In the spirit of Thanksgiving I’m going to list all the things I’m thankful for this year.
* Amar’e Stoudemire’s diversity. Yeah I miss David Lee, but Amar’e is a different player that can contribute in more areas. Take for instance tonight’s game where Amar’e had six blocks. Two of them were in the final 2 minutes. Lee’s career high was four against the Celtics in 2006 during a blowout loss. Amar’e is more well rounded, and perhaps that fits this team better.
* Danilo Gallinari’s moxie. Gallo battled with Stephen Jackson in a physical match-up, and a couple of times it seemed the two might come to blows. The franchise is hoping Gallo will play with more fire, and today he was intense despite having a poor shooting night. It’s an important developmental step to him to stay focused even when his shot isn’t falling.
* Raymond Felton’s production. The Knicks new guard perhaps isn’t best suited for the pick and roll, but he’s playing much better than expected. A true shooting percentage of 59.1% and a PER of 19.6 is much more than I or anyone else thought he’d do in New York. I don’t think he’ll particularly keep it up, but even if he ends up better than last year it’s a plus for the Knicks. His defense isn’t as good as I thought, but he does get a lot of steals. Tonight his last pick won the game for New York.
* Landry Fields’ rebounding. What kind of shooting guard averages 8.3 boards per 36 minutes? Yes he’s listed at 6-7, but he’s still playing the two. I could have said Landry Fields’ brain but I’ll save it for…
* Donnie Walsh’s brain. Yes he’s probably behind the times with stats, and he’s probably missed on a couple of decisions, but what GM has a perfect record? Team presidents are like basketball players – even the best miss 40% of the time. Go back 3 seasons and pretend the Knicks hired a random GM. Do you think for a second they’d have a team with an All Star surrounded by a handful of promising young players?
Look at who was taken after Gallo in the draft and ask who would you have taken instead? Heck the Knicks traded for the other guy they really wanted. In an interview Larry Brown couldn’t have drooled more talking about Landry Fields. Sure Jordan Hill was a bust (sorta) and every statistician in the world would have taken Blair over Douglas. But DWTDD is playing well for a late first.
So take it all together and he’s batting well over what you’d expect from the average GM. Oh and don’t forget the Knicks are going to have enough cap room to grab another superstar.
* Mike D’Antoni’s mustache. With all the criticism I give D’Antoni the average reader probably thinks I don’t like him. Heck if tomorrow Phil Jackson or Greg Popovich accepted the job I’d probably be critical of them too. No coach is going to run a team like I or any other fan would.
Yes I would still be giving Anthony Randolph some minutes, but considering his 32.3 TS% and 27.6 eFG% I can’t argue with that decision much. I’d probably give Billy Walker more run too, but if you saw the way he got around one screen tonight (my grandmother could have closed in on her defender quicker) you’d understand why his minutes are limited. Despite all the hollering he directs at Toney Douglas, TD is out there for 24 minutes a night. And Roger Mason Jr is on the bench, where he belongs.
Even if he’s a middle of the road coach with a quirky system, he’s certainly better than what you might end up with. Like Donnie Walsh he’s not the best, but with a head coach sometimes getting an average one is a win.
* Five game win streak. The Knicks are now .500. This is so beyond what I expected given their poor start, that I’m literally speechless.