Analysis/Opinions

Ronnie Brewer May be the Steal of New York’s Free Agent Class

All the talk this Knicks off-season has been about the flashy names. The Jeremy Lin debacle. Jason Kidd and his egregious 3 year $9 mil contract. The Camby man! Marcus Camby returning to the squad. The return of Rashweed Rasheed Wallace to the NBA. But for all the glam, a meat and potatoes player may end up the toast of New York’s free agent class. Signed on a veteran minimum contract from the Chicago Bulls, Ronnie Brewer is an exceptional wing defender. Chicago rated out best in the league in defensive rating, allowing just 95.3 points per 100 possessions. Having recording a defensive rating of 95.0 in 24.8 minutes a game last season, Brewer had much to do with Chicago’s defensive prowess.

Thanks to NBA.com Stats cube, we can see how Brewer’s on court presence impacted Philadelphia’s offense in the Bulls-Sixers first round matchup.

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Anthony Would Benefit From Shooting Fewer Threes

Last season was one of the worst statistical seasons of Carmelo Anthony’s nine year career. There were many factors that attributed to his poor season such as feuding with the coach, various injuries and an early season experiment as a “point forward”. But for all the excuses made in Anthony’s favor, I think there is one factor that hasn’t been talked about enough.Across the board, Anthony’s scoring stats were down from what we are accustomed to seeing. Except for one statistic; his three point attempts. Last season, Anthony shot a career high in 3 point attempts, 3.7 attempts/game (3PA) and 3.9 per 36 minutes. He shot just 33.5% from downtown and is a 32.2% career shooter from outside the arc. I believe there is a direction correlation between Anthony’s 43% shooting last season, second lowest in his career, and the high volume of threes that he took. More

On Melo’s Comments About Being Selfish Because of Linsanity

In this USA Today article, Carmelo Anthony said that he’s the selfish player people claim him to be because of “the whole Linsanity thing.” He goes on by saying “That’s when it started. That’s when it started to escalate as far as people saying I was selfish.” This I find not to be true on many levels. Prior to Linsanity happening, Melo was being barraged with criticism from really, the lion’s share of Knick fans for having a string of bloodcurdling shooting games. What I never understood was the criticism from certain Knick fans saying that he was a ballhog and a piece of shit (there’s many more things he was called and they weren’t good things). You should of expected what you were gonna get in Melo. I was expecting it to happen because of the following reasons: 1. His hefty usage-rates, 2. Being a purebred shooter (and a high volume scorer), and 3. Making sweet love to the basketball whenever he receives a pass from anyone. Those fans were acting like it was a breaking news story coming from tabloids, TMZ in particular, the headline being “BREAKING: Melo Is A Ballhog Fiend. Knick Fans Are Exasperated” or something like that. They were probably fans that came out of the woodwork for all I know.

Throughout his career, Melo has been a high-usage player. Last season, he was 4th in USG% with 31.8%, only behind LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Kobe Bryant. And in his Denver days, his highest USG% was at least 30% in five (and a half if you want to count his year being traded from Denver to New York) seasons played with the Nuggets. All of that being said, Melo is a usage rate stalwart. He’s certainly not in the upper echelon of defenders, averaging a steal to less than a steal per game, and most importantly, to him at least, he’s essentially branded as a scorer in isolation situations and in any situation. It’s a dead giveaway. Shooters shoot, and…yeah. I don’t have to go any further with stats because by looking at Melo’s stats, you get an elegantly painted picture of what his career has been like statistically.

When Linsanity detonated the fuse (MSG) back in February, Lin was demonstrating fundamental basketball, Red Holzman-like basketball—-passing to the open man and getting almost the whole team involved in the game, developing a synergy with spot-up shooter extraordinaire, Steve Novak, in particular. Melo was sitting out with a groin injury most of the time Linsanity was occurring. There was skepticism about Melo and Lin co-existing in the midst of Melo’s injury because of Melo’s isolation-oriented game and Lin’s let’s-get-the-whole-team-involved game. Melo came back and just couldn’t quite tie the knot with Lin, unfortunately. Lin is back with the Rockets after the Knicks decided to not match a remunerative deal a few weeks ago and Mike Woodson’s offense is going to be fabricated around isolation (or Iso Joe), Melo’s offensive tactic of choice.

Melo, I like you and all, but it’s not a revelation at this point that you’re a selfish player. It’s the way you play the game. You’re a shooter that likes to throw up shots and score. Stuff like this has been surfacing for ages now. But blaming Lin? C’mon man. That’s a bunch of poppycock. It’s a little ridiculous to blame the player who rose from a guy laying down on his brother’s couch to global basketball rock star status boosting the Knicks into the playoffs. Let’s not go further by saying even worse tomfoolery. You went just a bit too far this time *Bob Uecker voice.

Thanks For Those Few Weeks: A Teenager’s Perspective On Linsanity

Back in December, the Knicks signed Jeremy Lin as a free agent. Of course, the sole reaction from Knick fans were like, “huh?” because literally no one, unless you were a basketball blogger or die-hard NBA fan that followed the league at regular intervals, knew who he was. When the signing was made, I then read Howard Beck’s article on Lin. The name struck me, but like the majority of the people, I had little to no idea who this dude was. I’m starting to read Beck’s article, and then I realized that he played against the Knicks while he was with the Warriors.  Lin’s minutes in that game were essentially garbage time minutes. He played close to an even 3 minutes on the court. After I read the Beck article, I had a clear idea of what Jeremy Lin’s story was and it was an interesting story. An undrafted player out of Harvard is definitely not a story you would hear frequently at all. Hearing about players being undrafted was frequent ie: John Starks, Udonis Haslem, Ben Wallace, just to name a few. But a player being undrafted out of the most prestigious university in the United States? Pretty interesting. Not to mention that former Knick great and former three-term New Jersey senator, Bill Bradley, went to Princeton, but wasn’t undrafted, as he was one of the three territorial selections in the 1965 NBA draft. Throughout franchise history, the Knicks have had quite the brains.

I live in a very diverse community. That being said, I go to school with people of a lot of different cultures, which is great. Most of the people had little to no interest in basketball, unless they were playing the sport itself. Most of the people are Laker fanboys and Knick fans at the same time, which irks me and doesn’t make absolute sense, but at least they’re fans of the game. My friends were messaging me on Facebook about the Lin signing. One of my many friends, Russell, messaged me on Facebook; “James, did you hear about the Knicks signing Jeremy Lin?” I simply said “Yes.” Then, he says “I know you’re a huge Knick fan and I really wanted to ask you this: do you think Jeremy Lin will be playing anytime soon?” I stopped to think about that question for a moment. The locked out NBA season was in it’s baby steps phase. The Knicks were coming off of a valiant Christmas Day win against the savant Celtics and the struggle within the Knicks prior to the season starting was for a legitimate point guard that wasn’t the struggling Toney Douglas. With confidence, I said to Russell “I think that Lin will definitely start for the Knicks, not anytime soon, but he will start, considering what they’re going through right now in terms of point guard issues. All I have to say is: patience.” Russell said “do you really think so?” “Yes.” I said. Then Russell had to go. The last thing he said was “Thanks for your opinion, James. You’re a good friend when it comes to talking about basketball. Ttyl.” “Thanks. I really appreciate it. Hopefully my prediction will be fulfilled haha. Ttyl.” More

JR Smith Re-Signs With the Knicks

According to Ian Begley of ESPN NY, the Knicks have re-signed shooting guard JR Smith for $2.8 million next season with a $2.8 million player option for a second season. From a talent standpoint, this is an absolute steal for the Knicks. With all the horrible contracts that have been handed out this off-season (for example, Jeff Green 4 years $36 million, Landry Fields 3 years $20 million), it’s nice to see the Knicks not completely overpay for Smith. They got him at a very good deal relative to his talent level. However, talent has never been the issue with JR Smith. When you think about this man, you don’t think about his great athleticism or outside shooting ability. You think of all the other things.

When the name JR Smith comes up in conversation, I tend to think about everything negative. I think of the contested step back jumpers that never ever go in. I think of the ball hogging, the inability to make the correct swing pass around the perimeter and all the times that he took ill advised shots that threw the offense out of wack. As I watched the NBA finals, I thought about JR. I thought about how neither the Heat nor the Thunder had a player like JR on their roster. They didn’t have a role player coming off the bench to chuck 15 shots per game, most of them contested step backs. More

Knicks Acquire Marcus Camby and Retain Novak

The Camby man is coming back to New York. In a sign and trade deal with the Houston Rockets, the Knicks have acquired veteran center Marcus Camby in exchange for Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan and second round picks in 2014 and 2015. Camby’s contract is worth $13.2 million over three seasons. Today, the Knicks also retained sharpshooter Steve Novak on a $15 million contract spanning four seasons in length.

First, lets discuss Camby. I think Marcus Camby is an excellent fit with this Knicks team as currently constructed. If he was 5 years younger, he is 38 years old currently, I think Camby would have been a perfect fit. Even at this advanced stage of his career, Camby is an excellent defender and rebounder. A technician on defense, Camby uses his veteran experience and grit to make up for deficiencies he may have due to his age and decreased athleticism. He’s not Tyson Chandler, but he’s a rock solid defender in the low post area. Offensively, he’s a great fit next to Amar’e Stoudemire. Not only can Camby help Stoudemire on the defensive end, but he can help open up the offense for the Knick power forward. Unlike Chandler, Camby has the ability to step out and hit an 18 foot jump shot. Last season he posted very solid shooting stats from the floor. According to Hoopdata, Camby shot 42.9% from shots 10-15 feet and 44% from shots 16-23 feet. Barring injury to Chandler (knock on wood), Camby will be coming off the bench which likely means he’ll be playing many minutes next to Stoudemire. I think that is a front court duo that can work. With Camby’s offensive spacing, Stoudemire will have a better opportunity to return to superstar form; which is bigger than any free agent signing the Knicks can make.  More

Let’s Not Sulk Over Steve Nash

Look, I’ve always had a disdain for the Lakers.  I’ve had that disdain for ages now, ever since the Kings and the Lakers were a premiere rivalry back in the early to mid 2000′s in the days of when Mike Bibby was actually alive and not a dead degenerate corpse, when Chris Webber was playing his absolute elite best basketball of his career and when Doug Christie was playing outstanding lockdown defense  for a team not named the New York Knicks.  For the Lakers, Kobe and Shaq reigned supreme along with Derek Fisher and Robert Horry hitting in the clutch, which made the rivalry more and more heated as time progressed.

Yesterday, my hate for the Lakers and Steve Nash is at a new level, but let’s expunge all of the antipathy about the Lakers for a moment.  If you were paying attention to Twitter like I was for the majority of the day on a beautiful Fourth of July, it seemed like the 38 year old Nash was heading to the Big Apple.  Some Knick fans on Twitter were on one hell of an emotional roller coaster about the sign and trade deal and other Knick fans were going bonkers as if an encore was being demanded at a concert.  The emotional roller coaster part in that sentence is the equivalent to Iman Shumpert, who is probably my favorite rookie on the team that is coming off of a grisly torn ACL injury. The trade didn’t only contain Shumpert, though.  The Knicks initial trade for Nash was Shumpert, Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, garbage time rookie Jerome Jordan and a couple of draft picks.  But at this point post-Nash trade, it’s totally clear that Shump was the colossal stuffed animal dog at the carnival that you want so badly you’ll do anything to get him in this trade. More

Steve Nash’s Gutless Decision Shocks the NBA World

He chose the Lakers. Really? Of all teams, he chose the god damn Lakers. I can understand not wanting to go to the Raptors or the Knicks, but the Lakers? Dating back to the 1970′s, the Suns and Lakers have been bitter rivals. From Wilt Chamberlain and Connie Hawkins to Kobe and Raja Bell, the two franchises have always hated each other. More recently, the Kobe-era Lakers and Nash-era Suns have had their share of playoff grudge matches over the past decade. Suns-Lakers will go down as one of the great rivalries of the 2000′s, rivaling Spurs-Lakers, Celtics-Lakers and Nuggets-Lakers. Notice how all those rivalries feature the gold and purple uniformed squad that calls the Staples Center “home”. The Los Angeles Lakers are the New York Yankees of pro basketball. Nobody goes “the Lakers are okay. I don’t really care about them one way or the either.” You either love them or you despise them; there’s no in-between.

I loathe the Los Angeles Lakers. Their dirty play, bandwagon fair-weathered fans and sheer arrogance make them the most hatable team in pro basketball. They are the crux of all that is evil within the NBA universe. You would think Steve Nash would feel the same way, since you know… he went to combat against them in the playoffs time and time again. But no, it seems that Steve Nash isn’t the guy that we thought he was. Nash is not the loyal, old-school man that we thought he was. In leaving Phoenix for the hated Lakers, Nash thrusted a dagger through the hearts of a passionate Suns fan-base. The same fan base that embraced him after Dallas exiled him is now reeling after Nash’s stunning Wednesday decision.  More

Stay With The Knicks, J.R.

Remember when NBA king of Twitter J.R Smith was barraged with harsh criticism from Knicks fans right after the Knicks lost to the Heat in five games back in May?  I certainly remember that and the majority of Knick fans certainly remember that too. Of course his dismal shooting performances in the playoffs were a key to the Knicks losing, but at the same time, the Heat aren’t exactly the easiest team to get by with an injury prone team. People’s expectations can be a bit ridiculous. J.R was basically being relied on by Knick fans to light a fire with his shooting prowess. He is a prime example of a hot and cold shooter, but in that series, he was cold as ice, he simply wasn’t willing to sacrifice. More

Amar’e Ain’t Done Yet, Folks

The 2011-2012 NBA season was an utter disaster for Amar’e Stoudemire. Whether it was on the court or off the court, the Knicks $100 million man could not seem to catch a break. Between the chronic back injuries, the death of his older brother, his sub-par performance on the court or his karate chopping of a fire extinguisher, nothing went right for Stoudemire in 2011. Across the board, his statistics fell to their lowest figures since the 2004-2005 season (I am discounting the 2005-2006 season in which Stoudemire played 3 games). Stoudemire averaged just 17.5 points per game, his lowest since his rookie season, and shot just 48.3%, his third lowest percentage of his career. More frightening than those statistics were the fact that Stoudemire averaged a career low 7.9 rebounds per game. However, I believe 2012 will be different for the Knick power forward and I’ll tell you why. More