Anthony Randolph: Enigma

Rumors have been floating around for several months that the Knicks will trade Anthony Randolph to either the Pacers, the Timberwolves, or the Trailblazers, for a first-round pick to be used in any Nuggets-Knicks Carmelo trade. The latest trade rumor made me wonder: If the Knicks will include Randolph in a trade, why, exactly, would the Nuggets prefer a draft pick instead of him?

Randolph oozes with potential. He has filled up box scores and highlight reels against some of the best teams in the league. Golden State fans hated his inclusion in the David Lee trade. He is coming off an injury-riddled season and has played nowhere near the minutes required this season to adequately evaluate his current ability. It is a fair point to question if the argument proposed by Coach d’Antoni has some circular logic behind it. “He won’t play until he’s ready to help the team win,” but what if he needs to begin playing in real games again to become re-acclimated to the league? How could anyone know how good he might be if he never is given minutes? And finally, if three teams are apparently willing to give up a first-round pick for the player, why are neither of the teams who are principals of the proposed trade anxious to hold on to him?

As is well documented on the comment threads of most Knickerblogger posts, many Knicks fans wish that Randolph could be given more playing time, but are alright with the idea of including him as piece in a Carmelo trade, if only for the reason that they doubt d’Antoni will ever give him the playing time required to show his potential.   I asked Jeremy at Roundball Mining Company to offer his perspective on the proposed trade, and what he had to say is pretty interesting.

Knickerblogger: I had one question regarding the new TWolves-Knicks-Nuggets trade scenario- as a Nuggets fan, would you rather have a 1st round pick from Minnesota, or just have Anthony Randolph instead?”

Roundball Mining Co.: “Personally I am a pretty big Anthony Randolph fan, much more so than most. If Denver is serious about the rumored trade, they would be sacrificing a major aspect of any Melo trade they have been working for and that is acquiring a young player with big time potential.  Chandler is fine and still has room to grow, but he is not a prospect that could turn into an all-star some day and make the trade a win for Denver.  Plus I do not think he wants to stay in Denver longterm and in order to keep him this summer, or whenever the next free agent period is, the Nuggets will have to pay him.  The Knicks do have a young, cheap potentially great player they are willing to trade and that is Randolph… If the pick from Minnesota is unprotected, I could see making a case for the pick over Randolph, but the player I have personally wanted from the Knicks roster from the start has been Randolph.”

And thus the enigma that is Anthony Randolph: a player whom two franchises don’t seem eager to hold on to, with fan bases of those franchises both wanting to give him playing time. The reasons why he is benched are not completely off base : he’s shown a propensity for horrific turnovers, and his shooting percentage is quite poor from mid-range. It may also be true that Donnie still values Randolph highly, but views him as a necessary cost in a trade for Carmelo. But I have a feeling that several years from now, we may be left ruing his loss. The more resigned I become to to the fact he would probably be included in a trade for Melo, the more I just wish that Knicks fans could be the ones to see what he’ll become.

2011 Game Thread: Knicks @ Bulls

It’s been 5 days since the Knicks have played, and I don’t know about you but I’m itching for some action. New York heads into Chicago to face the Bulls, a team that seems to have improved from a year ago. The 2010 Bulls were 27th on offense, and this year currently rank 15th. I know it’s only 3 games, but Derrick Rose’s scoring is up 8 points (28.2 pts/36) from last year’s average, although his turnovers have skyrocketed as well (5.1 to/36). It’ll be interested to see how those progress as the season wears on. Joakim Noah is still dominating on the boards (5.1 oreb/36, 13.8 reb/36), and the Knicks will have to keep him and teammates Taj Gibons and Omer Asik from giving the Bulls second chances. For those that are unfamiliar with Asik, he’s Chicago’s version of Mozgov, but just replace fouls with injuries.

The Knicks will have Anthony Randolph, who is back from his ankle injury. D’Antoni has reportedly said that the youngster wouldn’t see a lot of minutes early, but wasn’t against expanding his role based on production. Other things to observe is Stoudemire’s high turnover rate (much like Rose), Gallinari’s slump (another 11 minute game and you have to figure he’s injured), Landry Fields textbook play (a joy to watch), Wilson Chandler’s TS% (especially in the fourth quarter), and Roger Mason’s minutes (will he get any with Randolph back). Should be good stuff.

Knicks 2011 Season Preview – Centers

With the Knicks 2011 season almost upon us, it’s time to analyze the roster. Usually teams have some stability from one year to the next, but New York has only a third of the players returning. How New York is going to perform is more of a mystery than previous years. This year I’ll look at each position and attempt to address the critical question for those players.

Centers: Is there a quality NBA starting center here?

Prior to the preseason, it was thought that the Knicks would open the season with Ronny Turiaf as the starting center. Unfortunately Turiaf’s preseason play has been less than spectacular, averaging a pitiful 4.4 pts/36, 7.0 reb/36, and 2.3 to/36. Mozgov scores more (13.4 pts/36) but his rebounding (6.7 reb/36) and turnovers (3.0 to/36) are actually worse. The young Russian also features the propensity to commit foolish fouls (6.7 pf/36) at a rate that would make Jerome James proud. With the possibility of them averaging 30 to 40 minutes a night, you have to be concerned with the production the Knicks will get out of the five spot.

New York’s center dilemma brings up another area of concern: rebounding. Even if Amar’e stays at power forward, the Knicks are going to have a serious problem on the boards this year. Turiaf has been a poor rebounder his whole career, and Mozgov, for all his size, didn’t rebound well in preseason. The only player on the roster who has historically rebounded at a high level is Anthony Randolph. Unfortunately he isn’t likely to see enough minutes this year to make a dent in New York’s main deficiency. The Knicks haven’t been strong on the glass during D’Antoni’s tenure, and it seems that again this year they’ll be punting one of the four factors away, no matter who is playing center.


Which Knick center will be of NBA-starting caliber quality this season?

  • Timofev Mozgov (72%, 186 Votes)
  • Neither (22%, 58 Votes)
  • Both (3%, 8 Votes)
  • Ronny Turiaf (3%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 259

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Knicks 2011 Season Preview – Power Forwards

With the Knicks 2011 season almost upon us, it’s time to analyze the roster. Usually teams have some stability from one year to the next, but New York has only a third of the players returning. How New York is going to perform is more of a mystery than previous years. This year I’ll look at each position and attempt to address the critical question for those players.

Power Forwards: Is Amar’e really going to play the four?

The answer to this question is most relevant to how the Knicks will look this year. Having Amar’e entrenched at power forward forces D’Antoni to play Mozgov and Turiaf. Additionally Amar’e and Gallinari averaging 35+ minutes per night, doesn’t leave a lot of time at the forward spot for Anthony Randolph and Wilson Chandler. Mathematically there would only be 26 minutes per game remaining for the pair. Hence if Amar’e stays at center, that could mean either Chandler stays entrenched at SG, or Anthony Randolph won’t see many minutes.

However if the option to have Stoudemire at center is available, then New York can make a much more fluid lineup. With multi-position defenders like Randolph, Chandler, Gallo, Fields, Azubuike, and Douglas the team could go into a Swiss Army mode creating mismatches all over the floor. One of New York’s strengths is their depth and athleticism. As long as Amar’e mans the 5, the team will be fast enough to outrun the opposition whether they go big with the rest of the lineup (Felton, Chandler, Gallinari, and Randolph) or small (Felton, Douglas, Gallinari, Chandler).

At its core, the answer to this question will hint at the power dynamics between D’Antoni and Stoudemire. It has been rumored that with the Suns Amar’e wasn’t happy playing the five, and this caused a friction between him and his coach. Undoubtedly D’Antoni’s system runs best when he has the flexibility with his players. In the three seasons before Shaq arrived in Phoenix, the Suns averaged 59 wins with Amar’e at center. The Knicks coach has said many kind words about Mozgov, but it’s not hard to imagine D’Antoni itching to send the 7 footer to the bench and trot out a more sleek and energetic lineup. If the centers are getting a lot of minutes and aren’t producing, then you’ll know that Amar’e is serious about not playing the five and D’Antoni is restricted in his creativity.

Knicks Exercise Options on Gallinari, Randolph, and Douglas

[From the Knicks P.R. department.]

NEW YORK, October 24, 2010 – New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that the team has exercised fourth-year options on forwards Danilo Gallinari and Anthony Randolph, as well as its third-year option on guard Toney Douglas.

Gallinari, 6-10, 224-pounds, has averaged 12.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 109 games (76 starts) over his first two NBA seasons. Originally selected by New York with the sixth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Gallinari was selected to play in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and compete in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest at 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend in Dallas last season.

Randolph, 6-11, 225-pounds, has averaged 9.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in 96 games over his first two NBA seasons with the Golden State Warriors. Originally selected by the Warriors with the 14th overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft following his freshman season at Louisiana State University, Randolph was acquired by New York, along with Kelenna Azubuike and Ronny Turiaf, from Golden State in exchange for David Lee on Jul. 9, 2010.

Douglas, 6-2, 185-pounds, averaged 8.6 points, 2.0 assists and 19.4 minutes in 56 games during his rookie campaign with New York in 2009-10. The Jonesboro, GA-native was selected by the L.A. Lakers in the first round (29th overall) in the 2009 NBA Draft and had his draft rights traded to New York in exchange for cash considerations on draft night, Jun. 25, 2009.

Preseason Recap: Celtics 97 – Knicks 84

Can you see it?

Look real hard.

I know, right now, it’s only there in fits and spurts, like a Sasquatch that dashes into view only to be just as quickly herded back into its pen in Area 51, that one might be tempted to doubt that they had seen it at all.

But I’m telling you, there’s the making of a real durned good ball-team here.

But, not to wax too poetic for a Sunday afternoon when most of us (and your humble correspondent) are girdlaing our loins for the Manichean, proto-fascist, ground-acquisition war/blood orgy that is NFL Sunday in America (Let’s go Jets!), but watching the ‘Bockers late last night, I almost whispered to my teevee, “Inchworm! Climb Mount Fuji! But slowly, slowly…”

And yes, I oft quote Issa during ballgames. It’s a real hoot when I do it in bars.

Long story short, even without the Great God STAT, there were flashes of…something…in last night’s tilt v. the right proper Bostonians. Crisp passes as the ball flitted around the perimeter till the open man drained an uncontested J, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Earl n’ Clyde were doing their thang. Rotating on D? Defending the rim? Sweet fancy Moses, who are these guys?? Of course, somewhere in the 3rd quarter, this wondrous bounty of winning b-ball, seemed to crawl into a hole and die, but for stretches there…

Anyhoo. Here’s a bit of, “The good, the bad and the random/jejune.”

THE GOOD

Ray Felton – Ray-Ray finally had a game that implied why DW would lavish 15 million upon his rounded shoulders. He was confident in his shot, got to the rim quite a bit and generally hit the open man. I was semi-resigned to him being, “A faster Chris Duhon, “ so while 6-13, 16 points, 5 dimes, doesn’t exactly scream Nash 2.0, he held his own against the otherworldly Rondo. (And boy, isn’t “Balkman over Rondo” starting to look like one of the worst draft blunders ever?)

Danilo Gallinari – Someone must have told him that the 22’ ring on either end of the court isn’t an electrified fence or something because Il Gallo actually decided to take it to the bucket a few times. And lo! He had his best game so far. Go figure. There’s very few sights in this work-a-day world more enjoyable than Paul Pierce with a royally pissed-off look on his mug because he can’t fathom how he got whistled for hacking a guy (our Danilo) who runs like a drunk careening down 9th Avenue, crashing into mailboxes/streetlights, trying to avoid an imaginary cop.

Wilson Chandler – I’m convinced that someone fixed his shot this off-season. He’s holding the ball more out in front, using his legs and less launching the ball from behind his shoulders/fading away. It’s definitely working as Ill Will Chill’s looked like a legit SG for the first time, well…ever.

Landry Fields – He’s just got a knack. Granted, the bulk of his minutes came when the Knicks were going through one of their trademark, “Someone put cellophane over the hoop so there’s like, seriously no effing way we can score, ” stretches, but, He. Just. Makes. Plays. I think he’s gotta be in the rotation sooner rather than later.

THE BAD

Toney Douglas – Toney certainly didn’t do what Toney Douglas do in this one. His shot was off, he had gobs of sloppy turnovers, and the offense up and croaked when he was running it. Still, I have complete and utter faith that he’ll turn it around ASAP

Anthony Randolph – Oh, I so want him to be good. And you can tell by watching that he does too. Therein lies the problem. He so wants to do something that makes the crowd collectively go, “Ooo!”, that yanks the mob out of their seats and transforms them into a sea of suitors sooooo badly that he’s prone to some godawful blunders/seems like someone tought him how to play, like, yesterday. In addition, when he errs, like by say lofting a Jamal Crawford-esque off-balance 20 foot brick, he instinctively fires a glance towards the bench to see if he’ll get yanked. Screw Don Nelson, we as fans need to give AR unconditional love and maybe a nice card or some candy every chance we can get.

Mike D’Antoni – pick a rotation, Coach. Pretty please?

THE JEJUNE

Mozgov! – Evidently, when Timofey got t’d up, he was saying to himself (and yes, when I imagine him speaking, it’s in Ivan Drago-style pidgin English), “I say, I no good with fouls. Referee say I talking to him. But I am talking to me! Now, when I foul. I say nothing…” Good times, good times.

Roger Mason Jr. – Is it me or does he look eerily like Larry Hughes out there. I don’t like him. Maybe it’s because he resembles Wee-Bay from the Wire, but the sooner Azubuike/Fields takes his pt, the better.

C’est tout, mes amis. I’m yoinked to watch the irrepressible John Wall and the goofily appealing Javale McGee tonight. In lieu of a separate game thread, feel free to add your thoughts on tonight’s game too. Even though the games don’t count, get them W’s!

Mozgov’s Preseason Garden Debut

After a European Road Trip, the Knicks finally returned home for their first preseason game against the Celtics. The significance of this game was Timofey Mozgov’s first start for New York. The Knicks have been looking for a starting center to play alongside Amar’e Stoudemire, and it seems that Ronny Turiaf may have played himself out of the starting role for now.

Mozgov started off his Garden debut on the right foot. He made his first shot, an 18 foot jumper with 9:40 left in the first quarter. As Felton had the ball cross court dribbling towards the foul line, Mozgov was unguarded on the weakside and stepped into an open spot to receive the pass for an easy shot. Twenty four seconds later he made another open jumper, this time along the baseline. With 7:07 remaining, he showed great court vision and hit a wide open Felton in stride for an easy basket. Less than a minute later, he forced a driving Pierce into a turnover and was rewarded with the ball on the offensive end.

His first quarter wasn’t all positive, as Mozgov picked up a careless foul on a Jermaine O’Neal drive, and got a silly technical walking to the bench. The rest of the game was less impressive. He picked up two fouls in the second quarter. One nullifying a block on Pierce (Erden recovered and scored despite the foul). He came back in the third quarter, but back to back turnovers ended his night on a sour note.

Its too early to drink the Kompot on him being an NBA quality starting center. At the end of the night he only saw 15 minutes, netted 5 points and 3 rebounds along with 4 fouls. From a strictly statistical standpoint it’s what you’d expect from a rookie backup center. However a visual perspective showed him to be athletic for a big man with flashes of ability. Against Harangody, Mozgov closed out nicely on a perimeter shot attempt. His pass to Felton was Sabonis-worthy. And at least once he fought for a rebound tipping it to a teammate. In the end, Mozgov showed more potential than you’d expect from a player who flew under the NBA scouts radar. However he also reminded New Yorkers that he’s not quite ready for prime time.


More game notes:

  • Amar’e finished with 30 points (on 13 shots) but the Knicks still lost. I wonder how many times I’m going to repeat that phrase?
  • On the flip side, Felton had 7 points on 11 shots. He didn’t have a particularly good defensive game either.
  • Bill Walker had 11 points (on 9 shots) and hit half of his threes. But he had 0 rebounds and 0 assists.
  • Randolph led the team in rebounds (6 tied with Gallo), but coughed it up 5 times. On the court it looks like he’s trying too hard.
  • After Amar’e the best players for the Knicks were Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields. The latter only played limited minutes, but you figure he’s working himself up the rotation, especially with Roger Mason’s poor night. Ill-Will looked great, hitting 2 of 3 treys and attempting 5 free throws. If he can do that consistently…