Guard, or SF/C?

Yesterday I wondered aloud why the Knicks were getting another combo guard (and to do so possibly trading away Frank Williams – someone who might already be a good combo guard), when they had other bigger fish to fry, (namely SF & C). Let’s take a look at the Knicks’ starters & top reserves for these two positions.

PLAYER 		OFF	DEF	+/- Net Pts
Tim Thomas 16.2 16.4 +2.0
A. Hardaway 11.1 13.0 +2.3
Mutombo 15.0 15.8 +0.2
Nazr Mohammed 18.8 17.7 -1.6

The first two columns are their offensive PER, and their opponents PER. Now opponents PER doesn’t tell the entire story of defense, but I think it gives a good starting point. Of the Knicks four main SFs & Cs, only 1 of the above has a PER greater than his opponents’ (although Nazr’s 17.7 dPER is nothing to be proud off – it’s his offensive PER that carries him). By this measure, the Knicks are operating at near even or at a loss at these two spots.

Comparing PER isn’t the only way to measure a player’s net contribution. The last column is the players’ net points. Net points is how many more points does the team score with the player on the court, as opposed to off. By this measure the centers are giving a negative contribution, while the SFs seems to be a small gain.

Combining the two give us a better idea of what is happening. Simply that the Knicks are treading water at these positions, or even losing out. So why is Isiah first splash this offseason at the guard position? Let’s take a look at the Knicks guards last year:

PLAYER (PER)	OFF	DEF	Net+/- (pts/100p)
Marbury 21.3 14.5 +1.6
F. Williams 11.7 10.1 +7.1
Houston 14.9 13.9 +1.6
Shanderson 10.6 16.3 -6.9

All the guards are making a positive contribution, except for Shandon Anderson, who was awful. If the Knicks trade Frank Williams and Shanderson to get Crawford, are they really getting better? Maybe not, especially if Moochie Norris (11.4/13.6/+1.4) has to gobble up more minutes. I’ll be happy if the Knicks can get away with trading for Crawford without losing Williams, who was by far their best perimeter defender.

OTOH, it’s possible that Allan Houston injury is still a concern, and if he misses a considerable amount of time, the Knicks would desperately need a SG that can start for extended periods. In this case, getting Crawford would be a good deal, although I would still like the Knicks to try to hold onto Williams.

The NBA offseason is just upon us, and if Isiah continues to shake up the team like he did last year, there are probably going to be a host of moves in the future. I just hope that we don’t go into the season with the same SF/C as we ended with last year.

Edited 9:16am:
The Daily News has reported that Cleveland might be interested in moving Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The theory is that the Cavs need a PF now that Boozer has bolted for greener bank accounts pastures. The deal would include Kurt Thomas, and someone else to work under the cap. The article sites Nazr as one possible trade mate. I’d be thrilled to have the Big Z (20.9/14.3/-3.2) roaming the paint for New York. Maybe I spoke too soon about Isiah?

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).