Posted on: January 3, 2010 11:10 pm
A lot has been made about Nate Robinson returning to the Knicks lineup after a full month on the bech, and lighting it up for 41 points in a huge win for the Knicks vs. the Atlanta Hawks. I have seen a few comments such as "Why was Nate not playing? What is wrong with D'Antoni???". Nate today went out and shot 2-11 for 6 points. Was Nate a 1 game wonder? Should he have played last month? What is going on in New York?
Let me answer these questions. First off, nobody can deny that Nate has a lot of growth to do as a basketball player. He's an energetic sparkplug, he can light it up, but he plays lax D and very selfish at times. This combined with his unprofessional manner led the Knicks to bench him early in a Dec. 1st game with Phoenix and not play him the rest of the month.
How did the Knicks do in December? 9-6, with wins vs. Phoenix, Atlanta, Portland, New Orleans, and Charlotte.
Nate came back and played great vs. Atlanta, and now had a bad game in a huge blowout win vs. Indiana.
But Nate is a different player now.
Even when scoring 41 points, Nate seemed to want to get his teammates involved, and was much more active on the defensive end. And today, his shot didn't fall, but he had some pretty passes, and did great work on the glass during his minutes.
D'Antoni had a lesson for Nate that he had to teach him, and the only way to get the lesson through was to stop giving Nate a run during the games. The lesson was: stop playing the way you want to play, and play the way I want you to play, because there is a place for you on this team, but it's only if you play a team-first style. Nate was a great teammate while he lost his minutes. He was energetic on the bench, him and Curry sat together every night and really cheered the Knicks on. Nate ran the steps after practice and on game days and kept himself ready to go if the team needed him.
But the Knicks didn't need Nate. When Nate was benched, the Knicks were 3-14. THREE AND FOURTEEN! When Nate came back, the Knicks were 12 and 20 and right in the thick of the playoff race. The Knicks excelled in a team first concept without Nate.
Have you seen the Knicks lately? They are playing great help defense, and really sharing the ball well. They arn't running as much, but they are all playing very hard on both ends. Some days they are just not talented enough, but during th 9-6 Nate-less December, the Knicks beat more teams they shoudln't beat then they did lose to teams they should beat. A team that had won only 3 of it's first 17 games actually won nine of fifteen. Think of what a huge swing that is!
And when New Years rolled around, Larry Hughes was bothered by injuries and bad play, and the Knicks needed him, D'Antoni called on Nate. And Nate came through. He didn't get 41 points because Nate is a star athlete and can get 41. He got 41 because the team was begging him to keep scoring big baskets to force OT and win the game in OT. Nate did what the team needed him to do, he even got 8 assists in that game.
Thanks to D'Antoni, Nate's game grew.
You have to give D'Antoni credit for how he played the Nate situation. The Knicks won 3 out of every 5 games without Nate, and now when we needed Nate, he boosted us to a huge win, and now we've won two straight. That's an 11-6 run for a team that was 3-14! D'Antoni made a bold call to bench arguably the Knicks most popular player, Nate grew up, took his benching like a man, and worked to stay better, Nate learned the mental lessons he needed to learn, and now Nate is fitting right in with the surging Knicks.
The Knicks became a dangerous team when they took the selfish Nate out of the lineup. And now the Knicks are more dangerous that they have the selfless Nate.
So what is wrong with D'Antoni? Nothing. Why was Nate benched? To change him for the better. What was D'Antoni thinking? Whatever it was, it's led the Knicks to 11 wins out of 17, so I hope he thinks like that more as the season continues.
Posted on: December 25, 2008 2:41 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2008 2:43 pm
I figured I'd drop a Christmas themed blog to state my Knicks wishes for the rest of the season, since the Knicks are enjoying their break from NBA action and not giving me a lot of on the court things to talk about. You will notice a running theme here in my wishes, clarity. As in, I would love to get some on a lot of topics. The mystery of the Knicks makes them fun, but good teams don't have question marks and good future plans are well defined, so let's hope for the sake of the franchise that some of these topics gain some much needed clarity in the near term.
1) Eddy Curry gift wrapped under someone else's Christmas tree
If Donnie Walsh is giving away Eddy Curry for his GM Secret Santa gift this year and wrapping him up in David Lee wrapping paper, I hope the GM that has Donnie Walsh's name is kind enough to give Donnie some useful or expiring contracts in return. The much rumored Curry/Lee for Diaw/Barbosa deal is not the answer, although it is an improvement over the current situation of the Knicks heading into 2010. But I can't seem to get my egg nog flowing for the idea of Diaw in 2010. There has to be a better answer in the market. Curry is a problem that needs to be solved, but much like a homeowner with a bad loan, there are ways of solving it that set you up nicely, and their are ways of solving it that are marked improvements, but still a bad mortgage. I hope Donnie Walsh does not get himself out of one problem and into another, albeit smaller, problem. Walsh has impressed me so far, the hiring of D'Antoni was a stroke of genius and I believe will lure the top free agents in 2010, but the Knicks need to get into the best possible situation they can for that time, and Diaw on the books in 2010 is sub-optimal. Hopefully the Knicks can weasel a Marion deal out of Miami yet and get the expiring contracts and Curry off the books that they crave. David Lee is playing himself into a player that is worthy of accepting an Eddy Curry bad contract for, and since Lee is not in the Knicks plans long term, here is hoping we use him to our benefit.
2) A well defined direction for the season, and soon
So, are the Knicks going to compete for the playoffs or not? The highs and lows of the season are a staple of early Knicks seasons, but this team seems to have just enough to steal the 7 or 8 seed if the breaks fall. But will the breaks the Knicks will need come, or will this be a team that does nothing more then lose ping pong balls in the draft? My love for Ricky Rubio is clear as day, but at least with a push to the playoffs, the Knicks could have some 2009 backup plans come to the forefront. Steve Nash on the cheap after this season would be a great move, as I think the Knicks need one star player to believe in the promise of 2010 before LeBron becomes a free agent and sign with the Knicks on cap-friendly terms. Remember, Duhon is nothing more then an overachieving stopgap at the point guard until the Knicks get some superstars in the Garden, and then can find a superstar point guard to run the show. If it's in the draft or in free agency, the Knicks will let us know soon what direction their season will go, and based on how the season goes, that is how the Knicks will find their point guard of the future. So wins today increase the chances of Nash tomorrow, while losses today increase the chances of a rookie PG in the 2009 draft class. At least in my opinion
3) A hint on the direction of Nate Robinson
One thing is becoming clear lately, NBA players LOVE Nate Robinson. He is wildly popular with his peers, and it's not just token lip service. I fully expected Lee and Robinson to be on their last years in NY coming into this season as the Knicks look ahead to 2010, but maybe there is something to locking up little Nate long-term. He is actually an attractive piece for NBA superstars to play with. Couple this with the fact that Lee is being shopped more then Nate is these days, and I think Nate is a serious possibility for the Knicks future. Do I think you can win with Nate Robinson playing major minutes? I think he's a detriment to a winning team in a big role, his D can be suspect and he takes a lot of shots, but he is high energy. I'd rather he was gone in the future outside his intangibles, but if he can really be a serious selling point for big names in 2010, then I say whatever it takes to get a serious contender in 2010 is what should be going on now. If nothing else, you can do far worse then Nate Robinson playing minutes for your NBA team, that is for sure. Hopefully the Knicks actions or lack thereof will bring some clarity to the Robinson situation in the coming weeks.
4) A taste of the future, Chandler and Gallinari together on the court
Danilo "Old Country" Gallinari has suffered through back issues this season, leading many people to write him off already as a bust, which is wickedly unfair. Just ask Wilson Chandler, who sat the bench almost all of last season only to emerge this season as, well, as what? That is the part of the question here. Who is Wilson Chandler? Is he nothing more then a Channing Frye? Is he as good as Travis Outlaw (a very underrated player in my opinion)? Does he have the game to become a poor mans Danny Granger? Any of these situations is very possible. If you think the Granger name drop is out of line, think twice. If Chandler can just tack on another 6% or so from the arc, he could be a 18/5 small forward. And Gallinari should be a very interesting watch if he comes back this season, and if he comes back to a team without Lee, Danilo is going to get a real test. But these two are going to be around in 2010, and I expect the last part of this season and a lot of 2009-2010 to be all about these two, more so if/when Harrington opts out after this season.
5) Patrick Ewing Jr. in a Knicks uniform
Nothing more needs to be added. Sign the kid, he earned it in the preseason. This kid can learn more from D'Antoni, Rose, and Thomas then he can in the NBDL.
The Knicks are very enjoyable to watch this season, they are giving a ton of effort most every night and are learning how to win in the Association. They have battled injuries to Lee and Robinson and Gallinari and others. If this team stays healthy, then I know I will be getting a good show every time I throw the Knicks on TV, and maybe get a chance to see a bunch of overachieves make a push for the playoffs. With a bad injury, this Knicks team will sitting ducks for the rest of the NBA. Above all else this season, I'd like to see my crew have a punchers chance the rest of the year.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Posted on: November 26, 2008 5:46 pm
The majority of this blog will be Review/Preview, where I recap the last game New York played, and try to offer an angle or two that is fresh, and give a quick look ahead to the next game the Knicks are playing. Review/Preview will have a few constant or semi-regular features; including one or two that I hope spark a bit of conversation. Let's get to the painful review that was last night's game against the Cavs.
Review: Cleveland Cavaliers 119 - 101 New York Knicks
It was billed as a party in the Garden last night, as most of the Knick faithful came out to see LeBron James as much, if not way more, then to scope the new look Knicks. A funny thing happened on the way to the second part of that plan, however, as the Knicks ran the D'Antoni system, but looked eerily like the Isiah Thomas Knicks of old, getting down huge and never seriously competing. A few thoughts I had watching the game.
- Why does LeBron James always find his three point shot against the Knicks? You can't read a major media outlet without finding somebody who is giving LeBron a nice e-scolding for his three point prolificacy, or lack thereof to be precise. However Knicks fans with long memories remember that LeBron shot over 54% from downtown against the Knicks last year, hitting 13 of 24 against New York in three games last year. LeBron was actually only 3-7 last night from beyond the arc against the Knicks, but it felt worse, and 3-7 is pretty good, he is only a 25% three point shooter for this season so far. If LeBron somehow has a three point shot that is made for the Garden, the Knicks fan base that is counting down the days until 2010 has one more thing to hope for.
- The Knicks were outscored 50-28 in the paint, and the Cavs really didn't have to work for many of those 50 points. Any time you see Ben Wallace looking for his offensive game, you know you lack interior D. The Cavs also got a healthy amount of points in the paint from the 30 total points they scored off turnovers.
- This was the third straight game where Wilson Chandler forced his offense, but tonight the big trees that Cleveland plants down low in their interior defense gave Chandler a lot of trouble. I tend to agree with most of what Clyde Frazier says, and he was on top of Chandler passing up medium range jump shots to challenge the Cavs height to limited success. Chandler has shown flashes of the medium range jump shot that is an endangered species in the NBA, and should go to his jumper more often.
- I feel like I am writing "The Knicks were utterly destroyed by the Cavs" in 5 different ways, but considering the Knicks were trotting out a new rotation, some of these stats within the game are things to keep an eye on as the Knicks move forward. How many of these were one night problems, and how many will be season long crutches? Knicks fans will find out before Christmas.
- Nate Robinson's groin injury isn't expected to be too bad, but without Nate (doubtful tonight vs. Detroit), it is hard to see New York having the offense to bust out of the slumps that the Detroit D can put you in. If I had a tepid smiley face I could use to convey my emotions heading into the Palace tonight, I would use it.
Preview: New York Knicks (+13) at Detroit Pistons, 8:00 pm EST
The Knicks are as big an underdog as they have been all season, and for good reason. Detroit can play the passing lanes and give the Knicks fits inside, just as Cleveland did. With Nate Robinson doubtful and Cuttino Mobley not expected to play all week (last I heard, this could be a very fluid situation), The Knicks are going to lack serious depth in the frontcourt. Don't start with the Marbury thoughts, it’s not happening. I'd love to have some thoughts about how the Knicks can overcome being new, hurt, and less talented on paper, but I'm stymied.
Knicks-centric stats match-up:
Note: Since the Knicks are a team that runs the D'Antoni offense, posting typical team offensive/defensive stats is pretty silly. I will use offensive and defensive efficiency, a.k.a. how many points a team scores and allows per 100 possessions. Hopefully this will give people a better idea on how teams will stack up against the unique style the Knicks offer.
Knicks on offense:
Knicks offensive efficiency: 103.2 points/100 (14th in the NBA)
Pistons defensive efficiency: 105.0 points/100 (t21st in the NBA)
Knicks on defense:
Pistons offensive efficiency: 103.9 points/100 (11th in the NBA)
Knicks defensive efficiency: 106.8 points/100 (27th in the NBA)
Psst! Hey Donnie Walsh!
This is the section where I will take the Knicks next opponent and suggest a legal NBA trade that is feasible for both teams and achieves the Knicks primary objectives moving forward, which are to move Eddy Curry, move Jared Jeffries, or maybe get something for Marbury. These are by no way rumors or even .0001% likely to happen, this is just me having fun, and will hopefully spur a bit of discussion.
Knicks/Pistons trade of the day:
Knicks get: Rasheed Wallace (1 year, $13.9 million, ) - 13.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg
Pistons get: Eddy Curry (3 years. $9.7 million), David Lee (1 year, $1.8 million) - 12.2 points, .7.9 rebounds
This one is a bit more far fetched then some of the other trades I have thought about, but ‘Sheed is not in the Pistons long term plans, the Pistons lack a rebounder outside Wallace (hey, they get two in return), and Curry still has the aura of a low block scorer, something the Pistons certainly don't have. We all know Joe Dumars is not above making moves. Sadly, he's probably well above making this one.
I don't see a lot of ways that this Knicks team is going to get anything going tonight in Detroit. However, I am sure the Pistons also don't see a lot of ways the Knicks pose a serious threat to them, either. This could be a game that Detroit sleeps through during the and lets the Knicks hang around. I surly don't see the Knicks pulling this one out, but I think that the Knicks might be able to stay within a baker's dozen. D'Antoni is going to be all over this team tonight, and I expect an inspired performance, but a loss nonetheless.
Pistons 109-Knicks 99 (season record: 0-0 straight up, 0-0 ATS)
Thanks for reading!
Posted on: November 25, 2008 7:11 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2008 7:31 pm
With the cap-clearing-for-LeBron Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas trade officially approved by GM Donnie Walsh Tuesday afternoon, the New York Knicks will have a much different look heading into tonight’s game at MSG against, ironically, LeBron James and the Cavs. Much has been made about the ramifications this trade has on the future of the Knicks, but not very much has been made about how this will change the play on the court for the Knicks for the rest of this season. Knicks fans are riding a wave of emotions, excited for the future, tepid about the present, and will get a lot of clarity on what can be expected on the court during the 2009 season tonight (and hopefully, from this read!).
Coach D’Antoni has insisted he believes the Knicks will put a strong product on the court this season, but what else is he supposed to say? By re-working the depth chart and making educated guesses as to what we can expect from D’Antoni’s 8-9 rotation this season, hopefully we can get an idea on how competitive the Knicks will be going forward and how truthful D’Antoni’s statements are.
For sure, Chris Duhon will continue to man the point. Even the most pessimistic Knicks fan has to be pleased with Duhon’s play in the first 13 games of the season (and count me in the camp that was skeptical of Duhon before this season started). Duhon is averaging 10 points and 7 dimes a night, and seems to have found his role in the offense over the last 7 games. Duhon plays the first half in the role of team leader and distributor, but is not afraid to make a big drive or take a big three in the 4th quarter. He is sneaky on the offensive end (shooting as well as he has in his career) and playing solid D, his defensive rebounds and steal totals are also above his career averages. Perhaps some of this is due to the increase in possessions that comes with the D’Antoni system, but Duhon is passing the eye test.
Nate Robinson is expected by some to start at the two guard for the Knicks moving forward. This should be the most pivotal factor moving forward for the Knicks. Nate Robinson is currently the leading scorer left on the Knicks roster, and he will have to maintain his production while seeing his minutes likely increase from just under 31 to something like 38-40. Robinson is shooting lights out from the field, and I have questions as to if 47% shooting is anything close to sustainable for the rest of the year. One thing is for sure, Nate will be going all out and making hustle plays, even if he plays the entire game one night. He has a motor that just does not stop, and if he can move to the shooting guard role and maintain his ability to distribute (4.5 assists/game), he could be a scoring option at the two guard that doesn’t fall into the trap of being an offensive black hole at times (See: Crawford, Jamal). As sad as I am that my 3 month old Crawford #11 Knicks jersey won’t be seeing much time at the bars this winter, Nate Robinson could be a great silver lining. He is a restricted free agent after this season, and a hot couple months could create some buzz around the league, and he may become a piece that is attractive enough to some teams that they would accept him to take on the burden of Eddy Curry’s contract. Nate is the man to watch for the Knicks in the next couple weeks in my opinion, as the implications of his play will be felt in the short and long term.
Cuttino Mobley is someone who you could ask 5 NBA experts about and they will give you 5 different opinions about his current game. Some say he is a good defender, some say those days are far behind him. He is not expected to play tonight. My opinion is that it may surprise a lot of people how infrequently that Mobley is used by the Knicks. He is a scorer off the bench, a good free throw shooter and a guy that can hit the open 3, but he is not in the Knicks long term plans in any way, shape or form, and he cannot complete with Malik Rose for the veteran minutes used to teach the young Knicks toughness, grit, or other intangibles. I expect his 33 minutes a game to be cut in half at least, you have to expect that the Knicks will be working on seeing if Wilson Chandler can play the shooting guard at this league, and also give Quentin Richardson a few minutes at the 2.
Quentin Richardson and Wilsonn Chandler will continue to hold down the three, and both may see some time at the 2. After the trades, the Knicks were playing 7 handed, and Chandler was forced to create his own offense. In my observation, this had mixed success. However, Chandler is young with a large motor, and will continue to get opportunities to be a primary scorer on occasions. I feel D’Antoni will continue to try to develop Chandler as a scorer you can trust in this league, and he plays as good defense right now as anyone on the Knicks. Quentin Richardson has always been a guy the Knicks love to use in the first quarter for the Knicks, and I don’t think his role will change in any foreseeable way.
Al Harrington and Tim Thomas will try to replace the surprising performance that Zach Randolph was giving the Knicks on their way to a 7-6 start. Walsh loves Harrington, and you cannot write Harrington off when you think of the Knicks in the long term. D’Antoni knows who the boss is, and Harrington will be worked into the offense. Will he stall the offense as Zach did on occasions, or will he make quick decisions and get the guards involved? I can’t even pretend to have this answer, and compared to Nate Robinson, Harrington will be just slightly less important to the short term success of the Knicks. Knicks fans know exactly what you get out of Tim Thomas, but just to refresh some memories, Thomas is 6 foot 10, he is going to see some time at the 4 and the 5, and his rebounding numbers should improve a lot. Tim Thomas is going to have to play some really solid defense and get some putback baskets for the Knicks to hope to compete against the top teams in the NBA.
David Lee, say hello to serious pressure. Lee thrived in his previous role of 30 minutes a game split between the 4 and 5, but I expect D’Antoni to challenge Lee after this trade, and give him 36 minutes defending the center. This could be done for two reasons. Firstly, to allow the Knicks to see how exactly Lee will fit into some of the hypothetical situations the Knicks are bouncing around for the future. And secondly, it will both improve Lee’s entire game and decrease his effectiveness in the short term. This decrease in effectiveness over the short term could aid the Knicks if they are looking to sign him to a deal that goes beyond 2008-2009, as he is a restricted free agent after this year. Backing Lee up will probably be Tim Thomas with a touch of Malik Rose. Malik Rose needs no introduction to most NBA fans, he is who you think he is, to paraphrase Dennis Green.
If Danilo Gallinari can come back from back problems in a few months, he will get worked into the rotation and fill a larger role then many would assume by the end of this season, as the Knicks know he will be on the 2010 roster, and need to know what he can offer the franchise, but until that time, this is what you can expect from the Knicks.
Final analysis: If I had all the answers as to how this Knicks team will fare going forward, I’d be on a flight to Vegas right now. But D’Antoni might have a point when he says this team will stay competitive over the short term. Remember, the Knicks are 7-6 right now, but without a lot of marquee wins. The loss of Crawford and Randolph means the Knicks have two less superstars in a superstar driven league (Yes, I called Crawford and Randolph superstars. If you disagree, chalk it up to nostalgia and homer-ism), but it also means the D’Antoni offense is going to be run more efficiently in all likelihood, as the offense has less guys who will force shots. This team can still put up some points and run bad teams out of the gym, and can still give a good team fits, but when the 4th quarter comes and you need a player to make a play, will the Knicks have that man? If I had to guess, the big shots are going to go to Robinson and Chandler down the stretch, because they are players who are in the running to be part of the Knicks future. And if the Knicks can stay competitive in the 4th against great teams, that will not only increase the stock of Robinson and Chandler as ballplayers, it will make the Knicks look better, not only for the future, but in the 2008-2009 Atlantic Division standings.
Posted on: November 25, 2008 7:02 pm
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