2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Allen Crabbe

2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Allen Crabbe

Today’s featured draft profile will be on the University of Cal’s 3-point specialist, Allen Crabbe. Arguably the best pure shooter in this year’s class, the 2013 PAC-12 Player of The Year is best known for his seemingly unlimited range and easy-going attitude on the court. At 6’6 with good length, he has the frame of a prototypical shooting guard, and possesses a solid skill-set that could fill a need on just about any team in the NBA. Labeled as a late first round pick when he initially declared, it appears that an impressive performance at the pre-draft combine has upped Crabbe’s value, as some mocks have him going in the teens. The Knicks will be bringing in another group of possible picks for workouts on Monday, and Crabbe will be one of the prospects in attendance.

Birthday: 4/4/92 – Projected NBA Position: Shooting Guard – Class: Junior – Ht: 6-6 – Wt: 197 – Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

2012-13 Per Game Averages: 18.4 Points – 2.6 Assists – 6.1 Rebounds – 45.9 FG% – 34.8 3P% – 81.3 FT%

Crabbe’s Pre-Draft Combine Results

Strengths

– Pure shooter

– Displays excellent form and elevation on shot

– Deadly in spot-up situations

– Very good coming off screens and curls/understands how to work without the ball

– Runs the break well

– Solid size for the position/has length to be defensive pest

Weaknesses

– Inconsistent effort on defense/lacks focus

– Can’t consistently create off the dribble

– Not a strong ball handler/uneasy in traffic

– Questionable finishing ability

– Lacks explosiveness/not an exceptional athlete

Crabbe is without question one of the best shooters in this year’s draft, and it doesn’t take long to see why. At 6’6, with his long arms and a textbook shooting stroke, Crabbe has the ability to effectively shoot over the top of his defender. His mechanics are sound and consistent, with the next attempt no different from the last, whether or not there is a hand in his face. His ability to receive the pass and seamlessly enter his shooting motion makes him equally dangerous in catch and shoot situations, as well as when spotting up on the perimeter. He squares his shoulders to the rim, elevates, and releases the ball at the apex of his jump without any hitch in his shot.

Crabbe also shows a solid understanding of how to work without the ball and get himself open. Being one of the top 3 scorers in the PAC-12 Conference last year, Crabbe often saw opposing teams throw the kitchen sink at him defensively, but he countered with his ability to use screens and curls to get open. His footwork is very good and he never stops moving on the offensive end, always making his defender work. Crabbe is also a solid threat on the break, as he runs the floor well and takes good angles to the basket.

Although he’s a pretty good athlete, creating off the dribble has proven to be to weakness for Crabbe. While not terribly slow, he doesn’t have a quick enough first step to beat defenders off the dribble, and the few times he enters the lane (only 4.2 free throw attempts per game in 2012-13 season) he’s still not very consistent when finishing over length. His sub-par ball-handling can also get him into trouble when he tries to attack the basket, as he isn’t especially comfortable in traffic.

Although Crabbe has a good frame at 6’6, and possesses a near 7-foot wingspan, he isn’t as good of a defender as he should be. When defending on-ball, Crabbe is at his best; he’s engaged and uses his length to harass the ball-handler. Off-ball is where Crabbe’s deficiencies come to light, as he suffers from lapses in focus. He can get caught ball-watching and will lose his man, often leading to backdoor cuts and alley-oop opportunities. Crabbe’s motor on that side of the ball is a question-mark as well, as it’s too easy for his man to shake him with a single screen. He also has a bad habit of standing straight up and not getting down into a strong defensive stance, making it too easy for the ball handler to get a step on him. At 197 pounds, he’s still somewhat wiry and could stand to add some mass and strength to prevent getting bullied by larger shooting guards.

Despite being one of the NCAA’s purest shooters in 2013, and being named the best player in the PAC-12 Conference last year, you probably know of Crabbe for something much less flattering: this famous incident with his former head coach at Cal, Mike Montgomery. During a February home game against the USC Trojans, the Golden Bears found themselves down double-digits early in the 2nd half. Cal had just surrendered another bucket to see the deficit balloon to 12, and when Crabbe jogged across half-court after in-bounding the ball, Montgomery had seen enough.

He called a timeout, confronted Crabbe, and shoved him before several players had to intervene. A teammate pulled him off the court to calm him down, and minutes after returning to the bench, was reinserted into the game by Montgomery; sparking a 40-20 run by Cal, including 14 points from Crabbe. After an inspiring 76-68 comeback win, Crabbe handled the situation with professionalism, and deemed it as water under the bridge. Montgomery claimed Crabbe was out of it and he needed his best player to wake up, and this leads into one of my concerns regarding Crabbe.

A talented player who has drawn comparisons to Allen Houston from some NBA scouts, he’s often been criticized for too often going through the motions. Much of his defensive deficiencies are mechanics/mental, and on the offensive side of the ball for the Golden Bears last year, it was too common to see him not being as aggressive as he should have been. Crabbe is a natural scorer who when engaged can be very dangerous, it’s just odd as to why he doesn’t play like it more often. While I don’t condone what Montgomery did that day, it’s clear that Crabbe sometimes needs a kick to get going, and I believe he’d get that from head coach Mike Woodson. Crabbe is a knock-down 3-point shooter with good size and length for the position, as well as a decent rebounder who will run the break and add some depth. Don’t be surprised if you see Crabbe in a New York cap come draft night.

2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Gorgui Dieng

There are lots of great centers in this year’s draft; Nerlens Noel being the main man out of guys like Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Kelly Olynyk, Dario Saric, Jeff Withey, and lots more. In this post, I’ll be discussing the Senegalese, Gorgui Dieng, the full-grown center from Louisville.

Dieng’s journey to America is a pretty interesting one, to say the least. He attended the prestigious Huntington Prep school in West Virginia, the same prep school that nurtured the most hyped prospect since Lebron James/presumed first overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft from the University of Kansas, Andrew Wiggins et al. In 2010, the NCAA ruled Dieng ineligible, not letting him attend individual workouts and practices. Of course, Louisville had to repeal the decision. They did, and the NCAA reversed it, and Dieng’s college career begun. Louisville coach, Rick Pitino, complemented his attitude and his defensive strengths, and made him the officer of the Cardinals zone defense, quarterbacking it throughout the whole season. Think of it this way: Dieng is to Louisville as Tyson Chandler is to the Knicks; both of them were/are anchors of their defenses, and had/have total control over them.

Dieng has a massive 7’4 wingspan. If he stood in my house hallway, his arms would almost extend from the beginning to the end of the hallway. When talking about defensive adroitness, Dieng was the most adroit out of all Louisville defenders. He logged a team-leading-by-a-mile 2.5 BPG, and lead the big East in blocks the year before that, as well as leading the Big East in defensive rating with a cool, astounding 81.7 DRtg. That’s impressive. If you’re driving into the lane, you should make sure to watch out for Dieng’s flailing arms, you’ll either get smacked, or annihilated. Watching him this year, Dieng did get beat on hasty post moves and shot fakes, but those are mistakes every big man makes, whether they’re mistimed jumps, or allowing and-ones. No one is perfect. If you watch game film from this year, it happened to him as much more than it did in his junior year and in his sophomore year.

For Dieng, paint defending is his bread and butter. Obviously, big men are paint defenders; it’s a given. But in some aspects, Dieng can defend the perimeter. He has fast feet, and defensive fundamentals that he can apply while defending lightning fast guards, i.e on Trey Burke in the Final Four title game in case he ever has to switch onto them (Paging Mike Woodson). It is a rarity to see a big man play perimeter defense, but that’s a very underrated part of Dieng’s defensive skill set. As a kid, Dieng used to play soccer, which is the principal reason why he has chop-chop feet.

Dieng took one giant step from his freshman year with his offensive game. Offensively, if you were to compare Dieng’s jump shot to someone in the NBA right now, in terms of lethal mid-range jump shot, it would be David West. Before that, Dieng’s offensive skill set was hampered; the only way for him to score was off of putbacks and transition baskets. Since then, the spot-up mid-range game he’s been working on has been his main source of scoring. Using him as a stretch-four or even a stretch-five (maybe) would spread the floor immensely. Dieng does have a hook shot, but he isn’t the most reliable guy to go to for one-on-one moves, such as being in the post, but that’s if the post is being used excessively. If Dieng were to develop a post game and more muscle, a team can consider using him in post situations more often, which would enable him to stop facing the basket too often.

I mentioned this in Jeff Withey’s profile; much like Jeff Withey, Dieng’s age is a problem. He’s the same age as him, at 23. As a matter of fact, he’s the second oldest player in this draft behind only Withey. That doesn’t take away the fact that Dieng’s experience is in the upper echelon of draft prospects, as his stats increased greatly, but again, his upside can be perceived in copious, negative ways. I tend to disagree with people that say Dieng’s upside is low, because his ceiling went from the abyss to sky high in a matter of two full seasons. Besides, the transition he made from Senegal to Louisville was a huge transition for him to make, and he did it.

In most mock drafts, Dieng is projected to be a mid-first rounder. It’ll be interesting to see how Dieng will get his first NBA minutes; as a back-up center, or a starting center. His age takes that into account. The Knicks may not even have a chance to pick him at 24, according to most mock drafts, but if he’s still up on the board, then the Knicks should absolutely, without a question, draft him.

2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Nate Wolters

Today’s featured draft profile will be on the South Dakota State University’s floor general, Nate Wolters. A skilled scorer and passer with a solid understanding of the game, at 6’4, Wolters appears to have all tools necessary to run the point guard position off the bench for an NBA team. But questions regarding his athleticism and the quality of competition he faced in his four years in The Summit League have hindered his stock. He is currently pegged as an early second rounder in most mock drafts, but I believe there is a possibility of him sneaking into the tail-end of the first.

Birthday: 5/15/91 – Projected NBA Position: Point Guard – Class: Senior – Ht: 6-5 – Wt: 196 – Hometown: St. Cloud, MN

2012-13 Per Game Averages: 22.2 Points – 5.8 Assists – 5.6 Rebounds – 48.5 FG% – 37.9 3P% – 81.3 FT%

Wolter’s Pre-Draft Combine Results: A minor injury to his hip flexor kept him from participating in any agility drills.

Strengths

– Offensive game is NBA ready

– Skilled passer/Keeps head up and always finds the open man

– Adept at drawing contact and getting to the line

– Not explosive but has a deceptive first step/Changes speed with ease

– Superb ball handler who maintains his dribble under pressure

– Plays the game at his own pace and rarely forces the issue

– Strong decision maker/Averaged just 2.3 TO per game despite team high 29.8% usage rate

Weaknesses

– Won’t wow you with his athleticism

– Lack of lateral quickness will make defending on the perimeter a challenge

– Somewhat small wingspan for his height

– Didn’t face top shelf talent in college

Wolters’ path to the draft has been an interesting one. The Minnesota native was making a name for himself in The Summit League, doing it all for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, but to the rest of the basketball world was essentially invisible until a match-up with the University of Washington on December 18, 2011. The Jackrabbits stunned the Huskies 92-73, and Wolters slowly began to demand attention from pro scouts by racking up 34 points on 50% shooting, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds with 0 turnovers. In 4 years at South Dakota State, the 2013 All-American has accomplished much, including leading the Jackrabbits to their first winning season as a member of the NCAA Division I as a Sophomore, and their first two Division I NCAA Tournament appearances in his Junior and Senior years.

Looking at Wolters’ highlights, it’s clear that his primary job at South Dakota State was to score the basketball, and score the basketball he did. His ability to put the ball in the hoop is the cornerstone of his game, as he boasts one of the most complete offensive games of any guard in this year’s draft. Despite a funky hitch in his shot, Wolters has solid range and can connect from just about anywhere on the floor. He can hit the pull up, knock down set shots off the catch, and drive to the basket, where he utilizes a very effective floater that he can put up with either his left or right hand. Wolters is also good at drawing contact on his dives to the rim, and was a superb 80% free throw shooter in college. He even reminds me of a young Andre Miller at times with his “old-man” game.

A skilled ball-handler, Wolters plays the game at a steady pace, making up for his lack of an explosive first step with an extensive repertoire of dribble moves that he combos together to get his defender off-balance. He maintains his dribble in the face of pressure and rarely turns the ball over in traffic, which leads to his strengths as a distributor. Despite Wolters shouldering a majority of the offensive load for the Jackrabbits, he actively sought to get his teammates involved, consistently keeping his head up and looking for the open man on the perimeter when driving to the basket. He could be regularly depended on to make to smart pass, and registered a surprisingly low amount of turnovers given how often the ball was in his hands.

Wolters’ weaknesses lie on the other side of the ball, as his sub-par lateral quickness causes him to struggle defending opposing guards on the perimeter. He’s tries to make up for it with his high I.Q. and toughness, but more often than not, he’ll be a liability defensively. Average athleticism, strength, and a small wingspan also raise questions as to how he’ll fare against NBA-caliber point guards night in and night out.

But the biggest cause for concern has been questions regarding how Wolters’ game will translate to the NBA considering the conference he played in for the past 4 years. The Summit League isn’t necessarily a cornucopia of talent, and the last player to be drafted from South Dakota State was Steve Lingenfelter by the Washington Bullets in 1981 with the 44th overall pick. Yet, with his combination of smarts, toughness, and natural scoring ability, I strongly believe Wolters will be drafted. Most scouts have him pegged as an early second round pick, but Wolters has recently been speaking with several teams with first round picks this year, and the list is growing. It’s amazing to look at the history of Wolters’ Alma Mater, and then to read the amount of teams he’s been connected to, including Utah, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Detroit, Denver, Minnesota, and Cleveland.

On the idea of Wolters in New York, I certainly believe he’d fill a need. The point guard position was a cause for concern BEFORE the retirement of Jason Kidd, and with Pablo Prigioni still undecided on whether or not he’ll be returning for next season, Raymond Felton is the only point guard under contract. Wolters is skilled in running the pick and roll, and has the ability to make defenders pay for going under the screen, as well create for others. He’s a high I.Q. basketball player who takes care of the ball, and as the second or third point guard on the roster would be a nice addition at #24.

2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Dario Saric

Today’s featured draft profile will be on European phenom, Dario Saric. The 19-year-old forward is believed by many to be the best international player available in this year’s draft, and his uncanny passing ability in combination with his size has led to his fans labeling him as “The European Magic Johnson”. While I wouldn’t go that far, it isn’t hard to look at Saric and notice the immense potential he possesses when he’s on the court. After winning the gold medal with Croatia in the 2012 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, where Saric was unanimously voted tournament MVP by averaging 25.6 points per game (1st) and 10.1 rebounds per game (2nd), he was pegged as a lottery pick by many scouts, but his stock has begun to sink due to his sub-par performances this year with his new club, and there is a possibility he makes it into the late 1st round.

Birthday: 4/8/94 -Projected NBA Position(s): Small Forward/Power Forward – Class: International – Ht: 6-10 – Wt: 225 – Team: Cibona Zagreb – Hometown: Sibenik, Croatia

2012-13 Per Game Averages: 7.7 Points – 2.1 Assists – 6.1 Rebounds – 36.8 FG% – 30.3 3P% – 50.0 FT%

Because Saric is currently playing for a European club, he was not able to participate in the Pre-Draft Combine. His height, weight, and wingspan are the only official measurements available.

Strengths

– Gifted passer with exceptional court vision

– Terrific ball handler for his size

– Threat in transition/Fluid when running the floor

– High Basketball I.Q./Has a strong feel for the game

– Considerable potential as a Point-Forward

– Good rebounder who always brings effort on boards

Weaknesses

– Not a great athlete

– Defensively, slow feet will hurt him against 3′s/Lack of strength will hurt him against 4′s

– Shot is improving, but still inconsistent

– Needs the ball in his hands to make an impact

– Character concerns over the last year/Speeding ticket, DUI, fined by club for breaking curfew

Saric is in an unusual position in 2013. His draft stock appeared to have peaked last year at the conclusion of the 2012 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, where he led his club to the gold medal and his dominant performance earned him MVP honors. NBA scouts were drooling over his game, and he saw himself projected as a sure lock for the lottery whenever he decided to declare for the draft. But that has begun to change, as Saric is now playing on a professional club, and is going through the growing pains you’d expect a 19-year-old to experience when transitioning to playing with grown men. His numbers have been less than stellar, and along with his recent screw-ups, including a DUI where he hit three parked cars and had his license suspended, he has fallen out of the lottery in most mocks and is currently labeled as a mid-to-late first round selection.

Offensively, Saric’s game reminds me of Paul Pierce with a little Hedo Turkoglu mixed in. While he lacks considerable athleticism to beat defenders off the dribble with his first step, he’s crafty. Using his exceptional ball handling and body control, he works to get his man off-balance and then attacks with his long strides, also making him a threat off the bounce. He’s very good at changing direction and timing his dives to the basket, similar to Pierce and his “slow yet smooth” style.

But without question, Saric’s true potential lies in his ability as a creator for others, and similar to Turkoglu, can be a legitimate Point-Forward. A gifted passer with incredible court vision for his position, Saric can grab a defensive rebound, turn, and be across half-court in three steps, looking to initiate the offense. It also makes Saric a power in transition, as he is very good as getting his teammates shots at the rim on the break. He’s just as strong a passer from the post, always keeping his head up and reading the defense, then firing the ball to a shooter on the perimeter or a cutter as soon as he senses a double coming or sees an opening.

Saric’s weaknesses begin with his inconsistent jumper, which features a slight hitch just before the release. Instead of the ball coming off his fingers, it sometimes launches from his hand, taking some arc out of his shot. It’s mostly an issue with his mechanics, and although some time with a shooting coach could remedy this, it hurts his ability to threaten a defense in the half-court.

Saric also has a somewhat small wingspan for his size, and his lack of lateral quickness makes the idea of sticking him on the perimeter as a defender less than ideal. Despite his size, Saric’s game is one of finesse not physicality, so although he is a solid rebounder, don’t expect him to be throwing down in the paint. He clearly is a better defender in the post, utilizing active hands and his basketball I.Q. to deny the entry pass, but he must add more mass and become stronger to handle the battles he’ll be having against some 4′s on the low block.

I’m usually wary of drafting European players, as it is often difficult for their games to transition to the NBA, and for every Dirk Nowitzki, there is a Darko Milicic. However, Saric’s ability and potential is hard to ignore, and despite his recent struggles, one must remember that he is only 19 and still maturing. If the Knicks were thinking towards the future, like in 2015 when they have several contracts coming off their books for example, they could pull a “draft & stash” with Saric. Let the young forward continue to grow in Europe for another year or two, then in 2015 when the rebuild begins, they’ll be adding a 6’10/235-240 pound Point-Forward. Whichever way New York decides to go in this year’s draft, Saric’s upside is evident, and he presents himself as a very interesting option if available at #24.

2013 NBA Draft Profiles: Glen Rice Jr.

Whether it’s Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen, even Steve Novak, it doesn’t matter. Any shooter that ignites a fire is a joy to watch. In some cases, a hot shooter is more exciting than a monster dunk. Shots that are hit at a high clip will make you ask for more and more. Glen Rice Jr, much like his father, is a perfect example of a shooter with those traits that were previously listed.

Because I mentioned Carmelo Anthony, the first thing that came to my mind was good ol isoball (sarcasm intended). When it comes to isoball, you can rely on Rice to score in iso situations, like most shooters. Most draft experts say that Rice’s most eye-catching skill is his jump shot, which greatly follows the footsteps of his father. Like most wings, he has a long wingspan close to 7 feet, which, for a wing, is above the ideal wingspan for a 6’6 shooting guard/small forward, usually. However, his ball handling ability is iffy, as he tends to only drive left in most scenarios, and has difficulty in becoming his own shot creator. And, using him in pick and roll situations automatically turns off any draft scout.

When mentioning shooters, you usually tend to think that they don’t play defense. That certainly is the ruling in Rice Jr.’s case, somewhat. He lacks most defensive abilities you would look for, fundamentally, but can get rebounds and steals at a decent rate. He doesn’t get lost in screens that much, but doesn’t have defensive awareness. He’ll have to eventually acquiesce to guarding wing players of his caliber, rather than guarding small and power forwards in the D-League. The NBA is a lot faster and tougher than the D-League. As a matter of fact, it’s faster x10000000000, something around there.

Knick fans have the right to make fun of J.R Smith’s straying around at local nightclubs, but, unfortunately, Rice Jr. was involved in his own incident at a nightclub involving a weapons possession in March 2012. Rice channeled his inner Plaxico Burress, which certainly hurt his draft stock, and ended up getting kicked off of the Georgia Tech team by coach Brian Gregory, along with having several “disciplinary issues.” Rice ended up playing 21 games in his junior year, and had some pretty decent stats, averaging 13 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG. He didn’t even play his senior season last year, a sign that told him that he may get drafted late in the second round. If the incident didn’t happen and he played his senior season at Georgia Tech, then maybe he would have been looking at a late first round opportunity, obviously depending on the outcome of that season. Rice’s draft stock plunged dramatically after the incident. His future was uncertain.

But Rice got a second chance elsewhere: the D-League. His second chance was awarded to him by playing in the D-League in what supposed to be his senior season at Georgia Tech. It was, however, an elongated, bumpy ride for Rice to enter the D-League. He would have had to sit out a full year if he wanted to transfer to another to school to play, so, that would have been a colossal inconvenience. The D-League draft was winding by, and Rice’s name was finally called in the fourth round by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets D-League affiliate. This year, Rice led them to a D-League Finals championship in a 2-0 sweep, averaging 25 PPG 9.5 RPG and 4.3 APG in the playoffs. Bearing that Finals title in mind, Rice has since then legitimized himself, making up for his careless mistakes from the past. In 42 games of the D-League season, a full D-League season, Rice averaged 13 PPG and 6.2 RPG and close to 2 APG, shooting 39% from the perimeter, along with an All-Rookie Second Team honor to boot. And, the amazing thing? He went up against guys that are mostly older than him, D-League veterans, if you will, and proved himself a whole lot, while playing as a 22 year old rookie. Rice was finally able to focus on the NBA Draft, because at the time of his D-League draft entry, his mindset was certainly not on the draft; it was on playing to his maximum best and potential, making up for his past careless mistakes.

When people talk about an offense that shoots threes relentlessly and without warning, the Knicks come up first in that conversation every time, with the Rockets being a close second by a hair. This year, the Knicks lead the league in three pointers made and attempted, hitting close to 38% of the threes. Rice Jr. is a staunch catch-and-shoot option, especially from the corner. Not only would adding another three-point shooter would make the Knicks arsenal infested with three-point shooters heftier, but it would greatly help Iman Shumpert. As much as I love Shump, his off-the-dribble game was horrid this year; he’s clearly a lot better on catch-and-shoot situations, as showcased this year beyond the arc, shooting 40% in 45 games this season ever since returning from his ACL rehab. Rice can pull up off the dribble with his quick, swift stroke, and by coming off of ball screens, something Shump isn’t really capable of doing, but at the same time, Shump is essentially the Knicks’ only youth, so he’s still developing. Still, Rice would be a good backup behind Shump.

What’s Rice Jr.’s draft stock as of now? Most mock drafts have him as an early second round pick going to a team like the Rockets, which actually does seem like a perfect fit for him, but you never know what’ll happen on draft night. And here’s Rice Jr.’s Top 10 D-League highlights, which, I must say, are pretty epic.

What’s This We Hear About Iman Shumpert Playing Point Guard?

As the focus around New York Knicks basketball is quickly shifting from a disappointing 2013 to “now what?” in 2014, let us take a breather from the Knick-less NBA Conference Finals to discuss our promising young friend, Iman Shumpert, and his future. Late last week, ESPN New York’s Jared Zwerling tweeted that the team could be using Shumpert at point guard some next season, and he’ll be working to improve his skills there this summer.

With one or both of Pablo Prigioni and Jason Kidd possibly walking away from New York before next year, the Knicks definitely have a need at the point guard position behind Raymond Felton. After watching Shumpert used almost exclusively as a wing in 2013, Zwerling’s tweets came as a bit of a shock. But the news isn’t completely out of nowhere.

You may have forgotten, and good for you if you did, but it was our 21-year-old Shump who temporarily saved the Knicks’ Toney-Douglas-poisoned point guard position in the extremely panicky pre-Linsanity days of 2012.  It was exceptionally cool beans at the time, because we were all used to Toney Douglas’ beans, which got all stiff and turnover-prone once the shot clock hit 20. But it was short-lived because, well, Shump really isn’t a point guard.

Let’s start with the good. In one-and-a-half NBA years, Shumpert has shown he’s a good passer, which, you know, is a good point-guard thing. Here’s a small playlist of moments from our friend’s short incumbency at the point in ’12, primarily feeding big guys in the post through traffic. (Here’s a bigger playlist of our friend Shump rapping rap songs. Both make me happy.)

It’s also worth noting that each and every one of the above defenses were absolutely brutal, but you can see some playmaking ability is there.

Some more good point-guard things Shump brings to the table is defense. He’s really good at that, which THANK GOD BECAUSE THE REST OF THE TEAM HAS NO IDEA WHAT THE F—sorry. Anyway, Shumpert can and has thrown the proverbial CLAMPS on opposing ball-handlers. So him playing the 1 would make things much more convenient, since he occasionally cross-matches onto the opposing point guard anyway.

The Knicks’ point gig is unique in that in addition to being on the dishing end of drive-and-kicks (more on that in a sec), 1s are often catch-and-shoot three options as well. With Carmelo Anthony often drawing multiple defenders in the post, the Knicks’ lead scorer is usually able to kick to open shooters for three opportunities. Felton, Kidd, and Prigioni all benefited from this at times in 2012-13, and Shump’s recent prosperity from beyond the arc leads you to believe that he could fair similarly.

Now to the bad, which is sad to talk about because Shump’s our friend. The truth is that he doesn’t really do many things well that point guards need to do well. He’s indecisive when he’s in charge of things, which kind of makes sense since he’s still 22, but it’s not a trait you want from the quarterback of your offense. He got away with a lot of the shakiness in 2013 since he was primarily stashed away in the corners and relied on as a spot-up three-point shooter, which worked out just fine. But there were moments that hesitations on simple open looks costed the Knicks points.

As a point man though, our friend would need to improve his handle, because that’s another weakness in his game right now. Nobody needs him to suddenly morph into a tall-haired Kyrie Irving (although that’d be welcomed) but we’d need some improvement if Shump is going to be the one dribbling most of the time—which made me feel uneasy just typing out.

We know that our friend loves to do cool slam dunks—and sometimes get taunting technicals for mean mugging Kevin Garnett afterward—but sadly that’s more of the dessert than the meat and potatoes. The main course of Shump attempts at the rim are missed dunks and layups, which are bad from every position but inexcusable from your 1—opposing defenses ideally have to respect the drive, leading to other outside opportunities.

According to NBA.com, Shumpert shot below 42 percent from inside five feet last season, which definitely isn’t good. In fact, his field-goal percentage from inside the restricted area was identical to his clip from the left corner. At this point it doesn’t seem like Shumpert is a strong enough finisher to run significant time at the point, but that could very well change with some offseason reps and general NBA experience.

When Shumpert was first drafted, I personally thought he would be a good combo guard that couldn’t really shoot but might be an option at point guard. Two years later, our friend has developed a sweet three-point stroke, but hasn’t exactly shown much to prove that he can run an offense. That’s alright though, because it looks like he could be on track to become one of basketball’s best 3/D wings, which was certainly a weird plot twist but we’re all rolling with it.

Shumpert has holes in his game, which, again, he’s 22. Most of his weaknesses align with skills specific to point guards. So if this all means that Shump is going to work to improve his flaws, then it seems to make sense. If Shumpert improves his awareness, handles, and finishing ability–his weak points andcritical point guard attributes–then it sounds to me like he can run some point. But based off Mike Woodson’s 2012-13 tendencies, Shumpert’s game is best suited at a wing as a scoring threat, while two ball-moving point guards share the backcourt.

As of right now, Shump is obviously not well equipped to run the offense on a team that’s supposed to contend for a title—which is probably why Knicks Twitter had a mini-meltdown when Zwerling tweeted his tweets. But I think the general idea here is for Shump to become a better, more complete basketball player first, and whatever new capabilities (e.g. playing some point) he brings with those improvements makes everybody happy.

Keep shumpin’, Shump. You became a 40-percent three-point shooter this year, which seemed about as likely as me becoming one. So if you say you’re gonna be a point guard now too, I don’t feel all that comfortable doubting you.

*Shump walks away*

BREAKING: Indiana Nightclub Taken Under Siege By J.R Smith (Satire)

A satirical take on JR Smith’s Saturday night

After coming off an emotional roller-coaster of sorts in Boston a couple of nights ago, J.R Smith needed to combat his offensive ineptness. On Saturday night, according to Smith’s publicist, he was “smoking a blunt heavier than a full bag of Halloween candy collected in a pillow case from trick-or-treating,” and “looked atop his head and noticed an imaginary light bulb flickering on and off,” while sitting in his Maserati Coupe. “The weed he had smoked in the car that night really made him paranoid,” said Smith’s publicist, who didn’t want to be identified. “All of a sudden, I was at a loss for words; he was singing ‘Say You, Say Me’  by Lionel Richie while high. And I must say, what a (expletive) night.”

But that wasn’t J.R’s only method of calming himself down. The Knicks, on their team bus, headed to Indiana to face the Pacers. Once they got to the hotel they were staying at—with every member of the team asleep besides him— J.R ran out of his hotel room and stole the team bus to go on a joyride, en route to the nearest local nightclub in town.

While joyriding, Smith said he “hit the jackpot” because he had never seen a club so filled up before his eyes. According to eyewitnesses, Smith somehow entered the club without a bouncer checking him. Once he entered the club, he strolled over to the bar table, where he swept everything that was on it off of the table. One eyewitness recalls the sweeping of the table with his arm. “He was so damn smooth,” said the eyewitness, who also didn’t want to be identified. “The table was squeaky clean as if a waiter at a lavish restaurant scrubbed it up.” The eyewitness went on. “He then jumped and stood on the table like a madman. No one was able to stop him. It was no holds barred.”

Another eyewitness recalled that Smith said “YOUR NIGHTLIFE IS UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT!” mocking a tweet made by Jay-Z when the Nets beat the Knicks in the inaugural Knicks-Brooklyn Nets battle.

Before any of the club attendants were able to get quality videos and photos, Smith found the wireless router and smashed it with a Captain Morgan bottle, while his posse was demanding all of the club patrons to give their phones to them at the same time.

But get this: Pacer, Paul George, is a frequent visitor to the club. He voiced his anger about the incident during the Pacers practice media session. “Why would anyone do such a thing?” said George. “It’s simply asinine.”

Not surprisingly, J.R struck back. “Indiana is going to be turned into a cornfield,” said Smith. “Wait, isn’t it one already?”

Reggie Miller commented on the situation as well. “This isn’t good” said Miller. That’s all we got from him, which isn’t a huge surprise. That quote sums up his commentating career.

The bad blood keeps on getting worse. The hack-fest series of a lifetime is coming to a theater near you.

BREAKING: Indiana Nightclub Taken Under Siege By J.R Smith (Satire)

After coming off an emotional roller-coaster of sorts in Boston a couple of nights ago, J.R Smith needed to combat his offensive ineptness. On Saturday night, according to Smith’s publicist, he was “smoking a blunt heavier than a full bag of Halloween candy collected in a pillow case from trick-or-treating,” and “looked atop his head and noticed an imaginary light bulb flickering on and off,” while sitting in his Maserati Coupe. “The weed he had smoked in the car that night really made him paranoid,” said Smith’s publicist, who didn’t want to be identified. “All of a sudden, I was at a loss for words; he was singing ‘Say You, Say Me’  by Lionel Richie while high. And I must say, what a (expletive) night.”

But that wasn’t J.R’s only method of calming himself down. The Knicks, on their team bus, headed to Indiana to face the Pacers. Once they got to the hotel they were staying at—with every member of the team asleep besides him— J.R ran out of his hotel room and stole the team bus to go on a joyride, en route to the nearest local nightclub in town.

While joyriding, Smith said he “hit the jackpot” because he had never seen a club so filled up before his eyes. According to eyewitnesses, Smith somehow entered the club without a bouncer checking him. Once he entered the club, he strolled over to the bar table, where he swept everything that was on it off of the table. One eyewitness recalls the sweeping of the table with his arm. “He was so damn smooth,” said the eyewitness, who also didn’t want to be identified. “The table was squeaky clean as if a waiter at a lavish restaurant scrubbed it up.” The eyewitness went on. “He then jumped and stood on the table like a madman. No one was able to stop him. It was no holds barred.”

Another eyewitness recalled that Smith said “YOUR NIGHTLIFE IS UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT!” mocking a tweet made by Jay-Z when the Nets beat the Knicks in the inaugural Knicks-Brooklyn Nets battle.

Before any of the club attendants were able to get quality videos and photos, Smith found the wireless router and smashed it with a Captain Morgan bottle, while his posse was demanding all of the club patrons to give their phones to them at the same time.

But get this: Pacer, Paul George, is a frequent visitor to the club. He voiced his anger about the incident during the Pacers practice media session. “Why would anyone do such a thing?” said George. “It’s simply asinine.”

Not surprisingly, J.R struck back. “Indiana is going to be turned into a cornfield,” said Smith. “Wait, isn’t it one already?”

Reggie Miller commented on the situation as well. “This isn’t good” said Miller. That’s all we got from him, which isn’t a huge surprise. That quote sums up his commentating career.

The bad blood keeps on getting worse. The hack-fest series of a lifetime is coming to a theater near you.

Knicks Sign Earl Barron

EARL BARRON IS BACK. Following Rasheed Wallace’s retirement from earlier today (he’ll find a rec league), Earl Barron is back with the Knicks after a three year period of being in exile from New York. Yes, the same guy that Knick fans thought was going to be the team’s starting center during the 2010-11 season. Barron will be eligible for the upcoming playoffs this Saturday against the Celtics. What a weird turn of events the last couple of days; first, King Solomon Jones was waived a couple of days ago, resulting in the signing Quentin Richardson to fill in that roster spot yesterday, then today with Earl Barron filling in Sheed’s vacant spot. Some things about Earl:

  • No, Ronny Turiaf isn’t replacing him.
  • Who knows what we’ll get in him? Knick fans said the same with Kenyon Martin, but hopefully Barron can do something like this in limited significant minutes. That was Barron’s breakout game, in which everyone thought he was going to become a superstar, because, you know, he was essentially the only hope.
  • Barron is happy to be back in New York, apparently, and it makes a lot of sense.
  • He also has a championship ring. So, you know what that means…PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE (pfffft)!

Lots of people jokingly said Earl may come back to New York, but those jokes turned into facts. Welcome back, Earl! Two Earls is better than one!

Knicks Sign Quentin Richardson

Knicks Sign Quentin Richardson

Earlier today, basically out of the blue, the Knicks signed Quentin Richardson, closing the open roster spot they had from cutting  Solomon Jones. Richardson played with the Knicks from 2005-2009, and holds career averages of 10.3 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, and is a 35% three point shooter. This move isn’t that significant, or at least lets hope it isn’t that significant. Also, Richardson is playoff-eligible. Some brief thoughts:

  • Once a Knick Always a Knicks! It looks like the Knicks are becoming very committed to this slogan. However, I was kinda hoping that players from Knicks teams we try so, so hard to forget would be, um, forgotten from this new campaign. If the Knicks bring back Jerome James, look for them to have a 10 year anniversary night for the 2005-2006 Knicks, where every fan in attendance gets a replica NBA Draft Lottery ping-pong ball.
  • Here’s Q-Rich blowing a dunk against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
  • For those of you that weren’t following the Knicks during those terrible years (and god bless you, really) or have drank enough alcohol to forget them, you may not know that Q-Rich is not a big fan of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett. That being said, I’d very much like for those guys not be extra-angry when playing the Knicks.
  • And here’s Richardson and Garnett getting into a skirmish.
  • Hopefully Richardson doesn’t have to play unless the Knicks are up by 25 and Woodson clears the bench. If he gets burn in a situation other than that, I guess he can’t really be worse than James White. So there’s that.
  • Headbands! Melo and K-Mart are already avid wearers of headbands, and I can’t remember Richardson playing for the Knicks without one. I suggest a rule change for the playoffs where the team with the most headbands wins.

And that’s it! The Knicks close out the regular season against the Hawks tomorrow, and then get ready to play the Celtics on Saturday, time still to be determined.