Pre-Bucks 120, Pre-Knicks 107

there is one thing I’ve learned in my brief time as a mild mannered #sporps blogger for a major metropolitan website, it’s that you can make very precise and incredibly accurate predictions from one preseason game. In fact, I started writing these predictions down after just the first quarter, due to my keen, well-honed powers of observation. Prepare yourself for some takes so ridiculously hot and heavy that they can fuse hydrogen atoms. They may melted yer eyeballs, so make sure you’ve got a home eye wash station installed. All ready? Roll the ugliness

HOT TAKES

1. The Knicks defense will be bad this year. I’m going out on a limb on this one, but the way I see it, there are just way too many key players on this team that look completely lost when asked to do anything other than stand still with their hands up. Amare, Bargnani and Timmy Jr. are not particularly good at being where they have to be. Calderon also has a reputation for playing putrid defense, and JR Smith and Melo have a tendency to lose focus, or at least place the vast bulk of their focus at other ends of the court. Make no mistake, even with a much more effective system in place that whatever the hell Woodson ran last year, moving Chandler’s going to hurt. I can’t for the life of me think of reasonable five-man units, that have more one or two solid/solid+ defenders, and that puts a definite ceiling on what they can accomplish. I have no idea if the decision to roll w/STAT at center is something that Fish is seriously investing in, or he just wanted to get it out of his system, like a series of dalliances in college with… never mind.

This is also plausible.

At least Amar’e knows there’s a problem here. And that’s the first step. Right? RIGHT? Welp, that was a depressing start to these takes… Let’s cheer this up some!

2. Tim Hardaway Jr. will finish the season second on the team in points. Maybe not second in Points/36, but second in total points scored. THJ has been pleasantly aggressive in the preseason so far, getting to the line and finding all sorts of crafty ways to get to the rim. He really can be a special offensive player; and he’ll have to be in order to positively contribute to the team since his defense is Joseph Merrick ugly. That’s the elephant man. Not a good looking guy, but beauty is, like, on the inside, kids.

3. The Knicks offense is going to be in the top ten efficiency-wise Tonight, the ball was zippling and bopping around pretty well, especially when the starters were on the court. Even when bench bros came in, as a whole the team created plenty of open looks and generally good shots. After a year (or years, if we’re being honest) of isolationist policies, even when everything’s getting utterly buggered on D, it’s a wonderful panacea. You have to figure that this will only get better with time. Anytime Carmelo gets five or more dimes, like he did tonight, good things happen. That’s just math. It is hard to predict that this will be something we’ll see on the regular, but what if? What if Carmelo takes two or three fewer contested mid-range jumpers a game and passes the ball instead? What if he gets close to averaging 4 assists per game, along with maintaining his career best rebounding from last year? If Melo averages something like 28-8-4, on a .56-.57 TS%, that would be what we all have been asking for ever since he got here, and prove he’s worth the money the Knicks are paying him, right? Is that possible?

4. (Raises hand like Martin Prince) Ooo! Ooo! I know the answer. It’s YES. Carve that ish in stone. Carmelo Anthony will average 28 points, 8 rebounds and 4+ assists a game on a 0.57 TS%! ALL-STAR! Phil Jackson is the Melo whisperer! Pass the peyote! Never mind, I’ve had enough! Squirrels are eating my toes!

5. Amar’e’s wine baths won’t help him stay healthy. Sorry STAT, you’re paying way too much money for some seriously pseudo-scientific pabulam. Now, if you really want to stay healthy, after years of extensive research proving all of my theories, I’m now prepared to offer Dr. Pepper baths. The same mystery ingredients that give Dr. Pepper it’s unique taste also help inhibit the growth of cyan blood-cells which helps reduce levels of bad ionized nitrogen molecules and rid the body of toxic mitochondria. That means nothing. I have a headache. Time for a bubbly sugar water siesta!

6. Cole Aldrich won’t even get to 200 minutes played this year. All the signs are there. Little playing time in preseason, Amar’e getting the start at center tonight and Jason Smith getting plenty of back-up minutes. It’s frustrating, but we are all just going to have to deal with it, and cry softly into our pillows at night.

Anything to add, Big Boss Man?

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 12.07.23 AM

END HOT TAKES

The over/under for wins on the season for the Knicks is 40.5. Personally, I would be happy with a 40 win season, but on a macro level, this year really isn’t about wins at all. It’s about implementing a sustainable system, seeing what pieces currently on the roster can excel, and weeding out the ones that don’t. It’s going to be ugly at times, like allowing a Bucks team that started five dudes all born after 1990 to slice the Knicks’ perimeter defense up like so much pre-sliced preseason cheese. The truth is, by this time next year, the team will be very different, so it’s hard to get too obsessed with success right now. Set your expectations low, and enjoy the season, is what I say. All indications are that we are starting a proper rebuild, and it feels kind of nice. On to DC!

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29 thoughts to “Pre-Bucks 120, Pre-Knicks 107”

  1. “If Melo averages something like 28-8-4, on a .56-.57 TS%, that would be what we all have been asking for ever since he got here, and prove he’s worth the money the Knicks are paying him, right?”

    The last 2 seasons Melo averaged 28.7-6.9-2.5 and 27.4-8.1-3.1 on exactly .56 TS% both seasons. I mean that isnt exactly that far off what you are hoping for him to do. Anyway was hoping to watch the game tonight but couldnt (NBALP does show pre-season games but I wasnt home tonight) but it looked like Fish is still experimenting with lineups. Very curious to see what he roles with on the last pre-season game on Friday since thats the game he seems to be aiming for as the real audition for the regular season lineups wise. That back-to-back to start the season is looking uglier and uglier by the day lol.

  2. Not to defend Amare’s defense, which in general is quite bad, but I didn’t think he was the problem on the defensive end last night. The game was lost in the 3rd quarter when we gave up 38 points — 17 in the last 4 minutes after Amare came out (17 points in 4 minutes = 51 in a quarter!) Amare and Calderon were the only starters with a positive +/-.

    I know it’s just preseason but the 2nd unit is just God-awful in terms of backcourt defense, and JR is completely out of control on offense. This is the 1st preseason game I’ve gotten to watch — has he been like this the other games too? Literally all of his shots last night were out of rhythm shots that the defense wants him to take. The second unit is going to be really bad if JR is going to be the offensive focus.

    And I know people here seem to like Larkin, but I saw zip last night that convinces me he should get 1 minute on the floor over Pablo. He has a rep as a good shooter but he didn’t really look it last night. he’s afraid to shoot in the paint. And he’s too small to defend anyone. Really feels like he’s miscast in the triangle. And MAN did Cleanthony look awful last night. Completely lost on both ends of the floor.

    Fisher has some tough decisions coming up. Our best defenders are Shump, Dalembert, and Cole, but they also happen to be some of our worst offensive players. Shump is going to have to play 36 minutes/game to make our backcourt defense somewhat palatable. That doesn’t leave much time for JR and Hardaway, who seem to multiply each other’s bad decisions when on the floor together.

    Liked what I saw from Travis Wear. Definitely is partially his skin color and general body type, but he has the look of a poor man’s Chandler Parsons. I hope we dump Outlaw to keep him.

  3. You ever rewatch a season of a TV show on Netflix that you already watched when it aired, and get to an episode and think “Huh, I must have accidentally deleted that one off the DVR, because I do not remember seeing this one the first time”? That’s sort of how last nights game felt to me, like a game from last season that I somehow forgot to watch the first time. The early lackadaisical transition and pick and roll defense that helped grow the Bucks confidence right into some annoyingly hot 2nd half 3-point shooting was pretty much right out of last year’s playbook. As much as I hated Woodson, I am now ready to admit that the awful defending last year may not have been entirely his fault. This was pretty bad.

    Assorted thoughts: I also really like Wear. As much as I hate to play the “White guy is a really smart player” card, he does seem to be picking up the triangle quickly, and the ball and player movement seems to tick up a notch when he checks in. Not totally sold on him being able to guard anyone at this level but hey, “When in Rome”, right?

    I also do not like Larkin (basically Frank and I are on the same page). First thing you notice is the devastating quickness and you think “Huh, that’s pretty intriguing”. Once that wears off though, I’m not seeing any actual production. Not impressed.

    Pretty surprised to see the rotation so scrambled still last night with only two preseason games left. Part of that was probably Calderon going down early (along with (gulp) Bargs not being available) but Fish still spread the minutes around very evenly. It wouldn’t be the craziest thing to go with a pretty large regular season rotation given that it’s clearly a developmental year and that we have so few guys who are obvious 28+ minute a night guys (really just Melo and Calderon I think). Spreading minutes around, particularly early in the year, makes some sense in that situation.

  4. Frank,
    Good report. I haven’t seen last night’s game yet but I saw the other and it looks the same. I like Larkin but he needs a year of D-league. What I think is going to happen, though, is he’ll be on the roster to develop under Fish. I can see a scenario where we play a team with a really fast, 2nd team, driving point guard and Fish plays Larkin over Pablo just to neutralize that player to some degree.
    Sadly, I think JR is the key to this season. He needs to get his head in the game but he’s not the sharpest and I think it’ll take him a long time to get with it. He has to learn to pass the ball. Right now he’s the black hole of basketball

  5. What’s up with Calderon? When I got home and turned the game on, it looked like he was limping off the court. Then, as the game went on, Gotham and Sleepy Hollow came on and I have no DVR so I didn’t get to watch the entire tilt. But this morning I checked the box score and it said he played only 4-ish minutes. What’s the deal?

  6. What’s up with Calderon? When I got home and turned the game on, it looked like he was limping off the court. Then, as the game went on, Gotham and Sleepy Hollow came on and I have no DVR so I didn’t get to watch the entire tilt. But this morning I checked the box score and it said he played only 4-ish minutes. What’s the deal?

    Strained right calf. Sounded like it was basically just precautionary last night. Fish said he probably would have returned to the game if it was the regular season and that he thought he would play Wednesday. So hopefully nothing. Interesting test to see whether the new regime’s disclosure of injury prognoses is similar to the old regime’s.

  7. -Based on what we’ve seen in preseason Wear deserves to be on the roster over Outlaw (who should be cut) and Early (who should be sent down to the D-League for game time and to work on his handle).

    -Larkin should stay with the big boy team, but needs to sit on the bench and learn about change of pace. He should be watching tapes of Chris Paul every single day.

    -JR needs to play with Melo because otherwise he does the off balance chucking thing which sucks. The one positive thing is that at least his isolations were created from running the Triangle. I do think he’s honestly trying to learn the system, but is really thinking too much when he has the ball and then decides to get a shot up once he doesn’t have an immediate option of catching and shooting or passing.

    -STAT wasn’t the sole reason our defense was atrocious last night, but he had some truly terrible defensive possessions as well. His offense looked good though and he even made some nice passes out of the post which if he could do consistently would be great, or as he would say “phenomenal”.

  8. Between Stat, Bargs and Timmy, we have 3 guys who are among the very worst defenders in the NBA at their positions. I haven’t watched enough Calderon to know quite how bad he is, but he certainly doesn’t have a good rep, and while Prigs really knows how to play D, his body can’t get it done against any reasonably fast guard anymore. That’s a lot of bad defense. You put a lineup with any 3 of those guys on the floor, and it’s going to suck on defense no matter the coach or the scheme. Who’s a good defensive player on the roster? Shump, maybe Cole, and ? We are what we are. Not playing certain guys will help, but there’s really only so much anyone can do with this roster. The question isn’t will the defense be bad-it’s can it be somewhat less bad than last year?

  9. Also, I know Jason Smith has the rep of being a competent defender, but he looked turrible last night at protecting the rim. Unleash the fucking Cole already.

  10. Here’s what I hope is going on. Phil knows that he is going to want to do some wheeling and dealing with the big expiring contracts the Knicks have, so he is going to showcase Amare and Bargs in the first half of the season. He also wants to hide Cole for now, knowing that if given the opportunity to showcase his skills, that any team they were trying to make a deal with would try to get Cole thrown in. Once the trade deadline comes and Phil gets what he can for Amare and Bargs, they will unleash Cole to dominate the league! How’s that for speculation?

  11. We just need to play Cole Aldrich. I’d go so far as to say he’s the best two way player on our roster.

  12. For those of you who would like to keep the Wear-bear,keep in mind that cutting the totally useless husk of Travis Outlaw is going to cost Jimmy 3 million bucks.

  13. Can’t we unleash Cole now, and then when other teams try to get him thrown into deals have Phil tell them to fuck off? Or is Phil just so much of a realist that he realizes that as a Knicks executive he will have no choice but to make a bad trade if the chance presents itself? Because otherwise I’m not sure I understand this plan.

  14. Well, I imagine it is a priority to showcase Stat and Bargs to try and get some value for them, even if it means playing them at C. Why is Cole getting less minutes than Jason Smith, so far, is a real mystery. Holding him out to mask his value is the only thing I can think of, unless Cole is really really bad in practice, which is probably more likely.

  15. The semi-serious consideration of a theory that Phil Jackson is conspiratorially directing Derek Fisher to bury Cole Aldrich during NBA preseason games for fear that showcasing him would unearth an avalanche of relentless enemy GM demand is a neon testament to the bona fides of the optimist’s fanatacism for Knick-based-analytics that lurks herein. I once had a huge crush on Tracy Wallace in sleepaway camp, such that I became convinced that nearly everyone else’s perplexing indifference toward her was in fact a fiercely competitive hard-to-get tactic simultaneously employed by all of boy’s camp.

  16. Cole Aldrich is much better at basketball than Tracy Wallace.

    For real. Let’s see Tracy Wallace pull down 14 TRB/36! If anything, we need more Cole Aldrich conspiracy theories.

  17. The semi-serious consideration of a theory that Phil Jackson is conspiratorially directing Derek Fisher to bury Cole Aldrich during NBA preseason games for fear that showcasing him would unearth an avalanche of relentless enemy GM demand is a neon testament to the bona fides of the optimist’s fanatacism for Knick-based-analytics that lurks herein. I once had a huge crush on Tracy Wallace in sleepaway camp, such that I became convinced that nearly everyone else’s perplexing indifference toward her was in fact a fiercely competitive hard-to-get tactic simultaneously employed by all of boy’s camp.

    This comment is top-5 all time imho.

  18. I like Wear, too, but I mostly just think that Outlaw should never set foot on an NBA court again, so he should be cut for that reason alone, not even taking into consideration the fact that he would open up a spot for Wear.

    What’s the Knicks’ roster situation? Even if they stash Early and perhaps Larkin in the D-League, they have to keep both on the 15-man roster. So what does the 15-man roster look like right now? Is Outlaw the only guy they can cut?

    1 Melo
    2 Calderon
    3 STAT
    4 Bargs
    5 Shump
    6 Cole
    7 JR
    8 Timmy
    9 Smith
    10 Dalembart
    11 Acy
    12 Prigs
    13 Larkin
    14 Early
    15 Outlaw/Wear

    I’m not missing anyone, am I?

  19. 1. Colemelo Anthony
    2. Cole Aldrich
    3. Cole Slaw
    4. Nat King Cole
    5. Cole Trickle
    6. Cole Porter
    7. Cole Hamels
    8. Cole Hauser
    9. Alphaeus Philemon Cole
    10. Bituminous Cole
    11. USS Cole
    12. Herb Kohl
    13. Kohlrabi
    14. Jose Colederon
    15. Pablo Prigioni

    That’s my dream roster.

  20. I would be pretty shocked if they cut Wear at this point. Honestly if you asked me to pick a side on Wear gets cut/Wear plays more than 10 minutes on opening night, I’d bank on him being in the rotation. I think Fish really likes him. His 18 minutes yesterday was about what all of the in the rotation bench guys got (Prigs, JR, and THJ were all in the 17-23 range with Smith and Dalembert splitting the backup C minutes 11-8). He might (probably will) get bumped when Bargs returns, but for now I think he’s the backup PF and solidly in the rotation. Another reason to dread Barg’s return.

  21. @11 – not a bad scenario. Gotta remember that both Bargs and Stat are big expiring contracts. That’s called value in the NBA. I’m hoping for a blockbuster.

  22. It used to be value in the NBA, but not really anymore, since contracts are so short nowadays. There are very few truly awful multi-year deals, so there’s less reason to take on bad expiring contracts to dump them/clear future cap space.

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