Hats Off to Roy

By now just about every Knick fan has seen or read about the ending to Sunday’s Portland game. Clinging to a 1 point lead, Brandon Roy hits a layup as time expires to give New York another loss. If you haven’t check out Gian’s SSOM Webisode on it. Gian does an excellent job breaking down this play, as well as the others that led to it. So how did Roy get his shot off?

On the final play, Portland has the ball on the sideline with 4.3 seconds left. Duhon is covering Aldridge at the top of the key. Behind him is Oden guarded by Lee, and next to them Richardson is covering Outlaw. Aldridge heads to the corner and Duhon frantically calls out a switch. But Richardson ignores the plea and instead follows his man who clears past Duhon. With no one on Aldridge, Duhon races over to cover.

This frees up the middle of the court from everyone except for Roy and Oden. Up to this point Roy is in the middle of the box and is covered by Jeffries. Oden turns to set a screen on Jeffries, and Roy is free to get the ball a few feet behind the arc. Oden sets such a strong pick that Jeffries is off balance and easily 8-10 feet away from Roy when he receives the ball.

Roy turns and sees Jeffries a few feet away on his right, so he drives to his left. Roy picks up a full head of steam and steers away from Jeffries. With 3 seconds to go, Jeffries catches up to him at the three point line, but can’t get across court to get in front of Roy. Instead Jeffries follows Roy on his right side. This is the only chance he has to foul Roy on the ground. A half second later Roy is set to jump. Should Jeffries foul him at this juncture, it’s likely that Roy will receive two shots for being in the act of shooting. Lee slides over to Roy’s left to assist, and Duhon leaves his man in the corner to help as well. Richardson tries to assist as well from the weak side, but he’s eclipsed by Oden.

At this point in time, Jeffries is to Roy’s right, but a half step behind. Lee is in front of him, but his momentum is taking him to Roy’s left. Duhon is in front of Roy on his left. Roy jumps on a diagonal to the right and clears all the Knick defenders. He scoops the ball in his right and lets it go. The shot sinks with time expiring and the Knicks lose.

There is a lot of blame to go around. Immediately after the play, Knick announcer Clyde Frasier voiced his displeasure saying the Knicks had a foul to give and should have used it. And in the post game interview, Oden said the team had planned a second play because they expected New York to foul. However due to the excellent pick by Oden this was difficult for the Knicks to execute. Jeffries was so far from Roy that he had a small window to foul him without risking a shot. Granted there was a window, but Jeffries missed it.

Some of the blame could go to Richardson for missing the communication from Duhon telling him to switch to Aldridge. Perhaps the defensive scheme was to keep Duhon near the top to help, but the missed signal moved him into the corner. D’Antoni gets some of the blame as well. He should have made sure that his team fouled Roy to give Portland a few less seconds to make a play. Additionally, putting Jeffries on Roy may not have been the best move. He could have went with a more traditional matchup and placed Duhon on Roy. Lee deserves his share as well. He’s in perfect position to block the shot, but let’s Roy get a good look at the basket.

But ultimately the failure comes down to the Knicks roster construction. In a situation like that you put your best defensive five on the floor, and D’Antoni chose Lee, Duhon, Richardson, Jeffries, and Chandler. Hardly the 1994 Knicks. The lack of a shot blocker or perimeter stopper left D’Antoni with few options. Lee or Richardson might have been in a position to block the shot, but both are well below average in that area. You could argue that Jeffries is the Knicks best defender, and he was the one guarding the shooter on the play. Even if the Knicks foul Portland, the Blazers would still have about 3 seconds to execute another play, and Roy got this shot off in less than 2. Taking that into account with the Knicks poor defensive lineup, it’s likely the result would have been the same even if they fouled Portland.

New York will be plagued by plays like this until the team is able to turn over some more of it’s roster. This first year, Walsh’s goal has been to cut enough salary for free agency in 2010. So far he’s done an admirable job, but the cost has been a roster filled with scorers who don’t defend. It’s possible that over the summer Walsh might be able to add a few defenders, either through trade, draft, or free agency. Until then, Knick fans are going to have to grin and bear a few more defensive lapses like this.

Comment on this article in the forums: here.

SSoM Episode 10: Blazers vs Knicks

Mike and I have decided to post the videos on KB now to foster even more discussion about games. I would’ve posted last night but the game thread was going up, so here it is on an off night.

(Enjoy the new widescreen format.)

Great call by the coaching staff to attack Greg Oden. High PnR gets his shot blocking ability out of the paint and he simply isn’t quick enough to recover or match up against this style in general. I’m a bit surprised at LaMarcus Aldridge’s lack of effort, though. Joel Przybilla got all of the minutes from mid-third quarter on and changed everything defensively for Portland. It allowed them to get quicker while the Knicks got tired. Bad combination.

Seven Seconds or Mess: Play of the Week 11/7/08

Hey guys, Gian here. If you’re not familiar with my work, please visit Seven Seconds or Mess. If you are familiar, enjoy the new segment.

This is a podcast I’ll be posting each week exclusively on KnickerBlogger.Net. It breaks down what I consider to be the best play of each week.

(Note: The gray defensive circles labeled 1-5 are position specific. A point guard is a 1, a center is a 5, etc.)

Knicks 2009 Season Preview Part I

Just about every season preview begins with a wrap-up of the last year. I’m going to assume that if you’re here reading this, you don’t really need a review of last year. In fact, if you’re a Knick fan, you probably don’t want to review any recent history. So with that said let’s continue with what we might expect this year.

For 2009, the guard position should be the Knicks deepest. Duhon and Crawford will start, at least for now, while Marbury, Robinson, and Collins will provide ample depth. Even though D’Antoni says he likes to keep the rotation short, I envision a scenario where the top 4 will see a lot of playing time. In fact it’s entirely possible that all 5 will be in the rotation. Between D’Antoni’s predilection for going small and the fast pace the Knicks will play, it makes sense that they’ll need as many guards as possible.

Newly acquired Chris Duhon will supplement Marbury as the starting point guard this year. In Chicago Duhon was below average offensively but was an able defender in the backcourt, something the Knicks have been sorely lacking. He’s a capable long range shooter (35.6% 3P%), but is a poor finisher around the hoop. According to 82games Duhon had 24% of his “close” shots blocked, nearly double that of Stephon Marbury (13%). Think of Duhon as the NBA’s version of the game managing QB (Trent Dilfer). He’ll run the offense, take the open three, play half decent defense, but not score many points.

Some people mocked New York for giving Duhon an $11M dollar deal, including a few of Duhon’s former fans. The good news is that the deal is only 2 years, so the Knicks are looking at him as only a stopgap fix at point guard. New York isn’t going to contend for much over the length of his contract. The Duhon’s deal is a far cry from the 5 year (Jeffries & James) and 6 year (Curry & Crawford) contracts that were handed out by Isiah Thomas.

Jamal Crawford remains the incumbent at the shooting guard position. Many Knick fans still have hope that Jamal will shed his poor shot decision making ways and become a more efficient player. Under D’Antoni’s seven second offense, many assume that Crawford would blossom into a more efficient scorer. ESPN’s Daily Dime called Crawford the Knicks sleeper pick for fantasy basketball.

However it hasn’t turned out that way in preseason (TS%: 51.6, eFG%: 45.2, through 6 games), and Crawford may not flourish in this offense. Jamal’s strength is being able to create his own shot in the half court set, but D’Antoni’s offense uses movement to make shots for everyone, hence it diminishes Jamal’s contribution. Crawford, much like Zach Randolph, likes to hold ball and dictate the offense, and he has never been a great catch & shoot guy. His best season occurred under Larry Brown where he took 21% of his attempts from “inside” as opposed to only 14% last year.

Time will tell if Jamal will progress under D’Antoni, or if he’ll be the same frustrating off-balance shot taking player he’s been for the last 8 years. Considering the Knick coach doesn’t need his skill set on offense, and will expect more from Jamal on defense than the previous Knick coaches it’s possible that Crawford will see a reduction in minutes this year. Certainly Crawford isn’t likely to average the 39.9 minutes per game he played last year, and that will hurt his per game averages.

Lakers Acquire Pau


LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers bolstered their banged-up frontline Friday with a key acquisition — 7-footer Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Lakers gave up Kwame Brown, rookie Javaris Crittenton and two first-round draft picks for Gasol. The Spaniard is certain to help a Lakers team reeling from recent injuries to inside players, including blossoming center Andrew Bynum…

The Grizzlies will get the Lakers’ first-round draft choices in 2008 and 2010; guard Aaron McKie, signed earlier Friday for salary cap purposes; cash considerations, and the rights to Gasol’s brother Marc, a 2007 second-round pick of Los Angeles.

The Lakers also receive the Grizzlies’ second-round pick in 2010.

Interesting deal. You have to figure that the Lakers are going to have a good team for the next few years. Crittenton is young (21 last December), and could develop into a good guard. He hasn’t played many minutes, but his per minute numbers aren’t that bad. His turnovers are a bit high, but he can score as his pts/40, ts%, eFG, etc. would suggest. Crittenton is a decent rebounder for the guard spot. You’d like to see a shooting guard that can hit the trey, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to develop that talent.

For Memphis, it’s a decent rebuilding move. They get an expiring contract in Kwame, a young player, and a pair of firsts. The elder Gasol is scheduled to make $14M-$18M per year for the next 4, and he hasn’t been able to make Memphis a winning team. They’ll be just under the cap next year, but well under the cap 2 years from now. And the Grizzlies still have lots of young guys to build around: Conley, Gay, Warrick, and now Crittenton. If those guys can make a nice nucleus with a guy like Mike Miller and the draft picks, then it could be an ideal situation for a superstar free agent signing.

Meanwhile the Lakers get a guy to fill in for the injured Bynum, and can team up with him when he returns. Phil Jackson can either shift Odom back to SF, or use Gasol off the bench as a 6th man. It’ll be interesting to see how Gasol does in Los Angeles. He puts up good scoring numbers, but as New Yorkers discovered with Zach Randolph, scoring isn’t the whole story with big men. Of course if Bynum can provide the rebounding & scoring (and it appears that he does) then Gasol’s flaws might be covered. At worse he’ll give more production that Kwame Brown. And L.A. won’t be under the cap for as long as Kobe is there.

Probably a good move for both teams.