Knicks Morning News (2021.11.15)

  • The End of the Mike White Fairy Tale and the Knicks’ Lineup Issues – The Ringer
    [www.theringer.com] — Monday, November 15, 2021 1:09:03 AM

    The End of the Mike White Fairy Tale and the Knicks’ Lineup Issues  The Ringer

  • Chris Duarte’s Status For Pacers-Knicks Game On Monday – Sports Illustrated
    [www.si.com] — Sunday, November 14, 2021 11:50:33 PM

    Chris Duarte’s Status For Pacers-Knicks Game On Monday  Sports Illustrated

  • This Knicks-Lakers Trade Features Russell Westbrook – NBA Analysis Network
    [www.nbaanalysis.net] — Sunday, November 14, 2021 11:43:57 PM

    This Knicks-Lakers Trade Features Russell Westbrook  NBA Analysis Network

  • Klay Thompson Injury Update? Here’s What One Reporter Said About The Timetable Of The Warriors All-Star Returning – Sports Illustrated
    [www.si.com] — Sunday, November 14, 2021 11:23:27 PM

    Klay Thompson Injury Update? Here’s What One Reporter Said About The Timetable Of The Warriors All-Star Returning  Sports Illustrated

  • Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Knicks Chemistry, Thibodeau, Tatum – hoopsrumors.com
    [www.hoopsrumors.com] — Sunday, November 14, 2021 10:06:00 PM

    Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Knicks Chemistry, Thibodeau, Tatum  hoopsrumors.com

  • Tom Thibodeau makes adjustments to jump-start Knicks starters – New York Post
    [nypost.com] — Sunday, November 14, 2021 6:54:00 PM

    Tom Thibodeau makes adjustments to jump-start Knicks starters  New York Post Amid Knicks’ struggles, Tom Thibodeau stays positive: It’s a long season  Empire Sports MediaTom Thibodeau benches New York Knicks’ struggling starters — ‘We’ve gotta figure it out’  ESPNKnicks erase 21-point deficit, beat Bucks 113-98  KMID – Local 2 NewsTom Thibodeau dismisses notion Knicks’ starters need time to jell: ‘It’s a bunch of bulls—‘  CBS SportsView Full Coverage on Google News

  • Knicks, Pacers gaining steam in opposite directions – CBS sports.com
    [www.cbssports.com] — Sunday, November 14, 2021 5:49:00 PM

    Knicks, Pacers gaining steam in opposite directions  CBS sports.com

  • Indiana Pacers vs New York Knicks Prediction & Match Preview – November 15th, 2021 | NBA Season 2021-22 – Sportskeeda
    [www.sportskeeda.com] — Sunday, November 14, 2021 4:58:21 PM

    Indiana Pacers vs New York Knicks Prediction & Match Preview – November 15th, 2021 | NBA Season 2021-22  Sportskeeda

  • 3 Reasons the New York Knicks are going to be just fine – Daily Knicks
    [dailyknicks.com] — Sunday, November 14, 2021 2:44:00 PM

    3 Reasons the New York Knicks are going to be just fine  Daily KnicksWhy Knicks are off to slow start at MSG  New York Post Knicks still trying to find chemistry, especially in starting lineup  Newsday3 problems the Knicks are facing after consecutive losses  Empire Sports MediaKnicks’ Biggest Surprises Through Opening 3 Weeks of 2021-22 NBA Season  Bleacher ReportView Full Coverage on Google News

  • Steph Curry Pointed At A Fan Before He Made This Shot In The Warriors Win Over The Bulls – Sports Illustrated
    [www.si.com] — Sunday, November 14, 2021 11:04:14 AM

    Steph Curry Pointed At A Fan Before He Made This Shot In The Warriors Win Over The Bulls  Sports Illustrated

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    60 thoughts to “Knicks Morning News (2021.11.15)”

    1. A run of wins would be really nice right now. I’m not panicking, but I’m definitely troubled. Macri’s newsletter today made the argument that the starting 5 needs to run the offense much more through Kemba than Randle, since Randle-led possessions limit what we do on that end. I suspect we’re about to learn a lot about Randle’s ego, Thibs’ flexibility (and creativity) on offense, and the state of Kemba’s body. The Berman of the Post story I linked to yesterday at least suggested that Thibs is trying to push for more set plays and less of a my-turn/your-turn heroball approach with Randle, Kemba, and Rose.

    2. Some of the clips Macri shows in the newsletter about Julius’ attitude toward “other players good plays” are scary, and a couple of days ago Berman (that I dislike) cited a scout saying that Randle “pouts when he feels he doesn’t have the ball enough”.

      I can only hope that “we” (me and everyone who’s worried by Randle’s body language and scowl) are very wrong, otherwise what is now a blip on the radar will become a huge problem.

    3. Yeah this is what I was getting at the other day about how it all comes down to Randle. Of course we can say Kemba is a problem on defense or RJ is missing shots or Mitch isn’t as nimble on defense. Or Fournier is dissappearing. All of the starters are responsible for what is going on right now.

      But it all comes down to Randle. He is our highest paid player. Right now he is the franchise player. He was second team all NBA last year and he was amazing all season not just in his play but in his attitude. When your star player leads by example, it rubs off on the whole team. Basketball is a team sport. Not trying to be anti-stats when I say this but pointing to someone’s stats in a particular game can often miss the forest for the trees. Randle playing with an attitude or pouting or whatever can have a negative affect on the whole team.

      If he really only wants to be the main guy on a team that loses in the first round then he really isn’t a franchise player. Than more than whether he is a “one or two” or whatever is more important for the team’s success. We brought in Fournier, Kemba…to help him but that means less touches and minutes for him. A real leader would be excited about that, not threatened by it.

      I say all this not to shit on the guy. Maybe he’s just going through something or maybe the other player’s struggling is making him doubt their abilities or trust the team game. But it is definitely something to keep an eye on. I loved the dude so much last year because he was the anti-Melo. We do not need another Melo. If you have a real diva, they better be elite like KD or prime Lebron. Otherwise, the only way you can win big in the NBA with second tier all-star talent is if the team plays together as a whole and for each other.

    4. Also, I was gonna say I do kind of like the idea of starting IQ over Kemba and let Kemba/Rose lead the bench squad.

      Pros – defense would immediately improve. Randle could be the primary ball handle again. Kemba’s defensive issues wouldn’t be as big of a problem in the second unit. If Kemba and Rose are both on the bench.

      Cons – IQ is still inconsistent and isn’t a “pure” PG. Rose and IQ have good chemistry and maybe the second unit gets messed up. Would Kemba accept it (I think he would).

      RJ, IQ and Obi are our three most promising young players who still have upside. Giving IQ a shot at the starting job could be really good for him in the long run.

    5. I think if Randle showed more effort on closeouts and recoveries, we’d all be a little happier… baby steps… lets start with that… i said it the other day, the guy is a bit hypnotized by the other teams ball movement…

    6. This is my concern. Randle last year was the exact guy we wanted Melo to be: a power forward with the game of a wing to create matchup nightmares for the opposition, who can get off tough shots when the clock is running down but is also more than willing to distribute, and who works hard on defense. A lot of that is attitude. He just had a new baby, and maybe it’s fatigue messing with his mood, but if he has now decided that the offense has to run through him or else, that’s bad.

      Or maybe we just miss Theo Pinson’s magical locker room powers far more than anticipated?

    7. Really do think Randle is the root of the problem, and that Kemba exacerbated it by deferring instead of being the veteran PG he’s supposed to be. Having Randle be the fulcrum of the offense is fine if you want the 25th ranked offense or whatever it was last year.

      Really think the bread and butter of the offense should be Kemba/Mitch PNRs with Julius as the outlet in case things don’t go well. That unlocks Mitch’s best offensive skill (lobs), lets Kemba do more of what he’s used to, and gives Julius easier shots, even if he has the ball in his hands less than he’s used to. I brought it up in the preseason — we should be emulating what the Knicks O was with Felton/Chandler/Melo — occasional post-ups for Melo, but mostly 1-5 high PNR with Melo ready to attack a moving defense if the PNR doesn’t yield a shot on its own. Melo still had an obscene usage in 2012-2014 (30+) but he often used it as a secondary playmaker.

      It doesn’t even have to be PNR – but let Kemba be the main ballhandler.

    8. I mentioned earlier in the year that Randle is giving off some late-stage Patrick Ewing vibes. And now that Obi Toppin is going full Marcus Camby, this is becoming eerily similar to our ’99 campaign. It took a very long time for that team to find its identity, largely because Patrick was holding back Houston and Sprewell, both of whom were politely deferring to the Big Man.

      Our current version of Randle has way too much in the tank to be minimized to the degree Ewing was. But he needs to figure out how to adjust his game like Patrick did to let some of the other guys shine.

      There is a lot of talent here. This team could be really good when it comes together. But I think we’ll have to be very patient while they figure it out.

    9. The starting group has been mediocre on offense (104.9 rating, equivalent of 24th in the league) which is obviously disappointing given the talent in that group but by far the bigger issue is that they’re getting absolutely lit up on D (119.3, the worst DRating for any full team in the league currently is 113). We can improve the balance in the offense certainly but unless that group can find a way to get some stops any change to the offense is going to be spitting in the wind.

    10. Maybe Randle’s success last year has gone to his head a little. Now he thinks it’s his job to be the superstar and take over and close out games.

      Basketball is not that complicated. Obviously you need players with good skills, but playing tough defense and getting good shots is what maximizes winning for whatever skill you have,

      You actually get better shots by defending well and then on offense with purposeful player and ball movement. There are times an isolation makes sense, but typically that’s the last resort of a bad possession or if you have a significant mismatch.

      The reason the starters are struggling despite having a more skilled team is that they are not defending well and they are not using their talents on offense well either. There’s not enough movement and ball sharing. Clyde knows! Ask Clyde!

    11. I think I said it a few weeks back. The ceiling of this team is much higher than last year’s squad but it was easier for last year’s team to find their floor early on. The offense wasn’t good but everyone knew their role and Randle could be the main guy. Then they all gave huge effort on defense and we had better defense in the starting unit. Then Rose came along and that catapulted us. But we are kind of comparing this year’s team to the second half of last year’s team when the team was 500 or a little under for most of the season until we got Rose.

      This year there are way more options on offense. We’ve seen what they’re capable of. But the defense has taken a step back. That is fine if its going from good to average defense but below average to one of the best offenses. What has happened is after the 5-1 start, the offense has only been ok (for all the reasons we’ve listed) but the defense has been bad.

      Its like when you ahve more choices of things you can potentially do well, you can freeze up and not do anything well at all. Last year we only had so many options on offense. This year we have more. So its an adjustment.

      We need to get these three wins during this homestand against 3 opponents that we should beat on paper. Taking care of business for these 3 games could do wonders to get us back on track.

    12. I don’t want Randle to be the primary ball-handler,
      it worked last year because of The Plague, but this is a good team that can (and must) have a real PG managing the tempo of the game and keeping everybody involved.

      And I want this starting lineup to learn how to play together for another reason.
      If Julius is unable to share the scepter of power and let other players shine, this attitude will be here with any good player we can trade or sign in the future.
      He must forget the Kobe Bryant School Of Selfishness and learn how to play with good players.

      The ’04 Pistons (or the ’70s World Champions Knicks)must be our North Star, defense, ball movement, focus… yes, Clyde knows!

    13. Yeah the D has been bad, with really lazy rotations and guys just spacing out — again, looking at Julius as probably the most egregious offender. Barrett has been kinda bad lately also. I don’t actually think Kemba or Fournier have been so bad. And Mitch seems a tick less mobile this year, maybe due to his added bulk.

    14. Macri’s newsletter touches on something I’ve been a broken record about for a while. I was optimistic after the offseason that our improved guard play could get Randle more easy looks at the rim, and this could at least offset shooting regression. The guy is a legitimate beast as a finisher so I figured his paucity of shots at the rim last season was more out of necessity than anything else, because why the hell would anyone not want more easy shots?

      13 games in it’s looking like Randle has no interest in getting more looks at the rim, despite showing in the past he can handle way, way more volume from there without much of an efficiency drop off. So we have the shot diet of last year’s Randle, but (predictably) without the Dirk-esque efficiency from long-two/three.

      It’s simply not tenable for someone of his size/strength to take so few shots at the rim absent those outstanding shooting numbers (and even last season they were only enough to get him to a league average-ish TS%). He’ll either change this tendency or he, and the starting lineup in all likelihood, will continue to put up unimpressive numbers.

    15. thenoblefacehumper

      Plus one on your last post.

      I also think you’re right to at least wonder if there’s a prestige/mental aspect of this. He may have decided he’s an all-NBA guy now and all-NBA guys get theirs, optimal shot distribution be damned. There’s truth to that, and it’s not all that detrimental if you’re Steph Curry and rack up tons of efficiency outside of your low-xPPS shots. Julius Randle is a different story.

    16. Tonight’s game will be a really interesting barometer of where this team is. A lot of questions to be answered:

      — Will the starters come out with “fire and desire” since the Pacers kind of manhandled us in Indiana?

      – Will there be a change to the starting lineup? (I think we know the answer already)

      – Will Randle continue to ISO and bog down the offense?

      – Will RJ break out of his awful slump and also have an impact on the defensive end?

      Really looking forward to this one, another home loss would be a very, very bad sign for this team

    17. I hope you guys are wrong about Randle’s ego having gone amok, but that would explain a lot… If it has, what’s the solution?

    18. he’s actually getting to the rim about 50% more, but it’s still way less than earlier in his career. Last year only 16% of his FGA were in the restricted area, and this year it’s up to ~24%. Prior to joining the Knicks, he was generally somewhere between 40-50%.

      Amazingly, he’s getting even fewer assisted baskets this year than last year – only 27.9% assisted 2P as opposed to 34% last year.

    19. I believe we’ll see the same starters tonight but with new wrinkles. I just don’t know if their defensive ineptitude is fixable.

    20. Wonder if Thibs will switch up the defensive assignment having Mitch on Sabonis and Julius on Myles. Or will he dare Myles(44% 3pt shooting) to shoot those 3’s again

    21. Hopefully the solution is losing these last few games and the press/fans freaking out and him realizing he has to be a bit less selfish.

      Also, Curry, Klay and Durant all sacrificed when Durant came on board and even before that, Curry had games where Klay scored a lot more and it was fine. Wade and Bosh sacrificed to team up with Lebron. Hell, even Kobe sacrificed some when it was apparent that it was better to run a lot of the offense through Pau.

      The truly greats sacrifice for the better of the team. It’s not like he can’ still score 20 plus a game and have nights where he goes off for 30. But the effort on D, the rebounding and sharing the ball have to be there every night regardless of whether he’s the man that night or not.

    22. It’s been interesting to see Randle TRY to do different things. The scurrying up the court with the ball instead of walking it up was clearly a Thibs mandate to get into sets more quickly (although it’s funny, and somewhat telling, that he seems to forget that about one play out of three). The problem has been that it’s too often still ended up with the same Randle contested isos, just after a few extra passes. So my sense is that Randle is willing to change, the team just hasn’t figured out a way to avoid falling back into the iso rut.

      It’s going to be really interesting to see what new plays and action Thibs installs and whether they help. And whether there’s more activity and effort on D. If we get those two things the team should be in a lot better shape (even if RJ is still in the seventh level of hell, although new sets might help get him out of it).

    23. Frank:
      Amazingly, he’s getting even fewer assisted baskets this year than last year– only 27.9% assisted 2P as opposed to 34% last year.

      I don’t know where to find data that would corroborate this, but to me it looks like Randle routinely passes on catch and shoot or drive opportunities to drible, post up and shoot a contested fadeaway in the very same possession. Which would partly explain his low assisted shot ratio.

    24. Also, Curry, Klay and Durant all sacrificed when Durant came on board and even before that, Curry had games where Klay scored a lot more and it was fine. Wade and Bosh sacrificed to team up with Lebron. Hell, even Kobe sacrificed some when it was apparent that it was better to run a lot of the offense through Pau.

      The truly greats sacrifice for the better of the team.

      I think all those guys knew who they were, and that they belonged. Randle, on the other hand, is trying to prove he belongs, so it’s a different struggle for him. He doesn’t want to go from All NBA 2nd team back to an afterthought, and he thinks he needs to be selfish to maintain that level.

      Thank god he took that extension. Imagine if we had to ask him to sacrifice in a contract year.

    25. Our defense is bad because of 3 point shooting, we’re pretty good at rim protection. The question is how much of it is luck/sample size and how much of it is flaws in our defense.

    26. Frank:
      Amazingly, he’s getting even fewer assisted baskets this year than last year– only 27.9% assisted 2P as opposed to 34% last year.

      I don’t want this to be confused with me supporting Payton, but I think Payton had pretty good chemistry with both Randle and Mitch. It may take some time for Kemba to figure it all out.

    27. Hey KBers, don’t have much time, but here i am wishing you all a wonderful week! :)
      About the Knicks, i’m agreeing with every post of the thread, i think, which might be a new KB record. LOL
      Would only add 3 things:
      1) I’m having a hard time thinking Julius would say and act the way he did last season. A terrific example for the rest of the team. And now would reveal himself as a diva. I think he’ll get over whatever is that is bothering him, and get back to good Julius soon.
      2) If we don’t win tonight, i think i’m gonna do just like Geo said 2 threads ago… right now we look like a .500 team…I’m gonna adjust my expectations for .500 results until at least january…
      3) THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT! I’m officially announcing that i’m letting go of the “bing bong” stuff… it’s definitely not a lucky charm whatsoever. I’m getting back to just saying “Let’s go Knicks”. ;)

    28. DRed:
      Our defense is bad because of 3 point shooting, we’re pretty good at rim protection.The question is how much of it is luck/sample size and how much of it is flaws in our defense.

      We asked the same question last year in the opposite direction.

      I haven’t looked at the data, but based on my “scream test” metric, which is how many times per game I scream at the TV because someone is wide open, we are leaving guys wide open too often.

    29. Thank god he took that extension. Imagine if we had to ask him to sacrifice in a contract year.

      On the other hand, if he proves to be intractable, we can’t just walk away from him at season’s end. Though his contract is still reasonable enough that we should be able to trade him to a bad team that needs a Guy.

    30. Julius is just way too high-maintenance for what he brings and ultimately just isn’t worth the drama, but probably more importantly from a purely basketball perspective he’s just hard to fit and assimilate into an ultimately really good team. They should have sold high on him. They still can; his value certainly hasn’t totally dissipated, but it’s not what it was.

      I can’t possibly see having fans in the building being *that* big a deal, but in point of fact the discrepancy in his performance as a Knick with and without fans in the building is massive.

    31. I think the problem goes way deeper than Randle’s ego. Part of the reason Randle isos is that nobody else can breakdown the defense.

      Kemba got it going by launching pull-up 3s, not by getting to the rim or facilitating. Fournier & RJ can’t get anything going. What else is there to run? The starters are capable of launching pull-up 3s, but that’s not good offense.

      Kemba needs to play PG and breakdown the defense, but he doesn’t appear capable of doing that anymore.

      The other option is add Burks to the starting lineup.

    32. I’m not sure Burks is the solution, Bird, but I agree with your analysis. It gets back to my point that they keep falling back into the iso rut. I suspect they may need to seriously revamp their offense and come up with some significant new wrinkles to maximize what these guys can do, while minimizing what they can’t (or in the case of Randle, shouldn’t).

    33. WAIT A SECOND.

      So the guy who pines for KP, an actual diva who also had rape charges, is calling Randle a diva after a handful of bad games where he has bad body language?

      GTFOOHWTBS!!!

      Its very easy to misread body language or facial expressions and think someone is being a diva when in fact Randle may just be frustrated that the team isn’t playing well.

      You need to slow your roll, E. You’ve been a little too eager to jump on the Knicks/Randle hate wagon for a team that is above 500, 13 games into season. I mean, you do you but please do not get mad when the Knicks win a bunch of games and people bring up your flaming hot takes.

    34. I think the problem goes way deeper than Randle’s ego. Part of the reason Randle isos is that nobody else can breakdown the defense.

      Not asking for people to beat their guys 1-on-1 — that’s what screens are for. If we HAVE to iso, then sure, Randle is the guy, but Kemba/Mitch PNR with Julius/RJ/Fournier behind arc still would probably work very well.

    35. Randle is a hard guy to see as the centerpiece of a great team. People have said it for a while and it’s true. He’s very good in the role he had last year, usage scorer on a mediocre team. But figuring out how to make him work with a bunch of good players around him is more challenging.

      I think the Knicks will make it work but feeling good about 45 wins right now.

    36. “a bunch of good players”

      Not to nitpick here. But do we have a bunch of good players around him?

      RJ is good sometimes but still wildly inconsistent. He could be good or even great one day but that’s not now.

      It’s 2021 Kemba, not 2017 Kemba. 2021 Kemba is not a “good” player.

      Fournier – he is a good player. But not an all-star but the next level below.

      Mitch – lots of potential and a good rim protector and lob threat but he is hardly a “good” player.

      I’m not trying to shit on our guys or pump up Randle but I don’t think its quite fair to say Randle is surrounded by a bunch of good players. He isn’t even playing with one other all-star in their prime right now. Rose is probably the second best player on the team and he’s our 6th man.

    37. Frank: Not asking for people to beat their guys 1-on-1 — that’s what screens are for.If we HAVE to iso, then sure, Randle is the guy, but Kemba/Mitch PNR with Julius/RJ/Fournier behind arc still would probably work very well.

      Kemba/Mitch pnr results in Kemba getting ignored as soon as he steps inside the arc. It’s not an iso issue it’s a Kemba can’t hit layups issue.

    38. I agree with Early Bird,
      No starter can break down the defense off the dribble (only Rose can do that).
      So either Rose has to start and be the guy, or Randle should go back to being the primary distributor. Kemba is probably best used as a spot-up shooter anyway.
      Hopefully, RJ can eventually get to the hole more, but until then, I’m fine running it through Randle if that will keep him engaged.

    39. Raise your hand if you had the Wizards leading the East over the first month of the season. Also raise your hand if you though the Hawks would be a high lottery team. Also raise your hand if you thought the Bucks would play more than a game or two without any playoff seeding. Also raise your hand if you thought the Warriors would look like a 65-win team again, and see nothing really fluky (save maybe SOS) about a torrid start to the season.

    40. I mean, its subjective, obviously. But the idea that Randle can’t play with good players and can only be the leader of an average team…I just don’t know if this current roster is proof of that. There is not another current all-star on this team that Randle plays with.

      Kemba is not an all-star anymore. Fournier has never been an all-star. He’s good but I think he’s right below that level. RJ is inconsistent and so is Mitch (who is also very limited). Rose is probably the best/second best player on the team.

    41. I didn’t think the Wizards would be leading the conference but I did consider them on the same level as us going into the season. They fleeced the Lakers for 3 rotation players and upgraded from Russ to Dinwiddie. Those were nice moves.

    42. Feels Kemba made a more concerted effort to get Mitch involved last game. Hope they get the lob down soon.

      Also the Obi/Mitch Frontcourt lineup was a nice look for a few minutes. Two elite finishers and lob threats for our PG’s to work with

    43. I think the biggest problem with Randle and it’s been present the whole time he has been in NY is he is a ball stopper. Last year he was still stopping the ball he was just also shooting long twos and contested 3s at an extremely efficient rate. It also wasn’t as bad because we only had one other player who could really do something with the ball in the starting lineup. This year 4 out of the 5 players in our starting lineup can attack an off-balance offense, and the fifth is an elite finisher, so ball movement and flow are more important and more beneficial.

      It is the glaring difference between our bench lineup and our starters. The ball sticks so much less with our bench. IQ, and Burks, and even Rose to a lesser extent can stop the ball a bit but it’s not nearly as egregious as the way the ball always seems to stick to Randle.

      With our starters, the only time our offense flows is when Randle isn’t the center of it. As soon as he touches the ball he will almost always dribble at least a couple times and rarely does he just keep the ball moving and swing the ball to a more open player. He is a willing passer but not until he has been the one to create the mismatch. He seems rarely willing to just be a cog in a successful play and always wants to be the focus of it.

      I don’t think it is selfishness but much like Melo, he thinks it is his responsibility to create the offense and manufacture points especially when our offense starts to sputter. Which unfortunately often turns a hiccup in our offense into a full-blown meltdown. He is our best player but until he lets go and really trusts the system and his teammates he will continue to be less effective than he could be.

    44. If Randle and RJ play like this for very long there’s a hard ceiling on this team and it’s not a high one. We need those guys to be the chrome and leather parts of the team. The nuts and bolts guys seem to be doing mostly fine. For a minute it looked like RJ had made another leap so maybe this is just a stretch of sucky games and he’ll pull it together.

    45. The Honorable Cock Jowles:
      Raise your hand if you had the Wizards leading the East over the first month of the season. Also raise your hand if you though the Hawks would be a high lottery team. Also raise your hand if you thought the Bucks would play more than a game or two without any playoff seeding. Also raise your hand if you thought the Warriors would look like a 65-win team again, and see nothing really fluky (save maybe SOS) about a torrid start to the season.

      Curry is Curry. As great as we think he is, maybe he’s better than that.

      Draymond Green is re-energized and off to terrific start (and somehow also hitting 3s for now)

      Wiggins is becoming a decent player under Kerr

      They are getting good production out of bench players like Gary Payton and Porter (who imo was a nice pick up)

      Maybe Kerr is actually very good at getting his players to play with a lot of ball and player movement and then defending well on the other side.

    46. I think the biggest problem with Randle and it’s been present the whole time he has been in NY is he is a ball stopper. Last year he was still stopping the ball he was just also shooting long twos and contested 3s at an extremely efficient rate.

      Plus one on this.

      Like I always say, I excused it the first two years because he had very little help. We needed him to carry the team at times. The whole point of adding Kemba and Fournier was to take the pressure off Randle to handle the ball so much, give him more space to get to the rim, reduce his forced shots, improve his efficiency, and reduce his TOs. But that’s not what we are seeing on the court. He’s still stopping the ball, dribbling into trouble, making bad TOs, and taking too many bad shots.

    47. I knew the Wizards were improved and wouldn’t be an easy out this year, but I didn’t expect this. I still expect them to fade over time, but they should compete for a play-in spot.

      The Bucks have had some key injuries (Middleton and Holiday). They’ll be fine once they are healthy.

      The only real surprise to me is that Atlanta is struggling, but I think they’ll be fine eventually also.

    48. I predicted the Wizards would be like last season’s Knicks, which would be fourth in the division, not first. I didn’t see Atlanta dropping this far, but I did always wonder why pundits and Vegas thought the Knicks would regress from last year but Atalanta wouldn’t.

    49. JK47:
      If Randle and RJ play like this for very long there’s a hard ceiling on this team and it’s not a high one. We need those guys to be the chrome and leather parts of the team. The nuts and bolts guys seem to be doing mostly fine. For a minute it looked like RJ had made another leap so maybe this is just a stretch of sucky games and he’ll pull it together.

      The problem is that RJ and Randle don’t fit together well. They have very similar games, centered around initiating, typically going left, and testing the paint and the defense. I don’t want to see RJ Barrett left with the crumbs of Randle’s forays, with an occasional “my turn” thrown in, and there’s no way that’s a maximization of his potential. I see little if any reason to concede that this should be “Randle’s team” in lieu of it being “RJ’s team.” RJ is just as good foraying, less prone to turnovers, less prone to ball stopping, better on defense, smarter, higher BBall IQ, just simply … better … at being a front end cog in a really good team. (*)

      If the whole Randle thing winds up with RJ at 75% of what he could be and/or leaving in a couple years or traded for someone who “fits” better with Randle, count me maximally out.

      (*) And there’s need to start throwing shooting statistics, TS%s, and all the rest at the problem. Those are all path-dependent on being stuck in an offense with Randle as the centerpiece and initiator.

    50. I’m reading all these posts saying Randle’s a ball stopper, but I don’t actually agree. He does end up trying to score one on one a lot, but often that is because the team didn’t get anywhere early in the offense and turns to him to score late in the clock. If it’s early in the clock he often passes to the open man. And he is by far our leading player for assists per game. In terms of assist percentage, he’s basically tied with Rose for the lead on the team with no one else close to them.

      I think one of our problems is that by depending on the three so much from game to game, we get a lot of variability in out scoring because three point shooting is so noisy. Our defense isn’t strong enough for us to live with bad shooting games.

    51. Randle is frustrating but there are bigger problem than him. At most I’ll say him running the transition break needs to stop either give it to RJ or let the Guards handle it

    52. Knick fan not in NJ,

      IMO assists can be misleading about playmaking sometimes. If you dominate the ball, you’ll get more assists. Our favorite punching bag (Frank) could get over 5 assists per 36 when he was playing PG even though he probably never drew a double team in his entire life (lol) and had a ton of trouble penetrating, especially early in his career). He mostly just moved the ball side to side very quickly. That’s a good thing, but it wasn’t playmaking like we’d like to think of it. Yet he’d still get 5 assists per 36.

      Randle make more plays, but he also has the ball a LOT of the time on the clock.

      It’s true that Randle gets stuck with more bail out shots at the end of the clock. I think that’s not entirely on him unless he held the ball or dribbled too much either earlier in the possession or at the end. But you’ll still see him doing the Melo impersonation at times. He holds the ball, looks over the court, and then puts the ball on the floor. Sometimes he makes a good pass out of that, but sometimes he throws up trash. What we need is for him to move the ball quickly unless he’s got an open shot and only try to create late. We added Kemba and Fournier to help create off the dribble too because Bullock could not and we didn’t want Payton to try too often.

      IMO. we need for the ball and players to move more so those situations come up less often.

    53. @ScottAgness
      Pacers rookie Chris Duarte has right shoulder soreness and will miss his first game of the season tonight in New York.

    54. With our starters, the only time our offense flows is when Randle isn’t the center of it. As soon as he touches the ball he will almost always dribble at least a couple times and rarely does he just keep the ball moving and swing the ball to a more open player. He is a willing passer but not until he has been the one to create the mismatch. He seems rarely willing to just be a cog in a successful play and always wants to be the focus of it.

      I don’t think it is selfishness but much like Melo, he thinks it is his responsibility to create the offense and manufacture points especially when our offense starts to sputter. Which unfortunately often turns a hiccup in our offense into a full-blown meltdown. He is our best player but until he lets go and really trusts the system and his teammates he will continue to be less effective than he could be.

      i don’t know if what you say is true ben r, but that’s kind of the impression i’m getting too…fortunately though, unlike melo – he does seem to be trying to set up his teammates, but, yeah wants to touch the ball – a lot…

    55. IMO. we need for the ball and players to move more so those situations come up less often.

      I’m not sure I agree with the first part of what you wrote, but I agree 100% with the last part which is quoted above.

    56. RJ’s usage is 22.7. Julius’s is 28.2. Both are al,most the same as they were last year; in fact both are slightly down from last year. There’s nothing there to suggest that RJ is in any way being held back by Julius. RJ is missing wide-open 3’s on his own. That mostly accounts for the offensive decline. RJ is guarding tougher players now and has less help from the guys on the court with him. That accounts for the bad defensive metrics.

      I have faith in RJ because he’s 21. He’s a smart, dedicated guy who should figure things out. But his current problems are about him, not Julius. And let’s not forget that other than the quirkiest stat of all (3pt shooting), his numbers were just so-so overall last year.

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