Tag:New York
Posted on: January 3, 2010 11:10 pm
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Nate Robinson and D'Antoni - explained

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 8, 2009 3:14 am
 

How good is this new Knick 8 man rotation?

December has been a good month for New York. The Knicks are 4-1 this month and are one good two week stretch of winning some games that could go either way from being in the playoff hunt, the new Nate-less 8 man rotation has found great success and some big wins. And that two week stretch of coin flip games where the Knicks need to get wins to get in the playoff hunt, it actually starts right now. I think it's important to examine the Knicks month game by game, quickly, because each game seemed like a fluke or a lucky break on it's surface, but I think if you look at the big picture, you can see a changing trend in the way the Knicks are playing, a change for the better.

Knicks 126 Suns 99

What went right:

Knicks shoot well from the arc (14-31). Play enough D to hold the Suns under 100 for the first time this year, including great perimeter D. No small task considering the higher then average temp both teams play at. Gallo has a great shooting game. Nate is benched in the first half, never returns, Knicks cruise without Nate.

Excuse from the other side: Suns had an off day. Suns can't be stopped by the Knicks, so they beat themselves. These games happen. Missed a lot of 3's (4-17)

Magic 118 Knicks 104

What went right:

Little. Magic kill the Knicks. Still shoot well from the arc (10-24). Nate still didn't play.

Excuse from the other side: None needed

Knicks 114 Hawks 107


What went right:

Knicks shoot well from the arc (11-25). Win without Gallo. D'Antoni sticks to his guns, doesn't play Nate. Duhon picks his game up. Knicks close the game out with very efficent offense, take control after trailing by 1 after 3 and get a rather easy road win. Play good perimeter D.

Excuse from the other side: Josh Smith got ejected. Missed a lot of 3's (4-23). It's the Knicks, who cares?

Knicks 106 Nets 97

What went right:

Knicks shoot well from the arc (6-15). Play good perimeter D. Nate doesn't play. Hughes and Lee help Harrington. Hold the Nets to 36 points in the second half after letting up 61 in the first half. Knicks control the boards big time despite Lopez's size. Gallo gets his feet back under him.

Excuse from the other side: Missed a lot of 3's (5-16). Harris isn't 100% yet. We just won a game, been partying since then.

Knicks 93 Portland 84


What went right:

Knicks shoot well from the arc (13-26). Play great D. Nate doesn't play. Gallo and Hughes provide depth. Destroy Blazers so badly that Blazers can outscore Knicks by 14 in the 4th and still lose by 9. Hustled and forced a lot of turnovers.

Excuse from the other side: Oden, Rudy, Outlaw all injured. Missed a lot of 3's (1-8). It's the Knicks, who cares?

If I look at this 4-1 stretch from the Knicks, I see a lot of similar themes. This is 4-1 with 3 wins against very tough teams, so I ask you, have the Knicks got lucky, or are they playing good ball right now?

Have the Knicks hit at least 40% from the arc in each of the 4 wins because they are playing better O, because Nate isn't playing anymore, or because they are lucky?

Did the Knicks hold the Blazers and Suns to under 100 because the opponents were off that night, or because D'Antoni is shrinking his rotation, eliminating Nate's minutes and pourous D for the defensive Hughes, and because Gallo and Jeffries are playing better D, with even Al Harrington giving a solid defensive effort as of late?

Did the Knicks go 4-1 because the Suns were off, the Hawks lost Hughes, the Nets were just happy after a win, and the Blazers lost Roy, or because they are defending the arc much better?

I'm sure a lot of people will write off the Knicks recent success as a fluke, due to great shooting, and expect a regression very soon. They will discount the improvement since Nate stopped playing. They will figure more teams will take the Knicks seriously, and the Knicks will stop lucking into playing teams without great players at their service.

Well, the test to see what side is right is coming up:

Here is the Knicks upcoming schedule:

@ Hornets
@ Bobcats
@ Bulls
Clippers
Bobcats
Bulls

The Knicks shouldn't win those first two games. The Bobcats and Hornets, when at home, are better teams, despite the improvement New York has shown.

But watching the Knicks this month, I'm willing to say that the Knicks are better then the Bulls are right now, regardless of where the game is played. The Knicks are better then the Clippers and good enough to beat the Bobcats at the World's Most Famous Arena (but that one is close).

I'm willing to say the Knicks can go 4-2 in their next 6 games. This shorter rotation, no Nate Robinson, better defensive effort, and offense that is much improving, I think this Knicks team is playing right now like one of the 8 best teams in the East, and I think it's not just luck and fortunate circumstances, but an improvement in the way they are playing ball.

These next two weeks will tell a lot about the Knicks. Will they fall apart and lose 4 of these 6? Maybe they will. Maybe they can't win without the excellent 3 point shooting they have had this month. But the eyeball test, from me at least, tells me this team is fighting hard for 48 minutes. Knicks have had bad quarters and bad halves in this 4-1 stretch, but have played hard during each of the 4 wins. I think this new 8 man rotation has real potential, everyone seems to know their role, and the sum of the pieces is good enough to get a win against almost anyone on any given night. I said before the season that I thought the Knicks were a team good enough to be just outside the playoff picture, and maybe just 1 move away from the 8 seed. They are actually playing right now like that team. I think it's gonna last for a while.

Feel free to blast me if the Knicks end up sliding back to the depths of the East in the next 6 games. But if the Knicks do go 4-2 in this stretch, and keep playing as well as they have to secure wins like the Suns, Hawks, and Blazers, I'm gonna start hunting you guys down. Nobody wants to hear smack from a Knicks fan. So I'm giving you fair warning, and a chance to give it to me first if NY fades. But if they don't, we might just have a legitimate scary opponent in New York, something the NBA hasn't really said (or at least meant it if they did say it) for far too long.
Posted on: December 8, 2008 5:58 pm
 

Review/Preview Knicks 104-92 DET, Tues NYK @ CHI

A unique situation has occupied my time in the last few days, so I have not got to follow the Knicks as religiously as I tend to. Which is a shame after Sunday's performance

Review: New York Knicks 104-92 Detroit Pistons


I got nothing I can really add from my unique view of the game, as I was busy working out a nice deal in my personal life over on the left coast. My personal life (I guess it's my job, more like my method of earning income) is boring to everyone else and I won't even bother to try to give you guys any context, but let's just say it takes some very unique circumstances to keep me from watching the Knicks. Will I be pulled away by the whims of fate and opportunity again this season? Maybe. But let's just sum up some very generic points, instead of giving you some in depth look at how the Knicks played that goes beyond the standard boxscore, I'll go straight fanboy.

- KNICKS WIN!!!!!!

- Detroit is a struggling team since the AI trade, but let's face it, they are a talented team on paper with size. The Knicks dominated the game and may be coming into form with their speed and small ball. Lee is becoming a force on the boards and Duhon, when he is on, can keep the Knicks in big games.

- Knicks are going on the road for 5 straight games. It's Chicago, New Jersey, Sacremento, Phoenix, and the Lakers. The Knicks are 9-11 at the moment, and these first 4 winnable games of the road trip (Yes, at Phoenix is winnable. Phoenix stinks, trust me) with go a long way to defining this season. The Knicks are a talented bunch with a lot of youth and a lot of vets, still working on cohesion and learning how to win. The Knicks have been awful on the road for years, but need to start this road trip out hot if they have any dreams of making the playoffs. Can the Knicks go 3-1 and get to LA with a .500 record? They sure can. Will they? It's highly highly doubtful. But's it's possible and the thought will entertain the thoughts of Knicks fans for the next week's worth of games.

- Look forward to the reintroduction of intellegent basketball discussion in this section after the Chicago game, when I can witness it with my own two eyes.

Preview: New York Knicks (+8) at Chicago Bulls, Tuesday 8:30 pm EST

This is going to be a really fun game. Duhon returns to Chicago to face a stud rookie PG in Derrick Rose. Rose should have his way off the dribble, but the Knicks will have a big advantage down low with Lee and Harrington. The play of Q Rich and Chandler will be essential to any chances the Knicks have of walking out with a win on Tuesday. The Knicks are going to need to hit threes from both guys, and get drible penetration from Chandler to give the Knicks a threat on the drive outside Duhon and Harrington. This one is going to be real enjoyable, I hope all Knicks fans and casual fans of the NBA make the time to tune this one in.

Knicks-centric stats match-up:

Again: 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: 102.9 points/100 (19th in the NBA)
Bulls defensive efficiency: 103.0 points/100 (13th in the NBA)

Knicks on defense:

Bulls offensive efficiency: 100.4 points/100 (23rd in the NBA)
Knicks defensive efficiency: 107.1 points/100 (25h in the NBA)

My prediction and some more fun about the game will come tomorrow, but I wanted to put together a  post before then after the Pistons win. Enjoy this week in the NBA everybody!
Posted on: November 30, 2008 1:17 am
 

Review/Preview: NYK 138-125 GSW, Tue. NYK vs. POR

First, a quick self-high-five. I wrote about the Knicks game against Golden State "I think the Warriors will have tired legs after this long road trip (4th road game in 5 days), give up a ton of easy buckets to the Knicks inside, and answer back with quick scores of their own, but it will not be enough." How good am I? Never mind I predicted a 4 point Knicks win when instead the Knicks blew the Warriors out of the water, just focus on the first half of my prediction that worked out really well .

Review: New York Knicks 138-125 Golden State Warriors

Wow. What a way to even up the Knicks' record to 8-8! The Knicks caught a Warriors team at the right time, tired off the end of a East coast trip, and took full advantage of the situation. Let's just get right to it.

37 points, 21 rebounds on 16-29 shooting. David Lee was the man that benefited the most from the superior play of Chris Duhon. Many people will see that D'Antoni said that Lee should have had 50 points and laugh it off like Coach is just being silly. But it could not be more true! Lee got about 8 slams and missed a lot of shots deep inside. Lee did snatch 8 offensive boards, some off his own misses, but 50 was a totally reachable number for Lee tonight. Lee was blocked 3 times as well, preventing his monster game from growing bigger. It's no sweat to David Lee fantasy owners, but Knicks fans are right to look at 37 and 21 and think what might hae been in my opinion.

- How does David Lee get 8 dunks and a ton of inside shots? How did the Knicks get about 16 dunks as a team? Chris Duhon. 22 dimes, a Knicks record. Wow. Chris Duhon is really coming into his own as the point guard of the Knicks, gaining serious praise from Don Nelson after the game. From the AP writeup of the Knicks/Warriors game: “I think Duhon is the story tonight. Wow, what a player,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “Been watching him on film and seeing him on videos, but seeing him in person is another story. Guy’s got the whole package. He looked like Steve Nash out there. Unbelievable performance.". And to think Duhon sat out of practice with a bad back leading up to this game!

- Who needs Nate Robinson? The Knicks play 7 players, including preseason 12th man Anthony Roberson (well, ok, Jerome James is the 12th man now and forever, but you get my point), and shoot over 51% on 105 shots, and hit 13 of 27 from the arc. Al Harrington hit 5 of 7 from the arc to key his 36 and 12 performance, 

- 43 points in the second quarter, 82 points in the first half. Knick records (as was the previously mentioned Duhon's 22 assists). Mind-boggling numbers.

- No comment on the fact the Knicks blew up as soon as Marbury left the bench. Also no comment on my fearless fantasy prediction of a double double for Tim Thomas against the Warriors flaming out as Thomas got 15 and 9. You couldn't get one more rebound and make me look like a genius, Tim?

Preview: New York Knicks vs. Portland Trail Blazers, Tuesday, 7:30 pm EST

Portland is 11-6 on the year, 7-0 at home and 4-6 on the road. They will play Detroit Sunday before Tuesday's game vs. the Knicks at the World's Most Famous Arena. Marbury is meeting with Donnie Walsh on Monday, and I will more fully recap this game with the Knick-centric stats match-up, a Knicks fantasy preview for the week ahead, and my predicted Knicks/Blazers score when I report on the results of the meeting. If I had to make a Marbury prediction now, I would say Marbury is playing in Dallas by next week, but we will see.

Psst! Hey Donnie Walsh!

This is the section where I usually 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 do somethink to entice LBJ. 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. We arn't waiting to do this section, because the Blazers have the granddaddy of all trading tokens, The All-Mighty Raef LaFrentz's expiring contract. I cannot express enough how much I covet the Knicks to aquire this free cap space, I am dead serious. This thing is the key to the Knicks dreams in 2010. With this cap space, the Knicks can do wonders in 2010, sign solid role players to match the two max contrats they hope to give out, like New York City resident and aging veteran chasing a ring who would give a stacked Knicks team a home discount Steve Nash. Here is my best trade to get it:

Knicks get: The All-Mighty Raef LaFrentz's expiring contract!!!, 2010 1st round draft pick

Blazers get: Eddy Curry, Nate Robinson

Knicks sign Patrick Ewing Jr. to fill the roster out

This is a dream trade for me. The Blazers get insurance for Greg "Owwww!" Oden, and the real reason Portland does this trade is so they can go ahead and make the rumored deal with Memphis that has the Blazers trading Outlaw, Fernandez, and who knows what else for Mike Conley and Hakim Warrick and I don't know what. if I wanted to be complicated, I would make this a three team trade to bypass trade restrictions on Robinson and ship him right to the Griz and then Portland and Memphis can fill the rest of it out with whatever they want it to look like, but we can leave it at this for the purpose of the blog. But my point is these two things:

1) Donnie Walsh is not doing his job if he is not trying to interject himself into these ongoing Portland/Memphis talks and trying to get Curry off the books and pick up The All-Mighty Raef LaFrentz's expiring contract in return

2) Donnie Walsh needs to get Patrick Ewing Jr. on this team. The Knicks are playing 7 guys and the Garden craves Ewing Jr. Spike Lee says the Knicks have been cursed since Ewing left. Let's appease Spike and get a Ewing back in orange and blue. Ewing Jr. would be beyond fun to watch right now for the banged up Knicks.

Know the Knicks/Predict the Knicks:

Here is how it works. I will post a trivia question about something Knicks related. Post your guess as a comment below on the blog (after you are done berating my Knicks coverage, of course!) AND post a final score for the Knicks/Trail Blazers game. Also, try to say something funny/clever. I will try to do this every time the Knicks have some time before their next game. I will do a new post Monday after Walsh meets with Marbury and hopefully trades Eddy Curry to the Blazers and then post my pick and the pick of whoever got this answer correct, posted a final score, and I decided to choose for no good reason. I will keep track of the readers picks vs. my own and we will see who gets bragging rights at the end of the year!

Trivia Question (answer from now through all afternoon Tuesday!):

Who's Knicks assist record did Chris Duhon break with 22 dimes against the Warriors on Saturday night?

Prediction record: (2-0 straight up, 1-1 ATS)

Enjoy the weekend!

Posted on: November 26, 2008 5:46 pm
 

Review/Preview CLE 119-101 NYK, Wed NYK @ DET

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.

Knicks Prediction:

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
 

Say hello to the new look New York Knicks

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.

 

Guards:

 

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.

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Forwards:

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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.

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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. 

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Center: 

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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.

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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.

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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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