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2023-24 Game Thread: Knicks @ Raptors (December Opener, which is technically a thing)

The Knicks head to the Great North to take on those devious intellectual property stealers, the Toronto Raptors, who are having a very odd season to start off this year at 9-10.

They’re not garbage, but they’re not good, they’re just sort of “there.” I expect Masai to make some sort of decision one way or the other on this team soon. Blow it up or retool or something.

Boy, OG would make such a perfect fit on this Knicks team.

Randle is dealing with knee inflammation, which, well, is not something you like hearing about an NBA player period, let alone the Knicks’ only power forward. I am confident that they can win, though, with Hart at the 4 tonight, if that’s what it comes down to. Long term, though, knee inflammation is certainly a worrisome thing.

Read some Ptolemy on the way to 53!

Let’s go, Knicks!

215 replies on “2023-24 Game Thread: Knicks @ Raptors (December Opener, which is technically a thing)”

Julius Randle said “I’m playing bro” to Bundy, so I think he’ll play…

Let’s Go Knicks!

Good point, Z-Man, if Randle does ever miss significant time, we might see some Toppin II: Electric Boogaloo at the Garden.

Also, I think Masai would prefer to sit through an entire JD & the Straight Shot concert rather than make a trade with the Knicks at this point, so go ahead and kiss the OG dream goodbye.

Maybe Thibs will start Jacob Toppin and play him 42 minutes on the night we play the Pacers to show Obi that “you didn’t play any defense, and we got the better one.”

Oh, wait. Does Jacob Toppin play any defense? I doubt that we’ll ever really know.

The assistants called this timeout because Thibs after a basket like this had a seizure…

‘Just arrived to see our guy (Mitch) dunk and our guy (OG) miss.’

Fixed it for you.

Randle reminds me just a bit like a rhinoceros. He’s really impervious to contact.

These new Raptor unis are hideous.

No love for Pantone #167893, i.e. “dried mustard” and black?

Hart is such a skilled finisher in semi-transition, makes you wonder if there are ways to incorporate him more in the half court

Per the highlights between play: Apparently, Thibs doesn’t want anyone to get lost in what’s *not important. He wants everyone to understand what *is important, and that’s winning.

Such a simple game.

I’m just gonna say that I can’t remember (for a very long time) that the Knicks have been passing around looking for the ‘best’ shot’ in the way they are doing this year. The ‘swinging it around the court’ thing is really fun to watch.

Just turned it on. Can anyone confirm that Grimes was on the floor earlier?

imagine the legal bonanza when masai sends back recently signed 57 year old bengali call center warranty specialist ornab g anunobly

I know one day I will rue the day the Knicks gave 8% of the salary cap to Donte, but today is not that day

RJ was stripped a couple of plays ago and they didn’t give him a turnover? :-O

Home cooking! 🙂

I know we don’t turn it over much but every one of our TOs seems incredibly boneheaded

I know we don’t turn it over much but every one of our TOs seems incredibly boneheaded

+1

I know we don’t turn it over much but every one of our TOs seems incredibly boneheaded

Totally. And Randle hasn’t even made his 3, yet.

What happened to Schroeder’s blond streak?

It reappears when he returns to negative BPM

Grimes is in danger of becoming the new Frank.

I really love IQ (really) but I’m still waiting for him to become automatic. He’s just not there, yet.

Getting out-rebounded is … interesting … and unpleasant.

Howdy Doc Bob – how are you sir?

I hope your health is holding up well, and you’re still able to get out on the road to enjoy yourself.

I am still able to get out on the road as I approach 70 but am now being evaluated for chronic kidney disease. Getting old sucks.

Sorry to hear that about your kidney Doc Bob. i have a feeling if anyone can will themselves to better health – it would be you.

It was thinking about you out on the road, mile after mile after mile, that finally helped me understand the whole meditation thing. Thought about you out there gliding along in some kind of zen state just focused on your breathing and bodily rhythm. It all made more sense to me like that.

RJ has made some good passes tonight. It’s not November RJ, but credit.

And IQ just came in. In my dream he just pours in fifteen and then takes a breather.

We should maybe feel a little more urgency to guard the guy shooting 9 for 10 from the field

Edit: 10 for 14

I kind of feel like every guy on the Raptors is exactly the same guy.

And then you have Poeltl

Poetl’s done some work on Mitch – sealing him off, creating driving lanes, pulling him away from the hoop. Subtle pro nuances that have really helped the Raps.

And IQ just came in. In my dream he just pours in fifteen and then takes a breather.

Or Josh Hart. Either way. 😉

I kinda like this idea of having good productive basketball players on the team.

We did to them as is typically done to us in the third quarter

Edit: Hart did to them as is typically done to us …

I’m buying some property on DiVo Island!

Edit: even if he throws up the occasional UFO…

kinda like this idea of having good productive basketball players on the team.

We’ve got a bunch of em. Thibs can just keep throwing solid players out there, it kind of wears the other team down.

OG coming to the Knicks would be Clyde’s worst nightmare

Basketball is fun when all your threes fall

DDV, I don’t know. Was he REALLY worth it?

Was looking at the arena DJ’s nose ring.

How can that not drive you crazy having shit hanging off your face. I mean it looks cool – but how would that not drive someone insane.

I still have the sniffles from the covid shit from last week and that’s bugging me – i’m pretty sure stuff hanging on my face would drive me absolutely bonkers.

it’s just enjoyable to watch the Villanova boys play, those 3 just seem to make the right play every time and the hustle is always there. Hart and DiVo will obviously have ups and downs but when they’re playing this well we’re a hell of a tough team to beat.

Brunson might be the best ‘the play is over — no it’s not’ player ever.

I wonder if the Knicks have ever had a center lead the team in steals per game or if Mitch will be the first if he keeps this up

We kept our streak alive in a brilliant way,
dominating the second half despite being on B2B, good job!

it’s just enjoyable to watch the Villanova boys play, those 3 just seem to make the right play every time and the hustle is always there.

Thibs is basically a rah-rah-effort-beats-talent kind of college coach, so they are prolly exactly what he ordered.

Just looked at our schedule – we only have 1 game next week (tuesday – bucks). This scheduling stuff is all over the place.

julius with another near triple double.

Toronto bricked so many 3s that I kind of understand why they have so many offensive rebounds.

I know people don’t like Randle, but when I see arguments about how he and RJ do similar things and we should get rid of Randle, I really have to wonder

Figured this was a schedule L so that’s a very nice win. Raptors are pretty mid but they were 10-6 at home and they didn’t play yesterday

That’s a great win I don’t care if the Raptors were 0-30 from three. We took it to them.

Hahn, “Knicks 10-0 against teams with losing records.”

“52 points off the bench.” Yikes.

I know people don’t like Randle, but when I see arguments about how he and RJ do similar things and we should get rid of Randle, I really have to wonder

The problem is that both do their best work getting to the rim, but neither is a good 3 point shooter and Mitch has no range at all.

One reason we see so many nights of bad RJ or bad Randle is that some nights they can’t get inside, when they do get inside they are getting doubled, taking tough shots or forcing passes. If they are being given the 3 instead they not consistent.

Look back at the pre NY days when Randle was very efficient. He was often playing C in space. He’s not a C and is not going to play C on a Thibs team, but he would be more efficient with a stretch 5 and/or a SF that could shoot. Same with RJ if we had a more consistent stretch PF. In fact, Brunson would be better also in better space, but he’s so slick and such a good shooter he can overcome the lack of space.

Great win, but it was mostly 3 point shooting variance.

Toronto was terrible and DDR was great.

I still think that Toronto team is better than they look. They are long, athletic, move the ball well, and are capable of defending well. I’m not sure what their problem is, but it could be a locker room thing, that a lot of the team is constantly in trade rumors or that they think they can’t get paid in Toronto.

Strat I think Rama’s point is that, be all that as it may, Randle has demonstrated the ability to hit a lot of those shots over the course of a full season and RJ has not.

I think some people are a little too quick to hand wave that detail away when saying we should keep RJ between the two.

Great win, but it was mostly 3 point shooting variance.

True but if we can “crowdsource” a serviceable 3pt% from among IQ, Hart, Devo, and, yes, Grimes, it may help sort your (sensible) complaints above about Randle and RJ.

Coming into tonight the Knicks had the 7th best 3pt % in the NBA, they’re a good 3pt shooting team.

Are we in the Jalen Brunson signing was a top 3 franchise changing move part of the play?

Where does Brunson stand in the NBA rank of players right now?

The DDR signing looks a lot better with Grimes not only not taking the expected step forward, but taking a step back instead.

There are still problems though. DDR and Hart were both playing well tonight, but Quickley was fine and only got 19 minutes.

Something has to give.

If I was Quickley, I’d be thinking seriously about free agency, leaving, and getting paid somewhere I was going to play. He’s not going to get the starting PG job from Brunson and there’s such a glut at SG, he can’t even get enough minutes playing backup PG and some SG with Brunson.

Strat I think Rama’s point is that, be all that as it may, Randle has demonstrated the ability to hit a lot of those shots over the course of a full season and RJ has not.

I’ve gone back and forth between which of the two I think we should trade. It may be that we should trade both. But if it’s going to be one, I’m in the trade Randle column now and I’m not going anywhere.

IMO he’s a low IQ basketball player, inconsistent, moody, has shown no ability to perform at his highest level in the playoffs and overall does not add much to winning.

These occasional great games mean nothing to me. I’ve seen dozens of them and they are always followed by trash decision making, bad TOs, lack of effort on D, moodiness etc… He’s not adding anywhere near what the stats say.

We’ll see where RJ is this season over time. A handful of bad games is no more significant than a handful of very good ones. I think the most likely scenario is that he has just inched forward again. That’s not enough to get us where we have to go, but he’s not done improving long term. I’d rather have him at 23 and whatever he has left to give than Randle at 29 being tortured watching him.

Where does Brunson stand in the NBA rank of players right now?

Brunson is a short, stocky guy in a long and lean league, so he will prolly never get his fair due from anyone. But, as the feller says, “Sometimes there’s a man who … well … he’s the man for his time’n place, he fits right in there ….” And that’s Brunson 😉

Tuesday!!!

Strat, I mostly agree with you these days but Randle is a much better basketball player than RJ. Full stop.

Yes, Randle has made two all star teams and a second all NBA team bc he occasionally has a good game. 🙂

I think around top 20-25 for Brunson is realistic, basically a solid all-star, mostly because we have to take into consideration that he’s just not a good defender. That’s can be fine if you’re productive like Jokic, but for Brunson it has to knock him down a bit on the rankings.

That doesn’t change the fact that for this particular team and franchise he’s more impactful than that, he’s a leader, a hard worker everybody loves etc, all the hard to quantify things we’ve been seeing since he arrived.

Yes, stats like points and rebounds and assists are just lies I tell you! RJ has a cool demeanor, which is much more important to winning basketball games than points, rebounds and assists.

Brunson may not be a great defender but there are lots of dudes that casuals and pundits would rank higher than him who are also not good defenders. He’s seriously underrated (as is Randle, IQ and Mitch). Our team and its players still don’t get the respect they deserve and a lot of players on far shittier teams are hyped more than our dudes. Whatever though. We’re busting heads and are making the ECF this year so it’s all good.

Our team and its players still don’t get the respect they deserve and a lot of players on far shittier teams are hyped more than our dudes.

Couple days ago SGA was featured by (Warhol’s) INTERVIEW magazine in which Kim Kardashian asked him about his skin care regimen (among other things). Can’t wait for Mitch’s feature in same ;-$

I would not have put jalen brunson in the top 10 of league point guards at the beginning of the season.

As KBA says – he is the dude though. Don’t look the part in a photo op – but, he is the dude for our team and more importantly in the league.

He and julius are a 1a and 1b situation for us. Toronto has some pretty good players – jalen and julius were just so much better than anyone else playing tonight.

I have no doubt that jalen brunson is a championship level player. Hopefully he can drag everyone else along with him.

I feel like we have not lost any games we were expected to win and we have already won two games you might expect us to lose (tonight I expected a loss bc road game b2b, and the two road games in Atlanta I think a split was expected but we got them both).

This team then is about 2 games over expectations, IMO. That’s quite nice.

Earl Watson is sitting in on the nbatv desk tonight. It’s funny, i think of earl watson as being being kind of short, cause he spent a lot of time standing next to really tall people.

Earl is a very stately six foot one inch tall though.

Anyways, Earl is talking up the knicks. I’m liking Earl 🙂

Randle creates space for others by drawing double teams. He’s had 5 or more assists in 13 of 19 games this season. The turnovers drive everybody crazy as they should but he doesn’t get enough credit for reliably drawing two and hitting guys for open threes. RJ is a much bigger spacing issue than Randle. Randle is infuriating but he’s capable of long stretches of really good all-star caliber play- I don’t know that RJ ever will be.

The NBA just has a really incredible amount of talent today, saying Brunson is a top 20 player is already a lot when we have such a varied mix of players in their prime, like Jokic, Embiid, Giannis, Doncic, Tatum, Booker etc, older vets who are still elite like Butler, Durant, Curry and Lebron, Lillard, Davis, Kawhi, George, etc and a bunch of stupidly talented rising stars like SGA, Anthony Edwards, Scott Barnes, Haliburton, etc, even guys like Sengun, Chet, Wembanyama, Franz Wagner are posting crazy numbers lately.

I don’t think it’s a slight at all to Brunson to say he belongs in this category but not at the very top, it’s just that the sum of what he brings to the Knicks is more important than his production taken in a vacuum, which is really good already.

Jesus, Strat, we just won a nice game. Give it a rest for a day.

Edit — the shit about IQ walking. Just don’t.

I was really confident about this one even if Randle didn’t play, but it was a really nice win overall. If you’re a sub-.500 team, the Knicks likely will beat you, and I don’t mean that as a shot at all. It means that Thibs makes them always keep their eyes on the prize, while so many other teams can be easily distracted. It doesn’t mean that the Knicks are better than, say, the Celtics, but I can easily see the Celtics losing to a shitty team (which they have) while it would surprise me to see the Knicks lose to a sub-.500 team.

Hahn, “Knicks 10-0 against teams with losing records.”

This is the streak I was talking about 😉

New York @ Toronto W 119-106 Record 12-7

The New York Wildcats* got a very nice win on the road in a BTB against a puzzling Raptors team (more on them later) raising their record against sub .500 teams to 10-0 and winning their third straight overall.

Feasting on inferior opponents is not a thing we’re accostumed to, but it’s exactly what the Knicks are doing this year, if your aren’t a good team** we’re going to beat you and sometimes beat you easily (like tonight).

In one of the season’s best games so far, a nuclear stretch by J-Hart in the 3rd quarter broke the game open and Donte’s hot shooting in the 4th (12 points, 4-5 3FG) demoralized the Raptors into submission removing even the remote idea of a comeback.

Next: some rest, then a trip to Milwaukee for the Silver Cup’s quarterfinals. Do you feel the thrill?

* The Nova’s guys plus Kentucky’s Julius combined for 80 of the Knicks’ 119 points.

** Note to myself: “not good teams” usually go to the lottery, not the playoffs.

THOUGHTS:

– The Raptors are a very good bad team, a jumble of B-type players (with Scottie the only one with the right combination of talent and age to become something more*) who can beat any team in the right night (not when shooting 6-32 on treys) but with a play-in ceiling.
Giving the contract status of many players Masai is due to meaningfull decisions soon.

– Speaking of Masai, he robbed a couple of minus habens Knicks’ FO, put together a better version of a B-type players team in Denver, got Kawhi basically for nothing because the Spurs wanted to send him in a place that he hated and rode him to a title win against the injury-ridden Warriors**.
Honestly to me his following moves has been questionable at best and I’m eager to watch what he’ll do this time.

– Winning a B2B on the road so smoothly was very nice, even more with some guys having below average to bad games (IQ, Mitch, RJ, Grimes).

– JB messed up his percentages a bit at the end, but he set the tone of the game… and draw at least 35 charges, a thing I’m always worried about.

– On offense this was one of Julius’ best game of the year, he was in control most of the time and beat the double-teams well.
On the other side of the ball, with the build-in excuse of the inflamed knee (it was said it at least 10 times during the broadcast) he just didn’t give a fuck about defense for most of the game.

– Migraines robbed us of Good-RJ, I’m a bit sad because this old version (better FT% aside), is again maddening like few things in basketball.

– A Shooting Guard that basically never shoot, does it at a 36.3% clip (34.9% 3FG) and needs 19 games to hit his first free throw of the season? Welcome to the Grimes Show…

* Siakam’s 29 and in his 8th season, OG’s 26 (7th), Poeltl’s 28 (9th), Trent’s soon to be 25 (7th).

**
There no way a full-roster Golden State lose that serie.

PLAY(S) OF THE GAME:

It wasn’t a play…

– Josh Hart subbed for RJ with 4:54 to play in the 3rd

– Missed his first shot

– Took his own OReb and started a 3:34 15-consecutive points run in which he hit the next 6 shots (including 3-3 from three).

Hilarious.

STATS OF THE GAME:

30-45 Knicks assisted FGMs. My team-oriented soul rejoices.

16-36 (44.4%) vs. 6-32 (18.8%) We shot the treys a little bit better than them. Juuuuust a little.

48-43 The pride of New York were unusually outrebounded, mainly because the Raptors missed a gazillion of shots and took 19 offensive boards.

GRADES:

Brunson A-
Unquestionable leader of the team.

Randle A-
Offense giveth (a lot) defense taketh (some).

Barrett D+
After a very good start he fell into a deep hole (5-12 2FG, 1-6 3FG), got blocked, missed a dunk… he had 6 assists, so there’s that…

Robinson C+
Quick hands on D (4 STLs) but in my opinion Poeltl had a better game.

Grimes D
We were waiting for a big step up, this season so far has been a meaningful step back. He has time, but he needs a ton more swagger.
Starting spot’s wobbling with every passing game.

Quickley C-
Better than the Detroit game, but we’re a little spoiled…

Hart A+
8 Rebs, 2 Ast, 1 Blk, above average defense. We know him as a do-it-all glue guy but on nights (or half quarters?) where his shot goes in he’s simply perfect.

Hartenstein B-
8 boards in 16 minutes, not bad.

Donte DiVincenzo A
His +/- is 0, another strong case against it :-).
We signed him to add shooting and defense, he’s shooting 43.4% from long range and playing smart defense, with quick hands and good readings. Plus his chemistry with JB and J-Hart is a pleasure to watch.
Tied his career high in triples (7).

Thibs A
Rode the hot hands and benched the cold ones, a good thing. Add that for once we had a great 3rd quarter (maybe Red Bull works better than valerian herbal tea?) and so he deserves kudos.

We won because we shot well from three and Toronto shot horribly. Hopefully we can keep it up for a full season. They beat us on the glass, which will hurt us against the better teams. If Randle breaks down, it will be Mitch or I-Hart as Gulliver and the rest of the lineup will be Lilliputians. I don’t think that’s a formula for success. Tall basketball players are useful.

Z-Man, I know your sarcastic question isn’t for me and my humble question isn’t “specifically” for you, but for many here, but:

where’s the meaning of rekindling the flame of arguments over and over?

Taking victory laps after one win only means that others will take one after a loss.

And how can people express opinions if after every basket, every turnover, every quarter those opinions are mocked?

Is it so important to “win the internet”?

I don’t understand this world, I really don’t…

P.S.: I’ll said it again, I’m not pointing at you as the lone “agent provocateur”, there are many, I just think it doesn’t make this a “healthy” place to exchange opinions on a stupid thing like basketball…

Obi Toppin is indeed a tall player. One would think he would get more rebounds than Lilliputians like Josh Hart, DDV and IQ.

If Randle gets hurt and our lack of tall players becomes an issue, it won’t be hard to find a tall player that actually plays like a tall player.

“where’s the meaning of rekindling the flame of arguments over and over?

Taking victory laps after one win only means that others will take one after a loss.”

These players were specifically mentioned in yesterday’s discussion. Context is important.

I’m glad we won yesterday and I think the team is pretty good, but I still would like to have a 22 year-old guy averaging 17/9/3 per-36 with a .673 TS% who makes $2.8M on the team. I don’t view these thoughts as mutually exclusive.

And frankly, Max, it’s the constant re-hashing of opinions and narratives about spilt milk that rekindles those flames. I would strongly prefer for no one to ever bring up Obi Toppin and Jalen Johnson in a shoulda woulda coulda manner again. But as yesterday’s discussion showed, that doesn’t seem all that likely.

Is it so important to “win the internet”?

I don’t understand this world, I really don’t…

come on max. all sappy posters all alike. but all snappy posters are yappie in their own way. some actually dig the bickerporn. some are tragically compelled by the festivus deity of grievance-airing for past slights. some have been infected by virus that renders them tone deaf to outward connotation. yet some are heroic truth tellers being asked to toe the line by the milquetoast hoi polloi. hand down man down max.

“I’m glad we won yesterday and I think the team is pretty good, but I still would like to have a 22 year-old guy averaging 17/9/3 per-36 with a .673 TS% who makes $2.8M on the team. I don’t view these thoughts as mutually exclusive.”

It’s fine to feel that way, but it’s spilt milk. You can safely assume that everyone knows how you feel about Jalen Johnson by now. Yet you keep reminding us in case we forgot. Why is that?

Maybe it would have been nice if Max asked his above questions when you did that yesterday. Timing is everything, right Max?

I would strongly prefer for no one to ever bring up Obi Toppin and Jalen Johnson in a shoulda woulda coulda manner again. But as yesterday’s discussion showed, that doesn’t seem all that likely.

Exactly.

But answering those people about the issue with snarky comments doesn’t stop the bickering, it only prolonges it.

I know your opinon about that issue, you know my opinion about it, we know their opinions on it (and all the opinions are legit).

And we know that no one’s changing idea.

Yesterday we won despite the absence of a backup-PF, maybe tomorrow we’ll lose because we miss a backup-PF, whatever…

Just let them write, they’ll get tired sooner or later… 😀

For someone who claims to like Obi, be from the same area, etc, you seem to constantly deride him for some reason. He is what he is. He is a four, who in my opinion should be playing three. He doesn’t rebound because he likes to leak out for fast breaks. He is very good at it. He leads the league in 2 pt %. When we traded for Hart, I thought that solved the problem. Thibs disagreed, so I will enjoy watching Obi in Indiana. They are a young exciting team, but with an obvious weakness on the defensive side of the ball. Our problem is not just that we traded Obi and we didn’t take any of the bigger wings that we could have in the draft, it’s that we didn’t replace him with anybody. Hart is already grumbling about having to play that role. At 6’5″ 215, he’s not suited for it, not for a whole season. Julius has been an iron man, but will that last forever? If it doesn’t, we will have a serious problem.

Max, what else are we going to talk about?

come on max. all sappy posters all alike. but all snappy posters are yappie in their own way. some actually dig the bickerporn. some are tragically compelled by the festivus deity of grievance-airing for past slights. some have been infected by virus that renders them tone deaf to outward connotation. yet some are heroic truth tellers being asked to toe the line by the milquetoast hoi polloi. hand down man down max.

(frantically consulting studies on the Rosetta Stone)…

Uh, okay PT 😉

I hate to shit on Grimes the day after he shot 2 free throws for the first time but I am curious how long this can last.

I think the only reason he is still playing is because he is 6’5″ and Thibs can’t stomach a small backcourt.

If we hadn’t signed Donte I’d be happy to ride it out but we did sign Donte. Grimes is the 5th best SG on this team and he’s averaging 23.1 mpg.

Whether this becomes an Elf Payton thing (i.e. it lasts all year) or a Kemba/Evan thing (i.e. it ends soon) is the biggest subplot of December.

“Just let them write, they’ll get tired sooner or later… 😀”

See, I think “just let them write” applies to all, including me. No one has to respond to anyone else’s snark. It takes two to tango.

@gkhenman

I think your argument is irreproachable,
you’re not deriding ad nauseam a player or spitting venom on the FO or mocking another poster for his opinions, only explaining rationally what you think about a roster construction choice.

I wasn’t talking about post like this 😉

but it doesn’t matter, have fun whatever you like boys… 😀

I still think that Toronto team is better than they look. They are long, athletic, move the ball well, and are capable of defending well. I’m not sure what their problem is

It’s probably more than one thing, but the glaring problem is that they can’t shoot. They have a solid defense but a bad offense and the offense is bad because they are the second worst 3 point shooting team in the league.

Wait. Who is Jalen Johnson? Is that a malaprop for Brunson? Doogie? A little help?

Yeah, I said yesterday that Grimes was in danger of becoming the new Frank, but I’m afraid he may soon be the new Elf. I want him to succeed, but we’re still waiting for that man (twenty six dollars in my hand).

Whether this becomes an Elf Payton thing (i.e. it lasts all year) or a Kemba/Evan thing (i.e. it ends soon) is the biggest subplot of December.

I agree, but I add the status of Julius’ knee.

Our december schedule is brutal, only 3 home games (or 4, depending on the Silver Cup) and 2 of them are against the Bucks…

Seeing how poorly Toronto played makes me even more annoyed at the Dolan lawsuit. Right now they look right behind Chicago as the most likely to blow it up mid-season and we will be on the sidelines.

my take is that we aren’t actually missing obi and wouldn’t even miss him greatly if randle went down because obi isn’t really a 4 in any useful sense. he’s okay for what he is – a transition killer with at least a dollop of spacing value and a great motor who could easily score 20/36 on high efficiency, but what he is has very limited value to a good team. as a wing he offers largely faux spacing and below average half court creation with significantly negative defensive versatility. as a big he is a wing. he’s a good player who is much better than a lot of guys who get run on bad teams but a slightly ersatz john collins is just not that valuable to the vast majority of rotations when the stakes are higher.

we didn’t handle obi well, first by picking him, then by largely keeping him in corrosive bubble wrap until we just gave him away. but if we weren’t going to pay the luxury tax to have a 10th man, then we gave him away to get divo, and i would rather have divo on his contract than obi’s rfa year by a country mile.

Totally agree with DRed. Masai cornered the market on 6’8″ who can defend, but forgot about shooting. They need Dick or Trent Jr. to step up or they’re not going anywhere.

I think Grimes is wilting under the pressure for minutes. He is my choice as odd man out. The Villanova guys all obviously have very good chemistry. Maybe they can trade him for a tall basketball player.

Bickering about nothing is a big part of what we do here…
Isn’t that what a good umarrell is supposed to do?

Low cost move I would love to see: pick up Danilo Gallinari from the Wizards and see if playing at the Garden can revitalize his 35 year old body enough to give us 15-18 good minutes for a few months.

I think Grimes earned some leeway last year. He wasn’t great and still left a lot to be desired in a few ways, but he did exactly what he needed to do to be a worthy starter on this team. He was in the top-100 in EPM and his higher usage games tended to correlate with better efficiency, not worse. He scored 33 points in that insane Luka comeback game, which seems like something the current version of Grimes couldn’t do in an empty gym,

It’s weird that he got worse, and it’s weird that he seems to have changed his role a bit despite the starting lineup being exactly the same–he’s taking substantially fewer shots at the rim (and of course making substantially fewer but the sample size is tiny).

I think it’s best from both a basketball and asset management perspective to see if he can sort it out. If we’re in March and still seeing regular 3/1/1 lines though, we have the depth to reevaluate.

If you’re a sub-.500 team, the Knicks likely will beat you, and I don’t mean that as a shot at all. It means that Thibs makes them always keep their eyes on the prize, while so many other teams can be easily distracted.

We were like that in Thibs’ first season, too.

Last year was something of an outlier in terms of what made us good. We relied more on offense and we didn’t have that same dominance against the bad teams.

This year we’re back to defense and we’re back to the same kind of dominance. It’s becoming predictable, in a good way. (Of course that predictability will have its flaws at a later time, but that is a bridge for another day.)

Obi did not not get many rebounds because he was leaking out in transition, he just isn’t very good at rebounding. I saw Jacob Toppin grab one rebound in a forceful way and thought “I’ve never seen his brother get a rebound like that”. Obi is just not fierce on the boards.

Gallo and I-Hart would be really fun to watch on offense, both are smart and skilled passers, but Gallo’s a true turnstile on D these days, I can’t imagine Thibs wanting him (but man I’d like to be wrong).

“For someone who claims to like Obi, be from the same area, etc, you seem to constantly deride him for some reason.”

I do like Obi and wish him well…liking him is different than missing him as a rotation player, or regretting (or even resenting) that management dumped him for whatever they could get, which was essentially a ham sandwich, so that they could free up cap space to sign DDV.

“He is what he is. He is a four, who in my opinion should be playing three.”

He would be even worse on defense if he was a 3. Part of the issue with Obi is that he is not switchable at all. PF is his least worst defensive position.

“He doesn’t rebound because he likes to leak out for fast breaks. He is very good at it. He leads the league in 2 pt %.”

He doesn’t rebound because he is a terrible rebounder for his size. There is no reason to sugar-coat that or make excuses for him. He’s a bad rebounder, full stop.

“When we traded for Hart, I thought that solved the problem. Thibs disagreed…”

As he should have. Thibs is who he is. He coaches a certain way. One of his quirks is that he likes PFs that play like PFs on both ends. By your own admission Obi “should be playing the three” but that makes no sense if we’re discussing our current needs for a competent backup 4, does it?

“…so I will enjoy watching Obi in Indiana. They are a young exciting team, but with an obvious weakness on the defensive side of the ball.”

Fine and agreed… but again, that’s different than believing that Leon and Thibs were wrong to essentially swap him out for DDV. Or believing that he would be a good answer to the question of “What happens if Julius goes down?”

“Our problem is not just that we traded Obi and we didn’t take any of the bigger wings that we could have in the draft, it’s that we didn’t replace him with anybody.”

We did replace him in that his former role is being filled by someone else. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a void at PF depth and flexibility. Eventually that will have to be addressed. I just don’t see the need to continually pine over losing Obi or not drafting JJ…one was not the answer and one is not available.

“Hart is already grumbling about having to play that role. At 6’5″ 215, he’s not suited for it, not for a whole season.”

Which role are we talking about, the backup PF role or the stand in the corner role? Because my take was more of the latter…and in the last couple of games he’s been more versatile and involved on offense. But I read no complaint about being a PF at all in his words.

“Julius has been an iron man, but will that last forever? If it doesn’t, we will have a serious problem.”

Any team that loses it’s only all-NBA player has a serious problem. But until that becomes a problem, why worry about it? Why assume that the roster is etched in stone and that a decent stopgap wouldn’t be available via trade, waiver wire, G-League, etc.? Or that Thibs wouldn’t figure out a way to use the current roster creatively? I guess because it’s more fun to cherry-pick players we didn’t draft 3 years ago? Or pine over guys we couldn’t trade in a pinch for anything but a ham sandwich?

I think Grimes earned some leeway last year. He wasn’t great and still left a lot to be desired in a few ways, but he did exactly what he needed to do to be a worthy starter on this team. He was in the top-100 in EPM and his higher usage games tended to correlate with better efficiency, not worse. He scored 33 points in that insane Luka comeback game

You make a lot of sense, but…

which seems like something the current version of Grimes couldn’t do in an empty gym

^ this is real. I think we have to trust what we’re seeing. I don’t know what happened to Grimes, but it happened, and I don’t think waiting for old Grimes to come back is smart.

My beef is that, Z-Man, you need to try harder. I know it’s Saturday, but:

How did we possibly win that game without Obi Toppin or Jalen Johnson?

…lacks any sizzle. Maybe try something like, “Funny how we are winning with the league’s 4th best defense — and even without the help of ol’ stiff-hips Toppin!”

Or something like that.

I think it’s best from both a basketball and asset management perspective to see if he can sort it out.

Yeah, I agree. You can shave some of his minutes but they should be trying to figure out how to get him going. He’s not really that far off his stats from last year, except he’s not getting to the rim anymore even a little and the rare times he does he is not finishing.

@ptmilo I basically agree with your assessment of Obi, except for the fact that he has played well in the playoffs. In 16 playoff appearances, he has a 2.7 bpm. I think he can be a great energy guy for any team. It will be interesting to see how Carlisle develops him.

@TNFH We have a minutes crunch at SG. Divo seems to be better at this point in his career and is part of the Villanova connection. Hart and Divo aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I don’t think Grimes will be able to stay in the rotation. He’d be better off in Toronto or someplace else. I’d love to get one of their excess wings for him.

@Hubert From I’ve seen, Gallo is very immobile. He makes Fournier look like a defensive stopper. I don’t Thibs would play him in a million years.

“…lacks any sizzle. Maybe try something like, “Funny how we are winning with the league’s 4th best defense — and even without the help of ol’ stiff-hips Toppin!”

Or something like that.”

Fair. I’ll try harder!

I love the idea of Gallo back here but sort of agree with gkh that he’s pretty cooked defensively thanks to age and the multitude of injuries he’s had over the years.

I’m still mystified as to why we didn’t hold on to Roby. He’s tall, can shoot the ball, and seems to try on defense. And I doubt he would even complain if he never cracked the rotation.

I know he didn’t look amazing in camp but neither did DDV and look at him now. These guys need a few weeks worth of games/practices to get back to their highest level.

I mean, just having another semi-mobile body that’s 6’10” seems like a good idea! But they must have their reasons.

For the record, I will not trade RJ straight up for OG, because I think RJ’s ability to create his own shot at the rim is important, and I don’t think OG has it. But I will trade Grimes and 2 firsts for him.

“He doesn’t rebound because he is a terrible rebounder for his size. There is no reason to sugar-coat that or make excuses for him. He’s a bad rebounder, full stop.”
I have to disagree there. When he stands under the rim, he is more than capable of out jumping people for boards. He just doesn’t want to be that type player. He will never be a good defender, but neither is half the association. He did manage to have a 2.0 bpm over a full season, his second year. He also broke his leg during the season last year, so that had to have had some negative impact. In my opinion, he’s gone and what we do going forward is much more important, but I do think the constant criticism is a bit unfair.

“I’m still mystified as to why we didn’t hold on to Roby. He’s tall, can shoot the ball, and seems to try on defense. And I doubt he would even complain if he never cracked the rotation.”

Yeah, I thought he should have made the roster.

Isaiah Roby is still available to any team that wants him. So are some other guys. Which is my point regarding the question of “What happens if Julius goes down?” Answers like Isaiah Roby are readily available all season long. And one of the nice things about having a bunch of draft capital is that you can find a Josh Hart-level player up until the trade deadline without depleting your ability to make a bigger move in the future.

As the season goes on, there are going to be teams looking to unload salary for picks. I get that detractors of the Hart acquisition and extension shiver at the thought of such a move, but if any kind of injury or losing streak derails what we have going right now, it would seem to be a pretty good bet that something will happen. Hopefully Dolan won’t alienate the whole league by then.

I think the 10-0 record against sub.500 teams doesn’t say that much. We are not 10-0 in games that we were expected to win–for example the Cavs home loss and the loss against the Durantless Suns. At the same time, the 10-0 includes wins against the Hawks and Clippers where we were underdogs.

“He just doesn’t want to be that type player.”

I guess this is more a problem for me (and for Thibs) than it is for you. But whatever, I’ll just defer to everything pt said above, which pretty much mirrors everything I have said about Obi for the last 3 years.

I think you are much more critical than pt, but whatever.

My biggest questions now are:
1) Are we in win now mode?
2) How long is our window?
3) Where is Cyber?

Strat, I mostly agree with you these days but Randle is a much better basketball player than RJ. Full stop.

Owen,

I agree with you.

Randle is quite a bit better than RJ now.

The difference is RJ is 23 and imo still has the best ahead of him. Randle is 29 and the one key player that is creeping up against the age when he starts heading in the wrong direction.

As far as his contribution to winning goes, there are boxscore stats and there’s what actually happens when he’s on the court. It may be tough to parse out his contribution from raw on/off, but I see little evidence over years with all kinds of lineups that he adds a lot no matter how I slice and dice it.

I think ball holding, playing slow, defensive lapses etc… all impact us in ways that don’t make it to the boxscore and offset a lot of the good he does.

“I think the 10-0 record against sub.500 teams doesn’t say that much. We are not 10-0 in games that we were expected to win–for example the Cavs home loss and the loss against the Durantless Suns. At the same time, the 10-0 includes wins against the Hawks and Clippers where we were underdogs.”

If your point is that we probably aren’t as good as our record suggests, I would respond by saying that I agree to the extent that we shouldn’t draw any conclusions beyond “we’re pretty damn good so far!” for now. But there are more reasons to believe that we will continue to be at least this good than there are for feeling otherwise. No one is really playing out of his mind thus far, nor are the shooting percentages as a team looking unsustainable. That’s the nice thing about having a deep team that is well coached. One guy goes into a funk, another guy picks it up. Last night IQ and RJ were in the shitter, but JHart and DDV stepped up. Brunson was a little off, Randle picked him up. The team synergy seems excellent. That bodes pretty well going forward.

I actually think “taking care of business” against inferior teams is pretty important and something these Thibs teams couldn’t do at first.

I think it’s obvious that continuity has had a profound effect on winning with this administration, which is why I think they’re careful about who they bring into the fold at this point.

That said, if you don’t bring a guy in at all, you can’t get him familiar with the group. I’d rather have a guy like Roby sitting on the bench learning plays than another 6’5″ guy like DaQuan Jefferies, but that’s just me.

And I really hope they don’t plan to trade another 1st for a backup by the deadline! Just break in an available guy who fits the backup PF profile.

“I think you are much more critical than pt, but whatever.”

In style perhaps but not in substance. pt was actually pretty harsh in his critique. He said the following:

“we aren’t actually missing obi and wouldn’t even miss him greatly if randle went down because obi isn’t really a 4 in any useful sense.”

“…but what he is has very limited value to a good team.”

“…just not that valuable to the vast majority of rotations when the stakes are higher.”

My continual refrain is that Obi is not a legit starting PF on a winning team and is best suited as a 15-20 minute energy guy off the bench. I don’t see much daylight between our opinions at all.

Obi is no big mystery. He’s a backup. In Indiana they are trying to maximize their offense by playing fast. That maximizes Obi’s attributes. He’s getting out in transition, cutting etc… and benefiting from Haliburton.

Personally, I don’t think the lack of rebounding is that much of an issue.

If he was on a different team and his role was to get defensive rebounds, imo he would get them. He’s big enough and athletic enough. But then he wouldn’t be leaking out as often getting as many easy baskets in transition. You can’t ask him to both get the defensive rebound, make the outlet pass and finish in transition with an easy basket.

In basketball there are trade offs. It’s often what do you need from this player given his skill set.

In NY I’d still rather he leak out. When you have as many good rebounders as NY but struggle to get easy shots, an easy basket here or there is great. Let Hart, Mitch, IHart etc.. pile up the rebounding stats and let Obi leak out until they take that away.

“And I really hope they don’t plan to trade another 1st for a backup by the deadline! Just break in an available guy who fits the backup PF profile.”

I agree but this regime’s MO is that they would not want to stand pat and throw away a season if a critical rotation player goes down and they start leaking oil. I doubt that they would see Isaiah Roby as the answer…they’d probably go with Sims first and tinker around that. Or maybe pull Taj out of mothballs…but who knows? Hopefully everyone stays healthy and we won’t have to find out.

Strongly agree that since there was probably a binary choice between DiVo and Obi this year, DiVo was the correct move. Said so at the time.

It’s just kind of disconcerting that we are pretty much shit out of luck if Randle misses time. I’d personally like to see RJ bumped up to the 4 in that scenario, but we’ve never seemed interested in experimenting with that.

A Knicks regret deep cut: Phil should’ve drafted Sasha Vezenkov instead of Ognen Jaramaz.

“A Knicks regret deep cut: Phil should’ve drafted Sasha Vezenkov instead of Ognen Jaramaz.”

Not quite Cleanthony Early over Nikola Jokic, but sure.

At times last night the Raptors were getting 2nd and 3rd shots. That’s because they are big, long, and athletic. The reason we couldn’t stop them is because when Randle is off the court (and sometimes even when he’s on the court) we are small. That’s the reason I say we need more size, whether it’s at starting wing or backup PF. The only reason we won last night was because the Raptors couldn’t hit a 3 into the ocean and DDV was a flame thrower. It wasn’t because we are better than them. The Raptors are a terrible matchup for NY. We were lucky to get that win.

“Strongly agree that since there was probably a binary choice between DiVo and Obi this year, DiVo was the correct move. Said so at the time.”

There might have been some other options to free up the space, such as trading iHart, who is sort of a luxury at backup C. Obviously the FO didn’t think enough of Obi to consider that, and Obi didn’t help his case for sticking around by cursing out Thibs during the playoffs. I think Obi wanted to leave and was accommodated. They might have traded him anyway given his contract situation but it became a no-brainer once he voiced his frustration.

And I don’t blame him for doing so. A player heading into a contract year wants an opportunity to show what he can do, and playing 15mpg was not in his best long-term interests.

It really was a win-win deal.

“The only reason we won last night was because the Raptors couldn’t hit a 3 into the ocean and DDV was a flame thrower. It wasn’t because we are better than them. The Raptors are a terrible matchup for NY. We were lucky to get that win.”

But that’s the way that TOR loses and often the way we win, isn’t it? Why is it lucky when two teams play to their tendencies? We’re tied for 6th in 3pt% and they are 29th. And can they count on our best offensive rebounder having an off night next time?

This was not a lucky win.

“Terrence Ross announced his retirement,
I’m bit surprised because he’s only 32…”

If he only played against the Knicks he could have played until he was 50…

“It really was a win-win deal.”

Except a loss-loss-loss for the fans, who enjoyed watching him greyhound down the floor, and enjoyed arguing about him (something they still try to do), and enjoyed having the best of a bunch of good Biblical names on the team.

We beat the teams we’re supposed to beat and we’re competitive against the good teams, occasionally beating them too. That’s what good teams do. Our SRS reflects that. No, SRS ain’t perfect but it’s not a bad thumbnail.

I think we’re starting to see “normal” Julius Randle after an atrocious start, and I think we’re also starting to see “normal” RJ Barrett after a surprisingly good start. The sample sizes are getting larger and things are normalizing. Josh Hart is Josh Harting and Brunson is playing better than ever.

The obvious disappointment is Quentin Grimes, who is looking like he should be a 10 MPG defensive specialist, but we’ve made up for that by acquiring a similar but better player in DDV, who is increasingly Hoovering Grimey’s minutes.

Our depth is a mile wide but an inch deep, by which I mean our top 9 is stuffed with quality, but we’re in some trouble if and when any of those top 9 guys get hurt. It maybe would have been a good idea to bring in some vet “OG” guys who could have provided some cromulent minutes in case of emergency. I’m not very high on anybody on the roster after that top 9 to provide even competent play, and I think we might be in danger of getting exposed if we have to start spinning some of the roster’s deeper cuts.

Agreed across the board, JK. And frankly we easily could have won two other games early when some of our players were stinking up the court, which means we could be 14-5. But losing games we ‘could have won’ is always a thing during the season, and frankly we’ve been winning some games we could have lost, which is a really good sign.

And yes, we’re paper-thin at some positions, but that’s the NBA. Most teams would (and do) struggle when one of their two best players go down. Which is why I would never call iHart a luxury — not that Mitch is one of our two best players necessarily, but iHart a) gives us good minutes to keep Mitch fresh, and b) provides coverage should Mitch get dinged, which for a physical big is almost to be expected.

What would happen if we lost a particular rotation player for a long stretch (say, 20 games) is a great question.

Brunson: on first glance, it would be a disaster. But would it? Could IQ be a good enough starter to pick up the slack? That would probably mean more minutes for DDV and some minutes for Deuce. You would probably be worse, but there would be at least some beneficial tradeoff on the defensive side of the ball.

Randle: We tend to go as Julius goes. He has played terribly overall in our losses. Would some of those have been wins without him? It’s hard to even visualize what Thibs would do without Randle for a long stretch. I guess they’d go small and start Hart at the 4, and patch in some Sims minutes when a bigger lineup was needed. Or as mentioned, maybe the answer isn’t on the roster. But we need Julius to play well to win, so it would definitely be the hardest obstacle to overcome.

Beyond those two, it seems like the next most difficult player to replace might be Josh Hart, mainly because of the backup PF issue. His versatility probably means more than his box score production. I mean, how do you replace a guy who plays winner?

“Which is why I would never call iHart a luxury — not that Mitch is one of our two best players necessarily, but iHart a) gives us good minutes to keep Mitch fresh, and b) provides coverage should Mitch get dinged, which for a physical big is almost to be expected.”

Agreed but I think the dropoff from either Mitch or iHart to Sims is more recoverable than say from Julius and JHart to (whoever.)

But beyond that, there are a lot of ways to go for anyone other than our starting PF, including just rolling with an 8-man rotation for a while by bumping up minutes for guys like DDV, IQ, and Grimes.

As such, I don’t think the characterization of our depth being an inch deep is accurate beyond the PF position. Sims and Deuce can both play. Switchability is part of our depth. And you can even pluck a pretty good rotation guy like Fournier out of mothballs.

I think we’d be in pretty serious trouble if Brunson went down for any decent length of time. We could probably beat a few bad teams but would struggle mightily against the good ones

I love IQ, but his midrange game is nowhere close to JB’s, and obviously Brunson is a better 3 point shooter.

Plus, who’s gonna take all those charges?

Weird stat of the day: out of 215 players to qualify with a minimum 200 FGA in 2022-23 and 75 FGA in 2023-24, Mitch has had the 6th biggest drop in eFG%.

I suspect we should see some progression to the mean on that. Stop posting up, Mitch! (Actually don’t, it’s often my favorite moment of any game where he tries it…).

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