2008 Season Preview: Conclusion

With a tip of the hat to Stephen Colbert (and Tom Ziller), I present my thoughts of the 2008 season divided between the optimist and pessimist in me.

Optimist: Ready for a new season to begin?

Pessimist: Ready for a new season to end?

Optimist: Awww c’mon. You can’t tell me you’re not excited about 2008?

Pessimist: What’s to be excited about?

Optimist: Oh where to start? Another year of improvement for Lee, Balkman, and Nate. Yet another Isiah Thomas rookie find in Wilson Chandler. And ummm… Zach Randolph!

Pessimist: You’re kidding right?

Optimist: This is easily a playoff team. All we need to do it make the playoffs. Remember 1999? We almost stole a trophy!

Pessimist: I remember 2004. We got kicked in the ass by the Nets of all teams.

Optimist: Ok look, Zach Randolph replaces Frye. You have to admit that’s a plus, right?

Pessimist: Yeah but Randolph sends Lee back to the bench and eats up some of his minutes. That’s got to be a minus. We need Zach Randolph like Iran needs a nuclear weapon. Oh no – now I’m worried about nuclear war!

Optimist: Calm down. Listen David Lee will get his 30 minutes a game, I promise. It’ll be Malik Rose that loses his time this year.

Pessimist: Then why did Malik Rose get so much playing time in the preseason?

Optimist: You can’t take too much stock in preseason. Besides Curry and Randolph make a formidable frontcourt. I saw it on that commercial.

Pessimist: Do you believe everything you see on tv?

Optimist: Don’t you? Remember when you wanted to get that Medic Alert bracelet?

Pessimist: But what if I fall and can’t get up? Anyway, who is going to play defense?

Optimist: Curry can get back to blocking 1.2 shots per 40 like he did in 2006. Randolph’s rebounding will help the defense as well.

Pessimist: You expect me to believe that?

Optimist: Actually yes I do. But the defense will be better this year. Renaldo Balkman will get more minutes and that’ll certainly help the defense. We have a pair of guys that can defend in the backcourt in Jones and Collins. For years you cried about not having a single defender on the perimeter. Now we have 5 if you include Richardson and Jeffries.

Pessimist: The problem is that other than Richardson, none of these guys are going to see a lot of court time. Jared Jeffries will take the minutes Balkman deserves, and Jeffries is a mediocre defender. Besides how many minutes are Collins and Jones going to see? Marbury and Crawford both averaged more than 35 minutes a game last year. Robinson will get at least 20. By my calculations that only leaves 6 minutes a game for Collins and Jones. So 3 minutes of good guard defense, and 20 minutes of Balkman is going to make this a better defensive team?

Optimist: Balkman will play about 25 min/g this year. And you know he’s a stud defensively. Isiah will cut back on Crawford and Marbury’s time – he was quoted as saying he’s committed to everyone playing defense, and he singled out the guards. If Crawford and Marbury don’t play good defense, there’ll be more court time for the better defensive players.

Pessimist: I’ll believe it when I see it. And even then I’ll be a bit skeptical.

Optimist: Look you have to admit that we have a lot of talent on the roster.

Pessimist: I do see the talent, but you have to see that the roster is horribly mismatched. It’s like trying to make Thanksgiving Dinner with only a fridge full of condiments. Randolph would be a good fit in Chicago. The Spurs would love David Lee. Robinson would excel in Golden State. Washington would probably take Jared Jeffries back (maybe for free). But those are 4 different systems. Those players don’t fit in well to the Knicks’ team concept – whatever that is.

Optimist: It’ll take time for Isiah’s team to gel. That happens with teams that have a lot of turnover. This is how I see 2007. The Knicks are healthier – so that alone will make them better. Crawford and Robinson have drastically improved their games – you could see it in preseason…

Pessimist: I thought you said “you can’t take too much stock in preseason.”

Optimist: Don’t interrupt. Where was I? Oh yeah. Less injuries this year. Improvements by Crawford (less bad shots – more going to the hoop) and Robinson (good passing). Continued fine play by Lee. More PT for Balkman. A very deep team (sorry Nichols and Jordan – we’re too deep!) We have two X-factors in Morris and Chandler. Increased offense by adding Zach. Better commitment to the defense by Curry. The Knicks are a 43 win team – maybe do a little damage in the playoffs.

Pessimist: Wow that’s optimistic. This is what I see. Randolph and Curry just make each other less effective on offense, and are the world’s worst defensive tandem. Crawford still misses 9 shots a game. Robinson, Balkman, and Lee struggle to find playing time because Isiah has to play his vets. Jared Jeffries sees 24 min/g. Again. And Malik Rose is on the court in crunch time. Nobody plays any defense. Oh throw in some nuttiness. Let’s see last year we had a trial, a fight, and Jerome James starting a handful of games. This year we trade one of our promising younglings for Damon Stoudamire, Isiah plays around with running the offense through Jared Jeffries, and Demetris Nichols drops 30 on opening day.

Optimist: Can’t you be a little serious?

Pessimist: Ok scratch that last part. The biggest problem the Knicks face is the changing East. The Bulls will get better as their young players age. Cleveland, Detroit, and Miami are still at the top. Toronto is looking promising. New Jersey stomped us twice in preseason. Orlando should be better as well. Oh yeah and don’t forget what the Celtics did. That’s 8 teams better than the Knicks. Don’t forget that Washington still has Agent 0, while Charlotte and Atlanta have good young talent as well. Hell even Indiana and Philly had better records than us last year. So where does that leave us? I say another 33 win season.

Optimist: Can you be a little more pessimistic?

Pessimist: More pessimistic? Sure – how about 37 wins, and Isiah keeps his job another year?

Optimist: I guess I should be careful what I ask for.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

33 thoughts to “2008 Season Preview: Conclusion”

  1. I’d like to see the Knicks win about five or six of their first ten games. Haven’t they started the last several seasons 1-9 or 2-8 every year? It seems that they get well, well, below .500 before figuring anything out, and then they struggle all year to even get to within a dream of the playoffs. It’s a macro version of they way they play individual games: get way behind and then pull some miracles to see if you can catch up. Win a few games early, Knickerbockers.

    BTW, the site looks good, but why is it blue and RED? Shouldn’t it be blue and ORANGE?

  2. Optimist/Pessimist has it well covered! Many of us are torn between wanting to see the Knicks win, but wanting Zeke to go — and we can’t have it both ways…

    I guess I’m rooting for the second-unit to get more minutes than the first unit. I just find that group easier to root for than Marbury/Curry, and I think they are our strength vs. other Eastern clubs…I’m open to falling in love with Randolph, I want to believe… but I need a few more dates first… :)

  3. At least we’ll get to keep our lottery pick if all else fails, right? That should be a nice change of pace..

  4. that was a good read!(the pessimist won the argument)

    anyone else annoyed that the season started tues. and we still haven’t had our first game? lets get this blowout to Clevland over with!

  5. Mike K., that must have been fun to write. And it doesn’t always work, but yours did.
    I take issue with one thing: You say Crawford has improved and it was evident in the preseason.
    I think he shot something like 25 percent for the preseason. I don’t see that as improvement.
    And Isiah’s answer to that problem was he should shoot more. Nightmare.
    I have to say, someone that has surprised and made me wonder is Chandler. He has an outside shot and is powerful. He could work his way into this rotation and possibly steal minutes from some of the vets.
    But I’m predicting there will be a changing of the guard, with Crawford and Marbury losing minutes.
    I really like the idea of a Chandler-Balkman-Marbury/Robinson combo, or a Balkman-Q-Marbury/Robinson grouping.
    I also think Lee will eat Rose’s minutes.
    You’re going to see a much shorter rotation this year.
    Also, expect to see Morris getting more minutes over time, possibly at the expense of Curry.

    Why play vets that get you at most a losing record this year? To me, if you’re going to struggle to get to .500, you might as well do it with the young bucks you know have talent.
    The fact that so many credible people like the Knicks’ second team better than their first is telling.

    I bet the Knicks won’t have anyone averaging 35 or more minutes this year.

  6. And this can’t be good…it seems to be starting already…

    New York Post –
    Stephon Marbury revealed yesterday he’s going to look for his shot more this season than last.

    Marbury’s remark was jarring – a departure from his philosophy last season when he talked about reducing his scoring role and deferring to Eddy Curry. It was thought Marbury would further reduce his shot intake with the addition of Zach Randolph.

    But Marbury believes he has to be more of a threat to make this work, and Isiah Thomas has apparently encouraged him behind the scenes to be more aggressive.

    “I’m looking way more for my shot this year than last year,” said Marbury. “When I’m aggressive, it just opens things up for other players as opposed to me last year, I was sitting back.”

  7. when do we start the thread about which of the stud PGs in the draft we’re going to take with our lottery pick to replace Stinkbury? Dec? Jan? Feb?

  8. do we actually get to keep our pick this year? it’s been awhile since i’ve remembered us getting to keep our early pick (channing frye aside).

  9. we won’t be that bad… no reason to think we’ll be worse than last year. but maybe mayo won’t look so good either! or we’ll pull the right lottery ball! a guy can hope.

  10. “do we actually get to keep our pick this year? it?s been awhile since i?ve remembered us getting to keep our early pick.”

    the Knicks have only made two top ten picks in the past 20 years and gave up on both of them after just two years. This tells me several things about the franchise during that time:

    1) Good enough to stay out of the lottery for most of that span.

    2) Traded away more top 10 picks than should have (2002, 2006, 2007)

    3) Had good draft position in years that good draft position wasn’t worth much.

    I guess the point is that it is hard to get back to 1 when 2 and 3 keep happening.

  11. “It?s like trying to make Thanksgiving Dinner with only a fridge full of condiments.”

    …Or a fridge full of turkeys.

    Great read. I think I’ve had that internal dialogue going on in my head for the last few years now. Here’s hoping the Knicks get back to winning ways.

  12. Wait, don’t we owe Phoenix a first round pick as part of the Marbury trade? It seems like this never ends…

  13. Derrick Rose is another player in the running for #1 pick in the draft whenever he chooses to come out. A big, athletic, unselfish PG might be the perfect match and even allow Marbury to slide over to SG.

  14. Funky – Exactly. Screw OJ Mayo. That’s the last thing the Knicks need now. Hibbert would be a perfect fit for the Knicks…

  15. Great piece! I?m concerned about a 37 win season and Isiah keeping his job. But I expect the team to win fewer games. Hopefully, that will lead to a change of the basketball management. I think that the Knicks have more talent this year. As a consequence Curry will be less of the focus on offense and Marbury will hopefully see his minutes reduced. I think that will lead to locker room turmoil (plus the east is stronger) and that is why the Knicks may win fewer games this year than last.

  16. I hope the Knicks lose their first Ten games and Isiah gets canned before December. I consider this to be optimistic-pessimism, as much as i would like to see the Knicks kick ass out of the gate I need to look at the team we have.

  17. after watching the spurs, rockets, jazz and mavs play these opening two nights, my eyeballs and rationale cannot figure out how our knicks can even compete with the elite of the league.

    they do things like move the ball, play defense and take good shots and other weird stuff we haven’t seen in years.

    i look forward to jamal crawford dribbling into a double team and hoisting up a 25-footer, followed by eddy curry being late to help on a drive.

    good times.

  18. Good times indeed. You are absolutely right. They are much better than the knicks.

    I have to say, I love Manu. His line last night was ridiculous. 6-14 with 5 three pointers, 13-14 from the line, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and just one turnover. For those who care, that’s a winscore of 17.5 in 30 minutes, just ridiculous. And he iced the game with six consecutive free throws at the end of the game, while mamphis kept sinking shots.

    The Spurs have good management, but they are where they are basically because they got Duncan, and they got Ginobili.

    Also, listening to this Kobe talk on TNT, it seems like he has the same opinion I have. There is no trade that can happen that will allow Kobe to play on his competitive team. His perceived value is just way too high. Deng for Kobe would be almost a fair trade, given contract, age and talent level. People are talking about Wallace, Gordon, Deng and Thomas. It’s a joke.

  19. It is freaking me out that the Knicks have to wait until the freakin’ FOURTH day of the NBA season for their first game!!!

    Good piece, by the way, Mike.

  20. “after watching the spurs, rockets, jazz and mavs play these opening two nights, my eyeballs and rationale cannot figure out how our knicks can even compete with the elite of the league.”

    that’s the least of our problems, quite possibly no one in the East can compete with those teams.

  21. “I hope the Knicks lose their first Ten games and Isiah gets canned before December. I consider this to be optimistic-pessimism…”

    After (almost) 4 years of Isiah and the way the team has been run post-Layden, I pretty much feel the same way. If Isiah can make this team win, great, but I think the long term interests (aka, contending for a legitimate chaptionship) are for Isiah (and of course Junk Yard Dolan as well) to be removed and a new president given control. Since there’s no getting rid of JYD without outside help, Isiah’s really got to be the guy who goes.

    Goes soon.

  22. “It is freaking me out that the Knicks have to wait until the freakin? FOURTH day of the NBA season for their first game!!!”

    Yeah– why is that. I thought it was still pre-season. Then all of a sudden the stats page in the paper had wins and losses and rankings next to it. Since when has the season begun before Halloween? And, more importantly, why are the Knicks the last team to play? Does this mean we play more back to backs? Do we end last? What’s up?!?

  23. I understand why the NBA would want the Celtics on 11/2, maybe save their most intriguing team for last? But the knicks? It just seems like Stern doesn’t like the Knicks very much. I know he’s a New York Guy, but you get the feeling sometimes that ever since people started speculating that the Ewing lottery was rigged, he’s made it a point to show his dislike for the Knicks. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy and depressed as a knick fan, I just wanna see my team play finally.

  24. Allow me to clarify, I think Stern is torturing Knicks fans by making us wait the longest, that’s all.

  25. ?after watching the spurs, rockets, jazz and mavs play these opening two nights, my eyeballs and rationale cannot figure out how our knicks can even compete with the elite of the league.?

    I agree– I watched about 1/2 of the spurs 1st game and am just amazed by how rock-solid that Tim Duncan is. He really is the difference — rebounding, defending, and NOT turning the ball over. And Parker NEVER turns it over either. It’s amazing considering how much those two guys handle the ball. SA’s 1st 2 games –> 8 TOs, 9 TOs total. That’s like 1 half for Eddy Curry. If the Knicks can somehow just shave 1 TO per quarter off I think we can win 45 games. If not I think we’re looking at 37-42 wins.

    Another thing that amazes me is how poorly our guards feed the post. Last year I bet there were about 4-5 TO’s a game just with having the ball knocked away or stolen on the post-pass. You’d think that a team coached by a Hall of Fame point guard would be better at that.

    And maybe it’s time that Mark Aguirre took a step back and they let someone else coach the big men. Has any Knicks big man actually gotten better under Aguirre? Curry is about the same player as when he came from Chicago, Jerome James is obviously horrible, Frye back-slid in his 2nd year.

    Well, maybe I’ll be completely proven wrong tonight and Curry will put up 20 pts, 12 boards, 3 blocks, and 5 assists and the Knicks will have

  26. 5 assists? 5 assists? The guy is a legendarily bad passer. Curry has yet to crack 3 assists as a Knick.
    Meanwhile he had 11 games last year in which he committed six turnovers or more.

  27. weird. I give up. somehow I guess the board doesn’t want to hear anything more from me. Suffice to say that I was being facetious with my 5 assist prediction. I’d be happy with 5 assists from Curry by the end of next week.

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