Tagged: Andre Iguodala

Sixers 116, Knicks 110

The Knicks weren’t bad at all tonight but they weren’t quite good enough either as they hung tough on the road and got more great play from their bench. The truth is (and I don’t think this is controversial), the Sixers are the better team right now and the Knicks didn’t have enough answers down the stretch, particularly for Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala.

The Knicks were right there in the fourth quarter and had a narrow lead midway through the period but they couldn’t hold it due to a combination of careless ball-handling, reckless shot selection and too many fouls that put the Sixers in the bonus too early in the period. By the time the Knicks got their bearings again, time was running out and they were down by 6.  A couple of times they got within 2 points but just couldn’t get enough buckets or enough stops to take back the lead.

Once again, the bench severely outplayed the starters as no starter netted a plus in their plus/minus rating for the game. In fact, the best plus/minus ratings posted by any Knick starter tonight were achieved by Chandler and Duhon at -8 (and Chandler only played 19 minutes). At some point, the starters need to pull their weight. They can’t keep putting the team behind the 8-ball every night and then hope to get bailed out by the bench.

That said, the Knicks once again got an outstanding contribution from the bench despite having to go without Danilo Gallinari. Presently, the Knicks’ plan is to hold Gallo out on the second night of back-to-backs and in this game the Knicks did seem a man short. Gallinari might well have been the difference between a win and a loss.

A few more odds and ends:

  • With the Knicks trailing 100-98 in the fourth, Duhon had a terrible and costly sequence. First, after getting a step he drove the lane but then just flipped up a careless layup at the basket hoping for a foul. He didn’t get the call and on the Sixers next trip down the court he played lazy defense committed a dumb foul himself to put Andre Miller at the line where he knocked down both shots. That was a pivotal moment and it gave the Sixers some much needed momentum.
  • One of these days, David Lee needs to get a body on someone. He’s great at going after the ball and obviously he racks up the rebounds but, too often, he doesn’t box out, especially on the defensive glass, and taller or more athletic players just go up over the top of him to grab the offensive board or get a put-back. Dalembert was able to do this to Lee several times tonight (including a costly instance with time winding down in the fourth). I love his effort and energy, but at some point a big man needs to get physical.
  • Al Harrington just has to take smarter shots. I like Harrington though I recognize that he’s flawed (not as athletic as he looks, dribbles too much, listless defender etc.). He’s got heart and balls and the Knicks can use more of both. Also, when he’s right, he can keep a team in a game. On the other hand, when he throws lazy passes or just flips guarded three pointers up at the rim, he can take a team right out of a game too. At some point, he’s got to rein in his shot selection and start showing more discipline in the offensive system.

We should try not to lose sight of the big picture though. The Knicks played very well on the second night of a back to back even in losing. And because they’re playing so much better, expectations are naturally higher. After all, if Gallinari was available tonight, they might have won this game. Still though, if the Knicks are going to make noise later on this season, they’re going to have to figure out how to execute down the stretch so they can pull out a few of these close roadies.

The Knicks are bad. Let’s talk draft, Part II

After two straight tough losses the Knicks sit at 15-24 – the 9th worst record in the league. And if they trade David Lee or Nate Robinson (or both), they could really start to freefall and wind up with another high lottery pick in 2009. For now, though, realistically speaking, they’re likely to finish out of the playoffs with a low-lotto pick somewhere between 9 and 14. As such, today I’m going to profile 3 guards that are flying under the radar but would each make for an excellent fit on the Knicks. (As I did in Part I, I’ve linked each player’s name to his scouting report and profile at Draft Express.)

Nick Calathes, Sophomore, Florida, 6’5, 185 – Calathes might be my favorite player in the college game. He’s a 6’5 pure point guard that has other-worldly floor vision, instincts and anticipation. His ball-handling and decision-making are outstanding and incredibly creative. He shoots it very well from behind the 3-point line and from mid-range while exhibiting great discipline in his shot selection. The little runner he’s been working on will make him even more dangerous. Defensively, Calathes is solid. He shows good understanding of positioning and of his role in Florida’s defensive concept. He plays the passing lanes very well and uses his excellent anticipation to rack up the steals. Calathes’ downside all has to do with his just-average NBA athleticism. He’s not slow or glued to the ground, but he isn’t especially quick or explosive either. He’s unlikely to ever become the kind of guy that can just blow by his man and finish strong at the rim. On defense, quicker guards will be able to take him off the dribble. The lack of elite athleticism will likely prevent Calathes from becoming an ultra-high pick but nevertheless, he’s a really interesting package, especially for the Knicks. He’s the ideal type of point guard to run D’Antoni’s system and his size and shooting offer a lot of versatility. If the Knicks intend to re-sign Nate Robinson, the two could make for an effective mix.

Evan Turner, Sophomore, Ohio State, 6’7, 205 – Turner is a jack-of-all-trades type with outstanding size and length for a guard. He’s a natural basketball player (fluid and instinctive) with NBA athleticism and a very high skill level. In fact, he’s improved every facet of his game between his freshman and sophomore years. Turner shoots, passes, handles, and rebounds at a high level. Though he doesn’t shoot a lot of threes, he makes the ones he takes and he uses his quick first step to get to the line about 6 times a game, a very good number for a college wing. He does everything under control and doesn’t need the ball a ton to impact the game. Turner is focused and tough at the defensive end. He uses his length and athleticism to disrupt the offense (Ohio State plays a lot of zone) and he’s one of the very best steals guys in the country. He could stand to be a little more careful with the ball (1:1 assist to turnover right now) and he should work to make the 3 point line more of a weapon in his game but overall, while he may not project as a star, Turner is a prototypical NBA shooting guard. His ceiling is perhaps something like a poor man’s Andre Iguodala.

Danny Green, Senior, North Carolina, 6’6 , 210 – Green is another of my favorite players in college basketball. He hails from Manhasset, LI and out of all the well-known and distinguished players populating North Carolina’s roster at the moment, there’s a pretty decent chance that Green will end up having the best NBA career. He’s a very nice package. Offensively, he shoots it at a high percentage from everywhere and he’s also a clever passer with a high basketball IQ. While not an explosive finisher at the rim, Green has developed a solid dribble-drive game employing mid-range j’s and tear drops to finish his moves. He’s also a strong rebounder and one of the very best perimeter defenders in the country. UNC plays mostly man-to-man and Green can be downright stifling using strength, intelligence and tenacity to win his matchup. He gets nearly 2 steals and a block and a half per game. Despite his many great attributes as a basketball player, Green doesn’t project as an NBA star mainly because he lacks the athleticism to dominate. But he will be an outstanding role player at the next level and seems very capable of reprising his current role as a glue starter on a championship caliber team. Think Raja Bell with more offensive game.

In our third installment, we’ll take a look at some bigs.