Fast Break Thoughts: The Knicks and A Kobe Jumper

Phillip Barnett —  September 14, 2010

Amar'e Stoudemire holds up a Knicks jersey after working out a 5 year and nearly 100 million dollar contract to play with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on July 8, 2010.    UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Today we continue to look at season previews from teams around the league and make a stop in New York. We have a few bloggers with some interesting takes on what the Knicks will lock like next season:

From Mike Kurylo, Knickerblogger: New York has been a bad rebounding team for D’Antoni’s tenure, and this is one area Donnie Walsh failed to address in remaking the team. Stoudemire, Gallinari, and Turiaf aren’t good rebounders, and the loss of hyalophile David Lee will hurt the team as well. According to my stat page, the Knicks were 27th on both offensive and defensive rebounding last year. Knick fans who cringe at their team forgoing any second opportunities while allowing tip ins from the opposition will have a furled brow for much of the season. Perhaps Randolph and Mozgov can work their way into heavy minutes and help prevent the bleeding. Last year the Knicks were tied for 3rd worst defense in the NBA, and it has been a recurring issue with the team for the last decade. The Knicks have some good defensive pieces in Azubuike, Randolph, Douglas, and Turiaf. However most of the team (including the coaching staff) leans to the offensive side of the spectrum. If New York isn’t among the 10 worst defenses this year, it should be considered an accomplishment.

From Robert Hall, Bandwagon Knick: After two seasons of scorched earth roster decimation, Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni actually got down to the business of building a team. Sure, a certain prized free agent decided to go elsewhere as part of a SuperFriends package in South Beach, and no small amount of fretting took place among Knick fans as coveted plan B free agent Joe Johnson was signed to an absurd contract by the Atlanta Hawks. But Walsh promised backup plans covering every letter of the alphabet, and he delivered by: 1) signing Amar’e Stoudemire to a max contract, 2) pulling off a small coup by trading David Lee to the Golden State Warriors for Kelenna Azubuike, Ronny Turiaf, and is-he-a-head-case-or-a-crazy-transformational-multi-positional-player Anthony Randolph 3) acquiring PG Ray Felton in a very thin market for guards for a reasonable two year, $15.8m deal, 4) signing young Russian center Timofey Mozgov to a 3 year $9.7m deal, again reasonable given the scarcity of bigs, and 5) drafting and signing second round picks Andy Rautins and Landry Fields, with the latter making enough waves in the Summer League to merit especially high praise from ESPN’s David Thorpe.

From Seth, Posting and Toasting: Depth! I bet I’ve said that each of the last three years, but I mean it this time, y’all. All of the signings have blessed Mike D’Antoni with the manpower to experiment with lineups, adjust to all kinds of match-ups, and weather any injuries. Moreover, D’Antoni has depth of the defensive variety, with a whole quiver of different weapons at his disposal. He’s got two ball-seeking missiles in the backcourt (Raymond Felton and Toney Douglas) , some steady broadswords to deter wings (Kelenna Azubuike, Wilson Chandler, and even Landry Fields), and the option to either bludgeon big men (Ronny Turiaf) or pierce them with venomous laser beams from space (Anthony Randolph). This team also appears well-equipped to run the pick-and-roll. Ray Felton isn’t Steve Nash, but he’s a capable lead guard, and he’ll have an elite roller to feed in Stoudemire. Randolph and Timofey Mozgov should see touches in the pick-and-roll as well.

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Over at Land O’ Lakers, Brian Kamenetzky invited a collection of Lakers experts (Darius included) to discuss who they thought would present the biggest challenge for the Lakers. I’m sure most of us know Darius feels that the Rockets will present that challenge – and as usual, he and Kurt are on the same page:

Helin: If the Lakers are completely healthy, there is nobody in the West that beats them. Portland, Oklahoma City and, if completely healthy, San Antonio can push Los Angeles, but not beat them. One team that should scare Lakers fans a little is a healthy Houston Rockets. If Yao Ming is 100 percent come the playoffs, with a backcourt of the speedy Aaron Brooks and sharpshooter Kevin Martin, plus great role players like Shane Battier and Luis Scola … that’s a really good team. More than any team, they match up well with the Lakers. But you’d need a fully healthy Yao to make it happen.

Another one of the teams that guys were high on was the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their youth, their talent across the board and that one guy leading them — what’s his name? Oh, Kevin Durant, will definitely be a formidable opponent. Henry Abbott argues that Durant’s performance during the Worlds set the stage for Durant’s 2010-2011 MVP campaign:

Back when this tournament started, I suggested it was a chance for Kevin Durant to kick of his NBA MVP campaign, and I got some pretty nasty comments. But let’s be honest: He just went out there and played head-and-shoulders above the rest of the world. He took what everyone assumed was an undermanned Team USA. He did and said everything right, played so beautifully it could make you cry, and brought great pride to his nation while leaving no doubt he was the MVP of the tournament.

 

It’s possible all that will matter not at all to MVP voters at the end of the year. And I can understand why some people insist it should have no effect for an NBA award.

Lastly, the official Lakers website has been counting down the top 10 moments of the Lakers season, and number for was Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, my second favorite game of the post season. 37 points, nine in the final two minutes and that tap on the butt that he gave Alvin Gentry after he knocked down that extremely tough long two pointer with Grant Hill all over him.

Phillip Barnett

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17 responses to Fast Break Thoughts: The Knicks and A Kobe Jumper

  1. As far as the Knicks are concerned, let’s just say I wish them well. I lived in New York briefly when they were coming off their Finals berth in 1994 and there’s nothing quite like the buzz that runs through the Garden during a game/season that actually matters to fans. For myriad reasons, the NBA is in a better place when the Knicks are fielding a competitive team.

    (That said, I’m a Raiders fan so I know first-hand how awful ownership can kill any rebuilding effort, and James Dolan is to the NBA what Al Davis has become to the NFL. So good luck there, NYC.)

    As for the Rockets… “If Yao Ming is 100 percent come the playoffs…” really says all one needs to say. For that alone, I still put OKC as the Lakers’ main threat in the West this season.

    Durant’s already receiving the Jordan-like “If you look at him funny, it’s a foul” treatment, which coupled with his amazing skills really makes it unfair to the defense. Westbrook and Ibaka should also be better after their playoff (and for RW, FIBA) experiences, so that team seems primed to grow a lot this season.

  2. Things like that are why everyone else hates Kobe, and we love him.

    Season’s coming up fast, maybe it’s time to spend a few hours on Youtube watching videos to get in the swing of things.

  3. Where does the line start for people who are whining about not wanting to read any NYK links on this site?

  4. The intellectually-bankrupt hagiography battle for the next MVP has begun. Durant has the smile, the Goodness, the leadership, the great Worlds series.

    So what? The season hasn’t started yet.

    I hate this PeopleMagazine / political campaign approach to the MVP race. But, then, I was irked when Buss brought in the Laker girls. (And all the hoopla, and later the whole Staples Center – feh!)

    Being a basketball-headed purist won’t get me much these days, I know.

  5. Kobe was just insanely ridiculous at the end of that game– so many of his shots were of the ‘no, no, no… YES!!’ variety. I actually think he played a pretty selfish offensive game, other than the fact that he just couldn’t miss….

    Artest’s acquisition, then so many injuries during the regular season including a Bynum heartbreak, then 2 out of 3 playoff series that I would call breathtaking (and the only bad one containing one of the all time best games in history), then coming back from 2-3 against the hated ones to win 2 straight at Staples, including trailing by 13 in the 3rd in game 7, to win for the first time on the home floor since 2000… and with Artest making a critical unlikely three…?!?! There’s a reason that last year turned out to be my favorite season as a fan, even including Showtime.

    I wonder how others here think last season compared to other championship runs (2000 was also great, esp that incredible comeback against Portland, and also the year of the Magic baby-hook in the Garden…)

    Can’t wait for next season to start already!

  6. Something I found interesting on espn.com/nba the interview with Jerry Colangelo he said when asked who would make the 2012 olympic roster it would be a combination of the olympic team and this fiba team and the 2 names he threw out were lamar odom and durant. He said durant would be on the team for sure and lamar odom was a huge asset on this fiba team and possible on this 2012 team.

    Its great lamar is getting some more love and respect but weird to me that colangelo would praise him over iguodala or westbrook or any others on the team

  7. Wow those are some VERY optimistic Knicks fans.. borderline absurd reasoning.. ouch.

  8. #7. I’m high on the Knicks…to the tune of 38-40 wins and a potential 8 seed but that’s as high as I’ll go. They’ve definitely got more talent than they have in years and have put together an intriguing roster with pieces that should fit well with what D’Antoni likes to do on offense. The two key players (for me at least) are Felton and Randolph. If Raymond can play the style of PG that’s needed – good on the P&R while showing enough shooting from range – and Randolph can develop into the Odom-like all court player fans have been hoping he’d be when he got drafted, the Knicks will be loads better than last season. Those are two big if’s, but it’s not impossible as those guys do have talent.

  9. lil’ pau — Interesting question, and one that’s tough to answer because a season that ended just a few months ago hasn’t had time to become romanticized, become enmeshed in a person’s memory as has something that took place a long time ago.

    The 2000 title was fun because it had been so long since the last win. Still, I rank it a little behind 2001 since that was the year the team put everything together and just dominated from April through June.

    The 2000 Game 7 against Portland is still a semi-bad memory for me, even though the Lakers won, because it was just too damn scary to come so close and then nearly blow it. 2001 offered no near heart attacks, so it gets the nod from me for that alone.

    All told, I’d have to rank my favorite wins as 1985 — finally beating Boston, in Boston — and 1988, when the team went Back-to-Back after an all-out grind against Utah, Dallas and then Detroit.

    Last season’s win will likely rank up with ’85 and ’88 over time. Beating Boston is always great, and there were so many memorable plays — Pau’s putback vs. OKC; Kobe’s Gentry shot; Ron’s buzzer beater vs. the Suns; Fish’s three to tie Game 7 vs. Boston; and Artest’s three to ice the title, just to name a few.

    Still, those just haven’t had time to fully sink in yet. Ask again in a few years and I bet people’s rankings are different.

  10. #9

    AND, Sasha’s 2 FTs icing the victory in Game 7. Seriously, those were BIG SHOTS, no punts intended. Imagine if we had Vince Carter taking those shots? Where could we end up?

  11. Ahh.. the Sasha redemption, hah. So many interesting plot lines :)

    2012, with Odom in, how many Lakers will we see in the Olympics?

    Kobe, Pau, Odom… maybe even Bynum and Sasha?

    Fun stuff.

  12. I am not very high on OKC at all.

    Teams are not going to play into their hands next year by settling for long jumpers, assisting the Thunder in creating long rebounds and transition opportunities.

    They simply don’t have the 3pt shooting or half-court weapons to grind games out and win at last year’s clip. Maybe Harden emerges as an efficient scorer. I don’t think that’s a given, and I don’t think that’s enough to make them a credible half-court force.

  13. harold said, “Kobe, Pau, Odom… maybe even Bynum and Sasha?”

    For a moment, I pictured the first three all on one team.

    Research led to “Spain does not recognize dual citizenship with the US and Spanish citizenship is revoked upon the acquisition of foreign citizenship.”

    We know that’s gonna happen.

  14. 8. Don’t get me wrong, the Knicks definitely improved over the summer. But Hall’s analysis is just way too glowing. The Knicks might play .500 ball but they’re still first round fodder for the Heat/Magic/c*lt*cs at best. And the future isn’t terribly bright – no real superstar, no potential superstar, no truly valuable trade assets. I actually really wanted the Knicks to land one of the three superstars this offseason. I would like to see New York basketball resurrected to prominence just so we can have a real rivalry between them and the losers in green.

    12. I didn’t think OKC would do much better this year, until I saw a couple of the World games. Westbrook and Durant are going to destroy NBA defenses. They have a fantastic set of supporting players, and they’re young and improving – ALL of them. Give them a legitimate center (how’s this Cole Aldrich kid anyway?) and they just might challenge for West supremacy within the next two years.

  15. 13, once you play for a national team, you’re that nationality for FIBA play. So even if Kobe became a Spanish citizen, he wouldn’t be able to play for the Spanish national team.

  16. Anyone remember in which game Pau had that beautiful, gliding, one-handed baseline up and under slam!?

    I think it was all the way back in the OKC series. It was pure Dr. J.

  17. i had a big laugh at the “Imagine if we had Vince Carter taking those shots? Where could we end up?” comment… So funny… though so TRUE… c”,)