come to the Knicks, having Melo and Chander is about as good as it’s gonna get.

    Besides, the main problem with Melo his whole career has not been a lack of MVP level skill but a lack of MVP level consistency and decision making. It is more than entirely possible that Anthony realized he had to step up his game or he’d be booed by his own home crowd every game. It is also entirely possible that Anthony will play at a consistently outstanding level in the playoffs when the intensity ratchets up (look at Dirk last year, his rebounds shot way up) and you really only need Anthony to be outstanding in the playoffs to have a shot at a championship. The Bulls and Heat are overrated, and Anthony is capable of lighting up both of their All-Defense wing defenders, while Chandler is capable of preventing penetration, which is the only thing Chicago and Miami do in the half court.

  12. stratomatic

    I think Owen is on the right track.

    Berry has argued that players are very consistent from team to team and from year to year. However, IMO that’s partly because management is TRYING to build teams with players that fit well together.

    If Melo is accompanied by low usage scorers that bring other things to the table, his high usage is more valuable than when you have Amare, Lin, Baron Davis, JR Smith, and other scorers on the team. Then, at times, he is substituting his tough shots (which I concede he makes more often than most NBA players) for SUPERIOR shots from those other players.

    Similarly, he hurts players that are highly dependent on transition and ball movement for their own high efficiency looks.

    None of this is a criticism of Melo. He played great over the last few weeks. But there are impacts on other players that are difficult to measure and they aren’t always positive at the TEAM level.

    If I told you that Melo was the greatest player in the NBA at making contested off balance 2s, I’d still rather have a backdoor Fields cut, Amare P&R, Chandler P&R, Novak open 3 etc.. instead.

    You have to measure whether Melo’s scoring and high usage is come at the EXPENSE of higher quality opportunities from others even when he’s personally playing great as an individual.

  13. formido

    What, after adjusting for strength of schedule, Linsanity Knicks still overperformed? How sand-poundingly obvious to all but those who pride themselves more on hating “hype” than objective analysis.

  14. stratomatic

    I should add one other thing, the Silver article that made the case that Melo has a positive impact on the efficiency of his teammates was torn to shreds by Berry and many of the regular posters to that forum. It was simply a well intentioned article that did a bad job with the facts.

    IMO, the players that really make their teammates better tend to get a lot of assists. If you want to argue that the NBA doesn’t track hockey assists, that’s true. But they don’t track hockey assists for Nash, CP3, or James either. So the great play makers are probably getting as many or even more hockey assists than Melo.

    Furthermore, if we did track hockey assists and regressed their value, they would almost certainly be correlated to regular assists. So when we regress the value of assists, the value of hockey assists is probably built in to some degree – even if not perfectly.

  15. ruruland

    stratomatic:
    I should add one other thing, the Silver article that made the case that Melo has a positive impact on the efficiency of his teammates was torn to shreds by Berry and many of the regular posters to that forum. It was simply a well intentioned article that did a bad job with the facts.

    IMO, the players that really make their teammates better tend to get a lot of assists.If you want to argue that the NBA doesn’t track hockey assists, that’s true. But they don’t track hockey assists for Nash, CP3, or James either.So the great play makers are probably getting as many or even more hockey assists than Melo.

    Furthermore, if we did track hockey assists and regressed their value, they would almost certainly be correlated to regular assists. So when we regress the value of assists, the value of hockey assists is probably built in to some degree – even if not perfectly.

    So, you read the Pelton article.

  16. ruruland

    http://basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1412

    “Using plus-minus statistics provides another way of checking Anthony’s impact on the Denver offense……. Prior to this year, Denver’s Offensive Rating was at least 2.0 points better per 100 possessions in every year of Anthony’s career. The average impact in this span was +4.6 points per 100 possessions. Despite the fact that his own efficiency has been middling at times, Anthony has consistently lifted the Nuggets’ offense with his ability to create shots.”

    “The Carmelo effect appears to create 9.3 wins per 82 games, or 7.5 over the 66 games Anthony actually played last season–a figure 50 percent higher than the value WARP assigns his usage.”

  17. stratomatic

    The problem with these Knicks under D’Antoni this year was one of team construction.

    His system is very simple. This is what you need.

    1. A big man that is a good P&R finisher

    2. A PG that can penetrate, hit a 3 pointer, and run the P&R.

    3. 3 wings that are above average 3 point shooters to spread the floor.

    These were the major problems:

    1. Having Amare and Chandler on the court at the same time is a construction problem because they are both P&R finishers and neither can spread the floor out to the arc to help the other

    2. Having Melo standing beyond the arc shooting 3s is a misuse of his talent because he’s a lifetime below average 3 point shooter that does his best work inside and drawing fouls

    That’s why some of the combinations with one or two of them hurt worked better than when they were all healthy.

    The first 2 years were about getting rid of bad contracts and creating space. Then they started building the team for D’Antoni ball.

    However….

    Once they committed to the Melo trade, it stopped being a D’Antoni team. It also made the need for a defensive big man even more pressing because Melo is not a Shawn Marion type defender that could help Amare and get close to 10 boards a night.

    Once they went for Chandler to fill that role, then D’Antoni ball was totally out of the question because you had 2 P&R bigs and no space.

    If you want to criticize D’Antoni, you can say he wasn’t adaptable enough and didn’t get the best out of the players he was given.
    But you can just as easily argue that if you want D’Antoni, Sloan, Jackson, Popovich and other system coaches to be your coach, you have to give them the players they need to succeed and not just a bunch of talented individuals that don’t fit together or in the system.

  18. ruruland

    stratomatic:
    I think Owen is on the right track.

    Berry has argued that players are very consistent from team to team and from year to year. However, IMO that’s partly because management is TRYING to build teams with players that fit well togethe

    Similarly, he hurts players that are highly dependent on transitionand ball movement for their own high efficiency looks.

    None of this is a criticism of Melo. He played great over the last few weeks. But there are impacts on other players that are difficult to measure and they aren’t always positive at the TEAM level.

    If I told you that Melo was the greatest player in the NBA at making contested off balance 2s, I’d still rather have a backdoor Fields cut, Amare P&R, Chandler P&R, Novak open 3 etc.. instead.

    You have to measure whether Melo’s scoring and high usage is come at the EXPENSE of higher quality opportunitiesfrom others even when he’s personally playing great as an individual.

    Strato, we’ve seen a few games this year where either Melo missed or Lin missed — both far and away the team’s best shot creators (creating for themselves or the team).

    We saw an 87.1 offensive rating against Memphis (-Melo’s first half O-rating of 111)

    A 95.4 offensive rating against OKC (which was much lower until the fourth quarter when the Knicks scored 27 points. They were down 28 points heading into the quarter)

    A 94.1 Offensive rating against Miami (Thanks to 7 Bill Walker 3s)

    A 90.1 offensive rating against Houston, despite a 110 and 136 offensive rating from Chandler and Amar’e.

    The team has an offensive rating of 104.1 on the season.

    The question, strato, is how you increase quality backdoor cuts from Fields, more 3pters from Novak, and more transition points for Shumpert and Smith?

    If you can’t create them without a point guard, what kind of looks does Melo…

  19. stratomatic

    ruruland: So, you read the Pelton article.

    I read the Pelton article at the time. As much as I love Pelton, IMO he did not control for all the season to season variables either. Besides, no one is saying that Melo doesn’t make anyone better. He does make plays when he’s double teamed. They are saying he doesn’t make them often enough for it to be considered some unique star generating quality or as often as many of truly great players in the game today like James, Nash, CP3 etc… So why give him credit for something that may not be fully included in the box score stats when it isn’t included for other stars and they do it better anyway.

    For me, this is not some agenda against Melo as it is for some others. It’s an objective analysis of the data and results. There are simply two extreme on this issue and PRO Melo agenda is just as delusional and biased about his value as the people that hate him.

  20. stratomatic

    “The question, strato, is how you increase quality backdoor cuts from Fields, more 3pters from Novak, and more transition points for Shumpert and Smith?”

    Not having a PG is a major issue, but you don’t create superior looks by walking the ball up the court, having dribbling and holding the ball etc… and then having Melo shoot – even when he’s knocking down those shots at an above average clip.

  21. max fisher-cohen Post author

    John Kenney: Ok, I have serious questions about what you mean by “that trend has been steady throughout the year.” They’re obviously playing better now than they were at the start of the year, so any regression or line of best fit designed to produce a straight line will indicate some upward progression. But what you’re saying about “they were improving by this much under D’Antoni, excluding this segment” indicates the OPPOSITE of your thesis. It’s just that there have been roughly equal numbers of ridiculous streaks of winning and losing. To use an example: Let’s say we give team X a performance value of 75, then 25 days later their value is 100. You could say “steady improvement of 1 a day! The tortoise keeps climbing” or you could look at each day and go, “Whoa, it nosedived to 50, then flew up to 90, then back down to 60, then over 100 to 105, then down to 80, and now at 100? and the reality would be that whatever value you’re analyzing has been pretty volatile and not, as claimed, steady improvement. Getting from point A to point B cannot simply be divided by time and then referred to as steady.

    What I mean is that there was no turning point to the season where we suddenly decided to “run”. If Woodson had been the turning point (or any moment), the data would look like this. In fact, here’s a chart of how many games over/under .500 the Knicks have been across the season. You can see that the data line doesn’t cris-cross over the trendline all that often. For most of the MDA era, it’s well below the trendline, and then when Woodson takes over, it shoots up over the trendline. In the adjusted chart from the article, the longest time where we stayed over or under the trendline was 6 games.

  22. ruruland

    Amar’e last 14 games: .621 TS, 116 ORTG, 58.3% from field, 18.2ppg, 7.8rpg, 23.2 usage (12 games with Chandler and Melo).

    Melo last 15 games: .589TS, 118 OTRG., .494% from field, .443% from 3, 29.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg

    Jr Smith last 14 games: .414% from 3, 109 ORTG, 14.4 pts, 3.4 apg

    Iman Shumpert last 23 games: .364 from 3, 2.5 apg.

    Chandler and Novak’s combined season TS%: 696

    And we saw a spry Baron Davis yesterday and Landry Fields putting arc on his shot.

    What team in their right minds would want to face this bunch??

  23. max fisher-cohen Post author

    @DanVT, I personally remain skeptical about whether this core can win a championship, but I tried to steer clear of that question in this article as it’s not really something that my little chart can answer. All my chart shows is that we’ve been getting consistently better.

    JohnKenney is right that there are periods where we declined some, and there are periods where we improved more, but it was never sustained. We always pretty quickly dropped back into a pattern of jumping back and forth over the trend line. Those periods are: 1) the first 6 Lin games 2) The 4 games before the Chicago game, and 3) D’Antoni’s last game combined with Woodson’s first 5 games.

    Jafa:
    Is it me or wasn’t it reported that Mike D’Antoni quit as opposed to being “fired”?You fluctuate back and forth between fired and resigned all over your article.Also didn’t know that he asked for a DWill for Anthony traded.Interesting.

    I think I use “resigned” every time, no? Unless someone edited it for me. The D-Will trade request thing was a rumor, but it’s hard to type lots of words into a chart.

  24. cgreene

    stratomatic:

    Not having a PG is a major issue, but you don’t create superior looks by walking the ball up the court, having dribbling and holding the ball etc… and then having Melo shoot – even when he’s knocking down those shots at an above average clip.

    This brings up another interesting dilemma that raised during the Dantoni era that I think is relevant. When you start to play at a faster pace so does the team you are playing which inevitably hurts your D efficiency. So although I agree that walking the ball up and handing it to Melo decreases the easy baskets of players that thrive off movement like Fields and Shump, is it not a better strategy for a defensive oriented team (which I now classify the Knicks as one) to play slower and rely on D as opposed to attempting to get more easy baskets but also giving up more? I don’t have time to look up the data right now but it would be interesting to see where the teams with fastest pace rank on the D efficiency scale. This can be mitigated of course when you are running the fast O at the efficiency of the SSOL Suns.

  25. max fisher-cohen Post author

    Someone asked how I adjusted the chart. The home/road adjustment was +/- 4.33 points since with the data through the NJ game, we win at home by an average of 8.67 points more than on the road. I then adjusted by the opponent’s average win margin. The more scientific way would have been to have used the O-rating/D-rating

  26. stratomatic

    This is my last comment, then I have to go.

    Let’s assume we were able to isolate the impact of Melo on the offense and control for all the players on both sides of the floor perfectly.

    Now let’s say we concluded that a certain lineup was “X” points better on offense with Melo and his high usage scoring than with player “whoever”.

    That still doesn’t tell us whether Melo’s high usage was the optimal way for that line up to play. It’s still possible that the team would be 2X better if Melo’s usage was lower and he moved the ball.

  27. ruruland

    stratomatic:
    “The question, strato, is how you increase quality backdoor cuts from Fields, more 3pters from Novak, and more transition points for Shumpert and Smith?”

    Not having a PG is a major issue, but you don’t create superior looks by walking the ball up the court, having dribbling and holding the ball etc… and then having Melo shoot – even when he’s knocking down those shots at an above average clip.

    Have you watched the Knicks run high pick and roll with Baron Davis the last month and a half?

    When he doesn’t have his legs it’s an extremely low efficiency play.

    Shumpert can run some pick and roll at times, but has really struggled against the good defensive teams.

    Bibby cannot dribble the ball inside the 3pt line.

    What’s the method by which you create these shots???

    You’re saying the Knicks should move away from Melo being the focal point of the offense I presume.

  28. max fisher-cohen Post author

    sorry, accidentally hit submit. Token5 asked. and the reason I didn’t use O-rating/D-rating is because it would have taken forever. By using raw point differential, I was able to just copy and paste the game log and compare the Knicks’ margin for each game against the opponent’s average margin.

  29. Grymm

    I assume I did this differently than Max did but my adjusted +/- graph seems to support some of his points. First, I didn’t plot individual games. The individual games range from a -24.4 in an early season loss to CHA to a +39.3 win at Portland (Woodson Era). However, if you keep tabs of the Knicks cumulative adjusted +/- per game on the season, it shows steady and quite linear growth throwout the season. This indicates that the Knicks have been consistently improving their play by increments. The Linsanity period of games don’t as a whole score particularly highly compared to the Woodson-Era games.

    Now, if you plot the plus/minus average of a sliding 10 game stretch, you can make out 4 distinct periods. Up until blowing out Detroit in game 21, the Knicks were bad. The Detroit romp coupled with close losses to the Bulls and Celtics lead right into the Linsanity period where the last 10 score hovers around 3-4. Then the Knicks drop that game to Deron Williams and go into a bit of a funk until D’Antoni quits. Since then, the Knicks have mantained last 10 scores that exceed the peak of the Linsanity Era.

    It’s actually a pretty clean plot when shown that way rather than plotting individual games.

  30. ruruland

    stratomatic:
    This is my last comment, then I have to go.

    Let’s assume we were able to isolate the impact of Melo on the offense and control for all the players on both sides of the floor perfectly.

    Now let’s say we concluded that a certain lineup was “X” points better on offense with Melo and his high usage scoring than withplayer “whoever”.

    That still doesn’t tell us whether Melo’s high usage was the optimal way for that line up to play.It’s still possible that the team would be 2X better if Melo’s usage was lower and he moved the ball.

    What isn’t possible?

    That makes no sense. Why did the players efficiency go down when Melo was out of the game then??

    You’re not arguing against the obviously strong correlation between Melo and his teammates improved efficiency, you’re changing the argument. You’re implying that Melo would further improve his teammates efficiency if he lowered his usage — that’s much more dubious than the conclusion we reach with the actual numbers.

  31. ruruland

    max fisher-cohen:
    sorry, accidentally hit submit. Token5 asked. and the reason I didn’t use O-rating/D-rating is because it would have taken forever. By using raw point differential, I was able to just copy and paste the game log and compare the Knicks’ margin for each game against the opponent’s average margin.

    Nice work though, Max.

  32. cgreene

    I also thought Baron looked noticeably better physically yesterday. Still 3 or 4 SUPER boneheaded plays though especially when the Knicks went up early in the 3rd. If he cuts those out he could be a decisive plus.

  33. ruruland

    stratomatic:
    “The question, strato, is how you increase quality backdoor cuts from Fields, more 3pters from Novak, and more transition points for Shumpert and Smith?”

    Not having a PG is a major issue, but you don’t create superior looks by walking the ball up the court, having dribbling and holding the ball etc… and then having Melo shoot – even when he’s knocking down those shots at an above average clip.

    What is your evidence that you don’t create superior looks this way?

    Every year Melo played in Denver his teammates were more efficient with him on the floor.

    You say not having a pg is a major issue, but then you propose no alternative to the way the Knicks have played offense of late.

    Also, Melo doesn’t move the ball? At all?

    Should we hand over the offense to Shumpert, Jr Smith, and put Melo back in the corner?

  34. ruruland

    cgreene:
    I also thought Baron looked noticeably better physically yesterday.Still 3 or 4 SUPER boneheaded plays though especially when the Knicks went up early in the 3rd.If he cuts those out he could be a decisive plus.

    Diddy looked like he did when he first came back.

    He will be the biggest key to keeping Amar’e really efficient in the playoffs. On a per minute basis he has a MUCH higher assist rate with Amar’e than Lin did.

  35. Nick C.

    ruruland: Have you watched the Knicks run high pick and roll with Baron Davis the last month and a half?When he doesn’t have his legs it’s an extremely low efficiency play. Shumpert can run some pick and roll at times, but has really struggled against the good defensive teams. Bibby cannot dribble the ball inside the 3pt line. What’s the method by which you create these shots??? You’re saying the Knicks should move away from Melo being the focal point of the offense I presume.

    I know D’Antoni’s offense is different and I frankly am thrilled with Melo since the change but how is having Melo be the focal point of the offense different once we get past halfcourt than having him be the point forward. My assumption is that as a focal point he is more the creator for himself or others rather than being the initiator.

  36. Caleb

    Juany8:
    Owen, I think even Ruru is over the fact that Melo is not as good as guys like Wade, Lebron, and Chris Paul. Unless you have some magical way to get a player of that caliber to come to the Knicks, having Melo and Chander is about as good as it’s gonna get.

    Besides, the main problem with Melo his whole career has not been a lack of MVP level skill but a lack of MVP level consistency and decision making…

    I don’t really disagree, if you mean, Melo has been a good or very good but not superstar player, but has had the potential to be a superstar.

    For me it is more about defense than anything else – I think he’s been an excellent offensive player, and a very good rebounder for his position, but a below-average defender. Although, as I’ve seen in random playoff games, and during the recent run, he seems to have the ABILITY to be a good or even very good defender.

    IMO, 15 or 20 games doesn’t change the big picture – yet – but sure, if he keeps playing the way he has – on both ends – it totally changes the argument we’ve been having for the past year and a half.

    I would say it’s rare to have a mid-career upgrade this big, but not unheard of – he’s only 27, and has shown the ability to step up his game in spurts, and during the Olympics.

  37. jon abbey

    Caleb:
    You might say the Sixers – a young team, with basically the whole roster returning intact – were a perfect candidate to come out of the gate fast, in a season with no pre-season and games jammed together.

    even more than that, their eight man rotation played organized ball together during the lockout, to the point of running plays out of the Philly play book.

    it’s no surprise they came out so hot, it is a surprise they’ve crashed to earth so hard.

  38. johnlocke

    Ruru can provide his perspective, but I think a couple things: 1) When he was the point forward we were setting a lot of high pick and rolls with Chandler which either resulted in alley oop dunks for Chandler (good) or long perimeter shots from Melo when his jumper was off for whatever reason (injury, etc)— (not good).
    2) Melo doesn’t have to exert as much energy initiating the offense 3) Melo is getting the ball on the block in triple threat situations –shoot, pass, dribble and now that Melo’s shooting touch is back, his scoring binge is creating even more doubles than earlier in the season when he was shooting in the high 30s low 40s on a consistent basis. These double teams are allowing for swing passes around the perimeter to open three point shooters who can shoot (Novak and JR) as opposed to Douglas/Fields/Bibby earlier in the season

    Nick C.: I know D’Antoni’s offense is different and I frankly am thrilled with Melo since the change but how is having Melo be the focal point of the offense different once we get past halfcourt than having him be the point forward. My assumption is that as a focal point he is more the creator for himself or others rather than being the initiator.

  39. Z-man

    Caleb: I don’t really disagree, if you mean, Melo has been a good or very good but not superstar player, but has had the potential to be a superstar. For me it is more about defense than anything else – I think he’s been an excellent offensive player, and a very good rebounder for his position, but a below-average defender. Although, as I’ve seen in random playoff games, and during the recent run, he seems to have the ABILITY to be a good or even very good defender. IMO, 15 or 20 games doesn’t change the big picture – yet – but sure, if he keeps playing the way he has – on both ends – it totally changes the argument we’ve been having for the past year and a half. I would say it’s rare to have a mid-career upgrade this big, but not unheard of – he’s only 27, and has shown the ability to step up his game in spurts, and during the Olympics.

    This is a very fair “skeptical” take on the Melo debate, Caleb, at least you recognize that the potential is there for Melo to become a top 5-10 player if he continues to play the way he has since the coaching change, especially defensively. I do think that the NY fans and media have put him on notice and that he’s listening, which will help bring out the best in him.

    Look, even if the mean is for players to hover around their career stats, there are those who get better (e.g. Paul Pierce) and those who regress (e.g. Vin Baker.) Hopefully, Melo will keep up the good work of late, I could certainly live with that.

  40. Nick C.

    No doubt its a sort of subtle but significant difference. But the first thing I thought when I read focal point was point forward. I have actually been pretty impressed with his passing from the low block. There was a play yesterday, for one, where he sot double teamed and reversed it (if that’s the right term of art) to JR who was wide open at the FT line.

  41. Frank O.

    ruruland:
    Amar’e last 14 games: .621 TS, 116 ORTG, 58.3% from field, 18.2ppg, 7.8rpg, 23.2 usage (12 games with Chandler and Melo).

    Melo last 15 games: .589TS, 118 OTRG., .494% from field, .443% from 3, 29.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg

    Jr Smith last 14 games: .414% from 3, 109 ORTG, 14.4 pts, 3.4 apg

    Iman Shumpert last 23 games: .364 from 3, 2.5 apg.

    Chandler and Novak’s combined season TS%: 696

    And we saw a spry Baron Davis yesterday and Landry Fields putting arc on his shot.

    What team in their right minds would want to face this bunch??

    Really, I couldn’t agree more with this.
    It is astonishing to me to look at the time line and see how many of the Knicks’ trials led them to new talent on their bench or to make a strategic pick up that worked.
    This team is so much better for its trials thaN anyone could have imagined a the outset of the season.
    At first, it was the big three, no guard of any reputation and limited depth – with TD and Jeffries as the only depth I could remember.
    But when Amare and then Melo went down, they discovered Lin, Novak, and the value of Jeffries. When Shump got hurt, they went after Smith, who apparently learned how to defend in a defensive-minded Chinese league. Baron returned from his problems and had time to get comfortable because of Lin.
    TD’s collapse could have been devastating, but it’s no big now.
    Fields’ worrying shooting was a surprise, but the team still managed to adapt. AND then there was the coaching change…
    Fascinating, and Abbey is right in that judging performance now based on early season performance is a dead end, but it is relevant: This team is much, much better for all the changes than it would have been otherwise.
    THIS IS A SCARY BUNCH.

  42. ruruland

    Nick C.:
    No doubt its a sort of subtle but significant difference. But the first thing I thought when I read focal point was point forward. I have actually been pretty impressed with his passing from the low block. There was a play yesterday, for one, where he sot double teamed and reversed it (if that’s the right term of art) to JR who was wide open at the FT line.

    Let’s remember though, that this team’s shooting woes were blamed on Melo early in the year. He was making the proper pass, and was actually one of the best players in the pnr in the NBA the first couple of months. But yeah, a huge difference in the places the offense was initiated.

    The problem besides injuries was floor spacing and creating his shot outside of his business zones.

    MJ got brought into the discussion last night just because of the similarity between where he and Melo operate… I think it’s perfect spot to space out double teams, right in between the 3pt line and the basket…..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WpkXlrJxtw

  43. JC Knickfan

    @ 23
    Can this core win a championship? I agree with your doubt.
    In last 30 year except Detroit Pistons 3x each roster has had MVP winner future or past.
    This year no different. SA, Chicago and Miami all have MVP winners. I’m also pretty sure Durant going to MVP once in his career. So even if OKC wins, the trend should continue.
    Does Knicks have MVP winner on it’s roster or we do need to move team to Detroit?

  44. ruruland

    Frank O.: Really, I couldn’t agree more with this.
    It is astonishing to me to look at the time line and see how many of the Knicks’ trials led them to new talent on their bench or to make a strategic pick up that worked.
    This team is so much better for its trials thaN anyone could have imagined a the outset of the season.
    At first, it was the big three, no guard of any reputation and limited depth – with TD and Jeffries as the only depth I could remember.
    But when Amare and then Melo went down, they discovered Lin, Novak, and the value of Jeffries. When Shump got hurt, they went after Smith, who apparently learned how to defend in a defensive-minded Chinese league. Baron returned from his problems and had time to get comfortable because of Lin.
    TD’s collapse could have been devastating, but it’s no big now.
    Fields’ worrying shooting was a surprise, but the team still managed to adapt. AND then there was the coaching change…
    Fascinating, and Abbey is right in that judging performance now based on early season performance is a dead end, but it is relevant: This team is much, much better for all the changes than it would have been otherwise.
    THIS IS A SCARY BUNCH.

    Watching Amar’e yesterday had me convinced the Knicks can beat Miami if they shoot like Dallas did in the Finals.

    At full strength, this team is more talented than the Mavericks of last year.

  45. Caleb

    @43 I think this take is a little misleading – so few teams have actually won. Which people might interpret different ways, but I would say it’s partly SSS. If you expand to Teams That Reasonably Could Have Won, you see more variety. Ewing-Knicks… Adelman teams (Sacto and Portland)… Kemp/Payton Sonics… Nash/Amare Suns… Artest Pacers.. All those teams won 60 or more, and played close series with the eventual champs. A bounce here or there..

    Plus, just looking at MVP confuses cause and effect. Derrick Rose wasn’t the best player or 2nd or 3rd best player in the league last year, but he got it because the Bulls had a great record. So saying, “Bulls won because they have an MVP” gets it backwards.

    Sometimes we get caught up in thinking there’s a magic formula, like “you must have an MVP” or “you must have a Big 3″ or “Defense is the key.” If your offense is fantastic, you can get by with less defense (like some of the Laker champs). If you have the best player, or the best 2, you can win with less depth. If you have a deeper team, your top players don’t need to be quite as good. (by depth I mean top 6 or 7; further down the bench really doesn’t get minutes, and doesn’t much matter, in the playoffs).

    I just think there are a lot of different ways to build a champion.

    These Knicks don’t have much room for error, but I could see them as champs. To do that, they’d need everyone firing on all cylinders, probably need Lin to play like he belongs. And a bit of luck.

  46. Bruno Almeida

    ruruland: Watching Amar’e yesterday had me convinced the Knicks can beat Miami if they shoot like Dallas did in the Finals.

    At full strength, this team is more talented than the Mavericks of last year.

    I hope you also watched Amare’s pathetic defensive play overall, which, in my opinion, is terrible enough to doom us against teams like Miami.

    if they go to a lineup with Bosh at the 5, LeBron at the 4, what will we do?

    Carmelo will check LeBron, ok… then Chandler will take Bosh (and struggle to guard him from 15-20 feet), and who Amare will guard?

    Mike Miller, who has been very quietly hitting 46% of his 3 pointers?

    and on defense, they can play Bosh at Chandler, LeBron at Amare and Battier or Wade on Carmelo, and they’ll have a pretty good advantage on the matchups…

    Amare will have to really be incredible on offense to offset the liability he’ll be on defense, no matter how much you believe he’ll magically transform into a great defender.

  47. ruruland

    Caleb:

    These Knicks don’t have much room for error, but I could see them as champs. To do that, they’d need everyone firing on all cylinders, probably need Lin to play like he belongs. And a bit of luck.

    In a lot of ways don’t you think you’d prefer rooting for a team like that over, say, Miami, where anything short of championship is a huge disappointment? I don’t see any joy in rooting for a team like Miami.

  48. danvt

    I agree with this.

    Juany8: Owen, I think even Ruru is over the fact that Melo is not as good as guys like Wade, Lebron, and Chris Paul. Unless you have some magical way to get a player of that caliber to come to the Knicks, having Melo and Chander is about as good as it’s gonna get.
    Besides, the main problem with Melo his whole career has not been a lack of MVP level skill but a lack of MVP level consistency and decision making. It is more than entirely possible that Anthony realized he had to step up his game or he’d be booed by his own home crowd every game. It is also entirely possible that Anthony will play at a consistently outstanding level in the playoffs when the intensity ratchets up (look at Dirk last year, his rebounds shot way up) and you really only need Anthony to be outstanding in the playoffs to have a shot at a championship. The Bulls and Heat are overrated, and Anthony is capable of lighting up both of their All-Defense wing defenders, while Chandler is capable of preventing penetration, which is the only thing Chicago and Miami do in the half court.

  49. johnlocke

    Agree with you…but Dallas shot the ball, against a top defense, at a remarkable rate in the finals…as a team they shot the 3 at a rate of 41%, which is I think the rate of our 2nd best 3 pt shooter over his hottest streak so far of the season (JR Smith). Unless Novak goes absolutely insane or key players on our team get unusually hot (like Dallas did) will be tough to replicate that.
    Stevenson – 13 threes – 57% from three
    Kidd – 12 threes – 42% from three
    Terry – 11 threes – 39%
    Nowitzki – 7 threes – 37%

    Chalmers was the only Heat player to make double digit threes, Lebron was close but shot 32%.

    Can we consistently shoot like that over 4 of 7 games? We’ll see.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/playoffs/NBA_2011_finals.html

    ruruland: Watching Amar’e yesterday had me convinced the Knicks can beat Miami if they shoot like Dallas did in the Finals.

    At full strength, this team is more talented than the Mavericks of last year.

  50. d-mar

    ruruland: Watching Amar’e yesterday had me convinced the Knicks can beat Miami if they shoot like Dallas did in the Finals.

    At full strength, this team is more talented than the Mavericks of last year.

    I posted a comparison on a prior thread between the 2011 Mavs and 2012 Knicks. I think a big plus for the Mavs was Marion and Kidd defensively vs. Fields and Davis. On the other hand, our bench is superior – Shump, Novak, Smith vs. Terry, Mahinmi and Stevenson. So we need to make hay when it’s our bench vs. Miami’s or whoever we play in the 1st round. And if we do play the Heat, I hope Woodson watches hours and hours of game tape of last year’s Finals.

  51. johnlocke

    FWIW, we shot the lights out in April:
    Melo – 48% from three
    Bibby – 47%
    Novak – 46%
    JR – 42%
    Davis – 38%
    Fields – 37% (3/3 anyone?)
    Shump – 32%
    Team: 41%

    If we can carry that over into the playoffs, we’ll have a good chance. Big IF I think for everyone above not named Novak and maybe JR to continue shooting like that.

  52. ruruland

    d-mar: I posted a comparison on a prior thread between the 2011 Mavs and 2012 Knicks. I think a big plus for the Mavs was Marion and Kidd defensively vs. Fields and Davis. On the other hand, our bench is superior – Shump, Novak, Smith vs. Terry, Mahinmi and Stevenson. So we need to make hay when it’s our bench vs. Miami’s or whoever we play in the 1st round. And if we do play the Heat, I hope Woodson watches hours and hours of game tape of last year’s Finals.

    Dirk only shot .416 in the series. .537 TS.

    Terry was the best player on that team (to advanced stats people).
    .605 TS and 18ppg , 122 ORTG.

    Barea shot under 40 percent. 8.8 ppg (.456 TS)

    So, their three best scorers combined for 52.8 ppg on pretty low efficiency.

    I’m pretty sure Melo, Amar’e and JR can do better than that.

    The question becomes this: Can Shumpert, Novak, Fields, Davis, Bibby and JJ outplay Marion who scored 13.7 on .522 TS (Shumpert) Stojakovic who shot 2-9 (Novak), Stevenson 7ppg (53% from 3) and Cardinal/Haywood??

  53. JK47

    The Knicks are just such a poor road team it’s hard to imagine them winning a couple of games in Miami. The Heat are 28-5 at home and the Knicks are 13-19 on the road. Forgive me if I’m not feeling real optimistic about that series.

    I’ll be surprised if the Knicks manage to take the series to 6 games, let alone actually win the damn thing.

  54. d-mar

    ruruland: Dirk only shot .416 in the series. .537 TS.

    Terry was the best player on that team (to advanced stats people).
    .605 TS and 18ppg , 122 ORTG.

    Barea shot under 40 percent. 8.8 ppg (.456 TS)

    So, their three best scorers combined for 52.8 ppg on pretty low efficiency.

    I’m pretty sure Melo, Amar’e and JR can do better than that.

    The question becomes this: Can Shumpert, Novak, Fields, Davis, Bibby and JJ outplay Marion who scored 13.7 on .522 TS (Shumpert) Stojakovic who shot 2-9 (Novak), Stevenson 7ppg (53% from 3) and Cardinal/Haywood??

    I guess my main point was about the defense. Dallas’ second and third best defenders behind Chander were Marion and Kidd, ours (among starters) would be who? Not saying we’re not a good defensive team, but Marion played all-world defense in the Finals last year, not sure if we have anyone who compares.

  55. ruruland

    d-mar: I guess my main point was about the defense. Dallas’ second and third best defenders behind Chander were Marion and Kidd, ours (among starters) would be who? Not saying we’re not a good defensive team, but Marion played all-world defense in the Finals last year, not sure if we have anyone who compares.

    I think SHump can be every bit as good as Marion against Lebron.

    Can Amar’e/ JJ defend Bosh as well as Dirk did?

    Lebron only averaged 17.9 ppg, which I don’t see happening again. But we could probably slow Wade down a bit.

    Kidd was solid, but I think Baron can be pretty good at times against Wade and Lebron like Kidd was.

  56. ruruland

    ruruland: I think SHump can be every bit as good as Marion against Lebron.

    Can Amar’e/ JJ defend Bosh as well as Dirk did?

    Lebron only averaged 17.9 ppg, which I don’t see happening again. But we could probably slow Wade down a bit.

    Kidd was solid, but I think Baron can be pretty good at times against Wade and Lebron like Kidd was.

    What I meant was that Shump can be as good on Wade as marion was on Lebron.

  57. BigBlueAL

    ruruland: In a lot of ways don’t you think you’d prefer rooting for a team like that over, say, Miami, where anything short of championship is a huge disappointment? I don’t see any joy in rooting for a team like Miami.

    Its funny you mention this because the 1994 and 1999 Knicks is a decent example of this situation for me. The 1994 postseason was pure torture for me since I and the media felt the East playoffs at least shouldve been a relatively easy time for the Knicks that year. Going 7 games against the Bulls and Pacers felt annoying and frustrating because I felt those series shouldnt have gone more than 5 games max. When the Knicks beat the Pacers in Game 7 I was more relieved than happy.

    The 1999 postseason for me was probably the funnest few weeks Ive ever had rooting for a team. The series wins vs the Heat and Pacers were pure fun and a joy to watch while the sweep vs the Hawks was a nice relaxing week in between lol

    If this team makes some kind of miraculous run it would obviously be up there with the 1999 team because it would be so unexpected.

  58. Z-man

    I was encouraged by Baron yesterday, he’s still slow but had a bit more pep in his step than last week. I wonder if he’s been pacing himself to aviod a major setback, and is now ready to throw caution to the wind in the playoffs.

  59. Will the Thrill

    Does anyone think that we will actually get the 8 seed if we lose the last 2 games? The 76ers still have to win a game (will probably win tonight) and they play the Nets, Bucks, and Pistons for their last three games.

  60. BigBlueAL

    Will the Thrill:
    Does anyone think that we will actually get the 8 seed if we lose the last 2 games? The 76ers still have to win a game (will probably win tonight) and they play the Nets, Bucks, and Pistons for their last three games.

    76ers have to win 2 out of the 3 games to get 7th seed if Knicks lose final 2 games. If they win tonight they clinch a playoff spot and have no reason to win either of their final 2 games. Knicks still technically can get 6th seed so I can see them playing everybody and trying to win vs Clippers but assuming the Magic win vs Charlotte that night I hope/assume Knicks rest their starters vs Charlotte the next night.

  61. johnlocke

    Problem is a starting lineup of Bibby, Toney, Jorts, Novak and Jordan still beats the Bobcats.

    BigBlueAL: 76ers have to win 2 out of the 3 games to get 7th seed if Knicks lose final 2 games.If they win tonight they clinch a playoff spot and have no reason to win either of their final 2 games.Knicks still technically can get 6th seed so I can see them playing everybody and trying to win vs Clippers but assuming the Magic win vs Charlotte that night I hope/assume Knicks rest their starters vs Charlotte the next night.

  62. Garson

    Was thinking about defensive matchups vs Heat. Shump on Wade, Melo on Bron is reasonable…

    My worries come from Amare on Bosh, however why cant chandler be put on bosh and Amare just take the center position?

  63. Jafa

    Garson:
    Was thinking about defensive matchups vs Heat. Shump on Wade, Melo on Bron is reasonable…

    My worries come from Amare on Bosh, however why cant chandler be put on bosh and Amare just take the center position?

    I’m worried about Shump on Wade. That is a rookie guard (granted one that is very good on defense) in his first NBA playoffs going against a veteran superstar and Finals MVP who is shifty and crafty on offense and can get him into foul trouble easily (when in doubt the refs will always blow the whistle for Wade). That really concerns me.

  64. CapB

    No way Shump is going to get the benefit of any calls…especially on the road against a former Finals MVP top 5/10 player.

    We are gonna see the rook in a lot of foul trouble

  65. Jafa

    I’m also worried about Melo on LeBron. If we ask him to expend a lot of energy guarding LeBron, will he have enough left to be our leading scorer?

    Chandler on Bosh could be difficult to watch and open up the inside for LeBron and Melo dives that finish in vicious dunks. Amare on Bosh would be better.

    And if Miami is smart, they would let Chalmers and Cole penetrate and exploit our massive defensive weakness at PG. Those penetrations would force Chandler to help and could lead to easy baskets for Haslim & Joel Anthony.

    Yep, I’m really worried about the defensive matchups vs. the Heat!

  66. Jafa

    correction @68:

    I meant “open up the inside for LeBron and Wade drives that finish in vicious dunks”

  67. Frank O.

    ruruland: I think SHump can be every bit as good as Marion against Lebron.

    Can Amar’e/ JJ defend Bosh as well as Dirk did?

    Lebron only averaged 17.9 ppg, which I don’t see happening again. But we could probably slow Wade down a bit.

    Kidd was solid, but I think Baron can be pretty good at times against Wade and Lebron like Kidd was.

    I think a Knicks/Miami series comes down to whether Shump and Tyson can keep Wade in check.
    I worry less about Lebron and Bosh in the playoffs. I believe Carmelo and Amare can match their output. Wade is a cold blooded killer and Shump will need to bring an A + game for the Knicks to win.

  68. d-mar

    I think we can keep the Heat relatively at bay in their half court sets, sometimes you watch them in their set offense and it’s downright ugly. But if we turn the ball over against them at our usual rate, then it’s over Johnny. Baron making some of his dumb passes concerns me more than defensive matchups, because then it’s momentum changing dunks at the other end as opposed to making them at least work for tough shots in their half court offense.

  69. Jafa

    Frank O.,

    You just said it right there. “Wade is a cold blooded killer”. Shrump’s A+ game may not be enough. We need him to be seasoned like a Bruce Bowen to feel good about him locking down Wade.

    And ruruland,

    Shrump against Lebron? I think we need to lower our expectations for our very good ROOKIE guard. Give him a couple more years in the league and we can start feeling “that” confident.

  70. Doug

    Garson:
    Was thinking about defensive matchups vs Heat. Shump on Wade, Melo on Bron is reasonable…

    My worries come from Amare on Bosh, however why cant chandler be put on bosh and Amare just take the center position?

    In the past, Bosh has drawn Chandler out to the perimeter and made his rim protection a lot less effective.

  71. johnlocke

    The issue is that those guys – primarily Novak, Fields and to a slightly lesser extent Shumpert and Davis score of ball movement – and defenses being out of position – often due to teams double-teaming Melo. The Heat are one of the few teams in the league that don’t really believe in double-teaming and have a great SF defender to guard him. This played out in the last game we played against them where Melo went off for 42 pts and shot efficiently, but Shump, Davis, Novak and Fields combined for 16 pts on 6-23 shooting. Amare will help on offense in terms of scoring for himself, but he’s not getting double-teamed either and is not the best passer out of the low post in either case. The series will be decided by play of the 4 the above guys

    ruruland: Dirk only shot .416 in the series. .537 TS.

    Terry was the best player on that team (to advanced stats people).
    .605 TS and 18ppg , 122 ORTG.

    Barea shot under 40 percent. 8.8 ppg (.456 TS)

    So, their three best scorers combined for 52.8 ppg on pretty low efficiency.

    I’m pretty sure Melo, Amar’e and JR can do better than that.

    The question becomes this: Can Shumpert, Novak, Fields, Davis, Bibby and JJ outplay Marion who scored 13.7 on .522 TS (Shumpert) Stojakovic who shot 2-9 (Novak), Stevenson 7ppg (53% from 3) and Cardinal/Haywood??

  72. ruruland

    http://dimemag.com/2012/04/the-artist-also-paints-okcs-stars/

    Jokes about being conceited can be directed at Anthony but let’s also send some of the jokes Kevin Durant’s way as he also has a painting of himself in his house. And in all fairness towards Durant, his painting is classier.

    Durant’s painting was created by Oklahoma City artist Ray Tennyson, who has also painted impressive portraits of other Thunder players like Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden. As Tennyson explains in an interview on his site, Durant liked it so much that he bought the painting and Westbrook is supposedly interested in purchasing the painting of himself as well.

  73. gjknick

    JK47: The Knicks are just such a poor road team it’s hard to imagine them winning a couple of games in Miami. The Heat are 28-5 at home and the Knicks are 13-19 on the road. Forgive me if I’m not feeling real optimistic about that series.I’ll be surprised if the Knicks manage to take the series to 6 games, let alone actually win the damn thing.

    Yeah, it’s hard to see them winning although the season’s road record means little to me -they’re just not the same team they were at the start of the season. But I agree with some of the others that the underdog role will make it a bit more fun – less tense – to watch. They are certainly talented enough that an upset could happen. Probobility?? I’ll take a stab at 15 to 20 % chance. Let the fun begin!

  74. gjknick

    Doug: In the past, Bosh has drawn Chandler out to the perimeter and made his rim protection a lot less effective.

    Exactly! Can’t have Chandler on Bosh and leave the paint wide open – unless you have Jeffries in at the same time. But then you would just match up JJ on Bosh and leave Chandler to guard the rim.

  75. Owen

    Durant’s painting MUCH classier….

    :-)

    Ruruland – I emailed Kevin and he said he would try to revisit the Melo effect. And it should be noted that even adjusting his WARP up by 50% for the “melo effect”, and not giving Lebron any similar upgrade, he still falls about 10 WARP short. Though I am sure Lebron doesn’t do as much drawing of the defense as Melo.

    “Besides, the main problem with Melo his whole career has not been a lack of MVP level skill but a lack of MVP level consistency and decision making.”

    JuanNy – I guess decision making is not a skill then?

    Knicks are going off at anywere from a 5% to a 3% chance of winning an NBA title. Which, even considering the way New York moves a betting market, is pretty strong.

    See, I can be optimistic too!

  76. Shad0wF0x

    I hate the term MVP in sports. The award usually goes to the best player in the best team. Last year it went to Rose but would the Bulls be that bad if he wasn’t there? They’re still a pretty damn good team with him injured. The Most Valuable Player award should depend on how much worse will the team be, if said player wasn’t on the squad.

    Cavalier’s LeBron is so far the best example I can think of right now that deserves the moniker “MVP.” The Cavs had roughly the same roster (sans LeBron) and look how much they fell.

    I could argue that Allen Iverson was a true MVP back in 2001 since if you take him away from the that 76ers squad, they would have no chance to get as deep as they got. Jason Kidd deserved at least 1 MVP award during his tenure with the Nets.

    Without a doubt, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA right now. Would I call him the MVP (through my definition of it) though? The Heat wouldn’t fall that far if he wasn’t playing for them.

  77. Owen

    I think there is a pretty rock solid consensus that Lebron is the MVP this year. He fell off his early pace, which was best of all time good, but he still has been head and shoulders above everyone else.

  78. johnlocke

    Well that’s the issue MVP means different things to different folks
    - Most valuable player / difference maker on a team –?
    - Best player on the best team — Toney Parker, Durant?
    - Best player on a playoff/elite team – Lebron
    - Best player in the league – Lebron
    - Best player who hasn’t yet gotten an MVP, but ‘deserves’ it –?

    Shad0wF0x:
    Without a doubt, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA right now. Would I call him the MVP (through my definition of it) though? The Heat wouldn’t fall that far if he wasn’t playing for them.

  79. BigBlueAL

    Doug Collins said after the game Brand and Iggy will sit out final 2 games, maybe Lou Williams too. Safe to say 76ers losing their final 2 games clinching the 8th seed lol

  80. johnlocke

    Bastard!

    BigBlueAL:
    Doug Collins said after the game Brand and Iggy will sit out final 2 games, maybe Lou Williams too.Safe to say 76ers losing their final 2 games clinching the 8th seed lol

  81. johnlocke

    The anti-tanking Wizards have won 4 in a row, including against Chicago and Miami on the road, a desperate Bucks team and just beat the Bobcats by 28? Can these guys do anything right?

  82. JC Knickfan

    Maybe Charlotte losing streaking end at 21 games. They got the most ping-pong award already.
    With number #1 pick Bobcats pick Jeffrey Jordan.
    Guessing Woodson going try play full lineup against Clippers. Try to beat another playoff team, but come Wednesday will know if Magic can hold on to the 6th seed.

  83. johnlocke

    Looking at their sched…they are 0-4 against the Heat…include 2 losses by a 20+ margin. They want no part of Miami. They have beaten Chicago once (by 16 pts) at home and lost by only 5 and 9 pts. Doug Collins may check in at point guard over their next two….expect serious tankage!

    BigBlueAL:
    Doug Collins said after the game Brand and Iggy will sit out final 2 games, maybe Lou Williams too.Safe to say 76ers losing their final 2 games clinching the 8th seed lol

  84. johnlocke

    They clinched the worst record a few games back and just lost to the Wizards by 28. It would be a serious miracle if they beat the Magic.

    JC Knickfan:
    Maybe Charlotte losing streaking end at 21 games. They got the most ping-pong award already.
    With number #1 pick Bobcats pick Jeffrey Jordan.
    Guessing Woodson going try play full lineup against Clippers. Try to beat another playoff team, but come Wednesday will know if Magic can hold on to the 6th seed.

  85. Will the Thrill

    That Cav’s game really screwed us over. The worst part about it was that it seemed like our guys just didn’t care that game, including Woodson. I mean, why would he not insert Chandler and Melo in the game down by 8?

  86. JC Knickfan

    johnlocke:
    They clinched the worst record a few games back and just lost to the Wizards by 28.It would be a serious miracle if they beat the Magic.

    Miracle happen like USA winning gold Hockey in 1980.
    Otherwise South Beach here we come.

  87. Owen

    Miami winning was sort of a miracle. Just the sixth best team in the league that year. And significantly worse than Dallas. That’s the game plan I guess….

  88. JC Knickfan

    Will the Thrill:
    That Cav’s game really screwed us over. The worst part about it was that it seemed like our guys just didn’t care that game, including Woodson.I mean, why would he not insert Chandler and Melo in the game down by 8?

    Yeah I was pretty pissed at Woodson not putting them back in.
    Orlando play the script and lost last 2 games. If beat LA, Memphis might playing for home court advantage in first round going for the win against the Magic. I have feeling Knicks are going win the next 2 and Orlando go 1-1 and we finish 1 game behind.

  89. Z

    ruruland: In a lot of ways don’t you think you’d prefer rooting for a team like that over, say, Miami, where anything short of championship is a huge disappointment? I don’t see any joy in rooting for a team like Miami.

    It took 9 months, but you’ve finally said something I can agree wholeheartedly with :)

  90. Shad0wF0x

    Z: It took 9 months, but you’ve finally said something I can agree wholeheartedly with :)

    I root for the Yankees, who I expect to compete for a championship every year. But yeah, it just feels better to root for a team like the Knicks.

  91. Z

    I’m a little late to the conversation from yesterday, re:why NY fans seem to Ruru to root against Carmelo, but I’d like to point out that Carmelo is not the first person to come to this town with high (whether deserved or not) expectations, just to feel the wrath of an underwhelmed city. Alex Rodriguez, Mo Vaughn, Vince Coleman, Ed Whitson to name a few. Even all-time great Randy Johnson couldn’t win over the NY crowd.

    New York is a city that is used to having the best of everything. The best restaurants. The best theatre. The best clubs. The best tap water. The best baseball team. And, yes, the best basketball.

    New York is a basketball town, through and through. New York loves basketball, and the fact that we haven’t had the best team in almost 40 years now has made us bitter.

    But all is not lost for Carmelo. Some people have come to New York with high expectations and exceeded them all in the fans eyes. But, surprisingly, there are a lot of basketball players who have come to NY and underwhelmed, and the fans adore them to this day–

    Xavier McDaniel was horrible as a Knick, but the fans think back fondly on him. Larry Johnson was a shell of his Charlotte self and got worse every year. Sprewell never played close to his GS self. Houston was passive for most of his tenure and his contract debilitated the franchise. But the fans love them all. Why?

    Because they all played on Knick teams that went deep into the playoffs.

    We seem fickle, but really we’re very consistent. We don’t care about scoring records, or MVP votes. All we care about is seeing a winner wear the Knick colors.

    Carmelo probably had the greatest playoff performance in Knick history last year in game 2. But they lost, and got swept in the series, so no one really cares.

    But… even if he averages 19 pts on 38% shooting, if they upset the Heat or Bulls and make a lot of noise in the playoffs… Carmelo will always have a home in the Apple.

  92. 2FOR18

    Bruno Almeida: I hope you also watched Amare’s pathetic defensive play overall, which, in my opinion, is terrible enough to doom us against teams like Miami.

    if they go to a lineup with Bosh at the 5, LeBron at the 4, what will we do?

    Carmelo will check LeBron, ok… then Chandler will take Bosh (and struggle to guard him from 15-20 feet), and who Amare will guard?

    Mike Miller, who has been very quietly hitting 46% of his 3 pointers?

    and on defense, they can play Bosh at Chandler, LeBron at Amare and Battier or Wade on Carmelo, and they’ll have a pretty good advantage on the matchups…

    Amare will have to really be incredible on offense to offset the liability he’ll be on defense, no matter how much you believe he’ll magically transform into a great defender.

    I look at it like this:
    1. Melo can outscore LeBron (not outplay him, but he certainly outscore him.
    2. Amare can outscore Bosh.
    3. Tyson can dominate his match-up with Anthony/Haslem and domininate the middle in general
    4. Wade’s huge edge over Shump can be offset by hot games from JR and Novak.

    The first 3 are very reasonable scenarios.
    If we can get 3 out of those 4 and steal a game in Miami, can LeBron and Bosh handle a psychotic MSG crowd in a close game if melo is in supermelo mode (can you imagine how motivated he will be after all of the abuse he’s taken?), with the weight of the basketball world on their shoulders?

    It may be a pipe dream, but I am salivating at the chance to beat the Superfriends. All of the pressure in the world is on them, and I think they are not some unbeatable super team like past Bulls/Lakers/Spurs teams.

    I can see a repeat of the ’94 Nuggets beating a talented but flawed Sonics team.

  93. ruruland

    Z: It took 9 months, but you’ve finally said something I can agree wholeheartedly with :)

    ;) I appreciate your other response as well.

  94. 2FOR18

    Shad0wF0x: I root for the Yankees, who I expect to compete for a championship every year. But yeah, it just feels better to root for a team like the Knicks.

    The ’96 championship was the sweetest because it was a surprise and came before their payroll exploded. They had very few superstars and a lot of homegrown players. Look at some of the players that received significant time that year: Girardi, Leyritz, Gerald Williams, Mariano Duncan, and old Boggs, an old Raines, an old Straw, Andy Fox, an old Gooden, Kenny Rogers)

  95. jon abbey

    2FOR18: The ’96 championship was the sweetest because it was a surprise and came before their payroll exploded.They had very few superstars and a lot of homegrown players. Look at some of the players that received significant time that year: Girardi, Leyritz, Gerald Williams, Mariano Duncan, and old Boggs, an old Raines, an old Straw, Andy Fox, an old Gooden, Kenny Rogers)

    I hate the idea that there’s a right way or a wrong way to win in sports, although I do think it’s funny that the “right way” you’re talking about involved a major contribution from someone who’s turned out to be as much of a scumbag as Leyritz has.

    I also hate the term “homegrown” as if these guys were potted plants and not draft picks. I’m also a diehard Yankee fan, and while ’96 was great (of course losing the first two WS games at home to a seemingly superior team had a lot to do with that), the domination in ’98 was sweeter to me (the best team since at least The Big Red Machine), the run in 2000 as underdogs was great, and the 2001 run against a trio of historically great teams (the A’s had the best second half record ever, the Mariners had one of the best few records ever, and the D’Backs had maybe the best postseason pitching duo ever) was maybe the sweetest, even though they lost at the end.

    I grew up rooting for the Cosmos in their prime, my dad got us season tickets repeatedly when I was very young. the guys sitting on the Cosmos bench were the 2nd best team in the league some years, but that didn’t make them any less entertaining to root for.

    if there was no salary cap, and Dolan managed to give the 10 All-Star starters each $50M per year to all play for the Knicks, that would be at least as enjoyable for me as some “homegrown” team (a totally meaningless term in basketball, at least in baseball, guys have to come through the farm system)…

  96. jon abbey

    and Gerald Williams was traded to the Brewers in August 1996, he didn’t play for NY that postseason.

  97. BigBlueAL

    jon abbey:
    and Gerald Williams was traded to the Brewers in August 1996, he didn’t play for NY that postseason.

    Part of the Graeme Lloyd trade.

  98. BigBlueAL

    I agree that I dont really care how the team is constructed and who is on it if they win it all I will enjoy it the same and appreciate/love the team the same regardless.

    My 1994/1999 Knick analogy from earlier was more in terms of the enjoyment I got from the playoff run but in the end I loved both teams the same and am equally proud of both teams.

  99. Z-man

    jonabbey, I only agree to a point. Gritty is more important to me than homegrown. As a Mets fan, I actually found the ’96 Yanks very rootable because they were a gritty team without overpaid stars, and then I rooted for the ex-homegrown Mets (Straw, Gooden, Cone, etc.) on those teams. Once they loaded up with the Giambis, Sheffs, Rockets and A-Rods of the workd, they became a lot less likeable and I went back to hating them. I know a lifelong Yankees fan on this board that would totally agree with me.

    I would root hard for the Knicks no matter what, and would enjoy a championship run no matter what, but have always enjoyed the underdog role. Maybe that’s why I’m a Mets and Jets fan, even though I grew up in the Bronx in the mid-60′s (when all the NY teams stunk.)

    On the other hand, I never thought after ’69-’70 that it would be this bad!

  100. Owen

    “But… even if he averages 19 pts on 38% shooting, if they upset the Heat or Bulls and make a lot of noise in the playoffs… Carmelo will always have a home in the Apple.”

    Win the crowd Carmelo….

    Carmelo:

    “I will win the crowd. I will give them something they’ve never seen before.”

  101. 2FOR18

    Z-man:
    jonabbey, I only agree to a point. Gritty is more important to me than homegrown. As a Mets fan, I actually found the ’96 Yanks very rootable because they were a gritty team without overpaid stars, and then I rooted for the ex-homegrown Mets (Straw, Gooden, Cone, etc.) on those teams.Once they loaded up with the Giambis, Sheffs, Rockets and A-Rods of the workd, they became a lot less likeable and I went back to hating them.I know a lifelong Yankees fan on this board that would totally agree with me.

    I would root hard for the Knicks no matter what, and would enjoy a championship run no matter what, but have always enjoyed the underdog role.Maybe that’s why I’m a Mets and Jets fan, even though I grew up in the Bronx in the mid-60?s (when all the NY teams stunk.)

    On the other hand, I never thought after ’69-’70 that it would be this bad!

    OK, maybe I did kind of mean “gritty” or something, as I enjoyed that team because they didn’t just bludgeon other teams with star free agents. Plus, it was the first one since ’81, which made it extra sweet for me.
    And speaking of melo :)………….
    Remember how much Tino got booed initially after replacing my main man of all time Don Mattingly? Then Tino played great, hit one of the biggest HRs in Yankee history, was a big part of several championships and became a beloved “true Yankee”.

    That’s all melo has to do.

  102. weoutnyc

    Amazing how many Melo haters are on here. I definitely did not expect that.

    But someone please tell me why you all think Melo is not a top 10 player in this league??

  103. max fisher-cohen Post author

    My thing with baseball is I used to root for them, but I sort of lost interest in the early 2000s when their salary got to be where it was like double that of the average team. I feel like what makes any game interesting is that it puts everyone on equal ground, and sure, I could lose a poker tournament even if I started with double the chips — luck and skill in other areas can make up for the difference — but even if I won, I wouldn’t feel particularly proud.

    What I like about basketball is that the CBA makes it so that having higher salaries can actually make it harder for you to win since if your players flub, they become albatrosses, and the soft cap makes it near impossible to just go out and buy a new player.

    I like “home grown” players to a degree in that they are the most challenging to evaluate, so how you manage them, whether you keep them or not, can be the deciding factor in whether you build a contender or not. I feel like the two most important challenges to building a contender are 1) drafting well and 2) knowing when to give up on a young player.

    The Bulls are an interesting example in that they were terrible at #1 but really smart about #2. They must have had a dozen high draft picks from 99-2008. They could have overpaid to keep guys like Crawford, Curry, Chandler, Ben Gordon and Artest. They could have been smart enough not to draft Marcus Fizer (#4), Jay Williams (#2) and Chris Mihm (#7). They could have kept Elton Brand back in 2001 and had an average team, but they were probably correct to let him go as, similar to the guys they could have overpaid, it would have left them too good to get high draft picks, but not good enough to contend. They waited until they had a critical mass of good players and picks (mostly coming from trading the above players) before they made their first major re-signing: Luol Deng.

  104. 2FOR18

    weoutnyc:
    Amazing how many Melo haters are on here. I definitely did not expect that.

    But someone please tell me why you all think Melo is not a top 10 player in this league??

    If you define hating as not thinking melo’s a top 10 player, then here is the reason: LeBron, Wade, Paul, Durant, Love, Howard, Dirk, Deron, Rose, Gasol, Westbrook, Kobe, Nash

  105. weoutnyc

    2FOR18: If you define hating as not thinking melo’s a top 10 player, then here is the reason: LeBron, Wade, Paul, Durant, Love, Howard, Dirk, Deron, Rose, Gasol, Westbrook, Kobe, Nash

    Explain to me in what way Westbrook, Nash, Gasol, Deron Williams, or even Kevin Durant are better players than Melo??

    Because they arent. None of them can score like Melo (with the exception of Durant and Dirk, but Durant has far less moves). If you want to bring up defense, The only players you mentioned that play good defense are Lebron, Wade, Rose, and Gasol.

    Now obviously the PGs on that list should be better passers than Melo, but again that isnt even true because Westbrook is not a good passer.

    Rebounding?? Obvisouly the Bigs should be better than Melo. However I guess you are overlooking the fact that Melo has always been one of the best rebounding Small Forwards in the league.

    Clutch?? MMMM maybeeee Dirk and Kobe can compete, but cmon now this is a well documented thing for Melo.

    So I can only come to the conclusion that you have bought into the media hype that Melo isnt very good, or you just are oblivious to what Melo has done in his years in the league so far, also you must not notice that Melo is actually trying on defense, AND really isnt a bad defender or ever has been a bad defender (again just random media hype). Or have you only seen him play this season?? While he has been injured most of the time?

  106. 2FOR18

    @weoutnyc

    If you think melo is around the 7th best player in the league and I think he’s around the 14th best player, it’s really not a big deal and not worth arguing about about, but you’re in questionable territory around here if you’re going to rate a player’s offensive effectiveness by how many moves he has and how clutch he is.

  107. weoutnyc

    Lol im not ratiing him on the moves he has, I would rate him on being able to perform in a variety of different positions on the court. Melo is one of the most diverse offensive players in the game.

  108. 2FOR18

    weoutnyc:
    Lol im not ratiing him on the moves he has, I would rate him on being able to perform in a variety of different positions on the court. Melo is one of the most diverse offensive players in the game.

    Oh, absolutely.

  109. Owen

    Weout- If you look through the archives you will find roughly 1.750.000 words devoted to this topic. Suffice to say, some of the more statistically inclined here are not impressed with Melo’s track record.

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