Meloship of the Ring Podcast Episode 3, Featuring Chris Herring

Dan (@TheDanstein) and I sat down with the esteemed Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) of the Wall Street Journal to discuss Tim Hardaway Jr, the Andrea Bargnani trade, JR Smith’s situation, and the rest of the Knicks free agency affairs.

Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino

Andrea Bargnani Roundtable

Andrea Bargnani Roundtable

The Knicks made a surprising trade with the Raptors. We discuss it here
1. What are the Knicks getting in Andrea Bargnani?
  • Taylor Armosino (@tarmosino): A 7-footer that hasn’t shot well in three seasons, can’t defend or rebound, and is injury prone. Statistics aren’t a skill, rather the result of a skill, but the numbers on Bargnani are scary bad. There’s no denying that he has the ability to shoot from three, but he hasn’t been good at it for a while now. Since shooting 40.9% from three in 2008-2009, his three point percentage has rapidly declined, topping off at 29.6% and 30.9% each of the past two seasons. If he isn’t able to be an above-average shooter, he’s a minus-minus (or minus x2) player. He can’t rebound a lick, can’t defend a lick and takes tough shots.
  • John Gunther (@EmbraceAnalytix): A restoration project and a lot of questions. The hope is that the Knicks are getting the floor spacing, scoring big man that Bargnani was from 2008 through 2011. A volume scorer to help ease the burden off Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith (if he returns). In reality, that Bargnani has not really existed the past two seasons. He averaged 21.4 PPG in 2010-11 while shooting 34.5% from 3P with a 44.4% 3FG%.  But his long distance shooting has plummeted consistently since he shot 40.9% in ’08-09, down all the way to 29.6% and 30.9% the past two seasons. Accordingly, his eFG% has come down as well. As his efficiency has decreased and his scoring tapered off, he suddenly became the bane Raptors fans existence so much so that Bryan Colangelo was publicly shopping him at the trade deadline. All this has left the Knicks to acquire Bargnani as a “fixer-upper.” Is he still a “floor spacer” despite his noticeable drop off in 3P%? Could a change of scenery bring him back to his previous self? Is his previous self (scoring yes, but Bargnani has consistently rebounded at a historically low rate for a 7 footer) even the type of player the Knicks really need? Time will tell.
  • Brandon Rushie (@Ayo_Rush): The optimist in me says we’ve just added a 7-footer with a pretty set shot who can contribute in the pick and pop and can draw rim protectors away from the paint. His presence will generally improve spacing for a team that loves to stretch the floor and shoot the three. Andrea clearly crumbled trying to shoulder the weight of being “the guy” in Toronto, but in New York he’d be a 2nd/3rd option, and probably playing no more than 20-22 minutes a game. The wary Knick fan in me is disgusted at the fact we just gave up three picks to get rid of two bad contracts, and received a disappointing one-way player who was reportedly on the verge of being amnestied. He’s an atrocious rebounder for his size and a sub-par defender, compounding two of our biggest weaknesses, and comes with durability concerns – having only played 66 games over the past two seasons.
  • John Dorn (@JSDorn6): The Knicks are getting something they already have too many of: a one-way player. Sure, they needed a big. But they needed a big that can help on the glass and that can defend. Bargnani, in 7 seasons, hasn’t proven that he can do either. He’s an offensive center whose offensive game isn’t good enough to justify that label. Spot-up three shooters didn’t last in Woodson’s system last year, and there’s no reason to believe they will any time soon. Overall, Bargnani is a decent scorer, who scores in ways the Knicks don’t need.
  • James Griffo: (@J_Griff): To be exact, the Knicks are getting a stretch-four/stretch five floor spacer in Bargnani. But something that is very important in a stretch-four/stretch five is that the player is capable of hitting perimeter and mid-range jumpers, hence the rudimentary floor spacing skill, which is something Bargnani can’t do. He’s an average-to-mediocre-to-subpar shooter. Combine that with also being a poor rebounder and injury-plagued for the past two seasons.


The 2013 NBA Draft – A Short Film

The 2013 NBA Draft – A Short Film

Here’s a short video I put together with clips of my experience at the 2013 NBA Draft. This was the first I’ve ever attended, and I gotta say, it was SO much fun. I got good footage considering I filmed the entire thing on my iPhone (Barclays didn’t allow my Flip cam), and even sat down with fellow fans to get their thoughts on who they’d want their teams to draft.

It’s funny; when I first arrived, the first thing I noticed was the ridiculously wide assortment of jerseys in the crowd. Being born and raised in New York, the only fans I’ve come in contact with are Knicks fans, (recently) Nets fans, Laker fans, and fans of whatever team LeBron is on at the moment. But here there were Blazer fans, Mavs fans, Sixers fans, Cavs fans, Pistons fans; I even ran into a faithful Bobcats fan. I actually compared it to the UN Peace Summit in the way it brings fans of the NBA together. As much as we hate each-other when the ball is in play, at the end of the day we’re all fans of the game, and today was a great reminder.

Hope you guys enjoy it.

Follow Brandon on Twitter @Ayo_Rush 

C.J. Leslie: One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Upside (Or Something Like That)

C.J. Leslie: One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Upside (Or Something Like That)

Going into last Thursday, many expected C.J. Leslie to be among the select few to hear their name called on draft night. The wiry combo forward’s basketball skill was still deemed raw by NBA scouts after a disappointing year for NC State, but Leslie’s physical tools were impossible to ignore. Besides, after supposedly receiving a promise from a team in the second round, he seemed a lock to be chosen. Either way, when Latvia’s Janis Timma came off the board to the Memphis Grizzlies with the 60th and final pick to conclude the event, Leslie found himself as a man without a team; probably near a silent phone and pondering life as an undrafted rookie in the NBA.

Prior to draft night, the Knicks, who selected Michigan shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. with the 24th pick, were reportedly looking into making a deal for a second round pick. In a draft where talents such as Jeff Withey, Nate Wolters, and Tony Mitchell slid out of the first round, a second rounder would have been percious, but GM Glen Grunwald couldn’t get anyone to bite. Still in need of help at the forward position, Grunwald extended his hand to Leslie, signing him to the team and adding him to this year’s Summer League roster.

At 6-9, 209 pounds, the first thing you notice about Leslie is his athleticism. His 7′ 2.25″ wingspan is an awesome tool, and in combination with his explosive leaping ability, recorded a 12′ 1″ max reach vertical; the highest of any participant in 2013 Pre-Draft Combine. To put that in perspective, he can essentially reach the space in-between the white rectangle behind the rim and the top of the backboard. He’s also remarkably fast, as he completed the Combine agility drill in 10.19 seconds, also the best of the event. He even finished second in the three-quarter sprint with a time of 3.10 seconds, just behind Shane Larkin’s 3.08 seconds. More

The Knicks Draft Tim Hardaway Jr 24th Overall

The Knicks Draft Tim Hardaway Jr 24th Overall

I don’t love this pick. I don’t love this pick because a) I don’t like the player and b) there were players I liked who were still on the board. The Knicks should’ve taken Reggie Bullock from North Carolina, who went 25th to the Clippers, but I digress.

When the pick was announced, my first thought was “WHAT THE F***!?!”. My second thought was that this is probably insurance in the event that JR Smith walks in free agency. Alan Hahn shared this thought as well:

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 7.34.38 PM

Hardaway Jr. is in no way as good or better than JR Smith, so it’s not like the Knicks can just let Smith go. Hardaway is athletic and does have some ability, but he’s incredibly inconsistent and doesn’t have the ball handling ability that Smith has. He’s far from a finished product at this point. More

2013 Mock Draft

2013 Mock Draft

Hey the draft is tonight! I put together a mock draft of what might happen tonight, though each pick is probably incorrect.

1. Cleveland – Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky. Though the Cavs have a void at small forward, I think they dip into their $22 million in cap space to fill that spot. I think Noel is going to be an absolute superstar on defense, though he’ll be a project in the short term. Coming off an ACL injury, Noel probably won’t be ready to play until late December, which works out for a Cavs team that would benefit from being in the lottery again next year. They’ll ultimately try and trade out of this pick, but I think they’ll ultimately be unable to move it and they’ll take Noel.

2. Orlando – Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana. The Magic will take Noel if he falls, but their pick is up in the air if he doesn’t. I think ultimately they’ll be deciding between Ben McLemore and Oladipo. Oladipo is a better prospect and I think his defense and motor win out over McLemore’s shooting stroke.

3. Washington – Otto Porter, F, Georgetown. I think the most often used comparison of Tayshaun Prince is right on. Like Prince, Porter is a long wing who understands floor spacing well. The biggest question mark with him is whether he does any single thing at an elite level. Nonetheless, I think the presence of guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, guys who can break down a defense, will help Porter get open looks as a floor spacing wing.

4. Charlotte – Ben McLemore, G, Kansas. The choice is between McLemore, Cody Zeller and Alex Len, and all three of those picks make sense here, but I think they go McLemore. They can either start him alongside Kemba Walker or bring him off the bench in a scoring role, and his outside shooting stroke is something they could definitely use – they were the 4th worst team in 3PT% last season.

5. Phoenix – Alex Len, C, Maryland. If Len’s here, he seems like the obvious choice for Phoenix. He has medical question marks, but there’s no better training staff in the league than Phoenix’s. With Gortat in the last year of his deal, it makes sense to have Len as the heir apparent. He’s high risk, but has Hibbert like potential defensively. In this draft, I think that’s a gamble worth taking at 5.

6. New Orleans – Trey Burke, PG, Michigan. With Burke, CJ McCollum, and Michael Carter-Williams all still on the board, there are three legit point guards deserving of being taken here. I think the Pelicans go with Burke. The national player of the year brings New Orleans a scorer with legit three point range that can push the ball in transition. If Eric Gordon forces his way elsewhere, they’ll need somebody to pick up the scoring. Also, Burke in the pick and roll with Anthony Davis could be lethal.

7. Sacramento  - CJ McCollum, PG, Lehigh. McCollum is one of my favorite prospects in this class. Not only is he a true student of the game and articulate, but he really can play. Sacramento needs a guard who can shoot the ball, and McCollum certainly fits that role. With the roster as is, he’d probably play off the ball quite a bit. However, I think the new regime will/should blow up that roster. He’ll be a good player for a rebuilding franchise. He’ll work hard, be coachable and contribute on the court.

8. Detroit – Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse. With Brandon Knight looking like more of an undersized 2 than a point guard, I think the Pistons grab Carter-Williams. At 6’6, he’ll provide good size at the position, and he’s more of a pure point than a scorer.

9. Minnesota – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia. I think Pope is the obvious choice here for Minnesota. He can’t create his own shot, nor shoot mid-range, but he does pretty much everything else well. I like him as an off-ball shooter next to Rubio, who will be handling the ball the majority of the time anyways.

10. Portland – Cody Zeller, C, Indiana. With all three point guards and Caldwell-Pope off the board, I think the Blazers bolster their front court with Zeller. With Meyers Leonard already there, Portland would have a young and exciting duo at center.

11. Philadelphia – Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV. Bennett has great potential as a dynamic 4 who can step out and shoot the three. He’s super athletic and can score inside as well. Philadelphia needs more impact players alongside Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, and Evan Turner. Bennett can be that.

12. Oklahoma City – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh. Oklahoma City gets a very good value pick here. Adams is raw on offense, but has ridiculous defensive upside as a 7 footer with 7’3 wingspan. He’s not there yet, but Oklahoma City is in as good a position as any to be patient with young players.

13. Dallas – Sergey Karasev, F, Russia. The Mavs have been trying to move this pick for cash. If they can’t, I think they get a draft-and-stash guy. I’m giving them Karasev. He’s a guard who can play multiple positions and has a high basketball IQ. He just feels like a player Rick Carslile would be able to get good production out of, whenever he comes over to the NBA.

14. Utah – Shane Larkin, PG, Miami. Utah has needs at point guard and PF/C with Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson being free agents. I think they address point guard here and go big with their pick at 21.

15. Milwaukee – Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany. With Larkin off the board, I think Milwaukee has to jump on the next best point guard. Schroeder has been lauded as the next Rajon Rondo, except that he can actually spot up and make shots. He’ll be a good fit with new coach Larry Drew.

16. Boston – Shabazz Muhammad, F, UCLA. Paul Pierce appears to be headed to Brooklyn, leaving a void at small forward. I think Muhammad has been scrutinized to the point of where he’s now underrated. Boston gets a good value pick here.

17. Atlanta – Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Greece. Multiple reports say the Hawks love this guy, and it makes sense. His reputation suggests he’s a point forward type who can handle the ball and pass well. With coach Mike Budenholzer coming over from the Spurs, it makes sense he’d like a guy like this.

18. Atlanta – Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil. Al Horford is a one of the best centers in basketball, but the Hawks get a bigger, shot blocking center they can bring off the bench. Nogueira is raw offensively, but has great potential as a shot blocker.

19. Cleveland – Reggie Bullock, F, North Carolina. Knicks fans weep as Bullock comes off the board here. He just makes too much sense for the Cavs, given what they need.

20. Chicago – Gorgui Dieng, C, Lousiville. Given his defensive prowess and ability to pass, I think Dieng fits in nicely as a backup center in both Tom Thibodeau’s offense and defensive systems.

21. Utah – Jeff Withey, C, Kansas. Al Jefferson is probably gone in free agency. Utah replaces him with the gigantic Withey, a big who has high upside defensively.

22. Brooklyn – Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga. Olynyk has good size and a versatile game. If he develops, he and Brook Lopez could be a very formidable front court.

23. Indiana – Isaiah Canaan, PG, Murray State. Indiana gets a fantastic pick here. They need a point guard that can score, which is exactly what Canaan is. He’s not a great distributor, but Indiana runs much of it’s offense through the post anyways. He’s a good fit here.

24. New York – Tony Snell, F, New Mexico. A 3 and D SG/SF, Snell fits in nicely with the Knicks. Part of New York’s problem is that they have too many one dimensional players – Novak, STAT, Melo, Felton. They need more guys like Shumpert who can contribute on both ends of the court and I think Snell can be that. He can’t dribble much or create his own shot, but he’s a guy who is an excellent spot up shooter, as well as a good defender with NBA athleticism and length.

25. Los Angeles Clippers – Tim Hardaway Jr, SG, Michigan. Hardaway gives Doc Rivers and Alvin Gentry yet another offensive weapon to an already dominant offense.

26. Minnesota – Rudy Gobert, C, France. I think this pick comes down to Gobert or Allen Crabbe from Cal. Minnesota could easily add Crabbe to bolster their non-existent shooting even more, but they got Caldwell-Pope at 9 and I think they grab the 7-2 center from France.

27. Denver – Allen Crabbe, G, Cal. Another team that needs outside shooting, the Nuggets snag Crabbe. He’s got good size and length and will allow them to continue to play versatile lineups with all the wings they have.

28. San Antonio – Mason Plumlee, C, Duke. San Antonio needs size and might lose Tiago Splitter in free agency. I think Plumlee is a good fit here.

29. Oklahoma City – Jamaal Franklin, G, SDSU. They need to find a replacement for James Harden. Franklin can’t shoot, but he’s incredibly athletic and gets himself to the foul line. Without Russell Westbrook, OKC was unable to breakdown defenses with anyone other than Durant. Franklin gives them a guy who can do that.

30. Phoenix – Lorenzo Brown, G, NC State. Phoenix takes the best player left on the board. They’d probably think about Ricky Ledo here, but his off-court question marks might scare the Suns away – they don’t exactly have a sound veteran locker room in place.

10 Draft Commandments

10 Draft Commandments

Written by Matt Weiss

  1. Never believe what you hear/read-in essence this is the only time a team can add a player without another team knowing about it (trades involve a partner). Why would a team tip their hand to the media? If it really was known that you coveted a player what stopping a team ahead of you from taking them? Most of the time these rumors feel like they are fueled by agents looking to keep their clients names in the press. Don’t believe them, the other part of this is that most reporters claim teams are interested in 15 different players, meaning odds are they get it “right” but I could guess and predict who most teams will take and that doesn’t mean I have inside info.
  2. Workouts should be meaningless-with virtually every player in the draft having played at least one year of college NBA teams have 30+ games of film to watch on them, for some seniors teams have 120+ games of film. I don’t care how good your three hour workout was, it shouldn’t change how a team views you.
  3. Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds-the advanced numbers people will tell you that no stat translates like rebounds. If you are an elite rebounder in college, you can board on the next level. Conversely, if a player has a really low rebound rate and they aren’t a 5’11’guard, you should run from them. This year’s scary candidate is Tony Snell of New Mexico who rebounded very poorly in college, and now projects as SF on the next level (side note, most of the 5’11” point guards rebounded better then he did). Even if you aren’t trying, you should get more rebounds then he gets.  Conversely, Arsalem Kazemi from Oregon isn’t even projected in most mocks, but rebounds at an insane rate. I would much rather have the less skilled player that works his ass off. More
NBA Draft Roundtable

NBA Draft Roundtable

With the 2013 NBA Draft just around the corner, the Meloship crew put together a roundtable tackling some of the Knicks big draft questions.

1. What is the Knicks biggest draft need? (You can’t say “all of them”)

  • Taylor Armosino (@tarmosino): This is a difficult question because we haven’t gotten a definitive answer on whether the Knicks are going to stick with small ball with Carmelo Anthony at the 4, or whether they’ll go back to playing big with Anthony at the 3. If they go big, then power forward is easily their biggest need. Presumably, Stoudemire would be the guy starting there to start the season, but obviously he’s not good at staying on the court. Behind that, the Knicks have approximately 0 good options other than Anthony to fill that 4 spot. If they play small, like they should, then I think the three spot becomes their biggest void. They still have Novak, but he seems like a waste of space at this point. Ultimately I think the Knicks stick with small-ball, thus making a 3 and D wing their biggest need.
  • Dan Goldstein (@thedanstein): As it stands now, the Knicks have big holes at backup point guard and backup center. Assuming the Knicks stay with the small-ball style that made them so successful last year, I’d call backup point guard the biggest hole considering they currently only have one point guard under contract, and lineups with two point guards were their best. On the other hand, here were the Knicks backup centers last year: Sheed and Kurt (<3), Marcus Camby (dead), Solomon Jones (currently making his pilgrimage back to the promised land), and Kenyon Martin (free agent). It’s pretty amazing the Knicks got by with this group, and while resigning Kenyon is going to be important this offseason, banking on a 36 year old to last the entire year as your backup center isn’t a sound strategy, as we learned last year. Still, I’d go with backup point guard.
  • John Gunther (@embraceanalytix): Last season the Knicks were the oldest team in NBA history, so it should be obvious that the roster desperately needs youth, as well as versatility and athleticism, qualities that depreciate as players get older.  For all the talk about PGs and bigs, I think the Knicks really need a wing.  In a perfect world, this “combo forward” would be able to guard 3 positions (2 through 4), bolstering the mediocre/poor perimeter D from this season while fitting into Woodson’s “switch at all costs” defensive philosophy.  Also, this imaginary prospect would need to make 3 pointers at a reasonable clip in order to properly space the floor and fit within the offensive system.  Basically I want a “3 & D” guy in the Kawhi Leonard or Wilson Chandler (miss you) mold.  Whether or not this guy exists, particularly at pick #24, is highly questionable, but I can dream can’t I?
  • Brandon Rushie (@ayo_rush): Point guard, without question. Carmelo Anthony is the best player on this roster, but without adequate point guard play, this offense dissolves into unimaginative  isolations and endless dribbling. Jason Kidd has retired, and Pablo Prigioni’s future as a Knick is still cloudy. A young point would be a welcome addition.
  • James Griffo (@j_griff): Point guard and center. The retirement of Jason Kidd opened up a roster vacancy that the Knicks should fill in immediately. Even though it looks like Pablo Prigioni aka Prigs aka Pablocura! aka The Notorious P.R.I.G. will be retained (somewhat), Ray Felton still needs some depth at his position to back him up in case Prigs doesn’t return or gets injured. More
Measuring the Value of a Draft Pick

Measuring the Value of a Draft Pick

Written by Matt Weiss

With the draft coming up in a few days you will hear lots of talk about swapping picks. Teams will trade for a variety of reasons – some will target a player and go all in for them, others will have “too many” picks and see value in swapping some of them for an established player. Regardless of the reason, when a team moves a pick there is always debate over the value of that pick. Obviously who is picked ultimately trumps all. Manu Ginobili was the second to last pick of the 1999 draft. Jonathan Bender was taken 5th overall that year. Clearly Manu at 58 was a much better pick, but no one is ever going to trade the 58th pick for the 5th pick. There is a clear value in drafting higher, the question is, how much value is there per pick?

I used BBall Refernce to track win shares by pick for every player picked from 1990-2000 (hence why there are only 58 picks). I also didn’t count picks that never played in the league. You see lots of this in the late second round, but in recent years, unless a team was desperate to not pay a player, most players drafted have come over. More

2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Rudy Gobert

2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Rudy Gobert

There is some international talent to look out for in this year’s draft. Brandon has already covered Croatian superstar, Dario Saric, who is considered to be the international crop of NBA Draft prospects, according to the great Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, and German point guard, Dennis Schroeder. In last year’s draft, Frenchman, Evan Fournier, was drafted by the Nuggets with their 20th pick, the first international prospect to be picked off the board. Fellow high-rising 7-2 Frenchman, Rudy Gobert, is considered to be the second best international prospect below Dario Saric. It’s actually a back and forth battle between draft analysts and writers with Saric and Gobert. They really get into a war over the two, which is pretty hilarious to say the least. But I’m only touching on Gobert in this post.