If you have been reading the other great sites in the Blogs By Fans network, you would see that we have a bit of a round table discussion going on the last couple of days.  Everyone else has already chimed in with responses, and I've waited to go last so that I could field all the questions at once!

Let's start with the first post in this round table discussion, from Depressed Fan.  His Knicks questions to me:

  1. The Knicks have assembled possibly the most mismatched front-court/back-court combination in the league. Curry and Randolph are beasts on the low post, only the guards are horrible, horrible distributors. It seems like doubling down on the bigs is a certainty, especially with the lack of perimeter shooters. Is there some kind of middle ground where the offense can utilize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of both groups? 
  2. If you're James Dolan, is Isiah still your coach?
  3. Is it just me or does it look like Quentin Richardson is on the Eddy Curry diet? He has 4 chins at this point.
In no order:
2.  Ah, good question.  First off, if I'm James Dolan, I'll stand up straight, and dress professionally, especially when I appear in court.  This guy is embarrassing.  I know everyone thinks that I, as a Knicks fan, should be embarrassed by Isiah Thomas.  Oh no... it's Dolan that embarrasses me the most.

And that's why I think he's "loyal" to Isiah.  A lot of people wonder why Isiah hasn't gotten fired yet, what he holds over James Dolan... they got it twisted.   For starters, Dolan is the main reason why people in the press tarnish the Knicks, tarnish Isiah Thomas. Dolan's media policies, his strong-arm tactics, have turned the local media against the Knicks.  His politiking against the West Side Stadium for the Jets turned a lot of political press against Dolan.  Isiah's reputation is collateral damage in the media's war against Dolan.

The least Dolan can do is show him some loyalty.

That being said, if I was Dolan, I would demand at least a .500 record this year, and maybe even demand a playoff spot, too.  I think both of those expectations are reasonable, and necessary.  Isiah needs to show signs of further progress, in the form of a .500 record or better.  Otherwise I would feel justified in firing him.

1.  It is possibly the most mismatched backcourt/frontcourt.  But it is too early to say so for sure.  Personally, I like the potential of it.  The lack of perimeter shooters?   What is Crawford if not a perimeter shooter?  And Q-Rich?  He never shoots inside the three point arc!

In fact, each Knick has a defined offensive role, which makes the Knicks one of the best offensive teams in the league (the fact they already have a top-10 offense in the NBA, and haven't played GS, Suns or Memphis yet, illustrates that they might be legit).  Curry role is to only shoot from inside the paint.  He concentrates on camping out on the blocks, and creating a lane for an entry pass.  Q-Rich is only suppose to shoot threes and spread the defense; he's suppose to keep them honest.  Crawford and Marbury also shoot threes for the same purpose, but Crawford's job is to shoot jumpers off screens/curls, and drive into the paint when the defense is too focused on the big men.  Ditto Marbury.

And "horrible, horrible distributors" is actually a little inaccurate.  They aren't great passers, but by playing both Crawford and Marbury, the Knicks essential have two point guards on the court at the same time.  This prevents other teams from keying defensively on one or the other, hoping to prevent passing.  So far this year Crawford has averaged over 6 assist per game, which would make him not only the best passing SG in the league, but the best passing non-point guard this side of KG. 

I don't know if it'll always work as well as it is working now, but I have to believe chances are it'll keep improving.  And that means I wouldn't be too shocked if the Knicks end up with a top-7 offense this season.

3. I had not noticed that.  I did notice that while Zach Randolph looks fat in interviews, and when Curry's not on the court, he looks positively slim when Eddy is on the court.  Curry is like two Zachs wide.  That's amazing.

Next up, Jack Cobra from our favorite Bulls blog, Cobra Brigade:

1. If you had to guess which one of the Knicks players are gay who would it be? (I'm guessing Quentin Richardson)

2. The Knicks very well could be the best rebounding team in the Eastern Conference this season, how will they translate that to victories?

Again, out of order:
2.  Rebounding is the Knicks' big strength, and they've improved from their top-5 standing last season (namely replacing Channing Frye with Zach Randolph).  However, it's the fact that some of their best rebounders (David Lee, Renaldo Balkman) are also able to get up the court quickly that makes it strategical advantageous.  Those guys can push the ball upcourt quickly (or pass it to Nate Robinson, who also likes to run), and beat the opposing team back.  Balkman has shown on several occasions (including last night) that he can bring the ball up himself on the break. 

Fast break points and offensive rebounding are what allows the Knicks to make up for the deficits their defensive deficiencies create.  As was the case last night against the Nuggets, and so many times last season when the Knicks climbed out of 10+ point deficits.

1.  Q-Rich?  Isn't he notorious for dating hot chicks?  Isn't that what his beef with LeBron James is about?  I wouldn't guess Q-Rich.  I might say Eddy Curry, based on the oft-reported fact that "he's a nice guy"... everyone always says that about him, which seems like one of those press "hidden meaning" things.  But he has a family in Chicago. Therefore I'll go with Malik Rose.  Guys willing to play the "pull the chair" trick on other players are possibly cool with close contact fooling around.

Plus I feel like every time Rose pulls the chair, it should be followed with the comment "Sneaky.  Not that there's anything wrong with it!"

Next up is Arin It Out, an Indiana Pacer (and Oakland A's blog) on our network that has been churning out some quality posts lately :

  1. What is up with Quentin Richardson?  He averages over 30 minutes a game and attempts about 1 shot every 6 minutes of play.  That is not nearly enough production from a starter. 
  2. Do the Knicks regret signing Jared Jeffries to that huge contract now?  His minutes have been cut down tremendously and it doesn't look like David Lee is going to let up on his playing time. 
  3. Where do you really see this franchise heading, right or wrong direction? 
  4. Is Thomas really the guy to get the job done?
In order:
1. Seriously, when did Q-Rich become so interesting?  On a team with nutty Marbury and "destined to do something dumb" Z-Bo, Richardson is the person everyone has questions about?  Interesting. 

Anyway, I was most surprised to hear that he averages over 30 minutes a game, actually.  He's a starter, but he also seems to disappear a lot when he's on the court, and the guys that come of the bench are often the ones that play his position - Balkman is a SF, as is Jeffries, and David Lee can play SF.  

I'm glad he's not shooting much - he should be, with the other four starters all capable of dropping 20 points a pop (or at the same time, like yesterday), and the Knicks' bench capable of producing at least 20 points of its own.  Richardson only job (on offense) is to keep the defenses honest, and shoot the occasion three to let them know not to cheat off him.

2.  Two different questions here.  The second one: Jeffries minutes haven't been cut, really.  He started like 80% of the games he played in last season, and averaged about the same number of minutes he did as a starter in Washington (25ish).  The Knicks apparently signed him so he could do what he was doing for the Wizards as a Knick.  I guess people, myself included, figured they signed him to have a bigger role.  But thus far, no.

And that's probably a good thing.  He's not polished at all, and a liability on offense.  His defense is okay, but not as great as advertised.  25 minutes is enough for Jeffries.  I do think he adds a good dimension on defense - he's a 6'11 SF, which is the position that often troubles the Knicks the most.  For example, I don't think LeBron would dropped 45 on the Knicks in the opener if Jeffries was on him for 20 minutes that game.  That's why he's on the team I suppose.

But yes, that was a huge contract to give to a guy who is, at best, a role player (even when he starts).  My biggest problem with the contract isn't the annual value, but the length.  A three year, $18 million contract would have been better.

3. Right direction.  I see them finishing above .500 this year, improving another 10 games from last season.  That's progress.  I hope I am right.

4.  Don't know, but I think he's better than he's portrayed in the press.  Those moves which were most mocked - the trade for Curry and the picking of Balkman - how do they look now?  I like the direction of the team so far, and I like the job Thomas has done of adding young talent.  Few teams (if any) have done a better job drafting.

Our last blog participating is also our favorite Bulls blogger, Tremendous Upside Potential.  Rickhouse's questions:

1. We Bulls fans are familiar with Jamal Crawford and Eddy Curry from their time here, and also with former Whitney Young and DePaul star Quentin Richardson. How have those players done since arriving in New York?

2. I love the idea of putting Randolph and Curry on the court together. They’re pretty much the exact same player, with similar bodies (I would say
Randolph shoots and rebounds a little better, Curry is better in the low post), how do you think this pairing will work in New York?

3. How has former DePaul star Wilson Chandler looked so far in his brief time with the Knicks?

In reverse order:
3.  Wilson Chandler has looked great in the preseason and summer leagues.  He shown defensive intensity that I wasn't expecting - he gets steals and blocks.  He finishes well, runs the court, and has a decent (if not steady) jumper.  Right now he most compares with Trevor Ariza.  He has the potential to jump up into a Balkman level (if he rebounds) or even higher if he can improve his jumper.  I like him, but don't expect much from him this season.

2.  Yeah, I like the idea a bit, too.  So far, as I explained a bit in the response to Depressed Fan, the plan seems to be this:  Curry gets the paint area, where he shoots over 60%.  Last night he shoot 11-16, and that included two misses from within 5 feet of the basket that he will not miss very often.  That's his job.

Randolph is also in the paint, but a little further away from the basket, in the 10 foot area (near the free throw line).   He isn't posting from the blocks very much.  I've seen him post at just inside the free throw line, and turn around and shoot a jump hook.  I've seen him face up his man a lot so far.  He's also take them off the dribble a bit. 

More importantly, he's there to clean up the glass (along with David Lee) when Curry misses from up close.  So far it's worked out better than I thought it would, though it is too early to get really excited.  Still, the Knicks outrebounded a Denver team that had Marcus Camby and his 19 rpg average.  Surprisingly they had offensive rebounds at key moments, and Zach himself got two boards off missed free throws by Curry.  This pairing could actually work.

1.  The mandatory Q-Rich question!  I kid.  Q-Rich has never really been a star here.  He was Larry Brown's favorite, but under Isiah his role is to shoot threes and play tough defense.  As long as he does that, we're all happy (the fans I mean).  

Eddy Curry has received a lot of negative press for being "fat", and the trade that brought him here was highly criticized, but he's done a good job so far.  He's shown signs of his vast potential, but mostly he's just been Steady Eddy.  Not as great as I would like him to be, but solid.  That's probably why Zach was brought in - in the offense so far, Zach has shot slightly more than Curry.  That's because Zach has a more polished game all around.

Jamal Crawford is the most interesting player to watch on the Knicks.  More than ever before I'm now realizing that he's the key to the Knicks.  When he does well, the Knicks win.  When he doesn't, they lose.  His +/- stat is all you need to see to determine if the Knicks won or lost.  He gets more minutes than any other player.

If his shot is falling, the Knicks are in good shape.  If he's driving and drawing fouls, they are in good shape.  If he's settling for just chucking up threes, they are not in good shape.  If he's feeding nice entry passes to Eddy Curry, especially those telepathic alley oops, the Knicks are in good shape.  If he's been beat on defense by his man over and over again, as is wont to happening... the Knicks are in bad shape.

I'm starting to believe that Jamal Crawford is the most important player on the Knicks, simply because the team (or the coach Isiah) puts so much responsibility into his hands.  He may have more of a say on how the Knicks do than anyone else this season.

And if he keeps dropping 20 ppg (on good shooting %) with 7 apg, the Knicks might be alright.

Questions for the rest of the blogs in my next post...

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[November 7, 2007 5:51 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Brian said

They aren't great passers, but by playing both Crawford and Marbury, the Knicks essential have two point guards on the court at the same time.

Or zero point guards, depending on the night.

I caught most of the second half of last night's Knicks game and I couldn't believe Curry in the 4th quarter. He actually looked like he cared out there. He was crashing the boards and playing D. Very impressive.

[November 7, 2007 6:42 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Jack Cobra said

So I write for your 'favorite Bulls blog' and TUP is your 'favorite Bulls blogger'? How is that possible? I'm the only one who writes about the Bulls on my site! Drama!

[November 7, 2007 7:01 PM]  |  link  |  reply
The GM said

Where is the Law and Order theme music when I need it?

[November 7, 2007 10:30 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

@JC: All Bulls bloggers look alike to me. Oh, and congrats on being comment #1500 on SML!!! You just beat The GM for the honor. Your prize: Props!

[November 7, 2007 10:39 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

@Brian: Let me reword that in a way that makes a little more sense: It's better to have two sorta shoot happy point guards on the court than one sorta shoot happy point guard and a true SG (who, by definition, is shoot-only).

Perhaps our Bulls fans here can help explain it a bit... Gordon is nowhere near as good a passer as either Crawford, and Marbury may have been a shoot-first guard in the pass, but I think now he's probably shoot as much as Hinrich does. In fact... let's go to the stats boys:

Marbury in his three years in NY has never topped 12.9 FGA/gm per year, and last year only attempted 11.7 FG a game. Hinrich has averaged 13.0 for his career, although he did have a career-low 12.3 FGs last year.

In other words... Marbury/Crawford are as much passers as Hinrich/Gordon.

[November 8, 2007 7:22 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Jack Cobra said

Marbury/Crawford have guys to pass it to in the post. Hinrich/Gordon have to take more shots because they kind of have to.

[November 9, 2007 1:08 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Rickhouse said

Hinrich is the passer of the four, and Gordon is the worst passer of the four.

Good to hear my guy Wilson is lookin' solid so far. You'll like him, trust me.

[November 9, 2007 10:23 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Allen said

I'm glad somebody has finally recognized how important Crawford is to the Knicks. YOu should have mentioned how insanely talented he is as well. Everybody keeps calling him a lost cause, but I think his game has flourished under Isiah. If the Bulls had kept him, he'd be doing exactly what Ben Gordon is doing but as a taller player and with better passing skills.

Spring Training 08

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