Will the Knicks Continue to Protect the Basketball Going Forward?

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Tommy Dee

With the retirement of Jason Kidd and the decision to bring Pablo Prigioni seemingly up in the air Glen Grunwald has some serious decisions to make going forward. One of the biggest positives this year for me was the team’s ability to value possessions to ensure the ball ended up in the hands in the hands of one of the league’s best scorers.

The Carmelo Anthony supporter will look at this as a good thing, while his detractors will point to the structure of the offense as a big reason why they sputtered against Indiana. Let’s be honest, the biggest disappointment was the Knicks fighting for a 2 seed and peaking in April only to see the more playoff experienced Pacers take a 3-1 stranglehold on the Conference semifinals after wrestling Game 1 and home court advantage away from New York.

Were the Knicks favorites in that series? Hard to say, but it isn’t hard to look back to a year ago and gain valuable perspective. I think every fan would have signed last July for 54 wins an Atlantic Division title. They would have signed for a first round beating of Boston and a 3-1 season record against the heat.

They would have signed for JR winning 6th man and Melo finishing second team All-NBA and 3rd in MVP voting.

Here’s where Grunwald’s challenge comes in my mind. Losing Kidd is a big loss from a turnover perspective. Kidd played over 2000 minutes this year, too many in everyone’s mind, yet had only 76 turnovers exactly 1 per game in 27 minutes. That’s incredible coming from a starter at the guard position in this league. Prigioni had 86 turnovers in over 1200 minutes. If I’m Grunwald I’m making sure that if I don’t bring Prigioni back I’m bringing a player in with a similar mindset. That said if I’m Grunwald I’m definitely bringing him back.

We know the team has holes. I’d honestly be very leery about committing major minutes to both JR Smith and Iman Shumpert together. It’s a tough spot because money will be a major factor and they have to make a decision with Smith immediately. If Shumpert is your shooting guard of the future then you have to increase his minutes in order to get more production. Entering his third year you have to see what the kid can do assuming he’s healthy but if you play him and JR together, two players who are fast and athletic will you have the same success protecting the ball and ensuring what was created this year?

Maybe I’m overvaluing turnovers here but keeping teams out of transition is a major key for their bigs. Giving up more easy baskets blurs an already fine line especially in winning the division, a goal that needs to continue to be job one. Rajon Rondo will be back and the Celtics will be back. The Nets are still strong and the post Rudy Gay Raptors could take a step forward making the division that must more competitive.

Decisions like these, as minor as they seem, are why executives get paid the big bucks. The team had success and this year proved a concept.

The devil is in the details.