Is this the end? Three players hold key to turning Knicks around

Harris Decker

We’ve been discussing this at great length over the last few days. The general thought is that there has to be an end to this horrible play. After all, this team isn’t constructed that differently from the team that won the Atlantic Division just one year ago. Yet, as each day passes, it seems less and less likely that the Knicks will turn things around.

At this point, I’m not even sure firing Mike Woodson would do a thing to turn it around.

Raymond Felton, Ian Mahinmi

Turning around this runaway ship is a tall task and it has to come from the role players. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, undoubtedly the two most talented players on this team, are doing what they can. But they can’t do it all. There are three players that can turn this around and if they want the Knicks to win, they have the ability to get it done.

Those players are Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani.

At key positions and with key abilities, these three playing better is the only way the Knicks season can get turned around. Unfortunately I don’t have high hopes for that to happen.

Felton’s assist numbers have trended down since his career high in ’10-’11 with the Knicks (the first time). That year, he averaged 9 assists per game. This season he’s just over 5. For a starting point guard in the NBA, this is an unacceptable number, especially with guys like Anthony and J.R. Smith on the team. Both of those guys are great scorers and even an average point guard should rack up numbers getting the ball into those hands. It might be drying up quick for Felton.

The key to Shumpert helping to turn things around is on the defensive end. He showed in years past that he can be an elite outside defender but the eye test is failing him this year. While Felton’s key is based on statistics, Shumpert’s can be seen by any pair of eyes watching a Knicks game. He is allowing players that he is guarding to shoot over 50% from the field and has been beaten badly game after game. He has the ability to be a better defender if he can get out of his own head. His offensive game has suffered this year as well but in order for the Knicks to turn things around, Shumpert needs to return to being an elite perimeter defender.

Finally, there is Bargnani. The new man on the court for the Knicks, we’ve seen a roller coaster of a season so far. There are games when you think he’s finally in the groove, hitting outside shots and even driving to the basket. The key stat for Bargnani is minutes. He’s currently playing just over 30 minutes per game and is shooting at a high percentage from both inside and outside in that time. Excelling on the pick and pop, the team tends to use this in streaks, completely abandoning it when Felton and Pablo Prigioni are out of the lineup. Per 36 minutes, he’s averaging 2 more points than per game. Essentially, he needs more minutes and more touches.

There is one other player that could be a key to turning things around. First year guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has looked impressive over his first 27 games and has broken the top 25 in a key stat. Currently, THJ ranks 22nd in the league in points per touch. When he touches the ball, only a few players score more effectively than he does. As I said last week, it’s time for his minutes to increase.

59 comments
rico
rico

Disagree with the premise of this posting"


Those players are Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani.



Felton has multiple injuries. I don't believe he will heal and be better than ever soon, at least not this season. So how is he supposed to "raise his game"?


Shumpert- sure he's sulking but he's still playing good D. As for his ceiling we just may be seeing it.  A little confidence would go along way with Shumpert but that's all we can hope for.  I see him being traded for a 1st round pick and change.


Bargnani- on paper Bargs is having his best season in years so what else do you expect? I think what we have learned is that he has massive talent but a 50 cent head. Not a smart player, low motor, he is what he is. 



Mr.Boots
Mr.Boots

This is one of those posts that makes me wonder if Harris really understands basketball or whether he is just regurgitating chunks of other articles to the point where many posts here are sounding more and more like Bleacher Report.


One day there is a post, to paraphrase, regarding Melo's assist numbers and how they are mis-leading because he passes the ball, but his team-mates can't make a shot. Now there is a post saying that Felton, a good journeyman PG who would be better coming off the bench behind a quality PG, is terrible because of his assist numbers even though he is a) passing to the same guys who can't make a shot when Melo passes to them, and b) he is passing the ball to Melo and JR who, many games, are shooting closer to 30% than to 50%. Felton's assist numbers are also depressed, as another posted noted, because when he passes to Melo or JR, they often hold the ball dribble for 8-10 seconds and hoist up a shot. Even when they make it, the dribbling and jab-stepping negate the credit of an assist to the player who got the ball to them as opposed to passing the ball to STAT who's specialty is step and finish or to Chandler on an alley-oop.


Bargnani, as has been noted, is  best at mid-range C and S, P and P, etc. He has a low post game that was difficult for him to incorporate because the offense always has to leave the low post open on Melo's side so he can drive should he choose to. There is more congestion down low since Chandler's return. If you notice, Bargs minutes and his effectiveness have dwindled coinciding with Chandler's return. He is a pretty good passer, but his assist total is affected by who he is passing to just as Felton's is affected, and like Felton he doesn't get a pass from Harris the way that Melo does. Rebounding-wise, he never has been great and anybody expecting him to be different here is on the pipe. It doesn't help that he is on the arc much of the time on both offense and defense. The only sight more ridiculous than seeing him out defending on the arc is seeing both him and Chandler out defending on the arc at the same time while Felton and Shump are defending Bigs down low. He could do a David Lee, I suppose, and bolster his rebounding numbers by grabbing easy 'bounds out of his team-mates hands, but we all mocked that back then.


Shump is now damaged goods due to the coaching staff's handling of him and his role. I suppose that the only that keeps him from being suicidal is that he isn't a Euro-player given the way Woodster is trashing them and throwing them under the bus at first opportunity.  Rant over.

dreamnyc
dreamnyc

The Knicks need to Trade Melo, Chandler, Shump basically everyone accept Hardaway JR.  Need to get out of these contracts and start receiving young athletic pieces and an abundance of draft picks. This is the only way we can start over quickly. It is obvious this team will never never never win a championship. I just hope that management realizes this. But they probably don't. We are talking about the knicks.

CL4nyk
CL4nyk

There is a deep-seeded issue with losing culture here and Woody is exacerbating it. Knicks have talent, even with injuries. The turn around starts with a new coach and the institution of a defensive mindset. 


Knicks are tied for 24th in defensive efficiency while Mike D'antoni's Lakers are ranked at ranked 18th in defensive efficiency despite their top two lineups being Blake/Meeks/Johnson/Hill/Gasol and Farmar/Meeks/Henry/Johnson/Hill. 

Let that sink in. 

Mike "No D" D'antoni is getting better defensive results than Woodson playing Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill at center, whilst having the THIRD toughest schedule in the NBA thus far this season (compared to the Knicks which have the 19th toughest).

That is simply unacceptable.


I don't care who's on the floor, Bargs and Amar'e or Kmart and Tyson, the focus is DEFENSE. This team needs an identity and that's what it should be based on.

therealprof
therealprof

I know that in a fast-paced game like basketball there isn't always time for play calling, but why does it seem like the Knicks run a play on only about 20% of their possessions? Additionally, what is practice for if it cant reinforce fundamental things like fast break spacing, cutting to the hoop out of iso sets and fighting over picks? I see coaching mistakes everywhere, but I dont see anyone worth hiring that would take a job in the middle of the season. I think Dolan is going to make Woody finish the season out with a 7 or 8 seed and first round exit before he cans him and tries to hire a ill-fitting big name looking for a big paycheck. 

knick4life
knick4life

When you look at this team, the way it is constructed and playing, I'm not sure what else they can do with the current roster and head coach.  They need a dramatically different offensive philosophy which I am not confident Woodson is capable of implementing.  In addition to iso-Melo and mini Melo (Jr Smith), they need more of a motion offense that will get guys like Bargs, Shump and Felton in more of a rhythm offensively early.  That would also get Melo better shots and in better position closer to the basket. 


Much better PG play would help as well.   


Defensively the team is horribly constructed.  Any team with STAT and Bargs on it will fail on the defensive end.  I don't know what Grunwald was thinking there.

Dave Kaye
Dave Kaye

Felton isn't having a great season. Though to his defense he's played injured a lot and its not easy to get assists when everyone not named Carmelo bricks. JR instead of JR Swish is JR brick.

tommy2b
tommy2b

"[Bargnani] is shooting at a high percentage from both inside and outside... Essentially, he needs more minutes and more touches."


Everything written here is a flat-out lie.

Seth Nadler
Seth Nadler

Best argument I've seen for why Woody needs to go now is they need a coach that will be evaluating players based on the future not now so the Knicks organization sees which pieces to keep for the future.

Ryan Flanagan
Ryan Flanagan

Here's the reality: The Knicks aren't very good. We can analyze this team up and down, side to side but you'll return to the same conclusion.....this team just isn't very good. We have a superstar, a defensive MVP caliber center with no offensive game and a cast of players who don't mesh together and play individual ball. I'm so disgusted watching this team I can't take it anymore. There's no sense in analyzing how bad everything is because everything is just so bad. Outside of Melo, Shumpert, Hardaway Jr and Chandler, every player on this team is a disaster. This team can't hold the Pacer's jock strap...hell it couldn't play with Toronto right now. We all might as well pull a JR Smith and smoke 4 foot bongs until we can't remember this season.

fasheezee
fasheezee

Felton has a food/workout issue. Shump has a head issue. Bargs is trying hard and will get better. All WILL be helped with a real coach who pays attention to his team as individuals and who pay attention to details.

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

Could not disagree more. 

Coaching covers pretty much every area of a player's game and is the anchor behind team play. The downward spiral this team's gone through is because many different factors: 

- Players are being misused

- Players that need guidance and mentoring aren't receiving it

- Players are being ran to the ground early into the season

- Playing through injury (Felton, JR)

- Aren't motivated properly

- Don't have clear cut schemes to execute

- Players being thrown under the bus


As far as individual play goes:

- For example, for AB there's only one clear play, the P&P. This has worked because the dude's got a nice midrange game. Instead, Woodson's placing AB behind the arc and and forcing some isolation sets. None of which are his strengths.

- Felton has played through injury all season long, even preseason. He's all heart and even though he clearly hasn't played well, those who know the game know that when he's even on his B game, this team is infinitely better.

- Woodson has killed Shumpert. Suffling him in and out of the lineup early in the season. Toying around with his role from preseason on. It appears that Woodson likes to get on Shump's case more than anyone else in the team.... Weird. We also have to admit that Shump isn't very mature either, and he hasn't handled things like a true pro, imo. That said, Woodson has left him with no confidence, pulling a Toney Douglasesque type of breakdown.


Imo, a new hand can being changes beyond imagination.


Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

@Mr.Boots 

Great stuff. There is a strong correlation between AFG% and scoring in the NBA. The top three teams in assisted field goals are Miami, Houston and San Antonio., all over 53%. Our AFG% is 48%. That takes into account the supposed missed shots, because it only counts made field goa;s/assists.

yoyo66
yoyo66

@dreamnyc 

Ok. How many All Stars have the Knicks been able to draft in the past 25 years? 


One. David Lee.  As a replacement for an injured All Star.


That is it. 


Why do so many people think this team should blow it up and start over with draft picks when history is clear the Knicks brass has a poor nose for raw NBA level talent?


How many Michael Sweetneys and Mardy Collinses and Channing Fryes and Landry Fields do we have to burn through in order to find that one game changing player?


Forget it.  No problem with having Melo here, having Chandler here, even having STAT here. The alternative is getting more scrub players in the draft? Rather  lose with these guys than have my hopes on another pipe dream washout.

bockers
bockers

@therealprof You need to rebound well in order to fast break..Losing J.Kidd took away the coach on the floor.Losing Kidd,Copeland and Novak(our 3 best 3pt shooters) should ring a bell that we can NOT rely on shooting treys.I am not certain but we must have the least free throws made in the NBA.I do agree that Woodson does not or can not run set plays on offense.

Mel Brown
Mel Brown

@knick4lifeI agree with most of your post.  However, getting Melo closer to the basket is not an issue....Melo and Stat are the only two players that post-up on offense.  Melo is a multi-faceted scorer.   As you stated, they definitely need an offensive philosophy that allows for more motion and one that is focused on attacking the rim. 

I don't think the team (defensively speaking) is horribly constructed.  Many teams like the Mavericks that won the chip had defensive weak links....(Dirk).  The problem is the philosophy in regards to switching and pick and roll defense is what is killing us. 

bockers
bockers

@knick4life LMAO.Tell that to Biggie Little.I have been preaching for almost 4 years that Walsh  an GG did NOT construct this team correctly.We gave up a #1 pick for AB.

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

@Knicks_Fanatic Not a fair Comparison Fanatic, you know he plays out on the perimeter and not in the paint.  PF/C who play in the pain naturally will have a higher fg%.

Jaime
Jaime

@Knicks_FanaticNot that I don't agree with the notion that Bargs isn't that great (he's ok).  I just don't agree with comparing him (or other outside shooting guys) with regular PF-C players.  "traditional" centers and PF play up close.  They're SUPPOSED to shoot 55% or 60%.  


I don't expect the old Amare (the one from 2005 to 2011) and Bargs to put numbers like those.  Why?  Cause they're outside shooting Centers/PF.  Now Amare this year and last year?  Ok.  He's brung his game inside, so yeah, I expect a 55% FG%.  But not back then. and not for any big man that's just an outside shooter.  Eg. Dirk Nowitzki.

Jaime
Jaime

@Dave Kaye Its not really about bricking though.  The offense is on a "give the ball to someone and then they'll shoot after a while".  That doesn't generate assists, even if you're the last person to touch the ball.

yoyo66
yoyo66

@Ryan Flanagan Nonsense. The talent on this team is better overall than what they won the division with last season. They have no leadership since they got rid of the aging but respected old dogs; Melo just ain't a smart leader, and being a defensive leader is never a real leadership role on a bad defensive team, as Chandler is experiencing this year.

therealprof
therealprof

@VerySilentJay Well said Jay. Woody lets JR shoot 18 or so long 2s for a 8/22 line and talks about Beno trying to guard Westbrook? Nobody in the league can stay in front of Westbrook, let alone Beno Freakin' Udrih. Hubie Brown was pleading for the Knicks to take it to the rack because OKC was asleep on dribble penetration and the reason why is because they are WELL COACHED! Brooks knew that the Knicks were going to hoist 20+ 3s and a bunch of long 2s so they were playing D accordingly. The coaching is the real problem here, not Ray, Shump and Bargs. 

donche
donche

@yoyo66 @dreamnyc 


There was no stud waiting in the rafters behind Sweetney...there were duds all over that draft. Frye was taken over Bynum I believe...but looking back was it really that off? There were prolly other good players after Frye but Bynum is the only one that comes to mind.


The knicks need a top 3 pick or a top 5...and draft well for us to really make the leap.


This is why you don't TRADE for players you know you can get in Free Agency even if it takes a little bit of patience. Its the greater good. Because if we had Melo AND a top 5 pick this year...we'd be just fine

dreamnyc
dreamnyc

@yoyo66@dreamnyc You can also stock pile on draft picks that you currently don't have to use in trade scenarios. Lets face it Melo is not that guy that makes a team get better and better, in fact Melo needs to take a boat load of shots to get his avg. points per game. He is not efficient enough which makes other guys stand around and watch. I know Melo is considered a scoring machine  but I believe that is all he is going to ever be with this team. That's my gut feeling.

Blaze NYK
Blaze NYK

@yoyo66@dreamnyc Landry Fields was a late second round pick.  For where he was picked, he's had an excellent NBA career so far.  Most late second round picks don't even make the squad.


David Lee, Gallo, Nate, Shump, Hardaway...all solid draft picks.  Sure, we messed up on Jordan Hill and have yet to draft a superstar, but we also haven't had a top 5 pick really since Ewing.  And not every year the draft has stars in it.  The point is that a good first round pick is worth a lot because their contracts are so cheap, so GMs are willing to trade for them cause of their potential.  Finish that rookie contract and start getting paid 5 or 6 million a year and now you're harder to trade  So giving away first round picks is stupid.  Cause even if those picks don't turn into Lebron or Rondo, they are still valuable (usually) when they are on those rookie contracts. 

Marvel
Marvel

@VerySilentJay

 Woodson is a bad coach and jr is an idiot..both are true



JR needs a better coach to hold him accountable...but he's still an idiot.


Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

@MeloStat301 

He is just about the worst stretch big man from a shooting percentage standpoint, that takes a high number of threes. Spencer Hawes is a cleaning his clock. Bargnani is getting 10+ million a season and we gave up a number 1 for his 44-29.

Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

@Jaime@MeloStat301

Spencer Hawes 49-43

Channing Fyre 46-42

Kevin Love 46-39

Dirk Nowitzki 50-40

Ryan Anderson 43-43

Pau Gasol 45-40

Jared Sullinger 47-31

Josh McRobert 42-34

Paul Millsap 49-46

Marcus Morris 47-45

Andrew Nicholson 48-35

Mike Scott 45-31

Andrea Bargnani 44-29


All these guys are stretch PF-C and better shooters than Bargnani.

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@therealprof @VerySilentJay More than asleep on dribble penetration, they knew they would go Al Harrington on the basket so there was no need for paint protection.

Woodson's playbook must be as long as the Old Testament.

MOSTHATED1
MOSTHATED1

@dreamnyc @yoyo66 that is true melo isnt bringing a champioship to new york ..just admit it only way he can is if he gets a team full of stars like miami..but with his contract being 130 mil how can they do that

yoyo66
yoyo66

@Blaze NYK

Point is, while nice players, none of them are stars (Lee is a borderline pretty good player). 


The league is driven by stars. 


Championships are won by stars. 


Answer this: would a Knick team of Gallo, Lee, Shump, Hardaway and Nate be competing for a chip? Come on. If you have a star already in Melo, why in God's name would you roll the dice when your draft track record is as bad as the Knicks?


Your point about a Top 5 pick is not illuminating...you can get real good impactful players much further down if you got the nose and the ability to bring them along.


Gallo: would take Brook Lopez and Roy Hibbert over him any day


Shump: Faried is much better overall


Nate: draft day trade and would have rather kept Kurt Thomas for all the trouble he caused


Hill: Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Jrue Holiday, Danny Green, Patrick Beverly all would have been better fits


Hardaway: jury is out



Knicks_Fanatic
Knicks_Fanatic

@MeloStat301@Knicks_Fanatic 

So if you don't compare Bargnani to other stretch bigs, who do you compare him with?

MeloStat301
MeloStat301

@Knicks_Fanatic Half the guys on that list can play inside and do, like gasol and milsap ect.  They can stretch the floor, but do a lot more work in the paint than bargs does, it is what it is.

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@DolanitisDr @VerySilentJay @Juan Maldonado Either way, he's not in NY, so he's of no concern of ours.

Overpaid and injury prone if you ask me.

Ramon Sessions is better than any of the PG's on this team, I don't see him being mentioned. 80% of the league's PG's are better than what we have.

VerySilentJay
VerySilentJay

@bockers @therealprof @VerySilentJay No discernable system, no proper leadership, no mentoring = collective IQ decreases.

The Mavs ring winning team didn't quite have Einsteins for players, but they had one of the best and smartest PG's in history, one of the best defensive C's in the league, and a HOF coach.

You give our squad to Carlisle and he'll make it work.


therealprof
therealprof

@bockers @therealprof @VerySilentJay BB IQ is teachable, IMO. I dont think Ray has a low BB IQ, I just think he does not have a firm grasp on his limitations as a player and thinks "heart" makes up for his deficiencies. Shump can have a good BB IQ if he had the veteran guidance and coaching. I dont know about Bargs though, that 3 the other day was likely the dumbest thing I ever saw.