Tuesday, October 28, 2008

WWOD? Review of the Knicks Previews

Everyone Else's Look Ahead at the 2008-2009 Knicks

John Hollinger, ESPN
Hollinger is the Worldwide Leader's numbers guy when it comes to hoops. His Player Efficiency Ratings are, for my dollar, the zenith of statistical analysis. And, yes, part of the reason I dig his numbers so much is because they provide a cornerstone for my idolatry of Chris Paul.

The Bright Side: "At least the worst is over. After the season, the Knicks finally cut the cord with Thomas and put a grown-up back in charge, hiring former Indiana Pacers GM Donnie Walsh as the new team president... While Curry and Randolph have their shortcomings, each is a beast on the low post who can finish and draw fouls... David Lee, who is a perfect complement to either Randolph or Curry because he's so good at roaming the weak side for offensive boards."

The Half-Empty Glass: "This is still Thomas' team... The same problem of pairing Randolph and Curry remains, as do the hordes of shoot-first, ask-later types at the guard spots and the assorted overpaid underachievers filling out the bench... it's still hard to imagine them cracking the league's top 20 in defensive efficiency. Offense may be a struggle too, even with D'Antoni's genius at that end.."

The Unexpected: Hollinger warns the Association "don't sleep on Quentin Richardson. Yes, he was an absolute dog last season, but he can pummel smaller guards on the blocks, and the Knicks have been strangely reluctant to make use of this skill. He also had his best season under D'Antoni in Phoenix four years ago."

The Prediction: 28-54, 4th in Atlantic Division, 14th in Eastern Conference

J.E. Skeets, Ball Don't Lie (Yahoo)
BDL is a must-stop spot on any hoops fans daily Interweb meanderings. It's matches sarcasm, knowledge and enthusiasm in good measure. They've also been kind enough to link a handful of my posts over the past few months.

The Bright Side: Um, not so much.

The Half-Empty Glass:"The ascension of Chris Duhon to the top of the point guard heap in New York seems as much of a bum move as trading for Zach Randolph to play alongside Eddy Curry... not the most able guy in transition, you don't have to guard him anywhere on the court, he's not a creative passer, he's not even that good a passer."

The Unexpected: According to Skeets, the album that best embodies the 2008-2009 Knicks is Born to Be Blue, by Grant Green.

Sports Illustrated
It's everyone's favorite printed source for full-color photographs of week-old events. And, the grandaddy of the sports journalism that has better access to the pros than anyone this side of ESPN. In the SI team previews we hear from anonymous NBA scouts and someone attributed as C.M., who I think is NBA writer Chris Mannix.

The Bright Side: Again, we've got slim pickings when looking for positive things to say...

The 3/4-Empty Glass:"I don't think the improvement in coaching by hiring Mike D'Antoni is going to make that big of a difference this year... the new coaching staff is going to want to win games and establish a new style, but management is going to need the next two years to clear away the bad contracts and attitudes. The way it looks right now, this is a throwaway year unless they can get something out of the draft from it."

The Unexpected: "The best player on their training camp roster is probably Marbury. Look at his skills: When healthy he can score, and if he wants to -- if -- he can defend his position; I've seen him body up. He's quick, he can push it up the floor, he can handle."

Prediction: 13th In East, 4th in Atlantic

The Big Lead
This is the gateway blog that could lead you to abuse more dangerous and more cynical blogs. TBL brings most everything under the sporting sun to your attention and has been kind enough to link to a few WWOD? posts. The A.M. Roundup is great way to ease into the work day.

The Bright Side: "the talent is clearly there for Mike D’Antoni to blend into playoff team. Jamal Crawford’s shot selection is questionable, but he is undeniably a scoring machine. Zach Randolph, who amazingly stayed out of trouble in his first year in Gotham, can still provide 20-10. David Lee is the quintessential role player. Nate Robinson can provide a spark off the bench."

The 1/3-Empty Glass: " The disastrous, tyrannical reign of Isiah Thomas is over. The stench, of course, still lingers... comparing Starbury, Q Rich and Randolph to Nash, Marion and Amare is pure lunacy. "

The Unexpected: Frankly, the genuinely enthusiastic take on the positive possibilities for the Knicks throughout this preview was unexpected. And welcomed.

The Prediction: "40/45 wins and very, very close to a playoff berth."

Basketbawful, via Deadspin
A fine and funny blog in its own right, Basketbawful is the official NBA blog of the artist formerly known as Deadspin.

The Bright Side: " Isiah Thomas is gone. Isiah Thomas is gone. Isiah Thomas is gone. Isiah Thomas is gone. Isiah Thomas is gone. Isiah Thomas is gone. Isiah Thomas is gone. Isiah Thomas is gone. Isiah Thomas is gone. Isiah Thomas is gone."

The Half-Empty Glass: "I don't think Mikey Boy can repair the Knicks' defensive inadequacies; D'Antoni's teams couldn't guard somebody with a gun. And if all that wasn't ominous enough, Stephon Marbury is still around, hoggin' the ball and cap space. What I'm trying to say is that, so far, bringing in Walsh and D'Antoni is like putting curtains on a port-o-potty. The minor aesthetic modifications on the outside won't change the fact that what's on the inside still stinks."

Marc Berman, NY Post
Berman is the Post's man on the Knicks beat. He's got fruit-bearing personal relationships with the players and the coaches. He was the guy texting with Marbury when he left the team last year in Phoenix and he was the guy who talked to Isiah when his world was crumbling at the end of last week. Berman's blog is the go-to spot for late-breaking Knicks news.

The Bright Side: "On nights Quentin Richardson has confidence in his 3-pointer, the Knicks' offense will hum like that of the Suns. D'Antoni has gotten this club to move the ball and it resulted in lots of preseason open looks."

The Half-Empty Glass: "The red flag is defense. The Knicks allowed 106.2 points per game in preseason. Lee and a rejuvenated Randolph make for a versatile offensive paring but can be overmatched on the defensive end by bigger teams. Neither blocks shots."

The Prediction: "37-45, No playoffs."

Frank Isola and Mitch Lawrence, Daily News
Isola and Lawrence are the guys my Uncle Elliot reads every morning at the News. And, I don't mean that disrepfectfully. They've got the contacts and the time and the in-house view that the rest of us don't. The flip side is that they've also got the burnout and the taking-things-for-granted-itis that those unpaid love-of-the-game guys don't have to worry about.

The Bright Side: "D'Antoni and Knicks president Donnie Walsh are thinking big picture. Their goal is to get under the salary cap for the summer of 2010 when LeBron James can become a free agent. In the meantime, Walsh will look to remove some of the dead wood and fat contracts and, along with D'Antoni, try to establish a winning culture for a franchise that hasn't had a winning season in seven years." (Isola)

The Half-Empty Glass: "D'Antoni is the New York Knicks' fourth head coach in the past five years. Two of those coaches - Lenny Wilkens and Brown - had more impressive resumes... If history has taught us anything, D'Antoni's run may be brief. But this is supposedly a new era for the Knicks - new president, new system, new media policy (we think) and of course, a new coach... Everything is new except the players. The core group that over the last four seasons produced a grand total of 112 wins and 216 losses remains intact. This group will hurt D'Antoni's career winning percentage in year one. That is a fact." (Isola)

The Prediction: "32 wins begin the long climb back to respectability." (Lawrence)

And, coming up tomorrow morning afternoon is the official WWOD? 2008-2009 Knicks Preview Extravaganza