Why The New York Knicks Suck: it’s 2016 not 2006

Why do the Knicks blow so badly?

The Knicks suck terribly this year

Why this team is complete and utter garbage, and is worse than it should be

Nobody really expected much out of the New York Knicks this season. Why would they? The team tanked its way to 17 wins last season in a bid to rival the Washington Generals and couldn’t even do that right. What was supposed to be an awful season en route to having the best chance at getting the #1 pick turned into a terrible season inexplicably improved by meaningless wins at the end that dropped us to the #4 slot.

All’s well that ends well, though. With the drafting of future GOAT Kristaps Porzingis, and the addition of actual NBA-caliber players like Robin Lopez and Aaron Afflalo plus varsity team-caliber players like Derrick Williams and Kyle O’quinn, the Knicks looked poised to be fighting for a .400 record(hurray!).

The Knicks got out to a solid record considering their lack of talent, coaching, and experience together, flirting ever so teasingly with .500 several different times. When the team is clicking, they’ve played tough against the best in the league(without Melo even. Sign of something?), but the reality of the season has been that the Knicks have beaten a few solid teams and have usually lost to anyone who is actually good(and plenty who aren’t).

Despite some improvements, the Knicks still suck. But why? Why is it that fringe, formerly-unemployed NBA dreck feast against us night in and night out? Why do teams come to MSG expecting to get an easy win? Why is it that basic in-game adjustments from the other side kill us and there’s nothing we can do about it?

While talent, coaching, and lack of a good South American player(everyone knows that you need to have at least 1)  have something to do with it, that doesn’t explain it all, and firing Fisher isn’t going to change much.

The Knicks suck because it’s 2016 and not 2006. Better yet, they suck because it’s 2016 and not 1996. In a league that relies on versatility, controlled pace, spacing, and penetration, the Knicks are posting and joking, plodding and waddling, switching and bitching their way to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Let’s tear into it a little bit more…

Outdated strategy

New York Knicks suck

The Knicks own version of the Bermuda Triangle does its best to swallow the talent of our best players. Modern analytics and technology be damned.

The NBA that your parents grew up watching was a slower, choppier, more physical game played around the rim from the inside out. It was a big man’s league. The rules and spirit of the game at the time made it a hell of alot easier to play from the block. Perimeter-oriented teams were rare. That’s not the case anymore. The Modern NBA is dominated by free flowing, quasi-positionless, versatile teams that attack from the perimeter, and make you pick your poison. You either let the wings take it to the rim, or you give up an open 3 ball. The Knicks are on pace for closer to the 2006 average in 3’s than they are the 2015.

The Knicks run the triangle. And in defense of this system, it doesn’t matter if we were running the square, the circle or the trapezoid either, the talent on this team just doesn’t live up to a top-tier squad. Still, while nearly all great teams in the league initiate their offense via penetration from wings, ours starts with the slowest player catching the ball 17 feet from the basket. The triangle maximizes mid-range jump shot opportunities and often puts the ball in the hands of the one guy on the court whose job is physical defense and rebounding(Lopez). Take these stats to heart:

  • The Knicks take the 5th most 2 point field goals in the league
  • The Knicks rank 27th in 2 point %………
  • The Knicks take the 23rd most 3’s, and rank 22nd in 3 point fg%
  • The Knicks are 22nd in assists
  • The Knicks are 25th in pace

So the Knicks run an offensive system geared at getting shots that they can’t make. Is there anything more Knicks than that? To top it off, they can’t balance it out with 3’s or free throws(even though the Knicks have the highest ft% in the league, they are only average at getting there). What makes it worse is that they iso the crap out of the ball, ranking 22nd in the league in assists and on pace for about the league average in the mid 00’s. Playing at the 5th slowest pace isn’t helping either. Not when the talent doesn’t match. Great teams like the 90’s Bulls, and recent Lakers and Celtics championship teams played slowly, but they had the talent to match. New York is playing Robin Lopez and Derrick Williams.

Fit

One thing that the Knicks can say about the team this year is that they actually have NBA-caliber players. Melo, Porzingis, Lopez, Afflalo, Thomas, and Galloway, and maybe Derrick Williams and Jose Calderon all belong in the league in some capacity, even if just as back ups in some cases.

The problem is that they are more of a hodgepodge than a cohesive unit. The leftovers of a swing and a miss in free agency. The best teams in the league field units that are not only talented, but that fit like gloves. They are mixes of shooters, defenders, penetrators, finishers, and post threats. To see how the Knicks are the opposite of that, let’s look at the starting lineup:

Jose Calderon New York Knicks

CalderonJose is the worst Spanish thing since the Spanish Flu. Not only is he inept defensively, he can’t do anything offensively aside from shoot. To make it worse, he can’t beat his man to get his shot off. So he is only a spot up shooter at this point, but the Knicks are playing him major minutes.

Afflalo- AA is off and on like a high school couple, and can’t play defense like he could in his day. He’s a net negative on D in terms of +/- and is barely posting in the positive for defensive win shares. The real issue is, though, that he doesn’t bring versatility to our attack. AA makes his living either posting up or shooting from mid range. And what’s worse is that the majority of those 2 point field goals are not assisted. That means he is someone who we iso from mid range or on the block. Sounds exactly like someone else in the starting lineup…..

MeloMelo is still a star player, but something just isn’t right with him this season. The biggest issue is how he is being used. Melo is 13th in usage % at 29.5%, and has decreased his % of shots around the rim. He ranks second in isolation plays, and those plays produce less than 1 point per possession. He also has an assist % nearly identical to our point guard. It’s great to see Melo moving the ball, but should our star scorer really be our primary playmaker, especially when he is over 30? The players surrounding Melo don’t make up for his shortcomings, and don’t emphasize his strengths. There is no elite wing defender, no elite gunner or slasher to punish doubles, and no playmaker to make his life easier. He is at his best when finishing possessions created by a point guard or bullying smaller defenders in the post. Not isoing, turning and fading, or creating off the dribble.

Porzingisthe second coming is still in his infancy, but it’s clear that he has the skills to be dominant in the modern NBA. The problem is that the system isn’t emphasizing his strengths, either. The slower the team plays, the harder it is for Porzingis to use his natural advantages. How many impressive alley-oops and putbacks have we seen from him? How many times has he beaten slower bigs in transition, and how many times have we seen this Latvian beast trail for a wide open 3? Yet, he posts up(15% of possessions) more than he plays as the roll man(13.5%) despite being wildly more efficient at the latter and in the bottom third of the league at the former. His most efficient offensive possessions are when he cuts to the rim, yet he does that less than pretty much everything else. Partly a spacing issue, and partly a system issue. Also, when he does get doubled in the post, spacing issues make him more turnover prone and there isn’t enough shooting to punish double teams.

Lopez Knicks

LopezRobin plays gritty, tough, hard nosed basketball. Exactly the kind of guy that Phil would have loved back in the old NBA. The problem is that the game has changed. Lopez is putting up great numbers close to the basket defensively (opponents are shooting 12% worse against him around the rim), but he is fairly one-dimensional. He struggles to keep up with quicker bigs, and doesn’t offer much versatility in the form of switching. On offense, he struggles to contribute much outside of post up hooks. So instead of having a mobile big that creates space, finishes off of cuts to the rim, and plays a modern style, the Knicks play a slow bruiser that muddies up the middle and takes away valuable space for the team’s two best offensive players.

What this boils down to is that the Knicks play players who don’t compliment each other’s strengths. If a player isn’t doing exactly what he is good at, then he can’t really contribute much else while on the floor.

Versatility

The modern NBA is full of teams who play positionless basketball, especially on the defensive end. The Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, and to a lesser extent the Cavaliers have versatile personnel capable of at least keeping you honest on offense, and capable of defending multiple positions on defense or vice versa. The Knicks, on the other hand, attempt to keep the score low by playing as slow as possible, and not actually trying to stop their opponents from scoring. Players like Calderon, Afflalo, Williams, and Seraphin struggle on defense and aren’t anything special offensively. Players like Lopez and Galloway bring it defensively every night, but aren’t versatile offensively.

Carmelo Anthony

Sorry, Carmelo. We want you out there for your defense. Don’t worry, we’ve got Sasha to pick up the slack on O.

It’s sad to think that Carmelo Anthony might be the best two-way player on the team, and he is the guy we want saving his energy for offense. Lance Thomas, at 6-8, 235 should be that guy, but his defense isn’t as good as has been heralded, and he only scores 8.5 per game.

Having players that can’t play both sides of the ball in a versatile manner, either by being able to guard multiple positions and hit the long ball or by being talented offensively and at least passable defensively means that this team is not only predictable night in and night out, but is also incapable of adjusting. While teams of bygone eras past had rigid position definitions and specialists that filled pre-determined roles, modern NBA teams thrive on fluidity and versatility.  Compare the starting lineups of the 2006 NBA finals between the Heat and Mavericks to the 2015 NBA finals between the Cavaliers and Warriors to see exactly what I am talking about. The Knicks just haven’t gotten the memo.

In an NBA where the best teams play in space while maximizing 3’s, free throws, and layups, the Knicks take long, inefficient 2’s. In an NBA where the best teams push the pace to make it easier on offense for their best players, the Knicks slow it down and pound the ball in, assuring everyone gets hurt and tired. In an NBA where the best teams play units that maximize each other’s strength and hide weaknesses, the Knicks either play redundant players and specialists, or misuse the talent that they do have. In an NBA where the best teams play versatile players capable of wearing multiple hats on either end, the Knicks play Jose Calderon and Robin Lopez. This team would have probably kicked some serious ass in 2006. Too bad that was ten years ago. The good news is that this squad is sure to provide plenty of fodder for the NewYorkKnicks Podcast, so stay tuned!

3 Realistic Trades for Carmelo Anthony: the future of the New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks

Carmelo and Porzingis are the right stars, but it might be the wrong time.

3 Realistic Trades for Carmelo Anthony: the future of the New York Knicks

Talking about trades for Carmelo Anthony is all the rage now that we have a blue-chip prospect in Kristaps Porzingis, but finding the right fit is more difficult than deciphering what the hell Clyde is talking about half the time during broadcasts. The New York Knicks have been pretty much synonymous with dysfunction and disappointment over the better part of this century. From trading away valuable draft picks for the worst Italian since Mussolini to signing clinically obese, immobile big men to multi-year, cap-destroying deals, this team has had little to be excited about for a long time. The Knicks are a hapless collection of oxymorons– a  big market team in a center of world culture that nobody wants to play in, a team with a huge payroll and minuscule win total, a team that plays in the “Mecca of basketball” but usually loses to whichever team makes a pilgrimage there– so it’s only fitting that the one time in the past two decades that they’ve had a legit superstar is also the one time when the best thing to do for the franchise is trading him.

Although the Knicks are in no shape to compete for a championship as currently constructed, some of the ingredients are in the cupboard. There’s the scoring machine that can get buckets against any defense, a budding defensive stopper with unlimited range, and some young, tough guards that can stroke it from deep. But for everything that is in stock there is something missing, and the store probably won’t be stocking it any time soon. This team has everything except enough talent and coaching to win ball games.

Right pieces. The wrong time.

Seeing as how the timelines of the team’s best pieces don’t really align( Melo being 31 and Kristael JORD-zingis merely 19), it could be that the team won’t be in contention until Mr. Anthony is too old. While he can be this generation’s Paul Pierce(a star who never had enough help to play with the big boys until late in his career), do we really want to chance that? On the other hand, the organization is finally showing some signs of sensible management and finally has a bright future, do they really want to trade the best player the team has had since Patrick Ewing while he is still in his prime?

Depending on how you look it, it might be the best thing to do. IF they strike gold in free agency, say, Nicholas Batum, Mike Conley or both and a few solid veterans, then maybe there is hope that they can go down in a blaze of glory to the Lebron James Eastern Conference Championship corporation in the conference finals, but if they strike out again, then the landscape is bleak. Melo will be going on 33 with no sign of hope coming for another year or two at least. While he is still worth something, the Knicks could do well by trading him, accumulating draft picks and growing around a new core of young players. Which brings us to:

The trades

Crafting the right trade for Melo isn’t easy. First, he has a no trade clause, but that doesn’t worry me much seeing as how the current roster would send me screaming to the nearest competitor if I were an NBA superstar on the backend of my prime. Second, we would need to get solid young players and picks. The problem here is that the teams that Melo wants to go to probably won’t give us the type of pick we are looking for. That means getting the best young player possible, accumulating some solid picks, and tanking when we have our own pick next year while letting Magic-staps John-zingis develop by having free reign to devour unsuspecting defenses with his dragon-like wings and fire breath.

Step 1) Which teams might Melo go to?

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks

As you can tell, Melo likes to party. He doesn’t want to go somewhere that sucks….like Detroit.

First you need a contender or a team on the brink of contention in a place that doesn’t suck (sorry Orlando, Sacramento, and Utah). Certain places like Indy and OKC might not appeal to a city boy, can overcome their prairie issues with their sheer basketball abilities in my opinion. Current NBA chainsaw, Golden State won’t be making any changes, so they’re out. That leaves us with(in no order):

Houston, Cleveland, Indiana, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, OKC, Memphis, Dallas, LAC, New Orleans, Washington and Phoenix.

Step 2) Who has something we want?

We want a nice young player(or at least not old), cap relief and picks. That is going to eliminate Cleveland, Indiana, Memphis, Dallas, and LAC right off the bat. Sorry, but they have nothing we want. Now we have Houston, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, OKC, NOP, Washington and PHX.

Step 3) Find the real suitors

Sadly, Phoenix has a bevy of nice young assets but getting Melo wouldn’t vault them into contention. Same with Washington since we’d want Bradly Beal or nothing. I’m afraid they both need to be scratched from the board. New Orleans doesn’t really have any interesting players or picks aside from Jrue Holiday, who is oft injured and might actually be too good too quickly and win us more games than we want( DAMN YOU FISHER FOR WINNING THOSE GAMES AT THE END OF LAST SEASON!), so they are gone. All of OKC’s nice picks are gone when we need them, and they don’t really have anyone young that could help us or be anything good in the future, so that leaves us with Houston, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta. But Atlanta has a good thing going, and Melo wouldn’t fit there ball movement style of play( you know? those teams that pass the ball?!?). So now we are down to 3 measly little teams that would suit Melo, the Knicks and themselves in a trade: Houston, Chicago and Miami.

The Trades for Carmelo Anthony

#1- Houston

New York trades Carmelo Anthony, Jose Calderon and Lou Amundson

Houston trades Ty Lawson, Patrick Beverly, Corey Brewer, K.J McDaniels and Terrence Jones + a 2018 first round pick and a 2020 first round pick.

Why for New York?

The Knicks go into full rebuild mode and nab two future firsts + a very intriguing youngish player in Terrence Jones. He can hit the corner 3, run the floor, and is a great athlete. He just needs playing time and an open system. Beverly is a known quantity but a solid player that can shore up our PG defense, and with Beverly, Gallo, and Porzingis locked up long-term we will be set on that end of the floor. K.J has shown some promise at times, and could be a solid rotation player in the future. Ty Lawson is an alcoholic that would have fit in great with the Ray Felton era Knicks where they could hit the town and get arrested together, but would probably be cut by this new Knicks squad. And Corey Brewer is….from Tennessee.

Embrace the tank, go young and cheap, get some picks, and pray.

Why For Houston?

Houston has all of the elements of a contender but hasn’t put it together so far this season. Many pegged them as a the hipster pick to make the finals this season after their run last year, and with their star wing/big duo plus solid wing defenders in Beverly, Ariza, Brewer, there was no reason to think otherwise…until the season started. Melo would give them more raw offensive talent than any team in the league outside of the state of Oklahoma, and they’d still have enough depth to weather the storm during bench time. This is the proverbial all-in push as they say. It sucks losing their two pg’s in this trade, but seeing as how Ty Lawson isn’t even really running the point much anyway when he even gets playing time and Calderon is coming over, there is no reason to think this trade wouldn’t make them one of the best teams in the West. They might have to take a flyer on a free agent or d-league guy just to shore up their PG or SG spot but having Melo would be worth it.

 

#2 The Chicago Bulls

Continue reading

Knicks beat Lakers, D’Antoni is still a good coach according to his wife

This is not a very happy bunch…

The Knicks crushed D’Antoni’s dreams of having a victorious return to the Garden last night. The Knicks dominated the game until the closing minutes when they decided to let up and make things interesting. Though there were brief moments of concern Felton, JR and Chandler eventually said “not going to happen Lakers.” This was another fun one though we had a minor scare from Melo. Instead of sharing my thoughts on the game, here what the players/coaches were thinking last night:

  • D’Antoni – “The system works…the system works…the system works. It’s the players fault. The system works…”
  • Woodson – “These guys are definitely running laps tomorrow. A win by less than 10 is a loss in my book.”
  • D.Howard – “I don’t want to make it awkward. I will just ask to be traded and that management fire D’Antoni and then I will get ready for the second half.”
  • Kobe – “Do you think this season is somehow payback for Colorado?”
  • Melo – “Wow, I am so on tonight. Take that D’Antoni. Nothing could go wrong tonight…” Continue reading

Knicks beat Nets: Go back to Jersey and get your shinebox

knicks_nets--300x300

Some thoughts from last night:

  • Great game, these two teams are, to my disappointment, pretty evenly matched up when they play one another.
  • If JR Smith had actually lost a limb during the 4th quarter, would he have let Woodson take him out?
  • It was aid before the season that the Knicks would be pretty good if the year was 2003.  Looks like Jason Kidd things it is 2003 at least based on the way he has been playing.
  • It has to be so awful as a Nets fan to watch Kidd – one of your arguably top 3 players all time – hit a back breaking 3 pointer against you while playing for your big city rivals. The closest equivalent for Knicks fans would have been having Ewing drop a double double on us while wearing a Sonics uniform.
  • Hey Nets fans, Deron is a very good point guard. Carmelo is an MVP candidate. I hope you understand the difference. Continue reading

Knicks Win Because That is What They Are Supposed to Do!!!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e8/Wash_gen_logo.jpg

The Knicks won by 21 points tonight against the Bullets (I hate calling them the Wizards). The game was never really close and the Knicks did what they are supposed to do, show no mercy on lesser opponents. It is hard to remember a time when the Knicks consistently blew out their opponents. There is more I could say about the Knicks performance but instead I am just going to spend the rest of this recap insulting the Bullets/Wizards.

  1. David Stern announced big sanctions coming against Washington for playing the actual guys on the roster.
  2. Washington thought they had a chance tonight because they misread the inactive and active list and thought they would be playing against Jason Kidd by himself…and, even then, they only thought they had a chance.
  3. Washington is nicknamed the Wizards because it would take an actual Wizard to turn this franchise around.
  4. The Wizards are so bad that they have been asked to replace the Generals so the Globetrotters can have an easier opponent.
  5. How can the Wizards cut Blatche and actually get worse? Continue reading

Brooklyn Hipsters knock off the New York Isolations…This one hurts way more than Houston

HEY FELTON, STOP FREAKIN’ SHOOTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Knicks played retro ball tonight and by retro ball I mean they played like it was last season. They played all iso ball all the time. There were times I thought Melo was going to break out a cape he was playing so much hero ball. This loss may be their worst all season. It is not because it was against the Nets. This one can’t be blamed on bad refs or too much travel. The Knicks didn’t catch a crazy performance from a Chandler Parsons type tonight. The defense was all right but they were ugly on offense throughout. It was every man for themselves on offense with the exception of Tyson Chandler who cleaned up and had a monster game on offense, keeping this team in the game. This loss kills me because we should not be about to enter December with this team reverting to all their bad habits. Let’s hope the real reason they lost was because Jason Kidd was out. Here are my thoughts:

  • Did JR Smith wear Felton’s number tonight because that is the only explanation for Felton’s 3-19 performance?
  • Did Rasheed re-retire before tonight’s game and not tell anyone? How does a guy who should only be shooting from inside the paint go 2-11?
  • Hey Melo, STOP TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING BY YOURSELF!!! You have teammates and unless you trust them you are never going to win.
  • Chandler was 12-13 from the field with 28 points, all of which seemed to be off of teammates misses. Does anyone want to run some pick and rolls for this guy? Chandler could have scored 40 tonight if the Knicks made any effort to get him involved in the offense. Continue reading

THE KNICKS ARE 3-0!!!…AND, THE WORLD HAS NOT ENDED!!!

If you read some of the preseason breakdowns of the Knicks the consensus was that this team was old and slow and that the Knicks made some rather baffling off-season moves. I think most people are still baffled because this old and slow squad is now 3-0 and winning games by an average of 20 points. This is the first time in team history that they have won the first 3 game of the season by double digits. Think how much better they would be if they went even older and slower.

Things could not be going better for the Knicks but no one outside of New York is going to give them credit. Here are the top 5 excuses to be given as to why the Knicks are just getting lucky (with sarcasm):

  1. Miami couldn’t bare to really play after the hurricane unlike the Knicks who are energized by tragedy.
  2. The Knicks were lucky enough to play without Amare who promises to single handedly subtract 12 points a night.
  3. Of course they beat Philly because they were missing Bynum who just never suffers injuries and Jason Richardson who is just at the peak of his career.
  4. Melo is only playing well because he still thinks this is the Olympics.
  5. The Knicks players all have extra energy because they did not have to run the marathon yesterday.

Here are my thoughts on tonight: Continue reading

Question of the Day 9/17/12

A lot of people have said they expect the Knicks to be a top 5 defensive team. Where do you think the Knicks will rank on offense compared to the rest of the league?

Question of the Day 9/14/12

Question of the day: Which Knick does the most with the least talent and which Knick does the least with the most talent?