Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Um, why is JR really bad this year?

JR Smith was a crucial member of a 54-win team last year. He is also just 28 years old.

These things seem relevant because his awful offensive play this year is something of a mystery. The Knicks are dreadful and Smith has emerged as whipping boy for basketball purists and statheads alike. JR should be in his prime and is coming off a season in which he posted a 17.6 PER, a 52 true shooting percentage, and 19/6/3 per-36 numbers, all of which earned him 6th Man of the Year honors.

Before this year, Smith was still frustrating, erratic, and less efficient than he should have been — but at least he was productive. This year, his PER has dropped over 7 points, he is shooting 35 percent from the field, and he is nearly 7 points fewer per 36 minutes. Given his relatively young age and productivity last year, this is perplexing.

So, why has JR been so bad? And are there any promising signs for improvement? Let’s take a look at the numbers.*

First off, don’t blame the 3s: JR is essentially shooting an identical percentage to last year — 35.6 percent last year, 35.4 percent this year.

Problem #1: He is not attacking the rim.

2012-2013: 20 percent of his shots, just over three per game, came in the restricted area.
This year: 15 percent of his shots, less than two per game, are coming from the restricted area.

In other words, Smith is attacking less and settling for jumpers more, bringing down his percentages.

And, perhaps something the percentages don’t show: it stands to reason that JR would get better looks on his jumpers if opposing defenders feel they have to respect his drive.

Problem #2, or perhaps a corollary: JR isn’t getting to the line.

2012-2013: He averaged 4.2 free throw attempts per 36 minutes.
This year: He is averaging 1.7 attempts per 36 minutes.

Attacking less also means getting to the free throw line less. This figure is alarming — his free throw attempts are essentially down 60 percent.

JR is not a catch-and-shoot specialist. He is a creator with a good (albeit, not as good as he believes) handle who has demonstrated a strong ability to get to the rim and draw fouls. To become a more effective offensive player this year, he needs to drive to the basket and get easier shots, both in the restricted area and at the line.

Problem #3: He is shooting from further away.

2012-2013: 61 percent of his total shots came from 16+ feet away.
This year: 71 percent of his total shots have come from 16+ feet away.

Smith is not replacing shots at the rim with close mid-range shots. Even by his standards, JR is taking a remarkable number of jumpers, particularly those in the dreaded 16-24 feet, “long 2” range.

Two likely areas for positive regression: Midrange and restricted area shooting percentage.

Restricted area shooting percentage: So far this season, JR is shooting 45 percent in the restricted area. Last season, shot 60 percent from the same area.

It seems highly unlikely that this putridity around the rim will continue. Throughout his career, Smith has solidly been in the mid 50s-mid 60s in percentages in the restricted area. This also basically falls in line with the eye test — JR is not a small point guard that struggles to finish at the rim. He has very good body control, surprising strength and a knack for finishing tough layups. Expect that mark to bump up soon.

Midrange shooting percentage: JR is shooting 32 percent from midrange, compared to 42 percent last year.

To be clear, this midrange mark is awful, comparable to Ricky Rubio — a poor shooter having a dreadful shooting year.

This is likely another area where Smith will see improvement — JR has been in the high 30s-high 40s percentages from midrange in his career.

(Note: He is also shooting just 62 percent from the line, which will certainly improve. But given he has taken only 42 attempts, it hasn’t affected his overall numbers much.)

—————————-

The 800-pound elephant (or, perhaps the $450,000 armored truck) is this question: how much are this team’s poor spacing and big lineups to blame for Smith’s offensive struggles? That is for another post at a later date, when JR has more shot attempts to look at and when this writer isn’t approaching 900 words.

Of course, the inevitable bump in restricted area and midrange shooting percentages will surely boost Smith’s offensive efficiency numbers.

But…

There are some real red flags here, particularly JR’s decreased free throw attempts and shots at the rim. Smith last year showed glimpses of a guy possibly putting it all together — on his best nights, he attacked the rim, drew fouls, and connected from close range, all of which opened up looks from deep. He has taken a big step back this year. While it is early and there are some indications that positive regression will come, this isn’t all just a matter of bad luck. JR is in a bad place.

* Yes, Smith is not a very smart basketball player, which has hurt his game throughout his entire career. But ultimately, we aren’t asking why he has perhaps underperformed relative to his talent during his career — we are looking for why he has been dramatically worse this year compared to previous years.

112 comments on “Um, why is JR really bad this year?

  1. flossy

    Let’s not over-complicate it–this is simple regression to the mean made worse by lingering effects of knee surgery.

    The more pertinent question is “why does JR continue to play 30+ MPG and close our close games when he’s been one of the worst rotation players in the entire NBA this year?”

  2. Nick C.

    My guesstimate is the knee recovery has impacted his ability/willingness to drive and finish. An interesting corollary so does the fact that he has shot 35% on 3s the last two seasons make his shot go from maybe with win expectancy of a 50% shooter to batshit crazy?

  3. Jonathan Topaz Post author

    Let’s not over-complicate it–this is simple regression to the mean made worse by lingering effects of knee surgery.

    Agreed on knee surgery, but it’s pretty hard to see this as regression to the mean. This season is the statistical anomaly, not last season. If you go by his offensive efficiency numbers, points/36, and PER numbers, he is down considerably from his entire career. He had a good year last season, but if you remove volume from the equation, it is very much in line with previous seasons. In fact, he had several years in Denver with better efficiency and shooting numbers than last year.

  4. Frank

    I think it’s the knee surgery. Is it a coincidence that 3 of the players that have struggled most this year are Iman, JR, and Amare, all of whom had knee surgery in the offseason, missing some/all of training camp and also offseason workouts? Iman and Amare look like they’re coming out of their slump. JR had the most significant surgery, so hopefully he’ll get back to where he was within a few weeks.

    Surprised no one’s talking about Howard Beck’s “Trade Melo” article today. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1912013-what-to-do-with-carmelo-anthony-its-time-for-the-knicks-to-bite-the-bullet

    Overall I think it’s a pretty lazy article. You can’t discuss trading Melo unless you consider what could realistically come back in return. He mentions “a couple of mid-1st round picks”, but how are you going to do that when the outgoing salary is 20+MM? You have to have a trade partner that actually agrees to the trade, and it has to be to a team that Melo would agree to re-sign with. That cuts your pool of potential bidders waaaay down. The teams that he’s been “linked” to are the Lakers, Clippers, and Bulls, according to reports. Well, the Lakers and Clippers have no picks left. The Lakers could just sign him in the offseason rather than gutting their team of young assets (oh wait they have no young assets). The Clippers have no draft picks anytime soon. The Bulls could (and I’ve previously posted about a potential trade involving Melo/Shumpert/Felton/KMart going out and Boozer/Butler/Deng/filler/1st rounder coming back) which would be fine, but I highly doubt the financially tight ownership group in CHI does that.

    A more nuanced article might ask: how much is Anthony worth to the Knicks, and above what contract amount would we be forced to trade him? Beck just assumes (based essentially on one contract “negotiation” in 2010) that Melo would never take less. Big assumption.

  5. lavor postell

    JR has a ton of flaws, but he has been awful in almost every aspect of his game this year and is playing completely out of whack with his career numbers. It looks as if he is still feeling the lingering affects of the surgery to his patellar tendon and doesn’t have the explosiveness to get a step on his man to get to the rim and then when he does get there he doesn’t have the ability to adjust and finish. He’s driving all of us completely crazy this year, but I can’t imagine that he’ll be this bad for the rest of the year. Woodson is the most culpable in this for continuing to play him 30+ minutes a game at the expense of more productive players like Shump, THJR and Murry.

    On another note I think everybody is making way too big a deal about him untying Marion’s shoe last night. It’s not any less of a tactic to annoy and irritate an opponent as Wade tossing Bibby’s shoe to the side in the playoffs, which I’m sure at the time most people deemed hilarious or as a wily veteran move. I’m also pretty sure Kidd did this to somebody at some point during his time with the Nets though I can’t remember who or when, so I could just be making shit up.

  6. flossy

    A more nuanced article might ask: how much is Anthony worth to the Knicks, and above what contract amount would we be forced to trade him? Beck just assumes (based essentially on one contract “negotiation” in 2010) that Melo would never take less. Big assumption.

    Uh I think that’s a pretty safe assumption considering he has never accepted less than maximum money at any point in his career, and in fact has gone out of his way to ensure he gets paid as much as possible (like forcing a mid-season trade 4 months ahead of his impending free agency) even if that puts his team at a competitive disadvantage. Given that his tenure with the Knicks has been a disappointment and the team doesn’t have much of a long term plan in place, why would he take less? Would you take a pay cut so that James Dolan can allocate the savings as he best sees fit? Neither would I. Not that it matters–I’m sure Dolan thinks Melo is easily worth $130 million over five years.

  7. flossy

    On another note I think everybody is making way too big a deal about him untying Marion’s shoe last night. It’s not any less of a tactic to annoy and irritate an opponent as Wade tossing Bibby’s shoe to the side in the playoffs, which I’m sure at the time most people deemed hilarious or as a wily veteran move.

    I don’t know–Wade’s move didn’t have the potential to injure anyone and JR’s did. Also, Wade is a respected veteran and multiple time All-Star, whereas JR Smith is a metal midget and multiple drug test failure. He has richly earned whatever double standard is applied to him.

  8. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    So with the Knicks’ win last night, Denver’s chances of winning the lottery dropped from 15% to 6%.

  9. lavor postell

    I don’t know–Wade’s move didn’t have the potential to injure anyone and JR’s did. Also, Wade is a respected veteran and multiple time All-Star, whereas JR Smith is a metal midget and multiple drug test failure. He has richly earned whatever double standard is applied to him.

    If the double standard is just media reaction and fan outrage than whatever that’s fine. If the double standard comes down in the form of a fine from the league or suspension than it’s complete bullshit. Wade throwing Bibby’s shoe to the courtside could absolutely could have resulted in an injury to Bibby if Miami hadn’t called a timeout and Bibby had been forced to defend (in whatever capacity that was) with one shoe on the floor. I just don’t think either of these things is something worth spending much time handwringing over.

  10. Frank

    continued…

    The truth is, depending on what we could get back for him as well as how much he would re-sign for if he did come back, the fates of this team could be completely different. Even though he presumably would be overpaid when he’s 35, my guess is that he’s still a top 25-30 talent in the league even at that point. Trading your star does not always go well – look at Denver, who is widely considered to have won that deal and have 2 first round exits and a below-.500 record to show for it so far. Sure they have our draft pick this year, but assuming our team plays better (another big assumption) but still misses the playoffs, then maybe they get the #10 pick in the draft — over the last several drafts, the #10 pick has yielded a lot of forgettable players (Austin Rivers, Jimmer, Brandon Jennings, Hawes, Saer Sene, Luke Jackson, Jarvis Hayes, Doolong, Fortson, Dampier etc.) and few franchise-changing types (Paul George, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce). The hit rate on even all-star level guys at the #10 pick is probably on the order of 10-20%. Is Denver a Jason Terry away from contending?

    The question is just so much more complex than “can Melo be the best guy on a title-contender”? I would argue that the Knicks were one healthy Tyson Chandler (and one dumb Mike Woodson) away from the ECFs last year, against a Miami team that we blew out twice during the regular season. Denver is nowhere near title contention, barring winning the lottery from the middle of the lottery pack (very small chance), and they basically fleeced us as badly as one could be fleeced. Even Houston and the God that is Daryl Morey has a team that I’d consider a long-shot to win a title in the next couple years, after which Dwight’s inevitable decline, Parsons’s $12MM/year deal, etc. starts to take its toll.

  11. Kikuchiyo

    I don’t even want to get into character/basketball IQ issues here; I agree with flossy that the real problem is his constant presence on the floor. We know what JR can do, but isn’t he a quintessential 6th man? What that means, to me, is that he comes into games to provide a spark and, when that spark is not present, he sits down. He could finish on nights where he has things together (i.e., almost never this year). TH2 has been playing with confidence, and he seems to be learning as he goes. With TH2 and Shump and even Toure’, the Knicks could be developing a future rather than pretending that it’s last year.

  12. flossy

    If the double standard is just media reaction and fan outrage than whatever that’s fine. If the double standard comes down in the form of a fine from the league or suspension than it’s complete bullshit. Wade throwing Bibby’s shoe to the courtside could absolutely could have resulted in an injury to Bibby if Miami hadn’t called a timeout and Bibby had been forced to defend (in whatever capacity that was) with one shoe on the floor. I just don’t think either of these things is something worth spending much time handwringing over.

    Nobody would have been forced to do anything. Bibby would have had to put his shoe on before rejoining the play one way or another, and Wade tossed Bibby’s shoe about 10 feet to the side:

    http://thepuplistblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/d-wade-shoe-gif.gif?w=614

    It’s not like he threw his shoe 10 rows deep into the stands–you could even argue he was clearing a trip hazard off the court (though that’s pushing it, IMO). JR’s little stunt was not only a totally uncalled-for prank, but if Marion hadn’t noticed he could have seriously injured himself. In any case, I don’t care how much JR Smith gets punished or criticized–the more the better, if you ask me. Aren’t you tired of rooting for someone who pulls juvenile pranks like that for no reason? What if he had just pulled Marion’s shorts down while they were lined up for the FT?

  13. Garson

    When Felton and Prigs return from injury… Is that the last we see of Toure’? I dont mind him sitting for Prigs however theres no reason why Felton should be playing over him at this point. He is already lightyears ahead of Felton on the defensive end. We can see Murry’s playmaking is improving each game, and his midrange shot seems to be decent enough… his aggressive defense also is semi-contagious , although i have no stats to back that up.

    Knowing woodson, there is no chance murry sees the court once things are restored , which is a tremendous shame.

  14. GoNyGoNYGo

    I am 100% in agreement with Jonathan and I don’t attribute it to his knee surgery. JR is settling for jumpers and not attacking the rim. That’s the same problem that we saw with Shump and Felton when he wasn’t on the trainer’s table. There are only a few Knicks that can break down the defense by driving the lane and, as a whole, the late 2013 Knicks avoided the paint like the plague! Now, in 2014, we’re starting to see some of that. It’s about time.

  15. lavor postell

    Nobody would have been forced to do anything. Bibby would have had to put his shoe on before rejoining the play one way or another, and Wade tossed Bibby’s shoe about 10 feet to the side:

    http://thepuplistblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/d-wade-shoe-gif.gif?w=614

    It’s not like he threw his shoe 10 rows deep into the stands–you could even argue he was clearing a trip hazard off the court (though that’s pushing it, IMO). JR’s little stunt was not only a totally uncalled-for prank, but if Marion hadn’t noticed he could have seriously injured himself. In any case, I don’t care how much JR Smith gets punished or criticized–the more the better, if you ask me. Aren’t you tired of rooting for someone who pulls juvenile pranks like that for no reason? What if he had just pulled Marion’s shorts down while they were lined up for the FT?

    Am I tired of rooting for JR? Yeah absolutely. I’d rather walk on shattered glass barefoot, butt naked in this -40 wind chill in Chicago then be forced to support his low IQ, unproductive and detrimental play for another 30+ minute stint. However I think people are making a huge fucking deal about something that really isn’t. I’m sure if Garnett did something like this people would label it something far different from what it’s being labeled as now. Reputation precedes you and I understand that, but I don’t think warrants a suspension or any serious fine. I also think the Wade incident could have resulted in an injury if Miami stole the ball as the Knicks were bringing it up or something and Bibby was forced back into action quickly. Either way agree to disagree on that maybe but at the end of the day I definitely agree with you that at the very least JR needs to be nailed to the bench in this form and ideally would be traded to free up minutes for guys actually worthy of it.

  16. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    I’m sure Dolan thinks Melo is easily worth $130 million over five years.

    To be fair to Dolan (what!!), Anthony probably is worth that much to the franchise. Not to win games necessarily, but to the bottom line he’s probably worth that. (But off course there’s also an opportunity cost to it, which Dolan may or may not understand).

    Something that I haven’t heard mentioned re:Anthony and a new max contract is the tax implications. As three time repeaters, won’t Anthony’s contract be taxed at 500% if he opts out? Whereas if he simply walks, won’t it save Dolan many millions by lessening the taxes on the likes of Amar’e, Bargnani, and Chandler?

  17. Frank

    Uh I think that’s a pretty safe assumption considering he has never accepted less than maximum money at any point in his career, and in fact has gone out of his way to ensure he gets paid as much as possible (like forcing a mid-season trade 4 months ahead of his impending free agency) even if that puts his team at a competitive disadvantage.

    You might be right, but you might not be. No one knows but Melo. I did lots of stuff at age 26 that I wouldn’t have redone at age 30, especially if I had had a life experience that showed me that my decision at 26 didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, AND that if I already had more money than I could spend. And by the way, taking less than the supermax from the Knicks still probably nets him more $ in the end than signing with another team.

    FWIW, which isn’t much, I still maintain that Melo from age 31-35 at 5 years/115MM is reasonable for both sides if structured in such a way that his cap hit is least after the 14-15 season when we have all that cap room. That can be accomplished by giving him the maximum decrease in salary from 14-15 to 15-16 (-7.5%), then giving him the max raises (7.5% per year) after that. We have to remember also that even in a stable TV-rights environment, the cap is set to go up by 5% this year because of increasing revenue. Remember also that the current NBA TV deal expires after 15-16 (ie. Melo at age 32) and that it’s likely that the cap (and new salaries) will go up significantly after new deals are signed (whereas Melo’s number will be stable at whatever is agreed upon).

    For example – after the new NFL TV deal was signed in 2006, the cap went up by 19.2% the next year – in NBA terms, a similar deal could mean the cap goes up from ~$63MM–>$75MM.

    I just think it’s a very complex question without an easy answer – probably deserves more of an article than Beck’s was.

  18. DRed

    I am 100% in agreement with Jonathan and I don’t attribute it to his knee surgery. JR is settling for jumpers and not attacking the rim.

    JR is also not finishing well when he does get to the rim. I don’t know if that’s because of surgery, or sample size, or aging or smoking too much reefer, but it’s a big part of his ineffectiveness this season. I wouldn’t kill Woody if he played JR 15 minutes a night in the hopes that he returned to form, but as we’re all saying, it’s giving him huge minutes that’s the problem. (see also: Bargnani, Andrea)

    Couldn’t give a shit about the shoe untying. I’d imagine that’s a classic NBA trick.

  19. Frank O.

    No one craters quite like JR has this year from his lifetime stats without suffering a significant injury.
    It should come as no surprise to anyone: JR and Woodson said JR’s knee was hurting earlier this season. They shut up about it eventually.
    But aside from a huge statistical collapse, your eyes can provide insight. JR is not the physical freak he was last season. He cannot elevate as he did; he cannot explode as he did.
    When before he would penetrate without a plan, he could evade and elevate in a way that a defender simply could not match quickly enough.
    How often have we seen JR penetrate this year into the paint only to be trapped, and rather than evading and elevating, he tries some lame spin move that often leads to turnovers, because spin moves don’t work when surrounded by four professional ball players…
    The only blessing is that his usage has dipped (20.6%) compared to 26% last year and 22% the year before.
    He’s playing about a minute less per game this year than last, but he’s still getting 32.4 MPG.
    One would think it would be wise to gear back his minutes coming off a major surgery.
    And he’s not trending better. He’s had one 50% shooting night in 30 days and two in the next 25 or so. One positive note: he’s still young and his knee could get stronger.

  20. Unreason

    The 800-pound elephant (or, perhaps the $450,000 armored truck) is this question: how much are this team’s poor spacing and big lineups to blame for Smith’s offensive struggles? That is for another post at a later date, when JR has more shot attempts to look at…

    Why wait? Seems a timely conversation. It’s easy to see that his shots are mostly on target once you realize they are aimed at the Knicks’ nuts. How much is he to blame? I don’t pretend to have a precise answer. IMO he/Woodson are far and away the biggest reasons for the year’s pungent aroma. JR’s minutes are molasses that Woodson spreads on the floor with bizarre determination. So bizarre, it makes me wonder if Woodson thinks his own rep is based on taming JR’s much bemoaned demons. I have no clue, obviously, but it’s so clearly wrong headed it calls for some kind of non-basketball explanation.

    On a brighter note; the last three games suggest that the offense might do just fine without Felton. The perimeter defense seems way better without him. I’d place his abysmal perimeter D next in grandeur behind JR’s and Woodson’s most generous contributions to the stink. A back court rotation of Prigs/Murray, Shump/THJ with Felton/JR relegated to garbage time would be OK by me.

  21. Owen

    At some point CAA will realize Smith is a lost cause and not likely to play in the NBA long term and will let Woodson cut bait…..

    Nice post Jonathan, actually saw your roommate over Christmas which was a cosmically strange coincidence….

    Re-signing Melo is a horrible horrible idea. I’ll give Melo this, he is having, for him, a fantastic year. He is playing like the legit borderline All-Star we all hoped he would be. Even the the WOW loves his work this year, relative to prior years.

    But enough is enough. Signing him to a long term max deal for his early and mid 30’s is a flat out horrible idea. Said it before, going to say it again, time to blow it up…..

  22. bockadoo

    JR is an f’ing CHILD. (Al Pacino to Kevin Spacey in GlengarryGlenross). Who told him he could work with men?

  23. DRed

    The 4 players who lead the Knicks in minutes are Carmelo, Bargnani, Shumpert and JR. Two of those guys have been good this year, and the other two have been the least productive guys on the team. (The penguin has also really sucked, but at least he was playing hurt a lot of the time) The way to fix the Knicks is really really simple. Stop giving huge minutes to the two worst players on the team. Presto.

  24. flossy

    Two of those guys have been good this year, and the other two have been the least productive guys on the team.

    Do you mean calendar year 2014? Because Shumpert has been mostly horrible too, last 3 games excepted.

  25. DRed

    Shump was awful on offense in December. Otherwise he’s been at least okay, and there’s more to basketball than just scoring.

  26. flossy

    At least okay? Come on, he’s been awful. PER of 11, WS/48 of .075, TS south of .500, non-factor on defense for much of the season. If that’s one of two guys who have been playing “well” it’s no wonder this team is so bad.

  27. coyle022

    As bad as JR has been, Bargnani has no business being on the floor for the final minutes of the game either. Closing lineup should be Chandler-STAT-Melo-Shump-PG. Bargnani and JR should never see the floor together, always staggered. Stat’s minutes should be saved for the end of the game. He is the equivalent of Bargnani defensively, but at least he has the wherewithall to not shoot when up by 2 and the shot clock turned off.

  28. DRed

    At least okay? Come on, he’s been awful. PER of 11, WS/48 of .075, TS south of .500, non-factor on defense for much of the season. If that’s one of two guys who have been playing “well” it’s no wonder this team is so bad.

    His TS is .529. The only month it was below .500 was December. Granted, that’s like half the season. But he’s been better than you think. His offensive ineptitude in December combined with the hopes well all had for him coming into the year and the general awfulness of the team make it easier to think that Shumpert has been worse than he has been. Felton, Bargs, Stat, and JR have all been much, much worse than Iman.

  29. JK47

    Bargnani needs a new role as soon as possible, as in new role that comes with a lot fewer minutes. He’s not providing the things he’s supposed to be providing– namely floor stretching. I don’t think it’s worth waiting around for Bargs’ three-point stroke to come back. It has been missing since 2011. Over his last three seasons he’s shooting exactly .300 from 3. That’s 99 for 330.

    He’s not good at the one thing he’s supposed to be good at, and he is terrible at most other things. He needs to be a 10 MPG player.

  30. bobneptune

    You might be right, but you might not be. No one knows but Melo. I did lots of stuff at age 26 that I wouldn’t have redone at age 30, especially if I had had a life experience that showed me that my decision at 26 didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, AND that if I already had more money than I could spend. And by the way, taking less than the supermax from the Knicks still probably nets him more $ in the end than signing with another team.

    I am fairly certain George Santayana has published the definitive quote on this issue!

  31. nicos

    Let’s remember that through 41 games last season JR’s TS% was a sterling .483 with similar rebounding/assist numbers. His turnovers are up a bit but so far he’s not much worse than the crappy JR we had for a good chunk of last year so I’m not sure how much you can blame on the injury. His TS% for the second half of the season was .560 so perhaps it’s not crazy to think he will turn it around. That said, as pretty much everyone has noted there’s absolutely no reason to be playing him 30+ minutes a night right now.

  32. max fisher-cohen

    JR Smith has essentially had two great months as a Knick.

    Last two weeks 11/12 season:

    61% TS% (44% 3P%, 1.4 FTA/game)
    17.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.6 TO
    33.3 MPG

    First two weeks of 12/13 season:

    58% TS% (64% 3P%, 2.3 FTA/game)
    16.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3 APG, 1.1 TO
    34.2 MPG

    Last 3.5 weeks of 12/13 season:

    59% TS% (38% 3P%, 6.6 FTA/game)
    23.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 2.1 TO
    34.3 MPG

    Here are the other 8 months he’s been with the Knicks:

    First 7 weeks as a Knick:

    47% TS% (31% 3P%, 1.6 FTA/game)
    11 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 TO
    26 MPG

    Middle 4 months of 12/13:

    49% TS% (33% 3P%, 3.3 FTA/game)
    16.7 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.6 TO
    33.2 MPG

    13/14 season:

    45% TS% (34% 3P%, 1.5 FTA/game)
    11.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3 APG, 1.5 TO
    32.4 MPG

    The guy is ridiculously streaky. Sure, last season overall was his best season but it was still not a good one. The 6th man award was a result of his hot play in that last month and because the Knicks had defied expectations and were hot, not because IMHO his season’s work made him the best bench player of the year. He’s been worse this season, but is that any wonder? All the guards are worse because the spacing is worse because we have Bargnani and Stoudemire and Martin playing the minutes that used to go to Kidd, Copeland and Novak. Smith and Shumpert take bad shots because the offense delivers them the ball in situations where they don’t have immediate scoring options and have to create on their own.

    That’s been better the last three games for reasons that deserve an entire article, but I wouldn’t expect it to change in the long term unless the Knicks bring in a true replacement for the players they lost.

  33. DRed

    His TS% for the second half of the season was .560 so perhaps it’s not crazy to think he will turn it around. That said, as pretty much everyone has noted there’s absolutely no reason to be playing him 30+ minutes a night right now.

    Exactly. JR has been at least a decent pro basketball player in the recent past, so it’s not crazy to keep him in the rotation. Contrast that with Andrea Bargnani, who has done nothing but suck his entire NBA career. Playing JR 15 minutes a night is not insane. Playing Bargnani is nuts. The guy sucks, always has sucked, and almost certainly will continue to suck.

  34. Frank

    Re: Howard Beck and the suddenly very negative reporting about the Knicks – one wonders whether he was pushed out from NYT to B/R (maybe by Dolan’s connections in media) rather than leaving of his own accord? Or has he wanted to write this stuff for so long that it’s just tumbling out of him? Seriously, look at this tweet:

    @HowardBeck: Re my last RT on LAL: This is how a team that respects its fans reports on injuries –with clarity, candor, timeliness. It’s not that hard.

    Seriously Howard, let it go. You’re a national reporter now, moved on from the media cesspool. He’s really been all over the Knicks. Maybe it’s deserved, and maybe it’s just me reading into it too much, but his writing has started to have a personal edge to it when it comes to the Knicks.

    Re: the injury reporting – it’s all very annoying when we can’t know exactly what’s going on all the time, but it’s not like Kobe hasn’t had a bunch of offseason surgeries without telling everyone. And when Nash was hurt last year there was zero timeline, just guessing. It’s not just the knicks that “hide” stuff.

  35. Brian Cronin

    Maybe it’s deserved

    Clearly it’s deserved in the sense that the Knicks are horrible to reporters. Whether you think Beck should still harbor a grudge now that he’s a national reporter, that’s another story.

  36. johnno

    When you rely on one statistic and one statistic only, you often end up with ludicrous conclusions such as — Iman’s TS for the season is .529 so he hasn’t been bad. I like Shump, and I really and truly hope that he has snapped out of his slump, but anyone watching the games has to admit — until the last three games, he had been positively brutal on offense and mediocre at best — and often detached and indifferent — on defense this year. Any statistical measure that says that he has been anything but a bad player this season is painting a ridiculously inaccurate picture. By the way, what was his TS prior to the last three games?

  37. DRed

    Not sure. I reckon it was not good. Which is why I was looking at things like rebounds, steals, turnovers, and assists to arrive at the conclusion that Shump has not been as awful as one would think he was if you just focused on his scoring, particularly over the last month. Shump has had a disappointing season for a disappointing team. But he deserves to play, unlike a bunch of the other guys we run out there.

    Any statistical measure that says that he has been anything but a bad player this season is painting a ridiculously inaccurate picture.

    Was he a bad player last season? His PER last year was 11.7. This year it’s 11.6.

  38. nicos

    Shumps TS% was .464 prior to the last three games so yeah, his offense has stunk. In his defense, he’s rebounded the ball really well and his +/- numbers have been pretty good all year (relative to the rest of the team anyway) so I don’t think he’s been all bad. I think his defensive struggles have been exaggerated a bit- early on he was a prime culprit in the Knicks general over-switching but he’s really been pretty good for the last month. He and Kmart have been the only decent defenders on the team this year- and yes I’m including Chandler (who outside of the first couple of games hasn’t been a defensive factor at all) and Prigs (who can pressure the ball in the backcourt but is as bad as every other guard playing the pnr and completely useless when switched onto to bigger guys).

  39. knickster

    Howard Beck is right: the best course of action is admitting failure, getting whatever we can get for Melo and Chandler (even use them to package some of the other misfits) and start the rebuild early. Will save 5 years of pain.

  40. Totes McGoats

    Umm..sorry to break topic..but alot of you have offered kind words and encouragement in light of my Dad having his stroke shortly before Christmas. Sooooo..I wanna make sure I thank you all again and give an update. I brought him home from the hospital today!! Thanks again everyone.

    Now we return to your regularly scheduled program..

  41. dtrickey

    It’s certainly a slightly different JR we are seeing this year. I think the big thing is definitely his lack of penetration. Where last year when his shot wasn’t going, he was penetrating more. This year he either seems to force it more or just go completely missing on offence. For JR to be effective he needs to be a part of the offence in that 2nd unit and get to the rim more often, as he’s certainly athletic enough to do it.

    I’m willing to chalk up some of his issues to the surgery hampering his pre-season, but in my mind for JR to have the impact he had last year it’s all about the penetration….to the bucket that is.

    Good to hear about your Dad too Totes.

  42. Igno-Bot 3000

    Did some extremely rudimentary analysis on JR’s penetration (no, not that kind) by seeing the percentage of FTA/FGA. It was 24% for last season as opposed to 12% this season. In February of last year, it was down to 18% with 60% of his shots being 3s (!). The team went 6-5. From March 18 2013 on, it was 39% with 25% of his shots being 3s. The team went 15-1.

    This past December, it was 9% with 53% of his shots being 3s.

    Again this is rudimentary stuff but for all the praise he didn’t really change his game until the end of the year last year. He’s obviously injured and has no business being in the rotation, let alone playing 30+ minutes per night.

    Good to hear about your dad Totes.

  43. Totes McGoats

    Do we REALLY believe that once JR is finally back in his usual shape that he’s gonna have a big enough impact on the team’s trajectory? It’s getting kinda late in the season but maybe a return of last year’s JR will open the offense up. I guess it’s kinda tricky with Bargnani on board because he’s most effective in areas that JR and Melo need for spacing. Quite the logjam up front. Early on I thought there might be one on the wing, but JR can play the SF effectively at his size. I still kinda believe that the team should look to move JR to create more ball movement and more shots for Melo within the offense which should make him happy. On this team, we need more accurate shooters than we need JR to be the default 2nd best option. Plus I really have faith in Shump/TH2 on offense. And as much as I like Felton, we really do need better lead guard play. Watching Houston play this season made me appreciate how good Lin really is. And I am ready to admit I was wrong in thinking Felton was a better fit. Kinda makes me wish someone would be willing to take a Felton/JR package for a PG who’s at least shooting better lol

  44. Igno-Bot 3000

    If he’s playing heavy minutes regardless it will make a difference. I’m not saying his performance was the sole reason for their winning streak at the end of the season, but it certainly contributed given his minutes.

    I think the team could win with him as the #2 option if he’s playing well. He hits the 3 at a decent clip, can penetrate and play defense. I think this season, just like the beginning of 11/12, shows just how important it is to have a PG (or 2!) who can play professional basketball. I’ve enjoyed watching Toure play.

    Nobody would take either of Felton or JR, let alone both. Two of the poorer contracts in the league given the years left. If we end up trading Melo/Chandler I hope we can dump one or both of them, too.

  45. ephus

    Nets win again. This time without Derron Williams. Nets could be a 41 win team. I see them as more likely than the Knicks or Raptors to win the division.

  46. JR Sec 112

    Eh, I dont buy it. The OKC win was nice, but getting past Cleveland without Irving and ATL w/o Horford is hardly impressive. Schedule gets tough for them now – I’m guessing they lose next 4 out of 5 and go back into a tailspin. Although admittedly that MLK Day game at MSG is now looking potentially important.

  47. Totes McGoats

    Big question on JR is when will he finally realize that:
    A. He’s not a Korver type threat from deep though he has Korver-type range.
    and B. When will he realize that his ability to score in more ways than settling for disturbing jumpers will open the perimeter for him which might add a percentage point or 2 to his 3 pt percentage.

    JR really is one of the most gifted players in the league but he frustrates me to no end because he’s wasting his prime by not figuring out how to actually use those gifts. More disturbing than JR falling off is what happened to MWP? Before his knees started giving out I thought for sure he could play well enough to beat out Bargnani for a starting spot or at least make the decision hard for Woodson

  48. Brian Cronin

    Wooooooow…the Bulls seriously just did the Deng for Bynum trade. Oh, Chicago, you cheap fucks. At least the Bulls got Sacramento’s (top 10 protected) first round pick this year, which is something. But damn, that franchise is effed up.

  49. Owen

    “But building through the draft is always the way to go.”

    Yep. Not building through the draft is always the way to go….

  50. massive

    The New York Knicks are a team with a scouting department good enough to build through the draft. Jordan Hill, Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari are all valuable pieces to have on a team right now. The Cavs, however, passed up on Andre Drummond and Victor Oladipo for Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett. They’ve always been terrible at building a team and that’s why they lost LeBron and why they’re going to lose Kyrie Irving.

  51. Jack Bauer

    Untying Marion’s shoe during the game was a total clown move by a total clown. JR is a complete idiot with the basketball IQ of a snail. Although he played well last year IMO he has been Epically Bad this year. Why Woodson plays him so any minutes when he is obviously hurting the team’s chances to win is batshit crazy too. I would be in favor of getting rid of both of them ASAP.

  52. yellowboy90

    Anyway to get Dunleavy for MWP and Cole? I guess this is where a second round pick comes into play but maybe one of the 2014 protected picks would be enough?

  53. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    Oh, Chicago, you cheap fucks. At least the Bulls got Sacramento’s (top 10 protected) first round pick this year, which is something. But damn, that franchise is effed up.

    Why is it bad for Chicago to want to save money when it is obvious that they can’t compete? It seems like a logical move. (It certainly beats doubling down, a la the Bargnani Knicks). And they get some picks, which are obviously good to have on hand. (But there is 0% chance that the Kings surrender their draft pick this year.)

  54. Brian Cronin

    Because with a healthy Rose, the Bulls could legitimately compete for a title. They didn’t need to blow the team up. I’m fine with them trading Deng, as he likely was not going to re-sign with them, but they should have gotten something that could have helped them compete next season. They’re not even likely to get a 2014 draft pick out of this deal (heck, maybe not even a 2015 first rounder, if Sacramento is a bad team again next year). That’s not helping the team reload. That’s just being cheap.

  55. Brian Cronin

    Nets win again. This time without Derron Williams. Nets could be a 41 win team. I see them as more likely than the Knicks or Raptors to win the division.

    I dunno, I think the team that is already at .500 while playing the toughest schedule in the East (and playing with Rudy Gay for a goodly chunk of the season) is the bigger threat. I think the Knicks end up with more wins than the Nets, but I dunno if that’ll be more than the Raptors.

  56. Alecto

    Because with a healthy Rose, the Bulls could legitimately compete for a title. They didn’t need to blow the team up. I’m fine with them trading Deng, as he likely was not going to re-sign with them, but they should have gotten something that could have helped them compete next season. They’re not even likely to get a 2014 draft pick out of this deal (heck, maybe not even a 2015 first rounder, if Sacramento is a bad team again next year). That’s not helping the team reload. That’s just being cheap.

    I think this trade reflects some hefty anxieties by the Bulls FO regarding Rose’s long-term health–who knows if he’ll be the same after this injury or, worse, if he’s going to seriously re-injure his knees. He may turn into the PG version of Amar’e.

    Deng was going to leave anyway so they might as well have gotten some picks out of it rather than playing Waiting for Godot with Rose and eventually losing Deng for nothing. Could Chicago be a contender if they didn’t trade Deng? Maybe, but the FO wouldn’t have made this trade without being realistic about their chances and Rose’s timetable/expected performance (he was pretty terrible for the 10 games he played this season; not that I could hold that against him after coming back from a major injury).

  57. Frank

    Interesting thing is that the final selling price for Deng was pretty low — salary relief and a protected first and 2 late 2nd round picks. For all those (pretty much everyone) that killed our FO this summer, that is literally not that different than what we paid for Bargnani (although the tax benefit for the Bulls is really what sold this trade). Even so, for all those that think we could get a ransom by selling off Melo at the deadline this year, this is a cautionary tale. Deng is very good player — not as good maybe (especially from a marketing standpoint) as Melo, but certainly he’s a top-flight defender and a pretty good offensive player who costs probably $8-10MM less. In the current CBA environment (which did not exist at the time of our Melo trade btw), I don’t think we would get a whole lot more in a Melo trade without taking significant salary back. Now because of Amare and Tyson’s contracts, we could take salary out to 2014-15 which the Bulls didn’t want to do, so that would make taking money back easier I guess.

  58. johnno

    DRed — If you look at all of the numbers (rebounds, assists, assist/turnover ratio, etc.), until the last three games, JR has been better than Shumpert — not to mention that, for the month of December, JR shot 40% from three while Shumpert shot under 30%. (I am NOT arguing that JR has been good; merely that Shumpert has been worse.) With regard to last year, it is very misleading to look at Shumpert’s PER for the season. He played 45 games last season and, for the first 20 or so after he came back from major knee surgery, yes, he was really really bad. Once he got his legs back, he improved dramatically. By the way, I’m not sure why everyone thinks that Woodson has jerked Shumpert around. He’s stuck with him despite really bad play last year when he first came back and a horrendous slump to start this year.
    ER — I agree. Bynum for Cole.

  59. johnno

    Frank — I disagree to an extent. I think that the Cavs gave up much more to get Deng for half a season than the Knicks gave up for Bargnani. The Knicks gave the Raptors no salary relief while the Cavs gave the Bulls over $20 million this year alone, not to mention the future savings that the Bulls get for avoiding the dreaded repeater tax. The Bynum contract was brilliantly structured so that it became extremely valuable to a team wanting to save money. I can’t believe that the Cavs had to throw in any picks in this deal.

  60. Igno-Bot 3000

    Interesting trade. I think it works for both sides. I wonder if the Bulls/Knicks kicked the tires on Deng for Melo at all.

  61. DS

    I don’t think Melo for Deng would’ve made much sense for the Knicks since Deng needs to be re-signed for more than $30mm for 3 years this offseason and will be turning 30 years-old next year. He’ll obviously be cheaper than ‘Melo but if we’re rebuilding I don’t think a small forward around the same age is what we want in return.

  62. DRed

    DRed — If you look at all of the numbers (rebounds, assists, assist/turnover ratio, etc.), until the last three games, JR has been better than Shumpert — not to mention that, for the month of December, JR shot 40% from three while Shumpert shot under 30%. (I am NOT arguing that JR has been good; merely that Shumpert has been worse.) With regard to last year, it is very misleading to look at Shumpert’s PER for the season.

    Not so fast my friend. You’re forgetting about missed shots. While playing about the same number of minutes, JR has managed to miss more shots than Shumpert has attempted. And that’s why JR has been so much worse than pre-recent-mini-breakout Shump. If two guys both suck on offense, the guy who keeps jacking up a ton of shots hurts his team more than the guy who doesn’t.

  63. Igno-Bot 3000

    I don’t think Melo for Deng would’ve made much sense for the Knicks since Deng needs to be re-signed for more than $30mm for 3 years this offseason and will be turning 30 years-old next year. He’ll obviously be cheaper than ‘Melo but if we’re rebuilding I don’t think a small forward around the same age is what we want in return.

    I assume we’re never rebuilding lol. I think he’d be a good investment at 12-15 million/year. Imagine an actual two-way player on the Knicks. Or is Melo at 26 million/year a better idea?

  64. Hubert

    Can I just point out how much I hate what is about to happen?

    If you don’t know, this is the point of the year where we play well enough to save Mike Woodson’s job and make Dolan think he was right for being patient and ignoring the vile media and the reckless fans who wanted to fire him. This will ensure us another 2-3 years of Woodson.

    And as we creep closer to the 8th seed in the miserable east, it will reinforce the organizational narrative that we really just needed to get healthy. Thus, Carmelo Anthony will not be traded, ensuring that our two terrible choices this summer are a) lose melo for nothing or b) give him a super max contract. Either option is a devastating setback, though losing Melo is definitely the lesser of the two evils.

    Oh, and then after this stretch, we will either a) make the playoffs and be swept by Indiana or Miami in round 1, or b) revert to form and miss the playoffs.

    It was a golden opportunity wasted. We should have fired Woodson weeks ago, and we should be lining up realistic trades for Melo and Chandler already. Instead, the front office and coaching staff is going to let a series of good results reinforce all the terrible thought processes that got us to this point.

    Yay.

  65. thenamestsam

    I honestly don’t love the trade for either team. For the Bulls, it’s definitely an admission that they’re taking a step back in the short term, which makes some sense. Based on what we saw early in the year I’m not sure they really were a legitimate title contender even with a healthy Rose, they’d just lost a few too many pieces I think, and who really knows when and if a healthy Rose is going to be a reality again. I don’t think stringing this particular team along indefinitely was really the right move here. And given Deng’s injury prone ways and his aging (can’t believe he’s almost 30 already) I think moving on makes some sense. I’m just a little surprised they didn’t get a guaranteed first for him. If that Sacramento pick ends up being the # 11 or 12 pick in next year’s draft (or by some miracle, this year’s) they’ll come out well ahead. But if it ends up never being conveyed then two 2nd rounders and the right to swap once is awfully light for a player as good as Deng. I’m also still not convinced they’ve done enough here to successfully tank this year. Another couple injuries or a mysteriously vague injury bug might be coming.

    For the Cavs I just think this move is delusional. I realize they had to trade some picks for actual players eventually b/c they have too many picks for roster spots, but this is such a short-term move, and that team is still so bad. If they hadn’t effectively whiffed on 3 top-5 picks in the last 3 years they’d be in a perfect spot to make this deal, but as things stand they’re chasing the 8th seed, and then what? Beg Lebron to come home with Deng as a backup plan for all that cap space? Feels like we’re about two years away from them trading Kyrie for picks and starting their rebuild over.

  66. DRed

    For the Cavs I just think this move is delusional. I realize they had to trade some picks for actual players eventually b/c they have too many picks for roster spots, but this is such a short-term move, and that team is still so bad. If they hadn’t effectively whiffed on 3 top-5 picks in the last 3 years they’d be in a perfect spot to make this deal, but as things stand they’re chasing the 8th seed, and then what? Beg Lebron to come home with Deng as a backup plan for all that cap space? Feels like we’re about two years away from them trading Kyrie for picks and starting their rebuild over.

    Yeah, I think Cleveland is one of the few teams that is run more poorly than the Knicks. They are just so incredibly bad at valuing players. Even Irving, while a defensible choice, has taken a step back this year.

  67. er

    —-a) make the playoffs and be swept by Indiana or Miami in round 1

    For this to happen the Knicks would have to finish 7 or 8 which i strongly doubt will happen. That fact that you hate the team shouldnt deflect from the fact that the East is even easier to navigate than last year. The Knicks have a legit shot at the ECF if they get hot at playoff time. IMO Indiana is not leaps and bounds better than the NYK at optimal play. If we end up in their bracket we got a shot.

  68. DRed

    The Knicks have a legit shot at the ECF if they get hot at playoff time. IMO Indiana is not leaps and bounds better than the NYK at optimal play. If we end up in their bracket we got a shot.

    Let’s get somewhere near .500 in the garden before we start putting ourselves in the finals.

  69. Hubert

    Owen
    January 6, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    At some point CAA will realize Smith is a lost cause and not likely to play in the NBA long term and will let Woodson cut bait…..

    I like what you did there.

    Amazing that it’s up to them, isn’t it?

  70. KnickfaninNJ

    I can’t believe anyone thinks Melo has a similar value to Deng. I agree that advanced stats value two way players more than scorers, but Melo led the league in scoring last year and is having a great year this year even. The market for NBA players values scoring much more than this board does. Even here recently we were discussing Melo for Griffin in terms of it being a roughly even deal. If the Bulls traded Deng for Griffin would you think that a fair trade?

  71. Hubert

    That fact that you hate the team shouldnt deflect from the fact that the East is even easier to navigate than last year.

    I think the fact that the East is awful is deflecting you from the fact that we’re one of the worst teams in it.

  72. Igno-Bot 3000

    I can’t believe anyone thinks Melo has a similar value to Deng. I agree that advanced stats value two way players more than scorers, but Melo led the league in scoring last year and is having a great year this year even.

    Do you feel he’s worth $100 million more in guaranteed money than Deng?

  73. er

    —Do you feel he’s worth $100 million more in guaranteed money than Deng?

    Where do you get this figure? Deng wants 14 mil a year.

  74. er

    its not about worth anyway, its what can you get. People are willing to pay more for Melo than Deng. Bet Chicago wished they traded for Melo when it was on the table in 11′

  75. KnickfaninNJ

    its not about worth anyway, its what can you get. People are willing to pay more for Melo than Deng. Bet Chicago wished they traded for Melo when it was on the table in 11?

    Exactly. My point was about what people would pay, not what he’s worth.

  76. Igno-Bot 3000

    Even 14 mil/year for say 3 years is almost 90 million less than Melo’s proposed contract.

    My point is that we’re at a major decision point, and while I am a Melo supporter to an extent, I am absolutely considering other options given how f-ing expensive he is going to be. I would rather build a team around a $14/year Deng than a $26/year Melo.

  77. er

    Good luck with that. I just think people are misusing the words “build around” There are like 10-13 guys in the league that you can do that with. And all make 17-20 Mil plus or will be soon.

    Westbrook
    Durant
    Healthy Wade
    Lebron
    Melo
    Paul George
    Love
    CP3
    Harden
    Howard
    Parker
    Dirk
    Aldridge
    Curry
    Boogie

    These are the game changing players in the NBA. Thats it. These are the players you do what it takes build around their strengths.

  78. Frank

    I don’t think Melo is a perfect player by any means (see Lebron James), but really, the only thing wrong with Melo is that he’s in line for a huge potentially cap-crippling contract. His current contract number is NOT what is crippling this team because he is having great (and I mean great) production in terms of what he means to this team. What’s killing this team is that $32MM/year is used up by Amare/Bargnani, that Woodson refuses to play the right lineups, and that yes, injuries have definitely been a problem.

    Melo is a net +16 per 100 possessions this year (+7 on O, -9 on D surprisingly) – that is outrageously good. To give you an idea how good, Lebron was a net +18/100 poss last year after having one of the best years by any player ever basically. Last year, he was without a doubt the centerpiece of the #3 offense in the league, and was essentially a net neutral on defense. This year, it’s without question that he’s worth every penny – they’d probably have 2 wins instead of 11 if he was out all year.

    btw compare to Dwight Howard, who was everyone’s favorite offseason signing, basically making the same $ as Melo. So far this year Howard has been amazing on defense — a net -10 (in a good way) points/100 poss when he’s on the floor. But he’s been just as bad on offense – a net -10 on offense per 100 poss – mostly because he basically refuses to run PNR which he’s great at, which could be analogous to Melo insisting on midrange Js. And it’s not just this year that he hasn’t been great on O -Dwight was a net neutral on offense last year with the Lakers (granted he was injured in the beginning of the year). Does anyone think Howard isn’t worth the money even though he’s basically a net even or negative on 1 end of the floor, not to mention you can’t play him in crunch time because he’s so horrible from the FT line?

    I just think perhaps the pendulum has swung too far away from scoring – rant over.

  79. johnno

    Frank —
    My recollection is that the great James Harden was also a net negative per 100 possessions last year. And wasn’t Melo in the top 5 in the league in net +/- last year? Familiarity breeds contempt and I think that a lot of the people on this site fail to realize/admit just how great Melo really is. (I know, he’s not LeBron or even Durant, but he’s pretty damn good. Just look at the Knicks record with and without him last year.)
    Igno-Bot —
    Where in the world did you get the idea that Deng would take $42 million for three years? He supposedly was asking the Bulls for $15-16/year. He’ll probably get at least $80 million for 5 years this off-season.
    ER —
    I agree mostly with your list, but I don’t think that Wade, Howard or Dirk belong on the list anymore because of injuries/age and I think that it is premature to put Cousins on the list.

  80. Frank

    @johnno – admittedly +/- is not the greatest stat in the world, but I think it can give general sense of value. It probably doesn’t help you with players with small +/- on either side of zero, but for large numbers it seems likely to be valid. I just think what you do – that people really take what Melo brings for granted. Yes, we’d all like him to shoot fewer contested jumpers early in the clock. We’d all like him to bring his A-game to defense all the time. But at the end of the day he’s a damn good offensive player who basically never turns the ball over, and who probably doesn’t hurt you that much (or at all) on defense – certainly not as much as the press would like you to believe. There are very very few non-big players who do as much as Melo does on the offensive end and who can still give 100% on defense. In the current NBA, it’s probably Lebron, Chris Paul, Paul George, and maybe Durant/Westbrook.

  81. DRed

    Good luck with that. I just think people are misusing the words “build around”

    I think you accidentally wrote Boogie Cousins.

  82. DRed

    Melo is a net +16 per 100 possessions this year (+7 on O, -9 on D surprisingly) – that is outrageously good.

    I agree-that is outrageously good. If we have such an outrageously good player leading the league in minutes per game, why are we so goddamn bad? Carmelo plays 40 minutes a night.

  83. Frank

    I agree-that is outrageously good. If we have such an outrageously good player leading the league in minutes per game, why are we so goddamn bad? Carmelo plays 40 minutes a night.

    It’s the same reason why Kevin Love has never made the playoffs. And why Drummond hasn’t ever been on a winning team. And why Troy Murphy was always a top 20 WP player but never made the playoffs. It must be the other guys’ faults.

  84. DRed

    It’s the same reason why Kevin Love has never made the playoffs. And why Drummond hasn’t ever been on a winning team. And why Troy Murphy was always a top 20 WP player but never made the playoffs. It must be the other guys’ faults.

    Andre Drummond has played 77 games of NBA basketball. Might be a bit early to start talking about why he’s not a winner.

    Love has never put up a net +/- higher than a 9, so he’s clearly not in Melo’s league. Which makes it all the more puzzling to me why we can’t beat terrible teams in the East with such a devastating superstar on our team.

  85. Frank

    Andre Drummond has played 77 games of NBA basketball. Might be a bit early to start talking about why he’s not a winner.

    Love has never put up a net +/- higher than a 9, so he’s clearly not in Melo’s league. Which makes it all the more puzzling to me why we can’t beat terrible teams in the East with such a devastating superstar on our team.

    I can’t decide whether or not we’re just trolling each other.

    Anyway, the reason Love hasn’t won more is because he’s been on a team with crappy backcourt players, mismatched frontcourt players, etc. But what’s almost certainly a factor is that Love doesn’t play defense. Sure, he cleans up the board after the defense has been played, but unfortunately he’s just bad at it. But you hear very little about Love’s defensive deficiencies because he gets lots of shiny rebounds.

  86. Frank

    btw, what do people think about going after Andrew Bynum? People assume he’s going to Clips since he has the LA connection, but he’s actually from New Jersey, just 50 miles from MSG. He obviously has attitude and overall weirdness issues, but if he would come, that would be yet another potential asset that could be had for very little (ie. waiving Cole Aldrich), and true center depth is obviously a position of need. I sorta think it’s a no-brainer. Not like that locker room could get any more dysfunctional.

  87. Igno-Bot 3000

    Melo’s current contract fine. I would happy to sign him to a 5/$100 extension even with a possible age-related decline. I think a 5/$129 extension is ludicrous and would cripple the team. We’re talking in hypotheticals at this point but if you have Deng at 3/$42 you could sign some nice pieces at that cap space. Deng isn’t a superstar but he’s a good two-way player who would come at a good price. To recap: Melo > Deng. Deng 3/42 > Melo 5/129.

  88. Frank

    To recap: Melo > Deng. Deng 3/42 > Melo 5/129.

    Agreed, even as a Melo supporter. But by report Deng’s people have been looking for 15-16MM/year and my guess is someone will look at him with a 4 year 60MM contract. Melo at 5/100-115 is probably > Deng 4/60 IMHO.

  89. ephus

    On Andrew Bynum, from my observations and Zach Lowe’s piece, it seems that there is very little left in that tank. In particular, if you like Andrea Bargnani on PnR defense and transition defense, you would love Bynum.

  90. Igno-Bot 3000

    Seemed like a ticking time bomb unfortunately given how often he got injured throughout his career. I liked that he mentioned at the end how hard he worked in rehab despite the media narrative of him being lazy and/or uncommitted. For all the criticism we have of some of these players, it really goes under-appreciated how hard they have to and do work to come back from injuries.

  91. lavor postell

    Agreed, even as a Melo supporter. But by report Deng’s people have been looking for 15-16MM/year and my guess is someone will look at him with a 4 year 60MM contract. Melo at 5/100-115 is probably > Deng 4/60 IMHO.

    The hope in signing Melo is also that he may be able to recruit some other stars to join him in New York which would be worth the extra money that would be given to him. 5 years/100m with the knowledge that we would be getting say Kevin Love is probably worth it. Deng is a nice player, but I doubt he has the cache to attract perennial All-Stars. Not saying Melo does, but that to me is part of the appeal to the Knicks in re-signing Melo.

  92. Frank O.

    What are the thoughts about Seth Curry.
    He’s performed well in D-league, but the Griz waived him after little playing time. Might be nice to pick up a promising young guard. Can’t have too many of those. Probably a lot better than Smith little bro

  93. DRed

    What are the thoughts about Seth Curry.
    He’s performed well in D-league, but the Griz waived him after little playing time. Might be nice to pick up a promising young guard. Can’t have too many of those. Probably a lot better than Smith little bro

    Why the hell not?

  94. thenamestsam

    Would you rather have Curry than Murry, Tyler or Aldritch?

    I don’t see much point in having both Tyler and Aldrich on the roster personally. Aldrich was getting zero minutes even before Tyler was on the roster even when we had an injury crisis up front. I really can’t imagine what situation would have to arise for whichever of them is lower on the depth chart to get a single significant minute. I’d cut one of them for Curry I think.

  95. The Ghost of Ted Nelson

    The hope in signing Melo is also that he may be able to recruit some other stars to join him in New York which would be worth the extra money that would be given to him.

    This was basically the strategy when Walsh signed Amar’e. And it worked, to an extent, as players did want to play in New York with him. But these players didn’t want to come play in New York for free, and it’s one thing to recruit players, but it’s another to have to actually pay for them (whether in cap space or in assets surrendered to obtain them (or both)).

    And a “Big Two” of a 30+ year old Anthony and Kevin Love isn’t winning a whole lot without a diverse group of young and developing players around them. Not our typical D-leaguers, malcontented discounts, and retirees that we’ve been forced to go to battle with since way back when Isiah looked to the likes of Vin Baker and Qyntel Woods because he didn’t have any legitimate options at his disposal.

  96. DRed

    Would you rather have Curry than Murry, Tyler or Aldritch?

    The correct guy to cut stands 7’0″, loves pasta and is named Andrea Bargnani.

  97. iserp

    Melo’s current contract fine. I would happy to sign him to a 5/$100 extension even with a possible age-related decline. I think a 5/$129 extension is ludicrous and would cripple the team. We’re talking in hypotheticals at this point but if you have Deng at 3/$42 you could sign some nice pieces at that cap space. Deng isn’t a superstar but he’s a good two-way player who would come at a good price. To recap: Melo > Deng. Deng 3/42 > Melo 5/129.

    Yeah, i don’t think that Melo taking the full max is a given. What happens if NY offers $90 million / 5 years? He might go looking elsewhere, but is he going to find something that much better? The main competitor for Melo is the Lakers, and they have shot themselves in the foot with that $24 million a year they have given to Kobe. NY might be struggling, but that is still an incredibly good contract, NY is a nice city, the knicks are bound to have loads of cap space in 2015, and if he takes a bit less than the max, that may entice other stars to take a little bit less than the max to join.

  98. knickster

    What happens if NY offers $90 million / 5 years? He might go looking elsewhere, but is he going to find something that much better?

    Dolan & Co. are too afraid of risk to even consider it. As I have posted in the past, Carmelo does not have too many options at this point and may not opt out after all for fear of receiving a JR Smith-like free agent reception.

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