Analysis/Opinions

Amar’e Stoudemire Injured Once Again. Where do the Knicks go From Here?

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Prior to yesterday’s 113-84 blowout victory over Utah, the Knicks announced that oft-injured forward Amar’e Stoudemire will be sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks with right knee problems. Before the season started, Stoudemire underwent a left knee debridement, dead tissue that needs to be removed, which caused him to miss the first two months of the season. Now, the same issue has arisen in his right knee and again he must be operated on.

Having overcome a plethora of injuries throughout his 11 year career, this is nothing new for Stoudemire. He’s worked hard during his tenure with the Knicks to overcome this kind of adversity and he will work hard again to get back in time to help contribute to the team’s playoff cause. Nonetheless, this injury is truly a tragic one for Stoudemire. The Knicks starting the year 18-5 with Carmelo Anthony at power forward made it near impossible for Stoudemire to return in January as a starter. The consumate team player, Stoudemire accepted his role as a 23 minute a game role player off the bench. A move of this ilk is not an easy one for an NBA superstar, of which Stoudemire certainly has been throughout his career. Look no further than the Pau Gasol situation with the Lakers this season as an example of how superstars usually react to a bench demotion. Not only did Stoudemire handle this move to the bench with professionalism and class, but he was having a bounce-back season. Behind a more refined offensive game, thanks to some summer tutelage from Hakeem Olajuwon, Stoudemire was scoring as efficiently as ever. More

The Three is the Key for the Knicks to Beat Miami

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Though their first 55 games played, the Knicks have attempted more threes per game than any team in basketball. They’re quite good at it as well, checking in with the league’s 5th best three point percentage at 37.1% per the NBA.com stats database. While old traditionalists of the game shoot down the offensive philosophy of hoisting up three after three after three as a gimmick, the Knicks have embraced it and have been successful doing so, running the league’s third most efficient offense.

Coming into this season, and the last two before that, the goal has been simple for the Knicks: Beat the Heat. Since Miami’s ‘Big Three’ came together in the summer of 2010, the Heat have had a target on their back. The entire Eastern Conference has been unsuccessful in hitting that target, as Miami has made it to the finals in both years that the James/Wade/Bosh trio has been together. Only the 2010 Dallas Mavericks have been successful in defeating Miami in a playoff series. New York had an opportunity last season, but were beaten soundly in five games.

The construct of this Knick team parallels much of that 2010 Dallas squad. They’ve got Tyson Chandler anchoring the middle of the defense, an unstoppable offensive force at power forward and they shoot a ton of threes. Currently the Knicks look far from a championship caliber team, having gone 17-15 after starting 18-5, but there are similarities between them and that Dallas team.

In the first two Knicks-Heat match-ups, New York was able to defeat Miami behind incredibly hot three point shooting. They hit 52% (19-36) of their threes in the first matchup and and 40.9% (18-44) in the second. Shooting a ton of threes, and more importantly making a ton of threes seems to be the forumla behind offensive success against the Heat. Granted, this could be said about playing offense against any defense on any given night. However, Miami isn’t just any other defense. When locked in, the Heat are one of the most disruptive defenses in the league. Having ridiculous speed and athleticism along the perimeter allows Miami to attack opposing ball handlers. In the pick and roll, the Heat love to put a hard trap on the ball handler, trusting that their rotations will do what they need to do on the back end. By simple arithmetic, trapping the ball handler with two defenders means that an offensive perimeter player is going to be unguarded. Miami’s perimeter defenders are incredibly athletic and they rotate to the open offensive players much faster than most, if not all other defenses in basketball. The offense must be decisive and quick in swinging the ball along the perimeter, much like the Knicks were in games one and two earlier this year.

Take this play for example:

Miami traps the Knicks not once, but twice. They trap Felton in the pick and roll before then trapping Chandler. Chandler does a good job of kicking the ball back out to Felton who then swings it to Kidd. Here is where we see where the Knicks can hurt Miami. Because the ball was decisively and quickly kicked back out from Chandler and swung around the perimeter, Miami cannot completely recover on defense.

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LeBron is put in a position to have to make a decision. Either he closes out hard on Kidd, forcing him to continue swinging the ball, or runs to Brewer giving Kidd the shot. LeBron hesitates, not really doing either, allowing Kidd to take and hit the three.

Here’s another play where the Knicks beat a trap by hitting a three. Using Carmelo Anthony as a roll man (!), the Knicks are able to free up Steve Novak in the corner. When Felton gets trapped, Anthony rolls towards the hoop. This brings Novak’s defender, Dwyane Wade, down to pick up Anthony. Felton gets enough space to swing the ball to Novak in the corner and he hits the three.

About halfway through the second game, Miami started switching on their pick and roll defense.

As a result of all the switching, Felton had a career game. I would be highly surprised to see the Heat employ this strategy today.

A lot has changed since the Knicks beat Miami 112-92 on December 12th. The Knicks have cooled off drastically while Miami has won 13 games in a row. What hasn’t changed is that New York’s ticket to victory against the Heat is to shoot, and make, the three ball. Hard trapping and rabid attacking defense by the Heat opens up opportunities on the perimeter for the offense to hit threes. Over the last 10 games, the Knicks have actually been quite cold shooting the ball, hitting just 31% of their 3 point attempts. Today, and in any future meetings, they’ll have to re-find that early season shooting form if they want to beat the Heat.

Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino

JR Smith: Starter?

Pablo Prigioni has back spams and may potentially miss tonight’s game against the Warriors. Were that to be the case, Mike Woodson said he would move Jason Kidd to the bench, allowing him to be used as the backup point guard. This leaves a void in the starting lineup alongside Felton, Shumpert, Anthony and Chandler. Woodson has to make the decision whether he’s going to fill that open spot with JR Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire or somebody else. My advice: go with Smith. More

The Knicks Ship Off Ronnie Brewer, Bring in Kenyon Martin

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Leading up to the 3 pm trade deadline on Thursday, all the Knicks trade deadline talk was about whether or not Iman Shumpert would be sent elsewhere. He wasn’t. The Knicks decided to hold onto Shumpert, but did however make a trade. Forgotten small forward Ronnie Brewer was sent off to Oklahoma City for a 2014 second round draft selection. With Brewer’s sending off vacating a roster spot, the Knicks have signed Kenyon Martin to a 10 day contract according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

Let’s start with Brewer. I thought Brewer would be one of the steals of the free agent class, mostly due to his reputation as an elite perimeter defender. I thought he’d be okay offensively, assuming the Knicks would have a slow isolation-heavy offense. More

Should The Knicks Trade Iman Shumpert For J.J Redick?

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I was up extra late last night watching Late Show with David Letterman, and then watching Bachelor Party with Tom Hanks for like the 1312421th time because it’s such a great movie. Anywho, according to Alex Kennedy, there were trade rumors of J.J Redick being traded for Iman Shumpert, with a possibility of having a third team being placed into the trade. When I first saw it, I thought to myself that it wasn’t a bad deal at first. Redick is a pure shooter. Off of the catch and shoot, he’s automatic, he really can’t miss, one of the best in the league off of the catch and shoot, indubitably. He’s shooting just over 40% from downtown,  45% from the field, with just over a 60 TS% as well, averaging 15.3 PPG, which, for pure shooters, is excellent. That may change, but at the pace Redick is going at, it would be imperative to go after him. It would add another hazardous three point threat for the Knicks, and, not to bash on the Knicks’ free throw shooting, Redick is shooting 88% from the charity stripe. But really, though, how many cases of YGTMYFT (you got to make your free throws) have we seen this season? A lot, for the most part. More

Novak, White Go Home Empty on All-Star Saturday

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Saturday night in Houston, Steve Novak and James White participated in the Three-Point Shootout and the Dunk Contest. I had high hopes for both participants. Though I picked Matt Bonner to win the Three-Point Shootout, (Kyrie Irving won) I thought Novak would be in the finals. I thought James White, given that his basketball existence seemed to exist only for him to be crowned champion of one such contest, would win the Dunk Contest with a handful of unbelievable dunks. Neither happened on a somewhat disappointing Saturday night. More

How James White Can Win The Dunk Contest

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Enter James William White IV. Yes, he deserves to have his full name read out loud because not only I said so, but if he was a part of J.R Smith’s family, he would hypothetically be the fourth Smith. I mean, when you really think of it, Flight could be a part of Earl’s family because J.R had that dunk gene (he still does) with my favorite dunk contest dunk ever. Sorry, Andre Iguodala, J.R did it A LOT better than you did, and that’s without bias. He did it on one try instead of missing on multiple attempts. Anyways, White is re-shipping himself down to Houston, but for the upcoming NBA dunk contest rather than signing 10 day contracts with the Rockets. You can make an argument that this is the biggest moment of his basketball career since the 2001 McDonald’s All-American dunk contest, in which he got absolutely robbed by David Lee (still love you, David), convincing me that the ghost of Arnold Rothstein fixed the contest itself immediately. Just by looking at these mesmerizing highlights, how can you not vote for something that’s so superior to the inferior? What a bunch of frauds. That being said, Flight is just going to have to get his revenge on Saturday against a couple of grizzled dunk contest veterans, those being Gerald Green and the defending champion, Jeremy Evans, as well as some newcomers that are notable for their ferocious jams, the newcomers being the freakishly athletic Kenneth Faried (MANIMAL SMASH), best backup point guard in the NBA, Eric Bledsoe, and young gun, Terrence Ross. As the title says: What exactly can James White do to win the dunk contest? Here’s how: More

Is Adding Jared Dudley Worth Losing Iman Shumpert?

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Preface: This Dudley talk (as of 4:15 AM EST on Saturday, Feb 9) is purely speculative. There is no proposed trade on the table that we know of and the intentions of both the Knicks and Suns are unknown. Everything written below pertaining to any sort of trade would be purely speculative.

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Phoenix Suns small forward Jared Dudley would absolutely help New York’s chances of dethroning Miami in the Eastern Conference. He’d fit in nicely to the starting lineup at the three spot alongside Jason Kidd and Carmelo Anthony. At 6’7 Dudley is a pure three and a legitimate knock down shooter. He is shooting 39.1% from downtown this season, with an eFG% of 56.1% and a TS% of 59.5%. To put that in perspective, Steve Novak shoots 44.1% from downtown, with an eFG% of 59.7% and a TS% of 61%. Dudley is not Steve Novak shooting the ball, but he’s not much worse and he is more complete in every other facet of the game. Dudley is not great defensively, but he is not a complete liability either. As we can see from Dudley’s shot chart, he is a much more complete offensive player than Novak. He can shoot the mid-range and get to the rim with efficiency in addition to his elite three point shooting. More

My Take On the One-Year Anniversary of “Linsanity”

As you’ve probably heard by now, today marks the one-year anniversary of Jeremy Lin’s breakout performance last season against the New Jersey Nets, the beginning of “Linsanity.” The evolution of Jeremy Lin’s standing in the court public opinion has been a fascinating one. What started out as a mutual love-fest between Lin and Knicks fans has evolved into what I imagine a micro-blogging version of World War 3 would look like. At least on the social media ranks of “Knicks Twitter”, the fan-base has been divided by a player that no longer dawns the orange and blue. You have the faction of fans that hate Lin’s guts, unfairly I would say, and then you have the faction who love and continue to root for Lin. I stand in the third faction; I’ve moved on from Lin with no hard feelings towards him, yet I don’t ‘root’ for him per say.

Looking back to when the Knicks jettisoned Lin for Houston and brought in Raymond Felton as his replacement, I wasn’t happy with the move. Not because I don’t like Raymond Felton, because I really like Felton. I was upset because the Knicks could’ve had both Lin and Felton, they didn’t need to choose one over the other. And to be fair, I think Lin has a higher upside than Felton and will end up as a better NBA player. I thought Felton was solid, but on a Knicks team that seemed headed for an isolation based offense, Lin was a better fit. Largely due to this decision, my outlook for the Knicks this year was quite bleak. I thought they’d moved into the distinction of being the new-age Atlanta Hawks. The perennial 5 seed that is never good enough to contend, but never bad enough to blow up the team. NBA purgatory, I like to call it. I was wrong, or at least have been wrong to this point. More

Stoudemire’s Newfound Post Game is Helping Him Dominate

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The Knicks 113-97 win over Orlando marked the 12th game Amar’e Stoudemire has played since returning from injury. He’s coming off the bench and has excelled in that role. His per-36 numbers read 20.2 points 52% shooting and 7 rebounds. Stoudemire, who looked like a shell of his usual high flying all-star self last season, looks quick, strong and healthy. Having worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon over the summer, Stoudemire added a post-up game to his offensive arsenal. There was much skepticism around how effective his new post game would be and how often it would be used. To this point, and especially over the last 5-6 games, Stoudemire’s post game has been more effective than anyone could have expected.

According to Synergy sports, Stoudemire is shooting 18/29 (62.1%) out of post ups and draws shooting fouls 12.8% of the time.  His 1.04 points per possession in post ups ranks 6th in the league. He’s not perfect yet, turning the ball over 21.3% of the time, but he’s been very effective. Though the overall sample size is small, 12 games played, it looks like Stoudemire will be used more often in post than in pick and roll. 30.7% of his plays have come in post up situations while he’s worked as the roll man just 19.6% of the time. More