The Knicks Needs, Summer 2004 Part 2

This is the second part of a 2 part series. If you didn’t read the first part, please do so now.

Offensive Rebounding (oREB%)
Offensive 19th, -2.4%
Defensive 8th, +5.5%

Name oReb% dReB%
Sweets 14.5 18.3
Kurt 6.0 20.1
Deke 10.1 19.1
Baker 11.8 11.6
Nazr 11.5 20.3
Thella 6.9 14.3
TimT 3.5 12.7
Penny 3.5 12.0

Offensively the Knicks are hurting on the glass. Sweetney is by far the Knicks’ best offensive rebounder, and next year the Knicks should be giving him more playing time. Nazr Mohammed is a good rebounder as well. As a Knick, Baker was good on the offensive glass, but downright awful on the defensive boards. In fact his Boston numbers show him to be poor on both ends of the glass (8.0%/12.7%). That doesn’t give me confidence in his rebounding.

If there is one person that hurts them the most on the offensive glass, it’s Kurt Thomas. Kurt just plays too far from the hoop to make an effect on the offensive glass. shows that 83% of his shots were jump shots and only 17% were from inside, which is high for a PF. Compare that to Sweetney who’s shot selection consisted of only 39% jump shots and 61% inside shots. Bringing up the rear is Othella Harrington. Thella similarly takes a small percentage of inside shots (39%), hence why the poor rebounding.

Tim Thomas is thrown in because he’s 6-10, and SF are supposed to help out on the glass. You’d expect his numbers to look low because he’s a SF, but it’s known that he’s not aggressive on the boards. Penny Hardaway is not a great rebounder either, but he also spends time at the point & shooting guard spots. Keith Van Horn, as a Knick, was an impressive 6.6% & 15.1%, or 3% better in both offesive and defensive rebounding.

Free Throw Line (FTM/FGA)
Offensive 22nd, -7.2%
Defensve 27th, -11.7%

If you’re a first timer, or new to my blog, you probably don’t know about my distaste for the Knicks’ foul problems. It just kills me to see them commit stupid fouls.

C. Trybanski 19.2
V. Baker 9.5
Harrington 7.4
M. Doleac 5.9
N. Mohammed 5.8
K. Thomas 5.6
M. Sweetney 5.5
D. Johnson 5.4
D. Mutombo 4.5
T. Thomas 4.4
S. Anderson 4.4
F. Williams 3.9
M. Norris 3.8
A. Hardaway 3.2
A. Houston 2.8
S. Marbury 2.6

You really don’t get at how bad the Knicks are until you look at PF/48 around the league. The 50th worst in PF/48 is Udonis Haslem with 5.3PF/48. Of the 16 players listed above, 8 players were worse than that mark. Sweetney was a rookie so you’d expect him to foul often, but he was still better than veterans Kurt Thomas, Nazr Mohammed, Michael Doleac, and Othella Harrington.

C. Trybanski .50 .50
V. Baker .71 .32
M. Sweetney .72 .30
D. Johnson .90 .29
Harrington .74 .29
M. Norris .77 .28
D. Mutombo .68 .27
S. Marbury .83 .27
T. Thomas .81 .26
S. Anderson .76 .22
A. Houston .91 .20
F. Williams .85 .20
A. Hardaway .78 .17
N. Mohammed .53 .16
M. Doleac .86 .14
K. Thomas .84 .13

It’s no surprise that Kurt Thomas has the lowest amount of free throws made per shot attempt, especially with his away from the hoop play. Nazr Mohammed’s ratio would go up about 7 points if he were a 75% free throw shooter instead of 53%. Sweetney’s numbers are very promising in this area, especially for a rookie.

Of the 8 areas I outlined, the Knicks have 5 big weaknesses:

  • Committing Turnovers (23rd, -7.0%)
  • Creating Turnovers (23rd, -7.2%)
  • Offensive Rebounding (19th, -2.4%)
  • Scoring From the Free Throw Line (22nd, -7.2%)
  • Sending Their Opponents to the Free Throw Line (27th, -11.7%)

I could have added shooting efficiency as a 6th weakness as well. Their eFG% was just above league average. It’s not as bad as it looks. For the Knicks to be a great team, they don’t need to fix all their problems. Detroit was 20th in offensive shooting efficiency and offensive turnovers. The Lakers were worse than 15th in 4 of the 8 categories. Minnesota had 3 categories that they were ranked 23rd or worse. The one thing about these teams is that they were very good in many of the categories. Minnesota and Detroit was among the top 5 in 3 factors, while Indy & the Lakers were in the top 5 in 2. Unfortunately the Knicks were not in the top 5 in any factor. They were in the top 10 in 2 categories: defensive shooting efficiency and defensive rebounding. Getting an offense upgrade could push their eFG% into the top 10 as well.

It’s clear that they have problems with the center and forward spots. In the areas that the Knicks need the most help, Kurt Thomas is especially weak in at least three of these, while Nazr Mohammed and Othella Harrington are weak in two. Giving Sweetney major minutes (or even making him the starter) would be a good start. Sweetney’s strengths fit the Knicks’ weaknesses. He is a good shooting PF, that gets to the line, is agressive on the offensive boards, and at worst won’t send opponents to the line more often than Kurt Thomas. They need to unload one or more of Othella, Nazr or Kurt for another big man that doesn’t foul as often. They can hang on to one, or even two, but all three just compounds the problem.

Sweetney (and a healthy Houston) are the only internal options the Knicks have. To improve on next year, they’ll need some help from outside. So how do the three commonly rumored players fit in?

Name	eFG%	TO/48	STL/48	oREB%	DrawF	PF/48
Crawford 45.0 3.3 1.9 1.5 5.8 2.7
Dampier 53.5 2.6 .66 14.3 18.5 4.5
A. Walker 46.4 3.4 1.1 6.6 7.7 3.6

Let’s start with the guy that I think makes the biggest difference: Dampier. Dampier’s arrival originally meant Othella’s & Nazr’s departure. Not only would the Knicks get rid of a ton of fouls, but they pickup someone that lives inside the paint, shoots at a high percentage, gets to the line fairly often, can rebound, and by my last account can defend. The only thing to not like about the deal is the length of Dampier’s contract, which was a big point of contention. If the Knicks can get him for 3 years, without losing another major cog like Sweetney, I would be ecstatic. If I were the Knicks GM, I’d even take him for 4 years, but would have to take a long look in the mirror if his agent wanted 5 or more guaranteed years.

If Crawford comes to the Knicks, he’ll be taking Shandon Anderson’s place. If Houston isn’t healthy, Crawford will be the starting SG. Crawford’s FG% (38.6%) is horrible, but his eFG% (45.0%) is more respectable due to the number of 3 pointers he hits (2.1 3PM/G). Crawford took 16.5 shot attempts per game, which is more than double than Anderson’s. This could improve the Knicks’ offense by taking away shots from inefficient scorers like Penny Hardaway.

Crawford is by reputation a good ball handler. His turnover per 48 minutes is the same as all the Knick guards combined (3.3). Crawford gets the same amount of steals as Stephon Marbury, so he should address the Knicks’ turnover woes on both ends of the ball. Crawford is only 24 years old, and considering Houston’s health, signing him to a long term deal would be a plus for New York. Of course the loss of Frank Williams in a Crawford trade would be a minus, but as long as New York has Marbury and Houston’s health is up in the air, they need a SG more than a backup PG.

Of the three, Antoine Walker makes the least sense for New York. On the plus side, he doesn’t foul often, has a good handle for a PF, and he gets a decent amount of steals for a big man. On the negative side, he plays further outside than Kurt does. Walker’s shot selection is suspect, as his 3 point percentage last year dropped to a pathetic 27%. He doesn’t get fouled often and doesn’t get many offensive rebounds. Walker wouldn’t address many of the Knicks needs.

In any case I doubt Dallas would trade Walker to the Knicks. Antoine has a huge expiring contract and the Knicks are trying to trade their lesser expiring contracts (Othella & Deke). I don’t know if New York will be able to get Dampier, with the Warriors making that last deal for a backup center. However interest for Dampier around the league seems to be slow. Dampier wants what’s best for him (a long deal), and New York has been reported to have the most long term interest in him. Golden State would rather not loose him without any compensation. So there is still hope.

It has been reported that Isiah Thomas is currently in Chicago to iron out a deal for Crawford. Zeke and Paxson have been playing a game of chicken, and they’re going to have a showdown in the middle of town to see who blinks first. I’d expect that we’re going to know for sure whether or not Crawford will be traded to the Knicks by the end of the week. After that Isiah should know what pieces he has left for any other deals.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

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