Oklahoma City Thunder 127 – New York Knicks 109 – Game Recap

Well, you asked for it – a singing recap! (Edit: sorry for the quality of the video. I had literally no way to make something better)

Actually, it’s not a recap – I will write a few notes about the game after the “lyrics” – but it’s something nonetheless, right? Anything to wake up from this basketball induced coma.


Lyrics to “My Way (of tanking)”

I wish the end was near

Eighty-two games already gone by

My friends, you know how dear

I hang onto my coronaries

I saw quite a few games

And I’ve searched through every nook and cranny

To write things not too bleak

But suck was uncanny

Good games, we’ve had a few

But then again, too few to mention

Cause Fiz did what he do

And played THJ until exhaustion

He chucked and chucked again

While Dot was there, riding the bench

And Frank, while bad as hell

Sit down for Mudiay


Yes there were times, I’m sure you knew

When Knox was good and Zo was too

But through it all when there was hope

The dungeon came and Fiz said nope

“Enes and Mario I have to play

Let’s suck it my way”


We knew, the tank was on

We’ve had our fill, our share of losing

We tried Vonleh and Kornet

And when it worked

It was amusing

To think that Ron was paid

And may I say not in a bad way

To play, and badly at that

And was cut to keep Trey


Know what is a foul, what is a block?

Don’t ask Mitch Rob, for he does not

But he’s our sun, our moon our stars

Until KP will get the max

The record shows we took the blows

And tanked our way

(Don’t extend Mudiay)


With this thing out of the way, let’s write a bit about the game.

– There’s a certain comfort, as a fan, in knowing that you’re up against one of the league’s powerhouses. Unless they take things too lightly, you’re almost assured a pro-tank night and can concentrate on other things – just after the team has finished getting down by 20 in the first ten minutes. It’s a glorified exhibition game, where maybe you’ll be able to see something from the hopefuls and less than something from your “veterans”. Last night, it was pretty much this. The team as a whole played badly, but a few individual performances (and the fact that Fiz elected to play a lineup of Frank-Trier-Dotson-Knox-Mitch, which he should do as much as possibile for the next thirty-something games) gave me a little hope. Frank + Mitch = great defensive combo. Trier is slowly getting out of his doldrums and it showed.

– Nights like these are where your veterans’ performances evaporate in a blur. I mean, I had the feeling that THJ was terrible throughout the whole game. I checked the boxscore and he scored 23 points on 14 shots and turned the ball over just once. Is good THJ just an invisible THJ? It’s possible.

– Mudiay putting up ugly plus/minus games like they’re getting out of date. 14 points on 11 shots, 2 assists, no turnovers, and still a not healthy -21. Do you think it has to do with his horrendous defense? I do.

– Frank was assertive but still shot 4-for-12. Dude looks like he just lacks athletic strength to be a passable player. He moves well horizontally, has mile-long limbs and is interested in playing a team game. He just thinks too much and is a bad athlete. He’s slow. He jumps little. His arms don’t throw the ball to people quickly enough. It’s more than a season and a half, and I don’t know what to make of him. I still prefer him to Mudiay without a doubt (cost-controlled reasons included).

– My boy Mitch is a marvel of chaos and efficiency. He plays too recklessly, but how can you not love him? 8 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks, 1 assist and 1 steal. And 6 fouls. In 15 minutes. Mitch makes the game +300% enjoyable as soon as he steps into the court. I hope he learns to restrain himself before the end of the season, I’d like to see him putting 20/15 on some fool in April.

– Some might say Knox has crashed into the rookie wall. I say Knox has crashed into playing with Mudiay and THJ, who are allergic to passing the ball. To wit: THJ + Mudiay: 5 assists in 45 minutes combined. Frank + Trier: 13 assists in 49 minutes. And Trier is not one to look for others, normally. But the starting five is a terrible environment right now for people who need others to pass them the ball aside from Vonleh.

– Kornet’s night was cut short by an ankle injury, but his only two points came on a super-gorgeous turnaround 15-footer that I hope he will dust off more often in the future.

– Without Kanter, we are a terrible rebounding team. I’ll still take my chances this way.

See you on Wednesday to witness Harden rain hell on poor Mud!

Mock Three

Since last we talked mock draft the Lakers dispatched with the Orlando Magic and the off-season has kicked into full gear. I was out of town on business and have thus pretty much missed basketball from the past week or so. I suppose that’s fortunate in some ways.

I hope the third version of this mock is less impacted by the rumors, smokescreens, subterfuges, and misinformation that normally clouds my mocks this time of year. My gut tells me that this draft will be the 2006 draft (Bargnani, Aldridge, Morrison were the top 3) of 2009. There will be tons of busts, but a smart front office will be able to find good players late.

Onto the picks…
2009 Mock Draft, 3.0

1. Clippers – Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
Nothing to see here. Moving right along.

2. Grizzlies – Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
Poor Grizz. This isn’t the draft to have the #2 pick. I still say they’re looking to move this pick to someone who wants Rubio.

3. Thunder – Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
I don’t think Thabeet is a top three talent but this draft couldn’t have worked out any better for him. He’ll be an excellent defender and he can run the floor a bit. The Thunder don’t need another guy who needs the ball to be effective.

4. Kings – James Harden, G, Arizona State
I’m guessing the Kings just go best player available regardless of position. I think they wouldn’t mind getting out from under this pick.

5. Wizards – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
Hill will provide some rebounding and a big that runs the floor.

6. Timberwolves – Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis
It’s hard to know what Minny will do with a new management team and a lot of picks. Nothing they do would surprise. The 6-10 area just seems about when Evans should go off the board.

7. Warriors – Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy
The Warriors want no part of Jamal Crawford and don’t think Ellis can run the point. Jennings seems like the right fit for this group.

8. Knicks – Stephen Curry, G, Davidson
I just don’t know that there will be a big man available Walsh will like more than Curry. I suspect that a big man is probably the only real competition for Curry.

9. Raptors – Jrue Holiday, G, UCLA
Ultimately, defense, ball-handling, and floor vision will keep him in the league but Holiday is one of the biggest question marks in the draft.

10. Bucks – DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh
If Milwaukee takes Blair they’ll be putting together a nice little frontcourt.

11. Nets – Demar DeRozan, SF, USC
Lottery pick least likely to live up to expectations. What does he do?

12. Bobcats – Austin Daye, F/C, Gonzaga
I love this kid’s game and maturity but he may not be a player until he’s on his second contract (after he’s filled out a bit). He’s thinner than Anthony Randolph. Just let that roll around in your head for a bit.

13. Pacers – Ty Lawson, PG, UNC
I won’t be surprised to see him go higher in this draft. The way people dismiss his production doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not like Carolina does anything particularly unorthodox. They just play a fast pace.

14. Suns – Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
Flynn is a pure point guard, yet I’m not crazy about his decision making.

15. Pistons – Earl Clark, F, Louisville
I hate his offense but Clark’s a very capable defender.

16. Bulls – Gerald Henderson, G, Duke
The Bulls have claimed that their top off-season priority is to re-sign Gordon. Mmm. Yeah.

17. 76ers – Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona
Budinger is a nice fit for that roster, especially as a decision-maker should they lose Andre Miller.

18. Timberwolves – B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State
Given Al Jefferson’s health, this would be a decent gamble on size and provide some depth.

19. Hawks – Sam Young, F, Pittsburgh
Young would be a nice fit on Atlanta; a tough guy who can defend both forwards and hit an outside shot.

20. Jazz – Tyler Hansborough, PF, UNC
Hansborough is good value at this point in the draft. He’s going to rebound and run the floor and he’s developing a faceup jumper.

21. Hornets – Jeff Teague, G, Wake Forest
Teague would bring a bit of what Jannero Pargo did, for better or worse.

22. Mavericks – Terrance Williams, G/F, Louisville
Should Williams fall this far he’d be exactly what the doctor ordered Dallas: perimeter defense and depth.

23. Kings – Eric Maynor, PG, VCU

24. Trailblazers – James Johnson, F, Wake Forest
Portland could really use someone that can score in the post–at least a little bit.

25. Thunder – Darren Collison, PG, UCLA
He’ll be a quality backup point in the league.

26. Bulls – Nick Calathes, F, Florida (Greece)
Somebody is going to select Calathes and hold onto his rights. Presumably it will be a team with multiple first rounders that has difficulty moving a late pick. Any number of these late picks may be guys already overseas who can be stashed away.

27. Grizzlies – Wayne Ellington, G, UNC
Right now he’s a one dimensional shooter with a long windup, but worth a late first round gamble.

28. Timberwolves – Omri Casspi, F, Tel Aviv
I’d be stunned if Minny keeps all its picks, but if it does I figure they’ll select Calathes or a player they can stash overseas.

29. Lakers – Marcus Thornton, G, LSU
Thornton is a potent offensive player and a solid rebounding guard who is better in short spurts because of his questionable shot selection.

30. Cavaliers – DeMarre Carroll, F, Missouri
I’m going out on a limb and saying that Mizzou’s version of the “Junk Yard Dog” works his way into the late first round. Carroll has Anderson Varajao’s energy as a combo forward. He’s really improved his jump shot. He has a high basketball IQ, and is a very good passer as well.

Knicks Make Small Gains

New York pulled the trigger on two deals today before the NBA trade deadline. The bad news is that neither deal opens up any more cap space for 2010. The good news is that the moves will give the team a little more flexibility this year. In the bigger deal, New York acquired Larry Hughes for Jerome James, Tim Thomas, and Anthony Roberson. In a second deal, the Knicks sent Malik Rose to Oklahoma City for Chris Wilcox. Hughes will make $12.8M this year and $13.7M next year, while Wilcox’s $6.8M contract will expire this year. Hence from a salary cap perspective, this is a lateral move for the Knicks.

The most obvious improvement is in the Wilcox/Rose deal. Malik Rose saw playing time early on, but has been racking up DNP-CDs since. The veteran has played in only three games since Christmas. Wilcox is 8 years younger, and has been productive. Although his PER is down this year (13.4), he’s had an above PER the two years prior (16.3 in 2008 & 16.6 in 2007). He should provide the Knicks with much needed depth at the F/C spots, and that alone will help the team this year. I’m not sure why the Thunder made this deal, unless they’re eying Rose for a coaching position.

As for the Knicks other deal, it’s not necessarily who they got that makes them better. Larry Hughes is an aging slasher/defender who perhaps was never a great defender despite his reputation. Kevin Broom and I used to discuss Hughes’ defense, and Broom thought that Hughes’ gambles on the defensive end hurt the team. As for the slasher aspect, Hughes averaged 6.9 FT/36 in 2005 and that number has decreased in every full year since (5.4 in 2006, 4.3 in 2007, 3.4 in 2008). That means he’s either not able or not willing to get to the hole more, which would explain his tumbling shooting numbers. This year has been a small rebound year for Hughes, as his TS% has increased nearly 60 points from last year (TS% 52.5%) But at this point it’s possible due to the small sample size instead of a real improvement.

What’s more important about the Bulls trade is that the Knicks unloaded three players for one. Much like Malik Rose (160 minutes played), Jerome James (10 min) and Anthony Roberson (253 min) have seen few minutes this year. With New York wasting roster spots on these three plus Curry (3 min) and Stephon Marbury (0 min), the team has been playing shorthanded nearly the entire year. With two new roster spots freed, the Knicks can grab two players from the D-League to fit specific roles (shot blocker?, point guard?) that the team needs.

In both of these deals New York has given up only one player who was in their rotation: Tim Thomas. The Knicks will be able to replace his role on the team with two players. The first is Wilcox who will give New York a big body to defend the post. The second is Gallinari who will provide scoring from the perimeter. Giving the rookie more playing time is the icing on the cake for the Knicks.

2009 Game Preview: Knicks vs. Wizards

Hello all.  This is going to be a quick and dirty game preview because I am swamped with work.  So I am going to give you the best that my 1 hour lunch break will allow.  So no jokes, and only meta-human analysis instead of my normal super-human analysis.  I bearly have time to this edit, so pleaze furgive any speeling errors ore mistakes gramatikal.

New York (14-22) hosts Washington (7-30)

New York faces Washington for the third time this season.  New York is 2-0 against Washington so far this season. 

New York Knicks-Offense 97.6 105.8 49.2 15.6 23.4 20.3
Rank 2 21 14 16 28 29
Washington Wizards-Defense 90.1 110.9 52.5 16.1 28.2 22.6
Rank 22 28 30 10.5 25 11
New York Knicks-Defense 97.9 108.6 51.7 15.2 26.9 20
Rank 1 19 28 19 17 4
Washington Wizards-Offense 89.9 103.6 47.1 14.9 27.5 20.3
Rank 23 25 27 11 9 28

[Interesting note:  New York no longer leads the league in pace having slipped behind Golden State by 2/10ths of a point.  New York held the top spot most of the season.  Is this a consequence of a shortened rotation, tired players, a change in style, a  commitment to defense (ha!), or the natural result of moving Crawford and Randolph?  I’m not sure, but I may look into it when I have a bit more time.]

Injury report:  Gilbert Arenas out (knee),  DeShawn Stevenson out (back), Brendan Haywood out (knee), Antwan Jamison highly probable though he did miss practice this week with a knee strain. 

Gallanari out (back), Marbury out (people skills).

What to watch for: Defense.  After losses to the T-Wolves and Thunder, it is clear that New York can lose to any team on any night if they do not commit to playing strong team defense.  While Washington does not have very good team numbers on offense (25th in efficiency, 27 eFG%), Washington does have a few very talented offensive players in Jamison (49.4 eFG%, 22.5 USG-r) and Butler (47.6 eFG%, 24.0 USG-r).  Washington’s offense has improved slightly since Nick Young (47.9 eFG%)-17 points in 19 minutes off 6-10 shooting in the last meeting-took the starting job from Stevenson (39.7 eFG%).  Washington has no solid post scorers though Jamison can be effective in the paint. 

What to watch for 2: Washington’s new look backcourt.  Washington has revamped the backcourtsince the last meeting with New York.  Stevenson has been benched and Washington traded Antonio Daniels. Javaris Critteton (33.3 eFG%) and Mike James (42.9 eFG%) were brought in via trades.  The new backcourt is playing better than the old one (that aint saying much) but it is still a backcourt that features below average ball handling skills ( James 10.5 TO-r, Crittenton 17.5 TO-r).  James has been a 20 ppg scorer in his career, but Young is far more dangerous.  New York should not take this backcourt lightly.

What to watch for 3: Ball movement and penetration.  Washington is a very weak team on defense (28th in efficiency 110.9, 30th in eFG% 52.5).  The bulk of playing time at center is given to the inexperienced (rookie JaVale McGee) and the ineffective (Andray Blatche).   McGee is the only player averaging at least 1 block per 36 minutes, so the Knicks should look to get to the basket and set up easy finishes for Lee off dribble penetration.  Don’t fall in love with the outside shot against this team, the paint should be open for business.

What to watch for 4: Jared Jeffries.  JJ played for Washington his first four years in the league.  He left Washington feeling somewhat undervalued by the team.  I expecta big effort from him tonight.  Look for JJ to score 6 points on 3-18 shooting (from the line), with 8 rebounds.  Hey, that’s big for him.

The Expected

Sometimes a commenter makes an point that inspires an article. I could have written this in the comments section, but I think it deserves an post of it’s own. Yesterday BigBlueAL wrote:

Look I have praised David Lee alot this season because he has improved his offense alot in terms of hitting that baseline jumper a bit more consistantly and being able to drive more often w/o getting his shot sent into the stands. But his numbers to me are a huge reflection of this system and Randolph being traded. Defensively he is still horrible and is not going to be anywhere near worth what his salary will most likely reach if you are trying to put together a championship caliber team.

Again I like David Lee and dont like ripping him, but please he is not a starting PF on a championship team. He is what his and Nate’s role should be, 20-25 minute players who bring energy off the bench. Those players are very important on good teams, but they are easier to find than go-to, superstar type players which is clearly what the Knicks are lacking and have lacked since Houston/Spree were together.

Unlike baseball where I have vast knowledge of sabermetrics and such in basketball I dont look at stats beyond the basics as much as I should, although being an ESPN Insider I do like reading John Hollinger and becoming more aware of more analytical basketball stats.

I have a theory on why David Lee is underrated from a visual perspective. Two of the things he does well are “expected”: rebounding and finishing around the hoop. Every time the other team misses a shot you expect your team to get the rebound. So when David Lee comes flying in to secure the rebound, it’s expected that the he does it. It’s not an act that is remembered or noted because it’s counted upon. Compare this to when Jamal Crawford sinks an impossible shot. Those memories usually stick in someone’s mind because of the rareness of the act. Yet most people don’t remember when Crawford misses a shot, since missing a shot is commonplace and an expected result.

But watching last night’s game against the Thunder, down the stretch Lee’s defensive rebounding was excellent. If you were concentrating on him, it was amazing watching his positioning and tenacity. There were a few rebounds that I don’t think any other Knick (or most big men in the league) would have secured. I honestly don’t think the Knicks would have been in yesterday’s game at the end if it weren’t for Lee’s rebounding.

The same goes for his inside scoring. Fill in the blank in the following sentence: Chris Duhon drives the lane and is double teamed, so he passes to an open David Lee who…

{Have your answer?}

Depending on your imagination you might say:
* dunks the ball.
* makes a reverse left handed layup.
* draws the foul for 2 shots.
* makes the buckets and draws the foul.

Now fill in the blank on this sentence: Chris Duhon drives the lane and is double teamed, so he passes to an open Jared Jeffries who…

{Have your answer?}

This time your answer will probably differ from Lee and you might say:
* fumbles the pass.
* blows the layup.
* scores with a nice finger roll (Jeffrightened style!).

Depending on the player you would have a different result. Yet Lee doesn’t seem to get credit for being able to catch a pass in traffic and score around the hoop. It’s because it seems to be such an easy act that it’s expected that he does so. Yet few players in the league can be as successful Lee, when performing this action. Now if you think I’m using a strawman argument with Jeffries, then replace Lee with Chandler or Curry. Chandler is more likely to take a turnaround jumper instead of going inside and isn’t very likely to draw a foul. Meanwhile Curry is more apt to either fumble the ball or commit an offensive charging foul.

David Lee’s rebounding and efficient inside scoring (without turning the ball over) is valuable because there aren’t a lot of players in the league that do those things at such a high level. That makes him a valuable starter level player, even with his defensive shortcomings. Hence why the Knicks have entertained so many offers for Lee from other teams. Of course everything depends on context, he would need to be paired with a strong defensive center. But as for Lee not being a good starter on a championship team, don’t you think the Spurs would love to have him on their team right now? Currently their PFs are Matt Bonner, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto (who pushes Duncan to PF).

However, the more relevant point I’m trying to make is that it’s hard to catch these things with the naked eye. As Michael Lewis wrote in Moneyball:

One absolutely cannot tell, by watching, the difference between a .300 hitter and a .275 hitter. The difference is one hit every two weeks. It might be that a reporter, seeing every game that the team plays, could sense that difference over the course of the year if no records were kept, but I doubt it. Certainly the average fan, seeing perhaps a tenth of the team’s games, could never gauge two performances that accurately-in fact if you see both 15 games a year, there is a 40% chance that the .275 hitter will have more hits than the .300 hitter in the games that you see. The difference between a good hitter and an average hitter is simply not visible-it is a matter of record.

Similarly observers might not be able to differentiate between a player has a TS% of 60 and one that has a TS% of 55. And the value of player who averages 11.7 reb/36 might not be noticeable. But it’s undeniable that these stats correlate to winning, more than the naked eye would believe. To make an analogy to baseball David Lee might be the .280 hitting shortstop with a handful of few home runs, but has a strong .OBP, hits a lot of doubles, and doesn’t make a lot of errors (but maybe doesn’t have a lot of range or a great arm). For decades things like OBP, SLG, etc. were not valued by generations of baseball fans. And much like baseball, unless you’re looking at the advanced stats, you might not be able to see the value David Lee gives a team.

2009 Game Thread: Knicks at Thunder

From yesterday’s Alan Hahn blog:

A 6-foot-11 300-pound behemoth at the top of the key handling the ball, going behind his back (or attempting to) and dribbling down the lane en route to the basket much to the delight of his teammates. The culprit?

Eddy Curry. Yes, you read that correctly. Not only was Curry practicing for the second time in three days, he was working on his handles during a certain sequence as the Knicks were practicing the pick-and-roll. He wasn’t doing it for show — and it wasn’t a great one anyway because the cat still has a lot of rust to knock off his game.

D’Antoni didn’t rule out giving Curry some garbage time minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow night if the situation arises.

Am I crazy to be excited that Eddy Curry might play some garbage time?

Stats for tonight’s contest:

Oklahoma City Thunder

New York Knicks-Offense 98.2 105.7 49.6 15.7 23.6 20.9
Oklahoma City Thunder-Defense 93.7 109.7 51.5 15 26.8 23.1
New York Knicks-Defense 98.2 108.9 51.6 15 26.9 19.8
Oklahoma City Thunder-Offense 93.7 100.7 46.7 17 27.1 22.2

New York heads into the heart of the Sooner State to play the NBA’s worst team. Oklahoma has won 4 games on the year. In their last meeting the Knicks amassed a 17 point first quarter lead, but were complacent and almost let the Thunder catch up in the fourth quarter. The Knicks starting lineup that night was Duhon, Crawford, Richardson, Chandler, and Randolph. And P.J. Carlesimo was Oklahoma’s coach. Oh how things have changed.

Fortunately for New York, the Thunder are the league’s second worst offense (29th). The Knicks need to worry about Kevin Durant, who at 20 years old has a healthy PER of 19.3. However he’s not surrounded by a lot of talent. Mason & Watson are sporting PERs of 8.5 and 6.6 respectively, and the two are averaging over 53 minutes a night. Oklahoma doesn’t seem to shoot from downtown often. Green leads the team with 1.3 3pa/36min, which would be 6th on New York (7th if you count Roberson).

2009 Game Preview: Knicks @ Thunder

A slight change to the Knicks’ Week in Advance that you have come to depend upon.  Instead of the weekly article, I will provide a preview/game thread as often as I can.  This will give you up to date info on the match ups rather than week old data.  This also gives me more air time on the site so it’s a win-win for us all.


New York won the first of two meetings against Oklahoma City 116-106 at MSG on November 14, 2008.  New York prevailed due to a large edge in 3 point field goals made (7 vs. 1) and free throws made (29-40 vs. 17-24).









New York Knicks-Offense














Oklahoma City Thunder-Defense














New York Knicks-Defense














Oklahoma City Thunder-Offense
















What to watch for: Defense.  While Oklahoma City comes into this game with a 4-30 record, the match up against New York could be favorable for them.  What little success Oklahoma City has enjoyed this season came against poor defensive teams.  Oklahoma City earned wins against the Raptors, Grizzlies, Timber wolves, and Warriors who are 23rd, 21st, 26th, and 30th in defensive efficiency respectively.  New York is 22nd in defensive efficiency so that put us within Oklahoma City’s reach.  The Knicks need a strong defensive effort to win tonight.  Furthermore, Oklahoma City is last in offensive efficiency (97.6) and eFG% (44.8) so a strong defensive effort should be an effective win strategy.  The Knicks played with a good deal of defensive energy against the Celtics but we need to see that energy on a consistent basis.  Speaking of consistency…


What to watch for 2: Wilson Chandler.  Much has been made of Chandler’s recent productivity so it will be nice to see if he sticks with what worked for him against Boston (getting to the line, drives to the basket, good shot selection) or if he reverts to his old form (too many 3 pointers and long jumpers).  Chandler-and the rest of the team- needs to make a conscience effort to get in the paint.  Oklahoma City lacks a player that can block shots and stay on the court for more than 15 minutes.  This should cue New York to drive early and often.


What to watch for 3:  High Pick and Roll.  I have not watched many of New York’s recent games (thank you very much RCN cable for not carrying NBA TV) but it seems that I haven’t heard much about the high pick and roll lately.  If New York has gone away from that play, I think this would be a good game to bring it back.  Oklahoma City’s corps of centers (Sene, Petro, Swift, and Collison) is largely inexperienced, ineffective, and foul prone.  Because Lee and Duhon run the pick and roll effectively, it would be nice if they brought that back against Oklahoma City’s slow front line.