Rather than having me, who has seen 0% of the Knicks games this season, talking about that team, Larry from the Father Knickerbocker blog and I have swapped previews. What follows is his look at the game, my synopsis of the Lakers this season is up at his site (all of which will be pretty familiar stuff to those who are regulars here).
Wednesday’s game vs. the Lakers is seen as a showdown. But that’s only because of the two men in suits that will be standing in front of their respective benches barking out instructions. The game is more like Larry Brown vs. Phil Jackson instead of Lakers-Knicks.
When these two massive egos were last seen on the same court, Brown’s play-the-right way underdog Pistons were polishing off a five-game upset over Jackson’s three-ring circus superstar Lakers.
Now each is in charge of a rebuilding project in a major market and since the Knicks don’t have a player on Kobe Bryant’s superstar level, it appears Brown has the bigger challenge.
As for current issues with Brown, let’s start with defense. He’s a big proponent of that and statisically it’s paying off. The Knicks have allowed 100 points once and after allowing 62 points in Utah, they are in the top five in the NBA in scoring defense.
Brown’s best player is Stephon Marbury. In his second full season with the Knicks, Marbury isn’t scoring at the usual clip mainly because he seems to be buying into Brown’s system of being more unselfish and ball movement. He also seems to making more hustle plays on defense as he tries to debunk the theory that he and Brown can’t and won’t co-exist.
The other starting guard likely will be Quentin Richardson. Limited by a hamstring injury during the preseason, Richardson has put together two straight decent games as he has made 7-of-11 shots in the last two games.
The starting frontcourt features a bit of experience at one spot and some inexperience
at the other.
The experienced starting forward is Antonio Davis, who is the only Knick to enjoy the Brown experience in the NBA. Davis, who played with Brown in Indiana, is considered among the Knicks better defensive players and is their second-leading rebounder.
The other starting forward might be Matt Barnes. Barnes has made five starts although you might not see him for more than 20 minutes or even for less than 15 minutes. He’s a UCLA guy but not much of a threat on offense.
The center is Eddy Curry. In some spaces, Curry was considered the Knicks best guy in the middle since Patrick Ewing. Considering the names that have been used there, it’s not an unreasonable label but not just yet. He’s only 22 so there’s plenty of upside and the rebounding numbers seem to be improving in recent games. However, he’s too foul-prone due to his big body committing so many offensive fouls and his foul-shooting (64 percent) needs work.
The sixth man is former starter Jamal Crawford. It was a suprise on opening night when he was a reserve. And when he struggled out of the gate some people thought he might be the first guy to go. He scored 19 and 15 points respectively in two starts last week. But he also turned in solid numbers in his last two games off the bench. While 67 of his shots are jumpers, he does seem to be looking for more high-percentage looks.
There’s no such thing as a seventh or eighth man in the NBA. So we’ll talk about Trevor Ariza next. Ariza was considered the steal of the 2004 draft and has been solid in his second season. He always seems to be part of a five-man unit that’s making things happen on both ends and that’s evident by his +17 rating. Ariza has played both shooting guard and small forward and the Los Angeles native has been solid most nights so far.
Malik Rose is next and has a lot of experience against Jackson’s Lakers from his days with the Spurs. He’s down to 14 minutes a game but is a good veteran to have for this young team.
The Knicks had three draft picks and chances are all of them could work out.
The first pick was Channing Frye. Frye didn’t play in the season opener but has been decent most nights since, including Sunday in Sacramento, where he scored 19 points. He’s 6-10 and could play center but also has a nice touch from 10-15 feet.
The next pick was Nate Robinson. He’s being used a marketing item for the Knicks since little guys in the NBA are always popular. He plays with a football player’s mentality. In fact he was one with the University of Washington. But there’s some things that aren’t great. He seems to be too out of control at times and seems to disputing foul calls on him at times, something that a rookie should not do.
David Lee was the final pick. In the preseason, he played very well, showing a willingness to make those hustle plays that don’t make the boxscore. Lee has played just 43 minutes in four games but he seems to be the type looking for action in the low post.
Jackie Butler was the 12th guy in the last two games and saw limited action. With Curry getting into shape and Jerome James.. well being Jerome James.. Butler good some good exposure in the preseason and Brown liked what he saw.
The inactives in the last two games have been $30 millon man Jerome James, Maurice Taylor and Penny Hardaway.