Draft Preview # 2.1: Prospect Evaluation

Written by Ian Ellis (iellis2018@yahoo.com)

‘Sup folks, today we look at the most important part of the draft, the players (duh). Let’s see who the heck these people are, their strengths & weaknesses and how they would fit in with our Knicks. In this 4 part series, there are four tiers I will place all the players in: the hopefuls, the most likely, the trade downs and the buy-a-picks.  

The Hopefuls

These are the players that will most likely be picked before the Knicks are up at four, but due to a draft day slide, they might be available. Also, no, I’m not gonna look at Karl Anthony Towns. There is no way he’s still available at four.

Jahlil Okafor:

DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 15:  Jahlil Okafor #15 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after a basket against the Elon Phoenix during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 15, 2014 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

NBA Player Comparison: Al Jefferson

Highlights: HERE

We start off with Jahlil Okafor, the post scoring dynamo from Duke. Jahlil came out Chicago’s Whitney Young High School as Illinois’s Mr. basketball and ESPN’s Top Recruit in there ESPN 100 for 2014, and along with buddy Tyus Jones, signed with Duke University. While at Duke, he did not disappoint. Starting off by winning the co – MVP in both the McDonald’s All American game and Jordan Brand Classic, Okafor averaged 17.3 points on 66% shooting, along with 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in his freshman year at Duke, that culminated in leading his team to a National Championship. In addition to that hardware, he was a Consensus first-team All-American, won the USBWA National Freshman of the year award, won the ACC player of the year award and won the Pete Newell Big Man of the year award (yeah, that’s a lot). When you think of his game, it all revolves around his post game. He has one of the most sophisticated post games that we’ve seen in awhile, enough to be compared to Tim Duncan’s. He will immediately be able score once he enters the league. In addition to that, he is also a very good passer out of the post, so finding open shooters wouldn’t be a problem with him (Amaré Stoudemire should take some notes…). Once we look past these strengths, there are some real weaknesses to his game. First, there is the defense. He is not a rim protector, which can be seen by his measly 4.6 block percentage, which is similar to Nikola Vucevic and Spencer Hawes. In addition, he is a terrible pick & roll defender, so especially with the fact this is the most run play in the NBA, teams could really attack him (trust me, you don’t wanna see a Calderon, Okafor pick & roll defense). But, there is also a disclaimer: Jahlil played on a very shallow Duke team, with his only backup being Marshall Plumlee. So, it was best for Okafor to not be aggressive on defense and get fouls, because they needed him to score to win. Am I saying Okafor is suddenly a good defender, no way, just merely that he’s probably not as bad as advertised. His other big weakness is his shooting. He shot an abysmal 51% from the line, and doesn’t really have a jump shot meaning he won’t be able to spread out defenses. You can see that I compared him to Al Jefferson, but really think that’s his floor: a consistent 20 & 10 guy who can score in the post, with below average defense. A better comparison might be Tim Duncan, but comparing Okafor’s defense to Duncan’s is insulting. Now how would he get to and fit with the Knicks? Well, assuming Towns goes first, maybe L.A decides that they prefer one of the guards in D’angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay. Philly then picks the other guard, because they already have Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel (or the guy Marc can’t pronounce). Then there he is and Knicks get him at four. While this may seem crazy, some NBA executives think that this will happen. With the Knicks, he would be the primary focus of the offense in the paint, and be a consistent 16 and 7 starting his rookie season. This would allow Carmelo to play more outside. This would also mean that Phil would have to bring in one more defensive minded frontcourt player, because Carmelo + Okafor could = atrocious defense. All in all, Jahlil Okafor has the potential to become a franchise big man for the next decade or so. Continue reading

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Draft Preview # 1: Where are the Knicks?

Written by Ian Ellis (iellis2018@yahoo.com)

Hello all this is the first part of a multiple part series of highlighting all things NBA draft, and especially the Knicks Draft. Today, I’m just going to outline the basics of the draft and what does this mean for the Knicks.

When’s the draft? June 25th

Where’s the draft? Barclays Center

When’s it on? 8:30 ESPN

Where do the Knicks pick and what’s the draft order?

#1 Minnesota Timberwolves
#2 Los Angeles Lakers
#3 Philadelphia 76ers
#4 New York Knicks
#5 Orlando Magic
#6 Sacramento Kings
#7 Denver Nuggets
#8 Detroit Pistons
#9 Charlotte Hornets
#10 Miami Heat
#11 Indiana Pacers
#12 Utah Jazz
#13 Phoenix Suns
#14 Oklahoma City Thunder
#15 Atlanta Hawks
#16 Boston Celtics
#17 Milwaukee Bucks
#18 Houston Rockets
#19 Washington Wizards
#20 Toronto Raptors
#21 Dallas Mavericks
#22 Chicago Bulls
#23 Portland Trail Blazers
#24 Cleveland Cavaliers
#25 Memphis Grizzlies
#26 San Antonio Spurs
#27 Los Angeles Lakers
#28 Boston Celtics
#29 Brooklyn Nets
#30 Golden State Warriors

Alright, cool, but what does this mean?
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An Open Letter to Amare Stoudemire

Dear Amare,

After witnessing Carmelo have one of the worst All-Star Game performances I have ever seen, in a game he probably shouldn’t have even been playing in, I found out your Knicks tenure was coming to an end after you and Knicks had reached a buyout agreement. Initially, I was ecstatic, after a long 4 and a half years, I figured it was best for both parties to just move on. But later that night, I couldn’t help to feel a little bit depressed; for the rest of my life, I’ll always wonder, what could have been. You had a chance to be on the Mount Rushmore of Knicks big men, but unfortunately I’m not convinced you even crack the top 25 Knicks of all time. You will forever be associated to Allan Houston, another former Knick, who signed a $100 million contract, and failed to live up to expectations.

But unlike in 2001, when we were dumbfounded when Allan Houston signed his $100 million dollar contract, the majority of the Knick fan base (including myself) was openly excited when you signed your deal (even though it was uninsured) in the summer of 2010 and proclaimed, “The Knicks are back.” Unlike Allan Houston, you had that it factor; I watched you go toe to toe with Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward to ever play, on several occasions in the playoffs. The fan base could sense the Knicks were heading in a positive direction. I still believe to this day you would have stayed in Phoenix had they offered you the same deal, but we were just glad to have a superstar, it had been almost a decade since Patrick Ewing was infamously traded to Seattle. We had to endure a long two years of horrendous basketball, waiting for this moment. I’ll admit, you weren’t our first choice; hell you weren’t even the second or third choice for some people. Of course, we all wanted Lebron; others preferred, Chris Bosh, or Joe Johnson.

Although I knew there was diminutive chance we’d get Lebron I was still dejected when Lebron, Wade and Bosh decided to construct a potent trio in Miami, but I still maintained on to the idea that hopefully one day, we could form our own trio. Soon after you signed, to my satisfaction, I remember reading rumors about you, Melo, and Chris Paul, joining forces to form a new potent trio.  I’ll never forget your first season in a Knick uniform; you brought electricity back to the Garden, and was a legitimate MVP candidate. Your two and a half week stretch where you averaged 34 points, and 11 rebs, including nine straight 30-point games, was some of the most superb basketball I’ve ever seen by someone in a Knick uniform. When the Knicks acquired Melo later that year, your effectiveness was affected, but I was still on cloud nine because the Knicks had reached the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Continue reading

Okafor, Melo, Harris, and Other Second Half Thoughts

Written by Nicholas McGowan

From twenty rows up in the upper deck of the student section I watched my Syracuse Orange go toe to toe with the Duke Blue Devils. It was quite the game. The final score was in Duke’s favor, 80-72, but there was some good to take out of it. I was able to watch Jahlil Okafor play, and let me tell you, he is special. This 6-11, 260 pound freshman came into the Carrier Dome and just played. He went off for 23 points on 10 of 15 shooting, added 13 rebounds and a block. He shut down Syracuse’s best player Rakeem Christmas or “Rak” as we students call him. Rak finished with just 11 points and 6 rebounds, well below his averages of 18 points and 9 rebounds. It was hard to watch as Okafor held Rak to 5-17 from the field. That game last night, only solidifies my stance that the Knicks need Okafor, we cannot settle for a Karl Anthony-Towns or an Emmanuel Mudiay because they are not on the same level. Every time Okafor touched the ball all I could do was think about how much I want him to be Knickerbocker.

While Okafor stated the other day that we would be happy staying in Durham for another year, the Knicks should be more focused on losing. The Lakers are 1-9 in their last ten games, pushing themselves to only 3 games ahead of the Knicks. The Sixers and T-Wolves sit at one and two games ahead of us respectively. While the Knicks should still be considered the frontrunners for finishing in last, there is some competition. Continue reading

Knicks Get Unexpected Breather Thanks to Snow

In mid-January when predictions of crippling snowstorms came through from the US National Weather Service the NBA took the decision to postpone the NY Knicks home game against the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings had arrived in New York on Sunday night but, with the huge snowstorm apparently set to wreak havoc, it looked likely that the team could end up stranded in The Big Apple. The NBA postponed the matchup just after lunchtime, leaving the Sacramento side to make a hasty dash to Toronto for their next game.

The threat of a “potentially historic blizzard” also prompted driving curfews along with airport, subway and school closures across New York. When the storm failed to materialise in quite the manner which had been forecasted, Mayor Bill de Blasio had to defend himself against claims that such measures were a gross overreaction. He was acting only on the information he had to hand.

Massachusetts and Connecticut did endure very heavy snowfall but New Yorkers were left thinking to themselves “Is that it?”

Naturally, this is not the first time in history that a Knicks game has had to be cancelled, there have been 15 postponements in all. Most recently, Hurricane Sandy put paid to 2012’s opening match of the season but the last time snow forced a Knicks game to be called off was in 2000 when travelling to Washington DC. Other cancellations to be called included the immediate game following the assassination of President Kennedy.

The Knicks poor season continues. Sitting in fifth place in the Atlantic Division at the time of the Kings game, with a 9-38 record, the short weather-bound break might help them to take a breather and regroup.

The game against Sacramento Kings has been rescheduled for March 3. Tickets bought for the January 26 game will still be valid and fans can also look here for their NBA fix.

Why Continue to Watch the Knicks?

January 7, 2015
by William Lee
As I tried to sit down after a long day of work to watch and recap tonight’s New York Knicks matchup with the Washington Wizards, it dawned on me why… Why do I still put myself through watching this 2014-2015 season.
A season where the Knicks officially became THE WORST team in the Association Monday night, after the Philadelphia 76ers upset the Cleveland Cavaliers. New York is worse than Philadelphia…let’s just take a moment and take that in and digest that… The Knicks are worse than a team that is purposely tanking. The Knicks are worse than a team that has set into motion a tanking blueprint that is so masterful, that it brought up conversations as to how the league should fix the NBA Draft system. That is how masterful their tanking program is! Yet somehow the Knicks…whom came into the season actually was trying to make the Playoffs (Yes…I know that seems like a long time ago…) somehow is worse than this team.
No one can truly say that they foretold the Knicks’s season to go this bad, no matter how pessimistic you are, no one can foretell that the 2014-2015 season would be the worst season in Franchise history. Evidence of this is that even the Las Vegas SuperBook predicted New York to at least be hovering around .500 with an over under for the regular season wins to be calculated at 40.5. Who knew that when the calendar year turned to 2015 that New York would still be stuck on five wins. Who knew that New York would currently be without a win going on three weeks, currently on a Franchise worst twelve game losing streak.

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Where to Begin

This about sums up the season so far.

Written by Nicholas McGowan

Where to Begin
Let me tell me explain to you as to why I am so happy about the Knicks season so far. Now I certainly wasn’t imagining the Knicks being this bad, but hey, if they up with a top 3 pick in next year’s draft its certainly seems like the Knicks will end up with a stud. I don’t know how many of our readers and listeners follow college basketball but if you want to see some talent then look no further than Jahlil Okafor of Duke or Karl-Anthony Towns Jr. of Kentucky. And we can’t forget about the other consensus top 3 pick Emmanuel Mudiay. While Mudiay originally committed to play basketball at SMU, he could not qualify academically so he headed overseas to China to play for the Guangdong Southern Dragons. No matter the case he is still top 3 prospect and Knicks could certainly use a point guard.
Taking a look at each of them separately:

Jahlil Okafor, a 6-11, 270 pound center is my favorite prospect this year. He shows great maturity and has real sense for how the game is played. His lack of free throw shooting is his only real flaw and he certainly looks as though he can contribute immediately.
Points per game: 17.4
Rebounds per game: 8.9
Assists per game: 1.6
Field Goal %: 65
Free throw percentage: 51.1
Blocks: 1.5
Steals: .9

Karl-Anthony Towns is a 6-11, 250 pound shot blocking machine. While he does demonstrate that he has potential on the offensive end of the floor, he is much more of a defensive presence. It hurts that Towns only gets to play around 20 minutes a night because of the platoon system they use at Kentucky but Towns has still made quite the impression.
Points per game: 8.1
Rebounds per game: 6.6
Assists per game: 1.2
Field Goal %: 52.9
Free throw percentage: 73.3
Blocks: 2.6
Steals: .4

Now I don’t get to watch Emmanuel Mudiay as much as I would like but from what every draft analyst is saying he seems to be the real deal. He is injured as of now with an ankle injury but he posted some impressive numbers in the ten games he has played thus far.

Points per game: 17.7
Rebounds per game: 6
Assists per game: 5.9
Field Goal %: 49.7
Free throw percentage: 58.1
Steals: 1.6
3 Point %: 30

Anyway back to the Knicks this season… Continue reading

Knicks @ Raptors 12/21/2014 – Game Recap

Written by William Lee

New York yet again got off to a slow start in Sunday’s matinee game, going down double digits when Terrence Ross and Kyle Lowry combined for a 10-0 run to lead 17-7 midway through the first quarter. Ross dominated early on, reaching double figures scoring before the halfway mark of the opening period. Raptors shot 50% from the field, including five from downtown to lead 33-25 after one quarter of play. New York was able to stay somewhat in the game by getting to the line nine times, failing to convert only once.

Back to back threes by Lowry and potential sixth man of the year Lou Williams gave the Raptors their largest lead in the second quarter, leading 52-36 with 5:21 remaining in the first half. A 12-4 run to end the half by New York got them within striking distance 58-51 entering intermission. Carmelo Anthony kept New York in the game, scoring 15 of his 28 game high points in the first half.

With only ten active players suiting up for New York due to all the injuries, the body count dwindled down one more. Samuel Dalembert was ejected out of the game with a flagrant two foul called a minute into the second half. While wrestling for position in the post, Dalembert elbowed Jonas Valanciunas in the face, sending him to the locker room early.

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Knicks vs Suns 12/21/14 – Game Recap

Written by William Lee

Top five highest pace Phoenix Suns spearheaded by their two headed point guard monster that is Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe scorched the Knicks early. The duo combined to score a dozen of the first 15 points, in an early 15-4 run capped off by a Bledsoe steal and dunk that brought down boos from the matinee Madison Square Garden crowd. Bledsoe finished the game with a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

From this point on New York mounted a monster comeback, going on a 23-10 run bridging the gap from mid first quarter to early second to take the lead 27-25. Jose Calderon kept New York in the game, bailing the Knicks out of poor possessions going nowhere by beating the shot clock a couple of times. Calderon scored eight of his 21 points in the first quarter, doing most of his damage from beyond the arc, making five three-pointers in the game. It was the play of the bench that propelled New York into the lead with yet another lackluster start by the starters. Jason Smith did most of the hard lifting, coming off the bench to score seven points in five minutes of play in the first quarter.

After the slow start from the Knicks’ starters, Carmelo Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr. redeemed themselves in the second quarter, scoring a combined 15 points in the period. Anthony collected his only his second double-double of the season with 25 points and 11 rebounds. The teams went back and forth, exchanging leads five times, and being tied up eight times.

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Knicks vs Mavs 12/16/14 – Game Recap

Written by William Lee

Dallas came out of the gate scorching, all five starters for the Mavericks scored on by their fifth attempt of the game. Dallas scored on their first six attempts before finally missing from the field, which drew sarcastic cheers from Madison Square Garden. Dallas personified team basketball in the first quarter, collecting six assist on their first six field goals. Dallas ended the first quarter with 14 made field goals, of which ten of them were assisted on.

With the hot start from Dallas, Derek Fisher needed to take an early timeout four minutes into the game, by then the Mavericks had already gotten ahead 19-7. The lackluster play by the Knick’s starters continued, the deficit grew by as much as 19 points. This caused Fisher to make wholesale substitutions at the 5:20 mark to send a message to his players that this type of effort will not be tolerated.

Fisher after the game had this to say about the lackluster start. “The start was not the right way to start a professional basketball game. Those guys in there to start the game, was a disappointment to their teammates more than anything. Guys who start the game have to mentally and physically be ready to play, and they couldn’t put that out there, we got another five guys in there, they started playing hard and playing with some energy and got us back into the game. We were behind the eight ball from the jump.”

The message seemed to have gotten across to the team momentarily, in a blink of an eye with how fast New York was down by such a large deficit, New York rocketed back just as fast. The Knicks made a sizable comeback, going on a 21-10 run since the wholesale substitution to get within four points 36-32 with 10:20 remaining in the second quarter.

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