Game Preview and Thread: Knicks vs. Jazz

So this jumbled, ragtag collection of Knickerbockers have burped their way to six straight losses. Le sigh. They’ll be looking to buck that trend in the upcoming five-game stint against 2014 lottery teams (unless, you know, you’re down with the whole Hinkie-ing thing). There are two more supposedly soft tussles on tap in their four-game home stand, starting with the friendly fellows from the Mormon State tonight. Friday night Knicks, y’all. Save for a certain rookie coach’s eerily Woodson-ian, shaky lineups, it’s tough to get truly pissed at macro issues at this juncture.

Thankfully, Ben Dowsett of Salt City Hoops (along with Hardwood Paroxysm, Nylon Calculus, and BBALL BREAKDOWN, to name a few) is joining our lil’ chamber of lost souls KnickerBlogger fraternity. Ben’s a really terrific talent (if you’re not already, you should be following him @Ben_Dowsett). He’s here to give us the low-down on Quin Snyder’s merry band of shooters and saxophonists. Let’s hope that Ben’s tempered, well-balanced words soften the inevitable flurry of #sadz that’ll be the bulk of this thread by around 10pm tonight. Enjoy!

The Jazz have had more than a few major, course-altering executive decisions to make in the past eighteen months—whether it be trading up in the 2013 draft for the rights to Trey Burke, allowing Jefferson and Millsap to walk as free agents, Derrick Favors’ extension, swinging for the fences on Dante Exum, or matching Gordon Hayward’s max offer sheet. How have they done so far Do you think there’s a point on the transitional timeline to flip the switch and move to become something more than a young, rebuilding team?

BD:  I’d assess it as something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, given the way a guy like Millsap has performed in his new home (and given his quite affordable salary figure), it’s easy to wonder if the Jazz made a mistake letting him walk for nothing in return. But by the same token, if Millsap is on the roster last year, there’s a good chance the team never even gets a pitch to swing at as far as Exum is concerned. As far as some of the other deals mentioned, one can certainly find little qualms with them, but given the market size and historical rate such markets have of holding onto their stars, I think they were solid moves. Sure, it’d have been nice to have Hayward for less – which team doesn’t wish it could pay it’s best players less and have room for other talent on their cap sheet? The same goes for Favors, but to a much smaller degree; should he continue the sort of offensive improvement he’s flashed so far in this young season, he could be one of the league’s premier bargains at just over $12 million per year in the not-too-distant future.

All that said, there’s absolutely a point in time where potential needs to become reality, and correctly assessing that time might be the largest challenge ahead of Utah’s front office. Do they make the push in the next year or two, with Hayward and Favors approaching the beginnings of their physical peaks? Or do they wait an extra couple years for Exum to blossom into the potential superstar they’re hoping for? These are tough, highly-contextualized questions that Dennis Lindsey and staff have certainly already begun discussing behind closed doors.

Speaking of the front office, management came to terms on a four-year, $42 million extension with Alec Burks, who was originally nabbed with the twelfth pick in the 2011 draft. Overpay, underpay, or just about right? Do you think Burks would have attracted offers of that size and beyond on the open market (as a restricted free agent)?

BD:  I think the Burks deal is just about right, based on past performance and of course, the massive TV rights deal that promises to vastly change the NBA landscape by summer 2016. He compares well with certain other recently-extended players at his position, at least as far as their performance to the same point in his career at which he accepted the deal. My full thoughts can be found here, but given the financial landscape and the scarcity of players in the league with his sort of skill set (one that’s becoming increasingly coveted by smart teams), I think it was fairly standard. Now, Burks has some real work to do to prove the Jazz didn’t make a mistake – his numbers are down across the board to start the year, and he’s not getting to the hoop and creating havoc at nearly the same rate. If he can’t quickly get back on the horse, and indeed begin improving upon previous seasons, it could in fact end up they made a bit of an overpay. As Burks’ biggest fan, though (my only non-objective feature left, I’m sad to say), I certainly think he’s capable of far more once he becomes more comfortable in a new system.

Enes Kanter, Utah’s other candidate for a contract extension prior to the October 31 deadline, didn’t reach a deal with the team and is headed for restricted free agency this offseason. Some have suggested that Quin Snyder should yank Kanter from the starting unit in favor of Trevor Booker though the numbers show that the Jazz are nearly 10 points (per 100 possessions) better off with Kanter playing alongside the core four starters (The Law Firm of Burke, Burks, Hayward & Favors). Who should start in the frontcourt, and what’s Enes Kanter’s value to this team?

BD:  This is a question that, in some ways, is illustrative of the perils of judging too much too early. Not even a week ago, Booker was producing far better numbers with the rest of the starting unit as compared to Kanter, both individually and for the units as a whole. But a couple ugly games this week for Booker have reversed the trend, and it would now appear at first glance that Kanter is the more appropriate start. This is likely true, but for many more reasons than just the numbers. Kanter, as you mentioned, hits RFA this upcoming offseason, and with a new long-term head coach at the helm with a previously unfamiliar system, deciphering just how well he fits alongside his young teammates in the scheme is of paramount importance. The Jazz know the perils of RFA, having just gone through it with Hayward this past offseason, and will want to be very sure of their assessment of Kanter when it comes time to make any decisions. For that reason, even if the gap between Kanter and Booker continues to ebb and flow, barring major catastrophe I think Kanter should, and will, remain in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future.

Mild hysteria broke out during the FIBA World Cup when Dante Exum struggled to carve out a consistent role with the Australian national team after a rocky start to the tournament. How have you judged the Aussie’s first half-month, and how challenging has it been for the fan base to remember that they’re dealing with a 19 year-old who just uprooted his entire family and moved to the other side of the world?

BD:  He’s shown exactly the sort of flashes of brilliance many had expected, and perhaps more frequently than some thought. And of course, there have been times where he’s looked somewhat lost. But these are all perfectly normal signs, and I think Jazz fans, occasionally known for their tendency to get a bit ahead of themselves, have done a great job tempering their wilder expectations so far. Exum has shown a lot more defensively than most had likely predicted, especially coming out of the draft where many expected him to be among the worst defensive guards in the league. He’s just so long and fast, and guys will put a successful first move on him (he’s still only 19 and learning defensive nuance, after all) and get into their shooting motion for what seems to be an open look, only to have his wiry frame come flying back into the picture and disrupt things. His shot and NBA legs need real work, but there’s nothing broken about his form or really his fundamentals anywhere, and if he can keep his head on straight and learn from everything that’s happening around him, Jazz fans have an absolute ton to be excited about in the next few years.

True or False: The good folk of Utah have forgiven Derek Fisher for his unceremonious divorce from the team seven years ago, and will welcome him with open arms when the ‘Bockers come to town in early March.

BD:  I’d say about 75% true, though I don’t know about “open arms.” Jazz fans are certainly a passionate bunch, but eventually the long-term good a guy did tends to win out over the one or two incendiary things they also did later on – just look at someone like Karl Malone, who drew some ire for chasing a ring with the star-studded Lakers late in his career but remains a beloved Jazz figure after a couple years of slight bitterness. Fisher never accomplished what the Mailman did over his career, of course, but even the nuttiest of us Utahn’s know how to forgive and forget.

Fill in the blanks’ with Ben Dowsett:

___________ will be the leading scorer in this game.

Carmelo Anthony

Steve Novak will make ____ treys in this game.


________will come away with the win, because ___________________

The Jazz, because the Knicks’ frontcourt won’t be able to handle the Favors-Kanter high-low combo, nor will they be able to contend with Derrick and Rudy Gobert at the rim.

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90 thoughts to “Game Preview and Thread: Knicks vs. Jazz”

  1. Triangle triangle!

    Two triangles can form a square.

    180 degrees + 180 degrees = 360 degrees = circle.

    What are circles? Round.

    Not matter the hole, we got the peg.

    Knicks win.

  2. Well, Shump is shooting and finishing pretty well thus far! Too bad his D sucks and he’s a dumb foul machine.

    On the other hand, has anyone checked out the great Kenneth Faried’s TS% lately?

  3. Kenneth Failed sold his soul to the devil to have a TS% 2 points higher than Carmelo Anthony, but he forgot to sup with a long spoon.

  4. “On the other hand, has anyone checked out the great Kenneth Faried’s TS% lately?”

    Or Andre Drummond’s for that matter?

  5. SVG got Drummond posting people up. Seems to be a work in progress. Zach Lowe wrote about it this week.

    Larkin looking frisky tonight

  6. This is unwatchable. I mean I have never seen a team take so many long 2s. It’s almost as if they are being told not to drive to the basket.

  7. I am optimistically guessing that Shump has a muscle contusion, he seemed to get kneed in the thigh on that drive.

  8. These Knicks are what happens when you have a bad team playing a mediocre offensive and defensive system badly.

  9. The stats don’t reflect it, but I think Shane Larkin is a better player than expected. As a little guard, he is playing surprisingly well. He seems to have the savvy of a 6 or 7 year vet and he rebounds really well. Does the system mask his weaknesses or would he still look good in another system? That’s nearly impossible to answer given the sample size, but I think he’ll end up being a good rotation piece.

  10. Why do I get the felling that if Fisher suited up he’d be a rotation player on this team right now.

  11. I am praying that someone takes TH2 off of our hands and thinks he can still become a good player. He hasn’t shown any improvement and doesn’t look to have the ability to change his game at all. If we can flip him for a 1st round pick in this upcoming draft I would be ecstatic.

  12. Larkin had excellent college numbers as I remember….

    I definitely had some mixed emotions when Novak got going….

    This is totally unwatchable. Honestly, it makes you want to be a Sixers fan. At least they don’t have the two biggest contracts in the NBA on their roster….

  13. Friday Night Knicks is such a brutal reminder of what a second-rate organization this team is. It’s not just that they almost always lose (although it obviously doesn’t help), the whole production is cheap and embarrassing — from Robert Randolph’s corny theme song down to the C-list celebrities they drag onto the court at halftime.

  14. The guy who wrote “go NY go NY go” is married to one of the richest business women in America. They’re worth over a billion dollars.

  15. Did anyone else feel that despair on the melo posession a moment ago where he passed to no one and took a fade away layup that was actually a jump shot but off one foot 17ft from the basket….?

  16. Have we seen enough of Cole to know that he’s an absolutely terrible offensive player or do we need more?

  17. The farther away we get from the 2012-13 season the greater, more enjoyable it was lol. I genuinely liked that team and loved that entire season (until the Pacers series obviously). Alot of great wins vs some really good teams plus a bunch of blowout wins that were a blast to watch not to mention all the 3pters.

  18. Knicks down 3 starting the 4th quarter and they put this fucking lineup on the floor?? The 76ers would be proud.

  19. In 2013 vs the Jazz there was the Kurt Thomas game. This year vs the Jazz its the Prigs game.

  20. OK… so the scrub lineup w/Pablo feasting took the lead. I almost think that that lineup sans Melo = they have to run the offense and find the open man. Larkin needs to develop a consistent 3-ball, because he can be scrappy enough on D against guys.
    On D… they’re trying. Man, they’re trying. I just think we have players with poor defensive principles, smarts and technique.

  21. I don’t want Melo to go one-on-one w/Hayward at this point, even though its fun. They can’t trade buckets right now.

  22. The Knicks have a shot against the Nuggets. Theyare BAD despite tonight’s win. They have a way more talented team, but Brian Shaw is epicly bad as a coach. He took a team that Karl had playing high level basketball and turned it into a lottery team. It was a team built to take advantage of Denver’s altitude by running, attacking the rim, and shooting 3s. He’s emphasizing half court basketball, posting up, and taking longs 2s. It’s laughable. The owner will never take Karl back because of ego, but they should fire Shaw ASAP and give the team to D’Antoni. He’d have fun with that team.

  23. Burke with the game winner, how F’in predictable is that?!!?!?

    Making heroes out of zeros, it’s what the Knicks do.

    This is going to be a very Long year I’m afraid. At least they have their first round pick.

    How long is Calderon going to be out? C’mon man, they need you badly…

  24. How long is Calderon going to be out? C’mon man, they need you badly…

    “If this was a regular season game, he’s be playing in it.”

    Cut to three weeks later and he’s not even practicing.

    That is so Knicks that it hurts.

  25. And I remember at the time thinking, “Oh man, that sounds like typical Knick BS. I bet he’s out for a significant period of time.” And then thining, “Wait, Brian, that was the old Knick regime. You have to give this new regime a chance and not tar them with the same brush. They might be telling the truth.” Well, we know how well that worked out.

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