With just 8 minutes left in last night’s game, Alan Hahn tweeted: “The Knicks defense has been just awful vs Jazz, who already have 111 points with 8 minutes left.” Points per game isn’t a great measure of a team’s defense, but Hahn’s critique of the New York defense was correct. In their loss to Utah yesterday the Knicks allowed the Jazz to shoot a blazing 64.9% eFG%, including 10-22 from three point range. Seven Utahns were in double digits, and not one had more shots than points.
It’s unfortunate that the Knicks D was so poor, because their offense was hot. New York got some help from a few unlikely characters. Shawne Williams netted 25 points on 12 shots. And Bill Walker also exploded off the bench with 23 points on 11 shots. The pair seemed unconscious especially from behind the arc, combining for 10-13 from downtown. Felton and Stoudemire were efficient as well, but both were in foul trouble for parts of the game. Toney Douglas who suited up but wasn’t supposed to play had to come in late in the third when Felton picked up his fifth foul. Roger Mason played 14 ineffective minutes, and ended up -11.
You have to wonder if Andy Rautins might replace Mason on the depth chart. Mason seems to be one of the most intelligent and likable players on the team, but he’s clearly not producing. If Rautins can’t get time when Mason stepping on the court hurts the team, then when will he play? It’s somewhat reminiscent of the Roberson scenario a few years back. D’Antoni preferred to go guard-less rather than insert Roberson in one game. It ended up being essentially a wasted roster spot.
New York is one of those teams that doesn’t find value in using the D-League, saying that instead it’s better for a player to develop along with the team. That is very likely to be true when the player is in the rotation, but if the player can’t find court time then you have to wonder how true that can be? I wonder how many players evolved after a season at the end of D’Antoni’s bench? If the Knicks are going to eventually use Rautins, throwing him out there with Douglas hurt seems ideal. He can’t be any worse than Roger Mason is right now.
If not then what’s the point in keeping Rautins, because it’s likely he’ll never crack D’Antoni’s rotation. The Knicks would be better served using that roster spot to rotate guys on 10-day contracts. D’Antoni has given time to 10-day players in the past. The irony of course would be that these players would be from the D-League, the same system that the Knicks eschew.