Taylor’s All-NBA Teams

 

Tyson

All-NBA Team discussions are always fun this time of year so I thought I’d chip in and put mine up here with a little bit of justification for each. Let me know if you agree/disagree with my selections.

First Team

G – Chris Paul

G – Russell Westbrook

F – LeBron James

F – Kevin Durant

C – Marc Gasol

The two spots for debate here are Westbrook’s guard spot and the center spot. Continue reading

The 411 on James Singleton

Singleton

In an effort to add players who aren’t broken and can actually play, the Knicks will sign forward James Singleton (no, not the guy we passed up for Shumpert in the draft) and release the injured Kurt Thomas. The only thing I knew about Singleton prior to writing this post is that his name was James Singleton. I’d heard of him a few times, but couldn’t recall having seen him play. I read around the inter-webs for information and here’s what I came up with:

Singleton stands 6’8 230 pounds and is a forward. He seems positionally versatile due to his size, so I could see him playing multiple positions with the Knicks. Because the Knicks have zero healthy big men, he’ll play power-forward primarily and probably some center too. Basketball-reference had him listed as a power-forward for the Wizards last year. In 12 games with Washington last season, Singleton played well. His TS% was .60 and he recorded a PER of 19.6. Small sample size definitely applies, but I like this guy. I took to Synergy to watch some film on him and I like what I saw.  Continue reading

The Knicks Offense Continues to Lead the Way

Melo

All season, despite the media narrative of the Knicks being a defense oriented team, New York’s elite offense has been the catalyst for it’s success. The Knicks score 108.2 points per 100 possessions, a mark that ranks third in the NBA behind only Miami and Oklahoma City. However, the defense has been woefully average all season. New York gives up 103.1 points per 100 possessions, good for 16th in the league behind Minnesota, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Golden State.

On Wednesday night’s Knicks-Hawks ESPN broadcast, the insufferable Jon Barry said something that spurred me to go look at the stats. He incorrectly spoke about how the Knicks defense has been the difference during the winning streak. Having watched the games, I didn’t think the Knicks were that much better defensively. They’ve had a few great performances (Utah, Boston) and a few not so great performances (Memphis, Charlotte). As I figured, and par the usual, Barry was completely wrong. Continue reading

Feel Good About a Potential Knicks-Celtics Playoff Series

KenyonMartin

Having beaten down the Boston Celtics twice in the last week, including a 108-89 laugher last night, New York’s playoff prospects look quite good in the event that the two teams meet in the first round. Without notorious Knick killer Rajon Rondo in the fold, Boston doesn’t look to be a team that matches up well with the Knicks. Granted, Boston lost to New York without the invaluable Kevin Garnett, but the Knicks have been playing without the equally as invaluable Tyson Chandler. Without Rondo, Chandler and Garnett in the fold, the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony is both the best player on either team and a matchup nightmare for the Celtics. Without Boston having any rim protectors and Green being an average defender, Anthony was able to muck things up for Boston’s defense in the past two games. His jump shot wasn’t hot, but he was able to get to the rim, grabbing offensive boards and causing havoc in the paint. Continue reading

Analyzing Kenyon Martin’s Recent Production

Kenyon Martin

Look, I know that Kenyon Martin has only played 13 games with the Knicks, but recently, he has been a valuable piece to the Knicks bench. It wasn’t fair to adjudge the way K-Mart played during his first 10 day tenure because he got little to no playing time. He only played one game during his first 10 day deal, and was on the floor for just under 5 minutes, the game being Stephen Curry’s 54 point explosion at MSG.  The second 10 day deal was pretty much the same, except, he actually got playing time, but again, in only one game. K-Mart made his legitimate Knicks debut against the Thunder and pulled a Bill Walker by fouling out in 17 minutes of run, four of those fouls being in a very short span. But at the same time, if it wasn’t for him defending Kevin Durant, defending as in bear hugging him or smacking the crap out of him, the Knicks wouldn’t have been in that game. Then, K-Mart was signed for the remainder of the season, and as of now, it has turned out to be a great move. Continue reading

Will the Knicks Win 50 Games?

Knicks celebrating

Instead of recapping last night’s blowout win over Toronto, I thought I’d take a look at the 14 remaining games on New York’s schedule. The Knicks currently sit at 42-26, and while catching Miami is out of the question, winning 50 games this season is not. However, the road to 50 is a difficult one. Here is the Knicks remaining schedule:

Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 11.50.46 PM

Only four remaining games will be played against sub .500 teams, Charlotte twice, Cleveland, and Washington. And two of those four games are on the road. Assuming the Knicks win all four of those games, they’d only have to win four of the other ten to get to 50 wins. Although the Knicks have been good against bad teams this year, it’s far from a sure thing that they’ll win all four. For the sake of discussion here, let’s say the Knicks win three out of the four. Continue reading

Amar’e Stoudemire Injured Once Again. Where do the Knicks go From Here?

STATsad

Prior to yesterday’s 113-84 blowout victory over Utah, the Knicks announced that oft-injured forward Amar’e Stoudemire will be sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks with right knee problems. Before the season started, Stoudemire underwent a left knee debridement, dead tissue that needs to be removed, which caused him to miss the first two months of the season. Now, the same issue has arisen in his right knee and again he must be operated on.

Having overcome a plethora of injuries throughout his 11 year career, this is nothing new for Stoudemire. He’s worked hard during his tenure with the Knicks to overcome this kind of adversity and he will work hard again to get back in time to help contribute to the team’s playoff cause. Nonetheless, this injury is truly a tragic one for Stoudemire. The Knicks starting the year 18-5 with Carmelo Anthony at power forward made it near impossible for Stoudemire to return in January as a starter. The consumate team player, Stoudemire accepted his role as a 23 minute a game role player off the bench. A move of this ilk is not an easy one for an NBA superstar, of which Stoudemire certainly has been throughout his career. Look no further than the Pau Gasol situation with the Lakers this season as an example of how superstars usually react to a bench demotion. Not only did Stoudemire handle this move to the bench with professionalism and class, but he was having a bounce-back season. Behind a more refined offensive game, thanks to some summer tutelage from Hakeem Olajuwon, Stoudemire was scoring as efficiently as ever. Continue reading

The Three is the Key for the Knicks to Beat Miami

3

Though their first 55 games played, the Knicks have attempted more threes per game than any team in basketball. They’re quite good at it as well, checking in with the league’s 5th best three point percentage at 37.1% per the NBA.com stats database. While old traditionalists of the game shoot down the offensive philosophy of hoisting up three after three after three as a gimmick, the Knicks have embraced it and have been successful doing so, running the league’s third most efficient offense.

Coming into this season, and the last two before that, the goal has been simple for the Knicks: Beat the Heat. Since Miami’s ‘Big Three’ came together in the summer of 2010, the Heat have had a target on their back. The entire Eastern Conference has been unsuccessful in hitting that target, as Miami has made it to the finals in both years that the James/Wade/Bosh trio has been together. Only the 2010 Dallas Mavericks have been successful in defeating Miami in a playoff series. New York had an opportunity last season, but were beaten soundly in five games.

The construct of this Knick team parallels much of that 2010 Dallas squad. They’ve got Tyson Chandler anchoring the middle of the defense, an unstoppable offensive force at power forward and they shoot a ton of threes. Currently the Knicks look far from a championship caliber team, having gone 17-15 after starting 18-5, but there are similarities between them and that Dallas team.

In the first two Knicks-Heat match-ups, New York was able to defeat Miami behind incredibly hot three point shooting. They hit 52% (19-36) of their threes in the first matchup and and 40.9% (18-44) in the second. Shooting a ton of threes, and more importantly making a ton of threes seems to be the forumla behind offensive success against the Heat. Granted, this could be said about playing offense against any defense on any given night. However, Miami isn’t just any other defense. When locked in, the Heat are one of the most disruptive defenses in the league. Having ridiculous speed and athleticism along the perimeter allows Miami to attack opposing ball handlers. In the pick and roll, the Heat love to put a hard trap on the ball handler, trusting that their rotations will do what they need to do on the back end. By simple arithmetic, trapping the ball handler with two defenders means that an offensive perimeter player is going to be unguarded. Miami’s perimeter defenders are incredibly athletic and they rotate to the open offensive players much faster than most, if not all other defenses in basketball. The offense must be decisive and quick in swinging the ball along the perimeter, much like the Knicks were in games one and two earlier this year.

Take this play for example:

Miami traps the Knicks not once, but twice. They trap Felton in the pick and roll before then trapping Chandler. Chandler does a good job of kicking the ball back out to Felton who then swings it to Kidd. Here is where we see where the Knicks can hurt Miami. Because the ball was decisively and quickly kicked back out from Chandler and swung around the perimeter, Miami cannot completely recover on defense.

Rotation

LeBron is put in a position to have to make a decision. Either he closes out hard on Kidd, forcing him to continue swinging the ball, or runs to Brewer giving Kidd the shot. LeBron hesitates, not really doing either, allowing Kidd to take and hit the three.

Here’s another play where the Knicks beat a trap by hitting a three. Using Carmelo Anthony as a roll man (!), the Knicks are able to free up Steve Novak in the corner. When Felton gets trapped, Anthony rolls towards the hoop. This brings Novak’s defender, Dwyane Wade, down to pick up Anthony. Felton gets enough space to swing the ball to Novak in the corner and he hits the three.

About halfway through the second game, Miami started switching on their pick and roll defense.

As a result of all the switching, Felton had a career game. I would be highly surprised to see the Heat employ this strategy today.

A lot has changed since the Knicks beat Miami 112-92 on December 12th. The Knicks have cooled off drastically while Miami has won 13 games in a row. What hasn’t changed is that New York’s ticket to victory against the Heat is to shoot, and make, the three ball. Hard trapping and rabid attacking defense by the Heat opens up opportunities on the perimeter for the offense to hit threes. Over the last 10 games, the Knicks have actually been quite cold shooting the ball, hitting just 31% of their 3 point attempts. Today, and in any future meetings, they’ll have to re-find that early season shooting form if they want to beat the Heat.

Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino

JR Smith: Starter?

Pablo Prigioni has back spams and may potentially miss tonight’s game against the Warriors. Were that to be the case, Mike Woodson said he would move Jason Kidd to the bench, allowing him to be used as the backup point guard. This leaves a void in the starting lineup alongside Felton, Shumpert, Anthony and Chandler. Woodson has to make the decision whether he’s going to fill that open spot with JR Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire or somebody else. My advice: go with Smith. Continue reading

The Knicks Ship Off Ronnie Brewer, Bring in Kenyon Martin

Brewer

Leading up to the 3 pm trade deadline on Thursday, all the Knicks trade deadline talk was about whether or not Iman Shumpert would be sent elsewhere. He wasn’t. The Knicks decided to hold onto Shumpert, but did however make a trade. Forgotten small forward Ronnie Brewer was sent off to Oklahoma City for a 2014 second round draft selection. With Brewer’s sending off vacating a roster spot, the Knicks have signed Kenyon Martin to a 10 day contract according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

Let’s start with Brewer. I thought Brewer would be one of the steals of the free agent class, mostly due to his reputation as an elite perimeter defender. I thought he’d be okay offensively, assuming the Knicks would have a slow isolation-heavy offense. Continue reading