NY Post: Injury is derailing Austin Rivers’ grand Knicks plans

From Zach Braziller:

Austin Rivers talked a big game about playing for his father’s former team, saying he wanted to be part of something special and make the franchise “great again.”

Unfortunately for the combo guard, he has so far been very limited in that endeavor, and seems likely to miss the early part of the season with a right groin injury.

On Monday, coach Tom Thibodeau said the 28-year-old Rivers, whose father Doc is now coaching the 76ers, still has yet to return to practice, an ominous sign with the season set to begin Wednesday in Indiana against the Pacers. He missed all four preseason games and was hurt early on in training camp.

“The groin thing is still bothering him,” Thibodeau said.

There was some good injury news, though. Point guard Dennis Smith Jr. (left quad) and Frank Ntilikina (left Achilles), along with center Nerlens Noel (left knee), have returned from minor injuries. Forward Omari Spellman (right knee) is still out.

Thibodeau wouldn’t reveal his opening night starting lineup, but he did say that “we have a pretty good idea” who they will be, and what the rotation will look like.

“But that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone,” he said. “Obviously over the course of a season you need everyone, and particularly this year under these circumstances, quality depth is important and I feel that we have that.”

Julius Randle and RJ Barrett appear locks to start, and Elfrid Payton seems like a smart bet at the point despite rookie Immanuel Quickley’s impressive preseason. The other two spots remain uncertain.

I’m not much of an Austin Rivers admirer, but it’s still frustrating that this injury has lagged for so long.

Isn’t it weird that they’re, like, “Who will start at the 2?” Isn’t it clearly going to be Burks? Mitch should be a lock, too, but who the fuck knows with this team.

As part of our all-poll content, let’s everyone vote on who you think will be the starters alongside RJ and Randle on Wednesday night.

Who will start alongside Barrett and Randle?

View Results

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179 thoughts to “NY Post: Injury is derailing Austin Rivers’ grand Knicks plans”

  1. Thanks for the new thread, Brian. Voted Quickley, Burks and Mitch, because we’re rebuilding and it’s better to give the kids a chance (when they’ve earned it). Also Thibs can say Elfrid was out injured and is not rashing him back in, managing his minutes. Something polite like this will ease things up. And then, if IQ performs badly, Elfrid gets the starting job back and IQ switches to the main backup. I don’t think IQ will be affected psychologically for being demoted, he sure doesn’t strike me as a Ntilikina type of player that we need to be careful on how we treat him.

  2. I voted Payton/Burks/Mitch not because that’s what should happen but is what I think will happen — although the cutting of MKG makes me feel a little more confident that this FO/coach tandem gives fewer f*cks than we worry about.

    My ideal would be Quickley/Frank/RJ/Randle/Mitch because that gives you 4 dudes that can playmake to some extent (yes I include Randle in that — I’ve actually been semi-impressed with him this preseason minus a few egregious Fizdale-era Randle moments), and I think that might be the best defensive lineup we could plausibly start. But I’d be just as fine with that same lineup with Burks or Bullock for Frank.

    Part of me really wishes we had taken the opportunity to extend Mitch. My guess is he could’ve been gotten for 4 years 50MM – tough to turn that down as a guy who hasn’t made his $$ yet in the NBA. But I guess it’s the smarter thing to do not to do that. For all we know we could ultimately be looking at Evan Mobley in the draft, who as of now is unequivocally a higher ceiling player than Mitch I think…

  3. Want IQ but Voted for Payton Burks Mitch.
    Only Reason: If EP gets benched in premier he may be a bitch all season and fuk the “locker room” plus the veterans would also feel offended and spoil the “unity” of this team.
    Let’s do iq’s transition the “traditional” way

  4. I went with IQ, Mitch and Burks although I think, to start, Knox needs to be on the floor with Quickly.

  5. Brian, my wild-ass guess on the Burks thing is that maybe the beat writers had heard through the grapevine that Rivers was being brought in to be the starting shooting guard. So as his absence lingers, it throws that plan out of joint. Though Burks is better than Rivers, and also better than Bullock, so it should be a no-brainer at this point.

    Until Rivers comes back, this 10-man rotation makes the most sense to me (starter listed first):

    C: Mitch, Noel
    PF: Randle, Obi
    SF: Barrett, Knox
    SG: Burks, Bullock
    PG: Quickley, Payton

    Play Frank on nights when Knox and/or Bullock clearly don’t have it, and/or when you need to lock up someone who’s killing you on the other team. When Rivers is back, he takes Bullock’s minutes or Payton’s. These aren’t ideal 5-man groups, but they’re as well-balanced as we can get at this stage of the rebuild.

  6. I agree with Alan’s lineup, but I think you will see Smith Jr and Frank worked in quite a bit. Quickley and Payton will both have huge problems in the first 3 games against likely playoff teams. I also think that Smith Jr. left an impression in his defensive tenacity, not enough to displace either Quickley or Payton but enough to get some burn. But yeah, all indications seem to point to Alan’s 10-man rotation.

  7. Alan: Until Rivers comes back, this 10-man rotation makes the most sense to me

    I’m with you, Alan. But give some spot minutes to DSJ also, his defensive effort was outstanding (from where he starts, of course) and if he plays a little maybe some team wants him (probably a trade for another team’s miscast).

  8. Alan:
    Until Rivers comes back, this 10-man rotation makes the most sense to me (starter listed first):

    C: Mitch, Noel
    PF: Randle, Obi
    SF: Barrett, Knox
    SG: Burks, Bullock
    PG: Quickley, Payton

    Play Frank on nights when Knox and/or Bullock clearly don’t have it, and/or when you need to lock up someone who’s killing you on the other team. When Rivers is back, he takes Bullock’s minutes or Payton’s. These aren’t ideal 5-man groups, but they’re as well-balanced as we can get at this stage of the rebuild.

    I dislike these lineups a lot. What we know is that Payton works with Randle and makes Knox and Toppin good. I think IQ should start, but whatever happens, he needs to be on the floor with the two of them. Noel and Mitch are interchangeable. So are Burks and Bullock (although Bullock broke out with IQ running the team). To get better overall team chemistry, swap IQ and Payton.

  9. More generally, Thibs seems to be open to “play the kids” to a reasonable degree. Despite his propensity to give starters lots of minutes and play a 9-10 man rotation, I don’t think he will completely bury those two unless they go on a winning streak or something weird like that. I could see him rotating them in for like 5-10 minutes on alternate nights, depending on what they show in practice.

    I doubt that Spellman or Iggy see any time except in blowouts and Rivers is going to be babied with that sore groin…that’s a nagging sob injury.

  10. I’m not getting why you guys are down on Burks, he’s probably our best player and he didn’t play this last 2 games because his wife gave birth to a baby boy, so he’s back now and good to go.

  11. I think we’re going 1-2, and the win is against the Pacers. And that’s the pace i want for this year, win one each three games.

  12. We have to clear out the logjam.

    We have Barrett, Burks, Bullock, Rivers, Payton, Frank, Quickley, and DSJr that overlap in some areas.

    All of them deserve minutes either on merit, because we should be trying to develop them, or because we may be trying to maximize their trade value. If it was up to me, Rivers would eventually be flipped to some team that needs some experienced guard depth. My next choice would be moving DSJr because I rate him so poorly on basketball IQ and his tendency to sulk. But if Frank is going to be buried behind guys like Burks and Bullock because we need more scoring/shooting, we should just take a 2nd rounder for him and be done with it. He’s not a good fit on this team when we still need shooting. I hope they at least give us a little time with Quickley, Frank, and Barret on the court together with some combinations at PF and C. I’d like to see 3 playmakers on the court together with enough scoring and defense to hold they own just to see what happens.

  13. To get better overall team chemistry, swap IQ and Payton.

    Mitch and RJ are our two most important players right now. Payton and RJ have terrible chemistry together, and Payton’s inability to shoot from outside makes it hard for him to run pick and rolls with Mitch, which should be our bread and butter play. I want to keep Elf away from them as much as is humanly possible. If his chemistry with Randle is necessary, then pull Randle early in the first and third quarter, bring in Obi, and then let Randle dominate second units with his buddy Elf.

  14. Z-man:
    Is it fair to say that anything better than 0-3 in our first 3 games would be a nice surprise?

    Can you lose 4 games if you only play 3?

    Does getting blown out 3 times count as 4?

    Seriously, I’d be happy with consistent effort and solid defense that keeps them competitive. If they start 0-3, so be it. If they win a game or two Merry Christmas.

  15. Right now there’s a thing Harden tries harder than drawing fouls, never thought this day would come.

    Shams: Rockets players’ early signs of tension in recent days included James Harden throwing a basketball at a rookie, setting the stage for Houston to tip off the season on Wednesday.

  16. Meanwhile, things continue to go great in Houston:

    Sources say Harden and rookie Jae’Sean Tate had a heated exchange during Monday’s practice, culminating in Harden throwing the ball in Tate’s direction. The ball did not hit Tate. Interactions like these between teammates during practice can be part of a normal, competitive environment. Harden, however, is known by those in the organization as a laid-back and calm personality —especially as superstars go — and some around the franchise are viewing this as rising to an uncharacteristic level of frustration given his ongoing situation.

  17. I’m not sure if Harden is so desperate to get out of Houston he’s doing things that are going to help force his way out sooner or he’s melting down because he has a drinking and/or drug problem from all the partying in Vegas and elsewhere. Either way, he’s not making himself a more attractive trade candidate. I’m not sure I’d want him on my team if I was serious about winning a championship and had to give up a huge haul.

  18. I know we’re saving Knicks win predictions for tomorrow but with the season kicking off tonight I’m curious if people have league predictions to kick around.

    I think I’m leaning slightly towards the Clippers in the West although I think it’s close to a toss-up with the Lakers. If Lebron is still somehow playing at or close to “best player alive” level in the playoffs in an abbreviated season at age 36 the Lakers probably win it all relatively comfort again but I just can’t feel comfortable predicting it. Eventually age will come for him and if he slips even a little more I think the Clips are better; people are way too low on them based almost entirely on 3 very strange games. Hard for me to see a third team that I think can seriously get in the mix here absent a big move. Maybe the Nuggets if MPJ really blows up. Maybe the Mavs if I had any faith that KP would be healthy come the playoffs.

    In the East, as much as it pains me to say it, I’m leaning towards the Nets. The questions was always about KD’s return and he looks like himself so far. Still need to see it in actual games but I think if he’s back to himself no team in the East can match their talent level, and they have huge potential to improve the team still via trade. There’s obviously total dysfunction potential and there’s definitely some chance that this pick looks really stupid but I believe in their ceiling more than any other East team. I think I like the Bucks as 2nd favorites here. Despite feeling incredibly established Giannis just turned 26 and hasn’t stopped getting better yet. Didn’t care for their offseason but they’re starting from a high baseline.

    So Clippers over Nets in a finals of red-headed stepchild teams, final answer, but with Lakers over Nets as a close runner-up.

  19. Alan: Mitch and RJ are our two most important players right now. Payton and RJ have terrible chemistry together, and Payton’s inability to shoot from outside makes it hard for him to run pick and rolls with Mitch, which should be our bread and butter play. I want to keep Elf away from them as much as is humanly possible. If his chemistry with Randle is necessary, then pull Randle early in the first and third quarter, bring in Obi, and then let Randle dominate second units with his buddy Elf.

    I agree! Which is why my lineups are:
    C: Mitch, Noel
    PF: Obi, Randle
    SF: Knox, Bullock
    SG: Barrett, Burks
    PG: Quickley, Payton
    And I’m fine with the “B” team starting and have the kids come off the bench.

  20. thenamestsam: I know we’re saving Knicks win predictions for tomorrow but with the season kicking off tonight I’m curious if people have league predictions to kick around.

    Here are some of my predictions:
    Knicks 18 wins.
    Zion starts to dominate.
    Western semi-finals: Lakers-Blazers, Clippers-Phoenix
    Western finals: Lakers-Clippers
    Eastern semi-finals: Heat-Bucks, Nets-Celtics
    Eastern finals: Bucks- Nets
    Finals: Lakers – Nets
    Champions: Lakers

  21. My predictions:

    Quickley won’t start at PG on opening night but by game 10 he will be the starter.

    The Knicks will exceed their projected win total and expectations but won’t make the playoffs. But by the end of the season we will be viewed positively as a team on the rise.

    KP will miss a significant chunk of the season, the Mavs will miss the playoffs and The Knicks will end up with 2 picks in the top 10 of the draft next year.

    The Lakers will repeat. The Bucks will make the finals (beating The Nets in the ECF). Miami will be good again but will lose in the second round.

    RJ will take a huge leap forward and will win most improved player.

    Quickley will be seen as the steal of the draft and at the end of the season DJPhan will still be arguing about how it was “bad process” to pick him. :)

  22. @cybersoze

    Nations fail for a lot of reasons, dictatorship or not. For a few decades now the Chinese communist party has concluded that as long as they keep the economy going strong, capitalism be damned, they can reassure the people that it’s beneficial to keep them in power, and the party would be cherished. Even though it’s a dictatorship, the leadership has been generated from the top pyramid of the party rankings, with the normal party member at the bottom. The party has been recruiting a portion of the Chinese society elites across all spectrums, with a good number of young people. Their loyalty, again, is tied to how well the country is run at the moment. Bad leadership probably would only be exposed once things get tough. Then came one of the downsides of a dictatorship – more difficult to get rid of one. And there aren’t any reasons this could happen in the short turn.

  23. Z-man: More generally, Thibs seems to be open to “play the kids” to a reasonable degree. Despite his propensity to give starters lots of minutes and play a 9-10 man rotation, I don’t think he will completely bury those two unless they go on a winning streak or something weird like that. I could see him rotating them in for like 5-10 minutes on alternate nights, depending on what they show in practice.

    This is the thing I’m going to be watching most closely in our first few games. I was pretty pleasantly surprised with Thibs management of the rotation, such as it is, in preseason. But preseason is preseason and the absence of some vets made it a bit easier. Once the games start counting I’m very curious to see how small he keeps the rotation and how he balances finding minutes for some of the fringier “prospects” vs. the vets. Personally I think he could easily keep playing 12 guys on this team just to keep guys from the Frank/Knox/DSJ group in the mix without pissing off the vets but I kind of doubt he sees it that way. With the cramped schedule and all the guys missing time we didn’t really get to see anything like a true “dress rehearsal” preseason game so there’s a lot of unknowns in this area still.

  24. I think Thibs will go with his vets, Payton, Burks, and Noel to start the season, especially with the Randle-Payton chemistry and Mitch’s propensity to get early fouls. If the youngsters are playing well look for them to get minutes and finish games, before any changes are made in the starting lineup.

  25. My prediction for the Knicks is the same as swift’s above but I value Luka too highly to think they miss the playoffs. Maybe by a fringe.

    I’m on the Quickley wagon since day 1 because I just don’t see any other options fits a modern offense or will be a knick by the time this team is a “strong” playoff bound team. Play the kids is the hope.

  26. I think the unwritten rule regarding playing rookies and other very young players over veterans is kind of like the very old boxing axiom where you had to clearly beat the champ to get a decision. If it’s a close call, the veteran will tend to the spot. The rookie/young players have to take away the title.

  27. cybersoze:
    I’m not getting why you guys are down on Burks, he’s probably our best player and he didn’t play this last 2 games because his wife gave birth to a baby boy, so he’s back now and good to go.

    Generally speaking, Burks just hasn’t been very good during his career. He played well last year, that’s about it.

    He’s a good shooter who falls a little too in love with his own midrange game.

    He’s a bad defender by most reports. Maybe Thibs can squeeze some surplus value out of him.

  28. Maybe ….

    Starters: Payton, Burks, Bullock, Randle, Noel
    Finishers: Quickley, Barrett, Knox, Toppin, Robinson

    I would like to see a game between these two teams!

  29. GoNYGoNYGo – Tanking forever:
    Maybe ….

    Starters: Payton, Burks, Bullock, Randle, Noel
    Finishers: Quickley, Barrett, Knox, Toppin, Robinson

    I would like to see a game between these two teams!

    I’ve been an advocate for this lineup. It solves our starting lineup shooting woes and let’s all our future cornerstones play together.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think they take RJ out of the starting lineup ever.

  30. Deeefense:
    I think the unwritten rule regarding playing rookies and other very young players over veterans is kind of like the very old boxing axiom where you had to clearly beat the champto get a decision.If it’s a close call, the veteran will tend to the spot. The rookie/young players have to take away the title.

    Agreed. I think there’s also the closely related unwritten rule that “you can’t lose your spot due to injury”; you often see guys returning from injury get at least the first crack at keeping their old spot. We don’t know to what extent Noel and Elfrid were really injured vs. just saving legs in the preseason but I suspect both of them hold their starting spots initially assuming they’re making their returns tomorrow. It would be a very bold, progressive move for Thibs to bump both of them for the kids. It just doesn’t seem like his style to me.

  31. There is a “thermal exhaust port in the Death Star” level flaw in this team:

    We’ve got four bigs, none of them stretch, half of them are sieves on defense, and we’re going to play two of them at a time (but probably never the two who are good at defense).

    I get wanting to be open minded about Leon Rose, but to me he’s committed a fatal team-building blunder in the opening gambit. He was stuck with Randle for a year, but Toppin… man… when all those guys who are perfect for the modern NBA were available.

    I hope the kid is good, and I’m looking forward to his dunks, but I just don’t think that’s ever going to turn out to have been optimal. I’d much rather be trotting out a floor-spacing frontcourt of Barrett & Avdija, or a dynamic wing combination like Barrett & Vassell, or have Halliburton’s skills present.

    To be all in on bigs who don’t stretch like this strikes me as archaic and stupid.

  32. Nations fail for a lot of reasons, dictatorship or not. For a few decades now the Chinese communist party has concluded that as long as they keep the economy going strong, capitalism be damned, they can reassure the people that it’s beneficial to keep them in power, and the party would be cherished.

    The Chinese and Russian communists eventually realized they needed some kind of market system to generate improvements in the standard of living of their people and to generate the wealth they need to advance their larger military and other political agendas.

    Dictatorships are always a problem, but if they are mismanaged economically from the top, it limits how much damage they can do outside because they will be unpopular with their people and not only not generate ever increasing massive new wealth, they may even contract, collapse, and get tossed.

    Russia is a non event. Their GDP is less than California. They have nukes but they aren’t going to use them. They just want to trade oil, gas etc.. have influence in the middle east and do deals with the west.

    The Chinese communists are a very dangerous bunch because they are accumulating a lot of jobs and massive new wealth via trade with the world on unfair terms. I’m fairly certain they have very big ambitions for the coming decades and the world is not going to be pleased.

    But we’ll keep pretending Putin is the problem because half our politicians are still living the Soviet era and the other half are too busy doing deals with communists to worry about what comes next.

  33. As long as RJ Barrett gets to play a good amount of minutes with Quickley, Knox, Toppin, and Robinson I really don’t care who starts. I’m betting our starting five is Payton, Burks, Barrett, Randle, and Noel though. I want to see two different line-ups, really:

    The Randle Five, which should be Payton, Burks, Bullock, Randle, and Noel. Let the vets play together in the 3rd quarter I guess. When Rivers comes back you bump Bullock out, slide Burks to the 3, and play Payton and Rivers together.

    The Barrett Five, which should be Quickley, Barrett, Knox, Toppin, and Robinson. These guys aren’t going to do much defending of anybody, but it will provide Barrett the spacing he needs to operate, two big guys who can set screens, three guys who can catch and shoot, and a secondary ball handler in Quickley who can push the tempo and attack defenses in the screen and roll. Smith Jr and Ntilikina should be the primary subs at either guard spot here.

    It’s a big rotation, but it’s possible that all of Payton, Quickley, Smith Jr, Burks, Rivers, Ntilikina, Barrett, Knox, Bullock, Randle, Toppin, Noel, and Robinson should be seeing minutes for one reason or the other. I just hope that after the trade deadline, Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle will be playing for the Clippers. I’d even like to see them waived after the deadline if they can’t be traded, and hopefully Quickley, Smith Jr, Toppin, and Knox have shown enough to make that a possibility.

  34. GoNYGoNYGo – Tanking forever:
    Maybe ….

    Starters: Payton, Burks, Bullock, Randle, Noel
    Finishers: Quickley, Barrett, Knox, Toppin, Robinson

    I would like to see a game between these two teams!

    Wow, I had the same idea and didn’t even see this post. I agree this would be best even if Barrett is a 3 and not a two. If Knox and Quickley can space the floor like they did against Cleveland it makes Barrett’s life a ton easier. I wouldn’t bring Barrett off the bench, though, simply because Julius Randle needs to know that the Knicks are Barrett’s team and not his.

  35. Hubert: I’d much rather be trotting out a floor-spacing frontcourt of Barrett & Avdija,

    Obi & Deni are similar in their shooting ability. If anything, Obi should be the better shooter.

  36. As for the question in the post, my answer isn’t listed.

    I’d make this a one big team. You can’t have two non shooters on the floor. And you definitely can’t have one of your two non-shooters be a defensively-deficient big. You might as well play 4 on 5 on both ends.

    I’d start:

    Big: Mitch (backed up Noel)
    Wings: Barrett, Burks, Bullock (backed up by Knox and Frank)
    Ballhandler: Payton (backed up by IQ)

    This makes Obi a rookie understudy and kicks Julius Randle to the curb. Obviously neither of those things will happen, but simulate 100 seasons of this team playing with 2 bigs vs 1 and I’d bet the 1 big team outperforms the one that squeezes Randle and Obi into the lineup at least 80 times.

  37. Querly Q-Word, Pen Name of Pen Name Early Bird: Obi & Deni are similar in their shooting ability. If anything, Obi should be the better shooter.

    They’re both in the TBD/small sample camp right now. But shooting isn’t the only thing that creates space on the floor. Avdija’s passing and playmaking skills would complement Barrett better and form a more dynamic frontcourt, IMO.

  38. Make it Head Coach: Kenny Atkinson and throw in Haliburton/Deni/Vassell to the ball handler/wing group and that’s a pretty, pretty appealing vision for what the team could’ve been in my opinion.

  39. I think the Obi vs Deni debate will be a good one for years to come. Throw Haliburton into the mix too.

  40. And Vassell, and even Saddiq Bey, who feels like a decent rotation player right now in the modern NBA, versus Obi’s game being imperfect at the moment.

  41. Hubert: They’re both in the TBD/small sample camp right now.But shooting isn’t the only thing that creates space on the floor. Avdija’s passing and playmaking skills would complement Barrett better and form a more dynamic frontcourt, IMO.

    Payton has been pretty good at demonstrating passing is a poor substitute for shooting.

    I’m not really convinced Deni is a better passer than Obi either.

  42. thenamestsam:
    Make it Head Coach: Kenny Atkinson and throw in Haliburton/Deni/Vassell to the ball handler/wing group and that’s a pretty, pretty appealing vision for what the team could’ve been in my opinion.

    That’s a good point.

    Think about this for a second… Leon Rose had three decisions to make where he could make incredible impact right away: GM, head coach, and the #8 pick.

    He went with Scott Perry, Tom Thibodeau, and Obi Toppin.

    He could have easily gone with: Anyone Else, Ken Atkinson, and one of Avdija, Vassell, Halliburton, or Bey.

    To me, option A is clearly out of date and option B is up to speed. How much better would you feel today if he had gone with B instead of A? For me, it’s a lot better. And that’s why I can’t abide the idea that Leon Rose has not already fucked up pretty badly.

  43. Kenny Atkinson didn’t just get passed over for the Knicks job. OKC and Chicago were both rebuilding and didn’t see fit to hire him. New Orleans went with a dinosaur in SVG instead of Kenny Atkinson despite having a young group of players as well. I’m sure everybody here would sign up to have one of Sam Presti, Arturas Karnisovas, and David Griffin running the Knicks so it’s not like a group of dumb GMs passed on Atkinson either.

    Can we please please please just let Thibodeau and Obi Toppin coach and play 40 games before we decide the Knicks made the wrong choice?

  44. I think the lineup will be Payton-Burks-Barrett-Randle-Mitch. I’d obviously rather Randle not be there, but other than that I have no major complaints. It was nice to hear that the current braintrust views Barrett as more of a 3 than a 2, as to the extent differences exist between the positions I think Barrett’s strengths lend themselves more to being a 3. It also makes it easier to surround him with shooters.

    It goes without saying the starting point guard job should be an open competition for the foreseeable future. Whatever you think of this calculus, the braintrust probably wants to avoid a situation in which they give it to Quickley but are then forced to take it away. It’s hard to argue with making him prove a thing or two against real NBA teams for that reason.

    The Barrett Five, which should be Quickley, Barrett, Knox, Toppin, and Robinson.

    I’ve said before that of the 3 core pieces, the one it would be most logical to bring off the bench right now is Barrett for basically this reason. It gives you a lot of flexibility to assemble lineups that play to his strengths. The only thing I don’t like about this specific lineup is it puts Knox at the 3, an experiment I think we should officially declare over.

    It doesn’t really matter because for marketing etc. reasons I don’t think RJ Barrett is ever coming off the bench for the Knicks.

  45. Hubert: That’s a good point.

    Think about this for a second… Leon Rose had three decisions to make where he could make incredible impact right away: GM, head coach, and the #8 pick.

    He went with Scott Perry, Tom Thibodeau, and Obi Toppin.

    He could have easily gone with: Anyone Else, Ken Atkinson, and one of Avdija, Vassell, Halliburton, or Bey.

    To me, option A is clearly out of date and option B is up to speed. How much better would you feel today if he had gone with B instead of A?For me, it’s a lot better.And that’s why I can’t abide the idea that Leon Rose has not already fucked up pretty badly.

    Yeah, for all the (nonstop) talk of Quickley and the process we used to pick him I’m way more concerned about picking Obi when other players, particularly Haliburton, were still available.

  46. I think your evidence works against you. The introduction of Payton last year, even with subpar shooting, had a demonstrably positive impact on the offense.

    Macri and others have said this too, but color me skeptical. Payton’s numbers seem like they have to be helped by the fact that he was out when FIzdale was coach and back when sanity/Miller started. Also many of the on-off numbers may be skewed by the Dennis “worst player in the NBA” Smith factor.

    Even if Payton DID have a positive effect on the offense, it’s really just the difference between “historically awful” and “bad”. The ceiling of any offense that has Payton at PG is very low. In today’s NBA, you just can’t have a non shooter as primary ball handler unless you’re as good as Ben Simmons or Giannis. It’s actually hard to even find a primary ball handler in the NBA that can’t shoot at all.

    That’s why I really see no point at all in starting Payton. You’re basically guaranteeing a 22nd-28th ranked offense because you’re worried that the worst case scenario might be a 29th best offense or worse if he doesn’t start.

  47. Hubert: I think your evidence works against you.The introduction of Payton last year, even with subpar shooting, had a demonstrably positive impact on the offense.

    Yes, the offense improved but I wouldn’t chalk it up to floor spacing.

    It’s just that Payton is an NBA PG and Frank, DSJr, and whoever else we tried are not.

    More so, my point is that Deni averaged 3 assists per 36 in Europe. People always talk about his passing, but that’s a pretty underwhelming number. From what I’ve seen of Obi he’s a willing passer but probably didn’t need to pass because he just dunked everything in college.

    I’ve never 100% understood the hype about Deni. His numbers look more like Mario Hezonja than Luka Doncic. That said, he’s 3 yrs younger than Obi and might have been better for that alone.

  48. GoNYGoNYGo – Tanking forever: Fair, but I would note that NBA PG also can (and in this case does) mean Backup NBA PG.Elfrid is not an starting NBA point guard.

    Yeah, I usually say low-end starter/good backup. But really you don’t want him as your starter.

  49. I like to make season projections for every team, in order to check them after a year and realize I have not a clue about basketball (GSW 2nd in the west? really? what was I thinking?). After realizing this for too long, I have decided that this year I will make my projections based in some numerological model, so I can blame it instead when it fails by the season ending. It is a mix of projecting bpm and minutes played for every player and every team with some formulas here and there. Of course I did not like the first numbers it spew, so I tweaked the parameters until it gave good projections, which I believe it is the methodologically correct way to do it. So, without further ado, here they are:

    Milwaukee Bucks 59-13
    Miami Heat 49-23
    Brooklyn Nets 48-24
    Boston Celtics 47-25
    Philadelphia 76ers 46-26
    Atlanta Hawks 46-26
    Indiana Pacers 41-31
    Toronto Raptors 39-33
    Washington Wizards 28-44
    New York Knicks 23-49
    Detroit Pistons 19-53
    Orlando Magic 18-54
    Chicago Bulls 18-54
    Charlotte Hornets 13-59
    Cleveland Cavaliers 9-63

    Los Angeles Lakers 58-14
    Los Angeles Clippers 54-18
    Dallas Mavericks 48-24
    Utah Jazz 48-24
    Denver Nuggets 47-25
    New Orleans Pelicans 46-26
    Portland Trailblazers 43-29
    Memphis Grizzlies 38-34
    Golden State Warriors 35-37
    Phoenix Suns 35-37
    Houston Rockets 33-39
    San Antonio Spurs 33-39
    Sacramento Kings 24-48
    Minnesota Timberwolves 22-50
    Oklahoma City Thunder 13-59

    In then end, I am only somewhat baffled by the low position of the Orlando Magic, but I do not like their players and that may have influenced the result. Also, Houston out of the playoffs (and I am counting with Harden staying there the full year), but are they really going to play Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker heavy minutes again?

  50. On the topic of this thread, I believe the main rotation of the Knicks after a couple of weeks will look like this:

    Payton / Quickley
    Burks / Frank
    RJB / Bullock / Knox
    Randle / Toppin / Knox
    Mitch / Nerlens

  51. cybersoze:
    For the sake of Cdiggy, i’m rooting for the Clippers to upset the Lakers at the WCF!

    YAAASSS!!! Thank you for feelin’ ya boy’s agony over here!

    OMG, for the Lakers to lose to the Clippers when it matters most? Sweeter than Cold Stone, Carvel and Baskin Robbins combined!

    Remember: three teams in LA (city and county) no one cares about: Clippers, Angels, Chargers.

  52. This season is tough to get a feel for with COVID lingering and the shortened offseason, but some scattered thoughts:

    -The Clippers are being underrated because of their admittedly embarrassing meltdown. Losing Harrell and Green might hurt them a bit in the regular season, but Ibaka and Kennard replacing them is prooooobably a net positive in the playoffs.

    -It’s not clear to me Milwaukee improved. Holiday is obviously very good, but Bledsoe and Hill did a lot of work for them in the regular season. Probably more combined than Holiday can muster, so they’re betting on being a better playoff team even if it costs them in the regular season. I’d feel a lot better about it if they landed Bogdan. Lord forgive me but…I kind of like Portis’ fit there, assuming his shot distributing can be Budified.

    -It feels futile to do the whole “unless this is finally the year for LeBron” caveat for the 8th consecutive year or whatever so the Lakers should be the presumptive favorites.

    -The Sixers are replacing a lot of very meh minutes with Seth Curry and Danny Green, which should make them better and maybe substantially.

    -I like Miami a lot, but they’re probably a bit overrated based on their bubble performance. Not really doing anything in the offseason due to the Giannis hostage situation hurt. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if they go out in the first or second round.

    -The Nets probably won’t take the regular season all that seriously other than securing a top-4 seed, but they’re pretty much perfectly built for the playoffs assuming health.

    -The Pelicans are being slept on. They added Bledsoe and Adams, and the threat of a healthy Zion looms…

  53. Hubert: We’ve got four bigs, none of them stretch

    Omari Spellman is a stretch big. If you don’t believe me, ask his waistband

  54. swiftandabundant:
    My predictions:

    KP will miss a significant chunk of the season, the Mavs will miss the playoffs and The Knicks will end up with 2 picks in the top 10 of the draft next year.

    There is no way on Earth that the Mavs will miss the playoffs with a healthy Doncic playing around 60 games this NBA season. Not gonna happen, KP or not.

  55. Begley:

    Tom Thibodeau said he and the coaching staff have a solid idea of their rotation (approx 10 players) but the staff is still analyzing a few positions in the starting lineup. Thibodeau said some of those undecided positions have been a 50-50 debate among the Knicks staff.

    10-man rotation sounds good to me. Even when rivers is back, it’ll mean a healthy balance between short timers and guys who are potentially part of a longer future.

  56. I’m seeing 50/1 MVP odds on Zion. Am I crazy if I want to bet all my money on this?

  57. -The Sixers are replacing a lot of very meh minutes with Seth Curry and Danny Green, which should make them better and maybe substantially.

    This is maybe the team I’m most excited to see because I really see it setting up as an interesting talent vs. fit test. That’s in part because I kind of disagree with you on the “meh minutes” thing – despite the heinous fit, I still think Al Horford is much better than the players they replaced him with. The discourse swung way too far on Horford last year, he’s not a PF and he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but his overall impact numbers were still mostly fine (just not all-star level like they were previously). Green looked very washed at times last year and Seth Curry is just kind of a guy; Richardson was terrible for the Sixers last year (again a serious fit issue) but I’m not sure in a vacuum Curry is really better than him. I actually think they downgraded their talent a bit, maybe substantially depending on how much Green has left, but the pieces undeniably fit much, much better around Simmons and Embiid. An interesting test case I think.

  58. Deeefense:
    …Russia is a non event. Their GDP is less than California. They have nukes but they aren’t going to use them. They just want to trade oil, gas etc.. and do deals with the west.

    The Chinese … have very big ambitions for the coming decades and the world is not going to be pleased.

    But we’ll keep pretending Putin is the problem…

    Hmm…. The “We” in the “We’ll keep pretending Putin is the problem” is only accurate if it refers to news and social media. Foreign policy professionals are not confused. Russia punches above its economic weight by playing its disinformation and cyber espionage cards better than other more powerful countries. It makes the best of a weak hand, but it’s influence is consequential.

    The prospect of world-ending nuclear annihilation is as realistic as ever. Russia is a defeated adversary with wounded pride pursuing clear revanchist goals in hot wars and proxy wars. Nukes are not in the news as often as during the cold war only because that threat doesn’t effectively sell ad space anymore.

    Strategic management of China’s rise to great power status and the reshaping of the post WW II world order is the other great challenge (with climate change) that seems most likely to determine the fate of future generations. Great power emergence almost always leads to huge wars. China announces its plans proudly. Their aspirations of dominance are in the public record.

    But communism vs. liberal democracy isn’t what’s at stake anymore. Communism is long dead. It’s declining liberal democracies vs. ascendant non-ideological autocratic market economies – some with thin democratic facades. Biden and co need to reimagine something better than the old neoliberal world order and start moving us toward it. Retreating from or attempting to cling to dominance on the world stage both have huge risks.

  59. Russia is a non event.

    I really can’t imagine a dumber person than a person who writes this sentence. Unfathomably stupid, misinformed and uneducated. But par for the course.

  60. iserp:
    I like to make season projections for every team, in order to check them after a year and realize I have not a clue about basketball (GSW 2nd in the west? really? what was I thinking?). After realizing this for too long, I have decided that this year I will make my projections based in some numerological model, so I can blame it instead when it fails by the season ending. It is a mix of projecting bpm and minutes played for every player and every team with some formulas here and there.

    i’m curious on how you project playtime.. i was working on this too but i didn’t really have a great way to account for rotations.. age and injuries… which to me seemed almost random… i know things like raptor/carmelo did with some modest success but that was a black box….

    anyway those projections look good.. although i’m not sure the east is going to have that many sub 20 win teams… but it’s good to see people taking a stab at some of this stuff and taking a deep dive approach…

  61. Ntilakilla: There is no way on Earth that the Mavs will miss the playoffs with a healthy Doncic playing around 60 games this NBA season. Not gonna happen, KP or not.

    They finished 7th last year. OKC and Houston finished ahead of them but OKC definitely won’t and who the fuck knows what’s going to happen with Houston. But behind them they’ve got to hold off Portland, Memphis, New Orleans, and GSW. Not a guarantee they can keep up the pace especially since their roster is a little worse than last year’s after losing Seth Curry and Delon Wright.

  62. I’m seeing 50/1 MVP odds on Zion. Am I crazy if I want to bet all my money on this?

    Yes, because the MVP award is still generally a team award.

    Winner and team wins

    Giannis 63 pace (1st)
    Giannis 60 (1st)
    Harden 65 (1st)
    Westbrook 47 (10th, but the no-Durant/triple double/one-man offense narrative was strong; he was a deserving winner IMO)
    Curry 73 (1st)
    Curry 67 (1st)
    Durant 59 (1st)
    James 66 (1st)
    James 57 pace (4th)
    Rose 62 (1st)
    James 61 (1st)
    James 66 (1st)
    Bryant 57 (3rd, 1st in stacked West, a 37-win #8 Hawks team took the #1 Celts to 7 games)
    Nowitzki 67 (1st)
    Nash 54 (4th, but a terrible vote around some circlejerk “team play” narratives)
    Nash 62 (1st)
    Garnett 58 (2nd)
    Duncan 60 (T-1st)
    Duncan 58 (2nd)
    Iverson 56 (T-2nd)
    O’Neal 67 (1st)
    Malone 60 pace (T-1st)
    Jordan 62 (T-1st)
    Malone 64 (2nd, Jordan fatigue)
    Jordan 72 (1st)
    Robinson 62 (1st)
    Hakeem 58 (2nd)
    Barkley 62 (1st, Jordan fatigue)
    Jordan 67 (1st)
    Jordan 61 (2nd)
    Magic 63 (1st)
    Magic 57 (T-2nd)

    I’m sure that PPG has a big part of it, not bothered to look it up. Many of the 2nd-ranked teams won their conference in the regular season, too.

    So figure out which teams are due to win their conference and spread your money around. Giannis may need to lead the Bucks to 70 wins to keep voters from giving it to someone else just for the sake of page clicks.

  63. Also, you can get a boost if one of your key teammates goes down. LeBron, by my count, went 14-1 without Wade in 2012. So while he was hands down the best player in the league, he also likely got a little narrative help from Wade being in street clothes for 17 games. When LeBron did not play in those Wadeless games, they got their asses handed to them by the 20-46 WAS and also got punked by the decent-but-past-prime Celts.

  64. vincoug: They finished 7th last year. OKC and Houston finished ahead of them but OKC definitely won’t and who the fuck knows what’s going to happen with Houston. But behind them they’ve got to hold off Portland, Memphis, New Orleans, and GSW. Not a guarantee they can keep up the pace especially since their roster is a little worse than last year’s after losing Seth Curry and Delon Wright.

    The big thing is they were 6 wins below their point differential last turn. So if you see last year’s team as 43-32 (actual record) then yeah, they’re potentially pretty vulnerable to only a few things going wrong to miss the playoffs. If you see them as a 49-26 team last year (point differential) then they’re one of the best teams in the league and unlikely to miss the playoffs absent a serious Luka injury issue. Point differential is usually more indicative and I don’t see a structural reason for them to underachieve unless you think they’re just fundamentally too Luka focused in their crunch time offense.

  65. If Dallas fails to make the playoffs, Luka took a big step backward or got injured. I believe that Towns is the only player in the top 10 in BPM whose team did not make the playoffs, and he only played 35 games. You’d need an organizational failure a la New Orleans with AD to have a player that good miss out on playoff time.

    I think the team to follow in New Orleans’ footsteps is going to be the Blazers and Dame this year. It’s all going to hinge on Nurkic’s recovery. They lost 2000 minutes of durable, quality Whiteside play and that’s not going to be easy to replace. He may have been a sieve on defense but he scored the hell out of the ball. You should expect their ORtg to come down a couple notches and their DRtg to improve if Nurkic is healthy. If it’s a wash, then you’re right back to the 34-40 EWL you were last year — can’t expect Dame to play any better than he has over the last few years, just not a reasonable bet. Not a good place to be in a conference with multiple superteams and a number of fast-rising clubs with emerging superstars.

  66. Yes, because the MVP award is still generally a team award.

    Am I dumb to think that in Zion’s case it’s kind of legitimate to want to see some team success before we elevate him to the truly elite tier? He’s such a fundamentally unique player that I think it’s much harder than usual to understand the relationship between his personal stats and his team impact. He’s definitely going to put up a efficiency/usage combination that is pretty much reserved for the best offensive players in the game, but with arguably less play to play impact when he’s not scoring (this is backed up by his OBPM last year, but I’m interested to see how it looks in a bigger sample). I think everyone agrees he’s not a good defender right now and kind of position-less. If his team isn’t particularly good I think it’s going to be fascinating to unravel these issues more as the season goes along. He’s definitely going to be really, really good but I think it’s a little hasty to move into the MVP discussion.

  67. Yeah, the MVP award voting, like all star selections, is a membership club. Once you’re in, you’re in until you give ample reason to be kicked out. And the best way to break in is to be the leading scorer on the team with the best record (it helps to be the #1 pick in the draft if you do that). The next best way to break in is to have led your team to a late playoff exit the year before. Zion didn’t do that, and, though he was the #1 pick, there is virtually no chance that the Pelicans have the best record in the league this year. I mean, Doncic had a very convincing mvp candidacy this past year, and he only came in 4th. So Zion needs a sophomore season even better than that (which was probably the best sophomore season ever).*

    *(I need to say “probably” because of the stathead paywall and my inability to spend all day researching what used to be available in seconds for everybody for free. Does anybody pay for play index? Is bbr regretting that decision yet??)

  68. I need to say “probably” because of the stathead paywall and my inability to spend all day researching what used to be available in seconds for everybody for free. Does anybody pay for play index? Is bbr regretting that decision yet??)

    It really is a bummer isn’t it? I’m generally sympathetic to people putting things behind paywalls because when you do cool stuff you deserve to get paid for it, but they priced it as such a premium product ($80 annual) that I can’t see how anyone not in the business could justify paying for it. For my once or twice a month that I looked at it I just couldn’t justify that price, but it’s a real loss in terms of the ability to quickly find all sorts of things.

  69. It really is a bummer isn’t it? I’m generally sympathetic to people putting things behind paywalls because when you do cool stuff you deserve to get paid for it, but they priced it as such a premium product ($80 annual) that I can’t see how anyone not in the business could justify paying for it. For my once or twice a month that I looked at it I just couldn’t justify that price, but it’s a real loss in terms of the ability to quickly find all sorts of things.

    Yeah, I would’ve gladly paid a reasonable fee but I can’t come close to justifying what they’re charging to bolster my knickerblogger posts. I mean it costs more than an Athletic subscription!

  70. I think it’s clear now that star initiators like Luka and Lebron are much more valuable than frontcourt stars like AD and Zion because finishers are at least somewhat dependent on distributors (and floor spacers to a degree).

    That concept trickles all the way down to the Knicks, who have been starved of both distribution and spacing. As such, they aren’t maximizing guys like Mitch or even Knox, who needs the ball in specific locations.

    You especially need a distributor who can shoot because that player, who holds the ball more than any other player, needs to make defenses pay for sagging off the passer. That’s why starting the worst shooting pg in the league kinda puts a cap on how many games that team can win.

  71. I know the odds are slim Dallas misses the playoffs but what fun would it be to predict that?

    Although I think its possible. OKC will be worse and Houston if Harden gets traded. But The Pelicans, Grizzlies and Suns could all be better (Suns especially). And I think Portland has a shot as well to be better. And then, of course, you always have the threat that Towns will give a shit on defense and Minny will finally break through. All I’m saying is that it wouldn’t take much for Dallas to remain as good as they were last year but miss the playoffs this year because other teams got better.

  72. Who wins?
    As they are today: Harden, LBJ, Kawhi, Zion, Giannis
    vs.
    At time of ’92 dream team: Magic, MJ, Mullin, Barkley, Ewing

  73. I mean, obviously not going to bet that much money on it. But expected return I’d throw a small amount of money into it. I don’t bet much so, it’s more of a 1 time thing.

    If Zion leads the league in points, the Pelicans are going to be significantly better this year and Zion would get a lot of credit. I don’t think he has a terrible chance to win and given the odds, I’d think it’s a better bet than some other players. But I believe in Zion a lot.

    I’m not sure they give it to Giannis 3 years in a row and I’m not convinced Luka stays healthy or that Dallas makes the playoffs (they probably will and Luka will probably win MVP) but there’s a ginormous difference between Luka’s 3-1 odds (or whatever) and Zion’s 33-1 odds (best actual number I could find).

  74. Unreason:
    Who wins?
    As they are today: Harden, LBJ, Kawhi, Zion, Giannis
    vs.
    At time of ’92 dream team: Magic, MJ, Mullin, Barkley, Ewing

    Switch AD for Zion (not enough of a track record) and I take today’s team.

  75. Am I dumb to think that in Zion’s case it’s kind of legitimate to want to see some team success before we elevate him to the truly elite tier? He’s such a fundamentally unique player that I think it’s much harder than usual to understand the relationship between his personal stats and his team impact.

    Of course it’s too early to elevate him to an MVP candidate. He’s played 668 minutes and was very good in them, putting up over 37 points per 100 possessions, roughly on par with Harden between the ages of 25 and 27. But Harden has stripped the league’s offensive assumptions away and clubbed them over the head with a brand of ISO ball not seen since maybe Jordan’s late 80s output. He’s changed the league almost single-handedly, with Luka (41.5) and Trae Young (39.1) being empowered to put up enormous scoring volume at an early age. No one’s touched Harden’s top season, but I wouldn’t bet against Zion to challenge it at some point — and he won’t be alone in that. If he never scores 30 a night, it’ll be due to injury or a lack of outside shot or some weirdly restrictive coaching decisions. If it all comes together, we can talk about Zion the MVP candidate. Right now, he’s a lot of talent with a limited sample to back up any claims about his future. I wouldn’t bet against him.

  76. Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42:
    Top 5 teams in youth
    1. Minnesota
    2. Memphis
    3. New York
    4. Charlotte
    5. Denver

    This is much better than having a bunch of crappy veterans to bring leadership and mentoring.

  77. But communism vs. liberal democracy isn’t what’s at stake anymore. Communism is long dead. It’s declining liberal democracies vs. ascendant non-ideological autocratic market economies – some with thin democratic facades. Biden and co need to reimagine something better than the old neoliberal world order and start moving us toward it. Retreating from or attempting to cling to dominance on the world stage both have huge risks.

    i like the “general” political/geography type talk…getting overly specific can cause some troubles here…

    i know i have a bit of an odd fixation on the world’s current population and it’s phenomenal growth and strain on our planet and its resources – but, as it relates to the governing of nations:

    as bad as the pollution is in China and as restrictive and influential as the government is within the country – with the space and number of people they have – what other governing solutions may have been as effective as bringing them “forward” over the last 60 or 70 years…

    could India survive without exercising strong governmental control…

    the last four years here in the states have really pointed out the flaws in our “democratic/capitalistic” nation…

    i’ll tell ya – the thing that trips me out the most is how wealthy people/big business have convinced so many within the lower and middle classes that socialism is some great evil…selling them on the fact the big government is really “big brother” and incredibly intrusive and restrictive of their “freedoms”…

    like it’s such a terrible thing to have universal health care, programs like headstart to assist towards equity, hell – i’m sure something like social security would never get passed in the this environment…

    what gets me the most is how they see it with a tinge of righteousness and religion – like somehow it’s a good thing to only worry about getting yours…forget about feeding and sheltering others – just get yours…

    sure seems like gordon gekko is winning – greed all day, every day…

  78. Who wins?
    As they are today: Harden, LBJ, Kawhi, Zion, Giannis
    vs.
    At time of ’92 dream team: Magic, MJ, Mullin, Barkley, Ewing

    Today’s team, even without Nicos’ proposed swap of AD for Zion. The 92 team is getting peak MJ and peak Barkley, but Ewing’s knees had been a mess for years by then, and Magic was out of shape after a year away from competitive basketball. (MJ, Barkley, and Pippen basically were the Dream Team, with most of the other guys being taken for a ride while they nursed various ailments of basketball old age. Whereas LeBron is the only guy on the present-day roster who’s clearly past his prime, and that’s only with regards to consistent night-in, night-out effort. For a game, or even a series, where he’d be able to take a comfy lead in the GOAT debate? I think you’d get pretty damn close to Peak LeBron.

  79. Meanwhile, Berman is predicting Thibs goes with the starting lineup from the Detroit games: Payton, Burks, RJ, Randle, Noel. If he’s gonna do that, may as well put Bullock in for RJ (other than the optics of it), since RJ is really ill-served in lineups featuring both Randle and Payton.

  80. Hubert:
    There is a “thermal exhaust port in the Death Star” level flaw in this team:

    We’ve got four bigs, none of them stretch, half of them are sieves on defense, and we’re going to play two of them at a time (but probably never the two who are good at defense).

    I get wanting to be open minded about Leon Rose, but to me he’s committed a fatal team-building blunder in the opening gambit.He was stuck with Randle for a year, but Toppin… man… when all those guys who are perfect for the modern NBA were available.

    I hope the kid is good, and I’m looking forward to his dunks, but I just don’t think that’s ever going to turn out to have been optimal.I’d much rather be trotting out a floor-spacing frontcourt of Barrett & Avdija, or a dynamic wing combination like Barrett & Vassell, or have Halliburton’s skills present.

    To be all in on bigs who don’t stretch like this strikes me as archaic and stupid.

    I’m not sure why you consider Toppin a non-shooter. Hopefully not just based on a few threes in preseason games. I think the plan is clearly for him to stretch the floor.

  81. i got to be honest, reference watching the mandalorian – it feels like work, not really something i look forward to, but rather something that needs to be done…

    i have two more episodes to watch, good chance i’m out after this though…none of the new live-action star wars series planned for really interest me all that much…i am looking forward to the bad bunch (animated spin off from the clone wars) though…

    gave the last kingdom a bit of a try – eh, a little slow for my taste – for me doesn’t compare well to vikings at all…recently re-watched seasons 1 through 4 of vikings…i think i’m even more impressed with that show now than when it first aired…saw all the canadian tv awards the show won for sound and visual effects – well deserved…

    i don’t know – bold statement: but, maybe my favorite intro song ever: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBAzlNJonO8&list=LLy2XdPRGQiUysz_9Ugr1WPg&index=1067

    This will never end
    ‘Cause I want more
    More, give me more
    Give me more

    After the night when I wake up
    I’ll see what tomorrow brings

    something about those lyrics just really work for me…

  82. thenamestsam: It really is a bummer isn’t it? I’m generally sympathetic to people putting things behind paywalls because when you do cool stuff you deserve to get paid for it, but they priced it as such a premium product ($80 annual) that I can’t see how anyone not in the business could justify paying for it. For my once or twice a month that I looked at it I just couldn’t justify that price, but it’s a real loss in terms of the ability to quickly find all sorts of things.

    Yeah, that’s what really bothers me and it’s actually more than that; $8/month so $96/year. At $5/month I might consider it but there’s no way I can justify almost $100/year. I’d like to hope that the NBA will come out with something but their site is so broken that anything they develop will be impossible to use.

  83. Alan:
    Meanwhile, Berman is predicting Thibs goes with the starting lineup from the Detroit games: Payton, Burks, RJ, Randle, Noel. If he’s gonna do that, may as well put Bullock in for RJ (other than the optics of it), since RJ is really ill-served in lineups featuring both Randle and Payton.

    I’d prefer Quickley, but Payton makes sense also. Now about Mitch, i think he showed he’s better than Noel crystal clear, so i don’t understand why he’s not the starter.

  84. Here’s to our new NBA season, a happy holiday season, a much happier 2021 for all. and the virus finally being defeated!

    The beers are chilled and I’m ready for action!

  85. The Honorable Cock Jowles: I really can’t imagine a dumber person than a person who writes this sentence. Unfathomably stupid, misinformed and uneducated. But par for the course.

      

    Just keep looking in the mirror. Your lack of understanding of the world is only exceeded by your lack of understanding of basketball.

    The Soviet Union had grand designs on eventual global domination (kind of like China now).

    Putin is a scumbag dictator looking to protect his borders, take out his political enemies at home, and enrich himself and favored oligarchs further doing oil and gas deals with the middle east, western Europe, and elsewhere. He’s literally a gangster/mafia boss, but he’s no threat to the US. We actually have some common interests.

    We’d be way better off opening lines of communication with him because we are eventually either going to have a better relationship with Russia or we are going to drive Russia towards China with all these sanctions and other efforts to isolate him. That latter is the way worse scenario in coming decades. We don’t want it to be the US, western Europe, and maybe India up against China, Russia etc.. when we can have Russia on our side.

    But to understand this, you’d have to stop reading the “Russia bad and China good propaganda” coming from idiots on the right that still think we are fighting the Soviet Union and scumbags on the left and right that are more interested in Chinese money now than the long term.

    I lived the Soviet Union. You probably weren’t even born. Putin is John Gotti with a different accent. I’m not worried about Putin even if he is a scumbag gangster. I’m worried about China.

  86. geo: what kind of beer you drinking on?

    Tonight it’s Montauk Pumpkin Ale…because well, that’s what my girlfriend bought in the last delivery. Beggars can’t be choosy. I hope it’s good.

  87. geo:
    …what other governing solutions may have been as effective as bringing them “forward” over the last 60 or 70 years…

    how wealthy people/big business have convinced so many within the lower and middle classes that socialism is some great evil…selling them on the fact the big government is really “big brother” and incredibly intrusive and restrictive of their “freedoms”…

    like somehow it’s a good thing to only worry about getting yours…forget about feeding and sheltering others – just get yours…

    sure seems like gordon gekko is winning – greed all day, every day…

    Without being naïve, I try to credit people’s motivations and intelligence and to resist assuming they’re corrupt or have been duped. Those explanations are too easy a way to resolve my confusion and preserve my sense of moral superiority when people don’t share my assumptions and logic. That effort can prevent talking past people I disagree with.

    A good faith gloss on conservative anti-socialist thinking grants that millions were systematically murdered and starved in the name of socialist ideals and understands the intense mistrust in centralized governmental power provoked by that fairly recent history. It’s also consistent with a deep-rooted individualism that has always spanned economic class in the US.

    Scandinavian countries are a nice rebuttal to the idea that bureaucracies inevitably gather more and more power and stifle individual liberties. Much better, I think, than the idea that China has little choice but to be horrifically despotic. The incredible human costs of Mao and Co can only seem OK from the kind of Olympic distance that tyrants adopt to justify their atrocities.

    Socialism to me seems best thought of as one of many potential strategies to be held lightly and discarded quickly when it falters, rather than a broad ideological answer to “What is to be done?”

  88. so, if we ain’t living the cold war anymore – what do you call the shit going on between traditional (decades, not even hundreds of years anymore) and emerging world powers…

    what is it we’re even fighting over: money, resource access within certain countries…doesn’t really seem like sovereignty amongst the world’s leaders is even much a question anymore…

    political ideology and religion seem to be going the way of the rotary phone…

  89. I was going to skip it, since I’d rather talk ball than geopol, but I’ll just quote my sister who said,

    ‘What’s more dangerous, the country that’s killing us tradewise or the one that can turn off our lights and water with the push of a code?’

    John Gotti running a huge country that is actively behaving as if it wants to start a war with us (bounties, cyber attacks) is a scary thing to me.

  90. nicos: Switch AD for Zion (not enough of a track record) and I take today’s team.

    Fair. Zion is only on the list only based on his crazy potential. How about if Ewing also gets swapped for David Robinson?

  91. I lived the Soviet Union. You probably weren’t even born.

    edit: I can’t with this stupid fucking boomer today

  92. Alan: Today’s team, even without Nicos’ proposed swap of AD for Zion. The 92 team is getting peak MJ and peak Barkley, but Ewing’s knees had been a mess for years by then

    Really? In the ’92 ECS against the Bulls, Ewing had 34 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 blocks in game 1 and 27 in game 6 despite a sprained ankle. Not what I’d call a spent force. But I agree that LBJ would likely rise to the occasion. Hard for me to say who I’d put money on. Dream teamers benefit from a heroic glamour in my view of them, but I’m not sure they don’t deserve it.

  93. geo:
    so, if we ain’t living the cold war anymore – what do you call the shit going on between traditional (decades, not even hundreds of years anymore) and emerging world powers…

    what is it we’re even fighting over: money, resource access within certain countries…doesn’t really seem like sovereignty amongst the world’s leaders is even much a question anymore…

    political ideology and religion seem to be going the way of the rotary phone…

    Not sure if this was a reply to me, but if so, I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying here. Sorry.

  94. Criticism of Thibs managing personnel in the past has centered on his overuse of players. This year we will see if he subscribes to the idea of prioritizing a closing lineup vs. a starting lineup. Keep the vets interested and motivated by starting them, but have your best in the floor at the end of the game. The problem is that our vets are not dynamic enough to sustain us early in the game and our youth can not be expected to consistently find their rhythm mid-game. Start the best unit. At this moment – that is Quickley, RJ, Toppin, Knox and Mitch. Burks could substitute for Knox.

  95. sorry unreason, i think my mind is just in a dark place at the moment, and i’m rambling :)

    let the b-ball games begin…

  96. GSW looking pretty overmatched. Do they make the playoffs this year? I’m really not sure.

  97. Wait for the Nets to cool off a bit. Wiggins is a scrub and Kyrie isn’t going to shoot 75% all night. Nets still a better team overall but it won’t be that bad the whole game.

    Edit: Wiseman looking like a rookie out there!

  98. Really? In the ’92 ECS against the Bulls, Ewing had 34 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 blocks in game 1 and 27 in game 6 despite a sprained ankle. Not what I’d call a spent force.

    Ewing still had plenty of greatness in him. But even by then, he was laboring, and relying much more on his midrange game than mixing things up down low. I just mean he’d have a much harder time guarding Zion (or AD) than vice versa.

  99. I don’t think you can say it’s the best unit if it has Knox starting over Burks. It’d be delightful if, after a while, it becomes clear that Knox is becoming better than Burks, but I’ll believe it when I see it (I mean, when the advanced stats prove it).

  100. Ok, better move from wiseman there. He looks lackadaisical out there a bit and like he might have small hands and a bad grip.

  101. Going out on a limb and saying this is not the year Wiggins puts it all together.

    Wiseman looks kinda slow?

  102. I wish I could get Bob Myers really drunk and ask him if he thinks Wiggins has potential or if he’s trying to pump up his trade value by not calling him the horrible bust that he is

  103. For all the shit I talked about Klay being overrated, he sure as hell made more sense than Andrew Wiggins.

  104. wiseman does look a bit slow but it’s his first game in over a year…. no preseason and he got suspended early on last year… he is a physical presence though….

    golden state is underrated… if they can get draymond back to some semblance of where he used to be.. oubre’s good and poised for a breakout and wiseman should provide decent minutes also…. whatever wiggins provides is bonus…

    they look terrible today but if ppl expect luka to drag the mavs to the playoffs curry can absolutely do that also…

  105. whatever wiggins provides is bonus

    that’s not really how it works… basketball is not a game of accretion… it’s about efficiency given limited possessions… Wiggins ain’t it, chief

  106. i mean you can say that but he was also somehow part of one of the top offenses in the league with minnesota…

    they have one of the most efficient players in basketball….and if oubre improves a bit… and wiseman provides efficient minutes… and draymond bounces back some… it’s a playoff team…

    lots of ifs though.. but all those reasonable things happening just assumes wiggins doing the same thing he always does… probably not 6 seed+ material either way….

  107. If you don’t pass Wiggins the ball for 9 misses & 3 TOs, the game might be close.

  108. Only have to watch this Warriors team on national TV 13 more times in the first half of the season

  109. What’s the opposite of chemistry? That’s what Marv Albert and Reggie Miller have.

  110. “Hey, Mitch, you have to prove you deserve you belong in the starting lineup. No, leading all players in the preaseason in offensive rebounds and blocks while playing 27 minutes of dominant defense with zero fouls in your last game doesn’t count.”

    Hopefully Berman is wrong, because fuck, not starting Mitch would be such a douche move.

  111. Chris Webber? I find his voice kind of soothing and his commentary a little fatuous.

    Wiggins and Oubre combining for a 7-28 with 7 turnovers is a woof.

    Well, Lakers-Clippers is happening at least.

    And yeah, Mitch should start.

  112. @geo Never a need to apologize. I always like hearing what you have to say.

    By all means let us commence to heaping well deserved scorn on the Brooklyn Flat Earthers and their fatuous fans. Watching them be this scary good is painful even if the GSW are shite.

  113. If the Nets stay healthy Brooklyn and LA will be a very good finals.

    I’m not sure we even need to play this season. We should just go straight to the finals before anyone does get hurt and screws this up.

  114. The Warriors probably aren’t this bad, or at least Steph probably isn’t. We’ll see if Draymond has anything left. But I’m down on the Warriors chances this year-they won 23% of their games last year and Steph probably isn’t an MVP caliber player anymore.

  115. Steph, if you want to come play for the Knicks in 2022 for the vet minimum we’d love to have you.

  116. Mitch is the better dunk/block player with the much higher probability of doing more eventually. We can be 100% sure Thibs knows that too. He’s also going to get abused and put in foul trouble by crafty and stronger centers around the league. He may get his share of blocks, OREBs, and dunks tomorrow, but I would not be shocked if Sabonis and Turner give him a really rough time and get him off the court in foul trouble.

  117. Didn’t catch the Nets game, seems like Wiseman put it together seeing the box score, where he’s the best Warrior by a mile. Do you guys agree or the stats are lying? :D

  118. Ntilakilla: He’s no worse than the people who promote delusional Russiagate nonsense today. If anything, less so.

    Pretty much every country on earth with the sophistication to do so spies on each other and engages in hacking, economic espionage etc… (including friendly nations on each other) , The US’s specialty is influencing foreign elections, impacting politics overseas, and overthrowing hostile governments. lol

    That’s how we got ourselves into this mess with Russia and Crimea to begin with. We were messing around in Ukrainian politics trying to move it towards the west. Ukraine is right on the Russian border and Crimea was too strategic to Russia’s national defense to allow Ukraine to move too close to the west and potentially even join NATO. From the Russian perspective, the US, western, and NATO influence in Ukraine was the first step towards the equivalent of the Cuban missile crisis. Yet somehow ensuring their own defense by securing Crimea was an international horror. lol It we minded our own business it never would have happened to begin with. It’s one thing for the west to do business with Ukraine, but it’s important for Russia’s national defense to have a government in Ukraine that’s not going to get so cozy with the west that joining NATO is under consideration. That will just cause all hell to break loose. We are lucky the idiots in charge at the time let it go or they would have started WW3.

    Russiagate was a total joke.

  119. Would have been good to see him in a Knicks uniform, but with our luck he’d probably injure himself in the first game or something.

  120. Z-man:
    It’s a shame that KD has had to play in LeBron’s shadow….he’s unbelievable.

    The “media” puts James over KD. In my mind KD is the greatest all around scorer of all time and given that he can also make plays, defend, and rebound when required, I’d pick KD first. KD is an assassin. He’s unstoppable. He has no weakness on offense.

  121. I stopped watching the Nets to catch the latest episode of The Expanse, and holy shit that was good.

  122. I stopped watching the Nets to catch the latest episode of The Expanse, and holy shit that was good.

    At some point I meant to watch the previous season of Expanse (the first one made for Amazon) and just never got around to it. It is a show I often like but very rarely love, so once I fall behind by a season-plus, it becomes hard to motivate myself to catch up.

  123. I am in the middle of Season 2 of the The Expanse. It’s an excellent show. so far and I hear it gets better.

    I wish we had AD

  124. Alan: At some point I meant to watch the previous season of Expanse (the first one made for Amazon) and just never got around to it. It is a show I often like but very rarely love, so once I fall behind by a season-plus, it becomes hard to motivate myself to catch up.

    I had mixed feelings about season 4, but the four episodes they have released so far from season 5 were truly excellent. The latest one may be my favorite from the series yet.

    Without getting into spoilers, this season feels a bit like the best moments of Game of Thrones with key characters spread all over while the plot develops quickly and in surprising ways. Feels like the payoff for the slower buildup of S04. I’m glad it’s been renewed for a final, sixth season.

  125. Owen:
    I am in the middle of Season 2 of the The Expanse. It’s an excellent show. so far and I hear it gets better.

    I wish we had AD

    Seasons 2 and 3 are my favorite, but season 5 may top them. Season 4 was still good, but it felt a bit uneven to me.

  126. Patrick Beverly makes me so happy watching him play demented defense, and then simultaneously so angry when I imagine being the guy he’s guarding.

  127. awwwwww thanks so much unreason and cybersoze, i appreciate your kindness so much…

    i’m a firm believer that mental illness is contagious, i wanna be careful not to infect anyone :)

    going through the lyrics now of push the sky away

    And if you feel you got everything you came for
    If you got everything and you don’t want no more
    You’ve got to just keep on pushing
    Keep on pushing
    Push the sky away

    beautiful song, love the composition with the orchestra, love the black and white…blessfully it’s helping to drown out alvin and the chipmunks (one of my least favorite sounds in the world) and the boys fighting/playing in the background…

    reminds me a bit of norah jones playing black hole sun on the piano…

    not a big suit guy mysefl, but, he kind of makes it look cool and comfortable, even with the vest…

    i don’t really see myself catching too many nets’ games this year…i wanna wait ’til shit starts falling apart for them ’til i start tuning in on their games…

  128. geo: i’m a firm believer that mental illness is contagious, i wanna be careful not to infect anyone :)

    Seems like you spread thoughtfulness and good advice more than anything else TBH.

    geo: i don’t really see myself catching too many nets’ games this year…i wanna wait ’til shit starts falling apart for them ’til i start tuning in on their games…

    Case in point. :)

  129. it’s funny, how we talk about mitch getting disrespected – imagine being jarrett allen having to play behind forty-two year old deandre jordan…

  130. It’s amazing DJ hasn’t turned 33 yet.

    I look forward to his memoir of his time in the NBA when he is revealed as the mastermind behind the Nets title run.

  131. it becomes hard to motivate myself to catch up.

    curious al, so – taking in new shows/cancelled shows, about how many shows are there running in a year…huh, just thought about it – make that english speaking shows…

    how do you decide which shows to review, do you get like assignments, go watch this cause it’s popular…do you track viewership…new shows with a lot of buzz…

    oh forget it, i just realized al went to bed like an hour ago :)

  132. I’m up late tonight, Geo. And it’s a mix of timing, luck, gut instinct, and bonafides. Basically, voodoo. Sometimes, I miss great things, or come to them late. At others, I waste 10 hours watching something bad. You never know. But with ~500 original scripted shows a year, no way I can come close to watching everything.

  133. After watching the Nets, Lakers and Clippers, it’s pretty frightening to reckon with how far we are from that level. And starting the season vs. IND, PHI and MIL…

    May the force be with us

  134. After watching the Nets, Lakers and Clippers, it’s pretty frightening to reckon with how far we are from that level.

    What, you don’t think Quickley would be an automatic starter on all three of those teams?

  135. ~500 original scripted shows a year

    that’s insane – is it like growing exponentially yearly?

    wow, surprisingly well played early season game…i like the additions this off-season for both LA teams…

  136. I’m not mad about it, but it really doesn’t seem right that a guy like Batum could make twenty-seven field goals all of last season for a terrible Hornets team while getting paid $25 million, get told that they’d rather just not see him play, get paid millions of dollars over the next few years to not play for the Hornets and then end up as a starter playing 28 minutes for one of the best teams in the NBA (where he is already 1/27th of the way to his made field goal total from last season after just one game).

  137. ***but it really doesn’t seem right that a guy like Batum could make twenty-seven field goals all of last season for a terrible Hornets team while getting paid $25 million, get told that they’d rather just not see him play, get paid millions of dollars over the next few years to not play for the Hornets and then end up as a starter playing 28 minutes for one of the best teams in the NBA***

    The less cynical take is that 9 months off is enough to heal most injuries, and Batam has had his share during his 25,000+ generally above average nba minutes. (In fact, there’s a case to be made that Batum is better than Hayward (at face value), and Charlotte is just plain dumb).

  138. Alan:
    I’m up late tonight, Geo. And it’s a mix of timing, luck, gut instinct, and bonafides. Basically, voodoo. Sometimes, I miss great things, or come to them late. At others, I waste 10 hours watching something bad. You never know. But with ~500 original scripted shows a year, no way I can come close to watching everything.

    Did you see Thieves of the Woods, by any chance? I liked it but the few American critics who watched it didn’t.

  139. DeeefenseWe were messing around in Ukrainian politics trying to move it towards the west. Ukraine is right on the Russian border and Crimea was too strategic to Russia’s national defense to allow Ukraine to move too close to the west and potentially even join NATO. From the Russian perspective, the US, western, and NATO influence in Ukraine was the first step towards the equivalent of the Cuban missile crisis.

    This is true. It was the United States who precipitated the underlying crisis in Ukraine to begin with dating back to the fall of the Soviet Union when Dean Baker promised Gorbachev that NATO would not expand its military alliance eastward in exchange for supporting the reunification of West and East Germany only to then renege on the deal. Since then NATO’s membership has expanded 15 European countries with Ukraine possibly the next after Obama and Biden sponsored Euromaiden coup there.

    Russiagate was a total joke.

    The really sad/funny thing is how the same people laughing at the ridiculous conspiracies coming from Giuliani and Q-Anon/Maga Chuds about how Biden stole the election from Trump with voter fraud don’t have the basic self-reflection to see how they normalized this kind of nonsense with 4 years of Russiagate conspiracies.

  140. Alan: Sometimes, I miss great things, or come to them late. At others, I waste 10 hours watching something bad. You never know.

    Was always curious to know how you guys do when it’s the latter, do you still make the review and try to be polite saying it’s trash, or do you move on to another show to get one more interesting and worthy of a review?

  141. Z-man: After watching the Nets, Lakers and Clippers, it’s pretty frightening to reckon with how far we are from that level. And starting the season vs. IND, PHI and MIL…

    This was expected, we’re rebuilding and are one of the worst teams in the league (but finally doing things the right way), and in the first game day you have the best teams… well, except for the Warriors, of course!

    On The Athletic power rankings, Lakers are 1st, Clippers are 4th and Nets are 5th. And i think they overrated the Heat (3rd).

  142. Alan: This is the first I’ve even heard of it.

    It’s a Belgian historical drama based on the life of a famous 18th century Robin Hood type bandit Jan de Lichte who robbed several nobles in the forests of Flanders during the War of Austrian Succession. I was curious if you liked it because the series was very popular in Belgium but was largely ignored in America when the English translated version hit Netflix. It basically went unnoticed with only two major critics even reviewing the show and giving it a “rotten” score.

  143. Z-man:
    After watching the Nets, Lakers and Clippers, it’s pretty frightening to reckon with how far we are from that level. And starting the season vs. IND, PHI and MIL…

    You’re right. But remember, it was just two years ago that the Golden State Warriors looked like an unstoppable juggernaut. Now we’re wondering if they will even make the WC playoffs.

  144. Donnie Walsh: In fact, there’s a case to be made that Batum is better than Hayward (at face value), and Charlotte is just plain dumb

    I totally disagree with the former, there’s no case to be made that Batum is better at all, but i agree with the latter as switching an injury prone player for another injury prone player is a dumb move… if they’d stoped at 4/80, maybe at least he’d be tradable, at 4/120 he’s an albatross.

  145. Am i missing Knicks basketball? Don’t know what you’re talking about! LOL

    (don’t tell, but yesterday i switched my notebook’s wallpaper to this… img! :P)

  146. Was always curious to know how you guys do when it’s the latter, do you still make the review and try to be polite saying it’s trash, or do you move on to another show to get one more interesting and worthy of a review?

    It varies. A lot of the time, I just stop after an episode (or sometimes midway through the first episode), realizing that I’m not enjoying something, and that I’d rather spend my time looking for something good. And I mostly have the autonomy these days to pick what I do and don’t want to write about. But there are instances when a bad show is high-profile enough that it feels like good service journalism to tough my way through it so I can warn others away. And then there are times when it’s just a sunk cost: I hated the first season of The Politician on Netflix, reviewed it, then was asked to look at the second to see if it was any better, watched the whole thing, still hated it, and told my editors I had nothing new to add, and so wrote nothing. The most frustrating days on the job often involve me watching something and then deciding it’s not worth writing about.

  147. It’s a Belgian historical drama based on the life of a famous 18th century Robin Hood type bandit Jan de Lichte who robbed several nobles in the forests of Flanders during the War of Austrian Succession. I was curious if you liked it because the series was very popular in Belgium but was largely ignored in America when the English translated version hit Netflix. It basically went unnoticed with only two major critics even reviewing the show and giving it a “rotten” score.

    I don’t have the time to keep up with all the American-made TV. The fact that the streamers are now bringing over so much international content has made the job even harder, and I mostly skip those shows (with exceptions like Babylon Berlin or Giri/Haji) just as triage.

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