Howdy, folks. We often bring you a 12-pack of Knicks thoughts on Fridays, but we hear that portion control is a big thing these days. We won’t deprive you, because that’s not healthy either, so here’s a 6-Pack to munch on before you head off for the weekend. Hope you like it.
1. ESPN’s Marc Stein has a pretty interesting piece on why Mike Woodson has yet to be fired. The Cliff’s Notes version is this: James Dolan needs an 82-game scapegoat so that he can sell to Carmelo Anthony that a coaching change is what will fix the Knicks. Now, this is not the way to do business–even if the season is all but lost–but what else should we expect from Dolan? Whether or not the prospect of a max contract, bringing in a new coach and a co-star in the summer of 2015 is enough to keep Melo around remains to be seen (personally, I think it is), but that seems to be the Dolan’s tactic.
2. I don’t think there’s any doubt whatsoever that the Knicks will hire a new head coach sometime this summer. We’ll have plenty of time to talk about this and speculate and ultimately complain about who the Knicks target and who they don’t (because let’s be honest, that’s what most Knicks fans are going to do). But I’m most interested to see the amount of clamoring for, and ultimately whether or not he becomes a legitimate candidate is Patrick Ewing. He’s surely paid his dues as an assistant.
3. Something for the “Meaningless Things That May Or May Not Be Interesting” file: This season, the Knicks went 4-22 combined in the months of November and February. They were 16-15 combined in the months of December and January. The successful months have just about flipped from last year. Also, the Knicks are 25-46 since “The Elbow”.
4. This deep-dive into Sport VU’s data on touches by Jared Dubin highlighted data that debunks one of the dominant narratives around NBA and Knicks talk, that Carmelo Anthony is a ball-stopper. According to Sport VU’s data, Anthony averages 3.09 seconds per touch, which is about about average among the league’s top 25 scorers. Dirk Nowitzki holds the ball least per touch at 1.53 (an outlier of course being his game winning shot against the Knicks last week where he seemingly held the ball for a minute), while names like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and James Harden, on average, hold the ball longer than Melo. That doesn’t mean Melo can’t fall into bad habits at times. But it just goes to show how people often default to preconceived notions. And this does not only happen with the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, even if it often feels that way.
5. It’s understandable that people disagree with Mike Woodson when he cites injuries as a reason for the Knicks’ struggles. But there may actually be some merit to that. Consider this: out of the Knicks’ top five most-used 5-man lineups, three of them have positive net ratings. And, uhm, Andrea Bargnani is in two of those three. And one of them includes Kenyon Martin, too. Now, I don’t trust Woodson whatsoever to properly choose lineups when he has a full deck. But it’s true that the Knicks’ currently can’t play some of their effective lineups because of injuries.
6. While I want to see the NBA do something about tanking, I don’t think it’s the only problem the league has in terms of competition. The main problem, to me, is one that has plagued the sport for a while and it’s the lack of parity and severe talent gap between top teams and bottom teams. (The two are certainly connected, though. Teams know they need a franchise player in order to contend, and one way of trying to get one is to tank and draft one). In every other major sport, multiple teams have realistic shots at winning their respective title. In a given NBA season, there are usually only, at best, a handful of teams with a realistic shot. There isn’t much drama in who’s going to make the conference finals, even. The Eastern Conference is essentially a 7-month waiting period to get to Heat vs. Pacers, and while the West is more competitive top-to-bottom, Oklahoma City and San Antonio seem the clear favorites to meet each other down the line. Of any sport, I think the NBA would benefit the most from the NFL’s amount of parity.