Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part V

Part I here.
Part II here.
Part III here.
Part IV here.


Hailed the franchise centerpiece upon his arrival in 2005, Curry now finds himself as the odd man out in the front court. In his three years in New York, Eddy Curry’s per minute stats have stayed the same, only his minutes per game has fluctuated. During 2007 the Knick center averaged 35.2 minutes per game, about 10 minutes more than the year before and the year after, hence causing a spike in his per game stats. This has led many to believe that it was a major step forward for Curry, when in fact little developmental gain was actually made.

But two years ago the only stat Curry had peaked in was his fouls per min (3.3 PF/36). Meanwhile he had career worsts in turnovers (3.7 TO/36), blocks (0.5 blk/36), and free throw percentage (61.5%). Last year Curry’s stats were about the same as his other two in Knick uniforms. His turnovers did drop to the lowest in 4 seasons (3.0 TO/36), but his rebounding hit an all time low (6.5 REB/36). Once he does release the ball he’s efficient (TS%: 57.8%, eFG%: 54.6%) but the high turnovers and low peripheral stats make him a below average player.

Curry’s injury in the preseason has left him a step behind everyone else, but you have to wonder if he wouldn’t be coming off the bench even if he were healthy. It seems that versatile players do well in D’Antoni’s system. There’s hardly any set plays and not much repetitiveness, just about every player needs to be able to read and react. So a unitasker like Eddy Curry, who for his whole career has been a go-to-the-post-catch-the-ball-shoot-the-ball guy, may have trouble adjusting. Since arriving in New York, he has been handed the Knicks starting center without having to earn it. For the first time in his career, Curry is being challenged. Steady Eddy has been stagnant over the last 3 years, but he’s only turning 26 so there’s still chance he could improve. Maybe this is the jolt he needs to develop as a player.

Malik Rose is still on the roster, but he’s not likely to get much playing time when the season starts. Most likely any time he gets early will go to Jared Jeffries once he’s healthy. Under D’Antoni Jeffries will be moved from the swingman role to a frontcourt spot. There’s no question that Jeffries is a limited player on offense (career: TS%: 47.3%, eFG%: 44.3%), and his only real contribution is rebounding (3.2 OREB/36) and defense. Power forward shouldn’t be anything new to Jeffries, since he played nearly half his minutes there last year. But playing center will be, and it’ll be interesting how Jeffries handles the change under D’Antoni.

Jerome James is another player that was expected to be cut, but is still on the roster. James hasn’t played much over his Knick career, because of his incredible sense of humor. During games the camera always finds James making his teammates laugh on the bench. Obviously the Knick front office values such humor, and it’s unquestionable that camaraderie is one of those intangibles that plays a big part in winning. If the Knicks are going to turn the corner, they’ll need James to tell jokes on a nightly basis.

Unfortunately James’ tremendous contribution off the court has made the Knicks miss out on an incredible player on the court. Jerome James was easily the best Knick last year, on a per minute basis. In fact James led the league in PER, and his shooting was through the roof (TS%: 106.4%, eFG%: 100.0%). His PER jumped nearly 900% from the year before and if James continues with that kind of development, he should post a 407.7 PER this year. In other words what Jordan did in all his seasons combined (418.5 PER).

But perhaps the Knicks need laughter on the bench more than a player with a PER of the combined sum of an All Star team. Just look at any team celebrating winning a title, and you’ll see laughter. Losing teams rarely laugh. This correlation is too high to ignore. Since most of the other Knicks lack a proper sense of humor, it’s important for D’Antoni to keep him on the bench. New York can’t win a title with Jerome James on the court.

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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).

9 thoughts to “Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part V”

  1. Curry is, of course, grossly overpaid (and overfed). Indeed, were I Walshtoni, trading him, along with Jeffries, would be my number one priority given that they both will be taking up cap space during the King’s free agency year.

    And yes, Curry was abominable last season. However, he had a positive Roland Rating the year before:

    Playing devil’s advocate, isn’t there hope that he’ll contribute this season — maybe he’ll get lipo or gastric bypass and be able to join in the seven-second offense.

  2. S h a w n – I did have hope that Curry would fit in with D’Antoni’s offense. With lots of open looks for everyone, and the ball in constant motion I thought Curry would get lots of easy buckets without all the turnovers.

    However I’m not sure if Curry will fit in at all. He’s the anti-D’Antoni player. He’s poor at rebounding, passing, moving without the ball, moving with the ball, etc.

    It’s funny how for a chunk of the summer people were saying Lee wouldn’t fit in with D’Antoni without a jumpshot, and it ends up that Curry’s riding the bench.

  3. From a D’Antoni standpoint – putting the best team on the floor right now – it looks like he’s decided, correctly, that Curry is worse than the other two “bigs” on the roster. I’m not even counting Jerome James.

    From a Walsh standpoint – he probably understands he can’t move all the deadweight at once. I seriously doubt he’s looking at Randolph as a long-term building block; if Zach looks good in D’Antoni’s system, he’ll be shopped hard at the trade deadline. At least, all offers will be seriously considered.. then, or next summer. Once Randolph is gone, Curry’s minutes will go up and hopefully we can revive his trade value a bit.

    Crawford is another thing – based on his style of play, and Marbury’s likely departure, JC might be in the long-term plan. But he also has trade value right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move at the deadline.

    Hard to guess where Jeffries fits in.

    Q & James expire in the summer of 2010, so I don’t expect to see them go anywhere.

  4. Mike K – I actually think Curry could fit into D’Antoni’s syatem well if he was in great shape and had more time to learn the offense.

    I am as disappointed with Curry now as I have ever been. Working with D’Antoni was a great opportunity for him and instead he comes into camp out of shape. The sickness was not his fault but being so out of game shape was.

    At this point I think it is too late for him. I would be surprised if he can get into shape and play his way onto the court this year. Frankly it is exactly what he deserves. He knew D’Antoni’s offense required good conditioning, you would think he would have worked hard to prove all his detractors wrong, instead of proving them all right.

    As for Lee I think he would fit on any team in any system. He is something every team needs.

  5. no mention of jefferies? it seems d’antoni sees jefferies playing a pretty big role, if not starting, then as one of the first bigs off the bench. i guess there’s no real way to predict how he plays at a new position, but i think he’ll add an interesting dimension to the front court. (and hopefully… a little shotblocking!)

  6. Dantoni will get Jared Jeffries some minutes, get Randolph and Q some minutes and then he will try to unload all of them.

    We are going to see players who were buried in the past get resurrected and put up some decent numbers and then unloaded by Walsh.

    It’s all about 2010

  7. The only positive thing I can say about Curry is that two years ago after a slowish start, IMO he “DID” start to play a little better ball. It was at that point that he started to get double and triple teamed which effectively cut his contribution back and showcased two major problems with those Knicks.

    1. Curry is not good passing out of the double team.

    2. The Knicks had no one on that team that could consistently hit the ocean from the outside even if he was capable of getting the ball there.

    Personally, I think that despite his per minute stats staying the same, he was in fact a better player that year. It’s just not noticeable looking at the annual numbers because he started out a little slow and then the double and triple teams came. That’s something he didn’t have to contend with as much in prior years. So you could say his per minute stats remained flat DESPITE coping with defenses that were geared up to stop him.

    All of that is moot though. Last year he was back to the same level as before (if not worse because of Randolph’s presence) and so far this year is even worse. He belongs on the bench until he gets in top condition, demonstrates a desire to play hard every minute he’s on the court, and only IF he can fit into this system well.

  8. IS – His per minutes stats didn’t stay the same. His turnovers hit a career high. He finished second in the NBA in total turnovers. His rebounding was worse than in four of the five previous years. After averaging more than a block per 36 his entire career, he dropped to .5 per 36 that year. He hurt the Knicks on both ends and posted a +/- of -8, which actually tells you something about how he played.

    Eddy Curry has never been a good NBA player, at any point. He shouldn’t be an NBA player. There really is no place in the league for him.

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