Tag Archives: Mike D’Antoni

And So It Ends.

The Timofey Mozgov Era in New York is officially over. What to make of it now that it’s done? Well, as they say… you can’t spell Timofey without OFEY.

I’ve been discussing the ‘Melo trade with a bunch of folks. People generally seem to agree with me, that it was a good move. To the extent that they don’t, there are a few points that continue to get raised that I don’t agree with.

For starters, I’ve heard a few people say that they don’t mind giving up Chandler, Gallo, and Mozgov, but including the Felton for Billups swap really eats at them. I’m sorry, but when did Raymond Felton become better than Chauncey Billups? I must have fallen asleep for that part of the show or something. No disrespect to Felton, whom I like and enjoyed watching, but Billups has started at PG for an NBA champion, has an NBA Finals MVP Award, and has been an All-Star five times. (Here’s his wikipedia bio.)  He’s 34, I know, but it’s not like he’s breaking down — he was an All-Star just last year.  And spare me this chatter about him not being “designed for D’Antoni’s system.”  As of the moment the deal got made, the Nuggets were leading the NBA in scoring; Chauncey was their PG and second-best offensive player.  There are things that Felton does better, but this guy is ready to lead a high-octane offense.

I also keep hearing that the Knicks are going to be terrible at defense.  Well, that might be true, I’m not going to address it here.  I will, though, hoopserve that, if they happen to somehow figure out a way to ever get their opponent to miss, the Knicks are quite likely to get the rebound; they now have three of the NBA’s top-29 rebounders (Amar’e, Carmelo, and Landry Fields).  That doesn’t include Turiaf, who should pull down some boards once his minutes go up.

The last point I’ll make about the Knicks at the moment is that they wound up with three guys who have contributed to championship teams at a high level: Chauncey was a critical part of the Pistons’ championship team, Carmelo was the main man when Syracuse won, and Corey Brewer was a starter on the Florida Gators’ repeat championship teams.  I’m not saying this team is winning the championship, but that’s worth something.

Of course, the ‘Melo deal wasn’t the only big deal to go down.  Nobody is interested in reading my detailed breakdown of each deal, so I won’t go there.  For now, I’ll only hoopserve that some teams that were kind of on the border between contenders and pretenders made aggressive moves to get better: Atlanta got Hinrich, Oklahoma City got a legit big man (Perkins), the Blazers added Gerald Wallace, and the Grizzlies got Battier.  Each conference has more than four legitimate teams — it wouldn’t be shocking to see an upset or two.


  • Sippy

    How can you not address the Knicks’ defensive shortcomings? As you all saw last night, two All-Stars and a fabulous point guard weren’t enough to defeat the worst team in the league, which point up its fourth highest point total of the season against New York. Knicks coach Antoni (notice the absence of a D) is allergic to defense, as are all the teams he coaches. Knicks top priority needs to be one of those grizzly veterans who plays lockdown defense, not adding anymore stars.

  • Tweener

    Sippy! Nice to have you on board.
    Regarding Antoni (I like that, by the way), I hear you that he doesn’t have a record of coaching good D. Four responses to that:
    1. Antoni, for better or worse, is the coach of the Knicks right now. To try to win with Antoni as your coach, it makes no sense to construct a roster of players who are primarily focused on D. Now, whether or not Antoni SHOULD BE the Knicks coach, that’s a different discussion. The point is that he is, and one you put him in that spot, you’ve got to build your roster accordingly. Given that he’s the coach, the ‘Melo move makes lots of sense.
    2. The Knicks now have a bunch of good defenders / rebounders: Fields, Turiaf, Balkman, Douglas, Brewer. That group at least brings SOME defensive toughness to the team. If Billups / Antony / Amar’e can do their thing on the offensive end (and they will), it’s a group good enough to win lots of games with.
    3. I still don’t get what people think would have been a better option than making the deal. When I ask the question of people who didn’t like the deal, all I hear is that the Knicks should have “waited for free agency in 2012” to make their team better. But that’s a year and a half away. And, anyway, didn’t we already try the whole wait-and-hope-free-agents-come-make-us-a-championship-team thing? Haven’t we learned?
    4. You’re really making judgments after two games? Two?

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It’s been a few weeks since I blogged about the possibility of the Knicks getting ‘Melo (here, if you missed it or want to read it again).  Well, the guys on local sports radio are still talking about it (and so are the guys on the podcasts I listen to), so I might as well keep going.

Add him, Knicks.  Like, yesterday.

From the people who don’t think it makes sense for the Knicks to acquire him, I hear two general themes: (1) that he isn’t “efficient” on offense, and (2) that he isn’t very good on defense.  I’ll address them in turn.

He Isn’t “Efficient” On Offense: As the argument goes, Carmelo takes a bunch of bad shots, and is a “ball-stopper.”  The guys who make this argument back it up with some new-age statistics.  I’d respond with some statistics of my own, but, in my experience, people typically aren’t interested in reading nerds argue about basketball statistics and, well, I’m having enough trouble recruiting readers as it is.  So I’ll stay away from a heavy statistical argument.

Here’s the deal: the Nuggets were 17-65 the season before Carmelo arrived.  Now, they’re consistently one of the top-10 offensive teams in the league, as measured by total points scored.  (Last year – #3; 2008-09 – #6)  During each of those seasons, Carmelo was their leading scorer.

So… either Carmelo is “efficient” on offense, or Nene and the Birdman have been operating at a level of “efficiency” never seen before, in order to make up for his deficiencies.  I don’t need complicated statistics to tell me which of those two things has been going on in Denver.

He Isn’t Very Good On Defense: Some Knicks fans believe that Carmelo, on the defensive end, represents a significant dropoff from Wilson Chandler. To hear them talk about it, you’d think that Wilson Chandler plays D like Scottie Pippen, and Carmelo gets all of his points by cherry-picking.

Talking about defense is tricky, for at least two reasons: (1) it’s harder to measure statistically than offense, and (2) even when watching a game, it’s easier to identify good offense than good defense – the difference between “good defense” and “bad defense” on a given possession can be imperceptible to a casual observer, like, for example, a good defender getting his hand within 2 inches of a shot and a bad defender getting within 4 inches of a shot.

Frankly, I haven’t sat down with hours of video comparing Carmelo and Wilson Chandler reacting on defense in similar situations.  So, maybe I’m just missing something.  But I’ve seen enough of Wilson Chandler to know that he’s no Scottie Pippen, and I’ve seen enough of Carmelo to know that, whatever his defensive shortcomings may be, he’s spent his entire NBA career as the best player on a playoff team.  (And he won the national championship during his only year at Syracuse.)  If he’s not playing any defense, opposing coaches are doing a pretty lousy job taking advantage of that.

And the statistics, for what they’re worth, undermine the argument that Chandler is a significantly better defender than Carmelo.  Chandler, for his career, averages .7 steals per game, .9 blocks per game, and 5.3 rebounds per game.  (As my coach always said, rebounding is a part of defense, because getting a rebound takes an opportunity away from the other team to score.)  Carmelo, for his career, averages 1.1 steals per game, .5 blocks per game, and 6.3 rebounds per game. Consider that Carmelo plays more minutes per game, and it’s about a statistical wash.

Yes, I understand that the Knicks would be giving up more than just Wilson Chandler, but Chandler, from what I’m hearing, would be the main piece.  Landry Fields is good, and draft picks are nice to have, but those things shouldn’t hold up a trade for Carmelo Anthony.

At bottom, there are two fundamental reasons to get Carmelo: the first is that he’s one of only a handful of players in the league – there are, what, 10 of them? – with a track record of consistently being the primary scorer on a high-scoring offense.  Wilson Chandler… not so much.  The second is that, when your team has Mike D’Antoni as its coach and Amar’e Stoudamire as its big man, nobody’s going to confuse you for the Bad Boy Pistons on the defensive end.  Your formula is to score a whole bunch o’ points, and play just enough defense to hold your opponents to about 105 points per game.  Carmelo fits — he improves the team on offense, and, even if he does nothing else on D, his offensive prowess provides the Knicks with the luxury of plugging defensive-minded players like Turiaf into the lineup for more minutes.

Make the trade, Knicks.

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