Pre-Knicks 103, Pre-Wizards 100

We’re creeping ever closer to actual, this-actually-counts basketball, folks. Tonight, it even felt like there was something at stake, you could get into the rhythms and pace of a regular season game. The cluttered, hoarder’s mess of hooping that’s been on display so far, where you really had to dig though stacks of magazines and piles of those pizza box thingies in order to say anything declarative about the ‘Bockers’ play, were nowhere to be found.

And of course, MELLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (courtesy Posting and Toasting and gifdsports)

Which, yes of course a home game against the DC Prestidigitators is going to come down to the final minute. Somewhere, in a Memphis BBQ joint, Beno Udrih feels a cold shiver run down his entire body, but writes it off as an undercooked hunk of delicious brisket. Woodson, as if by instinct, chucks the clipboard he’s holding for Doc Rivers under an unseen bus.

So, the things we learned. This might seem obvious, but with an offense like the Triangle, there’s a very fine line between sooper-pretty and utterly discombobulated. Tonight, there were big slices of both. In both the 1st and 3rd quarter, with some downright silly passes by Melo to bros that he assumed to be in places they were not, or Dalembert to himself while attempting a janky drive from the post that seemed to be entirely composed of disembodied knees and elbows.

But when it worked… lawdy could it be pretty. Larkin took a dribble handoff and (I think) using a wrong-footed Tony Parker dive to the rim to covert, Melo’s shot looked sopping wet, whether it was a PUJIT or a jab step carved space. There was a deft cross court pass from Amar’e (really)… hell, Timmy Jr. netted three dimes in the first half. That would have represented a career-high, you know, if any of this counted n’ stuff.

The defense remains a work in progress, to say the least. Granted, John Wall’s going to do this to a LOT of teams this year, but he routinely blew past a whippet-quick Larkin and/or a reaching, frantic Prigs. Even when he was barreling up the court at near-warp speed, he was able to pick out plenty of wide-open Magic Users. If his jumper stays steady, hoo-boy. Look out, NBA world.

There’s still a team-wide tendency to over-help on dribble penetration. Speaking of things that felt very last year-ish, said scrambling and unfocused doubling led to bushels of wide open corner threes. Rasual Butler even canned a huge one to knot the score at 100, which is fascinating because I had no idea thatRasual Butler is still (sort of) employed by an NBA team? In any case, 11-19 is slightly less than ideal. This is going to continue to be A Thing as long as Anthony, Smith and STAT are logging minutes in the frontcourt and all the non-Shump fellers are doing the same in the backcourt/on the wings. And they haven’t really matched up against a squad that features a deadeye stretch four yet.

Some more thoughts…

COLE ALDRICH

I know y’all expect steely-eyed, objective analysis from yr. friendly neighborhood Knickerblogger, but I am undertaking a quest. A holy quest, or “crusade” if you will, and the plain honest truth that Sir Cole, Humble yet Brave Knight of the Sleepy Hamlet of Aldrich is the finest big to grace the hardwood on the Isle of the Manhattoes. (Okay, it’s actually Melo, but that’s a different screed entirely, I’m almost out of both thesis parchment and it’s raining like a mofo so there’s zero chance I’m making it to All Saints’ Church at this hour.)

In case you missed it, Phil sat down by a campfire somewhere near Joshua Tree and gave his old Sancho Panza, Charley Rosen, full and unfettered access to his deep thoughts on the entire roster. There’s a ton of fascinating stuff here, including the statement that THJ is actually 6-8, which, no. Definitely check out the whole thingy, but this part just permanently raised and petrified my hackles.

Right now, he’s our emergency center, who’ll probably get significant time only if somebody gets hurt or our other bigs suffer a plague of foul trouble.

It wasn’t foul trouble, but some really goofy, ineffective play from Dalembert, but Cole got some serious burn tonight. It’s also possible that Sam was still dreaming of outer space. All of us that have booked a prime berth on the ColeTrain were tickled chartreuse. It’s not just fanboy drooling, yo. He’s a smothering defensive presence, certainly more adept than Sammy. Seriously, the blocks may look nice and all, but it’s actually indicative of the fact that Dalembert is out of place far more often than not.

Cole just seems to engulf people, like he was/is the Blob or his mom is actually a Blancmange. He’s by far the best rebounder on the roster, and while both his hook shot and that jaunty up-and-under he converted are grin-inducing, that ish is effective. You can throw as many rings on whatever tables you like, Zen Daddy. Cole. Should. Start. Period.

Mike Kurylo, you have more Cole feels?

The Knicks won by 3 tonight, and Cole Aldrich played 22 minutes. He did see action early, coming in for Dalembert late in the first. “The Train” saw lots of playing time in the fourth quarter as well, with two exceptions. The first was for about 90 seconds where Jason Smith came in, and the second where Fisher went with all three point defenders for the final possession.

Aldrich’s line was an unremarkable 6 points, 4 boards, and 2 blocks. However it’s Cole’s solid play that the Knicks need. You can rattle off New York’s scorers without a second thought: ‘Melo, J.R., Jose, Pablo, Hardaway, etc. Now name the Knicks that do all the little things. {crickets}. For a fully balanced team, they need complementary players like Aldrich to be productive outside of scoring.

Before I end my lovefest I want to say three things. The first is that Aldrich led the team with +18. Second is that I just fired up my excel sheet for my roto league. I really go all out, and one way I rank players is to normalize their points, in everything but points scored. This gives me a good idea on who might be underrated, since scorers are taken higher by other owners. I rank the players by per-minute stats, since that will help find potential sleepers. Here are my top 4 that played more than 40 games:

Cole Aldrich
Andrew Bogut
Joakim Noah
DeAndre Jordan

Finally, Wally Szczerbiak singled out Cole Aldrich in the post game analysis. Yes Wally “I only watch when the Knicks have the ball” Szczerbiak picked Cole as his “Inside the Box Score” player of the game.

Wally also thinks stat is a “pretty good team defender,” but still. I concur.

THE FISHER COACH

So we’ve babbled in this space before about the difficulty in finding five-man sets that aren’t either a blight on D or utterly incapable of putting biscuits in baskets. For the first time, something kind of workable seemed to be in place. Jason Smith-Hardaway to start, with Amar’e-Shump entering in tandem in relief, plus either Sammy or Cole at the pivot at all times, and Early giving minutes in relief of Melo. It’s not perfect by any means, but at least there’s a logic at play here. Acy being hurt certainly made Fisher’s choices a tad simpler, as did Bargs’ continued absence, but I liked it. Cole n’ Smith at the 4/5 is a nice combo as well. Can we call them, “The White Castle?” We can? Dope.

IMAN SHUMPERT

He continues to impress off the bounce after taking a dribble handoff or working a two man game with a weakside big. This, however, is not a good look.

This, however, is. EMMY FOR SHUMP!

Great to see him covering Wall on the Necromancers’ final possession. This seems self-evident, but as the dents in our skull attest to, the Knicks were often stubbornly resistant to doing the obvious thing. Basic competence FTW!

JR SMITH

We’ve heard a lot of chatter about how he was picking up the intricacies of the Triangle as well as anyone on the roster, but for now. No. He just bungled spacing time and time again, or decided to chuck it all and call his own number. It may not have led to one of those 4-17 statlines, but for the moment, he looks lost.

SHANE LARKIN

Sooooo much better. It may be a confidence thing, but he looked very effective, picking his spots to turn on the jets, while still remaining in control. He unleashed a deft floater on the left baseline off a Cole-screen and did his level best to at least pester Wall. Please Jared-splain why, Jared Dubin, World’s No. 1 Shane Larkin fan.

Okay!

PABLO PRIGIONI

I really, really thought he was going to dunk it. I might have died, honestly.

And that’ll about do it. They played smart ball down the stretch, and even if they did tilt heavily towards ISO’s for both Melo and JR, there were at least a couple of passes before clearing out. The positive signs are there, and yes, this team will struggle out of the gate, but at least there’s a coach in place that seems aware of what needs to be worked on and why, and a larger plan in place that’s sustainable and potentially successful.

In conclusion, Tim Hardaway Jr. is NOT 6-8. Last preseason affair’s on Friday. Go Knicks!

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

70 thoughts to “Pre-Knicks 103, Pre-Wizards 100”

  1. Was at the game, great crowd and ambiance for a preseason affair.

    Everyone who played had their moments, but Melo and Prigs were Huge. Shump, Larkin, Samuel, Hardaway and Cole were all pluses. The Smiths and Cle were so-so. Amare seems very turnover prone.

    Otto Porter and Seraphin both looked very solid on O. Wiz are deep!

  2. I would be very happy if the team could get a stat line (minus the 5 TO’s) from STAT similar to last night on a consistent basis. Our defense needs a real infusion..somebody needs to learn how to play. We can’t stop anybody, it seems.

    Also..Dante Cunningham is still a FA, and Phil didn’t go after him?? His asking price can’t possibly be that high. Should be less than Jason Smith’s asking price. What the deal?

  3. Those Phil comments are interesting. I don’t get why he’s so unenthused about Cole, but other than that it’s hard to find Phil at fault (well, maybe in saying Outlaw is a good shooter). Also, he’s telling it like it is. Nice to know that.

  4. I think it’s pretty clear that Phil had an agenda when he gave that interview to Charley Rosen. Phil is not the type to go on the record like this unless there is something specific he wants to get across. The most surprising thing he said was that Cole was just an emergency backup center — then the same day he goes out and plays 22 minutes and plays well. My wild speculation is that Cole was not practicing particularly well or hard (same criticism that Woody’s staff had of him) and maybe this was Phil’s way of saying that if he didn’t pick it up that he’d be buried on the bench.

    It’s nice to see that we have pretty good big man depth. Dalembert, Cole, Amare, and Jason Smith all deserve to play. Acy should/will be a bit player, and one can only hope that Bargnani is on the shelf for long enough that it becomes “too hard to integrate him midseason”.

    Kinda feeling optimistic about Amare. He really looks pretty good on the offensive end, ridiculously slow baseline turnaround that was mega-stuffed by Gortat notwithstanding. And he doesn’t look all that awful on the defensive end. btw in the 5 preseason games he is averaging 10.5 rebounds/36.

  5. Also, we’re supposed to think that the awful rebounding of Bargs is so utterly terrible that Phil doesn’t even try to play mind games with him.

  6. Bargs is pretty much the worst rebounder in NBA history. Even Phil Jackson can’t do anything with that.

    Jason Smith is pretty much the upper middle class man’s Bargnani. I think he’s a relatively shitty player, but at least he’s not a total trainwreck on defense and on the boards and he won’t completely kill the team when he’s on the court. You pair him up with Cole and you’ve got a good cover for his craptastic defensive rebounding.

  7. Jason Smith is pretty much the upper middle class man’s Bargnani. I think he’s a relatively shitty player, but at least he’s not a total trainwreck on defense and on the boards and he won’t completely kill the team when he’s on the court. You pair him up with Cole and you’ve got a good cover for his craptastic defensive rebounding.

    Yep he’s a serviceable Bargs that isn’t going to submarine your team’s chances of winning and for a one-year deal that’s fine with me. Like you said if you pair him with Aldrich that’s a solid 4/5 combo though I liked what I saw yesterday (small sample size obviously) from the STAT/Aldrich pairing.

  8. I think EB might have nailed it, with regards to PJ’s quotes on Cole:

    EB October 22, 2014 at 8:59 pm
    What we’re seeing is Jackson’s jedi mind tricks at work. Cole realizing he’s being considered as the emergency backup put in a good showing in practice. Fisher seeing Cole give a better effort thought to himself, “gee maybe I should give this guy some spin.” Fisher then decides to put Cole into tonight’s game. Cole then went on to win the starting center spot and lead the Knicks to the championship. #Colespiracy #Jackson mind tricks #why am I using hashtags?

    Worth remembering Phil singles Cole Aldrich out last year as a player he liked. Cole’s largest drawback seems to be that he just doesn’t look the part despite being effective. But Phil has taken gangly, awkward looking goofy white centers and let them be useful rotation players in the past. One of them even scored a game-winning dunk on us at MSG when MJ “dropped a double nickel”, not that I’m still bitter about it.

  9. Speaking of nailing it yesterday:

    DRed October 22, 2014 at 10:06 pm
    Pablo with 11 points on 4 shots. Straight up G. I still think we would have gone to the ECF if that fucking moron had played him more against Indiana.

    Really still bitter about that. Those fucking Martin-Chandler lineups still make me mad. Idiot.

  10. Wooosah Hubert……Wooosah. So for who those who think NYK will make the playoffs who are the two teams that will fall out? (I said 2 to account for Cleveland)

  11. I think the Pacers are a lottery team. Lost their most productive player (to free agency, hehehe) and lost another good one to a backboard stanchion. Add a center who sometimes can’t rebound (at all) and a ticking age-bomb in David West, and baby, you got a stew goin’.

    The Knicks are pretty much not making the playoffs this year. “Rebuilding,” starring Andrea Bargnani.

    Here’s a question, fellas: What if Bargnani puts up career average numbers and Phil rewards him with a new contract? What then?

  12. I mean, the Knicks could make the playoffs. There are still some awfully shitty teams in the East. But we’ll need a bit of luck, and most importantly we’ll need Fish to do a great job with our lineup. That means no Bargs, very little JR until he shows he has some idea what this whole triangle thing is, a very judicious use of Larkin, resisting the temptation to play Melo stupid minutes, etc. I mean, basically the opposite of everything Mike Woodson ever did. We have some talented pieces, especially on offense, but the fact that so many of our players are old, injury prone, or totally one dimensional makes it really difficult to forecast whether we’ll just suck again or be mediocre.

  13. FYI the 13 teams who voted against lottery reform:

    San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Utah, New Orleans, Miami, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Washington, Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, and Chicago.

    The one that pisses me off the most is Chicago. Reinsdorf acting like a small market owner again. Oh well.

  14. Here’s a question, fellas: What if Bargnani puts up career average numbers and Phil rewards him with a new contract? What then?

    Id jump off of the Emp State Bldng

  15. Depends on how much the contact is for bargs. I wouldn’t flip a shit over a small contract, vet min, maybe mini mid level. His career stats do include .355 from beyond the arc, and his ts% isn’t atrocious. But I doubt he hits those numbers, in which case I want him as far from here as possible.

  16. Here’s a question, fellas: What if Bargnani puts up career average numbers and Phil rewards him with a new contract? What then?

    I don’t see Phil Jackson evaluating Andrea Bargnani and re-signing him to help him rebuild the Knicks in the last job of his career. It’s not even a possibility IMO because Phil Jackson didn’t win 11 titles as a coach by being a fucking idiot.

    Wooosah Hubert……Wooosah. So for who those who think NYK will make the playoffs who are the two teams that will fall out? (I said 2 to account for Cleveland)

    I think Indiana and Miami will drop out. Brooklyn is also a possibility and while I really really like Atlanta (enough to bet the over on their win total) I can see that Danny Ferry shit perhaps fucking them up though it’s unlikely.

  17. I say we release Cole and sign Barnyarni to an immediate 5 year extension, with incentive bonuses every time he creates a hilarious GIF playing “defense”

  18. Dwyane Wade looked completely finished in the playoffs last year, like his athleticism had abandoned him. And he’s going to be the featured scorer for Miami. And if he gets hurt, which is not at all unlikely, they’ll be running their offense through Danny Granger. They are going to be interesting to watch. I really hope they stink.

  19. Here’s a question, fellas: What if Bargnani puts up career average numbers and Phil rewards him with a new contract? What then?

    We ask him to pass the joint?

  20. I feel that Indiana and Miami drop out. Cleveland obviously moves in. I like Detroit to move in (maybe not as high as I predicted them yesterday, but I think they’re top 7). And I think the Nets and Knicks fight for the 8 seed, which I’d frankly rather not get.

    We could be not very good and get the 8 seed.

  21. Miami has secret superstar James Ennis lurking on the bench tho.

    In reality, they could certainly miss the playoffs. But the east is still really bad, man. Better than last year at the top, certainly, but there are going to be a bunch of uninspiring squads fighting for the last 2-3 spots down the stretch.

  22. Detroit still has a lot of pretty bad players as main rotation pieces. There are going to be lots of shots for J-Smoove and Brandon Jennings. They’ll probably improve a little bit because some of their young guys will develop, but that is still a very problematic roster.

  23. Dwyane Wade looked completely finished in the playoffs last year, like his athleticism had abandoned him. And he’s going to be the featured scorer for Miami. And if he gets hurt, which is not at all unlikely, they’ll be running their offense through Danny Granger. They are going to be interesting to watch. I really hope they stink.

    Lets define our terms here. Completely finished as Dwyane Wade, all-time great? Yes, I agree with you. But he still put up an 18-4-4 on 56% TS. I don’t think he’s completely finished as a productive NBA player yet. But I do agree that he’s not going to be able to carry the load for 82 games a year. No doubt about that.

    I think so much hinges on Bosh for them honestly. A supporting cast of Chalmers, Cole, Deng, McRoberts, Birdman, Granger isn’t sexy, but in the East I think it’s enough. If they get say 65-70 games of high level sidekick Dwyane Wade (which I still think he has in the tank) then a lot depends on whether Bosh can handle taking on a lot more of the offensive load. I’m a Bosh-believer, but he was 25 the last time he carried that much offensive load and now he’s 30. Big change. I think they’ll end up around the 7th seed, but there are a lot of variables in play for them. I wouldn’t be shocked with the 5th seed and I wouldn’t be shocked with a high lotto pick.

  24. The thing with Wade is he played at a very good level last year for only 54 games and that was with Lebron James being able to do the heavy lifting even on nights Wade played.

    Wade’s decline offensively is expected and gradual, but defensively he was an elite perimeter stopped that could help off his man outside and help pack the paint and protect the rim and the ability to recover back to his man to contest the jump shot or even run him off the line. That is no longer even remotely true and while he used to get away with freelancing defensively because of his athletic ability, now it just leads to breakdowns in Miami’s overall defense and somebody, somewhere will get an open look if the ball moves. If you’re asking the guy to be a primary option for let’s say 65 games the cost is that defensively he will be even worse than he was last year when they handled him super cautiously and he still wasn’t very good on that end.

    If we’re generous and say that Deng is slightly better than Lebron defensively at best they’re probably matching their 11th DRtg from last year which I think if you offered Spoelstra right now he would take. Offensively though they aren’t going to come close to their 5th ranked ORtg from last season unless Wade can find the fountain of youth which I mean I know is supposedly in South Florida but if Ponce de Leon couldn’t find it I’m not sure if Wade is going to be able too.

  25. FYI the 13 teams who voted against lottery reform:

    San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Utah, New Orleans, Miami, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Washington, Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, and Chicago.

    The one that pisses me off the most is Chicago. Reinsdorf acting like a small market owner again. Oh well.

    It’s funny. I didn’t like the proposal because I think it wasn’t thought-through at all, and was just a rash reactionary move based on one specific team’s actions, which is never the reason you should make sweeping league-wide reforms. Plus, I don’t think it even did much of a job at deincentivising losing. However, on the other hand, I don’t think that that is why those teams voted against it. I think they voted against it for rash reactionary reasons, as well. So much of the league’s decision-making is like this. Rash reactionary decisions versus rash reactionary decisions. Sometimes it ends up with a decent result and more often it does not.

  26. Lets define our terms here. Completely finished as Dwyane Wade, all-time great? Yes, I agree with you. But he still put up an 18-4-4 on 56% TS. I don’t think he’s completely finished as a productive NBA player yet. But I do agree that he’s not going to be able to carry the load for 82 games a year. No doubt about that.

    Also remember LBJ garnered the attention of each team’s best wing defender. Wade in that role will be significantly less efficient. There were times in the playoffs with LBJ on the bench that Wade looked baffled

  27. I agree that the suggested solution was totally reactionary. The thing is you read all these tanking “solutions”, but the bottom line is that any system that gives the best players coming into the league to the worst teams is going to incentivize tanking on some level. Lets say you go even more extreme than the proposed “solution” and you give every non-playoff team even odds to win the lottery. That definitely drops any incentives for the worst teams to be even worse (so it fixes the Philly situation completely), but it gives a team on the bubble of the playoffs a pretty big choice to make between making the playoffs for a 4-game blowout against the #1 seed or an equal shot at the #1 pick overall. It wouldn’t be long before you’d see teams tanking their way out of the playoffs under the belief that the potential long-term reward is worth missing the playoffs. All you’ve done is switched which teams have incentive to tank.

    The only way to truly solve tanking is to put in a system which completely divorces the draft order from the finishing order (like Zach Lowe’s wheel proposal). But that seems likely to fundamentally alter the shape of the league, making it much more difficult to move up from bottom dweller to the top. That might be a feature or a bug based on your perspective but the point is that I don’t think tanking can be solved with anything other than a huge change. The NBA’s proposed change would only have accomplished punishing Philly by reducing their gains from tanking at the expense of increasing someone else’s gains.

  28. Also remember LBJ garnered the attention of each team’s best wing defender. Wade in that role will be significantly less efficient. There were times in the playoffs with LBJ on the bench that Wade looked baffled

    Absolutely agree with you. I’m just saying that I think recency bias makes people remember it as though the playoffs was one long rolling credit reel on D-Wade’s career, when in fact he was decent through most of the playoffs before falling off in the finals. Before the finals people were playing the “peaking at the right time” card with him (see here), and then all the sudden he plays a horrible series and he’s “done”. He was a deserving all-star last year. Yes, it’s obviously going to be a lot tougher for him with no Lebron, but I’m not buying that he’s completely done as a high level player.

    But his athleticism is undeniably shot. I think it shows most clearly in the block numbers. He was one of the greatest shot blocking guards of all time and his block numbers have plummeted the last few years. At his peak he was getting 1.3 blocks a game, and more in the playoffs when he went full out. Last year 5 blocks in their 20 playoff games. Definitely not the same guy.

  29. “But that seems likely to fundamentally alter the shape of the league, making it much more difficult to move up from bottom dweller to the top.”

    This is patently untrue.

    http://wagesofwins.com/2012/04/02/why-tanking-doesnt-work-in-the-nba/

    Look at those numbers. Having a high pick is indicative of terrible roster management, and aside from once-in-a-generation players like LeBron (and, okay, Durant), very few players can create a championship-caliber roster on their own.

    The league needs to remove the feature that incentivizes failure. Until then, you will have teams like the Kings, Bucks, Sixers and Hornets who seem to fundamentally tolerate, if not reward incompetence and mismanagement under the auspice of “reward” through the lottery.

  30. That article shows how often bad teams become good under the current rules. Can you show me how often bad teams become good under a system like the one proposed, in which there is no relationship between team level and draft order? No? Didn’t think so. Clearly my speculation cannot be “patently untrue” then.

    It’s possible that removing the lottery would remove the incentive for mismanagement and cause all teams to become smart as you postulate. Doesn’t seem very likely to me, but its one theory. It’s equally possible (to my eyes at least) that it would widen the gap between the smart teams and the dumb teams since the dumb teams wouldn’t have a route to getting good which even the dumbest team can pull off (i.e. Draft Lebron). Nobody can know how that would reshape the league, which again, was my point.

  31. Wait, so Philadelphia, the team that was specifically targeted by the reforms, voted FOR the reform, while 13 other teams voted against it?

  32. Here’s a half-baked idea: I wonder if the following policy could solve both the “tanking” problem and the “1 and done” problem that has ruined college basketball and resulted in too many raw 20 year-olds in the NBA.

    1) Everyone becomes “draft eligible the year they turn 18 (or 19?) (no need to declare)

    2) No one can play or even sign a contract to play in the NBA until the year they turn 21 (or 22?)

    Now even the LeBron’s of the world have to wait, and to be waited for. This creates substantial risk for the drafting team, since they have to wait 3 years after drafting a player to reap any benefits.

    A further step would be: by “drafting” a player, you only get the right of first refusal. The player becomes a restricted free agent immediately the year they are eligible to sign a contract. That way, the LeBrons will get payed the max or near-max deals they deserve by the drafting team right away, while the Bargnanis will get exposed and lose value. So a tanking team not only had to wait the 3 years and hoe that the player develops or stays healthy, they would have to consider the cap implications of drafting #1 picks several years in a row…kind of like OKC did when they had to ditch Harden, only sooner.

    So the LeBrons can probably get insurance because the only thing preventing them from cashing out in 3 years would be a devastating injury. So they would be free to play 3 years of college or Euroleague basketball.

  33. So we’re taking $ out of Lebron’s pocket and lowering the talent level of the NBA to put more money into the pockets of the NCAA? Definitely count me out on that one.

  34. Jowles,
    It’s true that after the first pick the next bunch of picks historically have given similar value to each other, but that doesn’t mean that having better picks isn’t of value. The higher the pick, the better the trade value of it, even if most of those picks are equivalent crap shoots to each other. That is a definite benefit to tanking.

  35. Some random observations:

    As to the often spoken of Cole, this was the first time a actually watched him play significant minutes with a critical eye trying to divine why he doesn’t play with his positive advanced stats:

    1… he is glacially slow moving laterally. Any time he ‘showed’ the least little bit he appeared zamboni – like scrambling back into position.

    2… for a guy with good rebounding stats, he doesn’t display a big motor or show a lot of fight to attain position. This makes me wonder if his rebounding stats will hold up playing vs. top 8 rotation players.

    3… he doesn’t appear to be in great shape. Not that he looks out of shape, but for a guy fighting for a roster spot worth millions of dollars a year, I was expecting to see a guy in prime shape. Quite frankly, I’m 62 years old and my upper body is more ripped than his. I don’t understand this at all. Being in better shape and working harder would most certainly improve his lateral quickness.

    All this being said, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and when he has been on the floor, good things seem to happen and I would really like to see Fischer go primarily with Samuel and Cole exclusively at the 5 until proven differently. I want to see as little of A’mare as possible and never as a center.

    Melo looks fit and ready to have a huge season. Shump looks ready to play a big role, although unless Phil can lock him up early for a reasonable price, I fear he will be traded. He looks like a potential player in this system.

    Really, the entire season hinges on how many minutes Calderon can play as the offense looks like it has real potential with him orchestrating and whacking 3’s at an ungodly rate. I’m not sure how they are going to score consistently with either Calderon or Melo off the floor.

  36. Actually, LeBron would be making max money as fast or faster than he does now. And the talent level in the NBA would be better because players would be more polished, not the raw scrubs most 1st rounders are now. Are Wiggins and Parker really NBA-ready yet? Is Noel? Was John Wall? And the players would have the option of doing essentially what Ricky Rubio did.

  37. That article could not be more sophomoric if it was written by a 15 year old. Unless those numbers are running for mayor of Small Sample Size, Missing Counterfactual, they are not useful to society. The question whether a team looking to maximize its chances of winning a championship should tank is not a question that can be answered by looking ay 27 (0r 54 or 81 or 108) noisy seasons. Variance is high and factors are multiple. But high variance does not tell you whether the 76ers maximize their chance of winning a championship by tanking. Most people can agree that, ceteris paribus, a higher pick is better than a lower pick, but also that the delta is imbued with a ton of variance, guaranteeing nothing. Whether the trade off for tanking is worth the risk under the current rules (and so perhaps whether the rules should be changed) is a difficult and interesting question that, shockingly, doesn’t have an answer that can be looked up in four minutes on basketball reference.

  38. bob,
    I know what you mean about Cole and have been looking at him very carefully since the fetish here at KB started last year. I think what hurts Cole is his appearance. His physique has almost a Frankenstein quality to it. I’ve come to believe that he’s not all that slow, either straight ahead or laterally, certainly no slower than Hibbert or Marc Gasol. He’s also not out of shape. I think the NBA uniform doesn’t really flatter him, but I thought he looked much more fit in the Vegas form-fitted sleeved uniform.

    I think he also has a pretty good sense of positioning and anticipation, especially compared to Amare and Bargnani. I watched him closely last night from my 10th row seats right behind the Knicks bench. He had a really good sense of when to flash out, when to drop back, and when to help. He also has very good hands on D and makes the most of his 7’5″ wingspan. I watched him when he was rebounding in a crowd and he does a lot of subtle but productive things. When he has position, he’s excellent at keeping his arms extended after grabbing the ball strongly with 2 hands, and very importantly, he rarely brings it down prematurely so he doesn’t get stripped. If he doesn’t have great position, he keeps his hands active and gets a lot of secondary rebounds by knocking the ball loose from others that don’t have his good fundamentals, and then makes good decisions as to whether to try to grab the ball or tip it to his teammates. He also seems to have very good timing and technique as a shot-blocker. It’s no coincidence that he has averaged 3 blocked shots per 36 in the NBA in 1,000 minutes, or 15 rebs and 5 blocks per 40 as a senior at Kansas. The guy is much better than he looks aesthetically as a defender and rebounder.

    Jax and Fish probably don’t love him because he is a poor passer and can’t stick the mid-range shot, so looks bad in the triangle offense. Hopefully they get past that, the guy deserves to play rotation minutes.

  39. http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11750556/former-minnesota-timberwolves-forward-dante-cunningham-struggles-clear-name

    This is why Dante Cunningham is still available. I feel awful for the guy.

    Yea I know. He would be a great “reclamation” project. Perfect role player up front in the midst of Bargs/Melo/Stat/JR. It sucks that Dante has the stigma of domestic violence attached to his name even after it has been proven that the victim had fabricated much of the story. Not sayin he should be completely vindicated and absolved- obviously where there’s smoke there’s usually fire (or BBQ)- but I just think it’s terrible that the dropped charge is what’s mainly holding him back. Until now, I’ve never heard of him being a character risk. Would anybody be upset if Phil decided to release Wear and Outlaw and pick Cunningham up for the vet minimum? He and Acy would be a nice forward rotation to bring off the bench with all the one way players on the roster.

  40. The Knicks can’t release Wear since they don’t have his rights. Outlaw, though, can be released to make room for a 15th man on the roster.

  41. @ptmilo

    I agree. That article makes the perfect argument against itself. The teams that draft at the top are often horrible shit show organizations that blow pick after pick after pick because they suck at evaluating talent. Often times it requires new management to come in and clean up previous regimes messes while assembling their own nucleus of young talent to raise a franchise from the doldrums.

    The article also rather bizarrely chooses 27 years as the cut off point and was published in 2012 meaning 1985 was the first year they counted. This is probably because in years prior to that Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Isiah Thomas and Kevin McHale were top-3 picks that all helped the teams they were drafted by win multiple championships.

    Also I don’t understand the cut off of top-3 picks. Teams tank just to avoid making the playoffs and get a shot in the lottery even if they land exactly where the odds would have put them.

  42. The Knicks can’t release Wear since they don’t have his rights. Outlaw, though, can be released to make room for a 15th man on the roster.

    Cool. That makes it even better! Assuming that we can get him to Westchester without other teams putting claims in. I don’t really know how that works or if it even can work..but that would be nice considering Phil is planning on loading up next offseason with higher salaried players.

  43. I think there’s more depth in the East this year.

    You have Cleveland, which should win about 55-60 games

    You have Chicago, which has a wide range of possibilities but the average of them is probably around 52 games.

    Then there are five more good teams:

    Toronto: Young, lost almost no one, won 48 games last year. I’d put them at 49 this year.

    Washington: Some variance due to some old role players, but that should at least be balanced by growth from Wall and Beal. Let’s say 44 wins again.

    Charlotte will almost undoubtedly be better with the addition of Stephenson and minimal losses. Let’s bump them from 43 to 45 wins.

    Miami’s bench is just atrocious, but Bosh should be a top 5 player in the E.C. Obviously, a lot depends on what Wade can still do, but I think the 44 wins or so most people peg them at is a good average.

    And Atlanta will get Horford back, putting them right around the 45 win mark.

    The last time a 7 seed on the east had more than 44 wins, which is totally possible this year, was 1996/97.

    Now, after the 7 seed, it’s totally possible all other teams are a tub of crap… I would not be surprised to see a 36 win 8th seed if things go bad.

    Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Detroit, Orlando or even Milwaukee emerge as .500 team (in-shape Mayo, 12/13 version of Sanders, emergent Parker and Antetokounpo, plus a huge coaching upgrade = 1 smart trade away from a playoff team).

  44. That’s awful. The Lakers just got a little worse and they were already bad (with an awful coach). At least that helps them sort of with insurance, I believe.

  45. And helps increase their odds of keeping their top 5-protected pick in next year’s draft.

    Time for Byron Scott to unleash the Linsanity? Or is Jeremy not enough of a basketball caveman for Byron’s liking?

  46. This Laker team was already going to be the laughingstock of the league. I mean, did anyone really think Nash was going to have a bounce back season? I’ll admit I didn’t think he’d miss the entire season before it even started, but it’s not like this is any real surprise.

    Well, at least Laker fans get to watch Kobe pass Jordan on the all-time scoring list. If that’s their thing anyway; which, as I understand it, is.

    Buss the Younger might actually be a bigger basketball moron than our own Guitar Jimmy, as hard as that is to believe. I can’t wait to see Byron Scott pull someone for shooting too many threes and not enough mid-range jumpers.

  47. The article also rather bizarrely chooses 27 years as the cut off point and was published in 2012 meaning 1985 was the first year they counted.

    1985 was the first year there was a draft lottery. So it’s a logical starting point.

    Personally, I don’t see tanking as that big of a deal. If you’re smart and patient and are willing to lose money/goodwill, why not? It’s not a guarantee you’re going to succeed, so I don’t think many teams are going to be willing to do it.

  48. “Unable to overcome dislike of Kobe, Steve Nash will keep cashing checks from the comfort of home”

  49. so I don’t think many teams are going to be willing to do it.

    Just ask the Knicks of the past 15 years.

  50. Personally, I don’t see tanking as that big of a deal. If you’re smart and patient and are willing to lose money/goodwill, why not? It’s not a guarantee you’re going to succeed, so I don’t think many teams are going to be willing to do it.

    Well, i don’t mind my team tanking, because the possible benefits for my team. But I HATE see other teams tanking, because it depreciates the value of the regular league; and makes teams that try hard and go to the playoffs as underdogs to look bad.

    When i watch a NBA game, i want both teams to go and try to win, because that’s what they are supposed to do. If one team is trying not to win, i’d rather not watch it. I think it is a legitimate concern for the NBA.

  51. Here (courtesy of Woj) are the teams that voted against it. Philly did vote against it.

    Phoenix, Philly, OKC, New Orleans, Miami, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Utah, Washington, Atlanta, Charlotte and Chicago.

  52. Watching the debut of Grantland’s Basketball Hour…man, Jalen Rose is a charming guy, but he’s really not particularly insightful.

  53. I can’t remember a time when I was totally bored by a football game, but then again I can’t remember a game in which a team was actively trying to lose for the possibility of getting a better pick in the draft.

    Make the NBA season 50 games, contract the league by 8 teams, and add a lottery wheel that totally eliminates the incentive to lose. Problem solved.

  54. I can’t remember a time when I was totally bored by a football game

    So you’re saying you’re not a Jets fan?

  55. Again, why should Philly sign (and pay a lot of money) for guys that will help them go from 19 wins to 26 wins next year but might hurt their goal of winning 55 games 3 years from now?

  56. When i watch a NBA game, i want both teams to go and try to win

    I doubt you’ve ever seen a game where the players are trying to lose. The players certainly don’t lose on purpose so that their team can have more ping pong balls.

    As for FO’s stacking the deck against said players winning, it is, without a doubt, the healthy, smart, and even responsible thing to do at times. Franchises are like forests. They are healthy and vibrant for a spell, then they deteriorate and get permeated by disease and rot. Then a fire burns it to the ground, and then it grows vibrant again anew.

    Philadelphia is going to be a title contender before the the Knicks are. And when they are in the finals, none if their fans are going to care or remember how horrible it was to win 20 games instead of 30 during the dark years, or care whether they drafted guys that were injured their rookie years or not.

    NBA teams need to stop criticizing the Sixers and learn from them how to do a controlled burn (like every farmer in world has figured out.)

  57. Again, why should Philly sign (and pay a lot of money) for guys that will help them go from 19 wins to 26 wins next year but might hurt their goal of winning 55 games 3 years from now?

    No, they shouldn’t, that’s the problem!

    You would like a system where you should not tank, because the benefits of tanking do not outweigh the losses that come from it. The lottery was meant to help the teams in the bottom; because it is the worst position to be; not to change the worst position to be from the bottom to the middle of the barrel.

  58. “EXPLAIN THIS, DONNIE.”
    I realize that there are loads of clips that you could post of Bargs playing atrocious help defense but, in fairness, this isn’t one of them. That is an obvious foul on Duncan. Actually, it’s two fouls — first for an illegal pick because you are not allowed to set a pick in which you take the pose of an offensive lineman providing pass protection (yes, I know, Melo sometimes does this too) and, second, even if you were allowed to block like a lineman, this was clearly a ten yard penalty for holding.

  59. Philadelphia is going to be a title contender before the the Knicks are.

    This is conjecture. Maybe Nerlens Noel is the next KG, MCW becomes a top-10 PG, Embiid has no back problems and is the next Hakeem and Dario Saric is a rich man’s Toni Kukoc, but it’s equally possible none of that happens. Even if I agree their strategy is smart and their execution has been great it doesn’t mean that they have drafted a bunch of guys that will elevate them to a championship level.

  60. This is conjecture

    Of course it is. That’s what we do here at Knickerblogger.org

    Maybe Nerlens Noel is the next KG, MCW becomes a top-10 PG, Embiid has no back problems and is the next Hakeem and Dario Saric is a rich man’s Toni Kukoc…

    If all these things happen, Philadelphia will win a half-dozen titles. If just one if these things happen, it will make them a team with more championship potential than any Knick team in the past 15 years.

    Some people call what Philly is doing “tanking”. Others can just as easily call it a “market correction”, or a “plan of treatment”, or a “controlled burn”, or a “healthy retooling”.

    Keep in mind that the Sixers have won a title more recently than the Knicks have. They have been to the finals more recently than the Knicks have. They were a +.500 team two years ago. They haven’t been mired in pestilence like the Knicks have been during the Dolan era. They know when to hold and when to fold. And teams that don’t get it are the ones that are mad at them.

  61. Funny thing is that it’s a market correction, alright, yet the league just voted to allow the Sixers to exploit an obvious loophole, one that is wholly destructive to the primary function of televised basketball, which is to be entertaining.

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