The 2011 Prospectus Is Out

It must be getting closer to opening day, because the new version of the Basketball Prospectus was released! Of course I don’t want to give away too much, but I’ll reveal a few spoilers:

  • They predict the New York offense to be good this year. (How good? Well you’ll have to buy it to know!)
  • I love the analysis of Gallo. Good to know the unbiased opinion of him. (Is it good or bad?)
  • They see this year as a breakout season for one of the Knick younger players. (Which one?)
  • Most of the New York chapter is about the long term strategy for the team, even as so far to name the other players in the summer of 2011. (Which teams can vie for the next big All Star? Oh the curiosity must be getting to you!)
  • If that isn’t enough to get you to pony up the $9.98, consider that yours truly wrote the “From the Blogosphere” for the Knicks section. Oh that and they cover every team, every player, with stats galore, fantasy advice, and SCHOENE projections. But mostly because I contributed a 150 or so words.

    Pelton Rates Free Agent Destinations

    Over at Basketball Prospectus, Kevin Pelton looks at potential landing spots for free agents in the summer of Lebron. It’s definitely worth a read, but here’s the money quote:

    So what did the Knicks lose to get the room to sign two players? Jordan Hill’s three-year projection is for 10.6 WARP; he’s not Brandon Jennings or Ty Lawson, but he does figure to become a useful player. The way I valued the 2011 swap, it cost New York 0.4 WARP, and the 2012 pick only cost them 0.7 WARP. The difference is enough to drop the Knicks below Miami in this analysis, and it stands the potential to be a disastrous trade if the 2011 and 2012 picks are in the lottery, but if New York is successful in free agency it will barely miss them at all.

    Based on talent, cap space, and draft picks, NY looks like a middle-of-the-pack destination for marquee free agents. We have cap space aplenty, but are likely to have a woefully thin roster going forward. That’s hardly a bombshell for Knickerblogger regulars, but the details make for an insightful read. So check it out.

    Pelton’s analysis raises a couple of interesting questions for Knick fans.

    1. Will Knick fans support a non-LeBron rebuild?

    What if unassailable intelligence–I’m talking Peter Vescey-level sources here–confirmed that Walshtoni knew all along that LeBron would never leave CLE? LeBron was always a myth intended to make cap management easier to swallow. The real plan A has always been, let’s say, Nash, Lee (or Boozer), and Dalembert at reasonable prices. Would Knick fans riot? Either way, it’s possible that the wisest play for Donnie Hoops is a combo of second-tier free agents (at second-tier prices), trades, and low-cost picks rather going for LeBron, Bosh/Johnson, and eight D-Leaguers.

    2. What subjective factors will play the biggest role in free agent movement this summer?

    Pelton’s analysis looks at talent, cap space, and draft picks. He (wisely) stays away from subjective factors. Yet, we know those can “tip the scales” at times. (Who thought Turkoglu would go to Toronto?) Even with LeBron, Walsh must still find talent at a discount (or at least without a premium). But how?

    Coach D’Antoni – All else equal, he’s probably NYs biggest intangible asset. That’s not without caveats though. If I’m guaranteed 1-7 in the rotation, I prefer D’Antoni to Spoelstra, Del Negro, or [insert new NJ or LAC coach] for the same money. If I’m the 8th/9th guy in the rotation, maybe I’d rather play for the minimum somewhere else since I might never see the light of day. (D’Antoni’s a pair of glasses away from being a Larry Brown-level diva.)

    Unsettled rotation – Although portrayed as a weakness, I see this as an asset in the market. No starting spot is guaranteed. Add in D’Antoni’s penchant for unorthodox lineups, and NY can look solely at talent regardless of position. That’s a flexibility few other teams will have.

    The brand – It is easy for New Yorkers to overstate people’s desire to live, work, and play in the city. However, many commentators oddly dismiss the strength of the “Knicks” brand outright. When companies rank the world’s best brands they’re essentially looking at a brand’s marginal ability to attract resources. Some brands are better than others, even after prolonged underperformance. Take Alabama football. Five years ago Bama was losing at Hawai’i. Now, Alabama is football royalty again and in on every top recruit. It doesn’t take as much to revive some brands as others.

    Outside Look At Danilo Gallinari

    Courtesy of Basketball Prospectus:

    Danilo Gallinari, G-F, New York: Gallinari has taken steps towards becoming the next great homegrown Knick, a legitimate running mate for whatever star free agent the Knicks land next summer. Gallinari’s perimeter shooting is as good as advertised, but his developing ability to put the ball on the floor has kept his usage rate at above-average levels. His defensive metrics are also strong, though I don’t really trust them. (I suspect there is some Jared Jeffries cross-matching issues going on here.) Gallinari’s athleticism is average at best, so his ceiling is probably below that of elite player status.

    Interesting take. I’m not sure that Gallo’s defensive stats are the result of Jeffries’ help. The Knicks switch so often on defense that positional match-ups might mean less for them than another team. Additionally I don’t buy the average athleticism theory either. Gallinari isn’t the jump out of the gym type, but I’d put him at above average athletically. At 6-10 to be listed as a G-F (although these days he’s more PF/SF than anything else) the player would have to be quick. If Gallo plays positions 2-4, then doesn’t that alone indicate good physical ability?

    The Knicks 2010 Over/Under

    This year I decided to have some fun and invite some NBA writers to participate in a little soothsaying. I proposed some possible scenarios via Over/Under and asked them to look into their crystal-ball and divine the outcome to these events. This year I got a good mix of people including: Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus, J.E. Skeets of Ball Don’t Lie, Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty, Howard Beck of the New York Times, Tommy Dee from the Knicks Blog, NBA analyst Gabe Farkas, in addition to some of KnickerBlogger’s own writing staff (Robert “The Animal” Silverman, Thomas B., Owen, Michael Zannettis, Kevin McElroy, Brian Cronin, and myself).

    The Youngsters

    Gallo 3 point shooting percentage: 40%
    My Pick: Under
    Gallinari shot 44% last year, but due to the limited number of minutes he played this could be a fluke. Most of our participants see him faring well from behind the arc this year.


    Jordan Hill minutes played: 1100.5
    My Pick: Under
    For Hill to go over, he would only need to average 13.5 minutes a game, which doesn’t seem like much. However the Knicks have a lot of depth on the front court, and Hill has looked unimpressive in the preseason. If he starts racking up DNPs, it’s not likely he’ll make this number. Only Pelton, Ziller, and Farkas see him getting this much playing time this year.


    Toney Douglas True Shooting Percentage: 50%
    My Pick: Under
    The league average for True Shooting Percentage is 54%, so this should be an easily attainable goal for most NBA players. Our panel was split, but leaned towards the under.


    Lottery Pick Centers

    Darko Milicic total points on the season: Eddy Curry total points on the season
    My Pick: Over
    Once these two were among the hottest prospects in the draft, now they’re barely able to find court time on a 30-something win team. Darko scores much less per minute, but I guess that’s the point.

    Darko and Curry. Two halves of a great center don’t make a whole.

    — Mike Zannettis


    UFOs (or I’ll Believe It When I See it)

    Jared Jeffries 3 pointers attempted per 36 minutes: 1.5
    My Pick: Over
    Another split decision by the group. I decided to go with 3 pointers attempted, because that’ll mean a fundamental shift in the way Jeffries plays on offense. And D’Antoni does allow players to shoot threes, even if they can’t hit them.

    I think Jared Jeffries will easily exceed 1.5 3 pointers attempted per 36 minutes–if he is healthy– in this offense. The better question is will he have more than 0.5 makes per 36 minutes. I don’t think he can do that without downloading a cheat code, and last I checked there is no slot for a Game Genie on JJ’s shooting hand.

    — Thomas B.


    (Smells Like) Team Spirit

    Number of Knicks traded during the 2010 season: 0.5
    My Pick: Under
    Kevin Pelton is the lone dissenter. I wonder who’ll be gone?


    Number of Wins From March 1 – April 14th: 9.5
    My Pick: Under
    The end of the schedule is just brutal.

    I ran the numbers on the Knicks’ last 24 games based on SCHOENE’s projections for them and their opponents, factoring in home-court advantage. The final estimate? 9.6 wins. Nice job on the over/under, then.

    –Kevin Pelton


    Defensive efficiency: 110.8
    My Pick: Under
    This is the team’s mark from last year, so the question is technically whether the Knicks defense will improve. Again Pelton is the only one to break from the pack.


    Playoff Spots Earned: 0.5
    My Pick: Under
    Only 5 of 13 picked New York to make the playoffs. The measure of a true optimist.

    Although watching [some of the] pre-season games is enough to make one fondly recall even the dark days of Bob Thornton, Jammin’ James Bailey, Ron Cavenall and Chris McNealy, I (gulp) think these ‘Bockers are going to surprise. I’ve got no stat-based or even vaguely logical reason to believe so other than the fact that the conventional wisdom seems to be that this year’s Knicks model is gonna stink real bad. Maybe it’s my nature as a contrarian, but to me, “Conventional Wisdom”‘s as much of an oxymoron as “Jumbo Shrimp” or “Military Intelligence”. I.e. since the ESPN gang/the beat writers are all in agreement, I’m going to go the other way.

    In short, playoffs or bust, baybee!

    — Robert Silverman


    The Free Agents

    Number of additional games Nate Robinson plays as a Knick in his career: 82.5
    My Pick: Over
    To go over, Nate would have to resign with the Knicks. The Magic 8-Ball says “Outlook not so good.”

    David Lee’s Annual Salary in 2011: $7.5M
    My Pick: Under
    Lots of people went over, but perhaps this is a trick question. He can still average nearly $10M with a 10% raise over 6 years starting at $7.5M. Of course not every contract increases that way, but it’s possible.

    Whether or not you agree with it, Lee is a HOT commodity.

    — Gabe Farkas


    Reviewing the 2010 Basketball Prospectus

    I’ve been writing about the NBA for over 5 few years now, and I don’t think my disdain for writers using the same old cliches in lieu of true analysis has been hidden. This is especially true for articles on the Knicks, a team I’ve covered closely in that time span. A few years ago the best place for top notch basketball analysis was the Basketball Prospectus, the brainchild of John Hollinger. But after signing with ESPN, Hollinger moved his team and player analysis to ESPN’s Insider. Although I’m far from a luddite and Hollinger’s eye was just as sharp, it just wasn’t the same at it’s new location. Perhaps it’s heresy for a blogger to say, but there’s something to be said for reading things outside of a web page.

    Well this year the Basketball Prospectus is back, written by Bradford Doolittle, Kevin Pelton, and the rest of the BP crew. Not only is this year’s addition similar to its predecessors in that they cover every team and player, but there are plenty of additions. SCHOENE, their similarity system, not only comes up with comparable players based on historical data but extends this data to the team level as well. Additionally the player stat section is enhanced with lots of new metrics. Each player has their own skill rating in key areas (rebounding, passing, hands, etc.), salary data is included, and per minute stats are replaced by percentage based stats.

    But more importantly is that the analysis is spot on, and from my perspective they nailed the Knicks. They correctly identified Wilson Chandler as “an exceptional athlete” who needs to “draw more fouls going forward”, and astutely pointed out that the hiring of D’Antoni was “not just bringing in a proven winner, [but] a style, a brand.” There’s tons of great information about the whole league, including articles on fantasy advice, trends, the economy and microfracture surgery.

    The 2009-10 Basketball Prospectus is available from their web site, in either PDF or paper format.