Robinson’s Shot Overshaddows Frye’s Start

Although it was Nate Robinson who earned most of the plaudits for his single game heroics on Saturday, it was another Knick rookie that took a step forward in his burgeoning career. This weekend Channing Frye was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in his career. Frye adjusted well to the transition, scoring 21 points on 57% shooting, and turned the ball over only once. Since Knicks coach Larry Brown changes his lineups as often as he changes his underwear, it’s uncertain whether Frye’s performance will earn him a permanent spot in the starting 5.

Many Knick fans were uncertain what to expect from the number 8 pick in the draft. Despite raising some eyebrows with the strength portion of the NBA Pre-Draft work outs, the power forward out of Arizona never shed the soft label from early on in his college career. Frye didn’t earn a spot in the Knicks’ rotation with a weak summer league, including one game where he amassed 10 fouls. Coming into the season I wrote this about him:

“I?m still not sure what to expect out of Frye. His frame resembles that of Marcus Camby, but he lacks Camby?s high flying theatrics. On the other hand Frye has a nice touch from the outside and should make a fine partner for Marbury on the pick & roll. With the depth at power forward and Brown?s predisposition towards rookies it?s hard to tell exactly who will see playing time.”

Looking at his last 5 games, my comments are laughable for die hard Knick fans whose faith in Frye never swayed. In that span, Channing has roughly averaged 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block. However, I don’t feel so bad about my concern over the rookie power forward considering that the New York coach didn’t have much faith in him either.

Frye was a DNP for the Knicks’ opening season loss to Boston, and was played sparingly afterwards. After his 19 point outburst in as many minutes on November 13th, Brown kept the rookie on the court for only 11 minutes the day after. In that game, the Knicks struggled to beat a shorthanded Jazz squad. New York managed only 73 points, and they could have benefited from Frye’s scoring touch. Instead they used Antonio Davis (22min, 0pts), Malik Rose (19min, 7pts), and David Lee (12min, 2pts). Maybe that performance prompted Brown to give Frye more minutes over the last 5 games.

On the offensive end of the court, Channing Frye’s outside touch is reminiscent of Kurt Thomas. His slender build doesn’t make him as good of a pick and roll partner as the former Knick, although he’s accurate with the jumper facing the hoop from at least 19 feet. Instead Frye takes advantage of opposing big men fearing the unfamiliar confines outside the paint. Channing is not devoid of an interior game and he can hit a jump hook from inside the paint. The statistics back up Frye’s offensive performance, as he is leading the Knicks in scoring per minute (23pts/40) and shooting percentage (51.2% eFG).

Aside from his scoring prowess, Frye’s rebounding has been a pleasant surprise. Coming into the season, the Knicks had lost their three best rebounders in Sweetney, Thomas, and Jerome Williams. Additionally Isiah’s two main acquisitions, Jerome James and Eddy Curry, were notoriously bad in that regard. However Frye has the second best rebound rate (14.7) among the Knick regulars. In fact Channing is showing a well rounded game, averaging 1.2 steals and 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes.

Unfortunately for Frye rookie card holders, his status in the near future is uncertain. Due to Eddy Curry and Matt Barnes’ injuries, Brown has been forced to move Antonio Davis to center and Malik Rose to small forward. When both players are healthy, Channing Frye is going to have more competition than just Maurice Taylor, David Lee, and Jackie Butler. My guess is that when that time comes, Frye is going to feel the crunch as Coach Brown continues to rotate his players in order to gain some knowledge of their skills and keeps them prepared to play. Curry will hold onto the center spot, even if for only 24 minutes a game and Antonio Davis will stay on in his role as captain of the defense. Frye will be the primary big man off the bench, and he’ll see extra minutes on nights that Curry or Davis are plagued with foul trouble. Barring injury and considering Brown’s fondness of Davis’ defensive ability, Frye’s ceiling his rookie year might be a spot alongside Davis for the Knick fourth quarters.

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Mike Kurylo

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

9 thoughts to “Robinson’s Shot Overshaddows Frye’s Start”

  1. When i saw him in preseason i thought of him as a soft 6 11 center/powerforward with shooting abilities but after seeing him in the last 5 games, he is the opposite of soft and his outside shot is the most pure of any new york knick present. Althought his playing time has been limited brown will soon be reluctant to play him for extended minutes as he is much needed for the knicks offense. i predict good numbers although im not sure of the ROY i think he should be able to amass 15-17 ppg and 5-7.5 rpg

  2. While I wouldn’t expect Frye to be able to continue at his current pace — opposing centers and small forwards will start reading the scouting report and won’t let him take open 18-footers — I’m most encouraged by his intelligence. Brown would be a fool to play stiffs like Davis and the increasingly inept Malik Rose (the last game excepted) over a 6’11” rooke with an automatic jumper who seems to be improving every game. For all of my hatred of Isaiah Thomas, he’s a great drafter.

  3. One thing I’ve noticed so far is that Frye not only grabs a lot of boards, but he rebounds well in traffic. Both Frye and Lee have exceptional positioning and and timing for both offensive and defensive bounds. You frequently see one of these two guys snatch a rebound over multiple opponents, or grab it with one hand. This kind of skill-set is what Eddy Curry needs to pick up to become a better traffic rebounder.

  4. What I’ve enjoyed most about his play is his movement without the ball (he finds the open area). I already knew he could shoot. He has a great knack for understanding what a good shot is, particularly in his last 3-4 games. Prior to that I thought he rushed a few shots. Now, he’s not taking every open 18 footer. He’s making the extra pass. On a team filled with gunners that aspect of his game will take on increasing importance as the season wears on. I’m hoping it rubs off on Crawford.

  5. Frye has a bright future ahead of him. He’s definitely a candidate for rookie of the year. Kudos to Isiah for the foresight.

    I didn’t think much of him watching him play in the preseason, but he’s shown heart and mental toughness; he’s got the disposition of Allan Houston…only with more personality and less antisemitism. ^_^

    I honestly think that Frye will become a close to a 20 pt/6-7 rebound scorer on a GOOD team. It’s “easy” to get numbers on a bad team like the Knicks, but Frye is really something special.

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