Roundtable: 5 Games, 3 Questions

With the Knicks just 5 games in, here’s 3 quick questions for our staff.

Right now the offense is ranked 10th & the defense 20th. Which number is more surprising?
Kurylo: The offense. Just look at the true shooting percentages of four of their starters: Carmelo Anthony (48.9%), Jose Calderon (37.9%), Kristaps Porzingis (49.2%), and Sasha Vujacic (37.8%). New York is doing well in the non-shooting factors, but unless these guys start hitting shots or get replaced by someone who is, I don’t see that number standing.

Lanza: The offense. How does a team that is middle of the pack in efficiency (18th in TS%) end up in the top-10? They’re getting a ton of extra possessions through fantastic offensive rebounding (3rd in the NBA!), but it’s difficult to look at the individual parts and make sense of it. And it’s not difficult to see a team starting a rookie big man, Sasha Vujacic, and Jose Calderon taking awhile to find its defensive identity.

Cronin: Definitely the offense. I think someone made a fascinating point about Lance Thomas’ early success in the first few games that I think sort of works as a statement on the team’s offense as a whole – he/they really don’t even look like they’re playing well, but somehow they keep finding themselves open under the basket and they score, even though no one can hit an outside shot at the moment.

Fisher-Cohen: Offense, unquestionably. I picked the offense to be better than the defense, but I didn’t expect a huge margin, and had I known Melo was going to look like an old man for four of the first five games, I may have switched my answer. At 51%, the Knicks’ TS% this season is almost identical to last year. The difference has been a reduction in turnovers and a huge increase in offensive rebounding rate. There’s also the fact that as a league, NBA offenses have been bad in the first five games. Last year, the Knicks’ 101.3 offensive efficiency rating would have placed them 23rd in the league.

Smtih: The offense, specifically off the bench. As impressed as I was by the Knicks bench running roughshod over the likes of Jorts, Toure’ Murry and Furkan Aldemir in the preseason, I wasn’t exactly counting on the same level of performance against legitimate NBA competition. Well, five games in, the Knicks’ bench is 2nd in the NBA in minutes played, 3rd in PPG, 3rd in OReb (thanks, Oaq!), 3rd in FG%, 2nd in 3 pt FG% (hi, Gallo), and 4th in made FTs. With all four non-Lopez starters almost exclusively jump shooters (and not particularly good ones right now as stated by Mike above), it’s Corona-on-the-beach refreshing to see the bench come in, be aggressive and get the type of open layups normally reserved for Knicks opponents.

Heather Rose: Offense. Carmelo has struggled with his shooting, Afflalo has yet to play a regular season game, and Calderon, Sasha, and Kristaps have all shot poorly to start. Yet, the Knicks are somehow 10th in the league in offensive rankings. I expected the defense to be much better than the offense, and honestly thought it would be the key to any chance for the Knicks to make the playoffs. Didn’t expect such a significant margin between the two but maybe this will change and translate to more wins.

Myles Ma: I was going to say defense for arguments’ sake, but yes, offense. It’s bananas that the Knicks are top 10 and it probably won’t last but SHUT UP. It’s amazing they’ve placed so high without, you know, actually shooting well, but I’m not surprised this squad this team is rebounding so well. RoLo has always been a good offensive rebounder (in fact he’s a little down so far this year in terms of ORB%), as has Melo for his position. I didn’t expect Kristaps “WORLDSTAR” Porzingis to be such a vacuum, but he makes the whole front line a threat on the glass.

Udwary: For a team full of guys who never really played together, a top 10 offense is way better than I would have even dared to imagine. That’s with Melo struggling, Calderon’s reanimated corpse getting major minutes along with Sasha freakin’ Vujacic. Looking ahead, it is highly unlikely Galloway and Lance Thomas continue scoring at all-NBA efficiency, but you have to expect Melo to pull out of his funk, Vujacic to get benched when Afflalo comes back, and Calderon to either improve, or sit. It’s just 5 games, but I feel pretty confident this team really can rank top 10 in offense by the end of the season.

Which young guard is more impressive: Jerian Grant or Langston Galloway?
Lanza: Galloway’s offensive numbers will regress soon, which is good (some of those layups have to start falling through) and bad (nobody’s a 65% 3PT shooter in 3.5 attempts per game), which will give us a better idea of who he is going forward. Even so, one can’t help but be impressed with his extreme 3&D play thus far. Grant is quietly flashing some strong traditional PG skills, though.

Cronin: It’s a tough question, because the way that the NBA works, a year of professional development and a year of actual age is actually pretty huge, so the fact that Galloway is roughly a year older than Grant (December 1991 birthday for Galloway, October 1922 birthday for Grant) and has a full NBA season on him means a lot. Therefore, I am tenuously saying that Grant’s progression as a rookie impresses me more than Galloway’s strong progression as a sophomore. But that belief is extremely tenuous, as Galloway has certainly been quite great.

Fisher-Cohen: Galloway is just flat out shooting the lights out at a completely unsustainable rate. If we’re talking, “Whose play has made me most optimistic for the future?,” probably Grant, who has shown creativity around the basket and good court vision. If he can develop a jump shot, he’ll be a very good player. Galloway’s lack of quickness with the ball gives him a much lower ceiling.

Smtih: I’ll say Grant only because we knew (hoped?) from last year that Galloway is an NBA-caliber player. At 6’4, Jerian has immediately displayed the poise and skills of an NBA starting point guard with a team-leading 22.9 AST% and a team-leading 36% of his field goal attempts inside 3 feet, including a number of beautifully executed double-clutch layups. Who is the last non Vaseline-eating Knicks point guard who could actually get to the rim and finish?

Heather Rose: Galloway without a doubt. I’ve been begging for him to be inserted into the starting lineup because he takes care of the ball, shoots well from outside, can get to the rim/push the ball in transition, and he’s a very active defender. If Galloway started with Afflalo, Melo, Porzingis, and Lopez, you have shooters at virtually every position around Melo, long defenders, and rebounders all over the floor. Calderon is better off the bench and his minutes can be shared with Sasha. They instantly would fill the role of shooters off the bench, who really don’t get extended minutes.

Myles Ma: Galloway, as I have written. He’s still shooting 65% from three, and that is totally sustainable and will last forever. Even if it doesn’t, he takes care of the ball and has that “poise” thing attributed to every Jets quarterback since Joe Namath. Let’s hope he doesn’t turn out like any of those guys.

Udwary: Galloway, all the way! He’s the team’s best perimeter defender (not saying much, but he is still really good!) and is scoring with ridiculous efficiency. Grant is great at getting penetration and breaking down the defense, but the guy needs to make a layup every once in awhile! Both have definitely been impressive, though. It’s great to watch young players who have upside again!

Kurylo: I’m going to say Grant. Why? Langston’s outside shooting is a bit fluky and propping up his numbers. And you’d expect a little more from Gallo than Grant given this is his second season. Jerian’s ts% is at 54.5%, he’s leading the team with 5.4 ast/36, and he’s third in steals at 1.9/36. I think that puts Grant slightly more ahead on the development curve.

Porzingis!
(I know it’s not a question, just go with it.)

Kurylo: The offense and shot is supposed to be shaky at the age of 20. I’ve seen ‘Taps box out, block shots, and show impressive athleticism/instinct on a number of plays. You can’t teach those things, so that he has them already is a great sign. Imagine an NBA flop (I’ve got Eddy Curry in mind) and ask if they had these attributes would they have flamed out?

Lanza: Folk keep throwing out the comps to Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol, but how about a 7’3” Andrei Kirilenko? He’s incredibly athletic, and a surprisingly smart ballhawk. Once he learns to set his feet and stand his ground, he could be special defensively. And the shots may not be falling yet, but his form is so pretty.

Cronin: His form really is so, so pretty. So you just sort of presume that the three-point shot will eventually follow. It does sort of surprise me that it hasn’t happened yet, but again, it is such a good form that it just has to happen, right? Otherwise, he clearly has been told what his weaknesses are and he’s busting his ass to address them, which is sadly a significant improvement over a good chunk of first round draft picks in the NBA. So that’s great and really wonderful to see.

Fisher-Cohen: He’s really exciting. He’s gonna burn himself all season long with rookie mistakes, but long term, he looks like he has a good chance to be an All-Star. The thing that has impressed me most is his smoothness inside 12’. Even when he’s on the move, he is adept at staying balanced and shooting the ball with touch. Of my worries about the team, Porzingis may rank last.

Smtih: KP can flat-out play. As he gets stronger and gets his legs used to the pace of the NBA game, more of those threes will inch over the front rim and into the hoop. He shows heart bodying up in the post on defense and on the boards; I loved the post-tip dunk scream… this kid is no Bargs/Ivan Drago robot. Every young big has foul issues, but I’ll be the one to mention the other serious negative: the kid’s hands remind me of Ted Ginn in overtime. Rebounds bouncing off his hands, loose balls getting snatched from his grasp (did anyone notice that the opening tip-out last night was almost taken right out of his hands?). Hopefully it’s nothing some added strength over time won’t solve, but it’s my one thing to nitpick.

Kurylo: Pumpkins!

Heather Rose: I’ve been very impressed with Porzingis. His effort to rebound the ball is what impresses me the most. He and Lopez go after every rebound, whether offensive or defensive. While he certainly needs to get the foul rate down (6.8/36 minutes!), I love his versatility offensively and he’s virtually always challenging shots at the rim. What concerns me thus far other than the fouls, he tends to be slow getting out to stretch 4’s and 5’s, giving them a clean look at the basket. If he can develop a habit of closing out harder against stretch bigs, he’ll have a greater impact defensively as his foot speed and length allow him to make up ground when bigs put the ball on the floor.

Myles Ma: 1) I did not expect him to be such a disruptive defender. 2) He looks like Ivan Drago. 3) Yelling WORLDSTAR when he dunks is the best thing I’m doing right now. 4) He needs a better nickname. “Zinger” is not good. KP is boring. 5) WORLDSTAAAR

Udwary: He fouled out in the time it took me to finish this sentence. It’s kind of scary that the kid already looks like the best player on the court for long stretches of games, but he has to stay on the court! One last thing, Porzingis TS% after 5 games: 0.492, Wilt Chamberlain TS% as a rookie: 0.493. PORZINGIS WILL BE AS GOOD OR BETTER THAN WILT!!!!!!!!!! Also, I’m with Myles Ma, I’m not sold on any of the nicknames.

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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).

58 thoughts to “Roundtable: 5 Games, 3 Questions”

  1. I blew the deadline, so here is my Porzingis comment (the others were essentially amens of what others said better than I could):

    Porzingis

    I find I am so excited about Porzingis that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. (h/t Red from Shawshank Redemption).

    Things that are better than I expected:

    1. Foot speed. He recovers well to protect the rim.
    2. Effort on defense.
    3. Results on defense.
    4. Rebounding.
    5. Nastiness.
    6. Love for the game.
    7. Acceptance by teammates.
    8. Size – He is a true 7’3? with a Rik Smits-type frame. He is no Shawn Bradley/Jared Jeffries/Brad Sellars.
    9. Ability to get to the line.

    Things that are as expected:
    1. Inconsistent shooting – he is going to have to get used to the longer 3 and the increased pace of the game.
    2. Foul trouble. Rookies get a tough whistle. Awkward long players get a tough whistle. Euro rookies that are awkward get a really tough whistle. Plus, he is not used to the speed of the game.

    Things that are worse than expected.
    [The null set]

    We are at the start of a long journey with Porzingis whose conclusion is uncertain.
    I hope that Porzingis will be a great Knick.
    I hope that he will avoid the foot problems that have plagued super-sized centers (Yao, Walton, Oden).
    I hope that he keeps the enthusiasm and aggression that he has displayed so far.
    I hope to see the Knicks raise a championship banner.
    I hope.

  2. I hope Dolan does not accept the Kobe for Zinger offer.
    I hope Dolan does not accept the Rose for Zinger offer.
    I hope Dolan does not accept the Wade for Zinger offer.

  3. For me, the biggest surprise is rebounding and defense.

    I know the pace is up; I know the scoring is up, although shooting efficiency is down.
    But the D has been competent and, at times, very good.
    We have shot-blockers, rebounders, and interior defense.
    If they can improve their close-outs and not lose folks on the perimeter, this defense could rise to top 10.

    This is an effort team. It shows on the offensive side as well. Once these shots start falling, and they will, this could be a very solid mid-pack team with some playoff upside potential.
    – Melo’s shot falling will make it easier on the rest of the team.
    – KP staying in the game will help a hell of a lot as well.
    – Afflalo’s return should realign our guards so that Calderon goes to the bench.
    – Then you can start Galloway at the 1, Afflalo at the 2, with Grant the first guard off the bench.
    That should lift the offense and improve the defense.

  4. Porzingis shows a lot of promise given his age. But that’s all there is to it – we have to wait until we know about endurance, shooting, defense, progress, attitude, etc. As of today, he looks like he could become a very good player, but comparisons to Nowitzki, Ewing, Bird, etc., are ridiculous and ultra-super-mega-premature.

  5. In answers to the roundtable…

    1) Offense – The scoring from the second unit bigs sure surprises me. G2 gets the press but O’q, DWill and the oft maligned Thomas are the real surprises.

    2) Grant – His shooting isn’t as good as I thought it might be but his ability to drive to the basket and play defense puts a big smile on my face.

    3) See @1. Euphus says it all.

  6. @2. I am honestly surprised more people on this board are not worried that Dolan will trade KP for an aging “win-now” superstar to pair with Melo. That would be epic Knicks.

  7. @2. I am honestly surprised more people on this board are not worried that Dolan will trade KP for an aging “win-now” superstar to pair with Melo. That would be epic Knicks.

    I am strangely confident that Dolan will not risk the wrath of the Latvian Orthodox Church by trading away Kristaps Porzingis.

  8. From the NY Post, bolstering my view that it would take about 10 games (9 now) for Fisher to move Calderon to the bench:

    “Despite Grant’s impressive start, Fisher isn’t in a rush to make a change at the point-guard spot, planning to stick with veteran Jose Calderon for the time being and use Grant as a spark off the bench.

    ‘He’s a good young player,’ Fisher said. ‘I do think everyone has to kind of earn what they get on the floor. Jerian has earned the minutes he’s gotten so far, and if he continues to grow, he has the opportunity to earn more as the games go along.’

  9. If, in 10 games, G2 becomes the starting back court, I am all for it.
    How does this second unit size up:

    O’q, DWill, LT, Calderon & Afflalo?

    I think it’s a bit and that worries me. So, the question is, do both Grant and Galloway move into the rotation or just one of them?

  10. Porzingis will likely end up without a good nickname. KP will probably stick and Zinger will probably die off, in the mold of “Durantula” dying a quick and thankful death and ceding to KD.

    That said, no reason we can’t have fun with it on this site.

    Latvian Chocolate was a good start.
    The Rock from Riga
    Ivan Drago
    Killah Kris
    Lil Kris
    K-Zilla
    Krispy-Z
    CHA-CHINGis (b/c he’s money, yo)
    Porzing-swish

    KP anagrams:
    Razor Spiking Spits
    Sir Raking Pops Zits
    Prizing Pork Assist

  11. Porzingis is going to be not the Latvian Dirk, the Latvian Shawn Bradley, the Latvian Pau Gasol , the Latvian Arvydas Sabonis, none of that. He’s the Latvian Patrick Ewing.

    Wait, are you saying this like it’s a good thing or a bad thing? As far as Latvian players go, I’d rank them like this:

    1) Latvian Arvydas Sabonis
    2) Latvian Dirk
    3) Latvian Pau Gasol
    4) Latvian Patrick Ewing
    5) Latvian Shawn Bradley

  12. @11 Afflalo may come off the bench for a game or two as he returns from injury but we should all expect him to be the starting SG after that. I just hope for him to be paired with Grant with Gallo as the first guard off the bench. Jose and Sasha can pick up the scraps.

  13. I think Porzingis would get better whistle soon. He’s probably the most visible rookie and the NBA wants visible players on the court and not off.

  14. This won’t stick, but he’s from the town of Liep?ja, which is known as “The city where the wind is born”.

    So I like the Latvian Windmill, which also speaks of his size/reach.

  15. My buddy and I have been referring to him as Porzingod, sometimes spelled PorzinGOD or PORZINGOD after nasty put-back jams.

  16. Four Fingaz

    (Oh, wait… wrong sport, wrong team. Meant to post this on a Giants blog)

  17. In 10 years, promising young prospects will be called “the black Kristaps Porzingis”.

  18. Back to basketball: the game today requires that you’ve got players who can get to any place on the floor that they want. Knicks have had Melo and that’s it, and we know what happens once he decides to go somewhere on the floor. The no-assist black hole. Grant and KP can get anywhere they want on the court. They aren’t making the right decisions at the right speed, but they are rookies. Add Williams and Galloway, and you’ve got 4 players that can force the defense to move. That’s how offenses start to break down the other team. It’s very much a work in progress, but there are more pieces that can pressure the defense inside a system than we’ve had in quite a while.

  19. I think Grant has been able to penetrate much more effectively than we thought. Porzinigs just looks so fluid out there. It seems to me like he moves his feet well defensively and is alert. Being alert seems like faint praise but we can all list any number of players who would never have that as part of a description.

  20. I am not superstitious. Neither are you. Yet it is disquieting to witness everyone giving voice to each divine-wrath-engendering-Porzingis-boast that rips through their hope-starved mind. Have we forgotten so quickly? “Whom the gods would destroy they first make Knicks.” Living in a new world are we? Tempting fate? Daring to believe it is safe to send the tender shoots of optimism up through the manure of 2014, Dolan, Isiah….? OK. If he is the harbinger of this new light then let him be called Kristaps Prometheus Bringer of Fire. Just kidding. How about The Promise? Nah. Sounds like a name given fan base that’s ready to be betrayed. How about The Sky, because he, the arc on his shot, his potential, our hopes, etc. are all up there? Or Ragnar, for the badass blonde but not Nazi-ish Northern European warrior hero thing AND because Ragnar Lothbrok’s brother (in the series Vikings) is Rolo and of similar build and hair as our RoLo?

  21. Bad break for the Knicks: MCW is out tonight.

    I still can’t get over how dumb that acquisition was for them.

  22. @29 Those are all pretty good. I especially like “Zing Kong”. It won’t catch on but it made me chuckle.

    As for MCW, I’m really surprised that his overall game hasn’t progressed further with J. Kidd as his coach/mentor. He does have talent but his poor shooting and poor decisions pretty much negate the positives.

    Like most of you, I’m really happy with what I’ve seen from our rookie power forward. Grant (what a spectacular trade ) has been far more effective than I anticipated and for sure, Lance Thomas and D-Williams have also been pleasant surprises!

    Love what Oaq brings to the team and the forgotten man, A. Affalo is going to make a big difference when healthy.

    Let’s Go Knicks!!!

  23. I loved Tyler Ennis when he played for ‘Cuse, so it’ll be nostalgic watching him repeatedly blow past Jose Calderon.

  24. “We’ve got this young PG from Syracuse, but he’s not that good”

    “Well, how about we get two bad PGs from Syracuse?”

  25. @41 – He’s saying that Ennis and MCW are both PG’s, both played at Syracuse, and both aren’t very good. So he’s writing a mock conversation among the Bucks’ management about why they decided to get MCW.

  26. Zingis Khan

    I like it. He hasn’t quite earned it, tho… I was pushing the KD comparison, so KP could be it, but it’s not much fun.

    Ephus’s list of players who averaged KP’s points, boards, blocks and steals (so far) was very small, and pretty select company: the Admiral and the Dream. Both better nicknames, and both likely to be beyond what KP achieved (because they were so phenomenal), but it’s nice to think about….

  27. @41 – He’s saying that Ennis and MCW are both PG’s, both played at Syracuse, and both aren’t very good. So he’s writing a mock conversation among the Bucks’ management about why they decided to get MCW.

    He could have added and left at least a season too soon and five seconds after their first major success. See also Flynn, Johnny
    #disappointed SU alum

  28. My 2 cents: as long as the skin color references are within the parameters of normal b-ball parlance reflected in pop culture, e.g. White Chocolate, The White Shadow, White Men Can’t Jump, Black Jesus, Chocolate Thunder, I’m OK with it. I draw the line when it goes into the realm of personnel decisions, character judgments, etc. The line is blurry, but with good judgment, I think most of us can differentiate between the funny/clever and the offensive/insensitive.

    The comments around “Pale Pierce” and “the black Kristaps Porzingis” seem pretty clever and innocuous to me. But as always, Mike, your house, your rules.

  29. Ephus’s list of players who averaged KP’s points, boards, blocks and steals (so far) was very small, and pretty select company: the Admiral and the Dream. Both better nicknames

    Don’t forget Gerald “The Albatross” Wallace

  30. On another forum (I know that this place is much too classy for it) a guy was talking about Jimmer Fredette as the fair haired boy and his wife as lily white and that when he ends up in Europe they better find a safe place to live . I couldn’t believe it was not deleted.

  31. Zingis Khan doesn’t work unless KP grows a fu manchu moustache. Come to think of it, that would be pretty cool. Photoshop, anyone?

  32. Aside from the occasional “Big Fella”, or the antiquated “Hoya Destrya”, Ewing didn’t really have a nickname. In fact, few Knick draft picks have had good nicknames. Just monikers like “Action” Jackson, “Hot” Rod Strickland, “Sky” Walker, and other phoned-in Knicknames.

  33. Knicknames.

    It baffles my mind that this has never occurred to me before. I declare you, sir, the winner. Congratulations.

  34. how about Carmel-0-for-6-from-midrange-again-just-pass-the-fucking-ball-for-once

  35. Aside from the occasional “Big Fella”, or the antiquated “Hoya Destrya”, Ewing didn’t really have a nickname. In fact, few Knick draft picks have had good nicknames. Just monikers like “Action” Jackson, “Hot” Rod Strickland, “Sky” Walker, and other phoned-in Knicknames.

    How dare you forget Walt “Clyde” Frazier, one of the greatest sports nick names of all time. In fact, it is the greatest Knickname ever.

  36. @56, You did not forget Earl “The Pearl” Munroe, the second greatest Knickname ever did you?

    Honorable mention to “Dollar Bill” Bradley!

  37. I put Clyde at the top because (a) he is Clyde, (b) he got the name as a Knick for his snappy dressing and (c) he is still dressing to live up to that name. Earl “the Pearl” had that name (which is a great one) long before he became a Knick. “Dollar” Bill Bradley also got that name before he was a Knick – I do not know if he picked it up in high school or at Princeton.

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