Ball Still Don’t Lie: Rasheed Wallace’s Surprising Success With The Knicks

Throughout 10 games, Rasheed Wallace’s return to the NBA has been a lot more better than many people expected it to be (yes, even his spectacular garbage time games against the Heat and the Sixers count). No one, well, maybe some exuberant people such as me, would believe that last sentence. People believed that Sheed would have a crappier season than his one game with the Hawks. Okay, maybe not that eerie. I’ll make a compromise because his one game with the Hawks is clearly not fair compared to his other stints (he did shoot 8-24 in his lone game against the Nets, though. SMALL SAMPLE SIZE. AM I RIGHT?). “We the fans, of the National Basketball Association, believe that power forward Rasheed Wallace had a far more sub-par season with the Boston basketball Celtics than the Atlanta basketball Hawks, after being traded by the Hawks to the Detroit basketball Pistons, thus winning the Pistons an NBA title in 2004, due to the bantam, tiny, petite sample size of one game.” Deal, delegates? Deal. *shakes hands. *delegates sign document. 

“Great Scott!” says the fans that previously greatly disapproved Glen Grunwald’s initiative to sign Sheed to a veteran’s minimum who have now changed their mind by now; “Sheed’s the man! SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED.” Quite frankly, when Sheed was signed back in October, I was doing cartwheels filled with happiness, and at the same time, I started to think twice. Sheed was screwing with my mind when he signed that veteran’s minimum offer sheet back in October. My brain was an absolute conundrum/basketball mindfuck because Glen Grunwald pulled off one of the ballsiest moves ever by signing a Sheed. But hey, Glen, the Sheed gamble has paid off, and is being put up for good use, at least for now. I read several articles before the signing and following the signing I made a deal with my cranium that it was a good signing, making the Knicks the oldest team in the NBA/NBA history, and older than Noah’s Arc, but as the season is progressing, the veteran leadership narrative is coming true. They may be eligible for social security benefits and AARP, but they’re kicking ass, with Sheed being a sleeper on the second unit.

Although I’m a stat geek at times, no advanced stats are needed to analyze Sheed’s input (unless you want to mention his 20.6 PER and his 32.5 DRB%). He’s been getting the minutes, and he’s turning those minutes he gets into very significant minutes, getting himself back on track. Plain and simple. Take the epic comeback against the Spurs for example. Sheed played 15 minutes. At first, hearing Sheed getting more than at least 15 minutes sounded like a bunch of cockamamy, but his performance on the floor in that game exceeded the negative assumptions. Sheed wasn’t exactly whiz-bang against San Antonio, except when he owned Tiago Splitter in the post and from the perimeter, but he came through in important situations. Or even better, take the Knicks getting blown out by the Grizzlies for another example (not the blown out part, of course). Sheed was on the floor for just over 24 minutes and shot 6-10 from the field along with 4 rebounds and 3 blocks. At one point, Sheed was the leading scorer for the Knicks, mainly because the Knicks were struggling. Now that I mentioned blocked shots, (I’ll mention rebounds in a little) Sheed’s defensive efforts, particularly in the paint, have been well above average. Sheed is Mike Woodson’s number one big man option down low off the bench, even over other veteran big, Marcus Camby. Camby should reverse the roles with Sheed, but Camby is coming off slow, however, Camby will most definitely get significant minutes in the future. And when Amare Stoudemire comes back around in late December to early January, then Camby won’t be seeking frequent minutes (actually, I really have no idea what the hell isgoing on with Woodson and Camby), but we’ll always keep in mind that the Knicks depth at the center position (and at point guard) is deeper than the Atlantic Ocean. The weird thing, though, is that Sheed has taught younger guys how to succeed in the post, but he’s barely displayed his post abilities in game. Despite his lack of post possessions, I’m positive that we’ll see many more Sheed post in the future.

Sheed getting significant minutes is marvelous, however, I don’t want Mike Woodson overplaying Sheed too much in that he plays him for 20-25 minutes consistently, then that would be a risk not worth taking. As much as I adore Sheed and his antics (BALL DON’T LIE, YEAH AFLAC), he’s still incredibly corpulent and out of game shape. 82 games is a very long season, and he certainly knows that it’s another grueling pull, especially when he was feeling himself cramping up after each game with the Celtics back in 2010 (he played in 79 games and started in 13 of them, those 13 games in place of an injured Kevin Garnett). Giving Sheed 10-18 minutes quality minutes is perfect. Maybe screaming “BALL DON’T LIE,” (at Austin Rivers missed free throws from against the Hornets) “YEAH AFLAC,” (to Arron Afflalo) or even “BOTH TEAMS PLAYED HARD” (at future press conferences) will burn some calories for him. That’s immoderately unlikely, but it’s always possible with Sheed, or, as Sheed would say, “Hellifying.” Sheed has provided a new kind of life to the Knicks with his antics of old. Someone should photoshop Sheed’s face over former brat pack movie star, Ally SHEEDy (don’t throw tomatoes at me).

Probably my favorite thing Sheed has done so far this season is when him and Pablo Prigioni (PRIGS) are on the floor at the same time. Prigs and Sheed are beginning to develop a pick and roll/pick and pop synergy, which eventually sets up open three attempts for Sheed. Obviously, not all of Sheed’s threes convert, hence him shooting 9-32 from three, some of them being ill-advised momentum-driven bricks you can build a house with, but when they go in, I always think of my main reasoning on why we have Sheed in the first place, besides veteran leadership and his Sheedanigans sometimes leading to technical fouls (just made that word up right on the spot): being an irritant on the perimeter by creating open threes, using his plump body to set screens, interior defense, and, for Prigs in particular, to compose the pick and roll/pick and pop opportunity because they’re usually on the same unit, but also for Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton as well, depending on what unit Sheed is on, usually the second unit with Prigs, though. Prigs is still paving the way for himself in the NBA, or rather in his NBA baby steps phase. He’s struggling at the point on the second unit as the floor master general cause he’s so anxious to shoot, which causes Prigs’ mental state to change at the last second on shooting situations, passing up open shots, eventually committing turnovers, but once he starts to find his role in the NBA, the Prigs-Sheed pick and roll/pick and pop will be a dynamic force that will be no longer under the radar, at least I hope it isn’t under the radar right now.

When Uncle Sheed is down on the low block, he displayed post preeminence that has been very successful, like I stated previously in which he extinguished Tiago Splitter. He compels his stout, tubby body against weaker defenders, and shoves them out of his way, dilapidating the defender’s morale because the defender just realized a fat Sheed blew by him. Probably the most underrated part of Sheed’s game right now is his rebounding and his ability to block shots. Through the 10 games, Sheed is averaging 7.4 RPG and a block per game in 144 total minutes. It’s absolutely not at first-rate levels, but good enough to fulfill my expectations for a 38 year old that’s just coming out of retirement after being retired for the last two years. I did mention veteran leadership at one point. The Sheedanigans Sheed brought with him to New York is helpful in the most outlandish way possible, but as Pokemon games would say: IT’S SUPER EFFECTIVE.

By now, Knick fans should realize Sheed’s importance to the Knicks. Some of the importance is his excessive frolicking on the bench, but the lion’s share of his importance are his contributions to the Knicks second unit on the floor. The Rasheed Wallace appreciation society aka the Sheedomenon (just made that one up too) will continue to live on this season. The Garden crowd has the need for Sheed, I have the need for Sheed, and fans nationwide have the need for Sheed. Let’s just hope this never happens in any scenario.

Follow James on Twitter @j_griff

 

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