Analysis/Opinions

What to Expect from Re-Shumpification

Shump

Iman Shumpert is set to return today when the Knicks take on the Detroit Pistons in London, England. Coming off a brutal ACL injury, Shumpert’s level of athleticism is unknown. I’ve seen Adrian Peterson used as an example of how Shumpert could come back at the same level of athleticism, or even better, but there are countless examples of athletes who are never the same after such an injury. Either way, Shumpert’s return should provide a much needed boost to the defensively challenged Knicks. A top five defense a year ago, New York has had a plethora of problems on that end of the court this season.

We shouldn’t expect Iman Shumpert to come back and be a defensive savior. That is unfair to him as a second year player coming off a devastating injury. Nobody is expecting Shumpert’s return to launch the Knicks back into elite defensive prominence. Having said that, Shumpert is definitely an upgrade over a mediocre group of perimeter defenders, even if he’s not the athlete he was last season. I’m going to break down the areas in which Shumpert will help the team. More

How Amar’e Stoudemire Fits Into the Knicks Offense

STAT

At 19-6, the New York Knicks have been just fine this year without Amar’e Stoudemire. New York runs the second most efficient offense in the NBA, scoring 110.5 points per 100 possessions. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a clear role or a need for Stoudemire in the Knicks offense. The monkey in the room looming over New York’s dream season has been the issue of whether the Knicks $100 million big man would accept a role coming off the bench. Over the past few weeks, Stoudemire has indicated that he would be accepting to come off the bench. Mike Woodson has indicated he will bring Stoudemire along slowly in terms of minutes played. All signs point to Stoudemire as a bench player, which is a really good sign for the Knicks.

In today’s NBA where player athleticism allows defenders to cover ground quicker than ever before, offensive spacing has become increasingly important. Teams are getting smaller and smaller with lineups, featuring more “stretch fours” (power forwards that can shoot and stretch the floor) than ever. The Knicks are no different. It is no secret that Carmelo Anthony is far more productive as a power forward, and has excelled to arguably an MVP caliber of play in New York’s wide open attack. New York employs a “four out” offensive system, based around four shooters and a big man setting pick and rolls. More

Ronnie Brewer: Role Player Extraordinaire

Brewer

Before the season started, I wrote on here that I believed Ronnie Brewer would be the Knicks best off-season acquisition. I was wrong. That distinction goes to Jason Kidd, who has impacted this team in more ways than what can be measured in a box score. However, Brewer has performed incredibly well in his first 16 games as a Knick. He has started all 16 games this season, starting at both small forward and shooting guard. Brought in as a defensive stalwart, Brewer has been very solid on that end of the floor as expected. Suprisingly, his impact has mostly been felt on the offensive end of the floor.

A career 26% three point shooter, Brewer was not thought of as a guy who would contribute much on the offensive side of things. He was brought in as a defender who would bring a defensive balance alongside more offense oriented players like Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and JR Smith. To the surprise of everybody, including Brewer himself probably, he has been much more than that. More

Knicks Need To Take Care of Business Before Showdown In Miami

 

Fresh off the 102-88 victory over the Bucks on Wednesday night, the Knicks return home to take on the newest members of the NBA’s win column, the Washington Wizards. The Wizards won their first game of the season Wednesday, defeating the Blazers 84-82. Tonight’s game is the first of three very winnable games for the Knicks before they travel to Miami and play the Heat in an Eastern Conference showdown. These three games are crucial for the Knicks to avoid those let down games we have come so accustomed to seeing from them over the years.

The stretch starts tonight as the Wizards travel to the Garden trying to establish their first winning streak in a decade (not a real stat). The Wizards are 1-12 and are at the bottom of the league in points scored, at just 89.4 per. They then play the Suns in another Sunday afternoon contest at the Garden, there fourth already this season. The Suns currently sit at 7-9 and are coming off of an embarrassing 40-point shellacking to the Detroit Pistons, after which prompted their head coach Alvin Gentry to say they couldn’t have beaten an NCAA team. These two are both winnable games for the Knicks in their home building where they have yet to lose a game this year. The Knicks need to continue to take care of business at home before they hit the road.

The final game of this mini-three game stretch before the showdown with the Heat is in Charlotte against the surprising Bobcats. The Bobcats have seven wins this season, matching their total from all of last year. The Bobcats beat the Knicks once last year thanks to their inability to defend Boris Diaw. They play the Bobcats the night before they play the Heat in Miami on TNT, and this one has all the makings of a letdown game. This Knick team feels a little different than in the past though. They took care of business against the Pistons at home in an afternoon game the day before they played the Nets in the much-anticipated New York battle.

The combined record of the next three opponents for the Knicks is 15-28, and I would love to see a 13-4 record heading into Thursday’s matchup. It is imperative the Knicks take care of business, especially at home, against the lesser teams in the league. Those are the first steps in becoming an elite team in this league, beating the teams that you are supposed to.

Mike D’Antoni’s Quote is a Complete Non-Issue

Enough time has passed now that D’Antoni can admit where he went wrong. It’s not one of those plays he regrets, it’s a decision.

His decision to leave.

“I shouldn’t have gone to New York,” he says, looking down at the sideline in Memphis, pacing on that unstable right leg.

“I should have stuck in there and battled. You don’t get to coach somebody like him [Nash] too many times. It’s pretty sacred and you need to take care of it. I didn’t.”

D’Antoni has never told Nash this.

It feels good to confess.

“I think we got frustrated and I got frustrated. That’s why I left. We were there, it seemed like we deserved it, and then it seemed like something happened all the time. Maybe we weren’t good enough either. We have to understand that.

“I probably irrationally made a decision right when the season was over. You should take a month to figure it out. I shouldn’t have left. That was my fault.”

The story I’ve always heard is that it was a mutual parting. The Suns’ ownership group and new general manager Steve Kerr pushed him to hire a defensive assistant. His system was questioned. Everything was.

Sure the Suns could outscore everyone, but could they win a championship? Could D’Antoni? Was the team flawed? Was he? Did they just have horrible luck? Did he need to change? Could he?

When the Knicks job came open in the spring of 2008, the Suns let him go.

“No. It was me,” D’Antoni admits now. “I initiated it and I probably shouldn’t have.”

Via ESPN NY

For some reason, Mike D’Antoni’s quotes have sparked outrage throughout the Knick fan base today and I don’t really understand why. Well, I do understand actually. Many Knick fans dislike D’Antoni and blame much of the team’s underachievement on him. Fine. People are entitled to their opinions and D’Antoni wasn’t perfect in New York. Having said that, to get outraged over these quotes is completely asinine.

If you actually read what D’Antoni said and the context in which he said it, it is pretty obvious that he isn’t taking a shot at the Knicks. If you actually read what he said, you’d see that he is talking about the remorse he has for leaving Phoenix. D’Antoni talks about how he should never have left Steve Nash and the good thing they had going. He talks about regretting his decision to initiate conflict with Suns management that ultimately led to his departure.

Nowhere in these quotes does D’Antoni ever go into his tenure in New York. He already spoke about this during his introductory press conference. The Lakers coach took the high road and was as classy as could be about his previous job. This is a classic case of the media turning a non-story into something that it isn’t.

The headline has been “D’Antoni regrets taking Knicks job” but very clearly that wasn’t the point of what he actually said. So for all you Knicks fans that are outraged about this, pump the breaks on your anger. These quotes aren’t a big deal, they don’t attack James Dolan, Carmelo Anthony, or the Knick organization. This is D’Antoni expressing remorse for leaving the Suns, not for taking the Knicks job.

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Key Matchup Tonight 11/26: Chandler vs. Lopez

Well it’s time to redeem myself in this post. The last time I wrote about the matchup between Raymond Felton and Jeremy Lin and how Felton was going to outplay the former Knick point guard. Turns out I was wrong, completely wrong, as the Knicks didn’t even bother showing up in a 131-103 route to the Rockets. So here is another attempt at writing about a matchup, this one about the big men down low (pause..) for both the Knicks and Nets, Tyson Chandler and Brook Lopez.

One of the major storylines for the Nets this season has been the play of Lopez. He leads them in scoring with 19 points per game and shooting 55% from the field, and has shown a more aggressive side to his game that has been lacking in his young career. Brook can be a dynamic center because of his ability to step out and hit the long jumper, making Chandler’s defense tonight that much more important.

Chandler won the DPOY award last year in deserving fashion, but so far this season hasn’t been the defensive force Knick fans have become accustomed to seeing. He has been nagged by illness and some injuries early on, and the Knicks need him to get back to being the anchor of that defense going forward. Early on, defense was the Knicks catalyst, but lately it has been their Achilles heel. They gave up 65 second-half points to the Mavericks last Wednesday, 131 points to the Rockets on Friday, and then despite winning yesterday, allowed the lowly Pistons to drop 100 at the Garden. The Knicks need to get back to playing the defense that allowed them to jump out to an undefeated start, especially against a Nets team that can really score.

One of the keys to tonight’s game will be the pick and roll defense of the Knicks. As Taylor pointed out in the game preview, the Knicks have allowed 1.08 points per possession to roll men, and the Nets run both Humphries and Lopez off pick and rolls. In order for the Knicks to be successful tonight, Chandler, Sheed and Camby will all have to do a good job of chasing Williams out of the paint and getting back to defend the big men. Easier said than done obviously as the Nets have some formidable scorers down low, but that is why Chandler needs to play a key role tonight.

It should be a great game tonight, and despite whatever hatred you may have for the other team, it’s good to have two relevant basketball teams in New York…But who am I kidding, I dislike the Nets very much, and hope the Knicks beat them down tonight.

Follow Brian on Twitter @bcoles1029

Knicks Face Off Against Linsanity, Reminder of Solid Off-Season Moves

      

   The Knicks will wrap up a mini three-game west coast trip tonight when they take on the Rockets in Houston. The Rockets have the league’s top scorer in James Harden who is averaging 24.5 points per game through the early part of the season (just fractions ahead of Carmelo Anthony), but the bigger and more obvious storyline coming into tonight’s matchup is Jeremy Lin’s first game against the team that helped put him on the map last season.

                The biggest decision the Knicks had to make last season was whether or not they were going to retain Lin, who burst onto the scene last year when he averaged 24.4 points to lead the Knicks on a seven-game win streak. You can attribute Lin’s success last season to whatever you want (there was no film on the guy, they played a weak schedule, there was no Carmelo Anthony, etc.), but you cannot deny that he played extremely well and helped Mike D’Antoni keep his job for the time being.  The Knicks decided (wisely) to not match the lucrative offer Lin received from the Rockets, and instead brought in three new point guards to help anchor the backcourt.

Coming into the season Raymond Felton declared he was the better point guard than Jeremy Lin, and so far has done just about everything to prove that. He is averaging 15.7 points per game to go along with 6.9 assists, compared to Lin’s 10 ppg and 6.3 assists. Felton is also shooting 10% better from the field. Felton without a doubt came into this season with a chip on his shoulder having to answer to all the Jeremy Lin fanatics who thought the Knicks made the wrong decision in letting him go. The Knicks also brought in Kidd and Prigioni to help anchor the backcourt, providing them with guard depth that they did not have last year. Kidd currently ranks 17th in the league in PER at 22.62, and Prigioni has been a formidable floor general with the second unit.

The defense at the guard position is also much improved with the new additions. Lin was a turnstile last year and has been exposed early on this year with his on the ball defense. While I think Lin can be a solid point guard in this league, he’d be the first one to tell you he has some things he needs to improve on. I think Felton still has that chip on his shoulder, and will come out tonight with a lot of intensity and attack Lin. He is quicker and stronger than Lin, and I’d like to see him utilize the pick and roll, something that gave Lin fits defensively last season with the Knicks. I look for Felton to have a very nice game tonight as the Knicks look to avoid consecutive losses for the first time this season.

 
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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.  More

Knicks 2012-2013 Season Outlook

There is a lot of optimism around this Knicks basketball team. While I don’t agree with it, I understand it. You’ve got a motivated Carmelo Anthony, a head coach in the good graces of the fan base and some quality veteran role players. Tyson Chandler is still the leader of the defense, Raymond Felton was a fan favorite under Mike D’Antoni in 2010 and Steve Novak’s championship belt will still be awesome. I get it. But I think there are a lot of deficiencies and question marks on this basketball team. This team is not a contender, which is a disappointment  in this year three of the Carmelo Anthony-Amar’e Stoudemire era.

The beginning of this off-season was an exciting one. New York looked to build around the core of Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. GM Glen Grundwald and MSG brass looked to surround the core with veteran players. They tried to bring in Steve Nash, but were undone by the egregious contract Landry Fields was given by the Toronto Raptors. Nash ended up with the Lakers. I vomited. Plan B was apparently Jason Kidd and the Knicks overpaid heavily for him. While it was a bad move, the rationale was easy to see. Kidd would be a player who came off the bench and gave the Knicks 10-15 minutes a night, while also being a road map to help Jeremy Lin in his development. New York re-signed JR Smith and Steve Novak. They brought in James White and Chris Copeland. In their best move of the off-season, the Knicks acquired Marcus Camby in a sign and trade with Houston. This looked like a team that could be very dangerous in 2012. More

Have Pre-Season Injuries Set the Knicks Up for Early Season Failure?

Much of the narrative regarding New York’s recent track record of underachievement has been centered around a lack of team chemistry. That narrative does have some merit to it, as this has been New York’s first conventional training camp with the trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler all on the roster. Not only was this seen as a training camp in which the “broadway bigs” would have the opportunity to mesh together, but a camp where the Knicks as a team can mesh together as well. However, the Knicks have run into a plethora of injury problems. Amar’e Stoudemire has missed time and both pre-season games to date with a “bruised knee”. CAA favorite Chris Smith is now out for the season with a torn patella tendon. His brother, one JR Smith, now has some sort of unidentified ankle/achilles injury. Free agent steal Ronnie Brewer has yet to see action due to recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery. Marcus Camby has a calf strain and his return is unknown. For what it is worth, Henry Sims hurt his ankle in practice, but he is a longshot to make the team anyways. So yeah, that is a lot of injuries. Great thing the Knicks have Jason Kidd and all of his veteran presence. He’ll be able to fix all the Knicks problems. Wait, he’s old and he’s not good anymore so never mind. More