Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Stephon Marbury

KnickerBlogger: When Marbury first arrived in New York, the Knicks’ offense centered around his pick & roll game. Stephon was never a top flight offensive talent, but was consistently good, a near All Star. However in 2006 Larry Brown insisted on stamping his brand of basketball on the offense and curtailed Marbury’s game. The Knick guard had career lows in assists and points (per 40 minutes), even lower than his rookie year as a 19 year old neophyte. Consequently Mabury’s PER dropped from a steady 20/21 to a pedestrian 16.5. Surely it seemed that Marbury’s decline in production was caused by Brown’s iron fist.

Going into the 2007 season Marbury should have reverted to his old form. Not only was he freed from Brown’s restrictive offense, but he would be playing for the former point guard that acquired him. Unfortunately for Coney Island’s brightest, Marbury’s numbers didn’t recover to his pre-Brown levels. Instead Stephon’s numbers declined for the second straight year, and again he set career lows in assists and points (per 40 minutes). Marbury’s drop in assists is alarming as his 5.9 AST/40 is sickly for a point guard. So what’s the deal? After 2 consecutive declining season is the Knick guard washed up?

My answer is ‘no’, or better yet ‘not exactly’. The Knick offense moved away from the pick & roll, Marbury’s bread & butter, to a more open offense. As last season began, Isiah installed “The Quick?”, an amalgamation of offenses. As described by coach Thomas, “The Quick?” was modular where the non-post players took turns running the point. So it’s not so much that Marbury became a worse player, but instead it’s the Knick offense diminished his role.

Last year Marbury was unable to dominate the ball as he was accustomed. To exacerbate the problem Marbury had to share the backcourt with another ball-happy guard in Steve Francis. More often than not, Marbury was a spectator watching his teammates run the offense. Often he had trouble feeding Eddy Curry in the post, and without constant possession of the ball his scoring declined. A master at the pick & roll, Marbury was mortal outside of that role.

On the other hand, Marbury’s shooting percentages improved from the reduced usage. His eFG% and TS% (48.0% and 53.9%) were above their career averages, and his 3P% (35.7%) was the highest of his career. He also turned the ball over less than ever (2.6 TO/40). As an added bonus he seemed to put an extra effort into the defensive side of the ball. Whether or not this actually improved his defense is debatable, as his numbers at 82games are awful. The Knicks were 5.4 points worse on defense with Marbury on the court, and point guards averaged a healthy PER of 17.4 with Steph on the floor. Marbury’s main weakness is his poor lateral speed as last year he absolutely got killed by quicker point guards. Still the effort was a departure from previous seasons where Marbury seemed disinterested on his own end of the court. There were times he took the tougher assignment by taking on the opposing SG, and on some nights he did a fair job. But as we learned from Jamal Crawford, the NBA is such that you need consistent production every night, and overall on the season Marbury’s defense was still below average.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: C+

2008 Outlook: With Marbury entering his 30s, the Knicks will eventually need a new starting point guard. Stephon entered the league at the tender age of 19, and has been an iron man for most of his career. Combine his long tenure with his high minute per game average, and that’s a lot of wear and tear on his 6-2 frame. He has missed more games in the last 2 years (30) than he did in the 8 seasons prior (25). Marbury was never a good defender to begin with, and although he’s putting in more effort on the defensive end, he still gets beaten by inferior players.

One indication that Marbury still has life in those $15 shoes is that his free throw attempt per field goal attempt rate hasn’t declined. Aging players that have lost a step become less able to get to the hoop and draw contact. Since Marbury seems to still have his athleticism and has trouble setting up his teammates in Isiah’s offense, Zeke should put some more pick & roll plays into the 2008 Knicks playbook. This is especially true considering the acquisition of a second post player with a range on his jumper, in Zach Randolph. Looking at some of the other options at guard, namely Crawford and Collins, increasing Marbury’s shot attempts in the offense wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

At this stage of his career, Marbury is no longer the focal point of his team’s offense. However even with his reduced role, he is still an efficient scorer. One thing Isiah might try in 2008 is to reduce Marbury’s minutes per game. The Knicks aren’t suffering from a lack of depth as Nate Robinson earned MVP honors in summer league, and Mardy Collins is useful with his stout defensive presence. Since Marbury’s reduced role in his offense seemed to increase his defensive desire, a decrease in his minutes might invigorate Stephon and produce better defensive results on the court.

Brian Cronin – My strongest memory of Marbury from this past season is the stretch after Crawford and Lee went down that Marbury seemed like he determined that he had to score like crazy for the Knicks to have a chance at winning – so he just went out and did that, scoring 23, 34, 38 and 40 in his next four games, lending credence to the argument that Marbury was allowing his numbers to go down for the betterment of the team, which is nice to see from a player (and another reason why basketball statistics are so difficult – as Marbury’s numbers were worse than normal for the “betterment of the team”).

I think a C+ is fair. I was considering a B-, but yeah, that’s probably a BIT high. I wish Marbury would be able to find Curry in the paint more often, but at least, as Mike mentions, Randolph seems to be a good pick and roll partner for Marbury.

Oh, and Marbury also gave us one of the comedic high points of the past NBA year, so that’s something, right?

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): David Lee

KnickerBlogger Despite standing only 6’9″, David Lee’s main strength is his rebounding. He combines excellent positioning, exceptional timing, good leaping ability, and a desire to capture missed shots on both ends of the floor. Not only is Lee the best rebounder on his team, but he’s one of the best in the NBA. Among players that logged 1000 or more minutes in 2007, Lee finished 5th in per minute rebounding. Compared to the other hyalophiles, Lee committed the fewest fouls and scored the most points.

Per 40 Minutes Height Tm OREB DREB TREB PF PTS
Reggie Evans 6’8″ DEN 5.5 10.8 16.3 5.1 11.5
Dikembe Mutombo 7’2″ HOU 5.1 10.1 15.1 4.8 7.1
Tyson Chandler 7’1″ NOK 5.1 9.3 14.3 3.9 10.9
Jeff Foster 6’11” IND 5.8 8.2 14 4.6 7.4
David Lee 6’9″ NYK 4.5 9.4 13.9 3.6 14.4

Not just a one trick pony, Lee is also adept at running the floor and strong at finishing around the hoop. A natural lefty, David Lee is ambidextrous which allows him to score with either hand. Although he doesn’t possess the extra wide body that Curry or Sweetney has, Lee isn’t slender, and can shield the ball with his body. Lee shot a robust 60% eFG from the field, and is such a good free throw shooter (81.6%) that he ranked third on the team in free throw shooting percentage. As a bonus, Lee doesn’t dominate the ball on offense. The Knicks don’t need to run any plays for him, as he’s able to produce his own offense by his rebounding and his ability to move well without the ball.

Although Lee is slightly undersized at power forward, his defense is passable. He has good footwork and is strong enough to not get bowled over against other post players. Additionally Lee can play the small forward or center spots, albeit in short stints depending on the matchup. If Lee were 2 inches taller he probably would excel as a shot blocker, but he is only able to alter shots of smaller players. Among the Knick forwards/centers Lee committed the fewest per minute fouls, which allows him to stay on the court for long periods of time. According to 82games, the Knicks were 2.5 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Lee on the court. Even if that number comes from his outstanding rebounding, he clearly doesn’t hinder the team with his defense.

In 2007, the Knicks record was 26-32 (.449) with David Lee and 7-17 (.291) without him. In the three games after the suspensions from the Denver fight, Lee averaged 13 points and an incredible 17.7 rebounds. Last year he led the Knicks in 4 important categories (eFG%, TS%, OREB/40, and DREB/40) and had the highest PER on the team. Quietly he was New York’s most valuable player.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: A

2008 Outlook: Despite Lee’s outstanding sophomore season, there are a few questions that 2008 will bring:

1. Was 2007 a fluke?
Too often have we seen young players have a fantastic year, only to fall down to earth never to reach that level of play again. Hopes may be high for Lee to continue to progress, and one only needs to look at Lee’s draftmate Channing Frye to see how far a young player can slide from a single season. On the positive side, Lee’s pertinent stats are nearly identical from his rookie year, with one exception: his defensive rebounding. Lee grabbed 2.6 DREB/40 more in 2007, which is more likely due to his switch to power forward (from small forward under Brown) and Curry’s increase in minutes (Curry is a poor rebounder).

2. How will the injury affect Lee?
Of all the questions, this one is the most concerning. Lee’s injury seems to have been misdiagnosed, his return date kept sliding, and he made a token appearance hobbling at the end of the season. Since Lee uses his jumping ability to secure a lot of his rebounds, suffering an ankle injury should cause some concern. It’s probable that he missed the summer league because he’s still not 100%, although there were reports that he was working out with the team. Watching him early in the pre-season should give fans a good indication if this injury is behind him or not.

3. How much will he play?
Prior to draft night it seemed that David Lee would have a bright future in New York. He only had Channing Frye, Malik Rose, Jerome James, and Randolph Morris to compete with for the starting spot in the Knick’s lineup. Considering that group of talent, Lee should have been a lock to start in 2008. That all changed when Isiah Thomas acquired Zach Randolph on draft day. Now Knick fans are wondering if David Lee will see enough court time this year. Consider that last year Curry and Randolph averaged a little over 35 minutes a game each. If the duo play the same amount of minutes, and David Lee backs up both players, it only means he’ll play about 25 minutes a game, less than the 30 he played last year.

But the problem with that logic is that the Knicks can’t just use only three players for two spots all year. There’ll be times that they’ll need a defensive presence in the paint, so they may have to look to Rose, James, Morris, or Cato (considering any of these players are on the roster come November). While Lee can play small forward for short stretches, there’ll be nights that the matchup will make it impossible. Additionally small forward seems to be the Knicks’ deepest position, so Lee may have a hard time finding minutes there either. My ideal situation, while still being realistic, would be for Isiah to occasionally use Lee as a small forward in a big lineup to force other teams out of their comfort zone, slightly cut back on Curry and Randolph’s minutes, be open minded in the fourth quarter and use Lee down the stretch especially when Zach or Eddy are having an off night.

4. Can he generate more offense?
With Isiah’s offense centered on the low post play of Eddy Curry, and now Zach Randolph, it becomes important for all the Knicks on the floor to knock down an open jumper. Unfortunately Lee hits only 29% of his jump shots according to 82games.com. His shot looks awkward, and maybe part of it is due to being left handed. Nonetheless it appears as if he doesn’t square his shoulders to the hoop. Often relying on others to score, his usage is very low and his per minute scoring is only tied for 7th on the team. While Lee is plenty valuable without a jump shot, for him to go from being a very good complimentary player to an All Star will require a bit more scoring volume. A 15 footer would go a long way in Lee’s development.

Dave Crockett

Lee’s career has been one I have followed with some interest since seeing him in listed as a McDonald’s HS All-American in 2001. I suspect most Knickerblogger readers are not familiar with the St. Louis metro area, which is where I spent my high school years some 20+ years ago. Lee’s high school, Chaminade College Prep, suffice it to say is not to be mistaken for the prototypical high school sports powerhouse. (Back in my day Chaminade actually ran a single-wing offense in football.) So when this mop-topped, rosy-cheeked lad won the McDonald’s slam dunk contest I was, to say the least, intrigued. Unfortunately for Lee he virtually never had a play run for him at Florida until his senior season, overlapping as he did with trigger-happy guards Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh. Fortunately for Knicks fans Lee learned how to be uber-productive without the ball in his hands. His long arms, timing, and knack for positioning virtually ensure that he will always be a quality rebounder.

The key for Lee going forward will be developing a 15-18 foot jump shot. If he never improves in that area he still promises to be an exceptionally useful complimentary player, along the lines of A.C. Green–the player to whom he compares most favorably at the same age. But if he can improve his ball-handling and his shot–a feat that may require reconstructing that ugly looking thing–I see Lee’s peak years comparing favorably to those of Larry Nance or Horace Grant (i.e., very good, though probably not Hall of Fame).

Putting a damper on some of the superlatives though, I do have my concerns about Lee’s injury. I am still not completely certain of the final diagnosis. Its description in the press even now remains somewhat murky. My initial thinking was that Lee suffered a “high ankle sprain,” an injury commonly suffered by football players. That’s generally a 6-8 week injury. But, it remains unclear if Lee is back to 100% even now.

As for Lee’s minutes this upcoming season, I suspect that after pulling Lee–clearly his most desired asset–off the market Thomas plans to play him. My best guess is that he will be part of a rotation that sees him log some minutes at SF while the lion’s share will come at backup PF when Zach Randolph slides down to C. My sincere hope is that we have seen the last meaningful minutes for Malik Rose and Jerome James, who combined to be on the floor for over a quarter of the team’s minutes in ’06-07.

Brian Cronin – Yeah, the injury problem is my only concern about Lee. It’s not like Lee just developed all these skills out of nowhere. He was basically the same player in his sophomore year as in his rookie year – only more so. ;)

But I’ve seen way too many NBA players get similar injuries to Lee and just have their distinctive abilities, if not ruined, at least diminished for quite awhile. So I am certainly hoping that Lee will recover nicely.

I am not too worried about minutes, really, because, as Dave mentions, if Zeke isn’t going to trade him, I gotta figure it is because he actually plans on using him. I, too, think he will see most of his minutes at the SF position.

As for the grade, come on, could it be any grade BUT an A? Dude was a legitimate contender for the All-Star team in his second season!!

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Jared Jeffries

KnickerBlogger: Normally when you begin to work at a new company, you want to start off well. Usually you’ll have a fresh haircut & choose something nicer from your wardrobe. You’ll act a little more polite and reserved than you would normally be. And you’ll do a lot of unnecessary smiling. That’s because first impressions are crucial in forging long lasting relationships. Give people the wrong impression off the bat, and you’re not likely to ever win them over. So a little note to Jared Jeffries: don’t expect to run for mayor of New York City anytime soon.

The Knicks signed Jeffries to a 5 year mid-level exception deal last summer, and it seemed to be a decent idea. It was no secret that the New York roster leaned heavily towards offense, and so getting a defensive minded player should have tipped the balance in the other direction. Jeffries started off the 2007 season on the injured list with a fractured wrist, and missed the first month and a half. When the swingman returned, he seemed uncomfortable on the court with his new teammates. Although he recorded his first double digit scoring output in his second game of the season, he would go another 18 games before repeating that feat. In fact Jeffries went the last 2 months of the season without scoring 10 or more points in a game, despite having logged 30 or more minutes in 11 of those games.

As far as I can tell Jeffries only has one method of scoring, a low post move where he uses his 6-11 height advantage on a baby hook shot. Sadly he doesn’t shoot well from outside, and doesn’t finish well around the basket. Give Jeffries the ball under the hoop with no defender in sight and he may not make the shot. Not since Charles Smith have I had so much anxiety watching someone attempt a layup. He does rebound well on the offensive end (3.4 OREB/40), but oddly enough that skill doesn’t translate on the defensive end (3.9 DREB/40).

Since New York basketball history is steeped in strong defensive teams, Knick fans are usually astute enough to overlook a player’s offensive deficiencies if they make up for it on the other end of the court. To the eye, Jeffries is not a lock down defender like Bruce Bowen, Ron Artest, or Raja Bell. Nor does he have superior shot blocking ability like Andrei Kirilenko or Josh Smith. He has a reputation as a solid but unspectacular defender. Unfortunately the statistics don’t back it up. 82games shows the Knicks to have been 3.1 points worse per 100 possessions on defense with Jeffries on the floor. When he’s on the floor, the opposing SF’s PER is an astounding 20.1. That is he makes Luke Walton look like Josh Howard. New York finished 24th in team defensive efficiency, up from 26th the year before, so obviously Jeffries didn’t make much of an impact.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: F

2007-08 Outlook: New Yorkers can hope for 2 things next year with regards to Jared Jeffries. First is that Jeffries ups his game on both ends of the court. I’m at a loss in exactly what areas he could improve. I suppose being able to hit a layup and bringing more intensity on defense would be easy areas, but is this really attainable? Jeffries could benefit from becoming an unforgiving meaner player (Bruce Bowen), without being crazy (Ron Artest). But is it really likely for a player (or a human) to go through such a psychological change? Maybe a full preseason with the team will allow him to settle in more, but probably not enough to make a major difference.

The other thing that Knick fans can hope for is that Jeffries & Balkman switch minutes. Last year Jeffries averaged 24 minutes, while Balkman averaged only 16. Balkman is nearly a superior player in every aspect, save for the one post up move. So it would make sense for Renaldo to be ahead in the depth chart at small forward. Balkman had a fabulous summer league, some would say better than league MVP & teammate Nate Robinson, so it’s entirely possible that Renaldo could enter 2007 as the starting SF for the Knicks. Hopefully Isiah the coach won’t try to help Isiah the GM by trying to make Jeffries appealing to other teams by playing him more often than Balkman.

Brian Maniscalco: Unfortunately, I don’t think there is much reason to expect better things from Jeffries. Most of his per minute numbers in his first Knick season were on a par with what he did in Washington– shooting, rebounding, assisting, stealing, blocking. Only a couple of things changed appreciably, and on these stats we might expect Jeffries to return to previous levels. So look for his FT% to increase from his Chris Dudley-esque 46% in 07 to something closer to 60%, which is more at his career average. There is also some hope that his turnover rate might drop a bit. In his prior 3 seasons in Washington he averaged 14.2 turnovers per 100 possessions, but as a Knick that number ballooned up to 16.8, which is approaching Eddy Curry territory. The only thing keeping the rise in turnovers per possesion showing up in Jeffries’ turnovers per minute was, mercifully, a drop in usage rate. Nonetheless, for a player who brings nothing to the table offensively, it’s inexcusable to be turning it over on such a high fraction of his touches.

It’s also somewhat curious that Jeffries did not have a good defensive +/- since his numbers were consistently solid in Washington. Over the last 3 seasons the Wizards were 4.6, 4.4, and 4.0 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Jeffries. So why the sudden dip in his defensive +/- as a Knick? Given the consistency of his box score stats across both teams, I’m more inclined to believe that the change in defensive +/- is due to the change in context rather than a change in Jeffries’ qualities as an individual defender. For instance, it’s possible that playing with a strong interior defender like Brendan Haywood rather than a weak one like Eddy Curry helped out his defensive +/-. It’s also possible that the players logging SF minutes while Jeffries sat on the bench (principally Richardson and Balkman) were just much better defenders than the subs Jeffries had on Washington. Indeed, the Knicks were 9.2 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Balkman on the floor (which is comparable to Bowen’s defensive +/- for the Spurs in 07), which could have driven down Jeffries’ defensive +/- if he didn’t play a lot of minutes with Balkman. So it’s really hard to say if Jeffries was as ineffectual on D for the Knicks as his +/- makes him look.

But the bottom line is that Jeffries does not bring a whole lot to the table, and the negatives far outweigh the positives. The numbers suggest that Jeffries has been a good, solid defender but they are not consistent with him being a great defender. Unfortunately, no team has the luxury of giving a solid defender a prominent role when that player hurts them on offense as much as Jeffries does. Even a defensive juggernaut like Bruce Bowen chips in by keeping his turnovers low and providing a 3 point threat. Jeffries does rebound well offensively, but that’s it. He can’t shoot well from anywhere on the court, including the free throw line, and he commits turnovers at an absurdly high rate for a player whom no one– neither his teammates nor opposing defenses– considers an offensive threat. Every minute Jeffries spends on the floor in place of Balkman is a minute where the Knicks are shooting themselves in the foot. I give Jeffries’ 2006/07 effort a D because of his lapse in FT% and turnover rate relative to prior seasons. But the acquisition of Jeffries for the full MLE deserves an F-.

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Jerome James

KnickerBlogger: At the time of Jerome James’ signing, I kept some quotes from RealGM’s Knick message board, because they were quite optimistic. Unfortunately RealGM has decided to scrub their message board of anything over a certain age, so I can’t link to these quotes, nor can I attribute them to the original author. I can’t take credit for the wisdom of the quotes, but I can take credit for the title in bold for each of them.

There’s a Nazr Thomas?

Certainly James is as good as Nazr and Kurt Thomas.

Jerome James has a jump shot from 7 feet away? or Is “size” an SAT word?

James has the sice and strength to hold down the middle for us and he’s shown great ability in the playoffs (when it matters the most). Let’s give his 7 footer a shot before we bash Isiah, please.

Better than Wilt too, although I’m pretty sure the stats don’t back that up either.

James is also better than Hunter, even if the stats don’t back that up.

I guess another roommate could help pay the rent.

Please live with Jerome James- He will get more rebounds he played along side with Evans and Fortson- he will only get more rebounds. He will get more minutes which will produce into more rebounds!

And if he doesn’t?

If James plays to the potential he showed in the playoffs, he’s a good choice.
I restate what I just said: Centers tend to be overpaid. All James has to do is clog the lane, body up on defense, and rebound. The Knicks will be fine.

Paging Red Holzman

I still think, though, that James will play like he did in the playoffs with the right coach for the Knicks.

F this quote!

F the stats, F how much we paid him. How about the fact that IT saw something in James that he thinks is worth bringing him to NY!!

It’s hard to look historically back on the Jerome James signing and see any positives. With one good playoff series, after 5 years of mediocre play, James could have hung a sign on his head that said “someone will overpay me.” And the Knicks did. It’s not the worst move that Isiah Thomas has done, but consider that the James signing had two negative aspects. The first was the loss of Jackie Butler. James’ contract made Butler expendable. And although Butler languished at the end of the Spurs bench, remember that he’s still only 22 years old and is $18M cheaper than James. Butler was recently acquired by Houston, to backup Yao Ming and the undying zombie known as Dikembe Mutombo.

Second is that James’ signing hurt the Knicks on the court this year. James’ worst trait as a ‘defensive specialist’ was his awful foul rate. James committed 11 fouls for 40 minutes – nearly double the next Knick (Malik Rose) and nearly triple that of fourth string center Kelvin Cato (4.2 PF/40). That ratio is so bad, that given the opportunity Jerome James would foul out of a game in 22 minutes. I’m convinced that Cato would have been a better solution for the Knicks (again at a fraction of the cost). While neither Cato nor James could score, Cato was much better on defense. You could judge them by point differential (the Knicks were 10.2 points per 100 possession better with Cato on the court, versus 6.9 for James) or traditional stats (4.2 to 2.2 BLK/40, 1.3 to 0.9 STL/40, 13.1 to 9.7 REB/40). Although the Knicks were desperate for defense, Isiah could have found a better solution than playing Jerome James.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: F

2008 Outlook: Two things will keep James a Knick for another year. The first being James’ contract, the second being the lack of defense from the rest of the team. Isiah Thomas was so desperate for defensive help that he inserted James into starting lineup for a stretch this year. Just because James started, didn’t mean he’d get a lot of playing time. Frequently he would head to the bench after 2 fouls and never come back into the game. With 17 players under contract, there is a possibility that Jerome James will get cut, but something tells me Isiah likes his moxie, and James will see some court time in 2008.

Dave Crockett

I’ll tell you what bothered me most about the James signing. Basketball defense begins on the perimeter; the objective of good defensive teams is to keep the offense from getting the ball to high percentage areas. Defense in “the paint” is vital but is unlikely to matter much if the offense is getting easy shots. Until he signed Jared Jeffries and drafted Renaldo Balkman it wasn’t clear that Thomas paid much attention to his perimeter defense. Thomas didn’t just overpay for what he thought he was getting in James he was wrong for thinking it in the first place, especially considering his ability to find cheap defensive specialists in the bargain bin (e.g., Kelvin Cato). I actually count “Big Snacks” as Thomas’ worst move. It was not his most expensive or most destructive but it was his most wreckless. It was the equivalent of looking both ways and still walking out in front of traffic.

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Channing Frye

KnickerBlogger: Channing Frye looked to be one of the better picks of the 2005 draft, earning a berth on the All Rookie 1st team, and was one of the bright spots of the abysmal 2006 season. Frye’s main strength was his jump shot. He showed good accuracy and range on his jump shot, making him an ideal pick and roll partner. Frequently he burned opposing big men who were too slow to guard him on the outside. Although primarily an outside threat, Frye did have the buddings of a decent low post game. And while he was not a fantastic rebounder or shot blocker, Frye certainly didn’t embarrass himself in either category. According to basketball-reference.com, the top 5 comparables to Knick forward/center were a solid group of Sharone Wright, Drew Gooden, Marcus Camby, Joe Smith, and Michael Doleac. Isiah Thomas looked as if he worked his draft magic yet again.

However a funny thing happened on the way to the All Star Game, Channing Frye suffered a horrendous sophomore slump in 2007. His PER plummeted from a vigorous 18.0 to an anemic 10.5. Frye had setbacks in a few major categories namely his scoring (20.4 to 14.4 pts/40), free throw attempts (5.8 to 2.3 FTA/40), offensive rebounding (3.5 to 1.9 oReb/40), and eFG% (47.9% to 43.5%). Frye’s top 5 most comparable players after last year were Michael Doleac, Thurl Bailey, Doug Smith, Anthony Avent, and Steven Stepanovich. Hardly the same class of players as the first 5.

There are a host of theories on what happened to Frye from his freshman to his sophomore season. The first is the Curry-Frye theory, which claims that Frye’s decline was due to Curry’s emergence as the Knicks sole low post player. Pushing Frye out to the perimeter would explain his drop in rebounding and foul shots, but 82games.com shows Frye to have a higher PER at the forward position than at center (where he plays with Curry off the court). So the entire blame can’t be placed on Curry’s shoulders.

The second theory is the Sax-Knoblauch theory, which claims that Frye’s decline was from the pressure to succeed in New York. While the Knicks aren’t as high profile as the Yankees, Frye was visibly shaky at times. He passed up on wide open 20 footers, normally his bread and butter. It’s unknown what could cause such a transformation, but clearly Frye’s suffered from a lack of confidence.

Finally the last theory, also known as the Frye-Injury theory, claims that Frye never fully recovered from his injuries. Channing missed the end of 2006 with a knee sprain, and the summer with a twisted ankle. It may not even be that Frye was physically hurt, but rather disoriented from the lack of cohesion with his teammates due to missing so many games.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: F

2008 Outlook: Whichever theory or combination of theories you ascribe to regarding Channing Frye’s sophomore slump, 2008 is going to be a make or break season for him. Luckily for Frye, he’ll have a fresh start in Portland. He’ll back up the high profile duo of Oden & Aldridge for a team with little expectations and less brighter lights. With a boost of confidence and an offense that features him a bit more, Frye could show that 2007 was just a bump in the road.

Dave Crockett: I hate to give a guy an F, especially a fellow Arizona alum but… yeesh. This was a throw away season for Frye. For my money–and this is after having seen a ton of his college games–I think the move away from the screen-roll oriented offense along with the injuries were the major culprits. Perhaps more fundamentally though his game was built to be unsustainable; so one-dimensional it was. Frye should benefit from playing for Nate McMillan on a team that will probably run the floor a little more; something I happen to think is a palliative, if not the cure for athletic big men prone to offensive droughts.

Brian Maniscalco: Here’s a project for an ambitious researcher. Has there ever been another player whose PER dropped by 7 or 8 points in consecutive seasons early on in his career? The magnitude of that drop is so enormous that it must rank among the all time free falls in NBA history, especially for a player so early in his career. If there are players with similar falls from grace, how did they fare in the future? Is this the sort of thing a player can recover from or is it a death knell?

My guess is that Frye will bounce back, but I doubt he will regain the promise he held after his rookie season. I expect him to be a good-to-very-good backup for Portland, and in the best possible circumstances it’s conceivable that he could win a sixth man award or possibly slip into an All-Star game. But after such an awful performance last season I don’t see his ceiling being any higher than that, whereas after his strong rookie campaign it seemed like the sky was the limit.

Michael Zannettis: My feelings about Frye’s play this year are well-documented. Without getting to the free throw line or being a force on the offensive glass, the one player that showed up in his comparables both seasons, Michael Doleac, seems to be the player he’s become. Another name that comes to mind is Maurice Taylor. As we’ve learned from players like Doleac and Taylor is that as sweet as that mid-range jumpshot is, it’s actually the worst shot to take on the court. You’d have to hit it at a ridiculous rate to be a viable offensive player if that was your only skill.

I can’t blame Frye’s struggles on the screen-and-roll, the brights lights of New York, or the tunnel vision of Mr. Curry. Simply put, he didn’t man up. He played soft. As much as we often like to question Curry’s effort level, especially on defense, we have to wonder where Frye’s determination to grab an offensive board went. They don’t call it “fighting” for position, for nothing.

Brian Cronin I took Brian’s challenge, and took a look at every rookie in NBA history who played as many games as Channing Frye did in his first year (65) and ended up with a PER of at least 8 for the season.

Of the 915 matches, only ONE of them had a PER drop as large as Frye’s, John Shasky, who posted a 12.7 PER for the Miami Heat in their expansion year of 1988-89, but only a 2.5 in 14 games for Golden State the following season. Shasky played one more year before his NBA career ended, with a nice rebound PER of 11.1 for Dallas in 1990-91.

So this is basically unprecedented (Shasky wasn’t a major rotation piece like Frye was), which I guess bodes well for Frye, in the sense that it sounds like a bit of a fluke.

However, upon looking through the players, I did note a number of players who suffered decent setbacks (minus 4 or so points) and in almost every case, while there was some bounceback, for the most part, they continued to stay at the lower level or even decline further.

So I don’t think Channing Frye’s future is a bright one.

As for his grade for this past season, I’m gonna be nice and say D-.

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Steve Francis

KnickerBlogger: When Steve Francis came into the league, his All Star game earned him the nickname “Franchise.” An alliteration on his last name, but Francis hardly deserves that moniker anymore. Along those lines, maybe we can find a few words to describe the Knick guard.

Fragile or Fractious?
The first thing that comes to my head when I think of Francis’ 2007 season is the winter break he took for the month of January. Depending on what you believe either Francis was tending to his knee tendinitis, he quit on the team, or the team asked him to go home. Whatever the reason truly was, Francis missed nearly half the season, which hurts his value.

Fray
Last year on the court, Francis had two major strengths. The first was his ability to get to the free throw line and convert. He was second on the team in free throw attempts per minute and third in TS%. Francis was best among the Knick guards in both categories. The second was his rebounding ability. Francis was second among Knick guards in per-minute rebounding, just behind Mardy Collins. This speaks well of Francis’ rebounding, since he gives up 3 inches to the taller Collins. At 6-3, Francis seemed willing to throw himself into the fray on both ends of the court.

Fracture
No longer a top notch scorer, Francis has dropped nearly 6 points per 40 minutes from his career peak. Therefore his flaws were less tolerable. Francis fractured the Knick offense with his dominance of the ball. He dribbled frantically eating time off the clock, and lost the ball much too often for a guard. His 3.2 TO/40 was right along with stone handed defensive minded big men like Jerome James (3.4 TO/40) and Malik Rose (3.2 TO/40). Ironically this rate is among the best of his career, probably due to his decrease shot attempts which also hit a career low.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: D+

2008 Outlook:
Francis was traded to Portland in the Zach Randolph deal. It’s unknown at this time whether or not he’ll actually play for them. If Portland does buy him out, who knows where he’ll land.

Dave Crockett: Francis was the most vexing Knick for me personally, though reasonable fans are welcome to disagree. Knickerblogger mentions Francis’ ability to get to the line as one of the best on the team. He was actually 2nd in the league in FTA per 100 FGAs at 51. His 57% TS% was actually a career high–on a career low usage rate. I’d also add that Francis is a quality rebounder at guard–not Jason Kidd quality, but still quite good.

Unfortunately, with Stevie Frequent-Crossover, you get a lot of cloud with that silver lining. Mind you, I do not consider him a selfish player, and his career assist rate of 22.7 (which he topped this season) strongly suggests that he is not. Rather, his particular limitations make him an especially poor fit on this team–a far better fit for say, the Clippers. He’s perfect on isolation plays as a primary offensive option, but a lot of his assists come off his own scoring as opposed to setting up his teammates. He’s a notoriously poor decision-maker on the fastbreak, where he gets a lot of FTAs but frequently won’t pass to teammates for wide open layups. Additionally, he’s a turnover machine. His 06-07 turnover rate (14.2) was ghastly, which should come as no surprise since he’s been almost as turnover-prone as Eddy Curry throughout his career, and just about as bad a defender. I’m not sure I could say that Francis has earned a D. His strengths are so clear-cut but his negatives are magnified on this team. Also, given the team’s willingness to banish Penny Hardaway I’m inclined to give Francis the benefit of the doubt about his month off. Some of his “attitude problems” he’s either outgrown or have been exaggerated. Other than the typical quips about playing time I think he’s been a fairly solid citizen in New York. I think Francis could be a nice fit for a number of teams, just not at his current price. [Ed’s note: this was written before the trade – good foresight Dave!.] If the Knicks could find a taker for his gargantuan contract he’s probably a goner–and better off for it. However, I do not expect Daddy Warbucks to buy Francis out this summer.

Michael Zannettis: In the end, Francis sitting out games was one of the best things he did for the Knicks. That way he neither took away minutes from younger players, nor spent a lot of time proving to teams that he’s not as good as either he used to be, or we all thought he used to be. On that note, I wonder how much Portland plans to play him. Between Webster, Roy, Outlaw, Jack, and Rodriguez, that’s a lot of young backcourt talent that shouldn’t be shelved when the Blazer’s goal this season is to develop, not compete.

Brian Cronin: Francis is one of the best examples of how individual statistics in the NBA are difficult to integrate into the overall game, as someone like Francis can produce very respectable statistical numbers, but at the same time, not fit in with the rest of the team well at all. That’s where scouting becomes so important.

In any event, I probably would give him a D+, but yeah, this was not a good season for Francis.

What’s interesting to me to note is exactly where will Francis end up this season if Portland does, indeed, end up cutting him.

Cleveland showed interest in him last year, but I think that would be a terrible fit.

As would Miami (another team looking for a point guard).

Houston would have been interesting, but then they picked up Mike James. How about Detroit? Indiana, maybe? Milwaukee if Mo Williams doesn’t resign?

I think those three teams would probably be the best matches I can think of – Detroit/Indiana/Milwaukee.

Any team I’m missing?

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Eddy Curry

KnickerBlogger: I’m sure anyone that only goes by per game stats thinks that Eddy Curry had the best season of his career. Early in the year, the mainstream media was quick to catch on to Curry’s 11 straight game of 20+ points. In 2007, Curry had career per game highs in points, rebounds, free throws, and possibly hugs of Jamal Crawford. (Am I the only one that notices that Curry does this?)

However closer analysis of Curry’s season shows little improvement. Comparing his last 3 seasons by per-minute numbers, Curry’s 2007 isn’t much different from his career averages. Surprisingly Curry showed no big improvement in his per minute scoring, and his per minute rebounding was the second lowest of his career. Statistically, Curry’s big improvement was in his personal fouls. Obviously fouls are important for a budding big man, since foul trouble can limit the amount of time a player can stay on the floor. Curry was able to play in 10 more minutes per game this year, partly due to his ability to stay out of foul trouble. (The other factor was his improved conditioning). Eddy Curry showed minor improvement in one other category, his assists. Although his passing is still below average, Curry seemed to improve as the season wore on.

Per Minute Stats from www.basketball-reference.com
Season Ag Tm G MP FGA FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
2001-02 19 CHI 72 1150 13.1 5.6 3.9 5.6 9.5 0.9 0.6 1.8 2.4 6 16.8
2002-03 20 CHI 81 1571 14.6 7.3 3 6 9 0.9 0.5 1.6 3.5 5.8 21.6
2003-04 21 CHI 73 2154 15.6 6.5 2.7 5.7 8.4 1.3 0.4 1.5 3.3 4.8 19.9
2004-05 22 CHI 63 1808 16.2 6.9 2.6 4.9 7.5 0.8 0.5 1.3 3.6 4.5 22.4
2005-06 23 NYK 72 1866 12.8 10.4 3.1 6.2 9.3 0.4 0.6 1.2 3.8 5.1 21
2006-07 24 NYK 81 2849 14.3 9.3 2.7 5.3 8 1 0.5 0.6 4.1 3.7 22.1

Looking at Curry’s 2006 numbers it seems that Larry Brown had 2 positive effects on him. Under the stern Knick coach Curry’s rebounding peaked and he doubled his free throw attempts per minute in 2006. While Curry’s rebounding returned to his pre-Brown numbers last year, he seemed to retain the ability to draw fouls at a higher rate.

Curry’s per-minute stats for 2007 show two disturbing trends. As I mentioned before, he reduced the rate in which he fouls opponents, but that may have come at the expense of his shot blocking. Already a poor defensive presence in the paint, Curry’s shot block rate was nearly half his career rate. Of all centers that played more than 12 min/g, Eddy Curry was the third worst at blocked shots per minute, only ahead of Andrew Bogut and Marc Jackson. Additionally Curry’s turnover rate spiked to the highest of his career as he became the focal point of the Knick offense. Usually players commit fewer turnovers as they age, but it seems Curry has become more turnover prone over the years.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: C+

2008 Outlook: Unfortunately for Knick fans, Curry is a one trick pony at a premium position. All he provides is scoring, albeit he is a very efficient scorer from the floor. Curry is poor at holding onto the ball, bad at passing, worse at rebounding, and non-existent with his help defense. New York’s management has declared that Curry is their center of the future. If this is true, the Knicks are going to need more than just his scoring to become a successful team during his tenure. At only 24 years old (25 in December) Curry still has time to develop into a more complete player. But what is Curry likely to improve on in 2008?

Seeing at how lackadaisical he is on defense combined with the drop in his rebound and block rate, it seems that Curry’s isn’t likely to get better on the defensive end. However he did show an increase in his assist numbers, and he looked to be a better passer late in the season. So Curry’s best hope to become a better player in 2008 is to work on his passing. Improved passing ability will allow Curry to make opponents pay for double teaming him, which will in turn force opponents to stop doubling him. That in turn should mean Curry’s scoring would increase. Improving his passing should drop his turnover rate as well, as some of those turnovers came from poor passing out of double teams. A change that would effect those areas would make Eddy Curry one of the best offensive players in the league.

Dave Crockett: I have to disagree and say Curry earned a solid B. Scott Skiles criticized Curry for being the same player in New York as he was in Chicago on a per-minute basis. [Disclosure: I can’t stand Skiles and felt like he was just being an ass on principle.] For the record, I think that criticism misses something pretty fundamental apart from my dislike for Skiles. His reference was clearly to Curry’s offense. Well, the only way for Curry to be a monumentally better offensive player is through higher efficiency or greater usage. Big efficiency gains seem pretty unlikely in a players already as efficient as Curry. Even still, Curry has in fact improved his efficiency in NY. He’s been a 60.4% true shooter in NY, up from 56.7% in Chicago. He might improve his efficiency by shooting in the 70s from the FT line, a point to which I will return, but from the floor he’s pretty darn efficient. The only other way to see a big-time jump in per minute scoring would be through increased usage. As offensive centerpieces go Curry’s 23.1 usage rate isn’t modest but it’s also not Ben Gordon’s ridiculous 27.3. By my count only eight players shot 60%+ TS and were used less than Curry in 07. So while you’re not likely to see big per minute scoring jumps from a player with Curry’s profile that doesn’t mean he hasn’t improved.

Curry has faced two primary challenges since coming into the league: 1) Can he improve his conditioning and cut down his fouls so he can play more minutes to take advantage of his already efficient offense? 2) Can he develop facets of his game other than scoring?

He has managed to address the first challenge, which is no small feat. How many of us Knicks fans thought back in 05 that Mike Sweetney would be better than Curry no matter what Kevin Pelton said? If it were a trivial matter to get in good enough shape to add 10 minutes of playing time when you were already averaging over 20 then Sweetney and Ollie Miller, both far superior rebounders to Curry, might be perennial all-stars.

Obviously, Curry has not been able to address the second challenge anywhere near as well as the first. Yet even though this is undoubtedly true it is not a statement that should be made without caveat. It is not clear that Curry’s increased minutes really did come at the expense of his (admittedly) sub-par defense. As KB has detailed, Curry never provide much shot-blocking but provided virtually none this past season. However, this must be balanced against the fact that his +/- (+5.3) and defensive rating (110 vs. 106 league avg.) remained unchanged from the previous season while his fouls have steadily declined (to a career low 3.7 per 40 in 07). So it’s not clear that he’s hemorrhaging layups despite not blocking shots and fouling less. My observations suggests to me that Curry’s improved conditioning has led to better positioning and footwork (a la Jason Collins) allowing him to stay away from some of his notorious cheap reach-in fouls. I’m not suggesting Curry is a better defender but he’s not necessarily a worse one. Further, it may not be such a bad idea to have Curry forgo blocking shots when he so clearly cannot block them.

If, as KB suggests, Curry is likely to remain a one-trick pony (and 35 minutes of efficient scoring ain’t such a bad trick) then in addition to improving his passing he must become a better free throw shooter. That is one area where Curry could make a noticeable jump in efficiency. He got to the line frequently–40 times for every 100 shots–but shot a career-low 61.5% last season (career 64%). Curry does not have a broken down stroke in need of rehabilitation, like Shaq, Ben Wallace, or Chris Dudley. In fact, Curry has a good looking stroke with no obvious hitches. If Larry Johnson could shoot free throws in the high 70s-low 80s with his hideous mechanics there is no earthly reason Curry shouldn’t shoot consistently in high-70s. He just needs decide to become a decent free throw shooter and park his butt in the gym until he becomes one. That’s one thing I’ll be looking for right away in 08.

Brian Maniscalco: Let’s take a closer look at Curry’s increased floor time and usage.

season  mpg   poss / 40min   poss / game   fouls / 40min   off fouls / 40min   def fouls / 40min 
2005/06 25.9 21.3 13.8 5.1 1.4 3.7
2006/07 35.2 23.1 20.3 3.7 1.3 2.4

Curry?s 06/07 mark of 23.1 possessions used per 40 minutes was only a small uptick from the previous season. Nonetheless, that mark was a career high and the first time he led his team in usage rate (tied with Jamal Crawford). In total, Curry?s possessions used per game increased by almost 50% over the previous season because of all the extra minutes he played. Of course, a critical contributing factor to Curry?s increased court presence was his ability to cut down on personal fouls. However, somewhat contrary to popular perception, Curry?s drop in fouls per minute came entirely came from a decrease in defensive foul rate. (Although an improvement in offensive foul rate is also evident on a per-possession basis.)

Does the dip in defensive foul rate indicate an impoverished defensive effort from an already poor defender? In 07, Curry experienced an anomalous, precipitous drop in both overall fouls (3.7) and blocked shots (0.6) per 40 minutes compared to his prior career averages (5.1 and 1.5, respectively). So the data is suggestive that Curry’s decreased aggression in attempting to block shots is directly tied to his decreased defensive foul rate, sacrificing shot blocking attempts for more court time. As Dave points out, though, existing defensive stats (coarse and imperfect as they may be) portray Curry as an equally bad defender in both his seasons as a Knick, despite blocking half as many shots last season. A moment’s reflection shows that this is not too surprising, given that fouling fewer times on defense means fewer free throws for the opposition. According to 82games.com, the Knicks allowed 21 opponent free throw attempts per 48 minutes with Curry on the court, down from 26 the previous season. Likewise, Curry’s net +/- for opponent free throw attempts per 48 minutes improved from -6 to -14.

Just about every per minute and per possession measure of offensive efficiency will tell you that Curry was about as effective on offense in 07 as in 06. However, this is impressive given that Curry played 1000 more total minutes in 07, used more possessions and attempted more shots per minute, and drew more double and triple teams from defenses primarily geared towards slowing him down. With all those factors working to suppress his efficiency, the mere fact that he was able to maintain prior levels suggests some degree of improvement in an already strong offensive attack.

Unfortunately, there is one straightforward way to substantially slow down Curry?s Goliath act in the paint: double team him, triple team him, and do whatever you can to get the ball out of his hands. Not only does this tactic prevent Curry from getting up a shot, but it also often leads to a turnover.

Passing, ball handling, and turnovers (all stats per 100 possessions used)

season  assists   off. fouls   bad passes   ballhanding TOs   misc TOs   TOs   assists / bad passes 
2005/06 1.9 6.7 2.2 6.2 2.8 18.0 0.9
2006/07 4.3 5.6 2.9 6.9 2.5 17.9 1.5

Curry is a poor passer and a turnover machine. Much of what he giveth in terms of post offense, he taketh away (or rather, giveth away) with his turnovers. His per-possession turnover rate ranked among the 10 worst in the league last season, which is especially damaging considering the number of possessions Curry uses. Among the 10 worst ball handlers, only Dwight Howard offered a comparably poisonous mixture of high usage (20.8 possessions / 40 minutes) and high turnover rate (19.3 turnovers per 100 possessions). It is no coincidence that the Knicks? Achilles? heel on offense during the Curry era has been turnovers (worst in 05/06, second worst in 06/07).

Is there hope for a better ball handling tomorrow? The outlook is hazy.

Curry actually managed to commit 1.1 fewer offensive fouls per 100 possessions used in 07 than in 06. That’s a crucial improvement, given that offensive fouls produce the double whammy of a turnover and, potentially, foul trouble. The dip in offensive fouls is also another piece of evidence that Curry did in fact refine his post offense during last season. Indeed, subjectively it seemed as if he committed far fewer of the egrigiously bulldozing, bull in the china shop kinds of offensive fouls that plagued him in his first season as a Knick.

Unfortunately, Curry?s improvement in terms of offensive fouls and miscellaneous turnovers was almost exactly balanced out by an increase in passing and ball handling turnovers. This is especially troubling because these are exactly the sorts of turnovers you would expect to be generated by an aggressive, double teaming defense looking to get the ball out of Curry?s hands. This is the kind of defensive pressure Curry is going to experience for as long as he remains the main focal point of the offense. It will take significant effort on Curry’s part to improve his court vision, passing, and overall savvy to the point where he cannot be taken out of a game by swarming defenses.

There is at least a bit of a silver lining here. Curry?s assist rate also increased last season. The increase of both assists and bad passes per 100 possessions suggests that Curry may simply have been passing more overall due to double teams forcing his hand. And in fact, we do see that Curry?s assist to bad pass ratio improved as well. So on the whole it seems like Curry?s passing game did improve, in spite of what his increased rate of bad passes might lead one to think. Of course, he still has a long way to go before his passing is passable.

Silver lining part two: Curry?s turnover rate has been substantially worse in his two seasons as a Knick than it was during his time with Chicago (averaging 14.5 TOs per 100 possessions, with the highest mark being 15.3). So Curry is not doomed to be an 18 TO / 100 possession guy for the rest of his career. It?s unclear exactly why his turnover rate spiked after coming to New York. It?s unlikely that the rise in turnovers has followed from a more prominent role in the offense, since Curry?s usage rate has been remarkably constant across his career. The most likely explanation is that there is something about playing in the context of New York?s offense that makes Curry more turnover prone than he was when playing with the offenses of his Bulls teams. So it is possible that the right kinds of changes in team personnel, and/or the right kind of changes in New York’s offensive system, could be a significant help in easing Curry?s turnover woes.

But ultimately, make no mistake: Curry?s ability to successfully handle the pressure of aggressive double teams without turning the ball over is the next big hurdle in his development as an offensive weapon. It is the looming roadblock on the horizon and how he responds to it will in large part determine the course of his career. If he does not substantially improve his ball handling in the face of defensive pressure, his defining strength will always be mitigated by a great weakness, and his net effectiveness as an offensive force will therefore always be limited.

For dropping his foul rate enough to play significant minutes for the first time in his career, and for maintaining outstanding offensive efficiency in spite of becoming the true focal point of his team’s offense for the first time in his career, I give Curry a B. Curry managed to make some non-trivial first steps towards becoming a legitimate first option on offense. Now let’s see if he can improve the defense and rebounding (not holding my breath) or cut down on the turnover rates (seems plausible, if not particularly likely).

Brian Cronin – Quick question, what exactly is a Win Score? I get that Wages of Wins and all that stuff is generally best done as a rate stat (and as a rate stat, Eddy Curry finishes very low in the league, like 150th or something like that, comparable to players like Mark Blount and Stephen Jackson). Fair enough, but then what is the point of having a “Win Score,” which I presume is a counting stat?

Because, interestingly enough, Eddy Curry had the 75th highest “Win Score” last year.

John Hollinger’s PER had him with the 70th highest PER (17.07).

The similarities amused me, but I presume that “Win Score” is basically meaningless if you’re a Wages of Wins fan, right?

Anyhow, as the other fellows have pointed out so nicely, your evaluation of Eddy Curry’s performance is generally based upon how much of an importance you place upon effective scoring. Curry is one of the more effective scorers in the NBA, and as we see, such effective scoring leads to double teams, which are usually useful, but not so useful when Curry

A. Can’t kick the ball out, because he is a terrible passer who instead will usually turn the ball over if attempting to pass

or

B. Manages to kick the ball out to a player who can’t/won’t take the open outside shot the double team on Curry has provided.

You really would think that the Knicks would have given Curry some outside shooters, no? And apparently, according to the most recent rumors, they’re not even going for an outside shooter in the draft!! Ah well…there’s always trades, I suppose…

So Eddy Curry – tremendous scorer who can’t do anything else – while Wages of Wins thinks that is effectively useless, I think I lean toward Hollinger’s take on Curry, which is that Curry is currently around one of the top 15 centers in the NBA, and I think he deserves the C+ that KB gave him.

Let’s hope he improves this year!!