Tag Archives: 1994

Random Knicks Musings

 

This afternoon I found myself on a mini MSG binge watching some Knicks games of past years. Starting with Game 7 of 1994 Eastern Conference Finals and then briefly watching the countdown of 2011-12’s best dunks, I came up with a series of random musing about the Knicks and NBA in general, found below:

 

  • It is astounding to me how different the game was in 1994 and really up until the 2005 rule changes.  The days of illegal defense and perimeter hand-checking (although I believe that rule was changed prior to 2005), it was like watching a different sport. Aesthetically, it was brutal. Yes, there is beauty and appreciation in the post up games of Ewing and Smits, but the more open style of essentially the last decade is in my opinion preferable.
  • With that in mind, I wonder how some of today’s players would have fared during the hand checking illegal defense era. Perhaps some wouldn’t be in the league, or some even all stars, it’s really fascinating to think about.
  • Another thing I noticed was the schematic differences in plays. One set I noticed featured a Ewing post up on the left block, and BOTH Oakley and Charles Smith were hanging around on the right block, providing limited space for The Big Fella to operate vs. Smits in the post.  I wondered why this was.  Perhaps because of the limited range of Oakley or perhaps because Riles valued his two forwards crashing the offensive boards instead of spacing.  However, think about how much that contradicts to today’s game. When a team features a player in a post up, most of the time we see players on the opposite side of the court stretched all the way out to the 3 point line (think Knicks with Melo posting or how Stan Van Gundy operated with Howard & the Magic). Is this because of the changes in basketball analytics and how much more valuable the 3 point shot is considered nearly 20 years later? Or is it because of the new rules regarding illegal defense? The answer is probably some amalgam of all of these things.
  • Unless I’m too young (only 26) to remember this, but did Pat Riley ever an endorsement deal with a hair gel company? Riles and Vitalis were made for one another as he sported that semi-greasy flow.
  • As for the 2011-2012 Knicks, I was amazed how many members of last year’s team are now out of the NBA. Not including the injured Baron Davis, six members of last year’s team are currently out of the league: Renaldo Balkman, Mike Bibby, Dan Gadzuric, Josh Harrelson, Jerome Jordan and Bill Walker. Obviously, last year’s Knicks weren’t the only team where this happened (last year’s Nets had quite a few guys who are not currently employed by NBA teams).  However, given the lofty expectations that fans and the media had for last year’s team after the Chandler signing, it’s actually remarkable that they were so high. In fact, given the number of non-NBA players that were even on the roster, perhaps going 36-30 overall last season shouldn’t be deemed the disappointment that it was considered by most, including myself.

The Rangers Powerless Play

At 7-5-1, the 2013 New York Rangers are a slight disappointment 25% into this lockout shortened NHL season. Coming off an impressive overachieving season where the Rangers finished first in the east and reached the conference finals, expectations were raised over the summer when the Rick Nash trade was consummated. Nash, plus a full year of Chris Kreider, led the blueshirt faithful to believe that this would be the year where Guitar Jimmy Dolan would be able to celebrate like the previous owners did in 1994.

However, early indications would suggest those beliefs were more based in optimism than reality. If the playoffs began this weekend, the Rangers would be the 8th seed. While the Kings took last year’s cup as an 8th seed, one of their strength’s is the Rangers glaring weakness, the power play.

So far this year, the Rangers power play is ranked 28th in the league, at 10.4% (they’ve scored 5 power-play goals on 48 opportunities). The league average to date this season is nearly 19%, meaning the Rangers have taken 4 goals off of the board by having a substandard power-play that is 45% worse than the league average.

Looking back at the past five teams to hoist the cup, the average power play rate was 17.75% when the league average the past five years was 18.05%, so the past five champions had a power-play that was on average only 2% worse than league average.

Additionally, the 2012 Rangers produced a power-play percentage of 15.71% when the league average was 17.31%. While still 9% worse than league average, it’s a rate significantly better than what the Rangers are serving up so far in 2013.

Being a very limited and fringe hockey fan, I can’t make any reasonable suggestions for fixing this glaring weakness. However, from when I’ve watched the blueshirts, it appears they don’t shoot enough when on the power-play. Unfortunately, and to my complete shock, no website tracks team shot attempts while on the power-play (but all track shots attempted overall). 

Regardless, whether it’s better puck movement, scheming or more opportunities, for the Rangers to move up in the standings and once again be a legitimate cup contender, the power-play cannot continue to be powerless.