PER and the NYK


Four games into the season and the New York Knicks are still undefeated. I have to admit, I’ve never been this excited about a Knicks team. The last time they started this strongly (1993-94), I was seven, so it makes sense. Usually, with teams who seem like they can’t keep up a great start (sorry, but it’s true), the underlying numbers make the case. With the Knicks, however, I’m not so sure. Let’s examine some NBA metrics to try to make a conclusion about this New York team.

Player Efficiency Rating (PER
This statistic, pioneered by ESPN’s John Hollinger, has become the poster-stat for basketball metric fans everywhere. Basically, it explains how effective a certain player is while on the court, taking into account a variety of factors. Currently, New York’s own Carmelo Anthony is ranked fourth in PER, mostly due to a very high Usage Rate (simply, how often he gets the ball on offense – ‘Melo leads the league) and the fact that he plays 36 minutes a game, third most in the top ten (behind Kobe and Kevin Durant).

The worrying part of this equation is Anthony’s poor True Shooting Percentage (TS%, what a player’s percentage would be with free throws and three pointers included, then adjusted). His .546 is by far lowest in the top ten, and the only person lower than him in the top-23 is Brook Lopez (who, in my opinion, kind of sucks). This is partially attributed to his poor free throw shooting early in the year, which should improve. I think Melo’s PER should hover around fifth in the league for most of the year, strictly due to the aforementioned Usage Rate. Continue reading

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Overreaction Theater: Knicks vs. Heat

OH MY GOD THE KNICKS ARE THE BEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE!

Not really, but it sure looked like it last night as the Knicks defeated the evil Miami Heat 104-84 at the Garden. Not only was this game great to watch from the offensive (19-36 on threes!) and defensive (the Heat shot under 50% and had 21 turnovers) ends, but it showed fans something we hadn’t seen in some time. The Knicks closed a game. Up 15 in the second quarter, I was convinced the Knicks would lose by about eight. That sentiment stayed with me until about half-way through the third. Regardless of the result, we learned a few things from this game that provide reason for analysis after the first game of the season. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Remember the Guards?
Remember when I said that the guards were the keys to this team? Well that was certainly the case last night. Raymond Felton looked like the quickest guard in the league (and finished with 14 points, nine assists, and three steals) while Jason Kidd’s smarts on the perimeter led to steals, unselfish play, and more than a few open three-pointers (Kidd finished with three assists, two steals, and three three-pointers). Pablo Prigioni looked timid on offense and lost on defense, but he’s not going to play much this year. Ronnie Brewer also came out and played very hard defense, harassing LeBron James for most of the night. Above all else, though, Felton and Kidd were outstanding last night. Continue reading

New York Knicks Season Preview: Groundhog Day Edition

Ah, another season for the New York Knicks. My time as a Knicks fan has been long and at times, arduous, and this season will probably be much of the same. Due toDespite its best efforts, management has turned this team into a slightly more competent version of what the ‘Bockers trotted out for years under *gasp* Isaiah Thomas. Under ‘Zeke, New York had a team that was full of weird and bad contracts for overpriced subs (Shandon Anderson, Othella Harrington, and Nazr Mohammed) and a disappointing, enigmatic “superstar” (Stephon Marbury) that wasn’t as terrible as some might remember (they never finished with a bottom-five record in the league). Now, the Knicks’ roster is full of overpaid subs (Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, and yes, Steve Novak) and a disappointing, enigmatic “superstar” (Amare Stoudemire). You ever seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? I feel like my Knicks fandom is a living parallel. Now, granted, this team has two other top-25 players in Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, but it feels like we’ve been here before. I’m already waiting out the STAT contract like I’ve waited out Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph before him, and I feel like this team is just as mismanaged as its been in the past. Despite all this, without further ado, here’s my preview for 2012-2013 New York Knicks season.

What Are the Keys to the Season? Continue reading

The Ballad of Rasheed Wallace: What the Knicks Off-Season Tells Us

In case you missed it, the New York Knicks signed Rasheed Wallace. Thirteen year old Jesse would be ecstatic with this move. Truth be told, I wore number “30″ for ‘Sheed when I played basketball in middle school. The big question, despite my teenage joy, is what does this mean? Despite the fact that Wallace is out of shape and currently boxing to get ready for the NBA season (anyone familiar with Rasheed’s past finds that sentence hilarious), the Knicks are still counting on him. They keep saying that they’ll need him for the playoffs, but I’m not too sure. Let’s take a look at this and try to answer the question: “Why did the Knicks sign Rasheed Wallace?”

Option 1) They thought he’d be fun to have around.
This is fair. I’m sure Rasheed will be fun to have in the locker room and could keep the players happy. He’s a generally gregarious guy who, despite his many indiscretions early in his career, is a pretty well-liked player. Maybe that’s why the Knicks gave him a contract?

Option 2) He has good numbers in the playoffs.
His main playoff years, with Detroit (he played a strong majority of his playoff games with the Pistons), were not terribly great. This is mostly because of the Pistons team strategy back then (gauge the other team’s eyes out, er, keep the games low scoring) and less of a problem with him. He does have experience, though, having played 177 postseason games in his career. That experience can’t hurt, I guess.

Option 3) He is buddies with Mike Woodson.
This is the one that’s actually right. The two are close and, with Rasheed being closer to Woodson’s age than most players (Wallace is 38), it’s possible Woodson just wanted to hook up a friend.

The fact that the nepotism that plagues the Knicks carried over to Coach Woodson is an absolute shame, but hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite the Knicks in the ass. I would’ve rather had Scotty Machado to challenge at the point or another aging Euroleague star, but I guess he’ll do.

Written by Jesse Schneiderman.  You can see more of his work at The Cult Jar and you can follow him on twitter at @thecultjar and @JesseOneT