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Monday, September 1, 2014

To Avoid Becoming Curry, Bargnani Needs To Dish More

I started my blog shortly after Isiah Thomas became the Knicks President, and in those early days there was no more polarizing player than Eddy Curry. A large number of fans were Curry supporters and arguing the other side was often a losing proposition. The Anti-Eddy League (NSFW language) had their own champion in the unheralded David Lee.

The two were opposites in many ways. Curry was the 4th overall pick a few years ago, who had a low post game that was difficult to defend one-on-one. He was expected to be the focal point of the offense and his dominance in the paint was to open the offense up for the rest of the team. He was to become the next franchise center.

Despite playing for the Florida Gators, Lee was a relative unknown. He was a rebounder who needed some assistance to score. His early nickname from television talking meat puppet Greg Anthony was “Shallow Waters”, because he was only good from a few feet out.

Statistically it was obvious that Lee was the superior player, but convincing the Pro-Curry crowd was difficult. Their logic was that Lee was unable to score without the aid of pick & roll, while Curry could get a quality shot in a number of ways on his own. The logic went that Curry’s multitude of low post moves would open up the court for the rest of the players, something that was difficult to counter using only anecdotes. Surely the player with the greater skill-set would end up with a better career, and it was silly to think otherwise.

Yet as time went on, Curry was unable to live up to his potential. Although he was difficult to stop by a single player, opposing teams often sent multiple defenders his way. Team sports are a yin & yang affair. Often by using particular strategy, a team can adjust to dampen one area, at the cost of leaving another vulnerable. Stacking eight in the box will prevent the run, while allowing the other team to exploit them via the pass. Play-action passes can freeze defenders, but can be prone to quarterback pressure.

The downside to double or triple teaming a player in basketball means that one or more players are left open on the perimeter. Hence Curry should have been able to pick apart the double and triple teams that were sent his way by finding and passing to an open teammate. However Easy-Eddy never gained the court vision to do so. He failed Darwin’s test of sports, the ability to adapt to new surroundings.

Lee, on the other hand, thrived in his role. One aspect was the ability to add a jump shot to his repertoire. But more importantly, Lee had the ability to scan the court for weaknesses and pass the ball to the open man. Coach Mike D’Antoni recognized this, and at times centered the offense through Lee’s hands.

Lee’s current assist to turnover ratio is 1.24, whereas Eddy Curry’s stands at an abysmal 0.24. And in the end the statistical outlook prevailed over the standard NBA rhetoric. The guy that seemingly could only do one thing rounded his game out enough to have a successful career. While the guy with a bevvy of moves proved to be one-dimensional and flamed out.

And so this leads us to the modern day Knicks. I’ve noticed that Andrea Bargnani reminds me of Eddy Curry. Not only is there similarty in their games, both offensive minded centers who don’t rebound or defend well, but in the fans’ logic in defending them. Although most understood Bargnani’s limitation on the defensive end and on the glass, some felt his outside shooting would spread the floor opening things up in the center for the rest of the team. Certainly Bargnani’s ability to put the ball on the floor would make him more valuable to the Knicks than Steve Novak.

Unfortunately the addition of Bargnani hasn’t helped the team as expected by the rhetoricians. Prior to yesterday’s game, Andrea ranked 5th in minutes and the Knicks ranked 20th on offense. The Roman Candle’s failure to ignite might be linked to another shared trait with Eddy Curry: the lack of court vision. As noted here and here, Bargnani fails to find open teammates with the ball. It’s something I’ve noticed from watching, and found a good example from Sunday’s game against the Spurs (see image below).

Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani run the pick & pop from the top of the key. Both Spurs defenders follow ‘Melo who gets the ball back to his center. Manu Ginobili leaves his man J.R. Smith on the elbow extended and slides over to cover the 7 footer. Bargnani should have swung the ball to his open teammate who likely would have an opportunity to score or at worst might have had another open man in the corner in Metta World Peace. Instead Andrea hesitates, and then launches a three point shot.

Clyde Frazier often says basketball is an easy game, and in some ways he’s correct. Even at the highest levels, there is usually an opportunity for one man to have a clear shot. The challenge is in creating the environment in which he exists and then getting the ball in his hands at the right time. With a 24 second clock and with the speed in which NBA players move, those windows of opportunity are small. Teams that don’t take advantage of those moments tend to settle for poor shots. On Bargnani’s play, Metta World Peace swoops up the missed shot and lays it in. Although it ended in success, it’s a low percentage play. No team wants to rely on an offensive rebound as part of their offensive strategy, just like no blackjack player wants to rely on hitting on a 19 and getting a deuce.

As most Knick fans have noticed, Bargnani’s strength is on the offensive end, and the rest of his game is mostly a detriment to his own team. If he isn’t helping the Knicks because he’s missing easy chances for his teammates, then he’s causing damage on the offensive side as well. Right now, Andrea Bargnani’s assist to turnover ratio is 0.75, which is nearly exactly in-between Curry’s and Lee’s. Bargnani needs to improve his passing, if he wants to avoid Curry’s fate.

Bargnani-NoPass

97 comments on “To Avoid Becoming Curry, Bargnani Needs To Dish More

  1. Nick C.

    Great article even if it is about that Italian fellow again. For a long time the “eye test” players really took a beating. Remember when Randolph came and there was a contingent of “they can’t guard both Randolph and Curry…if they do they do will pass it out to our great shooters Jamal, Nate and Marbury.” Unfortunately this recent propensity to fall behind by 20 was something else those team’s had a knack for doing, along with “they need to get used to playing with each other, training camp …” I’ll just chalk it up to a few bad games early in the season and hope for the best, since they did win 54 games and the Atlantic with much the same starting lineup (and Tyson being injured then as well).

  2. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Originally this was going to be a video, but I had the Curry idea nagging me, and words are much less time consuming than video. While some might think we’re beating a dead horse, there’s still a good amount of kick in the Italian Stallion. Of course there’s also the fact that our man Woodson keeps trotting him out there for more than half a game and even worse now when the laser show is on.

    BTW Cole Aldrich had 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 8 minutes. Two were super nice back-door cuts. One seemed to be a designed play. Any chance Woodson has seen the light? The abused Knick fan in me says he’s at least one more week away from Colesanity.

  3. Kevin Udwary

    We should start a Cole Aldrich watch. He was our 2nd leading rebounder yesterday with 7 boards in 8 minutes of play.

    edit: Mike, stop stealing my thought!

  4. flossy

    Yeah, I was (still am?) in the “Bargnani can be an asset if used properly” camp, but playing him big minutes at center, particularly with no other rebounding or defense in the front court, is emphatically *not* a winning strategy. Bargnani and Carmelo have to be, by far, the worst defensive 4/5 combo in the league. Combined with the defensive incompetence of our backcourt and the constant, inexplicable switching, I have a feeling that the Knicks without Chandler will contend for the worst overall defense in the NBA. It was unbelievable how easily the Spurs were able to get any shot they wanted, every trip down the court.

    So yeah. It would be cool if Bargnani was a better passer, or at least a more consistent passer (like Melo, he’ll throw a pass now and then that makes you say “Hey! He can really pass!” and then won’t do it again all game long…). But it’s all pissing into the wind until the Knicks can figure out a way to keep him on the floor while stopping the other team from walking all over them.

  5. Z-man

    Mike, I agree overall. However, I think you chose a bad example to illustrate your point. In contrast, I thought the examples in the youtube link you provided were much more telling.

    In your example, Manu hedged but didn’t really leave JR open, and Metta was also guarded in the corner (allowing for the time of the pass.) I suppose you could argue that JR might have blown by Manu, but the key is that Duncan laid back enough to help during the entire play, and everyone else hedged but didn’t bit hard like the Knicks to often do.

    This was hardly a forced or even contested shot by Bargnani. That is precisely the shot that he has to make at a decent percentage to validate the floor-spacing premise. Can you imagine Novak, Copeland, or Danny Green hesitating to take that shot? If he does that, Manu has to hedge harder or Duncan has to start lunging out at him, opening up the middle of the floor for a shot, pass or drive.

    To me, that is where Bargnani’s problem is exacerbated. If he can’t hit that open 3 then his value is significantly reduced. The whole “stretch the floor” premise is based on the assumption that he will have to be closely guarded on the perimeter, opening things up for Melo. In this case, Duncan hung out in the paint where he could cut off any drives, and only made a half-hearted attempt to get back to Bargnani, laying back just enough so that if he passed, he could be there to help.

    In fairness, many here questioned whether Bargnani could shoot the 3 well enough to merit true “stretch 4″ status. His career 3pt% is just so-so and he is coming off 3 bad years.

    Let’s be real, it isn’t like Copeland moved the ball well either.

    As bad as Bargnani has been, I think our guard play has been even worse. Felton has been mediocre at best, and often terrible. Prigioni is playing to a usage of 7%, an assist rate of 17% and a turnover% of 23%. Shumpert seems out of sync. TH2 is just awful right now.

  6. Z-man

    One adjustment I would immediately make is to put Metta in the starting lineup instead of either Shumpert of Prigioni. Despite its success, I don’t like the 2-PG set (especially w/o Chandler.) Funny, MWP had said before preseason that other teams tried bringing him off the bench but eventually had to put him back in the starting lineup. I think he’s right.

  7. flossy

    One adjustment I would immediately make is to put Metta in the starting lineup instead of either Shumpert of Prigioni. Despite its success, I don’t like the 2-PG set (especially w/o Chandler.) Funny, MWP had said before preseason that other teams tried bringing him off the bench but eventually had to put him back in the starting lineup. I think he’s right.

    Honestly, Metta has been probably our best all-around player so far this season.

  8. KnickfaninNJ

    I agree with Z-man that that shot was one that Bargnani should have taken. He has a remarkably quick release and for him, that was an open shot. However, I am not sure that I agree that his passing is horrible, at least by the assist to turnover stat. Only a hundred players or so in the NBA currently have an assist to turnover ratio over 0.7 so his number isn’t so bad. It’s actually just below Derrick Rose’s number (see link). I do agree he needs to pass when double teamed; but so far, he hasn’t been double teamed much. It’s his job to shoot when he’s reasonably open and he’s doing it. Defense and rebounding improvements are more important. But the whole team stinks at the moment. Yesterday there were more times than I care to think about when one Knick (often Bargnani) was contesting with three Spurs for a rebound, and usually with three Spurs who are good at rebounding. That’s basically a no-win situation that you can’t blame any one individual player for.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/statistics/player/_/stat/assists/sort/assistTurnoverRatio/count/81

  9. Z-man

    Yeah, flossy, Metta has had his share of Artest moments thus far, but he putting up better than career average numbers in every category except assists.

  10. thenamestsam

    Yeah put me down as another one who thinks Bargs shooting is the larger problem than his passing. And I know his percentages are decent overall at the moment, but he needs to shoot the 3 ball better – the spacing just isn’t there on offense like it was last year and a big part of that is that teams aren’t staying glued to Bargs the way they frequently did to Novak.

    When I look at those pictures the issue I see isn’t really with Bargs passing – it’s that first of all Duncan stays way down at the foul line on the pick which prevents Melo from getting in the lane. With Novak he would have had to stay on his hip. But lets say he doesn’t. Then when Melo makes a good pass Manu would have to run hard at Novak – he swings the ball and we’ve got a good situation. Instead Manu is confident stunting at Bargs rather than making a hard closeout and now what do we have? 1. Bargs could have made that pass to JR I guess, but Manu would have scrambled back and forced a shot just as hard as the one Bargs took I think. 2. Bargs can shoot that ball. 3. We cant reset the offense, at which point we’re in a late clock situation and our odds of getting a better shot than this one are fairly low. So I think Bargs made an okay decision here. The issue is that it seems like he really is only a 35% shooter on open 3s. He hasn’t seen any bounce in that number yet, and if he doesn’t that’s going to be a really big problem.

  11. DRed

    The thing about Bargnani is that he sucks at playing pro-basketball and he needs to spend much more time sitting on the bench. It’s great that Woodson doesn’t like our effort, but if he wants the team to play better he needs to stop giving minutes to useless players. Bargs had one fucking rebound yesterday. When your starting center gets out-rebounded by your terrible rookie shooting guard, you’re not beating the Spurs. Effort has got nothing to do with it.

  12. yellowboy90

    I don’t think Novak is a fair comparison because he would not be playing 5 especially against Duncan. Copeland is a fair one since he played some 5. The problem with the offense, imo, is the lack of player movement. The weak side players rarely ever move when a player gets doubled or if a team overload one side to Melo. Yesterday, I recall Bargs flashing to the middle once while the Spurs overloaded and Melo pass it to Bargs who made a good play. If teams overload a side to blk Melo’s drives their should be screens and activity to take advantage of the scheme. Melo usually is left with one choice and that is to throw the long cross court corner pass and that often gives the defense time to get back in place because the shooter hesitates.

    This offense really just needs a move player in the Allen/Redick/Hamilton mold. This should be JRs position and purpose instead of being ISO/step back Jr.

  13. DRed

    “This is a different team,” Woodson said before the game. “I’d love to get to the big [lineup], we’ll see how it plays out.”

    Seriously?

  14. Hubert

    A large number of fans were Curry supporters and arguing the other side was often a losing proposition.

    Wow, that astounds me. Are any of those people still around? I would figure everyone on this board would have hated Eddy Curry. Even from Day 1.

  15. Loathing

    I missed the game yesterday (had to work) but judging by the score I’m glad I did. Looking at the box scores, it looks like Bargs can block the occasional shot, but it also looks like Aldritch can too. If we need defense and rebounding to replace Chandler’s bum leg, why not go with Cole? I saw him in limited action here in OKC when he was a Thunder backup and in the short spans he was on the floor (still think he’s a better player then Kendrick freakin’ Perkins!) he was bangin’ the glass and altering shots inside. That’s what the Knicks need….they’ll get enough scoring from ‘Melo and Pipe.

  16. DRed

    Wow, that astounds me. Are any of those people still around? I would figure everyone on this board would have hated Eddy Curry. Even from Day 1.

    People thought it was a decent idea to trade a 1st round draft pick for Bargnani.

  17. ephus

    People thought it was a decent idea to trade a 1st round draft pick for Bargnani.

    I’m one of the people who thought it was a “decent idea” to trade a 1st round pick for Bargnani, and I still do even though the results so far have not been good. Since the trade is essentially Novak + 2016 Knicks first round pick for Bargnani, let met leap back to the defense:

    1. Bargnani really can do things on offense that Novak cannot. In the first quarter yesterday, Bargnani caught the ball on the perimeter, faked the shot, put the ball on the floor and got all the way to the rim for a layup (which he missed). Novak literally does not have that “show and tell” move in his arsenal. As a result, teams can close out much harder on Novak than Bargnani. Since a defensive player can close out super-hard on Novak, they can lay further off of him than other players. Which means that Novak does not do as much to create space for others as his 3 point shooting percentage might indicate. Nothing in the first six games makes me think this point was wrong.

    2. Bargnani can be an efficient perimeter shooter. I expected that Bargnani – free from the burden of being his team’s primary scorer – would feast on open 3 point shots. So far, not so much. There have been two problems. First, Bargnani has not shot 3s well. 35% is not a high enough percentage to make teams keep someone close to Bargnani at all times. Second, Bargnani (as has been noted) drifts inside the arc to take a lot of 15 – 22′ jumpers. Opponents want the Knicks doing that.

    3. The Knicks’ 2016 first round pick should not be highly valued because they already gave up most of the value in the ‘Melo trade. The Nuggets have the right to flip picks with the Knicks in 2016. Only if both the Knicks and the Nuggets are lottery teams can that pick be in the lottery. Of course, today’s Javale McGee news (stress fracture) adds to the likelihood that the Nuggets will crash…

  18. Owen

    Wow, that astounds me. Are any of those people still around? I would figure everyone on this board would have hated Eddy Curry. Even from Day 1.

    It was actually a pretty titanic struggle to convince people that Eddy Curry wasn’t going to be the second best center in the East behind Dwight. I can recall posting a rather pungent response to that idea.

    I loved the Roman Candle. Not sure what fresh material I can add. Bargnani simply isn’t an NBA player and it sucks we are paying him 22 million dollars to demonstrate that.

  19. Hubert

    Nice work, Mike. Maybe I’m harping too much on this particular photo, but AB looks pretty open in frame 3 there. I think I would be more inclined to criticize his hesitancy to shoot that jumper (it seems he waited an awful long time between frame 3 & 4) than I would his lack of court vision. Passing to Smith seems needless there.

    The other thing that would bother me is the fact that he has drawn Duncan away from the rim and yet every single Knick is flat footed behind the arc doing nothing. Great movement, guys.

    I’m not saying he actually has good vision, I just don’t know that passing was his best option in this case. It seems like that was a well executed pick and pop that resulted in an open 3 for the screener. It’s definitely something I will keep an eye on now.

  20. Hubert

    EDIT: And I see I was the fourth person to mention that now. My bad. Should’ve read the comments before posting.

  21. Hubert

    DRed November 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    People thought it was a decent idea to trade a 1st round draft pick for Bargnani.

    That’s nonsense.

    Some people (like me) thought that despite making a stupid trade, there was a chance Bargnani might not suck as much as he did on Toronto.

    But nearly everyone in the pro-AB crowd acknowledged that we paid too much.

  22. JK47

    The Knicks’ defense is in complete freefall, and I don’t see signs of it improving anytime soon, not with the personnel and strategy this team deploys. They’re a very poor defensive rebounding team and they get murdered on the foul line every single game. The Knicks are 28th in the league in SRS.

    It’s a bad team.

  23. ephus

    On this play (as noted), MWP sneaks in from the weakside (not pictured), grabs the offensive rebound and scores because Bargnani has drawn Duncan out of defensive rebounding position.

    Yesterday was a horrible game for the Knicks. ‘Melo played acceptably and the rest of the team played horribly in the space created by the double teams that ‘Melo drew. The Knicks played no transition defense. They did not rotate to the open corner 3 shooters. They got caught in mismatch switches over and over again.

    All of that is true and none of it means that Bargnani cannot be a better asset for this team than Novak plus the husk of the 2016 First Round pick. I believe that Bargnani can play strong offense and create space for his teammates. Whether he will is yet to be seen.

  24. Mike Kurylo Post author

    On this play (as noted), MWP sneaks in from the weakside (not pictured), grabs the offensive rebound and scores because Bargnani has drawn Duncan out of defensive rebounding position.

    Maybe they should give assists to the shooter on missed shots that are rebounded? Pretty soon the trend of having centers that miss treys is going to sweep through the league.

    Seriously, as noted above, I don’t think offensive rebounds should be the goal of any offensive play. And moreso, it shouldn’t credit the shooter, but rather the hustle of the rebounder. Let’s pat World Peace on the back for this one, not Bargnani.

    And to tie it into the article above, this was the kind of logic that people used against David Lee. He wasn’t a good player, he just fed off of other player’s misses and “space creating.” Lee got those rebounds because he was a bad offensive player whose defenders left him alone to disrupt the rest of the offense. Seriously — theses things were commonly said.

    And I may be rambling, but I’m guessing there are more guys out there like Hubert that may not get the context of the article.

  25. Hubert

    DRed November 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Fairly random old thread with Eddy Curry discussion and some throwback Jon Abbey dickery for those feeling nostalgic:
    http://knickerblogger.net/using-sarcasm-heres-some-great-news/

    That was an awesome read, thanks for posting. I particularly enjoyed the use of “hella” (e.g. “Eddy Curry is hella efficient”). Good ol’ 2007.

    I can’t believe you guys were so coherent during that time. I wish I’d been around, but I was too busy studying voodoo and trying to apply it to Isiah and Dolan.

  26. Frank O.

    Mike, I agree with your assessment. To me it seemed like the Knicks were featuring AB early to get him going and he missed a host of chances to dish to guys.
    Of course, the supporting cast were missing pitifully as well, so even making the right pass was not likely to succeed yesterday.

    But I wanted to raise another question:
    MWP yesterday alluded to some disenchantment in the locker room that is affecting the team’s play. He said he would never tell the press who or what it involved, but it was clear he was letting us all know there are locker room issues.
    Are Knicks upset that Woodson is featuring Bargs so much? Should Bargs be taking so many shots?
    Are the minute restrictions on Amare frustrating folks in the locker room?
    Is Woodson’s JR fetish, despite JR’s constant goofs, getting on people’s nerves?
    Did Melo’s stupid admission that he planned to not pick up his option and test free agency make some of his teammates feel betrayed?
    Did the Grunwald demotion and Mills hiring turn the players off?

    There are at least these reasons for some unrest in the locker room.
    One thing is clear: this is one of the least together Knicks squads we have seen in a few years.

  27. ephus

    Mike K – I agree that Bargnani has not played well on offense so far this season. I further agree that he needs to do different things, and not just hope to execute his current plan better.

    My disagreement with the anti-Barg sentiment is twofold.

    1. I do not think that Bargnani made a bad choice on this play. When Bargnani got the ball, Manu hedged towards Bargnani and then retreated to JR Smith. If Bargnani swings the ball to JR, I am not confident that MWP’s defender rotates up to leave MWP open for the corner 3. Duncan did not close out hard on Bargnani, so he was left with an uncontested 3 from straight on. I (for one) want the offense to generate that shot.

    2. I do not think that Bargnani is doomed to failure as an offensive player. If he initiates his offense from outside the 3 point line, I think he can make opponents pay. One way to make them pay is to swing the ball when opponents close out hard from other perimeter shooters.

    The season is 82 games long. There is a lot of time for this stuff to improve.

  28. d-mar

    Blaming Bargnani for yesterday’s putrid defensive effort yesterday is dumb, unless you think he should be able to guard Tony Parker after one of the Knicks endless switches. And when our guards get beat over and over by Spurs guards (whose theme song should be “Blew By You”) you can’t really expect Bargnani to cover for them every time. Yes, he is a poor defender, but not the reason Danny Green et al had time to smoke a cigarette before firing away from 3 point range.

  29. thenamestsam

    And moreso, it shouldn’t credit the shooter, but rather the hustle of the rebounder. Let’s pat World Peace on the back for this one, not Bargnani.

    This kind of all or nothing thinking is just overly reductive. You don’t think a teams best rebounder being at the 3 point line as opposed to in the lane has any impact on whether his team secures the rebound?

    The goal of an offensive possession is obviously not to generate an offensive rebound, but the goal of an offensive possession is to score points, and all things being equal, taking shots that are more likely to end in offensive rebounds is a pretty significant positive. MWP gets credit for getting the rebound, but the only reason to think in terms of “Which guy gets credit” or “Should they start giving assists to the shooters” is because you’re trying to jam everything that happens on the court into the context of a box score. All the parts are interacting with each other.

  30. Mike Kurylo Post author

    ephus,

    If I get the chance, I’ll try to go back & look at that play. I could be wrong about that instance and what Bargnani should have done with the ball. But I’ll stand by saying he has poor court vision. My goal with the article is to note that basketball is more complex than simple logic. Maybe Bargnani’s ability to put the ball on the floor is actually a detriment because he’s more likely to take a bad shot or miss an open guy than just reset the offense?

    BTW I kinda remember the next sequence being a pick & roll with Bargnani, where Melo gets the ball into the corner, and Bargnani is taken by a smaller player who ends up with the rebound. It seemed like he just gave up on the play, when he could have been more aggressive to cut to the basket or position himself for the rebound. Again another example of his supposed better skillset hurting the team (ie. Novak would have stayed on the perimeter to free up the middle, wouldn’t have allowed the shooter to be doubled, etc.).

  31. Mike Kurylo Post author

    From Owen’s thread on Eddy Curry, for the too lazy to click and read. I only had to go 8 comments down before getting a good chuckle. I’m going to bold the gold.

    About Eddy Curry’s improvement: While Eddy’s per-minute stats are relatively equal, they do not begin to tell the whole story. Unlike last year, Eddy Curry is often doubled-teamed and even triple-teamed this year. Many teams are starting to resort to this tactic even before a pass is thrown to him. This often opens up lanes for other players and begins the start of ball movement that reaches an open man — even if Eddy doesn’t even touch the ball. Even without garnering assists Eddy has a role in breaking down defenses and as a result you are starting to see more open look jumpshots from Marbury and Q. Even with the same per minute scoring average, any player who ascends to the level of garnering double-teams makes all of his teamates better. If Eddy Curry hasn’t actually improved, then opposing coaches would play him the exact same way they did last year… but they don’t. And that should tell us what we need to know about his improvement.

  32. max fisher-cohen

    @ephus – I think it’s all about role. If Bargnani became a better passer, he could play the JR Smith role of standing at the angle on the three point line of the weak side and attacking a defense that has crunched in towards the initial attack point and is closing out hard. As it stands though, when Bargnani puts the ball on the floor, he seems to get tunnel vision, allowing defenses to just surround him once he gets within about 12 feet of the rim, and yes, he’s been decent at pulling up off the dribble, but even his respectable eFG% on pull ups this season (50%) is well short of the expected eFG% you get from an open three (~53%) and that doesn’t even account for the added turnover risk that taking the ball closer to the rim has.

    I guess the way I’d describe it is that the Knicks fixed one problem to create another. The Knicks were able to create quality looks for their three point specialists on a consistent basis last year except against great defensive teams, but do we really think Bargnani is going to give Indiana any more trouble than Novak? I highly doubt it. Indiana will just close out a little softer on Bargnani, at which point he’ll hesitate or take a shot that is low efficiency for him (a three with defensive pressure) and kill the offensive flow, just like Novak would against hard closeouts.

    The problem for the Knicks anyway last year vs. Indiana was IMO Felton, who the pacers rarely guarded once he put the ball on the floor and was away from the rim. The smothered three point shooters were a symptom of the fact that the Pacers had figured out how to minimize the PnR by forcing Felton to shoot, which he sucked at, and forcing Anthony to drive into Hibbert by overplaying him.

  33. ephus

    32. Mike Kurylo
    Post author
    November 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm
    ephus,

    If I get the chance, I’ll try to go back & look at that play. I could be wrong about that instance and what Bargnani should have done with the ball. But I’ll stand by saying he has poor court vision.

    Based upon what I have seen so far this season (the only time I have paid close attention to Bargnani), I agree 100%. Quickly recognizing court situations and knowing what to do with the ball is the epitome of coaching. Part of what made the Spurs so devastating yesterday was that they all seemed to know that the correct play against a double team was to swing the ball to get the open corner 3. Bargnani seems to have to think “What should I do now?” when he gets the ball.

  34. EB

    A few thoughts on Bargnani:
    1) Bargnani plays a qualitatively different role in the offense compared to Novak, i.e., Novak plays in the corner while Bargnani plays on top of the key
    2) The difference in passing of Bargnani and Novak is not the relevant problem but between having Pablo or Kidd up there connecting the two sides of the court. Say what you want about Bargs’ passing but its not as crisp or decisive as Kidd’s
    3)The problem yesterday was not defensive rebounding. We didn’t have chances to grab defensive boards because nobody on the spurs missed (still Bargs’ fault)
    4)Spurs only had 3 offensive boards while Bargs was in the game (6 w/ Aldrich in)
    5) Duncan was 1-4 from the floor; Bargs played him pretty well

  35. ephus

    Bargnani plays a qualitatively different role in the offense compared to Novak, i.e., Novak plays in the corner while Bargnani plays on top of the key

    I agree that they play different roles, but Novak was not limited to the corner 3. Novak often set up to take the elbow 3.

    One more difference in their roles on offense is that Novak was not capable of setting a pick for a Pick and Pop because he was too frail. I have been advocating that the Knicks make use of that play with Melo and Bargnani. Yesterday, it seemed as if the Spurs took advantage by counterattacking when the Knicks wings were spread in the corners.

    It may be that Melo and Bargnani cannot run the Pick and Pop because they are not equipped to stop the break if they are the first two defenders back.

    I think there is a lot of learning to be done with the “no Tyson” roster.

  36. nicos

    I generally agree that AB needs to pass more but to me the issue yesterday was that SA dared the Knicks (esp. Felton) to shoot over the top and the Knicks couldn’t hit anything. The Knicks got a bunch of wide open looks from three and couldn’t knock anything down. I would like to see the Knicks send a cutter towards the basket when Prigs/Bargs play pick and pop- maybe a guy in motion would be easier for Bargnani to see.
    Defensively, the switching actually bothers me less than the incredible laziness on the weak side. The Knicks have too many guys- Melo, JR, Amar’e, and now Shumpert too- who tend to ball watch and drift away from their men. When the ball swings they repeatedly get caught flatfooted and give up open jumpers/easy penetration.

  37. MSA

    5) Duncan was 1-4 from the floor; Bargs played him pretty well

    And was 9-11 from the line.

    That was Bargs fault…

  38. KnickfaninNJ

    Everyone here seems to hate Bargnani, but at the moment his stats and efficiency are minor issues. The team has trouble playing as a team. I don’t know why that is, but until it’s fixed, nothing else is important. I like Woody, but I have to say, basically, this is his job to fix.

  39. EB

    And was 9-11 from the line.

    That was Bargs fault…

    Somehow I don’t think Bargs’ 2 personal fouls led to Duncan’s 11 FT’s but maybe I did the math wrong. Problems with switching.

  40. Will the Thrill

    I miss last season’s team.

    I second this. It’s weird that I feel much less excitement watching this team than last year’s team and the season has just begun. Hopefully they either improve or at least become more entertaining/less frustrating to watch.

  41. EB

    Everyone here seems to hate Bargnani, but at the moment his stats and efficiency are minor issues. The team has trouble playing as a team. I don’t know why that is, but until it’s fixed, nothing else is important. I like Woody, but I have to say, basically, this is his job to fix.

    Yeah really Melo has a TS% just over .500 and Felton is way under .500 and we’re missing Chandler and have no defensive presence (use ALDRICH!!). Bargs isn’t helping but is hardly alone there and has been playing (read shooting) better.

  42. bobneptune

    I really don’t get all the gnashing of teeth here. With Chandler out, the Knicks only have one plus player at his position (Melo). They are below nba average at the 1 and 2 and have black holes at the 4 and 5.

    Bargnani has been a player with suck fever for his entire career as accurately portrayed by his lifetime WS/48 of a nice crisp .059! He is a 20 pound heavier version of Brad Sellers. Nuff said.

    The el oh els will ensue when either Denver or Orlando cashes in on the Knicks 2014 lottery pick and the Knuggets or Raptors suck up the Knicks 2016 pick

    http://www.prosportstransactions.com/basketball/DraftTrades/Future/Knicks.htm

    I also have a view of what happens to Jimmy D when the above happen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY-03vYYAjA

  43. JK47

    Go with a Felton-Shump-MWP-Melo-Aldrich starting lineup.
    Give Aldrich 30 MPG and see what happens.
    Make JR and Prigs your bench guards. In case of emergency use Beno and THJ.
    Make Bargnani, K-Mart and Stat the bench forwards. Mix and match as necessary.
    Play straight-up defense, fight through some screens and abandon the switching nonsense.

    You could maybe squeak .500 ball out of this roster until Chandler gets back by playing that way. They won’t though. Instead they’ll run Bargnani out there for 30 MPG as the center and they’ll lose 2/3 of the time.

  44. MSA

    @42 – Somehow I don’t think Bargs’ 2 personal fouls led to Duncan’s 11 FT’s but maybe I did the math wrong. Problems with switching.

    So, using the same logic, the 1-4 was also a product of the switching?

  45. EB

    So, using the same logic, the 1-4 was also a product of the switching?

    That’s fair but I kinda think TD hits a few more shots against Felton and Shumpert. I also remember one possession that Bargs played TD pretty well, though TD did miss one bunny. He did horribly when he switched onto a smaller player (though arguably still better than any guard).

  46. ephus

    From the moment that the Carmelo trade was announced, the big downside was the unprotected 2014 first round pick. The Knicks’ theory (to the extent one existed) was that Carmelo was the protection and that the Knicks would not miss the playoffs in 2014. Trying to make that prediction true was part of the reason for the Bargnani trade.

    If it all blows up and the Knicks’ pick ends up being top 3, in retrospect (as predicted by many posters here) the Carmelo trade will be a disaster.

  47. flossy

    For someone who “isn’t the problem,” Bargnani’s -50 in 144 minutes of play sure seems problematic to me.

    (The Knicks are +21 in the 144 minutes he’s been on the bench, for the curious).

  48. Frank O.

    Even without garnering assists Eddy has a role in breaking down defenses and as a result you are starting to see more open look jumpshots from Marbury and Q. Even with the same per minute scoring average, any player who ascends to the level of garnering double-teams makes all of his teamates better. If Eddy Curry hasn’t actually improved, then opposing coaches would play him the exact same way they did last year… but they don’t. And that should tell us what we need to know about his improvement.

    God I hope that wasn’t me…lol

  49. Owen

    Bargnani is horrible and unwatchable. It’s tough to stomach that he is on the team and that we gave up a first rounder for the privilege.

    No one wants to re-litigate the Carmelo trade but the only thing that makes it look even mildly respectable is the fact that Gallo blew his knee out.

    If that pick turns into Jabari Parker I am going to be pissed.

  50. Hubert

    Easy, fellas. Tyson is out 20 games, not 80. Melo isn’t hurt yet (though he will be if Woodson keeps playing him these minutes). We may suck but a top 3 pick is still a long way off.

  51. Owen

    Was just about to post that gif. It’s tragicomic.

    I honestly don’t know crap about Parker. I just looked at the mock draft and picked a reasonable worst case scenario.

    Top ten picks have value…..

  52. thenamestsam

    We may suck but a top 3 pick is still a long way off.

    Thank you seriously. We got a beat down administered by one of the 3 best teams in the league without Tyson and without KMart. It was ugly as hell and there’s plenty of issues with this team that aren’t leaving town with the Spurs, and some that seem likely to linger even when Tyson does come back. But do you guys know that the 2nd place team in the conference is currently at 4-3? That puts us a not-yet-insurmountable 1.5 games out of 2nd, let me say it again here, in the conference. So a few deep breaths people. Maybe even use a paper bag or something. If this team really ends up being that bad there will be months and months of bad basketball during which you can all discuss with barely concealed glee at the Knicks failures how brilliant you were for panning the Melo trade. But for now maybe wait at least as long as it takes for Philly not to be tied for 2nd in the East to start talking this top-3 pick nonsense.

  53. EB

    For someone who “isn’t the problem,” Bargnani’s -50 in 144 minutes of play sure seems problematic to me.

    (The Knicks are +21 in the 144 minutes he’s been on the bench, for the curious).

    Where’d you get those numbers? I’m just curious

  54. ephus

    I am certainly not rooting for the Knicks to have a bad season, nor do I expect the current problems to remain unresolved through the season, which is why I wrote above:

    The season is 82 games long. There is a lot of time for this stuff to improve.

    But if this season falls apart (which I do not expect), it could look really ugly:

    1. The Knicks could fall into the lottery.
    2. The lottery pick could end up being in the top three.
    3. Any player taken in the top three of this year’s draft has a stronger reputation than every player in the 2013 draft.
    4. The atmosphere in New York could get really ugly (tabloids, Dolan, fans and over-the-top blog posts).
    5. ‘Melo could decide to head elsewhere.
    6. Even without ‘Melo, the Knicks still would be capped out.
    7. Mass hysteria.

    Which is why I think everyone should be cool like Fonzie, at least until the ASG.

  55. dtrickey

    Really interesting article. I was thinking yesterday whether there had been a more polarising player than AB, but I forgot about Curry. Years of therapy have helped me repress it, so thanks for bring that up for me.

    I had the feeling Bargs was going to be the whipping boy this year from the moment the trade broke and so far that seems to be the case. I’ll be the first to say that there are a few holes in his game, but I would be more inclined to wait until the All-Star break to determine whether his tenure will/has been a failure. Then, after that, can all the guys with hard-ons for Novak and Copeland launch into Ill Mago. I think as a starter he does provide value on offense. If he can get his shot going early that could really help with the slow starts. However, given some of his failings on D mean you keep him at around 20-25 minutes a game.

    As far as the seaosn goes, loosing by 30+ points (heck 20+ is bad enough!) is never ideal, however I am not willing to say that the season is totally fucked and that pick we gave away in the Melo trade will be top 10. How often have we seen this team (with shitier players) make big runs during the season. As basketball enthusiasts, we should all recognise that there is an ebb and flow to a season, so on that basis a few posters here need to back away from the ledge and reconsider taking the toaster into the bathroom. I’m mean, does anyone really think the Pacers will keep up there 7-0 pace? Or that the Heat will just keep their heads above .500?

  56. EB

    Bargnani has also been hurt by the new stringent travel calls. Hopefully he’ll adjust and lower his TO%. That’d help and seems like a reasonable improvement.

  57. Donnie Walsh

    I was thinking yesterday whether there had been a more polarising player than AB, but I forgot about Curry.

    I think Carmelo Anthony has been the most polarizing.

  58. stratomatic

    “I’m mean, does anyone really think the Pacers will keep up there 7-0 pace? Or that the Heat will just keep their heads above .500?”

    The answer to both is “no”.

    The difference is that no one predicted that the Pacers would be that good or that the Heat would be mediocre. So both are considered short term aberrations. A lot of people predicted that the loss of Kidd and Novak and the addition of serious minutes for Bargnani was going to make NY a lot worse than the optimists thought. The early returns are suggesting they may be right. So it heightens the worry. Now Chandler has gone down (someone the Knicks skeptics think is critical and which also increases Barg’s minutes) and they get blown out. So it’s natural to start fearing the worst.

  59. KnickfaninNJ

    For someone who “isn’t the problem,” Bargnani’s -50 in 144 minutes of play sure seems problematic to me.

    (The Knicks are +21 in the 144 minutes he’s been on the bench, for the curious).

    Where’d you get those numbers? I’m just curious

    I’d also like to know where the numbers came from. I’d like to know how they compare to the rest of the starting unit. The Knicks are -29 overall, mostly because of the Spurs game. My viewing impression is that the starters do terribly and give up big leads and then our bench matches their bench in scoring but we basically never catch up. In the Spurs game for example, Melo was almost as negative in +/- as Bargnani. If this is the case, the numbers then suggest that our starters overall are bad, not necessarily Bargnani in particular.

    Personally, I think the starting unit as a whole just doesn’t defend well enough. This is aggravated by a lot of turnovers, which mostly seem to come from the guards, not the front line. They made some miserable passes, but also the rest of the team didn’t move very much and make passes easy either.

  60. er

    Personally, I think the starting unit as a whole just doesn’t defend well enough. This is aggravated by a lot of turnovers, which mostly seem to come from the guards, not the front line.

    Man the Defense by Shumpert and Felton on drives have been awful. They give up penetration which causes strong side help one pass away which in turn leads to open threes by danny green.

  61. flossy

    I’d also like to know where the numbers came from.

    82games.com

    Melo is a -10 on the season. His net on/off court per100 possessions numbers are among the best on the Knicks however. Chandler, k-mart, Metta (notice a trend…?) are also in positive territory. Felton, shump, prigs are all around net zero and Bargs is down there with Beno and Amare (RIP) in the “get him the hell off the court” territory.

  62. EB

    82games.com

    Melo is a -10 on the season. His net on/off court per100 possessions numbers are among the best on the Knicks however. Chandler, k-mart, Metta (notice a trend…?) are also in positive territory. Felton, shump, prigs are all around net zero and Bargs is down there with Beno and Amare (RIP) in the “get him the hell off the court” territory.

    Maybe Woodson is actually a genius, by staggering his lineups he can isolate +/- and determine who his best players are. Yeah probably not.

  63. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Wow! That Curry thread. Back in those days, I used to post using my real name.

    I can’t believe I’ve been slugging it out with the “volume scoring improves spacing” crowd for over six years. What am I doing with my life? No matter: I’ve been right since the day I read about the four factors for the first time.

  64. DRed

    For those masochists who watched the end of yesterday’s debacle, how did Murry look? Since Hardaway has been pretty useless I’d like to see him get some time if he isn’t totally out of his depth.

  65. Donnie Walsh

    Wow! That Curry thread. Back in those days, I used to post using my real name.

    Is your real name “Jon Abbey”?

    (ps– I love how Mike is asking Jon to cut out the personal attacks, even on a random thread pulled put from 2007!)

  66. danvt

    Wow, that astounds me. Are any of those people still around? I would figure everyone on this board would have hated Eddy Curry. Even from Day 1.

    I liked Curry and defended him. I wonder if I’m on that thread. I liked Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph as well. Eddy Curry’s flame out had more to do with health than anything. If he had managed to stay healthy he could have found a productive role on a good team as Zach and Jamal have. I decided a little while ago to look and see if Zach and Jamal were demonstrably better players than they were when they were NYK. Magic 8 ball says “NO”. They just were surrounded with better coaching and better talent and found a role. As to comparing Curry to Lee, at the time Lee was a guy with a good engine and no jump shot. I liked him too, of course, but Curry had more polish. Talent is a thing and Curry had it just as Bargnani does. Of course one rebound from your starting center is putrid so I’d prefer Lil Colleekins or Ike Diogu or Earl Barron right now. I’m willing to learn from what I see and change my opinion (like Obama), but I don’t see any problem being enamored with a seven footer with basketball skills.

  67. Kahnzy

    I’m watching the Indiana/Memphis game and I have two points.
    1) Lance Stephenson is a dick.
    2) It may not matter if we get it together defensively and learn how to best use Bargs. If Indiana keeps playing like they’ve been and do it for most of the season, they’ll just kick our ass again if we meet in the playoffs.

  68. coyle022

    Anyone see Dolan’s guarantee for Wednesday? saying we are going to win…what a joke

    and Melo backed up Woodson. He must know something that we don’t because to most here on Knickerblogger it is ENTIRELY, if not 95% Woodson’s fault. switching, wanting to go “big” even without chandler, iso offense, etc.

    makes you wonder if Melo is aware that Woodson has his hands tied and is actually being forced into playing Bargnani big minutes just because of the trade

  69. ephus

    That thread also includes the statement that Billl Simmons clearly knows nothing about basketball because he concluded that picking Balkman over Rondo was the worst move of Isiah’s reign.

    Simmons has made many indefensible statements, but that was none of them.

  70. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, seriously, Dolan guaranteed a fucking win against the Hawks. What crazy loser guarantees a win in the seventh game of the season?

  71. JK47

    Jeremy Lin is killing it again tonight with 22 points on 12 FGA. His TS% is gonna be like .680 after this game.

  72. Brian Cronin

    There are absolutely certain situations where isos are the right thing to do, but James Harden seems to think that every situation is the right situation. What’s funny is that he really wasn’t like this in OKC (he definitely did iso in OKC, but he also moved the ball a lot more than he iso-ed), but now that he’s “the man” in Houston, he can’t get enough isos.

  73. d-mar

    Jeremy Lin is killing it again tonight with 22 points on 12 FGA. His TS% is gonna be like .680 after this game.

    Lin also has 5 turnovers, a pretty typical number for him

  74. Brian Cronin

    You are never going to convince me that it makes sense not to foul a guy up three in a situation like we just saw in Houston. I get the idea of “if he is close to shooting, don’t give him a chance for a four point play,” but when the player (as Rudy Gay did tonight) has the ball on the floor, you should absolutely foul him. But the thing is made all the worse when the coach tells the player not to foul him, as you see exactly what happened here – the defender basically has to give up the open look because he’s afraid of the shooter drawing contact. So instead of making them shoot two free throws, you’re giving them an open look at a three. I’ll never buy into that idea being a good one.

  75. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, DeRozen was right there with him. 6 for 25!

    Honestly, the Gay/Harden stuff just highlights the silliness of the NBA scorer’s mentality, especially late in close games, when they feel that they have to shoot the ball every time. We saw it in the Chicago game, as well, when Rose and Melo seemingly took every shot for the last two plus minutes of the game. Harden is obviously a lot better than Gay, so it is less annoying when he does it (just like it is less annoying when Lebron, Melo and Durant do it) but man, this idea that every possession has to be an iso for them is so silly.

  76. BigBlueAL

    Not once last season did I watch Lin during a game and say to myself man I wish he was still a Knick. But this season watching him play Im wishing he was still a Knick lol.

  77. er

    Not once last season did I watch Lin during a game and say to myself man I wish he was still a Knick. But this season watching him play Im wishing he was still a Knick lol.

    Yea Ray has been turrible this year. Last year he was decent this year hes been shit

  78. BigBlueAL

    Its not about Felton. I like him especially for the contract he currently has. But Lin this season is looking amazing. Dunno if his 3pt shooting is sustainable but his stroke looks miles better than last season and he is really looking quick, his 1st step this season is great. Last season I assume due to his knee surgery he didnt look quick or athletic at all and at times his jumper looked beyond awful. His D was also horrible which had him being benched at the end of games for Toney Douglas.

    But this season he really looks great. Also helps he is coming off the bench now and is allowed to handle the ball alot more since he isnt always on the court with Harden. Dont think he is worth 15 mil next season obviously which is what it wouldve cost to keep him but still we all thought it was dumb not to match the contract at the time and it is really looking dumb now.

  79. JK47

    Dont think he is worth 15 mil next season obviously which is what it wouldve cost to keep him but still we all thought it was dumb not to match the contract at the time and it is really looking dumb now.

    The Knicks will be paying Andrea Bargnani $12M next year to stink up Madison Square Garden, which does not shine a very kind light on the non-matching of Lin.

    Lin now has a .666 TS% and a .610 eFG%.

  80. Owen

    Balkman and Rondo. He got that one right. Not sure I ever felt Balkman was better than Rondo. But I loved him and play while the Knicks were playing out the string in 07 was a big bonus.

    And you got to love a guy who has hustle harder tattoed on his eyelids. And who chokes out a teammate.

    I actually would not be surprised if Balkman has a better than decent second act in the NBA someday. Bold prediction for once!(which no one will remember when it doesn’t come true -where have I learned that tactic.)

    That Derozan-Lin line is amazing. And Omri Casspi has some special sauce.

  81. d-mar

    I don’t think Lin is what we need now anyway. He had zero assists last night (and 5 TO’s) so he really isn’t playing a true PG role. What we need is a PG who can at a minimum stay in front of his man and fight through screens, which was never really Lin’s strength either.

  82. thenamestsam

    No matter: I’ve been right since the day I read about the four factors for the first time.

    The jon abbey silencio was a long time coming. He’s always been that smug.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

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