Knicks 2016 Season Preview Roundtable

Is Jerian Grant ready for the NBA?

Kurylo: In preseason Jerian Grant managed a ts% of 42.1%, including 0-4 from three. His last year in college he hit only 31.6% from the shorter arc. That doesn’t bode well for his ability to shoot at this level, especially for a point guard in the triangle. Toss in that I once did a study that showed PG is the position that takes the longest to learn, and I’m doubtful he’ll be able to contribute too much this year.

Gibberman: Any rookie point guard is going to struggle if asked to playing significant minutes in his first season, but in the context of the Knicks I’d consider him ready. Even with whatever flaws he has in his game, below average jumper and defensive issues, his ability to break down a defense off the dribble is desperately needed by New York. The roster can be slow, plodding and unathletic — Grant is the opposite of all these things. He might not be ready per se, but considering the other options the Knicks it will make him look better than if he was on other teams with more competent point guard play.

Cronin: I think Bryan nailed it. It’s interesting, we were just having a discussion of which players on this team would play on good teams. I think Grant pretty clearly would not. He’d be like Dennis Schroder and Shane Larkin two years ago on the Hawks and Mavericks, respectively. But since the Knicks need a point guard, he will play right away here. Now is he ready? I think he’s ready to be not as good as Shane Larkin, but with more upside. In other words, probably not that good this year.

Ephus: I think that he will likely get exposed on defense if he plays when the Knicks face the toughest Western Conference PGs, and the few excellent Eastern Conference PGs. While he may eventually be a plus defender, he is going to have to learn PnR defense without a lot of quickness on the backline. On offense, his pedigree says he will be a good Triangle player, but his 3FG% says he will miss a lot of open shots. I think that if he gets more than 15 mpg, it means that the Knicks are not a .400 team.

Fisher-Cohen: He’s ready for the Knicks as he fills a gaping hole in their roster: dribble penetration. At 0.42 FTA/FGA, a higher ratio than anyone on the Knicks last year other than Shved, Grant’s preseason numbers show a strong ability to get to the rim and give defenses a headache. That is his current NBA skill. His ability to make a positive impact on the team will depend on how well Fisher structures rotations to emphasize that strength and minimize his poor perimeter shooting. That means he needs shooters around him, and he needs to be the creator on offense.

Here are Derrick Williams pre-season scoring numbers: 27.5 pts/36, 67.5% ts%. When the Knicks acquired Williams, I wrote this:

This guy brings nothing to the table. A moderate amount of scoring volume, at an efficiency that would be embarrassing for a New York city street court, and nothing else. He doesn’t rebound, pass, steal, block shots, or even hit threes or free throws at the rate you’d expect from an NBA player.

So my question is: is he going to make me look like an idiot this year?

Kurylo: Prove me wrong Derrick Williams. Prove me wrong!

Gibberman: I’m obviously still not sold on Williams despite his preseason. BUT I’ll say there’s a chance he can give them positive minutes off the bench in an uptempo unit that plays to his strengths. So yep, there’s a chance the dude with the awful hair can make me look like an idiot.

Cronin: My position on Derrick Williams was never really about him as a player, but about the contract. He’s a young player who was drafted highly a few years ago. He’s more likely to be the player he has been so far in his career (i.e. a bad player), but I’ve always allowed that there is a chance that he turns it around this year, and that’s my problem with a two-year deal with a player option after one year. Derrick Williams has not been a good enough player in his career to be getting a contract where if he sucks again, he’ll get $5 million and if he is good, he’ll leave or take a big raise. How does that make sense? Especially since a raise to Williams almost certainly takes the Knicks out of MAX free agent money. And what if the reason a MAX free agent would want to come here is because the Knicks did surprisingly well in large part due to Derrick Williams doing surprisingly well? That’s why I don’t get giving him the player option. He gets all the benefit and the Knicks get all the risk, all for a player who has not played well in his career so far. In other words, he can have a great year and it would still be a bad contract.

Ephus: There are two possibilities with Derrick Williams. #1) He is the player that he has been for the rest of his NBA career, and we should not get carried away with some Pre-Season Stats (combining the worst of small sample size and less than hard-core competition); or #2) He had some impediment to reaching his potential that has now been removed. I’m rooting for #2, but expecting #1.

Fisher-Cohen: If Derrick Williams can really shoot threes now, he becomes maybe a Rudy Gay type player, I guess. A lot of scoring and the skills to be an efficient scorer but not the brain. But I’m fully on board with Brian. Thinking about Williams’ potential is like thinking about that time in 2011 when you almost bought some Bitcoin. It’s over. There’s no way for you to get that value back. The contract we gave him neuters our potential to get any value from him. Okay, sure, he could bump us from 31 to 35 wins this year. Whatever. We should be focusing on developing pieces for the time when we have a chance to be a great team. I would have been happier seeing Jackson give him four years and $28m than the deal he gave him since at least it would have shown Jackson knows you can’t get better by playing conservatively.

Carmelo Anthony was 4th on the team in minutes before the season even started. Should we be worried that one the games count, Fish is going to run this pony into the ground?


Kurylo: I stand on my previous statements that I don’t trust Fisher, and I believe him to be a weak spot on this team. I’m open to the possibility that he’s learned much from last year and will be a better coach this year. However I think the Knicks should be cautious with Anthony’s minutes until they actually need him. It’s unlikely New York will be in contention, so there’s no reason to trot him out for 38.7 minutes per game again.

Gibberman: The Knicks have enough depth in the front court that there’s no reason for Anthony to be playing more than 32 minutes a night. There’s a lack of depth at the wing, but even at the three you can play Williams, Arron Afflalo when both his legs are functioning and Cleanthony Early (ughhh). There’s no reason to run Melo into the ground to get the 8th seed and pounded by the Cavaliers. Fisher needs to trust the other players on the roster and start developing the entire team rather than leaning on his star exclusively.

Cronin: Clearly Melo should play less. It’s pretty obvious. In fact, I think it is so obvious that even a bad coach would figure that out. So if Fisher doesn’t…well, yes, that would not be good. I have faith that he will, though. Heck, Woodson would even play Melo less this season. Dude’s 31, coming off a major knee injury and they have a packed front court!

Ephus: There was a vicious cycle with playing Carmelo Anthony so many minutes over the last two years. In order to keep Carmelo on the court so many minutes, the Knicks needed to play at a walk-it-up pace. At that pace, defenses were always able to get set to deal with Carmelo, so he did not get many cheap baskets. Because he did not get cheap baskets, he had to work hard on offense. Because he had to work hard on offense, the Knicks had to slow the pace. The Knicks need to push the pace this year and get early offense. The only way to make that work is to have fresh legs on the court. That means no one, including Carmelo, should play more than 36 minutes in any game. As a bonus, a fresh Carmelo might actually have the steam to be a positive offensive contributor in the last five minutes of games.

What have you seen from Kristaps Porzingis in the preseason that you’ll be watching as the season progresses?


Kurylo: His rebounding. First off he’s pulled down 11.1 reb/36 in the preseason, which was third highest on the team. Porzy has put on few pounds since summer league, but he still has issues with weakness, especially against bulkier forwards and centers. How many rebounds did he have that the opponent just rip out of his hands during the preseason? I want to see if he’s putting a body on someone when the shot goes up, and if he can hold onto the ball once he’s secured a rebound.

Gibberman: I just want to see continued progress as the season goes on. Can this Knicks staff be trusted to properly develop him? I’m already worried with how stubborn they’re being using him as the starting power forward. I don’t think the skills of the players in the first unit fit Porzingis’ game or having him guard starting 4s is particularly smart at this moment. He’s a very talented individual and there’s a player to extract here. We get to start to see the process of what the Knicks are going to be able to mold him into and I’m excited for that.

Cronin: I agree with Mike about the rebounding. If he can keep up the strong rebounding numbers during the regular season, then that’d be amazing.

Ephus: I think he – like Grant – is going to get exposed on defense. He is stronger than expected, but still not strong enough to hold post position against the tough guys. He does not have the foot speed to chase stretch 4s. But, no matter what he does, he will be a “quantum leap” (to use a Clyde-ism) from Amar’e (aka, the worst defender ever).

Which position is worse, SG or PG?
Kurylo: Guard is certainly a weak spot on this team, but of the two I’m going with point guard. Sure Calderon is steady on the offensive side, but he’s failed to manage 55 games played in two of the last four seasons. If he goes down, Langston Galloway (ts%: 48.9%) and Jerian Grant (see above) don’t seem to be NBA-starter material. At shooting guard Affalo is more likely to stay healthy (has yet to have a season with less than 62 games played) and is a more well rounded player.

Gibberman: Can it be equally terrible? The starting backcourt on opening night is either going to be Jose Calderon and Arron Afflalo or Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic. I have higher hopes for the backup duo of Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway. They at least have skills that somewhat look like a modern NBA guard duo. If those two don’t exceed expectations it could get really ugly fast.

Cronin: Afflalo is definitely the best of a bad batch (right this second, I suspect Grant will eventually be better), so I guess point guard. I’d like to see them pick up a point guard for their final roster spot. Lorenzo and/or Jabari Brown?

Ephus: Shooting guard, but only because PG is so de-emphasized in this offense.

Comments are closed.