Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Toronto Raptors 104 – New York Knicks 99 – Game Recap

Sometimes this poor excuse for a basketball team gives you reasons to feel a little flame of pride inside of you (while still losing, of course). This game was one of those occasions, because we went toe-to-toe for the entire game (of course there were ebbs and flows, but you get my point) with one of the best teams in the League, and it didn’t look like it was just a case of poor shooting or whatever from the other team. We were in it, and while the game wasn’t particularly fun it had a lot of that scrappiness that Knicks fans usually appreciate, almost as if scrappy was our second nature by design. We started very well from the get going, and if not for a Smith Jr. third early foul that threw a wrench in our wheels maybe we could have done more from the beginning. At least, it was very easy on the eyes seeing a first quarter where we didn’t get helplessly pummeled from the first minutes.

There’s a chance that, if we weren’t tanking and we had a coaching staff that knew what to do during the timeouts they call (seriously, what the hell do they call a timeout for? I can only imagine Fizdale, Smart and Buechler wanting to stop the game so they can ask for help from the five poor sods that are playing in solving that wicked sudoku they’ve been bashing their head on since after lunch), we probably would have won this game. A little bit of defensive adjustments here, a little bit of playacting to free a shooter there, and this is probably a Knicks win. I don’t think we can complain, though, as this is clearly the right season not to give a damn about winning. What bugs me still, game after game, is how little our young guys show signs of real improvement. Case in point: Kevin Knox. The man was back at scoring 20, hitting 4 three pointers in the process, one of which was really down the line (it cut the Raptors’ lead to three with less than two minutes to go). As soon as he hit that three I just described, I instinctively thought “wow, such a good game from our rookie tonight”. Then I went and checked the boxscore in real time, and there it was: Knox had hit just one third of his shots to that point. My aching mind just chose not to remember a lot of those misses, as if I was the one responsible for the Knox pick after that legendary 3-on-3, but reality was staring me in the face: Knox doesn’t know how to play the game and my guess is that nobody is really pushing him to learn.

In the end, I think Fiz is like that substitute teacher we all had at one point in school: charismatic, looked the best ever for the first two weeks because he/she wasn’t grilling our asses on homework and tasks while giving us the chance to openly speak our mind in class, we couldn’t stop raving about him/her for finally “freeing us”. Then after a month you realized that substitute teacher couldn’t teach a thing and you were late a month in learning useful (or at the very least exam-necessary) notions, and you’d have to work your ass out double if you wanted to be par on the course. I commend the fact that, in the end, he’s playing a lot our youngsters. I can’t commend anything else about his work in the first 55 games of the season.

The good:

– Kadeem Allen (14 pts, 4 rebs, 6 ast, +5 +/-) was the main contributor to the fight our Knicks took to the Raptors late in the game. While not a real point guard by any means, he has the brains and the fire to man the position in a satisfying way for everyone. His shot is slow on the release, which means he can only shoot when he’s completely open, but he’s hitting his threes and he’s making the right passes, all the while being a good and active defender. In a very small sample size, he’s posting a 0.083 WS/48 (better than any other Knicks “point guard”), a 24.4 AST% (third after Smith Jr and Mudiay), and a cool .429 on threes. Now, these numbers are all due to go down, because Allen is at best a useful 12th man on an average NBA Team and he’s already 26, but there’s something to be said about overcoming some of your talent limitations to become a guy who can make a living in the NBA for four or five years. Most of all, the Kadeem Allen experience is staring in our face with a very judgmental scowl about what Frank Ntilikina projects to be. Allen is not a talented guy, but his instincts are good. It’s evident that he’s not thinking on the court, he just makes plays. A lot of people talk about prospects saying “yeah, but he’s only (insert young age here)!”, and while that’s fine, there are some aspects of basketball (or life, really) that don’t get better with age. You fill up, sure. You learn the pace of the game, sure. But I’m not convinced you can learn to act and react instead of thinking. The main difference between NBA basketball and Euro basketball is the fact that slow, groundbound players can still make a difference because the game is much slower and you have to exploit angles and rotations, not athleticism or superhuman feats like whatever it is that Harden, Antetokounmpo and the likes are doing on a nightly basis. There are things you are born with, and maybe you just have to untap. Allen, for all of his limitations, has them. I think Frank doesn’t. It’s apparent in the way they rebound. Allen throws himself at the ball. Frank is scared by the ball. That said, the thing I liked most from Allen tonight was the fact that he looked for the big man in the paint in the right spots, and he was the only one really able to find Mitch with good passes. If Mitch is to keep playing with the second unit, give me an Allen/Ntilikina type all the way and never bring Mudiay back from the injured list.

– Mitchell Robinson (15 pts, 7 rebs, 3 blks, +5 +/-) is again the brightest spot of this season. He can produce consistently, he looks like he has learned a bit not to foul too much (maybe someone teaches things after all between sudokus), and has already become a defensive force to be reckoned with. I’m not sure it’s gameplanning by opposing coaches, but you can visibly see guys like Kawhi stopping their ventures in the paint as soon as they see Mitch headed their way. Usually they find open guys on the perimeter, but that’s a story for another day. Today Mitch did a lot of damage on putbacks and a few assists from Allen and Vonleh (this one, with 7:20 to go in the fourth, was actually funny. Vonleh missed the pass by at least a foot, but Mitch was still able to jump very high, take the ball and score with an and-one. Coincidentally, his subsequent make from the charity stripe was the last time the Knicks led in the whole game). It’s quite surprising, given how weak his hands are on passes that are not lobs, that he has a really good touch around the rim. I really hope, and it’s definitely feasible, that he can work on his hands strength, because after that he will post double doubles like it’s just another day in the office. As of now he’s posting a rookie WS/48 good for 22nd ever in the history of the League (higher than Larry Bird). Also, if the season ended today, he’d be just the 24th qualifying rookie in NBA’s history to block at least 2 shots per game, and he’d be by far the one playing the fewest MPG in that group. A really historical rookie.

The bad:

– Dennis Smith Jr (13 pts, 4 rebs, 6 ast, -6 +/-) takes the cake here, mostly for his abysmal shooting (a ghastly 4 for 17) and for the stupid quick three fouls in the first quarter. I never suspected I could be positively biased about a guy like DSJ, but even in a terrible game like his I find elements of hope. I watched a lot of Mudiay this season, and I never came away with the idea that the guy could be an NBA-caliber point guard. DSJ, for all of his warts, makes you come away with the feeling that at the very least he’s going to be a sought-after backup for middle-to-good teams, a bit like Schroder is doing in OKC. That said, I don’t understand why he runs so little the pick and roll with Mitch (a bit better with DeAndre). They don’t play together much, but he’s the ideal partner to do it, simply because he overpowers guys around the rim with his sheer jumping ability. Until I see at least a completed connection every game between DSJ and Mitch, I’ll be harsh on him. His defense was again very blah, but it looked a bit better than last game. In a weird experiment, he played with Allen as the shooting guard and Trier as the small forward. It didn’t go that well. Simply put, DSJ needs shooters around him to open his game. That’s why I don’t understand at all why we’re putting Kornet on the shelf.

– Kevin Knox (20 pts, 4 rebs, 2 ast, -10 +/-) is playing like the guy we just shipped away, THJ. He’s not a bad shooter from three, but everything else is all over the place, especially his drives to the rim. There’s not much to be said about him today, apart from the fact that he took 21 shots to get to 20 points and that was maybe a little better on defense, while still being totally lost on rotations (I know, I know, a leit-motiv for the season if there ever was one). Again: nothing on him, but I hope I don’t see him growing up as second year player in NY, if only because it would certainly deflate his value.

Fun-sized bits:

– DeAndre Jordan came to play tonight, another double double but this time he was very spicy. I seem to remember he was better at blocking shots, but I won’t complain at performances like this one. 10 points, 18 boards, 3 assists in 27 good minutes.

– Mario started in place of Vonleh, and was a mixed bag of mediocre. I liked his boards and nothing else. It’s funny that when we need to start a new PF, nobody thinks about Kornet, who’s certainly slow but much more useful than Mario or Lance. Fizdale’s beliefs are really weird sometimes.

– Vonleh was a bit more like himself this time (9 points, 5 boards, +2 plus/minus). I still don’t understand why he’s still here and didn’t get traded.

– Trier is not the same since the trade. Not a bad game, just a mediocre one. And, as I said, he’s not getting to the line anymore (not his fault, there are few shooters in this roster and the one we have in the front court – Kornet – is not playing).

– Is there a chance that Dotson’s playing worse because he knows there is no competition for his starting spot? He looks like he has no fire this year.

And that’s all! I won’t be recapping the Cleveland game because I’m about to undergo Femto-Lasik surgery on Thursday to correct my short-sightedness. Maybe it will also improve my eye-test :)

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103 comments on “Toronto Raptors 104 – New York Knicks 99 – Game Recap

  1. Z-man

    Excellent recap, Farfa, as usual. The Knicks made some very bonehead plays down the stretch to secure the loss. I’d be shocked if they lose to CLE…they looked desperate for a win last night and that should carry over.

  2. Bruno Almeida

    The good news is that Chicago seems to be playing better, and are taking themselves out of the race for worst record. Even though we obviously want the worst record, a guaranteed top 3 is a decent scenario still, we just can’t have a random winning streak that would put us around Atlanta’s level of 18 wins now.

    The way this team is playing I don’t see more than 5 wins remaining in the schedule, so that should be enough.

  3. Z-man

    DSjr had a terrible shooting night, but some of his misses were from point blank range after nice drives. I wonder if he has trouble finishing in general or if it was just one of those nights. According to B-R, he takes 33% of his shots at the rim and makes 60% of those. He didn’t seem to be chucking away…

  4. Z-man

    DSjr’s FT form is terrible. He’s got a major hitch in his form, seems like he bends his knees for no reason because he stops his motion and shoots with all hands and arms. That’s got to be a focus this off-season

  5. Ingmarrrr

    Thanks, Farfa.
    I’m struggling to stay interested in this mess. The team play is awful, and the individual players have only a tiny chance of being here next year. So why bother?
    Other than boring Lance Thomas, Frank is the oldest tenured player on the team. This has to be some record breaking instability.

  6. wetbandit

    I don’t know what the record is for NBA roster overhaul, but…
    The only player from the 2017-18 season that played more than 1000 minutes, and is returning next year… is Frank. After that, Dotson and Mudiay played less than 500 minutes each. Then there’s Hicks. That’s it.

  7. Bruno Almeida

    As far as I’m concerned, Smith Jr has three big issues he has to work on. The first is that he dances too much with the ball, which I would normally assume it’s a result of not having an offensive system in place, but it was an issue for him too in Dallas, he needs to learn how to use screens and get to spots on the court better.

    The free throw form has got to be better too, as it is awesome that he seems like he can get to the line a lot but if he shoots 60% it’s just not that valuable.

    And finally he really needs to limit those weird situations where he tries to navigate through the defense and end up shooting a bad jumper. My concern is that his size is a limiting factor, in the sense that he can’t really handle attacking the rim relentlessly all the time and will have to hit those mid range shots to be effective (kinda like Kemba does, for example, to make up for his size, but Kemba hits them at a 50% clip while DSJ is around 35%).

    Those are all fixable issues, in my point of view. The defense is not great but that was to be expected, he’s still very young and doesn’t have the size to hang with most good guards in the league, so it’s likely he’ll never be more than decent at that end, which is ok. He’s got a lot of maturing to do but he’s talented and young enough that it’s still promising.

  8. Z-man

    Seriously though, the current roster is:

    Very likely to be here next year:
    Mitch
    DSJ
    Knox
    Dotson
    Kornet
    Trier

    Somewhat likely:
    Frank

    Possibly:
    Mudiay
    Vonleh
    Allen

    Most likely not:
    Hezonja
    DJ
    Hicks

    Certainly not:
    Lance

    To me, there’s something refreshing about knowing that not a single overpaid veteran is currently on the team. I don’t mind suffering through the current games knowing that I am seeing 6 or 7 guys under age 24 that are all we have to worry about. Hopefully we release DJ soon, glue Lance to the bench, and use the last 20 games or so to define the off-season plan for the young guys. So I don’t mind watching the games all that much.

  9. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    @5 well Joakim Noah will be here in spirit…

    After a rocky start off the layoff that included excessive TOs and PFs, Noah has been playing quite well off the bench. The sad thing is that even at his age, after all those injuries and surgeries, the huge layoffs, and all that very heavy partying, if he was on the team now he’d be the 2nd best player after Deandre Jordan (who will probably be gone soon too). (honorable mention to Robinson who’s beasting but needs some seasoning)

  10. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    As far I can tell DSJ has 3 major issues to work on.

    1. He’s bad on offense
    2. He’s bad on defense
    3. He doesn’t have a high basketball IQ

    Amazing athlete and flashy highlights for Berman to talk about though!

    He is young though. So there is upside.

  11. Z-man

    When Isiah got here, he turned the roster over in a brief time, but for all the wrong reasons. This purge seems like a very healthy start to a logical rebuild. There are some massive questions hanging over the team right now:

    Who are the keepers from management’s perspective?
    Will we keep them or squander them in short-sighted trades?
    Who will we draft?
    What do we do with the massive amount of cap space we have?

    The most tangible and pressing question right now is: Does management value Mitch as highly as we do here? In my book, he is virtually untouchable, assuming that no other team makes a ridiculously stupid offer, e.g. AD for Mitch straight up. Are Perry and Mills smart enough to realize what they have in him?

    There’s really no other player on the team I’m worried about losing. On the other hand, signing Mudiay or Hez to any kind of deals would not bode well going forward. Same with extending Frank in any way.

  12. Ingmarrrr

    Very likely to be here next year:
    Mitch
    DSJ
    Knox
    Dotson
    Kornet
    Trier

    Very likely is very optimistic. They could all be gone for AD, who would then leave at the end of next year. So maybe we get them back in 21, with a golden opportunity to overpay them, much to Mills’s delight. What a rediculous team.

  13. Ingmarrrr

    The real question is when can we get Timmy back? Now that the trade kicker kicked he’s getting paid even more, which must mean he’s better than ever.

  14. Ntilakilla

    As far I can tell DSJ has 3 major issues to work on.

    1. He’s bad on offense
    2. He’s bad on defense
    3. He doesn’t have a high basketball IQ

    LOL

  15. DRed

    Missed both the Knicks game and the Duke game yesterday but watched some highlights. This block by Zion is fucking crazy.

    You must not be watching enough Mitchell Robinson

  16. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    People should be smiling . We are finally where the consensus of this forum wants the team to be.

    1. We are historically bad.
    2. Hardaway and/or Ndour can’t screw up the tank.
    3. We have no bad contracts

    Of course, we no longer have our best young player and most of our other young players suck on one side or both sides (Robinson excepted), but we do have a lot of cap space in the hands of a couple of incompetents. So we can always hope they accidentally do something right.

  17. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Berman

    Twenty months ago, the Celtics offered a boatload of young assets, and the Suns were prepared to ship Devin Booker and swap a draft pick that would have placed the Knicks in position to draft Lauri Markkanen. Former team president Phil Jackson thought the Finnish big man was built sturdier than Porzingis and would become more durable.

    Too bad owner James Dolan wouldn’t let Jackson trade him 20 months ago when the Zen Master envisioned Porzingis’ Knicks career as a short one.

  18. DRed

    Danny Ainge: We’re going to offer the best 20 year old in the NBA, a bunch of picks and your choice of good young vets

    New Orleans: We want the Knicks backup centers and a lottery bust point guard

  19. Stratomatic "I'm tired of the Knicks paying lip service to DEFENSE. Get defenders & two-way players. Then play them!

    Latest WOJ podcast – Jeff Hornacek about the Knicks, KP, Triangle etc..

  20. vincoug

    You must not be watching enough Mitchell Robinson

    That would require me to watch more Knicks games and why would I want to do that?

  21. TheOakmanCometh

    After the trade deadline passed I was annoyed that we didn’t move any of our expirings for assets, even low 2nd round picks. But when you look across the league, basically no team was able to do that. When role players were traded for assets, the team getting the asset had to take back money for next year. The Knicks were not willing to do that.

    I think Rodney Hood and Reggie Bullock were the only two expiring role players traded for other expirings + assets. Both of those guys make very little money. So I’m no longer upset that we couldn’t get something for Wes, DeAndre, or Vonleh, much less Mudiay, Hez, Lance, or the other bums. It seems like teams don’t want to deal anything of value for expiring backups like them.

  22. Owen

    Farfa! Love waking up to a recap on a Sunday. This one was excellent.

    We need to buyout DJ before the Cavs game.

    Mitch Lob keeping the highlights coming. We have a legitimate reason to watch the Knicks, which is why I turn the game on at the end of the first quarter.

  23. ClashFan

    @19
    I wouldn’t say I’m smiling, but the team has a chance now to do a proper rebuild or go big game hunting. I hope you are wrong that the team is being run by two incompetents, but I guess we’ll see this offseason. Things could go anywhere from wonderfully to awfully.

    The quality of the head coach is also very much a question.

  24. thenoblefacehumper

    Farfa is more consistent than than Mo in the playoffs.

    Ignoring the trolling by the people who are fretting about what DSJ’s arrival means for Mr. 419 Worldwide, I think Bruno gets it right on him.

    I tend to think the impact of a coaching staff/development team on individual players gets a bit overrated, but it feels like that stuff is what it will come down to for DSJ. You can’t teach his gaudy tools, but he wouldn’t be the first player with them to flame out due to shot selection/decision making. I remain very cautiously optimistic because of his freshman-sophomore progression and natural playmaking gift, but if he stays here his development or lack thereof certainly be one of the more interesting things to watch.

  25. JK47

    If Phil was still here he’d still be standing on the sidelines at practice, vainly pointing at spots on the floor, muttering about pinch posts and failing to grasp why his offense with Joakim Noah and Frank Ntilikina in it doesn’t score very many points

  26. JK47

    DSJ is not really a great PG prospect, and he’s not even a good TYPE of player. You have to be really elite at scoring the ball if you’re going to be a plus player in DSJ’s mold, and honestly I don’t see that kind of future for him. I think he tops out at “starting PG for a bad team.”

    He’s still a million times better prospect than the French guy who can’t dribble.

  27. thenoblefacehumper

    Building around Devin Booker and Lauri Markkanen would be so idiotic that it comes as no surprise Phil Jackson wanted to do just that

  28. ClashFan

    I listened to most of the Woj podcast with Jeff Hornacek. Not a real hard-hitting interview, and no real major revelations. The early part of the interview goes into the Knicks, then moves back to his Suns years and playing years, etc.

    A couple of minor surprises: he praises Melo a couple of times, inc. as a guy who fit well in the triangle stuff. In talking about his first year coaching the Knicks, H does mention players not buying into it (surely Derrick Rose, and maybe Lee?). He also praises KP. Not burning any bridges, I guess.

    He also throws a bit of cold water on the idea that Phil meddled a lot in practices, saying that maybe 2 or 3 times he was there and pulled a guy aside to talk to him. FWIW.

  29. Bruno Almeida

    And, just as a side thing, the teams that actually have Devin Booker and Lauri Markkanen have 11 and 13 wins respectively, so yeah, I’m not losing any sleep over missing the opportunity to add those young studs to the team, specially with Booker’s max deal.

    It always seems pointless to answer strato’s posts because he has ingrained this stupid idea in his mind that people actually like losing and want to be terrible for the next 10 years. Nobody does, we just have realized the alternatives you defend are terrible and would rather lose 5 years to have a good chance of winning anything ever, than being the atlantic’s answer to the 2019 Detroit Pistons for the next 10 years.

  30. Z-man

    DSJ is not really a great PG prospect, and he’s not even a good TYPE of player. You have to be really elite at scoring the ball if you’re going to be a plus player in DSJ’s mold, and honestly I don’t see that kind of future for him. I think he tops out at “starting PG for a bad team.

    This is a pretty pessimistic take. He’s got some glaring flaws that will be difficult to overcome. but I think his ceiling is higher than that. For one thing, he’s not as small as some small PGs he gets compared to, like Kyle Lowry, Damian Lillard, or Kemba Walker. Probably the best physical comparison (except for the short arms) is Eric Bledsoe, who was similarly bad in his first couple of years, and is now thriving as a starting PG on a contender. I saw one defensive sequence late in the game last night where Dennis was bodying up Kawhi in the left corner and definitely holding his own. Smith Jr. does not seem physically mature yet, and he has some mechanical flaws in his shot. But one thing I like about him is that he seems to like contact on both ends and doesn’t mind mixing it up with bigger players.

  31. Z-man

    BTW one thing I worry about with Mitch is that he’s pretty reckless with his body and eventually he’s going to blow something out on a mis-timed alley-oop or on a reckless chase-down block. I saw two such examples last night that made me cringe.

  32. JK47

    This is a pretty pessimistic take. He’s got some glaring flaws that will be difficult to overcome. but I think his ceiling is higher than that. For one thing, he’s not as small as some small PGs he gets compared to, like Kyle Lowry, Damian Lillard, or Kemba Walker. Probably the best physical comparison (except for the short arms) is Eric Bledsoe, who was similarly bad in his first couple of years, and is now thriving as a starting PG on a contender.

    Fair enough, my take on DSJ is indeed pretty pessimistic because I’m just not enamored with that type of player. But sure, a more optimistic projection is that ends up similar to a guy like Bledsoe, who is not a bad player.

    And at least he can dribble the basketball.

  33. geo

    more so than most spots in life – I appreciate the honesty here, it makes things far more interesting…

    so, one phenomena I’ve noticed within this little universe: an amazing ability many of you have to read, comprehend, analyze, catalog, and mostly – recall what others have written down…

    hmmmmm, now that I think of it – I can’t remember what my next point was going to be…things are comfortably foggy at the moment…

    I will say, it is a little scary to think you may be accountable for the thoughts you share…note to self – limit drunk and drugged posting…

  34. Owen

    Z-Man – that’s actually keeping me up at night. Trier threw up what can only be described as a hospital pass the other day.

    I think one area where the eye test can help, or at least where there really is no data, is which styles of play lead to injury. Veterans clearly adjust their play.

  35. geo

    my thoughts on mitch as trade bait – I’d set his value above: knox, frank, trier, our 1st (as our odds stand today), any one of the future 1st’s we have…anyone else we have on our roster…on our coaching staff…

    he seems coachable…I think strength and conditioning will do him a world of good…

    he doesn’t seem frail, but, he’s got to learn how to do a better job landing after he jumps or dives…

    I need to do some looking on YouTube, but, I can’t remember watching him in many interviews…

    oh yeah, when can we extend him and give him the max?

  36. geo

    granted, one big piece of info most of us don’t know – their medical history…at the salary they would each make, I’d value mitch above AD…

    AD would wreck our roster…I’m pretty against signing 2 max players…

    i’m lighting candles in the hope that the 1 and 4 chance we have of landing either picks 1 or 2 comes true…if not year 2 of the 3 year rebuild may commence…

  37. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    BTW one thing I worry about with Mitch is that he’s pretty reckless with his body and eventually he’s going to blow something out on a mis-timed alley-oop or on a reckless chase-down block. I saw two such examples last night that made me cringe.

    It’s almost every play where he’s jumping while moving in some direction other than up. JaVale McGee is a very similar body type/athleticism combo but I don’t think McGee looks as out of control as Mitch does, and didn’t as a younger player. Maybe I’m wrong.

  38. Z-man

    Owen, I remember watching that game when Hayward went down like it was yesterday. At the moment that pass left Kyrie’s fingertips, I had one of those split-second thoughts that he was hanging Hayward out to dry. I got that same feeling when Trier threw the pass you referred to, I also got that feeling when Mitch went after Siakim’s layup. Someone’s gotta talk to him about that.

  39. Bruno Almeida

    I agree, it does scare me watching Mitch jump. For all his production and how much of a talented prospect he clearly is, he doesn’t have that fluidity in his game that a lot of elite big men seem to have right away,

    I think it’s more of a matter of experience and simply getting stronger overall in his case, his body has basically been without proper training for 2 years now, without even counting the times he spent with minor injuries. I think one or two full offseasons will do it for him, as even if he loses some mobility due to gaining weight, as long as it isn’t too much he should end up a better player overall.

    If you look at Clint Capela’s pictures when he was playing in Europe, he was just as thin as Mitch seems to be, but now he’s buffed and super strong and it made a huge difference for him.

  40. Bruno Almeida

    @45

    This is a tough one but I would say yes. For all the certainty we have about Zion’s skills and potential, Doncic is doing it already on the NBA level every night. I’m pretty sure Zion will be amazing too, but at this point you take the guy who’s a reality over the guy who’s I don’t know, 90% surely a reality, 95%?

  41. Z-man

    The other thing I’m starting to worry about is Dallas losing lots of games from here on out and lucking into a top-5 pick. They could easily drop below any or all of the Wolves, Pels, Magic, Wizards and Griz to somewhere between the 6th and 8th worst record. #6 would give them a 37.2% chance of a top-4 pick and at #8 they would have a 28.9% chance. Obviously the doomsday scenario is that they land the #1 pick and we fall down to #5-7. That would result in a likely dud for us in this year’s draft and move that unprotected Dallas pick out another year, making it more likely that it won’t be a great pick either.

    I gotta stop thinking about this Dolan’s Razor shit.

  42. Z-man

    Boy, that’s a tough one. I probably take Luca, but it’s a very tough call. I just feel that Luka has more potential to make his teammates better. I’d compare it to preferring Larry Bird over Charles Barkley.

    I also have some very slight reservation as to how Zion’s game will translate. Will he be an immortal or somewhere in the the top 6-10 in the league? I have no such reservations about Luka.

  43. ess-dog

    The problem with guys like DSJ and Knox is that they aren’t going to put it all together anytime soon (if ever), so how does that fit into this supposed Durant timeline? Maybe he’ll imitate LeBron and want a 1st year mix of vets and youth? I’d be fine with holding onto our picks and signing some discount vets instead of a 2nd star, maybe like Brogdon, at least in year one. A team like that would look like:

    PG: Smith
    SG: Brogdon
    SF: Reddish/Barrett
    PF: Durant
    C: Robinson

    With some other smart vet signings like Ed Davis or Satoransky for the bench and of course Knox and Frank. This would obviously be disappointing compared to Zion, Kyrie, or AD joining Durant, but as we all know, dreams don’t always come true. It’s good to consider realistic alternatives.

    And if you want nothing beyond one year contracts, you could go even lower into the discount bin for guys like Lin and Faried. As long as contracts are short and we hold onto draft picks, we could still field a reasonable team next year.

  44. nicos

    Right now DSJ is a shittier version of young Derrick Rose. That’s probably still his best comp. I think he’s a more natural playmaker than Bledsoe but not as good defensively. The problem with him is that he could reach 90% of his ceiling and still be a guy like Marbury who puts up nice numbers but doesn’t contribute much in the way of wins. Worse, he could reach 80% of his ceiling and still cost you a lot of money because pointz.
    That said, I don’t think he’s as low an IQ player as some folks here do- the over-dribbling and questionable shot selection are pretty par for the course for young point guards. Defensively his effort level comes and goes but his overall awareness (unlike Knox for instance) seems fine. I think he’s a guy who’s got a small window to be a genuine star (which is still better than any other Knicks prospect besides Mitch) but a fairly good sized window to a real asset for a smart front office. He’s going to score and make highlight reel plays so he’s always going to have trade value- the question is whether Perry is the kind of GM whose going to be blinded by “promise” or is he going to be able to see past that and let him be somebody else’s problem and extract some decent value in return.

  45. Early Bird

    I would keep Zion over Doncic. For as good as Luka has been, he still has a ways to go. He’s a liability on defense and needs to become a more efficient scorer. I have little doubt that Zion can be a lockdown defender at the 3 and if Philly shows us anything it’s that 3pt shooting is as necessary as everyone thinks.

  46. Z-man

    DSJ’s game seems different than Rose. He’s more of a compact power guard than a raw speed north-south guard. He’s potentially a better shooter than Rose, but not nearly as quick in the open court. Rose was impossibly fast and explosive, and a great finisher. Dennis is more of a two-footed body position player.

  47. Early Bird

    We have a 13.4% chance to draft Ja Morant who I definitely take over DSJr. (Poor DSJr getting replaced twice). For now, I have no problem letting DSJr. ball his little heart out and hope he improves his shooting and TO’s.

  48. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    We have a 13.4% chance to draft Ja Morant who I definitely take over DSJr. (Poor DSJr getting replaced twice). For now, I have no problem letting DSJr. ball his little heart out and hope he improves his shooting and TO’s.

    There is still a possibility that someone passes on Zion for Barrett. It seems slim, but what if Chicago sees their frontcourt too crowded with Carter, Markannen and Porter? What if Phoenix thinks he’ll clog the paint with Ayton? Or he’s redundant on Atlanta because Collins is emerging as a potential star?

    We all know that Zion is much, much better than Barrett, but Barrett still appears to be a franchise player. He has a rep as an active defender, plays hard, is high character and takes a fuckton of shots without being a total black hole. There’s still a possibility that someone looks at Zion and sees an undersized 4 who shoots 3s like Draymond and free throws like Rondo. I pray we’re not that team, but if we end up at #2 or #3, we only need one team to exercise the right of first refusal on the greatest NCAA prospect of our time. June really can’t come soon enough.

  49. Z-man

    the greatest NCAA prospect of our time

    Maybe a bit over the top?

    PS no one is passing on Zion. If nothing else, the team with the #1 pick will trade down. But he will get picked #1, you can take that to the bank.

  50. Z-man

    The other thing I’m starting to worry about is Dallas losing lots of games from here on out and lucking into a top-5 pick. They could easily drop below any or all of the Wolves, Pels, Magic, Wizards and Griz to somewhere between the 6th and 8th worst record. #6 would give them a 37.2% chance of a top-4 pick and at #8 they would have a 28.9% chance. Obviously the doomsday scenario is that they land the #1 pick and we fall down to #5-7. That would result in a likely dud for us in this year’s draft and move that unprotected Dallas pick out another year, making it more likely that it won’t be a great pick either.

    Welp, maybe I shouldn’t worry so much….the Mavs just Doncic’d and TH2’d their way to a win!

  51. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    You can’t be so quick to flush point guard prospects. D’Angelo Russell went from Lakers bust in his second year to NBA All Star in his 4th year. De’Aaron Fox is being lauded for this big sophomore year leap and he’s still only about an average NBA player. Mike Conley didn’t post a good season until he was 24 years old. It took Russell Westbrook until year 3, and he did two years in college as opposed to the one year everybody else is doing these days.

    Dennis Smith Jr is a good point guard prospect. He might never be a super efficient scorer, but that’s not all he offers. He’s a good passer, he’s a good rebounder for the position, he can collapse a defense, and he’s a threat to score in transition. When I watch him I don’t see a fatal flaw like Mudiay’s inability/unwillingness to jump or Frank’s 2nd grade ball skills. He can dribble, he can finish at the basket, he can find the dive man in pick and roll, and he looks comfortable shooting 3s. I wouldn’t mind keeping him through his rookie contract to see what he develops into, and he’s rehabilitating his value around the league so there’s a chance we can flip him for something better.

  52. Bruno Almeida

    Doncic finished with 28/9/6 and it almost seems casual for him…

    Portland somehow scored only 9 points in the 4th… the tank gods want us to have their pick in 2021.

  53. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    Zion Williamson may be the surest thing of any prospect I’ve ever seen. Two way wing players are the most valuable players in the NBA, and Zion plays both ways about as well as you could ever expect out of an 18 year old. Everything you want him to work on are areas where he’s already showing promise, and he has a good family around him (his stepfather was a car accident away from being a professional basketball player, so he probably always reminds him how precious what he has actually is). Give me the 3 position wing with the elite athleticism and NBA ready body all day every day. He’s been an untouchable trade asset since he was 16.

    If the Knicks are lucky enough to draft him, I wouldn’t trade him for anything.

  54. Owen

    Zion looks to be a much better defender. But subjectively, Doncic seens to have a skill set to stand the test of time. He’s a much better shooter. I suspect that Zion will outperform early and Luka will do better in their golden years

  55. kevin5318

    On the other hands there are concerns about Zion staying healthy with that weight and his play style. He’s like 270 jumping 40 inches on every single play.

    Who knows if his knees can handle that over the long haul.

  56. DRed

    The best thing about the trade porzingis for the bigger ass having markonen story is that he missed half the year with an injury

  57. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I’m not a doctor, but his weight doesn’t concern me. He has ample natural, mesomorphic leg muscle to protect his knee ligaments from lateral flexion, something most basketball players lack. He also has incredible body control.

    Yesterday his low 1st half shot total was due to passing out of nearly every double team to an open shooter on the perimeter. That is a skill that will translate very well next year.

  58. bidiong

    I agree with THCJ. Zion is a tank. He’s strong and looks to have the frame to carry it. I wouldn’t be surprised if over his career he actually becomes leaner as he ages to keep his quickness.

    He’s going to be something really special and I hope that if we don’t get the #1 we trade the two Mavs and ours to get the rights to pick him.

  59. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I just hope that his team’s strength and conditioning gurus focus on explosive power and not hypertrophy. That dude should be doing low-rep hex bar jump squats from an elevated position, not trying to put on more muscle.

  60. Sir Robin

    @66, Bidiong: agree. I presume the NYKs will NOT win the Lottery and they will have no choice but to pull out all stops to get Zion.

  61. Hubert

    Danny Ainge: We’re going to offer the best 20 year old in the NBA, a bunch of picks and your choice of good young vets

    If he offers Tatum it’s no contest but he’s given no indication that he will and it seems like he’ll try to get it done without him.

    Is Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, Marcus Smart, and a Memphis pick really an unbeatable deal?

  62. GoNyGoNyGo

    I’ve gotta say this. Zion is generational, but Ja Morant might be the best point guard to come out in years.

  63. Donnie Walsh

    Well, just like that, Justise Winslow seems to have turned a corner and is looking pretty good as a Draymond Green type defensive player and offensive facilitator. So, I guess that gives some hope that Frank can figure it out before he becomes a dead-man walking in New York.

  64. TheOakmanCometh

    There is still a possibility that someone passes on Zion for Barrett.

    I don’t see how. The Zion hype train is going about 400 mph these days. If a team ever passed on him at #1 their fans would riot. Even if a team was loaded in the front court and didn’t want him, they’d auction the pick off like Boston did with Fultz.

  65. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    My preferred options would be:

    1) Zion
    2) Morant
    3) trade down for Brandon Clarke if the price is right

  66. Hubert

    i’m stating the obvious but it really depends on who actually lands the #1 pick.

    I hope that if we land the #1 pick, trading it for AD isn’t even on the table.

    The issue is that Ainge is playing the media to put narratives out there that he has a treasure trove of assets and that he can make the best offer for Davis even without Tatum. I find that to be preposterous. A Celtics offer that doesn’t include Tatum is very ordinary.

  67. Early Bird

    Zion could drop if Morant makes a run through the tournaments and Zion doesn’t or if Duke dissapoints. If Zion goes into the combine, I doubt he does, and turns he’s slightly shorter or heavier than people thought, then he could drop. If the media picks up on a story, that could change things. Zion might be peaking too early in hype, sometimes people get tired of hearing about him.

    Or some teams may evaluate him solely based on his 3-on-3 play.

  68. Early Bird

    @ Jowles, is Clarke your #3 prospect or is he only number 3 because you think that we can get him and more assets?

  69. Hubert

    http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/25951825/golden-state-warriors-star-kevin-durant-focused-building-future-basketball

    ^ This is basically Durant’s version of when LeBron started leaking stories about how he wanted to be in LA to get his media business going. He’s following the same playbook.

    Durant is coming to NY this summer. It could well be the Nets if we don’t get our shit together, but you’d be unwise to bet on him being in a different city than ours.

  70. GoNyGoNyGo

    A bunch of questions for you all…

    1) If it’s not Zion or Ja, then who? Let’s say we drop to 5th. Who are you looking at (barring a trade of the pick).

    2) Lot’s has been written about Jordan and KD being tight. Do you think DeAndre would settle for the $9M mid-level exception?

    Note: Elsewhere I saw someone post a lineup that had Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan and Kyrie Irving on the Knicks. When I indicated that it was impossible, many other people shot me down saying “nobody would pay Jordan close to a max deal. Currently he’s tied with LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Ben Simmons for 21st in WS and is 35th in VORP. That doesn’t sound like someone that would settle for $9M. Your thoughts?

  71. thenoblefacehumper

    Clarke reminds me of Domantas Sabonis in that they’re both Gonzaga bigs with great numbers that everyone ignored for reasons I don’t quite understand.

    In Sabonis’ case, sure enough, being really good in the NCAA translated to being really good in the NBA. I see no reason that would be different with Clarke.

  72. thenamestsam

    It’s almost always the case that there’s a “race” for the #1 overall pick because the economics of draft coverage kind of demands it. Most people casually following the draft only care about the very, very top (and definitely until we get really close to draft time) but there are all these full-time draft analysts now putting out weekly content updates year-round. If you’re one of those people you have a big incentive to find a way to generate some intrigue around the #1 pick. So I would bet pretty heavily on there being a narrative at some point that Zion is no longer a lock to go #1, some teams prefer other players, etc. If there’s anything to grab hold of the media will for sure do it. When push comes to shove though he’s going #1 barring injury.

  73. Hubert

    Do you think DeAndre would settle for the $9M mid-level exception?

    I think that’s probably going to be his market rate.

  74. JK47

    1) If it’s not Zion or Ja, then who? Let’s say we drop to 5th. Who are you looking at (barring a trade of the pick).

    I like Jarrett Culver as a high floor guy. He’s taller than his listed 6’5″, which is pretty important, he’s a good boxscore stuffer and he can play some D. He’s not shooting the 3 so great this season but he looks to me like a two-way player and a rotation stalwart in the NBA.

    The last two drafts were gambles on “projects” and they both look like pretty shitty picks right now, so failing a top 2 pick I’d like to see the Knicks make a safe pick in this draft and just get a good rotation guy.

  75. GoNyGoNyGo

    @84 – I counted last year’s free agent signings and saw that 21 players signed for a $10M + salary per year. DeAndre signed for $22M. I would be shocked if he would be happy making less than someone like Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela or Jusuf Nurkic, all of whom signed for $12M+ last year.

    @85 – I would want “safe” too. We have enough projects. I’ll keep an eye on Culver.

  76. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    @ Jowles, is Clarke your #3 prospect or is he only number 3 because you think that we can get him and more assets?

    I think he’s a sure thing, but as a glue guy, not a superstar. If you can get a “guaranteed” long-term starter at #15 and pick up some pick swaps/futures while you’re at it, I think it’s wise. Spending another lottery pick on an “upside” project seems unwise to me. Maybe Barrett is Harrison Barnes and maybe he’s Kawhi Leonard. Clarke seems like a lock to give you production with a pick in the teens.

  77. GHenman

    Beasley is also a good friend of Durant’s. I’d give him 3 or 4 million if it helped secure Durant.

  78. Bruno Almeida

    I like Culver a lot, I think he has the tools necessary to eventually become a good starter for a good team. He can defend and is a good rebounder for his position, even though the shooting is not at the level I would like it to be.

  79. The Glass Half Rebuilt

    You’d like Jarrett Culver a lot less if you look at his in conference statistics this season. He’s been pretty bad in Big 12 play.

  80. Hubert

    I would be shocked if he would be happy making less than someone like Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela or Jusuf Nurkic, all of whom signed for $12M+ last year.

    Other than Ariza, those guys resigned with the team they were playing for, so cap space wasn’t an issue.

    Jordan is 30 and no longer a factor on defense. It might be difficult to find a team with cap space willing to use $12mm or more of it on him at this stage in his career. He should easily be able to command the full mid-level from capped out teams, though.

    It’s hard to predict, but I’m just saying that I think if the Knicks could carve out $9mm in cap space, they’d have a decent shot at retaining him.

  81. alsep73

    Do you think DeAndre would settle for the $9M mid-level exception?

    We won’t have access to the mid-level this year, though, because we’ll start the offseason under the cap. We’ll have cap space plus the room exception, which is less than 9M.

  82. Bruno Almeida

    @90

    His shooting specially has plummeted and it is concerning, but at this point I’m mostly thinking this is a Zion, Morant and maybe Barrett draft and that’s it. I’d like Culver but that’s in a scenario where we fall lower than 3 and can’t find a good trade using the pick anywhere.

  83. Jack Bauer

    I watched the 79ers Lakers game yesterday, and aside from neither team playing any defense I noticed that Philly’s lineup is pretty fucking good now. Tobias Harris was a great addition, seems to fit right in with Butler, Embid, and Simmons. Reddick can flat out shoot the ball and their second unit looked solid yesterday at least (love TJ McConnell’s hustle). They will be a tough out in the playoffs. Simmons cannot shoot the ball but adds a lot of value in other areas. How hard can it be for an athlete that good to learn to shoot just a little better?

    Agree with the sentiments above, if they don’t land Zion or Morant I would be all in for trading down to pick up more assets if possible. Hopefully Mills and Perry do their homework and have a well informed plan.

    If they can’t land one of Durant, Kyrie, or Kawhi they should make some lesser moves, save most of the space, and don’t blow it paying B list “stars” max money. Hopefully Mills and Perry do their homework and have a well informed plan.

  84. Owen

    Clarke is intriguing and I agree about him and Sabonis. Clarke is also four years older than Zion.

    We need to reboot the threadbot.

  85. Hubert

    We won’t have access to the mid-level this year, though, because we’ll start the offseason under the cap. We’ll have cap space plus the room exception, which is less than 9M.

    We have cap space, though. Even if we sign Kyrie and Durant at the max, we can create enough room to offer Jordan the same amount as the mid level.

    So if $9mm is the market rate, trade Frank for a 2nd round pick, waive Dotson, decline Trier’s option and offer him a longer deal with lower AAV, and then you can sign Jordan with cap space equal to the mid level.

  86. GoNyGoNyGo

    This is from the NBA Salary Cap FAQ

    NON-TAXPAYER MID-LEVEL EXCEPTION — This exception is available only when a team is below the “Apron” (see question number 20). This determination is made after the exception is used, so a team below the Apron cannot use this exception if doing so takes it above the Apron. It cannot be used by a team that has already used the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception or the Room Mid-Level exception. It allows a team to sign any free agent to a contract with a starting salary up to the following:

    Season First-year salary
    2017-18 $8.406 million
    2018-19 $8.641 million

    The Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception amount for the 2017-18 season was negotiated into the agreement. For each subsequent season the exception amount is determined by applying the percentage change in the salary cap to the previous exception amount. For example, if the salary cap increases by 4% from 2017-18 to 2018-19, then the exception amount also will increase by 4% from 2017-18 to 2018-19.

    This exception may be split and given to multiple players. It may be used for contracts up to four years in length, with raises up to 5% of the salary in the first year of the contract. Signing a player to a multi-year contract does not affect a team’s ability to use this exception every year — for example, a team can use this exception to sign a player to a four-year contract, and use it again the following year to sign another player. Also see question number 26 for more information on the availability and use of this exception.

    If the player is a restricted free agent with one or two years of service and receives an offer sheet from a new team under the Gilbert Arenas provision, the player’s prior team may use the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception to match the offer sheet (see question numbers 42 and 43).

    ….continued

  87. GoNyGoNyGo

    Again, this exception is only available to teams that are below the “Apron.” Teams above the Apron instead must use the smaller Taxpayer Mid-Level exception (see below). Further, any team that uses its Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception cannot go above the Apron for the remainder of that season. In other words, once a team uses its Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception, it is hard-capped at the Apron (see question 20 for more information).

    However, if a team uses its Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception but does not exceed the constraints of the Taxpayer Mid-Level exception (e.g., in 2017-18 they use the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception to sign a player for $5.192 million or less), then the team is allowed to later exceed the Apron (i.e., it is not hard-capped). If the team later exceeds the Apron, then it is considered to have used the Taxpayer Mid-Level exception rather than the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception. But the converse is not true — if a team is above the Apron and spends any of its Taxpayer Mid-Level exception, it cannot drop below the Apron and spend the remaining money as part of its Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception. Finally, a team that was above the Apron but did not spend any of its Taxpayer Mid-Level exception has full access to the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception if it later drops below the Apron.

    A different team salary definition is used for determining whether a team is above or below the Apron. See question number 13 for details. In addition, this exception begins to pro-rate downward daily starting on January 10 each season (see question numbers 26 and 28), and expires following the last day of the team’s regular season.

    This seems to indicate that there was a change in 2017 to the rules and that we would have the mid-level exception. Then again, I’m no lawyer and it is somewhat confusing.

  88. thenoblefacehumper

    I’m pretty sure the only teams with access to the MLE/MMLE are teams that begin the offseason over the cap. Once again, a writer who ostensibly covers the NBA demonstrates no understanding of the rules that govern NBA transactions.

  89. GoNyGoNyGo

    The same site says this:

    26. How do exceptions count against the cap? Does being under the cap always mean that a team has room to sign free agents? Do teams ever lose their exceptions?
    If a team is below the cap, then its Disabled Player, Bi-Annual, Mid-Level (either the Taxpayer or Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level, whichever applies to the team) and/or trade exceptions are added to their team salary, and the league treats the team as though they are over the cap1. This is to prevent a loophole, in a manner similar to free agent amounts (see question number 37). A team can’t act like it’s under the cap and sign free agents using cap room, and then use its Disabled Player, Bi-Annual, Mid-Level and/or trade exceptions. Consequently, the exceptions are added to the team salary (putting the team over the cap) if the team is under the cap and adding the exceptions puts them over the cap. If a team is already over the cap, then the exceptions are not added to their team salary. There would be no point in doing so, since there is no cap room for signing free agents.

    That seems to indicate that the mid-level is available to teams under the cap.

  90. Knick fan not in NJ who thinks our rookies will lead us to a lousy lottery pick in 2019

    the last Vito’s confusing. I think it means that once you are close to cap, you can use the exception and go over the cap, but it also says the opposite.

  91. Knick fan not in NJ who thinks our rookies will lead us to a lousy lottery pick in 2019

    It sounds like you should hire outside freevagents first, then re-sign a player you have Bird rights to, thus going over the cap, and then you will be entitled to use the non-taxayer mid level exception. But that doesn’t sound like intent of the rule at all.

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