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…
  • Interview with Howard Beck (10/12/2010)

    Looking for more information on the Knicks this early in the season, I picked up the phone and called Howard Beck of the New York Times. He spent 17 minutes and 33 seconds answering questions about the team.

    Mike Kurylo: What’s the mood of the team?

    Howard Beck: It’s not easy to detect right now. It’s so early. I think they’re still trying to feel each other out. If you ask they’re all trying to be optimistic, and feeling like they’re in the early stages of something good here. The mood is a hard thing to put their finger on when they’ve only played 2 preseason games and have been in camp for only a couple of weeks. As we’ve all pointed out numerous times – it’s a completely new team, so they’re still trying to feel each other out and figure out what their (team) identity is. It’s early so every team is feeling optimistic and feeling like there are some good days ahead. But with it being so early, it’s just hard to put a label on the Knicks.

    Mike Kurylo: How different is this from teams of previous years? Where any of them this optimistic?

    Howard Beck: The cliche of October is that everybody feels great about their chances, but with the Knicks it was within a narrow zone of “Hey this year we might get to 35 wins.” This year the difference is a new beginning. The last 5-6 years here, at a minimum, you couldn’t say anything was a new beginning. They had these fake new beginnings, false hopes pinned to “we just got Stephon Marbury” or “we just got Eddy Curry” or “we just got Zach Randolph” and it was always some false promise of a franchise player that couldn’t really lift the franchise. This is the first time the Knicks actually have a true franchise player, someone who is among the best in the league at his position and overall, with Amar’e Stoudemire. So that makes it different. For the first time the players who are still here, and there are only a handful of them, have someone that they can look at and say “that’s our guy”, “that’s our leader”, “he’s not only going to be our leading scorer, but he’s going to be our spiritual leader, our team leader, our morale leader; the guy who sets the tone every day.” So that’s a huge change, because they haven’t had anyone who remotely resembles that in years.

    On the other hand since 10 of these guys weren’t even here last year, it’s not the same guys that are coming in, it’s completely new guys. These guys aren’t carrying the burdens of the Stephon Marbury-Isiah Thomas era. Roger Mason, Ronnie Turiaf, Raymond Felton, and Amar’e Stoudemire – they don’t carry the weight of the Knicks misery from the last 5 years. And that’s positive. They don’t have to worry about what the franchise (has been recently). These guys were brought in by Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh to be part of their team, going forward. The last several camps were characterized by guys who were going to be purged or were brought in solely for the purpose for their contract to expire. So the emotional investment of (this year’s team) are deeper.

    Mike Kurylo: Speaking of Amar’e – is he really going to play the 4 exclusively, primarily, or occasionally? What’s your take from what you’ve seen in practice?

    Howard Beck: That’s a great question because over the last week or so, watching Turiaf struggle a little bit and watching Mozgov flash between promising and foul prone I’ve been thinking about that same thing. And I’ll ask Mike D’Antoni about that today when I get there. In Phoenix, the Suns were widely successful with Amar’e as their so-called undersized/non-traditional center, and I don’t know why the Knicks can’t be successful as well. I think they have to (try) a banger/traditional center next to Amar’e to help him out and keep him out of foul trouble. But I think there is a lot of merit of playing it the Suns way – which is go undersized at every position and just outrun the other team up and down the court. You know there are only a few true centers who are scoring centers in the league anyway, so it’s not as if Amar’e Stoudemire is going to just sit there every night and get banged on by low-post/back-you-down centers. There just aren’t many of them anymore. I think we’ll end up seeing Stoudemire at the 5 a lot, but I think Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want to start that way. He’s inclined to, if he can, keep Amar’e at his natural position.

    Mike Kurylo: Let’s talk about one of the guys you mentioned: Mozgov. He looks like a foul machine out there. He’s a big guy that’s very agile for his size, but how is the team working on that? Do they have refs at practice?

    Howard Beck: Aside from the occasional scrimmage when you bring in refs, it doesn’t happen much. Most guys have to learn on the fly in exhibition games. He’s got 6 games left, so that’s a lot of time for him to get acclimated and work out all the kinks…

    Mike Kurylo: … right, he’s got 36 fouls…

    Howard Beck: Exactly, and he’ll use 30 of them, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but you hope his foul rate will go down as he progresses. So if this is a question of his athleticism or his positioning or his technique, I’m not sure I know the answer to that question after two games. But clearly if they want him as their starting center, fouls are the primary area of concern. They know what he can do skill wise. They know he can shoot. They know he can rebound a little and block some shots. They know he can get up and down the court and finish on the break. So can he stay on the floor? Can he not put the other team at the foul line? They still have 6 games to figure that out.

    Mike Kurylo: One of the things that D’Antoni talked about was the ability to go 9, 10, or 11 players deep in the rotation. Do you see that as being a reality?

    Howard Beck: I think it’s realistic in the sense that he’s got a lot of players who are about even. In the past they were about even because unfortunately they were all equally mediocre. Right now they have some guys with good intriguing qualities about them. So it’s about how you want to go about it. How often you want to go big or go small. Whether you want to go with two point guard/play-makers in the back court. If you want to go with shooters. There’s a lot of ways they can go and most of these guys deserve playing time. Landry Fields had such a good summer league and training camp that he’s pushed his way into the conversation too.

    It comes down to when D’Antoni feels he needs to go 11 deep to keep up the pace and keep his guys fresh. And whether the guys who look like they deserve playing time continue to earn it. But you can make the case for probably 11 guys right now off the bat based on their experience or skill set or whether there’s a certain guy you need in a game (situation). I think it’s quite possible (to have a deep rotation). It sounds like he’s committed (to trying) if all those guys are earning the time.

    Mike Kurylo: Let’s talk about Anthony Randolph for a second. He looks like to be an inefficient scorer. What does the coaching staff think of him? Is he a starter?

    Howard Beck: He’s not a starter yet, because first it’s not clear what position he would start at. He’s got some really intriguing abilities that would make him a 3, 4 or 5 depending on who is around him. Right now the priority or concern is whether they have enough shooting on the floor. With him out there alongside the starters guys are going to cheat off of him to play Amar’e. The thing with this coaching staff, and you heard it with David Lee all the time who went from a banger to a person with a knock down jump shot, the coaching staff believes in guys and allows them to do their thing. And if they’re trying to learn or become a shooter they’re not going to yank him if he misses one or two. I think during the season Randolph might have a little less latitude. But right now during the preseason I don’t think it’s a problem for Anthony Randolph to go out there and say “look I’ve worked on my jumpshot all summer, I’m trying to get it down, it’s going down for me in practice, and I want to shoot the open shot.” He should. The coaching staff always encourages these players to shoot the open shot as long as it’s in the flow of the offense, to take the opportunities. Eventually he’s got to start making them, but that’s how you get the confidence that you can do it. A lot of guys get the mechanics down and can make them in practice but they can’t do it in the game. That’s mental, that’s nerves, or a lot of other things. Maybe the same transformation Amar’e Stoudemire or David Lee did (in developing a jump shot) Anthony Randolph can make. And if he can, he can be a fantastic weapon out there. But that remains to be seen.

    Mike Kurylo: You mentioned the word ‘shooting’, which reminds me of the Knicks’ shooting guard situation. Chandler has been the default guy for a few seasons even though he probably fits more of a forward’s build. There seems to be a lot of competition this year, even though Azubuike is hurt and isn’t playing. How is that position shaping out?

    Howard Beck: It’s an intriguing group because they’re all very different. Wilson Chandler got the nod initially because he’s one of the few returning guys, knows the system and he played almost the entire season at shooting guard last year and did alright. The nice thing of having him there is as long as he can stay with his man – he’s 6-8 and strong with long arms and he can harass guys – (he’s a) defensive presence and can be a real asset. His jump shot and his three point shot are unreliable enough to be a concern. It depends on what your priorities are. If you’re priority is shooting then Roger Mason is an accomplished shooter, although a little undersized. If you like Wilson’s size and defensive abilities and his length then you put him out there.

    This is goes back to the Amar’e Stoudemire question, because if you put him at center Wilson Chandler can be your power forward. D’Antoni said power forward was his best position. He likes him in the post and he likes his strength inside. I don’t know if you get enough rebounding from him, but if he’s at the 4 and Gallo is at the 3, now the 2 is open for one of your more natural shooters like Roger Mason or when healthy Azubuike. And Azubuike is the sleeper here. I think if he were healthy from day 1, then he’s the best fit at shooting guard. Not because he’s necessarily a much better player than Wilson Chandler, they’re different, but Azubuike is a better shooter and if you look at what he’s done his first couple of seasons, he could become their Raja Bell. Hit the open three and defend. Those are Azubuike’s strengths. If he were healthy, and maybe when he gets healthy, he’s the best fit there.

    Mike Kurylo: I only have time for one more question, so here you go: Who is the starting five on Christmas Day?

    Howard Beck: Wow. (chuckle) Two games into the preseason and I have to predict the lineup for Christmas Day. I’m just gong to go on a whim here, with a few impulsive judgments that I wouldn’t normally make. Amar’e Stoudemire at center, Wilson Chandler at power forward, Danilo Gallinari at small forward, a healthy Kelenna Azubuike at shooting guard, and Raymond Felton at point guard.

    The U.N. Intramural Squad Or Something More?

    Standing outside Madison Square Garden some summers ago, near the atm’s, yards away from Gerry Cosby’s. Through the glass doors, newly hired Knicks boss Donnie Walsh walked out. I watched as he stood there, lit a cigarette, a Clifford Odetts character in the flesh, he shoulda been named Sydney. As in the guy with the job nobody else wanted, toiling under the boss the whole city smirked about, for a franchise in perpetual free-fall. The suit too big, the bags under the eyes, this was a guy, this Donnie Walsh, made Jeff Van Gundy look like Randy Couture. This Donnie Walsh was a guy, you see him in a bar and you’re compelled to buy him a drink, sit him down and tell him (a’la Tony Curtis in The Sweet Smell of Success), “the cat’s in the bag and the bag is in the river.” You tell him run for your life, it’s not too late to quit this job you have undertaken.

    I shake his hand and wish him luck, mentioning to we share the same alma mater, Fordham Preparatory School in The Bronx. We alumni refer to it simply as “The Prep.” Learned a lot about patience at “The Prep.” Jesuits are part Obi Wan Kenobi, part F. Lee Ermey, the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket (may he rest in peace).

    Donnie Walsh knows a lot about patience having learned from the best. He waited patiently before he removed Isiah Thomas as coach. The replacement, Mike D’Antoni, was known for his seven seconds or less offense, a perception of his teams lack of defense, international fame a result of years playing in Italy, and his ability to recruit all-star talent.

    Donnie Walsh had a vision. He waited, traded away the Knicks best players, and watched the team lose to clear cap room and got the Knicks in position to pursue free agents. One can only guess that he painfully watched as several of the bigger names formed their own fantasy basketball camp in South Beach.

    Those unsure of his vision for the team need only take a second look at the group now assembled in blue, orange and white. For just a second, forget about the “Chosen One” who chose not to be in the Knicks picture. Look instead at the team Walsh has assembled.

    Because it might be that all Donnie Walsh has done is carve a team out of the same stone of which New York City is built. If he pulls it off, if this team wins, ignore the suit, dismiss the wheelchair, if he pulls this off cabbies should scream out “Donnie Basketball” as they drive by.

    New York is and always has been a “melting pot” of cultures, religons, ideas, tastes, culinary delights, dances, dialects, music, sounds. Go to Little Italy, Harlem, Chinatown, the Theatre District, Wall Street, the energy is there, distinctive, bright colors, vibrant sounds… one bold experiment.

    The 2010 New York Knicks for the first time in franchise history are an extension of the shared experiment that is New York. On the likely fifteen man roster, there’s an Italian, a Russian, a Canadian, a Frenchman (from Martinique), a German, a Londoner, a Jamaican… nearly half the roster are players with passports from their home nations. How will these guys pick what restaurant they eat out at together?

    None of this is by accident. Donnie Walsh sought out a “team that made sense…” He sought out personality types as well as skill sets that when together might add up to a sum greater than the parts.

    He also sought out individuals who were up to the challenge that is New York, who want to be here. Ask any native New Yorker or passing tourist: when you step out on the streets of New York, you had better be ready. The sidewalk warns “keep up, or get out of the way,” in about twenty different languages. You get the point, whether its a horn, a shout or a finger. At Madison Square Garden, the cheers don’t get any louder in the league, but the same can be said of the boos. On that stage you can become legendary or you can become infamous. In the case of John Starks you can become both. And in New York, you become that for life. Like being a “Parcells Guy.” Or playing for ” Mr. Torre.”

    This current team, this 2010 edition seems special. Gallinari the Italian Knick, has in two years proven to be one of the top shooters in the NBA. It is no accident his nickname is “The Rooster,” an inference to his cockiness. The new aquisitions are long on edge. Turiaf, the Frenchman is a veteran willing to dispatch his limbs in the path of those bold enough to speed into his paint. Mozgov, the seven foot one Russian, has displayed a fire and flamboyance, a desire to dunk and block shots. And the Jamacian Jerome Jordan, a seven foot draftee joins him. Anthony Randolph, the German born player, is the simply the second coming of Marcus Camby, an uncanny dunker who posesses a jump shot that at his height is matched only by Kevin Durant. Azibuke, the Londoner, is smooth, among the best shooter/slasher the Knicks have had in a decade. The Canadian, draftee Andy Rautins, a coaches son, and a three point arsonist, who at Syracuse, played his college home games at Madison Square Garden.

    They are led by All star Amare Stoudamire and Raymond Felton, both provide leadership and heart. The New York Knicks may have quietly turned the corner. The J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets finished a game away from the Superbowl as that team took on the attitude of its new coach.

    This team, Donnie’s team, seems to be an extension of a vision, perhaps without a single name written on it, but rather characteristics, personality traits, skill sets.

    How will they fare? Will they simply look like the United Nations Intramural squad, against say the Celtics? We’ll know soon. The New York Knicks will unveil their new look in Milan and Paris this fall as part of an NBA Global initiative. The anticipation is high. The Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Braves once laid claim to “America’s Team.”
    Now the stage is set for the 2010 New York Knicks, The World’s Team.
    Knick fans across the globe can dream of the playoffs in English, Italian, Russian, French, German or the language of their choice.

    If they win, we should all give “Donnie Basketball” the credit for having the vision.

    Similarity Scores For The New Knicks

    Amar’e Stoudemire

    .000 Amare Stoudemire 2010 PHO 22.6 61.5 55.7 24.1 2.9 9.3 1.0 0.7 1.1 2.7
    .134 Kevin McHale 1985 BOS 20.7 61.7 57.0 21.2 3.1 9.7 1.9 0.4 1.6 2.1
    .206 Rik Smits 1994 IND 19.7 58.0 53.4 20.9 2.3 8.2 2.7 0.8 1.4 2.6
    .235 Karl Malone 1991 UTA 24.8 59.6 52.8 26.0 2.6 10.5 2.9 1.0 0.9 2.7
    .236 Andres Nocioni 2007 CHI 15.6 57.8 53.6 19.2 1.1 7.7 1.5 0.7 0.6 2.7
    .243 Alonzo Mourning 1998 MIA 22.4 59.5 55.1 20.7 3.6 10.4 1.0 0.7 2.4 3.3
    .247 Buck Williams 1988 NJN 18.2 60.3 56.1 17.5 4.1 11.4 1.5 0.9 0.6 2.6
    .258 Armen Gilliam 1992 PHI 18.0 57.5 51.1 17.8 3.0 8.6 1.5 0.7 1.1 2.2
    .273 Darryl Dawkins 1984 NJN 17.6 64.1 59.4 20.2 2.4 8.1 1.8 0.9 2.0 3.4
    .274 Dirk Nowitzki 2006 DAL 28.1 58.9 51.5 25.1 1.3 8.5 2.6 0.7 1.0 1.8
    .278 Chris Gatling 1995 GSW 19.5 64.0 63.3 19.5 3.5 10.8 1.2 1.0 1.3 2.9

    His most similar players are McHale and Smits which gives you a good idea of Stoudemire; he’s somewhere between a Hall of Famer and a borderline All Star. Neither of them were great rebounders, although you could argue that McHale’s defense separates him from the three. There are some great players on this list, ones you could build a team around. But I, nor anyone else, think Amar’e is a player of that magnitude. Instead he’s a flawed All Star who needs a second one to get his team deep into the playoffs.

    Raymond Felton

    .000 Raymond Felton 2010 CHA 15.2 52.5 49.4 13.2 0.7 3.9 6.1 1.7 0.3 2.3
    .036 John Starks 1991 NYK 14.3 51.1 47.2 14.3 0.9 4.0 6.3 1.8 0.5 2.3
    .048 Rex Walters 1996 TOT 12.8 54.4 48.6 11.0 0.8 3.2 6.3 1.5 0.2 2.4
    .052 Bimbo Coles 1994 MIA 13.0 51.0 46.8 12.3 1.0 3.3 5.5 1.6 0.3 2.2
    .054 Chris Whitney 1997 WSB 15.2 56.6 50.9 13.9 0.4 3.4 5.9 1.6 0.1 2.2
    .061 Brent Barry 1997 LAC 15.0 52.6 48.3 14.5 1.0 3.6 5.1 1.7 0.5 2.5
    .061 Billy McKinney 1981 TOT 13.3 56.2 50.9 13.6 0.6 3.1 6.0 1.6 0.2 2.6
    .063 Lorenzo Romar 1984 TOT 14.8 50.1 46.4 13.8 0.7 3.3 6.8 1.9 0.3 2.2
    .064 Steve Colter 1988 TOT 12.8 50.1 46.4 11.5 1.4 4.1 6.2 1.5 0.3 2.1
    .068 Luke Ridnour 2007 SEA 13.7 50.9 46.8 13.4 0.5 2.8 6.3 1.4 0.3 2.7
    .070 Jason Williams 2001 SAC 12.8 49.8 47.8 11.3 0.3 2.9 6.5 1.5 0.1 2.5

    Not exactly an impressive list, although Knick fans will like the person situated at #1. For the most optimistic Knick fans, this list should lower expectations a bit. Felton isn’t the second star New Yorkers were hoping for, but perhaps after two years of Chris Duhon the bar has been lowered considerably.

    Anthony Randolph

    .000 Anthony Randolph 2010 GSW 18.7 52.1 44.5 18.5 3.5 10.3 2.0 1.3 2.5 2.4
    .193 Joe Smith 1996 GSW 17.2 52.3 46.3 16.0 3.8 9.1 1.0 1.1 1.7 1.8
    .200 Elton Brand 2000 CHI 20.6 52.8 48.2 19.5 4.2 9.7 1.9 0.8 1.6 2.7
    .219 Shawn Kemp 1990 SEA 15.9 53.1 48.1 16.9 4.7 11.1 0.8 1.5 2.3 3.4
    .226 Tyrus Thomas 2007 CHI 14.8 52.1 47.5 13.9 3.3 10.0 1.5 1.7 2.8 3.5
    .230 Tracy McGrady 2000 TOR 20.0 50.9 46.0 17.7 2.7 7.3 3.8 1.3 2.2 2.3
    .236 Kevin Garnett 1997 MIN 18.2 53.7 50.2 15.7 2.3 7.4 2.8 1.3 2.0 2.1
    .257 Josh Smith 2006 ATL 15.5 50.0 44.7 12.7 2.5 7.5 2.7 0.9 2.9 2.3
    .258 Chris Bosh 2005 TOR 17.5 54.7 47.2 16.2 2.3 8.6 1.8 0.9 1.3 2.2
    .278 Amare Stoudemire 2003 PHO 16.2 53.0 47.3 15.5 3.5 10.1 1.1 0.9 1.2 2.6
    .298 Andrei Kirilenko 2002 UTA 18.8 55.3 47.0 14.7 2.5 6.7 1.6 1.9 2.7 1.8

    To steal an analogy from Kevin McElroy, if Randolph is the fruit of David Lee’s labor then Walsh got a damn ripe piece here. What’s not to like about a 21 year old who is most similar to a bunch of All Stars? This move is reminiscent of when New York acquired Marcus Camby. Both of them were highly regarded on draft night (Camby much more so), and it seemed that both of their teams gave up on them too early. Camby became known for his shot blocking and rebounding, but he had hyalophobic tendencies early on. In fact comparing the two players after their second season (Camby didn’t come into the league until he was 22 years old), Randolph is superior with regards to rebounding and scoring. It goes without saying that a 21 year old has room to grow, but if Randolph can improve his efficiency then just like with Camby, New York will have a real steal on their hands.

    Kelenna Azubuike

    .000 Kelenna Azubuike 2009 GSW 14.7 56.2 52.0 16.1 1.7 5.6 1.8 0.9 0.8 1.4
    .035 Brian Cook 2006 LAL 15.6 57.8 54.6 15.1 2.1 6.4 1.7 0.9 0.8 1.4
    .062 Rashard Lewis 2005 SEA 19.4 57.1 53.7 19.4 1.5 5.2 1.3 1.0 0.8 1.6
    .064 David West 2006 NOK 19.7 55.4 51.3 18.0 2.4 7.8 1.3 0.9 0.9 1.5
    .068 Kyle Korver 2007 PHI 14.2 56.9 51.8 16.8 0.5 4.1 1.7 0.9 0.3 1.8
    .070 Pat Garrity 2002 ORL 12.3 55.3 53.7 13.2 1.2 5.1 1.5 0.9 0.4 1.0
    .070 Hakim Warrick 2008 MEM 16.2 55.5 51.2 17.5 2.5 7.3 1.1 0.7 0.6 1.7
    .075 Wally Szczerbiak 2003 MIN 17.3 56.7 52.3 17.9 1.0 4.7 2.7 0.9 0.4 1.7
    .078 DerMarr Johnson 2006 DEN 11.7 54.5 52.3 13.8 0.7 3.7 2.1 1.0 1.0 1.8
    .080 Wesley Person 1997 PHO 15.9 56.7 54.8 16.7 1.1 4.5 1.9 1.3 0.3 1.2
    .080 James Jones 2006 PHO 13.2 55.1 51.3 14.2 0.9 5.1 1.2 0.8 1.0 0.7

    I’m going to use Azubuike’s 2009 stats, considering he played only 9 games in 2010 due to injury. There are some impressive sharpshooters (Lewis, Korver, Szczerbiak) and forwards (Garrity, Lewis, West) which means that Kelenna is an efficient scorer and strong rebounder for his size. D’Antoni’s love of the long ball and Azubuike’s three point percentage of 40.9% seem like an ideal of match. Consider that Wilson Chandler is a 6-8 forward mascerading as shooting guard who hits three pointers at 10% less, and it isn’t hard envisioning Azubuike replacing him in the starting lineup. Perhaps the only thing stopping Kelenna is his recovery from last year’s injury.

    Ronny Turiaf

    .000 Ronny Turiaf 2010 GSW 12.6 57.4 58.2 8.5 2.2 7.9 3.7 0.9 2.2 2.0
    .224 Will Perdue 1993 CHI 14.8 57.8 55.7 12.3 3.7 10.4 2.7 0.8 1.7 2.7
    .296 Bo Outlaw 1999 ORL 12.8 53.5 54.5 8.6 2.3 7.1 2.4 1.7 1.8 2.5
    .302 Brad Lohaus 1992 MIL 15.0 54.0 52.9 13.6 2.2 8.3 2.5 1.3 2.4 1.5
    .318 John Salley 1992 DET 14.7 57.0 51.2 13.9 2.2 6.0 2.4 1.0 2.2 2.1
    .364 Brad Miller 2004 SAC 19.4 57.9 51.8 13.9 2.6 10.2 4.3 0.9 1.2 2.0
    .369 Kermit Washington 1979 SDC 15.0 60.3 56.2 12.1 3.9 10.4 1.6 1.1 1.6 2.4
    .369 Vlade Divac 1996 LAL 17.4 54.4 51.5 14.9 2.9 9.9 3.8 1.1 1.9 2.9
    .390 Mike Green 1979 SAS 12.9 52.8 49.3 12.5 2.9 7.8 2.5 0.8 2.7 2.0
    .391 Shane Battier 2006 MEM 14.7 57.4 54.0 10.4 2.1 5.4 1.7 1.2 1.4 1.1
    .403 Boris Diaw 2010 CHA 12.8 55.2 52.5 11.5 1.6 5.3 4.0 0.7 0.7 2.2

    Turiaf has an odd mix of strong shotblocking, weak rebounding, miniscule scoring volume, and good passing. Hence why there aren’t a lot of similar players. I liked him in college, but at this point he’s strictly bench material. Teaming Turiaf with Stoudemire might bring tears to hyalophiles, but alongside Randolph they should make the paint on 32nd street an unfriendly place for the first time in a decade.

    Knicks 2010 Summer League Roster

    Due to the Knicks involvement with NBA free agency, it’s unclear how many roster spots are open. Chandler, Curry, Douglas, Gallo, Walker and Stoudemire along with recently acquired Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike make 9. If you add their draft picks Fields, Rautins, and Jordan that makes 12. Potentially the team might sign a few more free agents and could still bring back Barron, Bender, Giddens, or House. That doesn’t make for a lot of roster spots open. But enough that a few guys could make the team.

    Already On the Roster

    Toney Douglas, PG – Last year his summer league shooting was awful, but that turned out fine during the regular season. The big question for this year is can he run the offense? We know D’Antoni’s distaste for combo guards masquerading as point guards, and truthfully he could have done better setting up his teammates. This is a bit more critical now with the addition of Stoudemire, since he is so dangerous in the pick & roll.

    Bill Walker, GF – A good NBA player should find success in the summer league, and that’s what I expect from Walker. But more important than just scoring is that Walker rounds out his game. He needs to rebound more and play better defense. If he becomes a more complete player he could challenge for a starting spot, either by pushing Chandler to the bench or by forcing D’Antoni to go small with Amar’e at center.

    Drafted, But Not Guaranteed

    Landry Fields, SF – Reading his scouting report, I’m most excited to see Fields. NBADraft.Net has 192 words on his strengths and only 50 on his weaknesses. He’s got a great vertical leap (39′), but is a bit on the skinny side. The most important signs are how his defense, rebounding, and ability to get to the free throw line translate at this level. If he does make the Knicks roster, his three point shooting and free throw percentage have to improve.

    Andy Rautins, SG – Rautins’ value lies in his shooting, so it’s important to note how he scores. Other than just hitting open threes, what else can he do? Will he be able to beat his man off the dribble? How much separation does he need to get his shot off? But his scoring isn’t the only concern. Is he too undersized/nonathletic to play the shooting guard? How bad is his propensity to make the “too cute” pass? Rautins played a lot of zone in college, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in man to man.

    Jerome Jordan, C – I can’t say how many times I’ve attempted to type his name & ended up with Jerome James. Like Big Snacks, Jordan didn’t start playing basketball until later in life, which means he’s not as well rounded as you’d like. Jordan is a good rebounder & decent shot blocker. He’s a 7-footer who doesn’t like to bang in the lane, and often prefers to settle for a jump shot. However if he didn’t have a few holes in his game, he wouldn’t have been available in the second round for the Knicks. One last caveat, I don’t see him on the official roster. Possibly that’s due to Jordan having to wait for the trade to clear before he officially became a Knick.

    Some Spots Still Open

    Chris Hunter, C – The Knicks signed Hunter last year, but he never suited up for the team. Instead he played 60 games for the Warriors and for a 6-11 reserve did fairly well. He managed a TS% of 54.6%, although his production was meager (12.4 pts/36). Additionally Hunter blocked shots at an average rate (1.6 blk/36). Rebounding is likely to be a sore spot with the Knicks this year, and unfortunately this is an area that Hunter struggles with (7.7 reb/36). If New York isn’t enamored with Jordan, Hunter could slip past him and earn a spot. But it’s possible that neither make the team considering the team’s current depth.

    Jaycee Carroll, SG – If Andy Rautins has a bad summer league and is sent packing, he can ask Jaycee Carroll for career advice. Like Rautins, Carroll is a nonathletic undersized lights-out shooter. Carroll currently plays for Gran Canaria in the Spanish league. I doubt two shooting specialists make the roster, so if Carroll impresses the staff then Rautins could find himself playing in the Canary Islands.

    Slim Chance

    Warren Carter, PF – Interestingly enough, Carter actually made the roster last year, but was cut before the season started. A good transition player, who struggles in the half court. Carter can rebound on the offensive glass, but his defensive rebounding numbers are a bit weak. His dribble is a little shaky, and his post up game needs work. Carter’s best bet to make the team would be to play good defense and run the floor.

    Marcus Landry, GF – Despite having a successful older brother in the NBA, it’s still not clear how Marcus would fare. He’s played 13 games in the D-League and 18 in the pros nearly all in garbage time. D’Antoni seemed extremely reluctant to use him last year, so why bring him back to waste a roster spot this year?

    Charles Garcia, PF – There seems to be a little buzz around him, but he has a few things that raise red flags: high turnovers, sub-par passer, and forces up low-percentage outside shots. Sounds like a player Isiah Thomas would drool over.

    Carlos Powell, F – Had 2 stints in the D-League. Powell seems to be a scorer first and second, albeit his assist numbers aren’t awful. My guess is that he’s the kind of player that likes to have the ball in his hands at all times. His peripheral numbers aren’t that great, especially his rebounding, for a 6-7 forward.

    Patrick Ewing, Jr, F – Also played for the Orlando Magic’s summer league team this year, and was about average. A strong rebounder in the D-League, with decent peripheral numbers. If Ewing could knock down the three consistently, he’d improve his chances to make an NBA roster. But he managed only 23.5% from downtown, so he has some ways to go.

    Leo Lyons, PF – A great scorer that lives at the free throw line, but can’t play a lick of defense. Draft Express said of him:

    On the defensive end, Lyons has had many well-documented issues prior to this season, and while he’s made some strides, many of them still remain. On the positive side, Lyons’ attentiveness and activity level as a perimeter defender is definitely improved this season, however he’s still inconsistent in doing some of the little things–giving up too much space to shooters, not putting in the effort laterally, and not staying in a fundamental stance. It is worth noting that during Missouri’s NCAA tournament run, however, most of these problems were hardly evident at all, as Lyons looked like a different player on the perimeter, playing excellent fundamental defense, moving his feet well, aggressively hedging pick-and-rolls, and really showing what he’s capable of. On the negative side, Lyons’ post defense and boxing out on the glass has not been impressive all season, as he shows little grasp of leverage, doesn’t fight hard for position, and just is not very effective defending in the painted area.

    Ryan Wittman, SF – Add Wittman to the list of outside shooters with weak athleticism. And then there’s this cute web page on him.