TrueHoop Network 2009-10 Season Preview: New York Knicks

The consensus win total prediction of the TrueHoop Network bloggers and my own prediction.


The sun is out. The seas have parted. The basketball gods are shining upon us!

If I’m allowed to be optimistic, 2010 could be New York’s return to winning. Last year the team suffered from roster instability and a lack of depth. As the front office transitioned away from the Isiah era, 23 different players donned Knick uniforms. With Lee and Robinson signing one year deals, this season should see improved continuity as the core of the team returns with some reinforcements. Newly acquired Darko Milicic, a slimmed down Eddy Curry, a healthy Danilo Gallinari, the 8th overall pick Jordan Hill, and rookie Toney Douglas will give Coach D’Antoni some more options with his rotation.

This year the offense should improve, especially if Gallinari plays more in his sophomore season. Gallo shot extremely well as a 20 year old rookie, and if his first year stats are indicative of his skill level, he’ll thrive in D’Antoni’s offense. Meanwhile Eddy Curry has always been able to score, but his Achilles Heel on offense has been turnovers. D’Antoni’s offensive scheme should use Curry in screens and off the ball more, as opposed to solely dumping the ball to him in the post. This should cut down on his turnovers while getting him the ball near the hoop more often, an area where Curry thrives. Defense will still be a weakness this upcoming season, but with the additions of Milicic, Hill, and Douglas the Knicks could see a modest improvement.

Looking at the changes since last year, the Knicks have strengthened their roster, should improve their offense, and will remain about the same on defense. Hence it makes sense for the team to improve on their 32 win total of 2009. How much will be seen, but if the stars align in New York, it’s possible that they will end their drought of 8 consecutive winless seasons.

A rousing dissent from a rival blogger.

The Knicks suck because they mortgaged their future on a pipe dream that hinges upon the rapid development of Wilson Chandler ans some guy that Italians call the Rooster.
— Jared Wade, Eight Points, Nine Seconds

A 140-character insight into the soul of the team.


“In the locker room sit n next to ill will chandler, try n to give him tips on how to stop mr. D.Wade aka Flash, good luck will kick a$$ !!!”
5:05 PM Apr 12th from TinyTwitter

Nate Robinson giving teammate Wilson Chandler defensive tips, right before the Heat’s Dwyane Wade scores 55 points on the Knicks.

Single best quote concerning the team during the last 12 months.

“Are they ******* kidding me? Are they ******* kidding me?”

Coach Mike D’Antoni during the opening day laugher win against Miami while Knick fans cheered “We Want Steph!” In a single televised lip-read gesture D’Antoni showed, in a very New York-esque manner, that the inmates no longer ran the asylum.

The 2008-09 Almanac
Some key stats from last season.

Offense: 17th
Defense: 23rd
Pace: 2nd

Team Factor Strength(s): Free Throws Allowed (7th) Team Factor
Weakness(es): Shooting Allowed (28th), Free Throws (28th), Offensive
Rebounding (27th)

Don’t expect the Knicks to lead the league in offensive rebounding anytime soon. Over the last 5 years, D’Antoni coached teams have finished in the bottom half in offensive rebounding percentage. Thrice his Suns finished last or second to last, and last year’s Knicks were 27th.

2005 - PHO  - 22nd
2006 - PHO  - 30th
2007 - PHO  - 29th
2008 - PHO  - 29th
2009 - NYK  - 27th

Down a single point with 9.2 seconds to play in a must-win game. What’s the play?

Needing a single point the Knicks should go with a Duhon/Lee pick & roll, while spreading the floor with Gallinari, Harrington and Robinson. Although Duhon struggles to score in the paint, forcing him towards the basket isn’t an ideal defensive approach. Lee is too efficient around the hoop to leave alone (and superb at scoring with contact) so teams would have to consider doubling him. Duhon is excellent at finding the open man should a defensive breakdown occur. And if anything goes wrong, plan B would be to give the ball to Nate (or Harrington) and allow them to improvise.

The fan favorite the crowd will be chanting for to see some action.

Unlike last year, the Knicks should have plenty of depth in the front court. Lee, Harrington, Curry and Milicic will see the lion’s share of minutes. Add D’Antoni’s penchant for small ball, and it’s hard to see a lot of minutes for #8 pick Jordan Hill.

The single biggest spreadsheet issue hanging over the team.

For New York, the 2010 season doesn’t matter as much as the summer following it. Donnie Walsh has to balance between making the team competitive to lure a major free agent and having the cap space to sign one or more stars. A major question he needs to answer is: Can the team afford to keep David Lee and Nate Robinson long term? Losing either or both without compensation would be a tough pill to swallow for a team without a first round pick that is looking to be competitive.


Bret Lagree | Hoopinion

“The Hawks have not built, nor do they appear to be building, a championship contender. … Joe Johnson is poised to be a free agent in the summer of 2010. Johnson is not a franchise player, yet he’s the Hawks’ best player.”


Zach Lowe | CelticsHub

“It seems reasonable to say anything short of an 18th championship would be a disappointment.”


Brett Hainline | Queen City Hoops

“Great defense + equally bad offense = average. With an improving division around them, that equation does not get them their first playoff berth. But at least they won’t suck.”


Matt McHale | By the Horns

“During the offseason, the Bulls lost free agent Ben Gordon, whom many people considered the team’s best or second-best player (after Derrick Rose). Memo to Chicago fans: Don’t sweat it. Seriously. Gordon will be replaced by John Salmons, who not only gave the Bulls almost as many points per game (18.3 versus 20.7) but was slightly more efficient in how he scored them.”


John Krolik | Cavs the Blog

“After last season’s playoff heartbreak, Danny Ferry has changed up the equation … However, Shaq could disrupt the delicate offensive and defensive chemistry the Cavaliers rode to 66 wins and the conference finals, despite the fact he will be the best player LeBron has ever played with if he continues to play like he did last season. The big question for the Cavs this seasons whether they overreacted to two clutch 3s by Rashard Lewis, or made the risk they needed to take to finally get LeBron a ring.”


Rob Mahoney | The Two Man Game

“’Rebuilding’ teams seek financial flexibility and the acquisition of young, productive assets. Quality squads amass veteran talent, no matter the cost, in pursuit of a title. Defying all logic, the Mavs have simultaneously moved in both directions.”


Jeremy Wagner | Roundball Mining Company

“The only players still on the roster who exceeded expectations in 2008-09 were Nene and Birdman. It is reasonable to expect every member of the Nuggets, other than thirty-something Chauncey Billups, to improve.”


Dan Feldman | PistonPowered

“However the minutes shake out between Chris Wilcox, Kwame Brown and Ben Wallace, they won’t be as good as Rasheed Wallace. But Sheed wasn’t that great last year. He looked old and disinterested, so the drop here won’t be too steep.”


Rasheed Malek |Warriors World

“Under the ownership of Chris Cohan, the Warriors have made the playoffs exactly one time and have gone through numerous coaches, players and executives. Going into this season, Larry Riley is the man in charge taking over for Chris Mullin.”


Anup Shah and Brody Rollins | Rockets Buzz

“The speed revolution has overtaken some of basketball’s peers, most notably football … Is basketball headed in the same direction? [Aaron] Brooks provides an excellent case study. Beginning the year as the Rockets number one threat on offense with Ron Artest’s departure and injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, Brooks will have every opportunity to prove that size really doesn’t matter.”


Jared Wade | Eight Points, Nine Seconds

“It’s hard to believe that anything short of the postseason will remove the dark cloud over Conseco. … Ultimately, it will come down to one thing: [Mike Jr.] Dunleavy’s knee.”


Kevin Arnovitz | ClipperBlog

“[Blake] Griffin and [Eric] Gordon may not be saviors, but they’re something. Griffin’s skills and his tenacious work ethic (the guy runs up sand dunes in his free time) will be a boon to a team desperate for cultural overhaul. Gordon offers an enticing combination of spot-up shooting and forays into the paint. He finished third in true shooting percentage among starting off guards in his rookie campaign, something that can only help a team that ranked dead last in offensive efficiency last season.”


Kurt Helin | Forum Blue and Gold

“God, is it good to be hated again.”


Chip Crain | 3 Shades of Blue

“The 2009-10 version of the Grizzlies have put together a starting five where every player scored 30 points or more in a game last year. The oldest starter is only 28 years old (Zach Randolph) and the youngest won’t turn 22 until after the start of the season (O.J. Mayo). They are young, talented and hungry for success. So why do most people focus on the two players not on a rookie contract this season?”


Matthew Bunch | Hot Hot Hoops

“38.6 minutes. 30.2 points. 49.1 percent shooting. Five rebounds. 7.5 assists. 2.2 steals. 1.3 blocks. That’s what [Dwyane] Wade averaged last season. You’re going to keep that guy out of the playoffs? Good luck.”


Jeremy Schmidt | Bucksketball

“If the Bucks get anything out of their three small forwards, if they can keep [Andrew] Bogut and [Michael] Redd healthy and if they get a season worthy of the number ten selection out of Brandon Jennings at the point, the playoffs will be within reach. But that’s a lot of ifs.”


Patrick Hodgdon | Howlin’ T-Wolf

“”Ever since his arrival, David Kahn has had seemingly one mission, other than to look like the smartest guy in the room at every turn, and that is to get as much cap space for next summer as he possibly can. … The obvious question lies in whether or not the Wolves will actually be able to lure one of the better free agent players to come to Minnesota.”


Mark Ginocchio and Sebastian Priuti | Nets are Scorching

“Lingering doubts about Brooklyn could spoil any change the Nets have of landing a top free agent next summer.”


Niall Doherty and Ryan Schwan | Hornets247

“Enter Emeka Okafor. He’s a near match to a healthy Chandler, is more durable, and doesn’t look like he’s having muscle spasms when making a post move.”


Mike Kurylo | Knickerblogger

“2010 could be New York’s return to winning.”


Royce Young | Daily Thunder

“The Thunder may not win more than half their games, but with over half the roster unable to get an alcoholic beverage still, steady improvement and progression is the name of the game.”


Zach McCann | Orlando Magic Daily

“Take away either Hedo Turkoglu or Courtney Lee and the Magic aren’t getting to face the Lakers in the Finals. No way. But does that mean the Magic were wrong to let them go? Were the Magic foolish to allow a borderline All-Star and a possible future All-Star leave the team when both clearly wanted to stay in Orlando? Absolutely not. I believe the Magic are an entirely better team than they were four months ago.”


Carey R. Smith | Philadunkia

“The travesty of a deal that Billy King gave to Samuel Dalembert remains easily one of the worst contracts in NBA history. Hopefully this season Dalembert, his inflated self-worth and his contract will be dealt for a couple of expiring contracts and some much-needed cap space.”


Michael Schwartz | Valley of the Suns

“Two years ago the Suns were chic championship picks. Last year, the Suns were (accurately) thought to be a fringe playoff team. This year there are almost no expectations outside of their locker room. … There will be no mistaking what the Suns are this season: a lightning-speed team that will score points in bunches and likely give them up almost as quickly while struggling badly on the boards. But they will once again be the most exciting team in basketball.”


Max Handelman | Beyond Bowie

“The Blazers effectively bumbled their way to a 54-win season despite a mediocre performance from Greg Oden, the loss of Martell Webster for the season, and at times starting three rookies. This team is only getting better, kids.”


Zach Harper | Cowbell Kingdom

“Enter Tyreke Evans — a bulldozer-sized menace who will test the strength of every team’s defense at its entry point. He immediately creates matchup problems against teams with traditional point guards and will look to have a similar impact as fellow Memphis alum, Derrick Rose.”


Timothy Varner | 48 Minutes of Hell

During the Celtics heyday, Red Auerbach boasted a winning percentage of .719. In the modern era, Pat Riley’s Showtime Lakers played to the tune of .733. Phil Jackson’s Jordan Bulls dominated the 90s with an otherworldly percentage of .771. Jackson’s three-peat Lakers? .735. In his 12 seasons with San Antonio, Gregg Popovich, whose cynical disdain for the regular season runs more than skin deep, has, nevertheless, posted a winning percentage of .707. That’s the company the Spurs keep. What should we expect this season? 58 wins and a run at the title. Same as every other year.”



“How is a rookie(ish) head coach going to integrate nine new players into a new system with two new assistant coaches?”


Spencer Ryan Hall | Salt City Hoops

“With young Wesley Matthews providing the good luck charm, Boozer in a contract year, Deron Williams with a chip on his shoulder, and a new longer-haired version of Andrei Kirilenko the Jazz have no reason to be anything other than beastly this season. And I mean that in a good way. Every prediction from the Jazz camp, however, comes with the ominous caveat ‘If we can stay healthy.'”


Kyle Weidie | Truth About It

“Flip Saunders has never gotten a team ‘there.’ That worn out cliché always runs rampant, plaguing almost every coach who hasn’t won … until they win. Red Auerbach (647), Larry Brown (1,900), and Dick Motta (738) all took their lumps before winning a championship (games coached before title season). Don’t be surprised when what you think is impossible becomes a reality. … 2010 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. Factor in Gilbert Arenas’ stomach tattoo and the fact that the Wizards play their home games in D.C.’s Chinatown, and all the cards are in place.”


* As predicted by a consensus of all TrueHoop Network bloggers.

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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).