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67 replies on “Knicks Morning News (2023.01.22)”
In fairness, it was a $9.99 bottle of Cupcake Pinot Grigio to begin with.
On the other hand, I think it might be time to open up the bottle of Maybe Thibs’ Whole Defense Is Just Mitchell Robinson And Hope They Miss Threes. I’ll go get the decanter.
Silly. We have four really good defenders on our team. Not counting Sims who is in and out of the rotation. Mitch, Grimes, McBride and IQ. We’ve got some other dudes who are average. McBride hardly plays.
If you’re starting best defender goes down, your defense is going to take a hit. The coach isn’t a magician who can magically scheme a good defense when his best defender goes down.
One thing that has always interested me is the interaction between a great interior defender and a wing defender. The way it works sometimes seems non zero sum at the least or almost alchemical at best.
I think Grimes is a very good defender.. And he is going to seem much worse without Mitch behind him I suspect.
Things continue to get interesting in the East:
-TOR loses a close one to the Celts, their 3rd loss in a row since beating us.
-ATL loses to CHA at home. I know it was on A B2B but still…
-The Bulls and Wizards are both playing better (9-6 in last 15, 2 in a row) and looking more like play-in contenders
-Pacers have lost 7 straight and might be headed towards tankville. I guess they miss Haliburton.
-Heat are hard to figure. They have the same record as us but we might be two ships passing in the night…
Bottom line: without Mitch and with our upcoming schedule, Thibs better figure out a way to piece together some wins or we could be in the 11 spot by the all-star break…
yay it’s sunday kb’rs…i hope you all are enjoying the day…
late start time for a sunday game…
i love sundays…stomach is growling so time to head downstairs and rustle up some grub…
As to today’s game, not feeling very optimistic. TOR is in desperate mode again and even with Mitch we don’t match up particularly well. I hope RJ took Scottie Barnes’s comments to heart and shows up big time.
To the folks who think Mitch is our entire defense, let me ask: How was our defense when we had Evan Fournier starting instead of Quentin Grimes?
Of course. But the idea, Swifty, is that Thibs’ “scheme” is actually quite simple:
1. Protect the rim with one elite defender (while simultaneously giving no regard to how that defender impacts the offense).
2. Rely on the statistical variability of opponent 3P% for the rest.
Evidence has been mounting since Day 1. I think it’s about to become overwhelming.
“I hope RJ took Scottie Barnes’s comments to heart and shows up big time.”
That’s a terrifying image.
I wasnt saying that wing defenders don’t matter. Just that performance on defense is hard to disentangle from team defense.
Put another way, I think interaction effects on defense probably are more important than they are on offense.
Thibs’ defense IS built around the one elite defender, but he only has a finite amount of personnel to work with, and all the guys who can defend get minutes. There just aren’t a lot of good switchable defenders with length on the roster, which was why Cam was somewhat tantalizing. None of our three “stars” is a plus defender and those guys play tons of minutes.
Without Mitch the house of cards collapses, unless Sims can do a plausible Mitch-lite imitation. We don’t really have great defensive personnel, and more than one third of the roster can’t get on the floor at all because they stink.
In 3 years that Thibs has coached, Opponent 3pt% has been ranked first, sixth, and second. Opponent eFG% has been 2nd, 8th, and 4th. Defensive rating has been 3rd, 11th, and 11th.
I’m wondering how many seasons it will take to convince those that handwave away these stats that it isn’t due to praying that opponents just miss open 3’s.
Simple works though. The Knicks under thibs have been good at defense. Even last season they started out poorly but ended up still being a top ten defensive team
If it was so simple, why aren’t more teams doing it? Wouldn’t any coach want their team to be a good defensive team and if there was a simple way of doing that, then wouldn’t any decent coach do that?
For all of Brunson’s brilliance on O, he is a significant liability on D. He is elite at drawing charges and that’s about it. That in and of itself compounds the loss of Mitch.
You can probably add to that the reality that RJ is not a particularly good defensive 3 (just ask Barnes). Julius is probably decent as a 4 overall, but certainly has consistency issues at the very least and is far from elite.
Given the defensive personnel he has to work with, losing Mitch is going to be tough to overcome unless Sims and Hart step up in a big way. Sims was pretty good in some regards vs. ATL, obviously not Mitch, but we had bigger problems on D than that and I doubt we would have won even with Mitch if the others played the way they did.
“If it was so simple, why aren’t more teams doing it? Wouldn’t any coach want their team to be a good defensive team and if there was a simple way of doing that, then wouldn’t any decent coach do that?”
It’s FAR from being so simple. Thibs’ defensive schemes are notoriously complex. It’s hard to execute and the players are not perfectly suited to executing it (and some of that is on Thibs.) But they execute it enough to virtually guarantee a defense that is better as a whole than the sum of the parts.
I’m not handwaving them at all. In fact, they support my thesis.
Could you describe this complexity?
All I’ve ever seen is a dinosaur who is the last guy in the NBA to play multiple non-shooting bigs at all times. A lot of coaches could come with that strategy, too, but they don’t think it’s worth the tradeoff on the other end.
“If it was so simple, why aren’t more teams doing it? ”
Because they don’t want the offensive and other costs of employing a center(s) who can’t (or isn’t allowed to) do anything but hover under the basket on offense.
Not just a center. We have played two bigs at all times for 3 seasons. And none of them have been able to shoot (save Randle in his all-nba season). That’s the scheme. Sell out on offense to protect the rim and get defensive rebounfs.
It’s not complex. It’s not moneyball. It’s archaic.
It’s FAR from being so simple. Thibs’ defensive schemes are notoriously complex. It’s hard to execute and the players are not perfectly suited to executing it (and some of that is on Thibs.)
Nope — they’re actually far *less* complex than those of the teams who have to defend the rim by means other than employing a 7 footer to just hover around the rim.
Remember “One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest” where McMurphy realizes how tall Chief is and just strategically sticks him under the basket?”
“Rely on the statistical variability of opponent 3P% for the rest”
“Statistical variability” implies “dumb luck.” Sure there is variability on any given night against any given team. But your “thesis” suggests that:
a) there is no long-term consistency in the metrics that Thibs focuses on, i.e. that funneling a team’s offense towards a particular type of shot taken by a particular type of player resulting in a consistently low eFG% is somehow “variable” even though we now have nearly 3 years of data that it isn’t
b) that there are no adjustments made, either in game or over time, regardless of the opponent, injuries, etc.
I don’t see the point of engaging in broad-brush analysis that washes over all the nuances of what is really going on. Every defensive scheme ever created is subject to short-term statistical variability. The best ones are effective enough to result in long-term statistical consistency. I don’t think there is a defensive scheme that one can point to that has been consistently as effective with such mediocre defensive personnel as the Knicks has for the last 3 years.
E is for echo?
This is hogwash. There’s never been any evidence that our opponents’ 3PAs come from bad shooters or bad spots on the court. It’s just wishcasting.
“Nope — they’re actually far *less* complex than those of the teams who have to defend the rim by means other than employing a 7 footer to just hover around the rim.”
First, there is something called an illegal defense that doesn’t permit it to happen if opponents don’t want it to.
Second, the Knicks are 22nd in blocked shots per game. They are also 22nd in DREB%. I’m sure those percentages are better when Mitch is on the floor, but the notion that Mitch is just hanging around the rim without any responsibility on the perimeter is absurd. He’s 54th in DREB%, tied with Steph Curry and behind Tyler Herro. Sounds like he’s actually roving away from the rim chasing blocks and cutting off PnR ball-handlers than hovering around the rim.
“This is hogwash. There’s never been any evidence that our opponents’ 3PAs come from bad shooters or bad spots on the court. It’s just wishcasting.”
So 2.5 years worth of consistent data is based on dumb luck. Okay.
Maybe next I’ll ask a half-assed plumber to boil down the nuances of open heart surgery.
“Second, the Knicks are 22nd in blocked shots per game.”
All that shows is that things aren’t really working according to plan even on Thibs’s own terms.
“Sounds like he’s actually roving away from the rim chasing blocks and cutting off PnR ball-handlers than hovering around the rim.”
All manner of players can do this; you don’t need an extremely offensively limited 7-1 guy to do it. Indeed, it’s silly to deploy a 7-1 offensively limited guy in that role.
Most 3PA are open, so opponent FG% on them as a standalone statistic is just worthless. You need a lot more than that to prove this whole “funnel” theory.
The best way to indicate how well a team is defending the three point line is not looking at percentages. It is by looking at how many attempts they allow. Good defenses funnel 3PAs into long 2PAs, not open 3PAs by bad shooters.
This year the Knicks allow the 2nd most 3PAs in the league. Last year it was the 7th most. Two years ago it was 10th.
Arsenal game was amazing. Holy cow.
Unlike the Knicks they seem to have learned some lessons from the last 20 years.
“In 3 years that Thibs has coached, Opponent 3pt% has been ranked first, sixth, and second. Opponent eFG% has been 2nd, 8th, and 4th. Defensive rating has been 3rd, 11th, and 11th.”
He got lucky 3 years in a row? 😉
Seriously, it’s not complicated, but the Thibs hate is thick so no one wants to consider that he has players scouted so well from film and data, the defense is pushing players to spots on the floor (left side, right side, straight away, dribbling left or right etc.. ) to take shots they “as individuals” are less efficient at making. To the extent our defense is successful that impacts the results favorably at the margin.
Mitch has clearly been a net positive on offense this year, because of his elite offensive rebounding. At the absolute worst you can’t say he’s been a liability, because the Knicks have a high offensive rating.
The Knicks’ strong performance on offense doesn’t seem to be a fluke, the combination of low turnovers and elite offensive rebounding is effective. With Mitch on the floor, at least.
Oh, I’ve considered it, Strat. It’s just a cockamamie idea that falls apart almost immediately.
“All that shows is that things aren’t really working according to plan even on Thibs’s own terms.”
Not really. It shows that despite Mitch being one of the very best shot blockers in the NBA (5th in blocks per game and BLK%) that as a team we don’t block many shots. This is likely because ther teams have multiple shot blockers on the floor at any given time…which underscores the fact that we have subpar defensive personnel overall. For example, Toronto is 5th in blocks per 100 despite not having a true C. The teams at the top of block rankings all employ multiple long, athletic wings, or even two theoretical C’s like MEM, MIL and CLE. We have zero of these in the rotation, and one on the bench who is there because he stinks at basketball.
“All manner of players can do this; you don’t need an extremely offensively limited 7-1 guy to do it.”
The conversation has been exclusively about defense, but okay. We’re close to being in agreement about Mitch, in that I believe that finding a C that fits the other personnel is something you do after you’ve assembled a core team, which we haven’t done yet. Mitch is very valuable to our team but he should also be viewed as expendable because he masks a lot of underlying problems on both ends and decreases the urgency to solve them.
“This year the Knicks allow the 2nd most 3PAs in the league. Last year it was the 7th most. Two years ago it was 10th.”
And your explanation for why those 3’s have missed at a near league-highest rate for 3 straight years is that Thibs is just lucky.
Obviously there are going to be nights where the matchups are bad, the other team randomly outperforms expectations based on the shots we give up, or we just come out flat or tired. But overall Thibs is doing a good job maximizing our defense given the players we have to work with. We are undersized at guard/wing and have a PF that does give consistent effort, yet we still have a good defense “most” nights.
I do find statistical oddity to be more plausible than the funnel theory.
On the one hand, you’re decrying the fact that Thibs doesn’t have good defensive personnel. On the other hand, you’re suggesting that the same personnel is so well-drilled and able that they can consistently deny their opponent from taking the 3PA they want to take. They can’t deny them anything else, but they can do that. Now that’s brilliant.
Opponent 3p% is affected by the defense. It’s correlated with opponent 2p%. Thibs system limits 2p% which is why opponents shoot poorly from 3 for the past 2.5 years.
Early Bird is exactly right. The question is: does he accomplish this by some notoriously complex system, or is it just Mitch and a second big on the court (just as it was Noel and Taj, etc)?
And the second question is the one that determines the luck factor: how are Knicks’ opponents converting their 3PA vs the expected conversion of those shots by those players?
“Oh, I’ve considered it, Strat. It’s just a cockamamie idea that falls apart almost immediately.”
Except that it’s known that this kind of info is available in scouting reports and some teams track it in much more detail. We happen to have a coach that is obsessed with detail, defense, and game film but you still think it’s all luck? I said after year 1 the luck adjusted data was a noble attempt to measure some of this kind of stuff, but still not capturing everything. And going on year 3 of the same kind of results I haven’t changed my view.
“I find statistical oddity to be more reasonable than the funnel theory.”
If your interpretation of what constitutes the funnel theory is incredibly simplistic, sure, that makes sense.
I’m guessing that if you asked Thibs (or any opposing coach) about his approach to defense, including defending the 3-pt line, it would be a bit more nuanced than “let any opponent shoot open 3’s from wherever they want and hope they miss” because it has worked for him for 3 years and he’s rolling with it until things regress to the mean.
In the 9 games Mitch has missed the Knicks have given up over 130pts 3 times. In the other 38 they’ve only done that 2 times.
In the 8 games Mitch missed earlier in the season, the Knicks had a DRTG of 116.7. That mark would be 4th worst in the league. It did not get better in Atlanta.
BTW we’re now at 7,000+ opponent 3 point attempts into Thibs’ Knicks coaching stint. That’s around how many attempts Steph Curry has for his career. Maybe Steph’s career 42.7% from 3 is just a statistical oddity, eventually we will learn that he’s really just league average.
“We happen to have a coach that is obsessed with detail, defense, and game film but you still think it’s all luck?”
This is just an assumption, though, right? Thibs markets himself this way and his press allies kind of parrot it and he has the weird, obsessive personality that would seem to accompany it — but there’s no reason to really think it’s true.
If he’s so great with detail and game film and targeting the other team’s players and schemes, and “funneling,” then why did he get so badly outcoached, schematically and otherwise, by Nate McMillan in the Hawks series? And why, more generally, is his playoff record so mediocre/poor?
Playoff time is the time to focus like a laser beam on the other team’s players and schemes and to do all the funneling and film watching and attending to detail and weakness exploiting he allegedly does, yet that’s the time he clearly becomes worse. Doesn’t go along with the theory. Undercuts it badly, really.
Will either you or Strat provide any evidence that we’re doing what you say we are? Shouldn’t be hard since it’s been happening for three years.
Early Bird is the only one who said anything cogent. The correlation between 2P% and 3P% is real; it’s easier to run a shooter off the line with Mitch behind you.
But hey, if what you guys are saying is true, we’ll find out soon enough because we don’t use Mitch to funnel on the perimeter, right?
“Opponent 3p% is affected by the defense. It’s correlated with opponent 2p%. Thibs system limits 2p% which is why opponents shoot poorly from 3 for the past 2.5 years.”
What does limiting 2pt% have to do with missing wide-open 3’s? Why would a shooter on a wide-open 3 be more likely to miss because of what is happening inside the arc? Why would there be any correlation unless what was happening inside the arc allowed for the 3 pt line to be more effectively defended?
Hubert, is opining that open 3’s are open 3’s, and the Knicks allow more than other teams do, and that teams are just missing them regardless of what else is happening inside the arc. He called it wishcasting and a statistical oddity. Do you agree with that?
Literally nothing about the Hawks series would lead a reasonable observer to conclude that Tom Thibodeau was some kind of savant at scheming and game film watching and weakness exploiting and funneling. Not a single thing. His defense didn’t do anything special and was essentially lit up. His best offensive player was negated from the first possession of the first game and he made zero adjustments and that player continued to be negated in the exact same way the entire series. (And this doesn’t even get into starting Elfrid Payton after the worst series of ten lead-in games, or whatever it was, possibly imaginable. There’s no way a sane coach, much less a special one, could have dissected the film of those games and said, “Oh, yeah, I’m sticking with Elf.”)
“Early Bird is the only one who said anything cogent. The correlation between 2P% and 3P% is real, and it’s easier to run a shooter off the line with Mitch behind you.”
He’s saying pretty much exactly what strat and I are saying, which is that reducing the quality of 3’s for the opponent is essential to the scheme. Whatever the nuance is as to how that is accomplished, it is a thing for sure. But to cling to the “dumb luck” thesis is pretty dubious at this point. The evidence is overwhelming.
Let’s keep the facts straight, please.
It is not regardless. The theory is quite cleary “Mitch plus variance”, not just “variance”. And the Mitch part is huge.
The theory that I called wishcasting is yours. The one that believes a notoriously complex system is forcing opponents to take 3PAs that Thibs knows they’re bad at making because he watches so much game film.
And since any 7 footer can do what Mitch does, Thibs should still be able to make those funnels work, I presume.
It would be nice to one day have a discussion with E that didn’t devolve into a diatribe about how the 2020-21 Knicks-Hawks series defined in a nutshell Thibs coaching acumen.
What does Mitch have to do with opponents taking more OPEN 3’s than against other teams and missing a higher percentage of them? Please explain how Mitch has anything to do with that.
It’s probably better and wiser in the wake of that series to cease and desist from portraying the Knicks’ coach as some kind of film watching/tendency exploiting savant because he obviously isn’t. Were that stuff not to happen, the series would likely recede into the ethers of Knickerblogger history.
“What does Mitch have to do with opponents taking more OPEN 3’s than against other teams and missing a higher percentage of them? Please explain how Mitch has anything to do with that.”
Because unlike the stretchier 5s, he’s far less available to challenge 3s.
That’s really a simple question, Z-Man, right? If the theory is that Thibs obsesses about having a tall rim-protector, the rim-protector being way less available to contest 3s follows inevitably. If you then consider Hubert’s “they actually play not one, but two, bigs” well then there’s another guy that, everything else equal, isn’t going to be able to challenge 3s as much and they, therefore, become open.
That covers the “taking” part. The “missing” part is likely random chance or something akin to it. That’s what virtually all educated outsiders attribute it to. This year you can probably throw in the Knicks’ inordinate luck in missing the other teams’ top players. (I’d also want to see the methodology behind denominating a triple, “open,” as well.)
This is a very silly thread and I can’t wait for the game thread to start even though I think we’re going to get pounded by an angry bunch of long, fake Canadians who are annoyed about losing last night even though the Celtics ended without Smart and Williams.
“And since any 7 footer can do what Mitch does” captures the tenor of this thread perfectly. No. See Hartenstein, Isaiah.
I’m telling you raven, you can mark down tonight as easy money…
deuce, grimes and sims dig in…julius facilitates and rebounds, brunson gets negated by fvv, and RJ scores a ton of points…
Doing up the good stuff today…eh geo?
IQ questionable for tonight Maybe Thibs will play a 4-man rotation?
“And since any 7 footer can do what Mitch does” captures the tenor of this thread perfectly. No. See Hartenstein, Isaiah.”
Mitch is elite at shot-blocking, lob catching and finishing, offensive rebounding, and defending in space. That is not true for many 7-footers.
He is also horrific at FT shooting, ball-handling, shooting beyond 3 feet, and passing. That is also not true for many 7-footers.
Big hug, Geo. I’m gonna live in your world. At least until the game starts…
January 22, 2023 at 17:02
IQ questionable for tonight Maybe Thibs will play a 4-man rotation?”
That sucks. Fournier time?
Having lurked here for about 15 years, I’ve usually been on board with ‘team pessimism,’ but I don’t understand this argument that Mitch sacrifices our offense on the altar of defense. We have the sixth best offense in the NBA (somehow). Our defense clearly goes from terrible to decent when Mitch plays. His impact metrics on both ends are consistently very strong, but we’re to believe he’s the problem?
E, what offensive ranking do you believe we would have without Mitch? What do you feel Thibs should do with the current personnel? Bench Mitch? Advocate for a trade?
Thibs’ whole schtick is that he brings playoff intensity to regular season games, thus causing the team to overachieve when they buy in. The implication of that is that when playoff time comes around, other teams start doing that too. They have an extra gear, while we don’t, and thus we get exposed in the Hawks series. They’d have destroyed us whether we overachieved in the regular season or not. With the personnel we had, there was no adjustment to make.
And that’s the bottom line for more or less all of Knicks history. Do y’all realize that the best season ever by a Knicks player was an incredibly modest 5.5 BPM outing by Ewing in 1990? Every other team in the league except Charlotte has had a better player in its history, and most have had more than one. We have been so effective at avoiding elite talent that it’s like we were trying. That’s why we have seasons like 2021, and this year, and like I’m sure the next few will be.
“And since any 7 footer can do what Mitch does” captures the tenor of this thread perfectly. No. See Hartenstein, Isaiah.
If you mean the tenor of sarcasm, then yes.
First of all, thanks for coming out of the shadows. Secondly, great name.
I would like to clarify, though, that the argument is not about Mitch, it’s about Thibs. Playing Mitch doesn’t sacrifice anything. The idea is that Thibs sacrifices spacing by playing *two* non-shooting bigs at all times, and has for 3 years. Mitch & Randle, Noel & Randle, Taj & Randle, Taj & Noel (in the playoffs, no less!), Mitch & Obi, iHart & Obi, etc. Throw in the fact that RJ plays all the time and he can’t shoot, either, well…
This tactic is readily available to anyone in the NBA, but they choose not to use it because the tradeoff isn’t worth it.
As for the 6th best offense, I simply urge caution on that one. It’s January and both Brunson and Randle have been outstanding at making hard shots. I don’t expect that to last, but if we’re still 6th at the end of the year I will re-evaluate.
OG is out, so that helps…
Hubert, thanks for the warm welcome!
I can’t help but notice Randle is a part of most of those pairings. Is it really fair to characterize Randle, who has the 4th highest 3p% on the team leads us in 3pa/36 as a non-shooter?
Certainly he isn’t a great shooter, but we are a team of not great shooters.
Seeing as how Thibs isn’t the guy choosing our personnel, what better alternatives has he had? What lineups did he have the option to use that featured 4 shooters better than Randle?
We were basically using a 6 man rotation and now two of the players are out. This is why I complain about us using roster spots on Svi and Archie Diacono, and why things like the incineration of the 19th pick piss me off.
Smarter teams use these situations as opportunities to get looks at guys who might one day be contributors. The Heat discovered Max Strus could play during a stretch of games when Herro was injured. There are many such cases.
I agree with the great clown in town. We’ll know Thibs has a preference for shitty spacing when we have a team of guys who can provide good spacing and he still opts to play all the bully ballers.
Until then, it’s what we got.
Agreed, great name! Although now I’m mildly disappointed nobody thought to take it earlier.
I’m guessing Rose takes IQ’s minutes to add more ballhandling, assuming Grimes & Brunson don’t end up paying 48.