Tag Archives: Woodson

Woodson’s Division of Playing Time Could Cost Team the Division

                The Knicks managed to win last night in Cleveland, but issues remain within the organization. Despite a sterling regular season record, Mike Woodson’s rotation decisions lead me to believe he will cost us a valuable game or two in the postseason. Woodson has excelled at coaching his players up, creating plays out of timeouts and getting guys to buy into his way of doing things. However, he’s failed to properly monitor the minutes of his players and has made some very perplexing lineup decisions, addressed below.

The chart assumes that Carmelo Anthony will be back sooner than later.  Additionally, while rotations tend to shorten in the playoffs, it’s my opinion that would not be optimal for this Knicks team.  Notes regarding each chart can be found below them.

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The first thing you notice here is that this rotation features 10 players and also incorporates some key lineup adjustments: No James White, less Carmelo Anthony and more minutes for both Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert. Additionally, my suggestions here give Shumpert more time at the nominal shooting guard position than as a small forward, where he’s succeeded more often this year and where he excelled as a rookie as well. This minute breakout also reduces the minutes of Felton and Chandler, since they’ve been logging heavy minutes for a while now.

This breakdown also puts JR Smith at the small forward position more often. Keep in mind that the small forward for the Knicks can sometimes be deemed the third guard, and that is fine. However, considering that the lineup of Felton/Kidd/Smith/Anthony/Chandler is the team’s best lineup this year (and the league’s best for units that play more than 3 minutes per game together http://www.nba.com/hoop/the_nbas_fab_5s_2013_03_04.html) and in it Smith is either the 3rd guard or a forward with Melo as one too, it’s great that he’s logging more minutes at the “3” than at the “2.”

Additionally, my minute breakdown reduces the minutes that Anthony and Stoudemire will have to play together both as the two “bigs” and overall. Reducing Stoudemire’s center minutes down to 5MPG and Anthony’s minutes at small forward down to 6MPG allows them both do what they do best; play power forward.

Lastly, it would be beneficial for Jason Kidd to play about 25MPG compared to the 30 he’s been averaging all season. Additionally, this breakdown keeps him off the ball for nearly all of those minutes where he’s excelled this year in comparison to as the point guard. As evidenced by the 7-7 record in Raymond Felton’s absence, Jason Kidd struggled this year when logging heavy minutes at the point guard position. Despite this obvious conclusion, Woodson felt the need to put Kidd back on the ball beginning with the Wizards game, and the results have been mixed.  Against Cleveland, once the Knicks fell behind 52-30, Felton reentered the game to play alongside Kidd. Naturally, the Knicks cut that lead to 12 by halftime with Kidd in the backcourt off of the ball.

Should Anthony miss extended time, the minutes breakdown below would be my recommendation.

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In my opinion, a few things need to be adjusted to account for Anthony’s absence as a power forward: Copeland getting 15MPG at PF, Novak getting 5MPG there and Stoudemire playing the entirety of his minutes at the position. In order to adjust make up the projected six minutes for Melo at small forward, I simply upped Shumpert’s minutes from 8 to 12 there and Smith’s from 22 to 24. Clearly, Copeland could log more time at that position if need be.

Additionally, Kenyon Martin could step in as a power forward for some minutes, taking the PF minutes of Novak. Lastly, you’ll see a 3 minute bump in Chandler’s center minutes coupled with a 2 minute bump for the backup center.

Instead of scaling back the minutes of his stars to balance to prepare for a playoff push, the chart below shows Woodson’s playing time from the Warriors game on 2/27.

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                It’s pretty evident that if the minute breakdown looks more like the Warriors game than my suggestions, the Knicks’ collective tank will be on empty by the time they reach the postseason.

 

Coach Woodson drops the ball as Stephen Curry goes nuts, but it’s not what you’re thinking

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In one of the best NBA’s games of the year, the lead story is Stephen Curry. He scored 54 points on 28 shots with 11 three pointers, yet the Warriors still came up short. The Knicks held on 109-105 after getting herculean efforts from the CAA-2 (Melo and JR) who scored 61 combined points on 45 shots with 9 combined assists and 5 rebounds and Tyson Chandler setting a career high with 28 rebounds and 16 points of his own. Lucky to escape with a win, the key story was the Knicks’ inability to stop Curry, and contrary to popular belief, it didn’t matter which Knick tried to stop him.

After scouring through the play-by-play, Stephen scored at high rates no matter who he played against. At time of publication, I’m not able to determine how many points Curry scored when guarded by Iman Shumpert compared to Raymond Felton, so this is an attempt to try to the next best thing.

Felton and Shumpert sat out together for roughly 8 minutes and 30 seconds tonight. In that time, Curry scored 14 points (1.65 Points per Minute, good for 59 points per 36 minutes or an absurd 79 points over an entire 48 minute game).

However, in the 17:30 where Felton played without Shumpert, Curry also scored 14 points (.82 PPM, 29 pts per 36 min, 44 pts per 48 min).

Shockingly, with both Shumpert and Felton on the court, Curry was even better than just against Felton. He had 26 points in 22 minutes when both Felton and Shumpert were out there (1.18 PPM, 42 pts per 36, 64 pts per 48).

Coming into the game, Curry averaged 20.4 pts per 36 minutes, good for 30.6 points per 48 minutes and only 0.64 points per minute. So no matter who was on the court, Curry was playing well above his averages.

In-game twitter outrage suggested that Coach Mike Woodson’s biggest flaw was using Felton on Curry when Shumpert was also in the game. In my opinion, based off of the data above, this anger’s slightly misguide.

Really, Woodson should be chastised for poorly staggering the minutes of Shumpert with Felton. Shumpert did not play one minute tonight when Felton sat.

 Given what occurred, Curry was most damaging in the beginning of the 2nd and 4th quarters when Pablo Prigioni was the point guard. In the 2nd quarter, the other guards in the game were Jason Kidd and JR smith and in the 4th quarter the other guard was just Smith.

Most likely, another outlet before Friday will analyze how Curry did when actually guarded by Shumpert compared to when guarded by Felton in order to determine if Woodson was at fault. Until then, just know that Stephen Curry did the most damage when both were on the bench.

 

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.

Also Found @ TheKnicksWall.com: So Where Are We Now?

The Knicks have put together their most legitimate team this millennium, something I did not believe during the emotional tumult that was this summer’s free agency period. In the aftermath of what transpired, I believed we were doomed for another inconsistent 46 win team, refusing to believe in the predictions that this team could win 50 games or more. At the All-Star break, it appears that I was wrong.

Despite last night’s abysmal showing in a winnable division game against Toronto, the Knicks find themselves in a pretty good spot at the all-star break. With a .640% winning percentage through 50 games, the team is in a spot that I surely would have signed up for on Labor Day.

Could this team have done better? Probably, but there were also some games they had no business winning against very good teams that they could have lost. Conversely, there were some losses against poor competition.

There’s also the question of should this team attempt to upgrade its roster. This has been written about by numerous talented writers elsewhere, but not to be repetitive, yes I feel the Knicks should be seeking out deals if it means improving the team for this year and next.  A “final four” or Eastern Conference Finals berth is the goal here. If a deal can be made without further mortgaging the future (as in do not trade away draft picks) that improves the team, it should be made.

All in all, as we look to the home stretch of 32 games, it is the recent 6-4 stretch since Raymond Felton’s return from injury that has me worried and skeptical that the Knicks will continue to win at this rate, or reach 50 win. As a result, let’s take an in-depth look at the schedule and what it would take for the Knicks to finish 18-14, producing the first 50 win season since 2000 and most likely the first Atlantic Division Title since 1994.

Given that there are professionals with algorithms who project future sports results for a living, it’s important to note that Accuscore.com currently has the Knicks at 52-53 wins for the season while John Hollinger’s ESPN predictions show a final record of 51-31.

To wrap up February after the all-star break, the Knicks travel to Indiana, then to Toronto before hosting Philadelphia and the Warriors in the garden. Given the recent play of the Knicks and these opponents, I unfortunately think 2-2 is most likely here.

March comes in for a lion for the Knicks (schedule here: http://www.nba.com/knicks/schedule#3) and hopefully they don’t come out of it looking like a lamb. With 10 games against current playoff teams (and half of them on the road), the team could very well go 3-7 in that stretch. This coupled with a difficult west coast trip, as a fan right now I’m not confident that the Knicks will take care of business in all their winnable March games. Simply put going 9-9 in March would be an impressive feat. 

Luckily, New York can catch its collective breath in the season’s final ten contests. With six road games (two of which I’d call wins right now) and four MSG games that shouldn’t be lost, the Knicks can finish the year 6-4.

Unfortunately, looking at all 32 games together, that would make the team 49-33 for the year. That record combined with how there are six division contests left implies that winning the Atlantic is far from the lock it seemed two weeks ago. Time to settle in, it’s going to a bumpy ride and no coast to the finish line.

 

For the Knicks, Sharing is Caring

The Knicks recent (or more like 1/2 the season to date really) struggles have been well documented elsewhere by a whole slew of very talented writers. The common theme’s been a lack of perimeter defense and a tendency to revert to a more iso-centric offense. Based upon some assist numbers, it’s certainly a problem.

In the 28 games where the Knicks have recorded at least 19 assists, their record is 23-5. Now, only 10 of those games were against teams that would currently be in the playoffs, but the Knicks are 8-2 in said games. Whether it was the first 10 games of the year or the most recent 10, when the ball moves and assists are recorded, the team wins. Only between games 30 and 40, when they played 5 games with 19+ assists, the team was just slightly above average (3-2 in that stretch).

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When recording less than 19 assists, the Knicks record is just 9-12. In those 21 games, 13 were played against teams who’d be in the playoffs if they started tomorrow (a record of only 4-9 in those games). Since January 1st, the Knicks have had 10 games where they recorded less than 19 assists. In those games, they are 3-7 (2-4 against playoff teams). It should be noted though that in the team’s first 7 games of the season when they went 6-1, 4 of those 6 wins occurred when the team recorded no more than 18 assists. As many remember, that stretch was won with great fourth quarter defense and unselfish play, yet the numbers aren’t supporting the latter memory.

All in all, these numbers beg the following question: Are the better teams stopping the Knick ball movement, or is this a self inflicted wound? It is probably a combination of both. The CAA-3 (Melo, JR Smith and Woodson) quite possibly revert to their old ingrained iso-centric tendencies against better opponents as a result of other action not working.

Nevertheless, if the Knicks don’t start caring about sharing once again, playing games and not golf in June will be a pipe dream.

In the Knick of Time, an Introduction.

For those of you who haven’t seen me espouse opinions in 140 characters or less on twitter over the past 3 years, let me give you a brief introduction into my Knick fandom.

  • I was an ardent supporter of Donnie Walsh & Mike D’Antoni, making me a natural skeptic of Jim Dolan.
  • I was not in favor of the Melo trade, feeling that we overpaid for a player incompatible with our other max guy at the time (MANY more thoughts on this in a future post) and should have held our ground for an elite backcourt asset (also, additional thoughts to come in a future post).
  • I never saw Jeremy Lin play live as a Knick. I don’t believe any rhetoric that the “Lin divide” had anything to do with who saw him live and who did on TV. I was a massive supporter of his, so much so I thought he needed to stay and our current all-star starter needed to go (see here: http://theknicksblog.com/text/guest-post-its-time-to-say-goodbye-to-7/)
  • I’m a huge supporter in the stats, more specifically the advanced ones. Nobody has the time to watch every minute of every single NBA game, so quite honestly it’s a bit easier to reference what those pesky digits are telling you.
  • On top of that, I find the “eye-test” to a lazy cop-out that breeds false narratives and perceptions (e.g. Ray Felton “bulldog defender”), but much more so because it relies on the sample size of what you’ve seen as a sports fan, and rarely is that everything.
  • As of publication, the Knicks are 31-16. For a myriad of reasons, my steadfast support of D’Antoni & Lin, my doubts on Melo, STAT & Tyson playing winning ball together and my full on skepticism of our owner’s plans & decisions all look to be an exercise in incompetency.
  • Yet stick with me, I’ll explain why, how and where these opinions come from. Not just my thoughts on the Knicks, but all our cities’ teams as well. My thoughts might be out there and you’ll agree less frequently than not, but I’ll always find a way to back up my opinion with some semblance of facts & stats. Then maybe, just maybe, you’ll think twice about Gotham sports while reading and say to yourself, “hey this guy’s not so bad after all.”