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, 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 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-.

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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).

35 thoughts to “Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Channing Frye”

  1. LOL..Hollinger’s (ESPN) 2006-07 preseason outlook for Frye:

    With the man who drafted him now on the sideline, Frye would have to screw up horribly to avoid starting. He’s deserving of the position too.

    His offensive skills should only continue to develop in his second season, and based on his projected 40-minute averages, a 20-10 season doesn’t seem completely far-fetched.

  2. I thought part of the problem is that he wasn’t getting the same shots under Thomas that he was getting under Brown. He took more attempts outside, and from further out, which left him out of position for offensive rebounds. His offensive rebounding percentage was way down, as were his fouls drawn. When he was cold, the offense rarely had him in a position to make the hustle plays he made as a rookie to get an easy bucket and get his confidence back up.

  3. Okay, I know the grades on Frye were bad. I know he had a tough season.
    But come on.
    The level of impatience in NYC is ridiculous. The kid dealt with the Brown year, then had to adjust to a new order under Isiah. He had to deal with injury, new lineups, and the emergence of not just Curry, but also Lee. His role was never clearly defined under Brown or Isiah.
    The Knicks lacked a guy who could consistently make a 15-20 footer, and yet here was a guy that showed he had that kind of jay.
    He’s long, although he was a little weak for the power forward slot, but so are most power forwards coming out of college.
    It appears now he has been lifting a lot in the off season, meaning he will be stronger.
    I’m terribly disappointed that we traded a relatively inexpensive power forward with great up-side potential.
    I think we all will regret this move.
    Also, I’m always cautious of guys who were big scorers on losing teams. Randolph put up a lot of points on a lousy team. Seems we got another guy like that in Crawford. And his return on the Knicks investment, in my view, has been dubious.
    I had a feeling that we had a nice balance with Lee and Frye in the power foward slot, a guy that had outside range, and a demonstrated ability to rebound, and another guy who was a classic hustle player. And they were tight friends.
    Sometimes you need to let people grow and stick with them as they adjust.
    The problem with the Knicks is that there are a lot of guys on their roster that generally sucked, who are still with us. And the guys we know will be contributors, in part, because they already have contributed, we send away in hopes of winning right away, like Frye.
    I understand the reasons for this…but…
    I mean, Jerome James is still a Knick…Please

  4. It seems that Isiah likes a certain roughness, or street credibility, to his players. Which is why I have a feeling Mardy Collins will stick around for a while; traces of that Pistons Bad Boys mentality. Frye didn’t have any of that, and at times played very soft for a 6’11” forward.

    I also think the Blazers viewed the trade as addition by subtraction: they wanted to free up Oden and Aldridge to develop without taking back a forward who dominated the ball. If Frye plays well, its just gravy for them.

  5. Channing Frye’s decline actually started at the end of his rookie year. In the month of March which was ten games (his injury happenend at the end of the tenth game) his minutes were down and he only scored over ten points twice. His 2efg% in March of his rookie year was 42.4% and he only shot 14 free throws on 66 shots.

    Also Frye shot very bad in the month of November his 2nd year and Curry did not become the focus of the Knicks offense until the end of the month, so I do not think Curry can be blamed at all.

    So I believe, while Frye had a bit of a slump, that the great numbers his rookie year were the abberation and his real potential lies somewhere in between the two years, but closer to his sophmore year.

    I think his great early numbers were a combination of a hot shooting streak and defenses sleeping on his ability, but once teams started game planning for him and his shot got cold he started to fall back to reality. This snowballed with his injury and a complete loss of confidance and all of a sudden you have a terrible second season.

    Frye at best should be a solid rotation player and not much more in my opinion, his athleticism has never been great and he does not seem to have the great basketball IQ to make up for it. I think we will see a small recovery and he should be an okay player for Portland combining with Pryzbilla to give Portland nice depth at the 4 and 5.

  6. I wondered if there was another factor at play; overconfidence. When he was unproven at draft time, there seemed to be a fire to prove he belonged. I remember the “Soft” criticisms at draft time, and he seemed extremely motivated to prove himself. When he realized he was going to be the starting Forward last summer, I wondered if he worked as hard as he could have, while Lee was toiling all summer, and Ballkman was now trying to prove himself. Frye seemed to have relaxed and maybe did not work on improving his skills as he should have. Bulking up in the Gym is no substitution for a jump hook, or adding a turnaround baseline shot with your back to the basket. I always felt Rasheed Wallace should have been the template for Frye’s Game, that Frye had the same build and skill set. He just needed more work. He just didn’t seem as hungry. As Lee and Balkman emerged, Frye just sank deeper into a funk. Quality big men can play anywhere, in any system. Frye produces and he gets more minutes, more shots. Thats how it works.

  7. I hope what happend to Channing Frye is a cautionary tale for Lee and Balkman. One thing I definitely worry about is those guys trying so hard to prove that they have an outside shot next year that they get away from doing what they do best.

    Frye was cast in the role of jump shooting complement to Curry, and it was a disaster. If that happenx to Lee next year it would be horribly disappointing. His rebounding and around the basket offense already make him more valuable than any other player on the team already. But to hear people talk about Lee and Balkman, like on WFAN for instance, you would think you can’t contribute in the NBA unless you can’t hit a mid range jumper 50% of the time.

    To me, it’s the most overrated skill in basketball right now.

    Also, who is pysched to watch some summer league tonight, Balkman v. Durant, should be great…

  8. I don’t think there’s any reason to fear Lee or Balkman will suffer Frye’s fate. Frye’s biggest strength in his rookie season was the midrange jumper, which explains why he was cast as a jump shooter in his 2nd year. Lee and Balkman’s success is not similarly predicated on the jump shot.

    In fact, in Lee became less of a perimeter oriented player in his 2nd season compared to his 1st, possibly because he played some SF as a rookie. In year 1 30% of Lee’s FGA were jumpers and he shot them at a good clip, .441. In year 2 he was down to 23% of his FGA on jumpers, and his accuracy declined too, down to .289. So at least in Lee’s case I think there’s little to fear.

    To me Balkman occasionally seems to have a bit of the fondness for the jumper whereas Lee is more reluctant to take it. Nonetheless only 26% of Balkman’s FGA as a rookie came on jumpers. He shot them pretty awfully too, but his form suggests he might become a decent shooter someday if he keeps at it. But no, I don’t see Balkman succumbing to the jumper to the exclusion of his strengths either.

  9. I don’t think it’s fair to assume a lack of effort or desire or hard work in a player who lacks certain skills – but the bottom line is results, and it’s hard to see Frye ever being more than so-so.

    He was a weak rebounder in college, and that’s not a skill which improves. Objectively and subjectively, he offers very little on defense.
    For all the talk about being a big man, C/PF, he has the offensive game and rebounding ability of a (slow) wing player. Plus, he’s 24 years old, so while he may get better, he’s not going to turn into a completely different player. His “upside” is limited.

    What strikes me is the massive decline in his free throw attempts. His rookie year, in 1572 minutes, he had 229 free throw attempts – one every 6.87 minutes. This past season, in 1847 minutes, just 108 FT attempts – one every 17.56.

    That # is pathetic, for a guy who needs to generate offense if he wants an NBA career. I wonder… last summer, all the stories were about how much bigger Frye looked – lots of new muscle. Maybe that cost him the relative quickness (for a 6’11 guy) which made him a promising player. It’s not like it helped him keep position and play in the low post.

    p.s. David Lee – who never had a play run for him – averaged a free throw every 10 minutes. Curry averaged a FT every 4.32 minutes.

  10. Great analysis here on Frye. But pardon me whilst I make a completely subjective, irrational, non-analytic comment:

    I just kind of dug Frye. He was goofy. He did “Arrested Development”-esque kung fu moves on the sideline…

    He refused to eat uncooked fetuses…

    Yes, he was a flawed player. Yes, he probably would/will never fulfill the promise of his rookie year, but he was a nerd — our nerd, dammit! — and I’ll miss him.

  11. I saw Frye when Arizona played Wake at MSG his senior year…had a great seat close to the action, and he wasn’t soft that night, he was very tough, really banged guys around…of course, he was up against mostly guys smaller than him in college…

    Haven’t seen same in the NBA, but maybe with some additional muscle and a spot down on the post with some touches, he will get more foul shots and be a productive guy. He will never be mobile, so he needs to be much stronger…at 24, no reason to think he can’t add strength.

    His second year with the Knicks started with him shooting terribly (not due to Eddie) but he has a good stroke. Call it sophomore jinx…

    He’s a role guy who can score 15 pts and get 7 rebounds with minutes and touches…like a lot of guys in the NBA… He’ll have his moments, but he’s not dominant, and isn’t mobile enough to be a go-to guy on a winning club…maybe on a poor one…

    Giving up Frye and Francis does not materially impact the club…it’s a good trade for that reason.

  12. Getting rid of Frye this year is one of the better things Isiah has done as Knicks GM. I have never watched such a one dimensional player in my life. He didn’t rebound, didn’t play a lick of defense, wasn’t a good passer, and could only score on 17-20 ft jump shots. His rookie year was promising because he hit those jump shots with such consistency, but last year he even lost confidence in that shot and basically gave you nothing out on the floor. I can’t imagine Frye doing any better than he did that rookie year…

  13. What type of stats does everyone think Frye will be able to put up this upcoming season in Portland?

  14. Hmmm…depending on his playing time, I can see him getting 13 points and 6-7 rebounds.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention above – the dude is less than two years younger than Zach Randolph!!

  15. Frye? Frye is a thinner marginally more athletic Michael Doleac type. I say on Portland where he’ll be playing behind Oden, Aldridge, LaFrentz, McRoberts, etc. etc. I say max 11 pts and 5 rebounds. It wouldn’t even surprise me if he didn’t even make the team. Portland has 17+ players on their roster and I don’t see that many players on the team that are demonstrably worse than Frye. He’ll probably be the last big man to make the roster if at all.

    Too bad because I think Isiah could have gotten Artest for Frye and a bag of chips after Frye’s rookie year…

    Am I being too harsh?

  16. Rewind about two weeks. Would you rather have involved Frye in a deal for Artest or Randolph if both would have been possible?

  17. Good question. I’d say Randolph without a doubt. Artest better suits our needs but…uh…I don’t care.

  18. Didn’t Knick brass put Frye on some kind of weight regiment to bulk up his upper body, hoping his D and rebounding would improve to the level of his outside shooting? Whatever diet/weightlifting program he was on certainly could have screwed with his game. In which case I would give his coaches the F.

    If the problem was either Curry’s emergence or his injuries, I don’t think you can give an F. He would have been stunted by forces out of his control.

    If the NY Steve Sax thing was his problem, fine, give an F, but let’s face it– expectation for the Knicks is pretty damn low. Make the playoffs is as high as we dream these days. The media never got on him the way they get on some athletes. The city wanted to see him achieve. He may have put pressure on himself to play better in his sophomore year, but that pressure would have been felt in smaller markets (like Portland for example).

    I agree with Ken “The Animal”– I liked Frye. He is a good guy that I could root for. Bringing in guys like Randolph and Artest is fine if the Knicks contend with them. If the losing continues, I’d rather lose with the guys we draft and watch grow and seem like nice guys than a smorgasboard of thugs and assholes.

    I think Frye will improve over his sophomore year and will have a decent career. He’ll probably develop a 3 pt shot and play a similar game to Donyell Marshall or Brad Lohaus.

    If I’d known Frye could be the next Thurl Bailey, though, I never would have traded him. Couldn’t you have writen this post before the draft!?!

  19. I subscribe to the Curry-Frye theory, as well as the broken confidence. I think the Knicks and Isiah put heavy emphasis on developing Curry and left Frye in the lurch. B/C Curry was able to stay on the floor more, Frye didn’t get those pick and rolls he got last year, nor did he get the opportunity to set up low and use that jump hook. He basically stood out there lost taking deep jumpers. There was a big difference in the minutes Frye played with Curry:

    Frye’s minutes: 1572
    Frye’s minutes with Curry: 483
    Frye playing time w/ Curry as a % of his overall minutes: 31%


    Frye’s minutes: 1896
    Frye’s minutes with Curry: 987
    Frye playing time w/ Curry as a % of his overall minutes: 52%

    Channing almost played twice as many raw minutes with Curry this year, and the percentage of time he was on the court with Curry increased from 31% to 52% (21% difference). And as 82 games will tell you, the Channing Frye/Eddy Curry 2-man combo is one of the Knicks least effective combinations that don’t include Malik Rose (Malik Rose, as it turns out, is poison).

    2006-2007 numbers:
    2005-2006 numbers:

    Who knows- maybe he thought the coaches didn’t have the same confidence in him, and he never regained the confidence in his J.

    I think he if he can get to a team that will screen and roll for him he’ll do ok.

  20. I agree…in the right offensive sets, Frye becomes a decent third option with his pick and pop ability. However, with the post offense, Frye is only an end of the bench player. I am 99% sure he makes the team this year in Portland, just because young big men who have at least one strength are seldom waived. Michael Doleac seems like the player Frye will become, playing as the 4th big man in the rotation. 10 pts and 5 rebs sounds right.

  21. I guess we can all see that Frye’s numbers degressed in large part because he changed the way he played. The question, which others have addressed, is whether Frye consciously changed by being less aggressive or was asked to adopt a new role?
    Personally, I think the role he was asked to play has to have something to do with it (a lot of other factors might also).

    Seeing as Randolph has come in to play a similar role, I’m a little worried. Randolph’s skill set might be better suited to playing alongside Curry: while he has a sweet stroke from mid-range, he’s also very aggressive getting to the bucket and has a proficient back to the basket game (still sounds similar to Frye as a rookie to me).
    On the other hand, Randolph’s career eFG%, FTA/40, and reb-rate are all very similar to Frye’s rookie numbers (ZR vs CF, .469 vs .479, 5.9 vs 5.8, and 16 vs 14.5). Randolph improved those numbers in a career year last season, but I still have to wonder why Curry/Randolph is going to work when Curry/Frye failed so miserably.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the duo has some offensive potential, but I could have said the same for Curry/Frye. Maybe it was just a shooting slump for Frye or that once defenses planned for his shooting the rest of his game was too limited for him to adjust. Maybe Randolph is the right man for the job.

    The blue print seems to be Shaq/Horry and Shaq/Haslem. The problems seems to be that Curry is only comparable to Shaq in size and low-post effieciency.

  22. Is it just me or is there a trend of guys confused about their roles or playing roles to which their skill set is not well suited?

  23. “The blue print seems to be Shaq/Horry and Shaq/Haslem. The problems seems to be that Curry is only comparable to Shaq in size and low-post effieciency.”

    Great point.

    Frye, if he develops a 3 (which he will because his weaknesses will keep forcing him further from the paint) could be a Robert Horry type player (7 rings and all…).

    In the above comparisons the problems are not with Robin. They are with Batman.

  24. Also– I know Frye is gone, and people would rather talk about the future than the past, but seeing this post still active, I’d like to add that an F is too harsh a grade for someone who can’t redeem himself next year.

    Frye definitely took a severe step back, but he was a good teammate and didn’t embarrass himself on the court too much like some of the Knicks did this year. If Francis gets a D, Frye should too. Francis won one game at the buzzer. So did Frye. The rest of the time they both were disappointing, but Francis was also a serious headache, malcontented and distracting. Frye tried to help the team.

    No way was Frye worse that a few Knicks that have yet to be graded. To give him an F puts him in their class, which I don’t think is fair.

    Good luck Channing. We may miss you yet…

  25. “A team with less expectations”
    (meaning Portland)

    You have bigger expectations here with this team??

  26. Hey Randolph’s best moves are in the strip joints at 2:30am. Oh I forgot, also his live staged sex shows
    in the finer hotels.And sometimes this is even on game night or a big game the next day.

    You don’t get it..
    Portland just wanted to dump him and dump him good.
    We could care less who we got in return.
    It’s a statement to Zach. This is what you’re worth:
    not much.

  27. A little late to this one, but here’s my two cents:

    I know how much you guys love the stats, but this one is purely observational… Frye shot was the 10-15 footer his rookie year. In his second year, it seemed 18-20 footers (a little out of his high % range). So, my question: can anyone break down his scoring by distance for both his first and second year? Is there even a reason for that?

  28. Answered my question, via 82games:

    05-06 Frye: 10% of shots were dunks or tips. 26% were “close”, meaning 36% of his FGA were “inside”. He hit those at 59%. The 64% that was “jump” he only hit at 41.7%.

    O6-07 Frye: 4% dunks/tips. 17% were “close”, hitting at 57 FG% (not too off from the prior year in FG%). This year, though, 78% of his shots were “jump”, at 38.8 FG%. So, yeah, his FG% decreased a bit, but the bigger factor seems to be that he was shooting a lot more jumpers from farther away, where is he is a lower % shooter.

  29. >It seems that Isiah likes a certain roughness, or >street credibility, to his players.

    Just say black for pete’s sake!!
    We know Zeke likes the blacks more than the euros and Im willing to bet there will never be a euro playing in the most cosmopolitan city in the NBA while he is GM/President/Coach.
    Dan Dickau shouldnt make any plans unless he is planning a tan.

    Thomas isnt the first ‘black first’ NBAer weve seen, I just find it amazing that we have to talk in code.


  30. Ted Nelson Said:

    “Is it just me or is there a trend of guys confused about their roles or playing roles to which their skill set is not well suited?”

    Surely you don’t mean to imply that Isiah is not an even finer coach than he is a GM? Blasphemy

  31. The Knicks are so stupid. They traded for fat Zach Randolph who is by far the worst defender in the league, a ball hog, and gets his rebounding stats off his own misses. Great combo, he and the other fat boy, Curry. LET THE IMPLOSION BEGIN!!!! Can you say, the next Jail Blazers, or I mean, Jail Knicks????????


  33. re: stopmikelupica

    good stuff, thats a really interesting observation. i really believe that frye is going to turn into a good player, maybe like a juwan howard with shot blocking, and unfortunately for his sake, without a ridiculous contract. i guess this has nothing to do with the post though, so whatever.

  34. fry will be a good back up thats it, he is not tough enough, i would of loved to see him stay but we need a starter now at that position, so i think it was a good move.

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