Team Preview #26: New York Knicks
by Eric Wong AKA Roto EvilSeptember 6th, 2008
LAST SEASONThe Knicks went 23-59 and missed out on the Playoffs for the 4th year in a row. Isiah & Stephon had one of those "start me or I'll blackmail you" altercations on a plane, and were even more embarrassing on the court. They finished dead last in blocked shots (213 total vs. 285 for Camby alone) and assists (18.7 per game compared to 26.7 for Phoenix), and were below average in nearly every other category.
OFFSEASON MOVESKey Additions: Mike D'Antoni, Chris Duhon, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Roberson, Patrick Ewing Jr.
Key Losses: Isiah Thomas, Fred Jones, Renaldo Balkman, Stephon Marbury?, Zach Randolph?
Call it addition by subtraction. After earning an A+ in "how to ruin a franchise in under 5 years," Isiah Thomas was finally "reassigned" and banned from having any contact with Knick players. Mike D'Antoni quickly turned the Suns into an offensive juggernaut, but a much bigger challenge lies ahead in New York. Mike D's first move was drafting forward sensation Danilo Gallinari, whose father he played with in Italy. While his skill set is high, he just turned 20 in August and may not contribute right away. He'll likely replace Balkman in the rotation, since Renaldo was traded to Denver for a 2nd round pick.
The Magic offered Chris Duhon a 3-year deal worth up to $10 million to backup Jameer Nelson and play with Dwight Howard, but he passed it up for a chance to start in New York. Fred Jones started 26 games last season, but he's currently an un-signed free agent. The Knicks signed Anthony Roberson to a 2-year deal. He's scored just 146 points in 36 NBA games, but the guy can light it up offensively. They also recently acquired Patrick Ewing Jr., but he's not a lock to make the team.
Of course, New York is still desperately trying to rid themselves of Marbury & Randolph. The Grizzlies have offered Darko Milicic + Marko Jaric for Randolph, but as of today the trade has yet to go thru. On the other hand, I haven't heard of any trade proposals for "Starbury," so New York will likely have to buyout his contract or pay some team to take him off their hands. You'd think they would want to resolve both matters before training camp begins, so stay tuned...
ROTATION / PLAYING TIMELet's start at point guard, where I'm going to assume that Marbury won't suit up for the Knicks this season. If that is indeed the case, I'm projecting Duhon to play a career-high 30+ minutes in '08-09. Alongside him will be Jamal Crawford, who finished 5th in minutes per game last season at 39.9. He's New York's best player, so he's a lock for 38+ minutes. The first guard off the bench will be Nate Robinson, who saw 26.1 minutes of action last year and should get the same amount of PT backing up both players. This means that Mardy Collins (13.8 mpg) & Anthony Roberson will battle for the remaining backcourt minutes.
At small forward, there will be a fierce training camp battle between Quentin Richardson (drafted #18 out of DePaul in 2000) and Wilson Chandler (drafted #23 out of DePaul in 2007). While Chandler is more athletic and a better defender, Q-Rich played for D'Antoni in Phoenix and is a superior shooter. If I had to predict right now, I'd estimate 26-28 minutes for Chandler, 24-26 minutes for Q-Rich, and garbage time for the rookie Gallinari.
Obviously, what happens to Randolph is going to have a huge impact on the Knicks frontcourt. If he does get traded for Darko, that would open up a lot minutes for David Lee. Lee averaged 29.1 mpg in '07-08, but could play a lot more than that if Zach departs. Jared Jeffries (18.1 mpg) is a solid defender and will likely get 14-16 minutes backing him up. In this scenario, Darko and Eddy Curry would likely split minutes at center. If Randolph stays, I project him to start alongside D. Lee, while Curry would come off the bench and see his minutes fall to under 20 per game. You should definitely watch the Knicks closely over the next month to see how things shake out.
DON'T SLEEP ON: All of the KnicksAs I stated above, New York finished 30th in both blocks and assists last season. They also ranked 28th in FG%, 27th in 3P%, 26th in steals, 23rd in FT%, 21st in threes made, and 21st in scoring. It was a terrible season all around, and as a result, their players could fall far in your draft. My target round suggestions are somewhat conservative, but if the players listed below fall to you in those rounds, ALL of them could provide you with better value than where you pick them. One reason of course, is the Mike D'Antoni factor.
In '03-04, the Suns went 29-53 and had a pace factor of 92.6. They averaged 94.2 points, 40.6 rebounds, 19.3 assists, 5.1 threes, and 15.2 turnovers per game while shooting 44.3% FG, 34.5% 3P, and 74.6% FT.
In '04-05, the Suns went 62-20 and had a pacer factor of 95.9. They averaged 110.4 points, 44.1 rebounds, 23.5 assists, 9.7 threes, and just 13.7 turnovers per game while shooting 47.7% FG, 39.3% 3P, and 74.8% FT.
Yes, Steve Nash replaced (guess who?) Stephon Marbury in between those seasons, but Mike D'Antoni played a big part of that reversal as well. And while you can't expect the Knicks' turnaround to be as sudden and drastic, their offense will likely be much improved in '08-09. Jamal Crawford sounds really dedicated in his new blog, and, much like Joe Johnson, I think he could blossom under D'Antoni. I think Chris Duhon is going to have a career year in NY, Q-Rich could start draining threes once again, and Chandler could breakout in his 2nd season. David Lee will likely be unleashed and average a double-double. Lil' Nate could be a top 6th man candidate flying around the court a la Barbosa. And if Zach Randolph gets traded to Memphis, he could put up even better stats there. So if any of these players fall far in your draft, don't hesitate to pick them. Just stay away from this guy...
BE CAREFUL OF: Eddy CurryAfter scoring 19.5 points on 57.6% FG shooting in '06-07, Curry was likely drafted way too early last year. He's a terribly overrated fantasy player to begin with, but all of his numbers plummeted as well. Yes, he's capable of scoring a lot of points, but what else can he do? Unless your league rewards players for missed free throws and personal fouls, not a whole lot.
For a 7-foot giant, his rebounding and shot-blocking numbers are a joke. Last season, Curry blocked .49 shots in 25.9 mpg, which was actually a huge improvement after blocking .49 shots in 35.2 minutes the year before. Meanwhile, Delonte West blocked .48 shots in just 25.1 minutes per game! I don't think Knicks fans would mind if he made up for it by cleaning the glass, but for his career, he pulls down just 7.5 boards per 36 minutes (compare to Jeff Foster's 12.2 boards per 36). Did you know? Eddy had more ZERO rebound games (3) than double-digit rebound games (2) last season. So rather than putting "Don't draft" next to his name below, I'm omitting him completely to ensure that you don't even consider him on draft day.
ROUND BY ROUND TARGETS(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)
Crawford: 5th - 6th