Knicks 2020-21 Regular Season Report Cards

We have time to kill, so let me quickly grade the Knicks regular season efforts and you can all chime in with your own grades.

Here’s the big rule – A is the highest grade you can get. I hate that, like, “A” “A+” and “A++++” or whatever. This is like the NBA max. Once you get it, you get it. We all know some As are better than other As, but they’re still an A, so just be happy with it.

Julius Randle – A

I mean, duh. The dude might even make the All-NBA team. Kind of a no-brainer.

Reggie Bullock – A

The fascinating thing about Reggie Bullock is that there is a very good chance that he’s only still on the team because they gave him a big 1+1 contract on the first day of free agency without checking to make sure he was, you know, healthy, and he felt so bad after he failed his physical that he signed for the room exception for a two year deal, so after a terrible injury-plagued first year, he was so cheap in year two that they had to keep him (as why would you pass on a guy making so little money?) and he then turned out to be precisely the player that they were hoping they were getting the other year, only better. Great defense and big-time shooting, Bullock has made himself a lot of money this season.

Derrick Rose – A

It’s funny, I was actually very much pro Derrick Rose being an asset for a playoff team. His performance last year was encouraging enough that I really thought he would be useful as a Lou Williams-type player for a top four playoff team. However, I was thinking more obvious playoff teams like the Clippers, and thus I didn’t see Rose fitting in with a team that looked on the periphery of the playoff scene. Well, as it turned out, Rose has been a big addition to a top four playoff team, it just turned out to be the Knicks! He’s played his best ball in almost a decade and also has made himself a lot of money this season.

Alec Burks – A

We were all shocked that no playoff team was willing to give Burks a multi-year deal for more than he got for one year from the Knicks because he just had a good year last season and played for a playoff team (after a trade deadline deal from the tanking Warriors to the pre-Morey, middle of the playoff pack Sixers). Burks has been instant offense and when the rest of the team sometimes falls into a funk, Burks has been there to bail them out. He has also made himself a lot of money this season.

Nerlens Noel – A

Ever since foolishly turning down a big money extension early in his career, this former lottery pick has been forced to scrounge around for short-term, low-level contracts. He signed with the Knicks in the hopes of building up his resume as the starter and found out that he wasn’t going to even be the starter, which pissed him off enough that he fired his agent (amusingly, the actual starter, Mitchell Robinson, also fired that same agent for bringing Noel here in the first place). But then Mitchell Robinson got hurt and Noel stepped into the starting role and was excellent. His ability to approximate Mitchell Robinson’s skills has been invaluable. He’s also made himself a lot of money this season.

Taj Gibson – A

When Mitchell Robinson’s injury forced Noel to move into the starting lineup, the Knicks needed a new backup center and somehow, no team had even bothered to pay the minimum to bring Taj Gibson in and so he stepped up and has played inspired basketball for the Knicks, even moving to the closeout part of the game over Noel at times due to his stronger offensive skills. If he were a lot younger, he would have made himself a lot of money this season, as well, and now that I think about it, is it possible that he has made himself a little more money? Might a team be willing to give him, like, $4 million next season? I assume he’ll be a Knick no matter what (anyone know what the Early Bird rules are if a player plays for a team in back-to-back season, but not really concurrently. I think since he didn’t play for any other team, it still counts as two seasons for Early Bird rights, so the Knicks might be able to offer him a nice small raise to keep him going over the cap).

Immanuel Quickley – A

When you can arguably get the best performance from an NBA rookie with the #25 pick, you have to be happy with that. Quickley has shown some bad rookie habits that have led to Thibs to basically give him an incredibly short leash, where basically it’s like he has a heat check each game. “Is he on today? Okay, he’ll play big minutes.” “Is he off today? Okay, he’ll be benched most of the game.” But for a rookie to be at that level is still very, very impressive. A huge part of the team’s future.

RJ Barrett – A

I really didn’t want to give RJ an A, but then I thought, whatever, an A or a B+ is basically the same thing, let’s just be happy and give him the A. RJ has successfully transformed his game in his second season and will likely transform it again in his third season and become a superstar. His defense has been excellent and you have to love how clutch he’s been in big games this season. He just needs to also make some shots at the start of the game, as well.

Mitchell Robinson – Prorated A

Mitch is weird. I don’t feel right giving him an overall A when he’s missed half the season, but he also did play half the season, so an incomplete sounds wrong, so I’ll just grade him on how he played in the half of the season that he played, which was excellent. He was basically Nerlens Noel, but better, and Nerlens Noel has been excellent. If they could find a way to keep the two-headed monster of Mitch and Noel, that’d be amazing.

Obi Toppin – C+

He didn’t have a good rookie season, but he has played a lot better recently. I don’t think he really has a future here, but I think he could have a future in the NBA period, which I wasn’t sure about early in the season.

Frank Ntilkina – Prorated C+

His numbers are the best they’ve ever been, which isn’t that great, and he never plays (120 less minutes played than Austin Rivers, who hasn’t played on the team in months), but I dunno, he’s had some good moments when he’s played, so…yay? And hey, maybe he’ll be the Knicks starter in the playoffs. Who knows.

Elfrid Payton – D+

I mean, he had some good games, right? He’s obviously being asked to play a certain type of way that isn’t the way he normally plays, so that’s going to take a toll on him a bit as a player, but whatever, he’s still been bad.

Kevin Knox – D

He’s just a waste of a roster spot at this point. And that’s with him making a lot of strides in some areas, but like Toppin, a lot of those numbers are from games where they can’t even keep him on the court, so it’s kind of like fool’s gold.

Everyone else is an incomplete. Except Luca Vildoza, who gets an A just because.

Tom Thibodeau – A

The fact that the Knicks have a top three defense (they moved just sliiiiiiiiiightly ahead of the Jazz in the last game, so it’s really like a tie for third) honestly doesn’t shock me. I’ve seen coaches like Thibs do this all the time. Getting teams to play defense is one of the areas where I firmly believe that coaches make a huge difference. It’s why I picked the Knicks to win 31 games, as I thought Thibs would make them a good defensive team and good defense in the NBA is like three-point shooting in college basketball, it keeps you in games you wouldn’t normally stay in. So that part didn’t surprise me (here’s some past examples. Phoenix Suns defense a year before Scott Skiles took over – 19th. Skiles’ first season there – 3rd. The Bulls went from 21st in defense a year before Skiles got there to 16th when he took over as interim coach the next season to 2nd in his first full season there. Milwaukee wasn’t as dramatic, but it was still literally last in defense the year before he got there to 15th in his first year to second in his third year). In other words, the top defensive coaches have historically done this sort of thing. It’s not shocking. What is more shocking to me is that Thibs has managed to cobble together a functioning offense here. Not a good offense, but good enough to compete, but really, moreover, it’s the fact that he coaches every game like it is Game 7 and that has affected his players, as well. They choke away leads like every NBA team does, but unlike those other NBA teams (and every Knicks team we’ve been watching for years except for the 2012-13 team that now looks like Jason Kidd did some sort of voodoo shit on them), they then get them back. Look at the Spurs and the Hornets games – most teams lose those games, but not a THibs-coached team. So getting them to get to be a good enough offensive team to pair with the defensive improvement (which is also partially from Thibs’ favorites Rose and Gibson joining the team and playing like they played for Thibs back in Chicago) and getting their temperament to a point where they wobble but don’t break is what has turned them from a 31 win team to a 41 win team.

Thibs’ Coaching Staff – A

The fact that, like, every Knick coach is discussed when a coaching opportunity opens up says a whole lot. Luckily, only Woodson actually got a job (a job that was clearly meant for Brad Stevens, right? You don’t spend all of that money with the end goal of getting Mike Woodson, right?), so this great coaching staff will be back next season almost entirely intact. To be fair, though, after Keith Smart, it is hard to not look like a genius assistant coach.

Leon Rose – A

Rose was most impressive in what he didn’t do. He didn’t panic and he just let the chips play where they lay this season and trusted in Thibs to get the most out of this roster, while adding value contracts like Noel and Burks, drafting a stud rookie in Quickley and then rewarding the early strong play by getting Thibs Rose (and a time machine for Rose). Brock Aller is a star and heck, maybe Scott Perry isn’t even useless when paired with smarter co-workers. Rose seems to like having a bunch of different voices and so the whole is likely even better than the sum of its parts. That’s nice to see.

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245 thoughts to “Knicks 2020-21 Regular Season Report Cards”

  1. For a while there, Brian, I was wondering if you were going to give everyone an A — Elf included.

  2. mitch has understandably flown under the radar… but our defense was actually better with mitch in the reg season… (107.6 vs 108.0) … we all forget how much of an issue he had with fouls before the year and he managed to finally get that under control and was on his way to proving what everyone thought he could do…

    and the biggest reason why our defense hasn’t plummeted was because of taj… who at 35 has put up a career best ws48 and bpm on the backs of a crazy 2pt % and turn the back the clock level of block rates… he’s been quite outstanding box score metrics aside… i sincerely hope we can bring him back on perpetual one year deals… he’s a perfect third big…

  3. mitch has understandably flown under the radar… but our defense was actually better with mitch in the reg season… (107.6 vs 108.0) … we all forget how much of an issue he had with fouls before the year and he managed to finally get that under control and was on his way to proving what everyone thought he could do…

    I think it’s been Taj’s stellar play. Noel was always an amazing backup for Mitch, but when he stepped in to fill in for Mitch, that was normally going to leave a huge hole where Noel used to be but Taj has been so good that it hasn’t been as big of a problem. But yes, it masks just how good Mitch was this season and why he’s clearly the best starter at center for the Knicks going forward (if they choose to keep Randle a 4, that is).

  4. Good job, Brian. I’d probably give Barrett a B, but otherwise hard to argue.

    I think my two biggest surprises (outside of nearly everyone playing their absolute best versions of themselves simultaneously, which is just weird):

    Taj — I had him as an old, tired scrub who could still play a little ground-bound defense and make a layup and be a vet to the kids so worse things could happen for a back-up to a back-up. But he was just flying around the court all year, slapping balls out of passing lanes and snatching rebounds and blocking shots (I had no idea he could even get off the ground!).

    Burks — I had him pegged as a one-dimensional three-point shooter. He still flops around the court somewhere between the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz and a carp in a bucket, but he somehow can take that loose-limbed dribble and weave through traffic and make difficult layups against big men. I did not know.

    Everyone else basically did what I could imagine they could do in a best-case scenario, they just all actually did it (except Elf). Which I did not imagine.

  5. Good job, Brian. I’d probably give Barrett a B, but otherwise hard to argue.

    Yeah, like I said, he was probably the biggest stretch as an A, but he’s still just in his second year, so I think I should give him more of a graded curve. Also, when almost everyone else gets an A, it stands out more for him to not get one and I feel like it’d be an almost unfair spotlight on him, as he has been quite good this season.

  6. I sure hope you’re wrong about how much money these guys made for themselves.

    That definitely is the rub. You see that Bleacher Report the other day about a league executive thinking that Noel will make over $10 million next season? Gulp.

  7. And okay, I didn’t see this version of Randle, either. I guess that’s been such a narrative all season I skipped it.

  8. Yeah, love what Noel has done but if he’s going to get some huge pay day this off season, I’d rather roll with Mitch as the starter and say “thank you” to Noel. Bring back Taj and hope that Pelle or another cheap big FA signing can play the back up role well. I don’t think mitch is injury prone, just had 2 cases of bad luck back to back. And I think its fair to point out that we have no idea how Mitch would have looked in the second half with Rose throwing him more lobs. In the game where he broke his hand he was starting to go off and also was looking good in the one game where he came back off the bench. He is just as good if not a little better than Noel on D and a much bigger offensive threat even if it is only lobs at this point.

  9. i think the idea is that more teams have something to play for which means the overall quality of games at the end of the season are better and hence an overall better product….

    Continuing the play-in discussion from last thread, I totally agree with this, and I do think it basically worked in making the last few weeks of the regular season a bit more tolerable than usual, although the reduced number of games also probably contributed to that. I’m not saying I think they should scrap the idea or anything like that, just that I went into yesterday thinking this was unequivocally great, and left yesterday with some reservations. Yesterday it still had the sheen of newness and yet I shut off both games well before the conclusion. What’s the audience going to be like for a Charlotte-Indiana play in 3 year from now?

  10. I do wonder how much money Nerlens has made for himself because he was this good for at least two years on OKC and nobody wanted to pay him. He sucks on offense but he’s a terrific defensive big I don’t understand why a contender didn’t give him a deal. He was even good in the playoffs last year!

  11. DRed:
    I saw the headline and thought “everyone gets an A”

    I love how [end-of-bench player who shall not be named] is clearly not included with the term “everyone” here

  12. I mean there are plenty of playoff games, especially in the first round, that are blow outs. I don’t think you can knock the play-in concept just because the two games yesterday were boring blowouts. The idea is to raise the overall excitement and competition around the last 20 games of the season and that absolutely happened. The play-in’s are just the necessary format to achieve that. Sometimes they’ll be good and sometimes they won’t be good. I mean, they’re basically playing for the chance to go out in the first round against a 1 or 2 seed.

  13. I absolutely think RJ deserves an A. He made a leap so significant that pretty much all of the doubters on this site now think he can be an all-star level player. And the leap he made was primarily because he improved significantly in the area that was perceived as his biggest weakness, 3 point shooting and FT shooting. If this is the new normal for 3 point shooting, he is now a good 3 point shooter, full stop and a perfectly average to good FT shooter. If he ups the FT shooting to above 80 percent and continues to improve slowly in the other areas, he is well on his way to being an all-star. And he also played a TON of minutes this year.

  14. Thank you for the new thread, Brian. It’s refreshing to discuss a new topic, and i agree with your grades. Of course there was some A++++, namely Julius and Thibs, and some A-, probably IQ, maybe Noel (the game has 2 ways, not just one), but you’re right let’s give only A’s and all the players to keep are there. The players we can let go got a C, and the players we must let go, deservedly got a D. Very good job, professor Cronin. :)

  15. The Honorable Cock Jowles: I love how [end-of-bench player who shall not be named] is clearly not included with the term “everyone” here

    Oh, Frank DEFINITELY gets an A from me. He did exactly what people hoped for — played seconds-worth of lock-down defense, hit a suspiciously alarming percent of his corner threes, and created endless and endlessly amusing, near-violent debate on KB. That’s an A in my book.

  16. The Honorable Cock Jowles: I love how [end-of-bench player who shall not be named] is clearly not included with the term “everyone” here

    Jowles, wait… nooooooo… too late, and you’ve release the kraken* again… (some panic gif here)
    * – everybody knows what is the “kraken” on this board, and i shall not name it either. :P

  17. yea as as showcase… the fight for the 8th seed has always been melodramatic towards the end… and these playin games are no different… the only people watching these games are diehards and the fanbases of the teams…

    before these games were not even nationally televised… now you have a few guaranteed games with direct playoff implications… so the standard should be… is it better than what it was before? i think it is.. even though the showcases aren’t actually all that dramatic or good…

    but occasionally you get the defending champs having to fight for their playoff lives facing against the most popular player in the league… that should be interesting….

  18. I do wonder how much money Nerlens has made for himself because he was this good for at least two years on OKC and nobody wanted to pay him. He sucks on offense but he’s a terrific defensive big I don’t understand why a contender didn’t give him a deal. He was even good in the playoffs last year!

    The same applies to Burks and Rose. It will be interesting. It seems all it takes for in the NBA for a player to double his salary is the narrative that he’s going to get paid, though. And all these guys have that story behind them now.

    Miami is going to have a ton of cap space, and I have to think some our free agents (Derrick Rose and Reggie Bullock, in particular) will look good to them.

  19. i wouldn’t really count on rj shooting 40% from 3 next season …. he’s probably going to be shooting more 3s as he adds pullups against drop coverage to his repertoire.. and with lower quality 3s in the mix… his % should go down… that and the fact that 3pt%s around the league has been inflated.. i think due to the empty arenas… he’s probably going to shoot somewhere between his rookie year and this year.. which probably means 35-36%… that’s absolutely fine….

    to key to him .. as with anyone… is the 2pt%… he’s made improvements in every area of the court…. and so hopefully he improves his opportunities at the rim further… and if he does he’s well on his way to multiple all star appearances….

  20. Oh definitely. I know that adding a pull up 3 to his game is a big next step for him and even if he’s good at that, it is usually a lower percentage 3 anyways. But I think the larger point about him now being a good 3 point shooter still stands and that was definitely in question before this season. So its a huge burden off of him to have cleared that hurdle. I think that alone merits the A and he did also improve the FT shooting which is big for a guy like him who gets to the line a lot.

  21. I don’t think you can knock the play-in concept just because the two games yesterday were boring blowouts.

    No, you can’t. Anyone who does? Ignore them. They’re idiots.

    The Spurs crushed the Heat in the 2013 Finals by 36 points. The Celts crushed the Lakers by 39 in 2008’s Game 6, just five games after Paul Pierce faked a knee injury so he could go take a shit. Does that mean that the NBA Finals is a bad concept? They’re basketball games. Sometimes they’re tight games with very exciting foul-and-pray clock-manipulation strategies that are extremely fun to watch that definitely would be less fun if there were some kind of system that made every end-of-game possession look like an actual basketball possession, and sometimes they’re boring blowouts.

  22. I think the positive of the play in is it incentivizes more teams to play to their utmost ability for longer into season.

    The negative of the play in is that finishing 7th is much worse than it used to be, and there is a much bigger gap in value between finishing 6th and 7th than the old system. Obviously 9th and 10th are much better, and 8th is somewhere in between.

    I’d expect over the long haul the competitiveness of the play in games would be pretty high, much higher than you’d expect some of the first round matchups for sure. We definitely didn’t see that yesterday but I would still bet on it going forward.

    To me, the questions we still need the answers to are does forcing teams to play harder further into the season have negative repercussions on postseason play quality (injuries, etc.) . Also does forcing the 7-10 seeds to run the gauntlet of the play in while the other teams get rest days make the first round matches for the 1 and 2 seeds even more of a blowout than they used to be.

    Excited to find out, especially with the Knicks in the mix.

  23. @NYPost_Berman
    Thibodeau defended Elfrid Payton today. Didn’t sound ready to make The Change.

    Oh well… At least Jowles will be happy he doesn’t have to see Frank’s name quite as much in this thread.

  24. Yeah I wonder about that rest too. But then I remember my Tennessee Titans in 2002 getting a first round bye cause they were division champs and then losing to the wild card winner because the wild card team had played a week earlier and the Titans had too much time off. I think there is a benefit having this whole week off as teams can practice and rest and get healthy but the flip side is the teams playing in the play in are playing games and staying in their groove. That might help them be a little sharper in game one than the team that rested.

    The other interesting thing is that seeds 3,4,5,6 know their opponent and get a week to game plan/practice with that team in mind but 1 and 2 and 7 and 8 don’t actually know who their opponent is especially if the 9th or 10th seed teams win the play in. In a weird way that’s actually a hinderance for the top seeded teams cause they don’t have as much time to prepare for their opponent (although their opponent is theoretically a worse team).

  25. I am glad RJ played great D this year. I continue to think he is headed for years on the All-Overrated team but he was a big part of the story and made huge, helpful progress.

    I am going to worry about how we get the band back together after the playoffs are over.

  26. Who could imagine someone giving out all those “A” ratings and not being able to argue them?

    What a season.

    I’m mentally prepared for a rough 1st round, but I think the word “passion” best describes how badly I want to get into the 2nd round.

  27. obi ended up with a pretty ok year…. yes he deserved to be panned at the start of the year where was a fish out of water but he has played solidly since… probably should have a better grade than frank too!

    i’m not sure if he’ll be a high level player… but he could be a real weapon if he ever gets competent pg play or if we ever prioritize pnr’s and actually hit the roll man outside of lobs… because as he’s shown… he has a real talent with finishing around the basket that’s not limited to just dunking the basketball like mitch does… he also has an ok outside shot… which for whatever reason we’re asking a high flying record breaking dunking lancelot in college to sit in the corner launching 3s like he’s a siege weapon half the time….

    i do think he has a shot to be a solid nba starter and a long career… the upside is limited given the lack of rebounding.. defense and ball handling skills… but he can do some other valuable things on the court… given that we have randle and a team that doesn’t realize why he’s good it’s probably not going to happen here but he should be able to show enough to fetch something of value in return…

  28. Alan: Oh well… At least Jowles will be happy he doesn’t have to see Frank’s name quite as much in this thread.

    Just when you thought it was safe…..

    Brian Mahoney
    @briancmahoney
    Tom Thibodeau says he’s giving consideration to having Frank Ntilikina in his playoff rotation as the Knicks prepare to face Trae Young.

  29. ***The negative of the play in is that finishing 7th is much worse than it used to be***

    Since the modern format, the #7 seed is 5-67 in first round match-ups for a .069% winning percentage. (And 4 of the 5 teams that advanced did so in a best-of-five format). Furthermore, of the #7 seeds that managed to advance, they were all either swept or lost 4-1 in the 2nd round with the lone exception being 34 years ago when the ‘87 Sonics who managed to win their second round matchup with the #6 seeded 42-40 Houston Rockets. (And once past the Rockets they were swept in the WCF).

    The #7 seed has always been a stand in– a body-double so that the #2 seed can sit in its trailer and relax while the crew messes around with lighting, blocking, and other logistical formalities. Outside of the body-doubles union, I don’t see why anybody would care about protecting the rights and work conditions of #7 seeds.

  30. Just when you thought it was safe…..

    Haha, I was just coming here to post that tweet and apologize to poor Jowles.

  31. @IanBegley
    Tom Thibodeau was asked how much consideration he’s given to putting Frank Ntilikina in rotation for defense vs ATL & Trae Young. “A lot. Frank’s been in that role as defensive stopper.” Thibodeau didn’t say anything definitive about Ntilikina’s role (doing so is a disadvantage)

  32. djphan: which for whatever reason we’re asking a high flying record breaking dunking lancelot in college to sit in the corner launching 3s like he’s a siege weapon half the time….

    Great imagery. Seems Thibs instituted a very simplistic offensive system where two guys are always ordered to go stand in the corners. It’s been fairly effective, and I think it has probably helped Randle in his role as point forward as he knows where people should be at all times when the double-team comes. The problem for Obi is that he can’t play point forward, and there’s already a center in the dunker spot or setting picks, and nobody had the time or wherewithal to develop something that plays to his strength, so he has to go stand in the corner. Where he really doesn’t belong (yet).

  33. on a slightly different sports note – can’t imagine why anyone may have been questioning La Russa’s ability to coach/manage in today’s MLB…ha…

    unfortunately not able to watch angels games (wrong tv provider), but, i’d really like to watch ohtani do his thing out there on the field…

  34. The Honorable Cock Jowles: The Spurs crushed the Heat in the 2013 Finals by 36 points. The Celts crushed the Lakers by 39 in 2008’s Game 6, just five games after Paul Pierce faked a knee injury so he could go take a shit. Does that mean that the NBA Finals is a bad concept?

    To be clear I’m not arguing that the play-in is a bad concept, but I do think it’s worth making a distinction here, which is that the games you’re describing were bad because they were uncompetitive. In contrast, last night’s games were bad and uncompetitive. I don’t have any way to look this up but I’m going to guess that there has never been an NBA postseason game before that involved two sub-500 teams playing against each other before and last night’s games both looked the part. Obviously not all the games are going to be blowouts, and some of them will probably even end up being well played (hopefully as soon as tonight), but I do think there’s a bit of dilution of the NBA playoffs brand that I hadn’t considered before. That’s all I was trying to say. They’re adding playoff games that will frequently be between two bad teams. That’s not something we have ever really had before.

  35. Can we rename this blog to Frankenblogger if Frank shuts down Trae or the Hawks work so hard to set picks to get Frank off Trae it disrupts their whole offense?

  36. Grading people based on expectations seems fair. Barrett exceeded expectations by a lot, so the A is warranted. Not so sure about Robinson, though, who not only missed half the season but all of his stats were significantly down from last year. The two areas that made him feel untouchable were his ridiculous efficiency and his astounding block rate. The efficiency dropped 80 points and the block rate this year was half what it had been. And, beyond that, when he didn’t play the team didn’t really seem to notice his absence much. Yes, he improved the glaring deficiency in his game, which was his foul rate, but it seems to have come at the cost of what made him exciting as a player. He was still good, but compared to all the stellar and break-out play going on around him, I feel like he should be in the B range even with it prorated to the half of the season he participated in, no?

  37. Not sure Mike K has the budget to rename the site. Go buy more Porzingis t-shirts!

    I’d like a poll on who Frank’s greatest critic is, with TNFH, Jowles, and JK47 being early favorites but some others also being solid contenders. Z-Man, Donnie? I am getting old.

    For myself, very excited to see Frank come on the floor to guard Trae and commit a foul in his first ten seconds with all the beautiful insouciance he is known for.

  38. That’s NINE players with “A” grades plus Thibs and his staff and also management.

    Please don’t pinch me and wake me up from this dream.

  39. After the capacity announcement tickets were surprisingly reasonable so I pulled the trigger and will be at MSG on Sunday. Bummed about missing the meetup but I’m sure we can arrange another.

    I promise I will cheer for Frank for the duration of the 0-10 seconds he is on the court!

  40. Z: Grading people based on expectations seems fair. Barrett exceeded expectations by a lot, so the A is warranted.

    Agree with this; my giving Barrett a B is more about not grading on the curve, as it were. It feels as if most of the Knicks were literally the very best versions of themselves this year. Barrett made a huge leap from the year before, but there are still clear holes in his game, including disappearing for stretches and his occasional Elfin impressions. So he is also one of the players with still big room for improvement, and I expect some of that, or even a lot of that, come next year.

    It just seems he brought his A game, as it were, only now and again. Often in the fourth quarter, which was a delight, but not consistently throughout the game. Does that deserve an A? Again if it’s about expectations, hell yeah. I thought we’d see this Barrett at some point, but more like two years from now.

  41. thenoblefacehumper:
    After the capacity announcement tickets were surprisingly reasonable so I pulled the trigger and will be at MSG on Sunday. Bummed about missing the meetup but I’m sure we can arrange another.

    I promise I will cheer for Frank for the duration of the 0-10 seconds he is on the court!

    Yeah, the ticket market is all distorted because of the new seats and the Covid transition and the season ticket Covid disturbance.

  42. I bought a ticket, too. So either someone else organize meetup or I’ll see y’all at game 2!

  43. thenoblefacehumper: After the capacity announcement tickets were surprisingly reasonable so I pulled the trigger and will be at MSG on Sunday. Bummed about missing the meetup but I’m sure we can arrange another.
    I promise I will cheer for Frank for the duration of the 0-10 seconds he is on the court!

    That’s cool, we’re 4-1 or something like that when there’s a KBer watching the game live at MSG. ;)
    Are you ready for the Frank game? :D

  44. About 15 minutes ago, after being mostly “sold out” for about two hours, they opened a bunch of seats up in 104 and 105 (at very reasonable prices), which was pounced upon for all four games. All aisle seats, too. Over the moon.

  45. Friendly Reminder
    Frank was a basic contributor in the World Cup QFinals knockout game vs USA in 2019 so it’s not that he’s totally inexperienced in big games.
    For those who missed it let’s remember that Frank the Ninja played 25min and had the 2nd biggest plus/minus (plus22) after Gobert (plus26)
    :-)

  46. And, beyond that, when he didn’t play the team didn’t really seem to notice his absence much.

    They were an excellent defense without him and yet were even better with him. He’s basically Noel with slightly better defense and more offensive skills, which is an A player. Maybe he was even more of an A player last year, I dunno, but he was still an A this year. That they didn’t look for him as much as they did in the past isn’t a knock on him. Had he gotten a chance to play with Rose he likely would have shown more of that efficient scoring (and his “less efficient” scoring was still excellent. He had a .64 TS%!).

  47. RJ deserves an A. If you told me at the beginning of the year that RJ would end the season with a .530+ TS%, I’d have been thrilled and canned all my trade RJ talk.

    Lebron in his 2nd year jumped up to a .554 TS% from ~.480 TS%. But it seems unfair to compare any player to Lebron, that would be an S+++ or whatever goes above A.

    Brandon Ingram made basically the same jump RJ did, .470 TS% to .530 TS%. If you’re on pace to be Brandon Ingram, that’s an A to me.

  48. KB preseason prediction thread: F
    ESPN predictions: F
    Vegas Over/Under: F

  49. Early Bird: Lebron in his 2nd year jumped up to a .554 TS% from ~.480 TS%. But it seems unfair to compare any player to Lebron, that would be an S+++ or whatever goes above A.

    Also, after that first godawful stretch RJ was basically at .550 TS% for the year. (RJ isn’t Lebron, I’m not saying that Lebron did it on a 30% USG with 30 AST%; RJ ain’t touching those numbers).

  50. Early Bird:
    RJ deserves an A. If you told me at the beginning of the year that RJ would end the season with a .530 TS%, I’d have been thrilled and canned all my trade RJ talk.

    Lebron in his 2nd year jumped up to a .554 TS% from ~.480 TS%. But it seems unfair to compare any player to Lebron, that would be an S or whatever goes above A.

    Brandon Ingram made basically the same jump RJ did, .470 TS% to .530 TS%. If you’re on pace to be Brandon Ingram, that’s an A to me.

    I would say this type of improvement is a must for a player who wants to be top level, but the improvement itself doesn’t mean much until it becomes a consistent part of the player’s game. It’s nice to see similar successful examples, but for every improvement case there’s a Rudy Gay for example, jumping from .497 ts% to around .540 in his sophomore year and then remaining stagnant for the rest of his career.

    So yeah, the improvement is really nice and is a sign he had very good potential, but the hardest part is actually consistently remaining at that level. The signs seem to be good for RJ, hard worker, relatively quiet guy who seems confident enough, etc etc. I’m hopeful but still treading on the more cautious side to see how he keeps improving.

  51. More Shocking Knicks Related Blast from the near past Stats:

    France met Argentina on the Semis of the 2019WCup

    Luca Vildoza played 15:54 having 10p (5/5ft, 1/2 2p, 1/3 3p) 4rebs, 3ast, 1stl

    Frank Ntilikina played 21:16 having 16p!!!! (1/2ft, 6/7 2p! 1/5 3p) 2rebs, 2ast, 2tos and he was the highest scorer from France along with Fournier (16p)

    For the record Argentina beat France 80-66 with a recently sold his soul to the Devil LScola who had 28p, 13rebs, 2ast in 34:04min

    (We’re talking about 40min games here)

  52. Sorry, I’m slow to understand the rules.
    While there are undoubtedly some “A”s to share,
    are grades related to the player expectations or strictly based on this year performances?

    If the answer is 1. they’re generous as a whole but somewhat understandable in this climate of euphoria
    if the answer is 2…. collective memory loss?

    :-)

  53. Am I foolish to be excited for the Lakers/Warriors game tonight? Is it going to have a game 7 atmosphere, or are the stakes just too low? (Will it even have a playoff atmosphere?) I’d love for those two teams to face off in 7 game series. It would come down to which all-time greats are greater and which all-times worsts are worster. The way basketball is meant to be played!

  54. I think the stakes are still high, not because the Suns are a better matchup than the Jazz (I think the Lakers feel pretty confident against either team, honestly), but because you never want to end up in a win or go home situation, so I think this game will be intense.

  55. I would give RJ a B. As much as he has improved, his advanced metrics across the board are those of a slightly below average player. Had his minutes been taken by the likes of journeymen Burks or Bullock, who both make less money than RJ, advanced stats say that the team would have been better off. He was instrumental in some key wins, but also faltered in some big spots, most notably vs. the Lakers.

    This doesn’t mean that I am not thrilled with the way he played this year. I am way higher on RJ than I was going into the season, and he gave us tons of reasons to be optimistic about his future. But the question shouldn’t be whether he exceeded espectations compared to his putrid performance last year. It should be whether he exceeded expectations for a #3 pick in his second year. Statistically speaking, the answer to that question is a clear no. For a guard/wing, he still has an average to below average PER, WS48, OBPM, DBPM, TS%, eFG%, FT%, and isn’t doing anything special with rebounding, passing, steals or blocks. The one thing he improved dramatically, his 3pt% is a huge thing, but he did it at a relatively low volume (1.8 makes on 4.4 attempts per 36).

    Giving him an A would be putting him in a category with one-and-done top of the lottery guys who had “A” sophomore seasons like Trae, Fox, Brown, Tatum, etc. I loved watching RJ grow this year and have high hopes for him, but A seems like grade inflation to me. B is more than fair.

  56. Congratulations to those of you who scored tickets! If I was in the US I’d try to get some too.

  57. Z:
    Am I foolish to be excited for the Lakers/Warriors game tonight?

    I am ;)

  58. I agree with the B or B+ for RJ.

    And for me Mitch is a (prorated) B too.

    With the caveat that he played a lot of minutes with Payton,
    he didn’t show any progress in his offensive game,
    his per-36 numbers were all down except for fouls and (slightly) TO,
    his %s were way down (49,1 Ft%!!)
    and he played most of his games in the “soft” part of our schedule.

    A good season yes, an “A” season no.
    (and the team’s success without him will probably cost him money in the process)

  59. Nah but seriously I think this Warriors Lakers game is gonna be good. If the Lakers are at full strength and stay that way, they can still make the Finals. But let’s keep it a buck: we all want Steph to go inferno and will his team to the W. This season just keeps on giving for us – why not see Lakerland sweat some bullets?

    Post-season grades: when it comes to RJ, in understand both arguments for grading him a B or an A. In general NBA terms, he was a very solid B. But judging by the level of improvement he made in Year Two, you can easily give him an A – especially because of the steep in-season improvement of his 3-ball. I’m beyond giddy at what improvements he’ll make in the offseason because you KNOW he’ll be in the gym day and night.

    One more thing on Barrett: you guys are saying he needs to add a pull up 3; I think he needs to keep improving his pullup 2s from around 15ft along with his drives inside. Add more craftiness to that strong body of his.

  60. ***I think this game will be intense.***

    Oof, I was excited to watch this game but just found out that I have to put underwear on and go meet people for dinner. Curse you Gavin Newsom for re-opening the economy!

  61. man, nerlens is just such a fun interview…

    i hope he stays past this season…

  62. Brian, I love your enthusiasm but I’ll take a different tact. Looking objectively at the players, I think about how their play would rank on my mythical NBA Championship team. The only all-NBA player is our superstar. Allstar or borderline all-star are next, then bonafide starters but not all-stars, then it’s the rotations players, followed by the guys who should be glued to the bench and finally G-League/Some other non-NBA League players. Here’re the grades for each of those levels followed by How I perceived the player relative to this chart:
    Superstar (A+)
    Star (B+/A-)
    Starter (C+/B-)
    Rotation (C)
    Deep Bench (D)
    G-League or out (F)

    Julius Randle: A+ (All-NBA)
    Reggie Bullock: B (Excellent 3&D)
    Derrick Rose: B- (He didn’t start but was invaluable)
    Alec Burks: B- (Injured too often. I was surprised by his versatility to run point).
    Nerlens Noel: B (Our centers are awesome but have a flaw – big bodied centers).
    Taj Gibson: B- (Noel’s a touch better than Taj but we love Taj)
    Immanuel Quickley: B- (He’s been hot-and-cold. His defense needs to improve.
    RJ Barrett: B+ (Has made a huge jump. He’s almost ready to become an all-star)
    Mitchell Robinson: B- (Injuries are derailed what should have been a breakout season)
    Obi Toppin: C (I think he’s got potential, but he needs to have a normal off-season when that starts in July :) )
    Frank Ntilkina: C- (His 36 seconds of play the other night says it all. Zero offense but good as a spot defender)
    Elfrid Payton: D+ (He can’t hit a layup. The team fails to operate when he’s the point guard. )
    Kevin Knox: F (Has become virtually useless. Needs to be traded to a really bad, young team. )
    Tom Thibodeau: A+ (Coach of this millennium so far)
    Thibs’ Coaching Staff: A (Credit for massive improvement in the team)
    Leon Rose: A- (The minus is because we’re still down a starting PG. Should have drafted Haliburton.)

  63. GoNY,

    I can’t argue with much based on your grading rules, but I’m not sure the rules are the best way to grade, especially this team. The other way to do it is based on where you started on each player, assumption-wise, and how they did based on that. In other words, if you’re assumed to be a ‘rotation player,’ what kind of rotation player did you end up being?

    For example, Randle was somewhere between a star and a starting player (based on your system), and became a superstar (not sure I’d use that term, but whatever). Ditto with Bullock and Burks, both of whom started the season somewhere between starter and rotation. And both of whom greatly exceeded expectations, as did Randle.

    That seems more fair, rather than comparing Bullock with Randle. If they’re equivalent players (perhaps Bullock and Burks) then maybe you do a comparison (and I think they both get equivalent A’s).

    I think of your groupings as actual classes (like AP versus regular, etc.). How did they do within their grouping.

  64. I miss Ron Baker. where is he now?

    I think he was last with CSKA Moscow, but he will be playing on the Shockers alum team in TBT.

  65. It’s hard to believe the Spurs have somewhat survived a shocking start and still have a chance despite shooting 18-54 at halftime.

    They were down 29-8 after 8 minutes.

  66. @Raven – You make valid points but I would rather provide a caveat of whether the player exceeded expectations, met expectations or disappointed. To me, being objective is important. But you might be surprised by how I do that evaluation:

    Exceeded Expectations by a lot: Randle, RJ
    Exceeded Expectations: Noel, Rose, (Leon Rose)
    Met Expectations: Taj, Burks, Bullock (Thibs, Coaching Staff)
    Disappointed: Elf, Mitch, Toppin, Ntilikina
    Get lost!: Knox

    Last year Randle was a C+, RJ too. At the same time, Rose is not an A+ but once upon a time he was. My grades reflect who they are in terms of the league.

  67. Grades are arbitrary bins against arbitrary standards. @goNY Congratulations on your definitely superior system that I definitely understand why everyone should care about.

    Though I guess Brian did open the door by railing against A+, that at least went with his schtick of everybody good gets an A.

  68. I assume everyone is watching basketball at the moment but maybe switch on over to the Yankee game briefly if you want to potentially witness history!

  69. what, was that like the 39th no-hitter this season…

    LOWER THE MOUND!!!

    wow, kluber has really exceeded expectations this year, at least i remember there being some questions when he signed…i haven’t watched much baseball yet, but their batting box scores have been pretty ugly to date…only a few guys have consistently hit well all season, and stanton is hurt again, i guess as long as he’s healthy for the post-season, who cares…

    they’re pitching really well though…

  70. Corey Kluber was unbelievable tonight. And what a personality!

    BJ:
    Grades are arbitrary bins against arbitrary standards. @goNY Congratulations on your definitely superior system that I definitely understand why everyone should care about.

    Though I guess Brian did open the door by railing against A+, that at least went with his schtick of everybody good gets an A.

    I smell sarcasm.
    Thing is, I’ve got a pet peeve about calling every Tom, Dick and Harry a super-star. Ratings matter. This isn’t my system, but rather one that is used by scouts. They use it to predict upside of a player. Once upon a time I posted a link to it but I don’t feel like searching for it :)

  71. Alan:
    Corey Kluber!!!!!

    Gonna share this with my coworkers. ;)

    Speaking of whom… this convo recently happened:
    #lolKnicks AD: you ready for the WORLD CHAMPION Lakers title defense?
    Me: umm, you guys are one Curry supernova game away from some serious trouble.
    #lolKnicks AD: but your team…
    Me: finished with a higher seed than yours and is at home resting up. But anyways, let’s have a watch party tonight!
    #lolKnicks AD: I’ll watch when we’re in the Finals.
    Me: Steph Curry tho.
    #lolKnicks AD: We have championship pedigree.
    Me: So does Steph and the Warriors.

    Ahhh, what fun times to be a Knicks fan!

  72. Actually, if you search for “nba player tier rankings” and click on the Athletic link, you’ll see what I’m basing this on. Unfortunately, I can no longer post links. I don’t know why. It’s just what it is.

  73. geo:
    what, was that like the 39th no-hitter this season…

    LOWER THE MOUND!!!

    wow, kluber has really exceeded expectations this year, at least i remember there being some questions when he signed…i haven’t watched much baseball yet, but their batting box scores have been pretty ugly to date…only a few guys have consistently hit well all season, and stanton is hurt again, i guess as long as he’s healthy for the post-season, who cares…

    they’re pitching really well though…

    Is the mound the problem? I thought it was that spin rate has spiked over recent years, especially as foreign substances have evolved way past pine tar… I guess the mound would help but they should go after the actual issue, no?

  74. Baseball metrics guys have taken over. Batting averages are down across baseball as it is no longer valued.

  75. my understanding is – it is far from just one issue…i don’t know, games evolve…home runs and strikeouts for everyone…

    to be honest, i enjoy watching baseball mostly as background “noise” while doing something else…great for napping…

    good to see andujar getting some playing time…hopefully he starts hitting…the clint frazier era hasn’t started off so well either…hicks is injured again i see…

  76. thenamestsam: To be clear I’m not arguing that the play-in is a bad concept, but I do think it’s worth making a distinction here, which is that the games you’re describing were bad because they were uncompetitive. In contrast, last night’s games were bad and uncompetitive. I don’t have any way to look this up but I’m going to guess that there has never been an NBA postseason game before that involved two sub-500 teams playing against each other before and last night’s games both looked the part. Obviously not all the games are going to be blowouts, and some of them will probably even end up being well played (hopefully as soon as tonight), but I do think there’s a bit of dilution of the NBA playoffs brand that I hadn’t considered before. That’s all I was trying to say. They’re adding playoff games that will frequently be between two bad teams. That’s not something we have ever really had before.

    Just wanted to clarify that play-in games are technically not “playoff” games, just extensions of the regular season. Teams who lose in the play-in are in the lottery and are not considered to be playoff teams. Although I’m not sure whether the stats will be lumped in with playoff stats or regular season stats on the b-r page…

    I guess the best analog is when two MLB teams are tied and have to play a play-in game to determine who advances to the playoffs.

  77. MLB thought they had a “home run problem” so they changed the ball so it’d fly shorter. Pitchers get less afraid of the long ball and can pitch more aggressively and then offense is down. Seems like a self inflicted problem to me. This isn’t even unintended consequences…

    Not sure why you’re blaming analytics?

  78. The fact that this Warriors team won 39 games should almost make Steph the automatic MVP. What a bunch of stiffs.

  79. What a criminal call on Draymond’s screen, but well, the league ain’t about to allow the Lakers to lose this anyway

  80. The best basketball player who ever lived hitting an absurd 30′ game winning 3 over Steph Curry is some shit you wouldn’t believe if you saw it in a movie

  81. If we had 1 cent for every Lebron flop and complaint we could have bought the knicks…10 years ago

  82. Lebron was terrible tonight and he had 22 points on 17 shots, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals and a block and hit a ridiculous game winner. He’s 36 years old. If you think anyone else was better than this man at playing basketball you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  83. Watching the Celtics and Lakers win in back to back days is just too much for my little cold hateful heart

  84. One of my Laker coworkers just said that out of their drafted guys (Randle, Ingram, Ball, etc), Kuzma was the best…

    Let that sink in for a moment.

  85. The Infamous Cdiggy:
    One of my Laker coworkers just said that out of their drafted guys (Randle, Ingram, Ball, etc), Kuzma was the best…

    Let that sink in for a moment.

    I’ll file that under number 178 of my “reasons why Lakers fans are the worst” file.

    At least this season I have an actual Knicks team to focus on instead of just hoping they lose lol

  86. LBJ’s going to have to play 40 minutes a night and AD is going to have to play plenty of five for the Lakers to beat anybody.

  87. nicos:
    LBJ’s going to have to play 40 minutes a night and AD is going to have to play plenty of five for the Lakers to beat anybody.

    That game-winner by LeBron was basically a prayer. I know he can pull up from the logo, but that was a beat-the-shot-clock with a sliver of daylight fling to the basket.

    I’m not saying the Lakers can’t get back to the Finals, but their fans are deluding themselves by underestimating A. how well LeBron & AD will need to play, and, B. the teams in front of them. They barely beat Steph & the Scrub-a-Dubs.

  88. It was fun while it lasted but the league will never ever, not-in-a-million-years, allows the Lakers and Celtics to be out of the playoffs.

    LeBron made a great shot, but If the Lakers lost the game tonight they would have changed the rules and disqualified the Grizzlies for something.

    Ditto for yesterday, with Tatum’s 17 FTs while all the Wizards got 20, the ever penetrating Westbrook included.

    Brooklyn is too much for Boston (and another great narrative in a big market) but probably Phoenix has no chance against the Lakers, it wont be allowed.

    They couldn’t do nothing last year with the Clippers collapse but they want the Battle of LA in the WCF and they’ll do whatever to make it happen, the other teams need to be far superior to avoid the trap.

  89. didn’t anticipate a first round matchup with a healthy Lakers team when I made that Suns bet. 3500 doesn’t look so great anymore.

    But holy shit… Chris Paul vs LeBron!! First time ever, I’m pretty sure.

  90. Um, both the Lakers and the Celts would have made the playoffs easily under the previous format. If anything, the current format put their chances of advancing at risk.

  91. Both teams were considered a top-4 in their conferences.
    The new format had unintended consequences and the error was quickly corrected
    (they tried unsuccessfully in the regular season too, Portland was hosed in the Phoenix game but it wasn’t enough).
    Lakers and Boston are in the playoffs and everyone is happy.

    :-)

  92. Berman with the scoop that Vildoza is showing up in NYC tomorrow. Can’t imagine he plays at all in the first round, but if we get past Atlanta, is it ridiculous to have him get some emergency minutes in round 2?

    by the way – if anyone listened to the Locked on Knicks podcast with Berman yesterday, he intimated several times that Payton is not really very well liked in the locker room and that Frank has a lot more friends in there than Elf does – ie. the team would not be upset if Frank got minutes at Payton’s expense…. just more food for thought.

  93. I hate to keep playing Vildoza party pooper, guys, but he’s not happening in the playoffs. This, though, is interesting:

    by the way – if anyone listened to the Locked on Knicks podcast with Berman yesterday, he intimated several times that Payton is not really very well liked in the locker room and that Frank has a lot more friends in there than Elf does – ie. the team would not be upset if Frank got minutes at Payton’s expense…. just more food for thought.

    A lot of us have been speculating that Elf is still starting for nebulous locker room reasons. This sure suggests otherwise.

    Just start Burks. It makes too much sense at this point. Exile Payton entirely, and use Frank as the “9 and a half” man in the rotation depending on how badly we need defensive backcourt help on a given night. Done.

  94. Payton repeatedly freezed out RJ last year (and occasionally this year too).

    For what I understand his only friend on the team is Randle (they share the same agency and played together in NO).

    Barring a fans’ revolt re-signing him is out the question, so why bother to bench him?

    Thibs really thinks he could be helpful, I don’t think he’s afraid to destabilize the locker room.

  95. Are analytics responsible for all of the no hitters in baseball this year? Launch angle and stuff?

  96. It seems like getting a hit has become to baseball what a long two is to basketball. Surely analytics bears the responsibility for that.

    If they’ve deadened the ball to boot, pitchers are going to have a field day.

  97. Max:
    Both teams were considered a top-4 in their conferences.
    The new format had unintended consequences and the error was quickly corrected
    (they tried unsuccessfully in the regular season too, Portland was hosed in the Phoenix game but it wasn’t enough).
    Lakers and Boston are in the playoffs and everyone is happy.

    :-)

    This truly makes zero sense, Max. Please don’t tell me that you are going down the conspiracy theorist road frequented by some posters here…and if you’re going to do it, at least do it intelligently.

  98. It’s amazing how badly MLB has allowed its product to deteriorate.

  99. Are analytics responsible for all of the no hitters in baseball this year? Launch angle and stuff?

    “Analytics” is way too broad to be fully explanatory when it comes to the pitcher dominance we’re seeing. It’s not like team analytics departments want their hitters to be worse overall.

    My 2 cents is it’s the confluence of a few different things:

    1) Pitchers are getting a lot better–it used to be a rarity to see a guy throw 97+, now it’s pretty much the expectation.

    2) Teams realized striking guys out is the best way to prevent runs and instructed (and compensated) pitchers accordingly.

    3) Teams realized lower AVG/higher OBP/more power leads to more runs than higher average/lower OBP/less power, and instructed their hitters to adjust accordingly (this is where launch angle comes into play). Contrary to what some people think this was actually a net benefit to offenses but I won’t argue with anyone who says its aesthetic effects have been negative. Between this trend and the strikeout trend, way fewer balls were put in play.

    4) In response to this, MLB deadened the ball prior to this year. They thought this would lead to more balls in play, but the early returns indicate it hasn’t done anything but depress offense even further. This is obviously anecdotal, but last night the Rangers had 3-4 batted balls that looked like surefire hits off the bat but then died in the infield/outfield.

  100. Hmm. See that is interesting about Payton. I wonder if that’s always been the case or if its a newer development as the team has gone to the next level while Payton’s play has regressed and his minutes decreased?

    I also think Thibs is just risk averse in some ways with starting line ups maybe? Like he’d rather roll with the same starting 5 even if it puts the team behind a bit at the beginning because then he can watch the opposing team, see who’s got it, etc…and make adjustments as the game goes. The fact that he doesn’t close with the same people every game but sticks with the starting line up makes me think this is the case? I don’t know.

    I’d be cool to start Burks too. I mean Burks, Bullocks, RJ and Randle…that’s a lot of offense and shooters to give Atlanta problems and you still got Rose and IQ off the bench.

  101. TNFH, you also left out extreme defensive shifts. As teams realized they can move their guys around the infield and outfield for every single batter, rather than sticking to the same alignment all game, it’s made singles and doubles much harder to come by. Which in turn encourages even more hitting for launch angle — which the newly deadened baseball has foiled. So now instead of baseball having lots of Three True Outcomes — strikeouts, walks, and home runs — we’re mostly just getting the strikeouts and the walks, since balls that would have been home runs last year are caught at the warning track.

    It’s a calamity, and one that Rob Manfred seems wildly ill-equipped to fix.

    But it’s interesting to see the parallels between baseball and basketball, which has also evolved so that almost everyone plays the same Moreyball style of offense. It makes sense strategically, but it’s less fun aesthetically, which is the same as what’s happened with baseball losing out on the pleasure of balls being put in play.

  102. TNFH, you also left out extreme defensive shifts.

    It’s probably a worthy inclusion but it’s worth noting there’s not a lot of evidence shifts have meaningfully depressed batting averages.

    Edit: re-reading your comment, I guess it’s not inconsistent with the shift not depressing batting averages. Hitters have successfully adapted to it, but in ways that further contribute to the problem of fewer balls being put in play. So the shift isn’t depressing offense, but it is contributing to the three true outcomes trend.

  103. Hmm. See that is interesting about Payton. I wonder if that’s always been the case or if its a newer development as the team has gone to the next level while Payton’s play has regressed and his minutes decreased?

    Elf’s freezeout of RJ has been long chronicled and amply backed with scads of data. He got away with it for awhile because there was a contingent out there who could kind of plausibly say, “He SHOULD be freezing out RJ.” With that “idea” now being thoroughly vaporized, his always-evident jackassery is left entirely exposed.

    A shitty player who no one really likes isn’t exactly going to be a fan favorite, and so it is.

  104. thenoblefacehumper: “Analytics” is way too broad to be fully explanatory when it comes to the pitcher dominance we’re seeing. It’s not like team analytics departments want their hitters to be worse overall.

    My 2 cents is it’s the confluence of a few different things:

    I agree with everything you said but I also think something that I haven’t seen discussed much is the way these trends have reinforced and amplified each other to become a vicious cycle. As strikeouts have risen, and the offenses have emphasized walks and homeruns at the expense of batting average, the odds of a hit turning into a rally have declined. There’s a game theory element to it – if all the other hitters are three true outcome guys then the value of a single really goes down because you’re so rarely going to have a runner on second – the rational choice is to tilt your own profile towards three true outcomes as well.

  105. I agree with everything you said but I also think something that I haven’t seen discussed much is the way these trends have reinforced and amplified each other to become a vicious cycle. As strikeouts have risen, and the offenses have emphasized walks and homeruns at the expense of batting average, the odds of a hit turning into a rally have declined. There’s a game theory element to it – if all the other hitters are three true outcome guys then the value of a single really goes down because you’re so rarely going to have a runner on second – the rational choice is to tilt your own profile towards three true outcomes as well.

    Yeah, this is a great point. The impact of an isolated base hit at least feels like it’s gone way down, as you get the impression the guy isn’t scoring anyway unless someone hits a homer before the inning ends.

  106. As a fellow C+ student, this report card makes me like Frank even more. VIVE LE FRANK!

  107. I’m starting to feel a little sorry for Payton. He is what he is as a player. It’s not his fault he’s not a starting PG. We aren’t paying him like one. He just has the job.

    It can’t be easy to read social media and newspaper articles every day basically saying everything about the season has been great except Payton who sucks. Then the team goes out and gets Vildoza mid season and signs him for multiple years which more or less signals “you are out” next season. The only motivation he has left is to get another contract next year. He can’t feel any loyalty to the team. For his sake I hope he plays better because if he winds up getting benched and taken out of the rotation in this round he may not get a job offer next year.

  108. Alan: But it’s interesting to see the parallels between baseball and basketball, which has also evolved so that almost everyone plays the same Moreyball style of offense. It makes sense strategically, but it’s less fun aesthetically, which is the same as what’s happened with baseball losing out on the pleasure of balls being put in play.

    The parallels between basketball and baseball are interesting but overblown at this point in my opinion.

    For one thing I don’t think the stylistic compression has been nearly as dramatic, you still have teams playing very different styles – the best players on the four teams competing for playoff spots last night were Demar Derozan (midrange artiste), Jonas Valancunas (lumbering interior beast; as an aside I’m not sure if this counts as a hot take, Ja is obviously an exciting prospect, but it’s pretty clear Jonas is their best/most important player currently and criminally underrated around the league), Lebron James (270 lb Power PG) and Steph Curry (mini 3 point bomber). The game still has a ton of variation.

    And then additionally (and this is totally subjective) I would argue that the changes wrought by analytics in the NBA have been at least neutral aesthetically while in baseball they’ve been awful. I like a dominating pitching performance as much as the next guy but when the ball is never in play (and the stats on this are dramatic) the game just isn’t as exciting. In the NBA I think there are concerns about a loss of variation, but the average game is a much better watch to my eyes than it was 20 years ago because the extra space has allowed for so much more skill expression. I won’t argue that nothing has been lost but there have been real gains also and I just don’t see it in baseball.

  109. I’m not much of a baseball fan anymore, but I think computers and advanced stats are destroying a lot of sports and games. The same kinds of things are even going on in poker, chess, and horse racing. When everyone knows the superior strategy it takes away a lot of what makes the game interesting to begin with.

    It may be correct to shoot loads of 3s, but it’s more fun when some teams played inside out, some outside in, some slow, some super fast, some free wheeling, some very structured etc.. Those matchups were interesting. We are moving in the direction of less diversity.

    One of things I’ve enjoyed about his Knicks team is that they play slow and are very physical. They are a kind of throwback in some ways. And we’ve seen that just because you aren’t following the favored template exactly doesn’t mean you can’t be successful or incorporate 3s into your offense effectively also. Everything doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

  110. But it’s interesting to see the parallels between baseball and basketball, which has also evolved so that almost everyone plays the same Moreyball style of offense. It makes sense strategically, but it’s less fun aesthetically, which is the same as what’s happened with baseball losing out on the pleasure of balls being put in play.

    Moreyball is just a reflection of the original sin that is the 3 pointer. Not that the 3 pointer is a bad thing, but it’s just worth too much – 50% greater value than any other basket is just too much. Add onto that how valuable a shooting foul (or any foul in the bonus) is (ie. ~1.5+ PPP for a 2 point shooting foul or 2.25+ PPP for a 3 point shooting foul when the shot you were going to take is probably 1.2PPP at best), and voila, you have James Harden, who is the natural evolution of math on the basketball court. Create 3’s, get fouled.

    Re: baseball – I am sure the analytics people are smarter than me, but would it really be so hard for people to bunt down the 3rd base line? Like take Justin Smoak, whose xBA on grounders is 0.277 but whose actual average on grounds is .115. If he spent his entire offseason practicing bunting down the left field line, you don’t think they’d stop shifting on him? I don’t know what analytics they are doing on that, but since none of these players ever practice bunting, I’m not sure how you could really know whether it would work or not. I mean a “hard hit” bunt to an empty side of the infield could be a double.

    It feels like the granny-style free throw — it’s more effective but people don’t want to be seen doing it.

  111. Frank, I forget the exact details, but there have been analytic studies done on the whole “just bunt against the shift” argument, and I believe the studies found that there was still more value in trying to pull the ball.

  112. If he spent his entire offseason practicing bunting down the left field line, you don’t think they’d stop shifting on him?

    I think you are getting at one of the problems with analytics.

    They look at hundreds of players, thousands of examples etc.. and draw a conclusion based on aggregate data. That’s going to be correct the vast majority of the time, but it won’t ALWAYS be correct for every player or team.

    If Kareem and Shaq were freshmen in high school now would we be teaching them to shoot 3s? They may never even make the pros. lol To me, if they were in basketball today teams would be adjusting to them because they’d be killing all the soft and small ball teams. Any defensive issues on P&R etc.. would be swamped by what they were doing on offense.

    I see it in horse racing all the time. Most trainers give their horses way more rest between races these days because they believe it keeps them fresh and sound longer. It’s pretty extreme. But there are still some horses that thrive on being worked and raced hard and that have the bodies to handle that load without developing physical problems. If you treat those horses like the softies, they’ll never reach their potential or accomplish what they are capable of accomplishing,. But that’s exactly what most trainers do.

    That’s what we’ve lost. We don’t have good “exception” processing,

  113. Alan:
    Frank, I forget the exact details, but there have been analytic studies done on the whole “just bunt against the shift” argument, and I believe the studies found that there was still more value in trying to pull the ball.

    But what do they input in terms of the success of bunting? The historical bunting numbers for #4 hitters? Just make up a batting average for bunts? What I mean is – just like RJ spent his whole offseason working on 3 pointers, what if Justin Smoak spent his entire offseason learning how to bunt? These guys are so good you’d have to think they could get a good bunt (down 3rd base line, far enough away from the catcher) down 50% of the time, and probably would reach base 80% of the time.

    (this doesn’t fix the issue of the shift against right handed batters since of course you never leave an empty side on the first base side)

  114. You’d think some hitters would learn to just go the other way occasionally to keep the shifting defenses honest, but that’s not how it’s playing out. With this new ball I’d think there’d be some value in shortening some swings and slapping those 100 MPH fastballs the other way once in a while but MLB is made up almost entirely of pull hitters looking to maximize launch angle.

    It doesn’t work anymore with the new ball. I wouldn’t be against some restrictions of the shift also, like doing away with the whole “second baseman standing in shallow RF” thing. Right now the strategy is “hit home runs to beat the shift” and the balls just aren’t going over the wall as much. HR/FB rate is way down with the new ball so offense has ground to a halt.

  115. Yeah, MLB may have hit some “perfect storm” of a deadened ball, IF shifts (combined with pull obsessed hitters), launch angles for HR, and more pitchers throwing consistently 95+ MPH.

    I’m not sure even all that explains the sheer awfulness of Francisco Lindor at the plate this year, though. Supposedly he’s become pull and launch angle obsessed, but after last year’s mediocre .258, he sits at .189. Combining those, he’s hitting .234 over his last 368 at bats (96 games).

  116. Z-man: This truly makes zero sense, Max. Please don’t tell me that you are going down the conspiracy theorist road frequented by some posters here…and if you’re going to do it, at least do it intelligently.

    Don’t worry Z-Man I’m not a conspiracy theorist :-)

    Only accustomed to european soccer tradition (at least italian and spanish tradition) where some teams are “luckier”, wink wink, with the referees than anybody else…

    My “joke” starts from the fact that in the last couple of months many well connected NBA writers/analyst (Zach Lowe, Brian Windhorst, Sam Amick, Woj, Hollinger to name a few) have talked about how the League Officials are praying to avoid a Finals that include MILW, UTAH, PHO or DEN, because this year TV ratings are more important than ever.

    OTOH NBA refs this year have been really bad, with few exceptions.
    Be it for a change of the guard in their ranks, for the Covid-protocol related isolation problems (stricter rules for the umpires) or for the players not helping them with their foul-chasing, I’ve never seen an NBA season so badly refereed in nearly every game.

  117. What I mean is – just like RJ spent his whole offseason working on 3 pointers, what if Justin Smoak spent his entire offseason learning how to bunt? These guys are so good you’d have to think they could get a good bunt (down 3rd base line, far enough away from the catcher) down 50% of the time, and probably would reach base 80% of the time.

    I think the problem is once you start doing this the defense adjusts immediately; after the 2nd or 3rd time you bunt for a hit they’d move the weakside defender in the shift way over and now what? You used your entire offseason learning a skill that the defense took away completely with a minor adjustment. Okay, now all you need to do is learn to poke the ball to shortstop since the defender who came in to guard against the bunt is hopelessly out of position. So you spend all next offseason doing that and after five at bats the defense adjusts back. I hope you still remember how to bunt because now you need to go back to that again, but lets say you do, and you successfully force the defense out of the shift by having the ability to both bunt and poke the ball to short on command. Now you just have to go back to hitting like old Justin Smoak again except you spent the last two offseasons practicing your bunting – are you still a dominant pull hitter when you want to be?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is I agree that if theoretically you could be a power pull hitter in 80% of your at-bats and a finesse slap hitter in 20% of your at-bats that really might be a very potent combo but I don’t think it’s really a trivial problem.

  118. most of this stuff is covered in game theory but once you have an exploitive strategy what generates the most EV is not to mix up your strategy.. it’s do that one thing 100% of the time….

    basketball is sort of insulated from that since the EV of shots on the court change depending on who is shooting… the most valuable shot on the court is the free throw (3pt’ers are actually third next to attempts at the rim)… and so officiating has a heavy influence on the outcome of games and so many of these exploitive strategies that are detrimental to the popularity of the game can be adjusted… just like what happened with handchecking and perpetual post ups… and what’s coming next are the foulbaiting moves from harden/trae/luka that will be officiated away…

    baseball has similar self regulating mechanics since they don’t have standardized strike zones.. mound height or field sizes… but they chose to go with the ball and so here we are…

  119. good baseball and basketball aesthetics conversation…well done everyone :)

    yeah, I can’t remember the last time I saw a player bunt to get on base, it’s like it’s been removed from the game…

    kind of like how we’re seeing a lot more muscled up players on the court these days, anyone notice just how freaking big baseball players have gotten, it’s not just the yankee’s roster that is huge…

  120. Begley on the mystery man:

    Vildoza is eligible to participate in the playoffs but he is not part of New York’s postseason plans at the moment, league sources say.

    Of course, several Knicks could get injured during the Hawks series or become unavailable due to the NBA’s COVID protocols. In that case, Vildoza could be used in an emergency situation.

    But there currently are no plans for him to participate in the playoffs.

  121. DudesTown: Are analytics responsible for all of the no hitters in baseball this year? Launch angle and stuff?

    Actually, yes. Batting averages are down. Why?

    Analytic says that BA doesn’t matter. Batters striking out, doesn’t matter. Either launch the ball to the moon or take a walk. Even stolen bases are evil. The new analytics values getting on base. So batters will rather try to walk than slap a ball the other way on the outside pitch. That makes the shift even more sensible. Why not do it if the only thing the batter wants to do is pull the ball? So you end up with a guy playing short right when that big lefty comes up. What once was a hit is now an out.

  122. #Vildoza is eligible to participate in the playoffs but he is not part of New York’s postseason plans at the moment, league sources say.

    Of course, several Knicks could get injured during the Hawks series or become unavailable due to the NBA’s COVID protocols. In that case, Vildoza could be used in an emergency situation.

    But there currently are no plans for him to participate in the playoffs.#

    How about his dog?
    Can he guard Trae and stay in the corner on offense?

  123. The rules of baseball could neither anticipate nor survive the rise of Big Data. Murphy’s Law has meant the demise of the sport.

  124. I’m not much of a baseball fan anymore, but I think computers and advanced stats are destroying a lot of sports and games. The same kinds of things are even going on in poker, chess, and horse racing. When everyone knows the superior strategy it takes away a lot of what makes the game interesting to begin with.

    The problem you have is with corporate capitalism. Calling it “computers and advanced stats” ignores the root cause of the homogenization.

    In Christopher Leonard’s Kochland, there’s a lengthy chapter about how about fifteen years ago, a Portland, Ore. paper-products warehouse union was ripped apart by Koch-led changes to how employees were tracked. They, like Amazon and other hyperscaled warehouses, implemented systems wherein all employees would have their forklift routes tracked and compared to the most efficient paths; their bathroom breaks and non-essential coworker interactions would be counted to the second; and their time-missed logs would be aggressively pitted against their coworkers’. It made their workers’ lives miserable and ultimately created a schism between the people who wanted to keep their decent wages and those who wanted to push back and demand more humane working conditions. Guess who won!

    The systems that management implemented were mere tools for a particular outcome: to maximize shareholder, i.e. Charles and David Koch, value. Why do you think baseball teams implement their systems? To make the game boring? Less fun to watch? Less fun to play? No, it’s very clearly to win games and sell their range of products for more money. Championships mean higher ticket prices. They mean better TV deals. They mean millions in merchandising revenue. An easier sell to local governments when asking for tax dollars. It’s not that complicated.

  125. Doesn’t really move the needle on the conversation, but this from an earlier Begley:

    …in the final 20 games of the regular season. The Knicks have been outscored by 41 points with Payton on the floor in that span, per NBA.com. They’ve outscored opponents by 165 points when Payton isn’t on the court in that span.

  126. Raven: …in the final 20 games of the regular season. The Knicks have been outscored by 41 points with Payton on the floor in that span, per NBA.com. They’ve outscored opponents by 165 points when Payton isn’t on the court in that span.

    Thibs: “But he plays the game the right way. Take that for data.”

  127. @IanBegley
    Tom Thibodeau says Knicks are looking forward to Luca Vildoza’s arrival. He confirms that Vildoza is not in Knicks’ postseason plans

  128. This is truly pathetic-

    Brooklyn Nets
    @BrooklynNets
    ·
    2h
    The Beard is ?????? ???????.
    @JHarden13
    will cover the cost of half your ticket for Games 1 and 2 when you use code HARDEN.

    Vaccinated sections only (while supplies last).

  129. There’s no interest in Nets tickets, as any perusal of their website and Stubhub will show. No one gives a shit about the Nets; their only “fanbase” is the types outside their actual city — the kind of people the European Super League designers were drooling to get.

  130. Virtually all the benefits of the increased efficiencies over the past 40 years have gone to the senior managerial class and/or the top 1% of earners. Plenty of data on it. It’s the top fundamental feature of American economic life. (That reality was the true underpinning of the Trump movement, although it’s clearly going to take someone other than Trump and his deplorables to actually do something substantive and lasting about it. The liberal left used to be in the business of putting its thumb on the scales to help labor versus capital, but those days are long gone.)

  131. I don’t have any deep hatred for the Nets as I think that it would be quite funny to see them beat Boston and even win a championship after that trade. That said, it’s kind of hilarious that the Knicks dominate the conversation even in a year in which the Nets managed to put together a truly generational big 3. They can’t even sell out playoff games!

  132. Nets can’t sell out?

    hahahahahahaha

    It’s totally silly for me to enjoy that but i do

  133. 1. The Nets’ top players are truly unlikeable.

    2. The minute they caught a whiff of winning, they happily jettisoned any homegrown players they had for “stars.”

    3. Their brand is truly the brainchild of soulless, corporate groupthink, from the Barclay’s “green” roof to their Basquiat jerseys.

    4. They won’t have a local presence, thanks to the Knicks, for at least another decade or two. Maybe a championship will give them some character, but I think it just takes time.

  134. ess-dog, you also left out the fact that since moving to Brooklyn, The Nets have had this weird ego-trip mentality of having to prove they’re the real NY team and doing all sorts of lame stunts to create some sort of fake rivalry.

    When they were in Jersey at least they were Jersey’s team and while it wasn’t an official rivalry, it was always a fun interstate kind of rivalry. But then they had to move to Brooklyn and put up billboards across from MSG and make all these lame comments. Honestly, I’m fucking loving the fact that we’re relevant again and even though they are better and could even win a title, hardly anyone in NYC will even care. EVen if they win a title and gain some fake ass band wagon fans for a season, in two years Kyrie, Durant and Harden will be gone and Barclays will be empty again.

    I just think it would be so sweet if we got to them in the playoffs and somehow pulled out the upset.

  135. Meanwhile… I’m thinking the 13,000 at MSG Sunday is going to be the biggest crowd in New York since March of 2020, right?

  136. Virtually all the benefits of the increased efficiencies over the past 40 years have gone to the senior managerial class and/or the top 1% of earners. Plenty of data on it. It’s the top fundamental feature of American economic life.

    i can’t remember whom it was, but, so glad you guys turned me on to that raj chetty dude with the smooth voice and big brain…it’s one of the more ironic components of this latest “populist” movement and the whole trickle down economic trend, which i’m sure began when folks first started trading stones and bones…even economics aren’t immune to analytics – strikeout, home run, or as most of us do, take the walk…

  137. The Honorable Cock Jowles: Thibs: “But he plays the game the right way. Take that for data.”

    Yeah, what a fool. If only he would listen to all the smart folks who predicted that the team would win 23 games….

  138. https://www.bball-index.com/2020-21-lebron-data/

    Type NYK into teams. According to this luck-adjusted RAPM statistic, Payton was the worst player on the team, both in per-possession and total wins added.

    We can go through all of the advanced stats that we have and say the same thing. He sucks on offense and whatever his defense is, it’s not enough to make him a rotation player on a viable playoff team.

    He should be starting Rose.

  139. Frank: Berman with the scoop that Vildoza is showing up in NYC tomorrow.

    Wait, Vildoza left Portugal without saying goodbye? :D

  140. @TheSteinLine
    The Knicks say they’ve sold out their first two playoff games against Atlanta at 15,000 capacity.

    Oh, the “DE-FENSE” chants are gonna be so loud, you guys…

  141. Alan: Oh, the “DE-FENSE” chants are gonna be so loud, you guys…

    After a year of empty arenas, MSG will sound like Maracanã Stadium mid-century.

  142. Thibs playing Elf at this point is like the dude who’s fully vaccinated and still double-masks while running in Central Park.

  143. E, all merc’d out:
    Thibs playing Elf at this point is like the dude who’s fully vaccinated and still double-masks while running in Central Park.

    And considering the quality of your commentary all year, you advising Thibs is like an assistant plumber advising a heart surgeon.

  144. Z-Man, keep forgetting to ask — how was the day after (your full-court run)?

  145. Thibs Not giving Frank a chance during the playoffs would be like Kendall Jenner dating a non nba player

  146. hey z-man, was thinking of you a bit lately, the kids are in the home-stretch now for the school year – woo hoo…hard to believe the school year has almost passed…

    also thought about how you mentioned the new norm working conditions had extended the time you’d be willingly to continue to work…

    yeah, i’m hoping these current both remote and on-site work methods continue…

  147. The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    https://www.bball-index.com/2020-21-lebron-data/

    Type NYK into teams. According to this luck-adjusted RAPM statistic, Payton was the worst player on the team, both in per-possession and total wins added.

    We can go through all of the advanced stats that we have and say the same thing. He sucks on offense and whatever his defense is, it’s not enough to make him a rotation player on a viable playoff team.

    He should be starting Rose.

    Sorry, I’m gonna go with the opinion of the guy who coached this team to 41 wins and a 4th seed, often by ignoring the opinions of experts like you. Even if you are right on this, you’ve been wrong on a billion other things. Some things I know for sure:

    1) Thibs cares more about winning than you do
    2) Thibs has more riding on winning than you do
    3) Thibs knows more about coaching than you do
    4) Thibs just coached this team to the highest outcome that was possible, given the personnel he had to work with…even a single loss more would have meant playing the Bucks in the first round without home court.

    So pardon me when I defer to his decision-making over yours or any one else’s. He has already accomplished far and above what you and just about everyone here thought was possible, despite starting Payton every fucking game he has been healthy. The insinuation that he doesn’t know what he’s doing is Joe the Plumber-level bullshit. If they lose this series, it’s not going to be because of Elfrid fucking Payton.

  148. Z-man: If they lose this series, it’s not going to be because of Elfrid fucking Payton.

    Well yes, but I’ll bet that Elfrid fucking Payton will have helped immensely.

    I get what you’re saying, but really talented, smart, capable people can still be wrong. Even happened to me once (a long time ago now, but still…).

    Thibs definitely gets a pass from me on Elf starting, but I do really wish I knew his rationale, because i don’t get it.

  149. Thibs has definitely won the right to Do whatever the F he wants this season.
    Otoh we as fans have the right to talk about his decisions trying to read between the stat lines.

  150. Z-man: 2) Thibs has more riding on winning than you do

    I mean, Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd, David Fizdale, Kevin McHale and Jim Boylen had a lot of reasons to be good at coaching — millions of reasons, even — and they were, uh, pretty bad at coaching. Wanting something doesn’t make you good at getting it.

    Thibs deserves an A for the regular season, but this is the goddamn NBA playoffs, dawg. The Hawks are not a pushover team. Every possession will matter.

  151. As for the grading of the Knicks I’d like to give an A superplus to Thibs whom i consider the number one reason for all the other As of the season.
    Do i trust Randle to be the star who takes over a game?
    Tbh not yet despite being close
    How about Thibs?
    Yes sir!
    In Thibs I fully trust
    Even w Payton in

  152. We all know that the baseball has been juiced and then deadened but what about the basketball? Would a reduction in the basketball of a fraction of a millimeter mean a higher 3 pt shooting percentage? Has it happened without anyone knowing about it?

  153. Early Bird:
    Dudestown,

    Let me know when I should return/dropoff the cello case

    You can just put it aside for when we smuggle in the next Jokic.

  154. I could see Elf getting a flat tire or meeting up with an unfortunate boating accident before Sunday evening. These things do happen.

    Get ready Luca.

  155. How many weeks has it been since Mitch broke his foot? I’m still holding out for him to return soon. Is it a pipedream?

  156. The problem you have is with corporate capitalism. Calling it “computers and advanced stats” ignores the root cause of the homogenization.

    I understand the goal of all this computerization and use of advanced stats. I don’t have a problem with chess players using a computer database, Stockfish, AlphaZero or any other tools to get way better at their game. Poker players are doing a similar thing. So are horse players and professional sports. I simply think that ultimately the games become less enjoyable to learn, play and watch when everyone knows the correct move and everyone is doing the same things.

    Also, like I said in follow up post, I don’t think many of these tools do “exception processing” very well.

    In horse racing for example, there are guys with computer handicapping and betting models that far exceed what most pencil and paper handicappers can do over thousands of races. But the flip side is that their models don’t handle some situations well when they lend themselves to a more intuitive experienced feel for the situation because there isn’t enough data.

    The value is almost always zigging when the other guy is zagging.

    Maybe the smartest sport teams should not just be developing their advanced stats, but looking for holes in what everyone else is doing with them.

  157. The Honorable Cock Jowles: I mean, Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd, David Fizdale, Kevin McHale and Jim Boylen had a lot of reasons to be good at coaching — millions of reasons, even — and they were, uh, pretty bad at coaching. Wanting something doesn’t make you good at getting it.

    None of those guys are in Thibs’ class and you know it.

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Thibs deserves an A for the regular season, but this is the goddamn NBA playoffs, dawg. The Hawks are not a pushover team. Every possession will matter.

    Really? Like Thibs doesn’t know that? Like he’s a “hey, I think I’ll let my team take some possessions off until the playoffs when every possession matters” kind of coach? Funny, I thought he was a “leaves his banged-up starters in when his team is up 30 with 2 minutes left on the tail end of a beck-to-back on the road” kind of coach.

  158. ah, this may be new thread worthy:

    Atlanta Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan fined $25,000 for saying NBA wants New York Knicks in playoffs

    Edit: oh, and by the way, i see no problems with this – go refs!!!

  159. McMillan also said on the call that “there’s going to be a lot of calls that probably won’t go our way,” explaining how his team needs to remain calm under the pressure.

    from your lips to the ref’s whistle nate…

  160. Snark aside, I think it’s possible that Thibs will be remembered as one of the greatest defensive coaches ever. If he believes that Payton gives him something better on defense in the context of 10-15 out of 240 total player minutes, I would give him some latitude in the context of what he’s accpmplished to get this roster to 41 wins. It seems a bit naive to suggest that he’s not aware of Payton’s shortcomings. I can’t say that I understand his rationale given the numbers, but he’s convinced that the physical tone Payton sets on the defensive end is worth letting him eat up some minutes from Rose, IQ and Burks. Payton has been especially bad in the last set of games, but we’ve won most of those games without burning out IQ and Rose with nagging injuries or getting them in early foul trouble. My guess is that he believes that the minutes to efficicy tradeoff has been instrumental in getting the team to 41 wins without overusing the better options so that they remain healthy and are there playing freely at the end of games w/o foul trouble worries. Since he’s been right about just about everything this year, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. It strikes me as unfair, even rude, when people who have been wrong about him since before he was even hired are still second-guessing him on this one curious decision. How ironic it is that some of these folks were livid when Leon went out and got Derrick Rose in the first place (and because of his play, not just character issues), and now they are agonizing that Rose isn’t starting over Payton.

    I’m trusting the guy because he’s earned it. That’s all I’m saying.

  161. ***offenses have emphasized walks and homeruns at the expense of batting average, the odds of a hit turning into a rally have declined.***

    I haven’t watched a baseball game in over ten years now, so I find this thread very interesting. It sounds like Earl Weavers old “walk, walk, 3 run homer” strategy from the 1960s has gone viral in today’s game.

    As for aesthetics, analytics may be screwing baseball for the casual fan, but I can’t see how the NBA is worse for it. Steph Curry is the most exciting player I’ve ever seen play, and in Mark Jackson’s analytic-less system he was run off 90s style baseline screens a la Reggie Miller and John Starks. Nobody besides die-hard Knick fans liked the style of play of the 90s. That’s why the rules were changed, and, thankfully, analytics have continued to push the game in a faster, offense-emphasized direction.

    Baseball is a flawed game from the get go because it is boring no matter how it is played. Rule changes can make it a little less boring on the margins, and every nine batters a particularly exciting person may make an appearance, but the advanced metric “boredom per minute” is higher in baseball than any other sport outside of maybe cricket, which I’ve never watched but apparently can go on for days and days. Basketball, on the other hand, is exciting at its core, and you need to work really hard (see: Fratello, Cavs, 1995) to make people want to turn the channel to Encore to watch Soul Man instead.

  162. Thibs did a great job this year. Starting Elfrid Payton is fucking stupid. Both of these statements can be true.

    You can trust the guy and not agree with every decision he made. A lot of people here think he has a blind spot regarding Elfrid Payton and the stats back that up. It’s not a big deal.

  163. Maybe the smartest sport teams should not just be developing their advanced stats, but looking for holes in what everyone else is doing with them.

    I think the Knicks may have done this with their choice of centers. They clearly think that good defense where you intimidate shooters at the rim is good, even though centers like that get very little salary love in the NBA. But the league catches up and now GM’s are saying Noel might be worth a seven figure salary. If the Knicks success makes their chosen type of player more expensive because of the team’s success, I don’t think that is a good thing for us.

  164. Here is my Knickerblogger report card:

    Cronin: A- (he missed a game thread for one of the biggest games down the stretch)

    Owen: A (he saved the game thread for said game)

    Jowles: B+ (his mea culpas were kind of cool, but he needs to stay aggressively arrogant to be effective)

    Facehumper: A- (his handle continues to hold him back)

    Bruno: A (living under Balasaro has only made him stronger)

    Z-Man: B (the B is for Bourbon)

    Alan: A (he’s allowed me to delete my Twitter app)

    geo: A+ (I mean, he’s geo, anything lower would just be mean)

    JK47: A- (his fake resignation letter still stings)

    DRed: C+ (we don’t need him for GM anymore now that our front office appears competent)

    Strat: B+ (as contrarian as he tends to be, he was pretty darn right about some pretty important stuff this year)

    ptmilo: incomplete (I’m still trying to decipher half his posts, but once I do, I’m sure there’s an A+ in there)

    Hubert’s Neighbor: A

  165. nice :)

    donnie, he may not have actually watched any knick games the last 5 years or so, but, he’s watching us…

  166. Dink:
    Thibs did a great job this year. Starting Elfrid Payton is fucking stupid. Both of these statements can be true.

    You can trust the guy and not agree with every decision he made. A lot of people here think he has a blind spot regarding Elfrid Payton and the stats back that up. It’s not a big deal.

    bingo

  167. here’s a top 30 big board.. i think it’s mostly finished but probably update again as we get more info towards the draft:

    1. Jalen Suggs
    2. Jalen Green
    3. Evan Mobley
    4. Cade Cunningham
    5. Alperen Sengun

    6. Jalen Johnson
    7. James Bouknight
    8. Josh Christopher
    9. Scottie Barnes
    10. Jonathan Kuminga

    Not much has changed altho the narratives around Cade and Suggs have remained static which has surprised me.. Cade looked like he was going on a uber tear to finish the year but he looked rather ordinary during the tournies… there’s a lot of D’angelo Russel vibes some Brandon Ingram… decent prospects but not very deserving of consensus overall #1 which i think should go to Suggs this year…

    I’m finally buying Sengun stock… he’s getting a lot of buzz along with Giddey on the international front and the numbers are too hard to ignore.. yes he is a ground bound post player… but.. 1) he’s not as unathletic as people think he is and 2)he has actual ball skills… great interior scorer with touch around the rim… people say there’s a lot of Kevin Love in him and it’s accurate.. some shades of Pau Gasol with the post game also..

    The shot is not consistent yet tho the foul shooting points to some potential .. he’s heavy footed but he makes up for lack of foot speed with decent reaction timing and spatial awareness… at least that’s how it looks against the comp which is somewhat.. but not really.. unknown… the Turkish Super League is known to be pretty good with a deep history.. unlike say the NBL.. a number of former nba players are playing here and it’s known to be the second best international league behind the ACB., it’s also fed a bunch of nba players into the league including Bogdan Bogdanovic.. comp is said to be down this year tho but winning MVP in a league this good at this young of an age is impressive .. #5 is an aggressive ranking but that might end up being a bit conservative..

  168. 11. Tre Mann
    12. Keon Johnson
    13. Moses Moody
    14. Jaden Springer
    15. Charles Bassey

    Mann has a very aesthetically pleasing game… very smooth operator w/ solid handle and the ability to adjust at the rim… great three level scorer altho probably settles for midrange a bit much as he lacks physicality and leaping ability to finish through contact.. plays below the rim and probably not a pg… his freshman year was no where near this good but apparently he had a growth spurt so this could be a new level of play.. that makes him better than most soph’s and with an interesting upside case..

    16. Josh Giddey
    17. Ayo Dosunmo

    18. Jared Butler
    19. Franz Wagner
    20. Isaiah Jackson

    I’m lukewarm on Giddey… the NBL finally produced a couple of decent players in LaMelo and Hampton albeit with the translated numbers pointing to a reality where the NBL is tougher than the nba… still impressive results and it has put the league on the map..

    So there’s some projectability and the numbers are good but fall short of what LaMelo did and is closer to what Hampton achieved.. that’s still solid.. he has some passing chops and manages to grab a lot of boards in a very physical league.. the downside is that he’s not much of a scorer and the outside shot is very obviously flat which is going to be tough to be consistent in its current form.. i’m normally down on tall pg’s but the production for the age is quite good which should override any eye test factors… he’s probably worse than Haliburton and Lonzo but maybe not by much..

    Ayo is my favorite non-Suggs pg in this draft.. well rounded game.. strong work ethic.. this guy matches the energy randle and rj bring and you just really cannot have enough of these guys… i probably should rank him higher but age does matter.. i don’t have any doubts he will succeed tho …

  169. 21. Terrence Shannon
    22. Sharife Cooper
    23. Chris Duarte
    24. Kessler Edwards
    25. Neemias Queta
    26. Aaron Henry
    27. Davion Mitchell

    28. Greg Brown
    29. Corey Kispert
    30. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

    Cooper has got some ability… but the profile of short pg’s succeeding either have low 2pt% and high steals in college (cp3, fvv, lowry, kemba)… high 2pt% low steals (brunson)… or high 2pt% low steals (trae, bledsoe)… being low in both is not very common and is a red flag.. but towards the end of the first rd the pickings get slim and so what you’re counting on is a leap like what Trey Burke did in his sophomore year… if Cooper does that then he’s probably a good player in this league… but you probably have to wait about as long as Burke did to find out…

    Aaron Henry is your typical late first pick… upper classman who finally found his groove…. usually these guys are bad value as figuring it out when you’re older than everyone else usually means it’s fake progress… but sometimes it’s not and there’s reasonable upside given the wide and varied skillset he demonstrated.. with these Izzo acolytes it’s usually hit or miss but they generally come into the league with solid defense of which Henry is great on and off the ball….

    Mitchell is getting a lot of buzz and i’m not sure if it’s warranted.. he’s old for his class as he’s going to turn 23… he’s not really a pg and plays well below the rim…. his 3p% is nice but is followed up with a poor ft%… i don’t get it… he is very physical and a beast defensively but there is no way anyone can convince me that Butler is not the better pick of the two since he’s done everything Mitchell has but only better and he’s younger… this is another example of Knox/SGA where the wrong guy is getting the attention and it’s mystifying…

  170. The Beard is ?????? ???????. @JHarden13 will cover the cost of half your ticket for Games 1 and 2 when you use code HARDEN.

    Vaccinated sections only (while supplies last).https://t.co/TtbNJ38hif pic.twitter.com/zqzLYeNXoz

    — Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 20, 2021

    funniest response to this i’ve seen:
    “This is one step away from just giving away free tickets in the street.”

  171. To all the geniuses that are concerned about Thibs’ judgment, I ask that you read your own comments on this thread in the context of rooting for this team to advance in the playoffs. Dink, you obviously had no interest in signing the horrible likes of Derrick Rose, who might be more responsible for us being in the fourth seed than anyone other than Julius Randle. I especially like this tidbit from Jowles:

    The Honorable Cock Jowles
    February 7, 2021 at 8:20 pm
    unfathomably stupid trade by an unfathomably stupid franchise and coach

    Bottom line: even the so-called smartest KBers are fucking morons who should stfu about how Thibs is using his roster in a playoff series that wouldn’t exist if Thibs had taken their unfathomably stupid advise about the Rose trade or a billion other things.

  172. Hubert:
    announced a 7pm tip-off for sunday.

    I guess they want the game in prime time on the East coast, but for me it is bad. It means most of the game will be played while I am at work. If it were earlier, I could get up early and watch a recording before I went to work.

  173. Somehow I have a hard time believing the person that made this comment about the Rose trade should be trusted over Thibs to determine rotation minutes in the playoffs:

    Dink
    February 7, 2021 at 4:35 pm
    More of the same stupid BS with this Rose trade. The move doesn’t kill the team’s future, but it’s an ominous sign for the Leon Rose regime. Quality FO’s don’t make these kinds of moves. There is no upside to bringing him here.

  174. I thought Rose was washed when he clearly wasn’t. But that doesn’t have anything to do with how awful Elfrid Payton has played this season. This is a stats blog and the stats say Elfrid sucks ass, unequivocally.

    Drop the ‘appeal to authority’ BS and show your work. We already know Thibs favored some sub-optimal lineups and min allocations at his previous coaching gig so this isn’t totally out of character.

    And again, thinking that Elfrid Payton stinks and shouldn’t start DOES NOT equal thinking Thibs is a bad coach. Very happy with everything else he’s done here (other than how he’s deployed Obi, but that’s a minor quibble)

  175. Z-Man, normally you’re pretty logical. The experience of Rose #I was unbelievably putrid. It was the courtside version of sipping bleach from a toilet. To believe that Thibs was going to horse-whisper Rose into becoming the best possible veteran backup point guard version of himself (or just expecting Rose to magically turn into that on his own) was about as sensible as expecting that Frank will become a solid 3&D starter. Sometimes miracles just fucking happen, and good for them. I’m okay with throwing a bit of shade at those who publicly lambasted the trade, just as I’m good about dancing on graves. But holding up their perfectly sensible opinions at the time like it’s evidence that they’re too stupid to maybe have a decent opinion about Elf based on STATS (something this site apparently sometimes cares about) — in fact ALL stats, everywhere — doesn’t really hold water.

    Plus you never answered my question, which was rude.

  176. I will admit this about Derrick Rose: I hated him so much in his initial Knick tenure, and he played like such utter shit in that Phil Jackson-created trainwreck, that I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to what he did in the interim. He stunk out the joint that year. Then the next year he stunk out the joint even worse for Cleveland and Minnesota and barely saw the floor.

    He played pretty good for Minnesota in the 2018-2019 season though, and I figured it was his last hurrah. I stopped paying attention to him honestly. He was pretty decent again in 2019-2020 for the Pistons. It was easy to ignore those two solid seasons for those two terrible going-nowhere teams, but he DID seem to reinvent himself, playing the old man kind of game that we’re now accustomed to from him.

    The credible rape allegations against Derrick Rose, the way he LITERALLY disappeared on the Knicks during that awful Phil Jackson season, and the shitty basketball he played in his first stint as a Knick made me really not want him on the team. But he has been playing some pretty decent basketball for a few years now.

  177. About starting The Plague and Thibs, there is something to be said: Thibs has always put his players in roles he thinks they will succeed, and often very restricted roles, and has not experimented too much in terms of lineups. Examples:

    – Toppin has always played PF, and in a very specific role. He has not played C, even though he could, neither SF.

    – The very same applies to Knox, but in an even more restricted role just shooting threes.

    – He has not played ‘twin towers’ with Noel and Mitch at the same time, but neither has he gone small with Mitch out. He could have had Randle at C, but has preferred to insert Gibson in all those minutes.

    – Quickley almost always played next to a PG, either Rivers or Rose as the season progressed, and has not taken the PG duties for himself, even though it was not totally out of the question.

    With all this, and not many injuries (Mitch notwithstanding), we have had a very stable lineup, where every player is very aware of his role in offense and defense, and that has worked out very well.

    Thibs is pretty aware of Elfrid’s shortcomings and latest disappearing act, and that has been reflected in a minutes decrease. But probably for him we have 2 PGs, Payton and Rose, that can work as a PG both in offense and defense, and two players that can play at PG if the matchup is right, Ntilikina and Burks, one that plays as a PG on defense, and one that plays as a PG on offense. No Reggie Bullock, no Quickley. Atlanta offense is going to be Trae Young-centric no matter what player we put in front of him, and putting Burks on him will make things too easy for Atlanta, I don’t think Thibs will choose that path. IMO, he will start a small stint of Payton, switch to Rose and then have Burks take PG responsabilities when Trae is on the bench, or use Ntikilina in spot minutes with Capela on the bench, and never play Payton again in the match.

  178. Raven:
    Z-Man, keep forgetting to ask — how was the day after (your full-court run)?

    Sorry Raven, didn’t see this! It wasn’t bad except I hyperextended the middle two fingers on my left hand and the next day it swelled up Nutty Professor-style. Just general soreness beyond that. Did several months of PT for my back during the pandemic and have been hitting the gym for a while, so that helped. Probably not smart at my age, but damn I miss playing. Thanks for asking!

  179. Dink: Dink
    May 21, 2021 at 1:14 am
    I thought Rose was washed when he clearly wasn’t. But that doesn’t have anything to do with how awful Elfrid Payton has played this season. This is a stats blog and the stats say Elfrid sucks ass, unequivocally.

    The stats said this was a sure lottery team. The stats said Rose was washed. The stats said Randle shouldn’t shoot 3’s. The stats said IQ shouldn’t have been drafted at #25.

    Dink: Drop the ‘appeal to authority’ BS and show your work. We already know Thibs favored some sub-optimal lineups and min allocations at his previous coaching gig so this isn’t totally out of character.

    Funny how his teams generally win more than expected even with his “suboptimal” lineups. Take MIN…hadn’t made the playoffs for 14 years before Thibs got there and haven’t made them since. Let’s not even discuss CHI…COTY as a rookie head coach, 62 wins, fastest coach ever to 100 wins, long playoff droughts before and after…but he did start Bogans…what a dope!

    The “appeal to authority BS” is a cute diversionary tactic. Sort of what THCJ did when he brought up David Fizdale et. al. earlier. It’s pretty lame to use it when this particular coach just ground out 41 wins doing the “same, stupid BS…ominous…no upside” things like trading for playing a player you thought was washed. So yeah, I’ll go with “Thibs is 10000X smarter than Dink et. al. when it comes to how to best deploy his current personnel, and knows exactly what he’s doing by deploying Payton the way he does” based largely on a stat called “wins above wildest expectations.”

  180. iserp: About starting The Plague and Thibs, there is something to be said: Thibs has always put his players in roles he thinks they will succeed, and often very restricted roles, and has not experimented too much in terms of lineups….Thibs is pretty aware of Elfrid’s shortcomings and latest disappearing act, and that has been reflected in a minutes decrease. But probably for him we have 2 PGs, Payton and Rose, that can work as a PG both in offense and defense, and two players that can play at PG if the matchup is right, Ntilikina and Burks, one that plays as a PG on defense, and one that plays as a PG on offense. No Reggie Bullock, no Quickley. Atlanta offense is going to be Trae Young-centric no matter what player we put in front of him, and putting Burks on him will make things too easy for Atlanta, I don’t think Thibs will choose that path. IMO, he will start a small stint of Payton, switch to Rose and then have Burks take PG responsabilities when Trae is on the bench, or use Ntikilina in spot minutes with Capela on the bench, and never play Payton again in the match.

    Nicely explained, iserp. And my guess would be that the leash is very short. But he’s not going to make a huge disruptive move at this point like benching a guy he started all year. That horse is out of the barn.

  181. For a brief respite from “KNEEL BEFORE THIBS!”…

    funny bit in Hollinger’s playoff preview in the athletic:

    As an Atlantan, what also makes this interesting is that the Hawks will have State Farm Arena at 45 percent of capacity … meaning there’s a decent chance it will be 45 percent full with Knicks fans. One wonders if the Hawks should declare they aren’t having fans in the arena for “safety” reasons rather than risk repeating the horrors of the 1999 second round, when Knicks fans overwhelmed the locals in the Georgia Dome and cheered New York to a four-game sweep.

    He picked Atlanta in 6, btw, and is among the growing chorus that believes DeAndre Hunter will be effective against Randle. He also cast a smidge of shade on Zod, I mean Thibs:

    Both Nate McMillan and Tom Thibodeau have experienced far more success in the regular season than the playoffs.

    In Thibodeau’s case, his pedal-to-the-metal style through the regular season leaves a “Spinal Tap” conundrum — if you’re already playing the starters 40-plus minutes at maximum intensity, how do you ramp up? And how much do his players have left in the tank for it?

  182. Raven: But holding up their perfectly sensible opinions at the time like it’s evidence that they’re too stupid to maybe have a decent opinion about Elf based on STATS (something this site apparently sometimes cares about) — in fact ALL stats, everywhere — doesn’t really hold water.

    It’s not about the opinion itself, it’s the extreme certainty attached an opinion that turned out to be utterly stupid in retrospect. If Dink (and others) had said at the time of the Rose trade “I don’t think he has anything left and I hated him the first time, but let’s see how it plays out” that’s one thing. But when you say “More of the same stupid BS…it’s an ominous sign for the Leon Rose regime. Quality FO’s don’t make these kinds of moves. There is no upside to bringing him here….,” it’s hard to not have some fun with the same poster when he responds to my post by saying “Starting Elfrid Payton is fucking stupid….”

  183. Hubert: Hubert
    May 21, 2021 at 7:05 am
    For a brief respite from “KNEEL BEFORE THIBS!”…

    Cute, especially from someone who just recently posted this:
    Hubert
    May 18, 2021 at 10:06 am
    “I plainly stated that Thibs would be one of the best coaches we ever had here, in the echelon of Van Gundy. I predicted we’d make the playoffs because of Thibs. I even ardently argued against the people who assumed he’d run an archaic offense, saying it wasn’t part of an outdated philosophy like Phil, and that he would adjust. And at the midway point of the season, when you looked at the schedule and said we’d sink like a stone, I said this team’s baseline is .500… because of Thibs.”

    Talk out of both sides of your mouth much?

  184. Hubert: He picked Atlanta in 6, btw, and is among the growing chorus that believes DeAndre Hunter will be effective against Randle. He also cast a smidge of shade on Zod, I mean Thibs:

    Both Nate McMillan and Tom Thibodeau have experienced far more success in the regular season than the playoffs.

    In Thibodeau’s case, his pedal-to-the-metal style through the regular season leaves a “Spinal Tap” conundrum — if you’re already playing the starters 40-plus minutes at maximum intensity, how do you ramp up? And how much do his players have left in the tank for it?

    This is probably true. When any team is coached during the regular season as if every game is Game 7 of the finals, they don’t have another level to get to. ATL has been banged up and had a coaching change mid-season so they clearly have upside that we don’t. Our upside lies entirely on unexpected things happening. If both teams play at their best, ATL should be favored. But I do think that the Knicks will benefit from this last week of rest…Julius can recharge the batteries and several guys with tweaks can heal up.

  185. You also said this:

    Hubert: Hubert
    May 17, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    I think Thibs has earned the right to go down any way he likes. If he wants to stick with Elf, so be it. I’ll be puzzled, but not mad.

    But I strongly disagree with the idea that it’s insignificant. Giving Trae Young 6 minutes a half against Payton is big enough to swing the series. That’s 12 minutes a game of resting him on defense and forcing the Knicks to match your high octane offense while playing 3-on-5.

    This is pretty much my take on the situation. I don’t like the idea of starting Payton any more than anyone else. But I’m being polite and deferring because, as you yourself said, Thibs has earned the right to be deferred to, at least for the moment. If Game 1 screams out that he’s wrong and he still doesn’t adjust. the narrative should change and rightfully so.

  186. If Game 1 screams out that he’s wrong and he still doesn’t adjust. the narrative should change and rightfully so.

    While I’m on your side in this particular argument, I think it’s extremely valid to suggest that Elf’s recent performances already screamed out it’s time to adjust, and that we shouldn’t have to go down 0-1 in a series just to gather more evidence.

    I’ve just decided to cease worrying about it because we’re blessed this year. I also expect Elf will come out strong in game 1, and I don’t want to be one of the people you quote after he makes a steal and a layup.

  187. Yes,
    as much as I dislike Payton’s play and I wouldn’t start him (or play him)
    Thibs has earned the right to play whoever he wants.

    I don’t think he’s mad and everybody know that winning is his obsession so let him choose his players until proven wrong.

    And I don’t rule out that it may surprise us as he has done several times this year, maybe not in game-1 but during the Serie.

    I’m more worried about our main players’ lack of experience than about Thibs, even if Atlanta’s players with some exceptions (Williams, Capela and a bit of Gallo and Snell) are in the same boat.

    P.S.
    As a Knicks fan I always hope Payton’s going to score 30 and show me the finger… to no avail until now

  188. I think just about everyone here would rather be wrong than right if it means better things for the team. If Elf starts, I’m confident that Dink, Raven, THCJ, et. al. will all be rooting for him. And if they are right and Payton costs us the game, Thibs should be fair game starting with game 2. I’m only advocating for giving him a well-deserved benefit of the doubt.

  189. This is exactly the place for off-the-cuff remarks like this one because it’s not our jobs on the line:

    Z-man
    February 7, 2021 at 11:01 am

    I’m going to assume that the FO is not dumb enough to give up a pick for Rose

    So I’m fine with the Payton-bashing. He clearly deserves it. Thibs has been great, but he’s not Jesus Christ reincarnated. FREE FRANK!

  190. ess-dog:

    So I’m fine with the Payton-bashing. He clearly deserves it. Thibs has been great, but he’s not Jesus Christ reincarnated. FREE FRANK!

    If you read my commentary when they actually did this (the thread is linked above) I feel that I hedged appropriately, saying things like let’s see how things look in the next 5 games or so before passing final judgment. After 5 games, it was clear that my above statement was wrong and the FO and coach were smarter than me (and just about every KB poster) about that and most other things. In fact, they have been right on just about everything this year, as evidenced by the record and the incredible turnaround in the perception of the franchise league-wide and in the media. So I’m fine with the Payton bashing and fine with bashing the Payton-bashers. And yes, FREE FRANK!

  191. I only hope that Payton doesn’t brick us out of games. He’s a fucking hack on offense. Other than that, yes, I do not want the Knicks to lose. I’m taking it one series at a time, but I’m not overly impressed with the Sixers and I can see this team making a deep run if they come out blazing.

    And Donnie, fuck you, I deserve an A, always have, and that is because I am more handsome and more smarter than you. I’m the man who has the ball, I’m the man who can throw it faster than fuck. And that is why I am better than everyone in the world.

  192. There are already more than enough data points to make the inescapable conclusion about Elf.

    But it’s not only that; there’s also the danger that Elf plays crappy in Game 1, but still not crappy enough to fall below Thibs’s worm-high bar for him, and then Thibs declares the crisis “over.” At which point Elf proceeds to be utter trash in the rest of the games, costing the Knicks the series. We all know that it won’t take much for Thibs to declare Elf “redeemed,” and once that happens, it’s going to be status quo.

    If we’re going back to old statements, right around trade deadline, I said the FO should just waive Elf and take Thibs’s toy away. The honest judges have pronounced that idea: spot-on.

  193. I think Thibs understands the issues with Payton, but until recently there really hasn’t been much of a choice. Payton isn’t a starting PG, but the alternatives were worse or came with other issues. Unfortunately, Payton went from subpar to a serious liability. That opened the door to being forced into doing something.

    He obviously likes Rose coming off the bench and finishing games (the latter for obvious reasons). There may be certain lineup and minutes issues impacting his choice.

    The other alternatives are Frank, Quick, or Burks but none is a true PG. So you’d have to change the offense a bit for the starting unit.

    I don’t think he wants to make any of those leaps to start the playoffs. He’s going to stick with Payton and hope he gets his head back on straight. If game 1 goes poorly for Payton, then I think we’ll see a change for game 2.

  194. I just want to reiterate that there’s going to be 15,000 screaming knicks fans in MSG on Sunday. I don’t know how the fuck Dolan pulled off getting in more fans than the Yankees and Mets. Part of me thinks he just sold the extra tickets without permission.

  195. And Donnie, fuck you, I deserve an A

    I was pleasantly surprised by my B+. I thought I’d be barred by now (lol), but I guess most of you can see that deep down I’m a good guy that just enjoys being contrarian. :-)

  196. Hubert:
    I just want to reiterate that there’s going to be 15,000 screaming knicks fans in MSG on Sunday. I don’t know how the fuck Dolan pulled off getting in more fans than the Yankees and Mets. Part of me thinks he just sold the extra tickets without permission.

    I will be one of them. Likely not very sober.

  197. E, all merc’d out: If we’re going back to old statements, right around trade deadline, I said the FO should just waive Elf and take Thibs’s toy away. The honest judges have pronounced that idea: spot-on.

    Right, because the team has performed so poorly compared to expectations since then. And if we go back to old statements that turned out to be laughably wrong, there would be a treasure trove attibutable to Mr. E. Honestly, I’m surprised you even had the hubris to return after your long hiatus from gracing us with your brilliant commentary.

  198. It’s weird how much more I like all of you guys now that we’re in the PLAYOFFS!

  199. I find it really very funny that the Nets can’t sell out a playoff game and are giving 50% off coupons now.

    Can you imagine if the Nets and Knicks were to ever play each other (now only possible in the ECFs) — I mean, they would kill us in a probable sweep, but both MSG and Barclays would be like 95% Knicks fans.

  200. So there’s at least 4 of us (me, Z-Man, TNFH, and E) going Sunday. Shall we all meet for drinks before the game? I tend to use the roof deck at The Local on 33rd and 8th for pregame.

  201. I’m surprised you even had the hubris to return after your long hiatus from gracing us with your brilliant commentary.

    I have a theory that no one ever goes on hiatus, including E.

    Didn’t NetsTown (now DudesTown) suspiciously join our community around the same time E disappeared?

  202. one person left off the report card was Bob Neptune – F (or incomplete)

    I think Thibs’ abacus has the following logic….oh wait…before I even remotely question all knowing Thibs (Pepper bends the knee):

    1. I can’t play rose 48 but at what point does he hit diminshing marginal returns….likley in the 30-35 zone…lets go with 35

    2. I gotta fill 13 minutes of time with someone not named Harper, Quickely or Nickleeena

    3. I can likely use Burks for 6 minutes when I don’t need to guard some quick small guy

    4. (Thibs looks down the bench) …hmm…guess its Elf for that other 6-7 minutes…may as well take my medicine early as the first 2 minutes are generally feeling out/getting in rhythm, etc, …hence my exposure is like 4-5 minutes of suboptimal PG play…if it goes south fast…push the Rose emergency button…if not so bad…stay the course and thank the basketball gods for the manna…

  203. I’ve actually thought about Bob Neptune quite a bit lately, and wish he was here to enjoy our success.

    Bob, if you’re lurking, I hope you didn’t catch covid and die.

  204. How about some other series chatter to get us past Paytongate?

    There are some tremendous first round series. Milwaukee vs Miami is a doozy. And Phoenix vs LA has me drooling. This is the first head-to-head matchup of LeBron and Chris Paul, and it’s happening when they’re 36 & 35, respectively.

    Denver vs Portland also promises to be extremely entertaining and competitive. (I like the Blazers in that one, with a nod to ptmilo).

    And who among us won’t love watching Porzingis get played off the court by Kawhi and PG???

  205. @geo

    Finally got around to seeing the Bad Batch (at least the first 2 episodes, I think there’s 4 coming out today?) really enjoyed it so far.

    The animation quality is excellent. They add lighting and background details & movement that wasn’t there in the clone wars/rebels.

    Looking forward to seeing where they go with it. Kinda seems like they’re setting up the premise a bit still and it’ll be more of a continuous story than the old shows too.

  206. . But when you say “More of the same stupid BS…it’s an ominous sign for the Leon Rose regime. Quality FO’s don’t make these kinds of moves. There is no upside to bringing him here….,” it’s hard to not have some fun with the same poster when he responds to my post by saying “Starting Elfrid Payton is fucking stupid….”

    The hyperbole about the Leon regime was an emotional reaction to bringing back an accused rapist who played hooky from the team in his 1st stint. I don’t feel the same way now because the move ended up helping the team a great deal. Human beings are complex and shit.

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