WE PLAYOFFS NOW

It’s been a while, but somehow, someway, the Knicks are in the playoffs.  The past few seasons have not been easy.  Here’s a trip down memory lane.

Eddy Curry Taking His Talents to South Beach?

No, seriously.  We’re not kidding.

I understand this team needs size, but couldn’t have they found someone who, you know, can actually play professional basketball?  As an open hater of the Miami Heat, I support this signing if it happens.  When he has a heart attack within two minutes of his first game back, at least we can blame the Heat’s training staff.

Source: Melo Still Hoping For Trade To Bulls, Knicks

According to Real GM, the Knicks and Bulls are the preferred landing spots for Carmelo Anthony.  If I were the Knicks, I’d make a package around Gallinari, Curry, Randolph, and Chandler.  It’s a whole lot to give up, but you are getting Carmelo Anthony in return. 

That offer is much stronger than one Chicago can make.  Luol Deng’s salary makes for a horrible trading asset.  Anything is possible, but I think the Knicks are the better landing spot.

PG: Felton
SG: Azubuike
SF: Melo
PF: Amar’e
C: Turiaf

Even after a trade, that Knicks team would be deadly.

Will the Knicks and Nets be Offensive or Defensive Teams?

Offensive and defensive bias are keys to understanding basketball’s advanced statistics.  A player with a more positive bias has a better offensive game.  A player with a more negative bias has a better defensive game.  It’s a simple concept to see what type of player someone is.  For more on this topic, click here.

All stats are for the 2009-2010 season.

Knicks
Kelenna Azubuike: 2.3
Wilson Chandler: -0.2
Eddy Curry: -7.0
Toney Douglas: 3.1
Raymond Felton: 0.2
Danillo Gallinari: 3.2
Roger Mason: -1.7
Anthony Randolph: -1.7
Amar’e Stoudemire: 3.2
Ronny Turiaf: -2.9
Bill Walker: 1.6

Total Bias: 0.1

Now I know people expected a much higher bias for the Knicks towards offense, but look at the numbers closely.  If you take out Eddy Curry, the team bias is suddenly 7.1.  Since Curry isn’t really part of the team, it is very fair to say the Knicks are much more of an offensive team than defensive.

Nets
Jordan Farmar: -0.8
Devin Harris: 3.1
Kris Humphries: -2.6
Brook Lopez: 2.1
Sean May: -2.5
Anthony Morrow: 1.0
Troy Murphy: -0.5
Travis Outlaw: -2.2
Johan Petro: -1.9
Quinton Ross: -3.4
Terrence Williams: -2.1

Total Bias: -9.8

The Nets are clearly a defensive team, which is a good thing.  For a young team looking to put together wins, defense is a great tool to implement.  I’m looking forward to seeing if this team can click this season.

BREAKING NEWS: Knicks Will Offer Gallinari In Package For Melo

According to RealGM, Michael Kay reported today that sources are saying that the Knicks will offer Danilo Gallinari, Eddy Curry, and a first-round draft pick for Carmelo Anthony.  This would be a great trade for the Knicks and a decent return for the Nuggets, who will surely lose their star forward next offseason.  The deal could make sense for both sides, but we will see if Denver considers Galo good enough to be the centerpiece of a deal for Melo. 

As always, New York Sports Zone will keep you updated on the latest involving this situation.

Projecting the Knicks Depth Chart

The NBA season is less than two months away from commencing.  The new-look Knicks are ready to strike fear in the hearts of every team that steps onto the Madison Square Garden court.  Let’s take a look at their projected depth chart for this season.

PG: Raymond Felton/Toney Douglas
SG: Wilson Chandler/Kelenna Azubuike/Roger Mason/Bill Walker/Toney Douglas/Andy Rautins
SF: Danilo Gallinari/Kelenna Azubuike/Roger Mason/Bill Walker/Landry Fields/Anthony Randolph
PF: Amar’e Stoudemire/Anthony Randolph/Ronny Turiaf
C: Timofey Mozgov/Ronny Turiaf/Eddy Curry/Jerome Jordan/Anthony Randolph

Point guard is a pretty simple position to predict.  Raymond Felton will start, and Toney Douglas will back up.  After point guard, there are positions to be won and lost.

Shooting guard is Wilson Chandler’s spot to lose.  Azubuike has a chance to win the starting job, but I really do think Chandler will beat him out.  Mason and Walker will provide depth, while Toney Douglas should see a few minutes here and there at two-guard when he isn’t running the point.  Rautins could see some minutes, but he will be limited in playing time.   

Danilo Gallinari will start at small forward.  Azubuike, Mason, and Walker will be the main backups.  If Kelenna wins the starting shoooting guard job, then Chandler will be the main backup to both positions.  Also look for playing time for Landry Fields.  You could see some minutes for Anthony Randolph at small forward, but his main minutes will come at power forward. 

Power forward is another easy position to predict.  Amar’e will start and Anthony Randolph will and come off the bench behind him.  I also think that you’ll see Ronny Turiaf spend some minutes here when Mozgov is at center.

Now here comes my bold prediction.  I truly believe that Timofey Mozgov will start and be an extremely effective player this season.  Mozgov’s defense is something that I believe will put him over the top.  He will have a chance to prove himself in camp this year.  By doing this, you can also effectively limit Ronny Turiaf’s minutes (as his stamina issues could become a problem). 

WARP WAR: Knicks vs Nets

Memorable, heart stopping, historic. These are all possible descriptions for this year’s NBA offseason. While the Knicks and Nets missed out on the big fish, both teams still built a strong roster.

Despite losing Lebron, the Knicks were able to sign Amar’e Stoudemire to a max deal. While I believe David Lee is almost as good as Stoudemire, signing Amar’e could help the Knicks lure more starts in the future. Carmelo Anthony would much rather play with Amar’e Stoudemire than David Lee.

The Knicks also traded David Lee for a future second round draft pick, Kelenna Azubuike, Ronny Turiaf, and Anthony Randolph. While Azubuike’s three-point shooting and Turiaf’s ability to defend are nice, Randolph is the big piece in this deal. Anthony Randolph was originally supposed to go to the Knicks in 2008 in the draft. The Knicks ended up drafting Danillo Gallinari instead.

Randolph’s potential is unlimited. He is also flexible by being able to play the three, four, and the five. If the Knicks do not plan to make him part of their offense in the future, they can always use him as a valuable trading chip.

Donnie Walsh added point guard Raymond Felton through free agency as well. Felton’s two year deal sets the Knicks up perfectly if they want to make a play for Chris Paul in the future. Felton can run Mike D’Antoni’s offense and hopefully be close to what Steve Nash was for Amar’e Stoudemire in Pheonix.

The Knicks should easily make the playoffs next year. I can see them anywhere from an eight to a fifth seed.  The recent signing of 7’1 Russian center Timofey Mozgov could help with depth as well.  If the Knicks can somehow add another big piece by opening night, I can see them as a real solid team. All they need now is a pure shooting guard.

The first move for the Nets was to add forward Travis Outlaw. Outlaw’s five year, $35 million contract is ridiculous, but he does add some depth at both forward positions. If Derrick Favors isn’t ready, Outlaw can start day one at power forward. If Favors is ready, Outlaw is your sixth man.

The Nets also added SG/SF Anthony Morrow in a trade for a future second round pick. Morrow is another overpaid player ($4 million per year,) but he adds depth at the two and the three. It’s not like the Nets are close to the salary cap anyway.

The Nets added center Johan Petro and point guard Jordan Farmar to round out their offseason. This Nets team should not make the playoffs, but squeezing in as an eight seed is always a possibility. I am predicting a 35 win season for New Jersey.

As defined by Basketball Prospectus, WARP is the wins a player has created as compared to a replacement level player seeing the same minutes. In other words, WARP is a measure of how many more games a player will win you than an entry level player. I will now list the current Knicks’ and Nets’ rosters with each player’s 2009-2010 WARP.

Knicks

Kelenna Azubuike: 0.8 (He registered a 2.2 WARP in 2008-2009, his last fully healthy season.)
Wilson Chandler: 0.0
Eddy Curry: -0.4
Toney Douglas: 1.2
Raymond Felton: 6.1
Danillo Gallinari: 3.2
Anthony Randolph: 3.1
Amar’e Stoudemire: 10.8
Ronny Turiaf: 1.5
Bill Walker: 0.3

Total WARP: 28.0

Nets

Jordan Farmar: 0.0
Devin Harris: 4.6
Kris Humphries: 2.4
Courtney Lee: -0.1
Brook Lopez: 11.3
Anthony Morrow: 1.4
Johan Petro: 0.0
Quinton Ross: -2.1
Travis Outlaw: 0.0
Terrence Williams: -0.5

Total WARP: 17.0

As you see, the Knicks’ roster is clearly far superior than the Nets’. While the Nets young and have room to grow, the Knicks provide a perfectly balanced roster that should land them a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2003-2004. If Donnie Walsh could add a pure two-guard, this team can be dangerous.