An optimistic look at the Knicks offseason.
I want put my thoughts out there about the Knicks situation and the players we got on this squad.
I've been hearing so many fans complain about Phil and Melo. So much damn negativity. I'm sick and tired of it. I love what he is doing with this team. Building sustainable success while winning as many games as possible. He's the only Knicks president with the balls to rebuild. He is bringing in the right players. Not the quick fix.
Many Knicks fans are tired of hearing about the triangle. Many are upset that we haven't acquired a star talent to play alongside Carmelo Anthony. Phil Jackson set out this offseason with a plan. To find the players with youth, some defense and potential, that fit his system (The Triangle).
We saw with the Hawks this year. They proved that you don't need superstar talent to succeed if you have the right role players in the right system. And thats exactly what he is doing.
Now this process may take a year or two. But I think we can really win some games even this year with the roster Phil has put together.
The Triangle is mainly predicated on 3 things. Big men that can pass or score out of the high post, cutters that can finish down low, and shooters that can spread the floor for kickouts when either the double team comes on the high post man or when the defense loads up down low to defend the players cutting to the basket.
In my opinion the Kyle O'Quinn signing could be a steal. He averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.1 blocks, and shot over .500 percent per 36 minutes. The 6"10 250 pound 25 year old Power Forward - Center has tons of potential especially in the Triangle system.
His passing ability is really really good for a big man. He is almost like a point guard in that regard. Operating out of the high post his passes to cutting players will be highly effective. His defense as well, is a big plus as he is a tough, gritty, and long defender with a 7 foot 4 wingspan.
Here is a link to a great scouting report on Kyle O'Quinn. http://jacobeisenberg.com/2015/06/18/kyle-oquinns-analytical-scouting-report/
Of course, the triangle will mainly operate through Melo in the high post which is a huge threat for opposing defenses as he can create his own shot if he is left 1 on 1 or pass out of the double team. The knock on Melo has always been that he is selfish, not a willing passer, takes too many shots and doesn't run the floor. While I understand those concerns, he never really played with the right players around him or with the right system around him. The burden of scoring 30 points a night is quite a heavy one. I understand the Knicks fans that were expecting a superstar to come over and be the Robyn to Melos Batman with all the cap space we had. But that was near impossible because we sucked last year. Now while he doesn't have a superstar playing alongside him, I think he has the correct role players for the system to change the way he plays just a little. For him to embrace the triangle and the passing, teamwork, and equal scoring opportunities the triangle brings to the players around him.
Which brings me to the shooters and cutters. We all know how upset many fans were with the Kristaps Porzingis pick at the number 4 selection of the draft. I think many fans post draft went and watched some tape or highlights of this guy and opinions were quickly changed. I love this kid. Man, can he shoot! And he's 7"3!! You can't block him! He's fast, can finish down low and loves to slam it home with authority on jams.
While the knocks on Porzingis is that he is not NBA ready, needs to bulk up, and needs to work on post defense, I have faith that the Knicks trainers will spend a lot of time with him in the gym and giving him Creatine shakes and whatnot. I trust that Derek Fisher and his coaching staff will develop his offensive and defensive game as well in due time. In the meantime, while his game developes, his talent that is NBA ready, namely his shooting, will be perfect in the triangle for kickouts to the perimeter. He will have wide open shots. If Porzingis is developed well by this Knicks coaching squad, he very well may end up, like many analysts have said, as the best player out of this years draft.
Arron Afflalo is another example of Phil bringing in a player that fits his system. He is a good defender and a great shooter from mid range and a solid 3 point shooter. While the numbers say that his play is declining slightly, he is still considered a great starter in this league and could very well be the second scoring option on this team. For his contract at 2 years 16 million he came as a bargain to the Knicks, as similar players were receiving 10 to 15 million per year. Heck, Iman Shumpert got 4 years 40 million!
Robyn Lopez was the biggest signing of the offseason. After missing out on Greg Monroe, Phil signed the next best center on the market. To me the difference between Monroe and Lopez is negligible. Yes, Monroe is a far better offensive player but his defense is not very good, to put it mildly. Lopez is a jack of all trades, master of none, but he is very close to a master rim protector and defensive anchor down low in the paint. He rebounds very well and can score on putbacks and mismatches. His offensive game is solid. He plays with an aggressive, tough mindset and is strong enough to battle tough centers like Timofey Mozgov, Joakim Noah and others down low in the paint. Another plus to having Lopez down low is that you can have him on the court together with Porzingis and have him clean up Kristaps' mistakes he might make as he develops into an NBA quality defender.
Jerian Grant. Son of former NBA player Harvey Grant, nephew of NBA player Horace Grant, and brother of 76er Jerami Grant. Basketball is in this kids DNA. He is the Knicks point guard of the future and in my humble opinion, the steal of the draft. As a four year starter at Notre Dame, he is ready for the NBA. He was the leader of that team and his coaches rave about his basketball IQ. He is a good passer, great penetrator, and a decent long range shooter. Not the greatest triangle fit but he will be able to be a good cutter, a light perimeter threat, and will run the pick and roll to perfection when the Knicks are not running a triangle play. Grant is also big at 6"5 and can be used as a combo guard. He is a very good defender on the perimeter which has been a major weakness of the Knicks for many years. I love this kids game and I expect him to come in and contribute right away.
Derick Williams was the second overall pick in the 2011 draft. He was picked there for a reason. He obviously has potential. Played for some really bad teams in Minnesota and Sacramento. Career averages of 9.3 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, 0.3 blocks per game. His field goal percentage is a respectable .429. Clearly a bench / depth player. He is a terrible defender though. Hopefully Knicks coaching will get him to play better at that end. I'm not expecting amazing play from him but I think he will have his moments.
Then we've got some of the players from last year. Langston Galloway, everyone loved him. He made second all rookie team. Averaged 11.8 points per game and 3.3 assists. I'm expecting a step up from him as he will be an integral part of our offense off the bench. He'll play big minutes. He's got good potential as a solid role player that can be a perimeter threat in the triangle and score in the paint.
Jose Calderon. He has to play better than last year. I really don't know why he just didn't have it last year. Maybe he was playing with a nagging injury or perhaps playing with a squad that wasn't very good allowed opposing defenses to focus on him more.
But if we can have him back to his old self he can be one of the best 3 point shooters in the game. He can run the offense very well, create plays for other players, and brings good veteran leadership to what's turning into a very young basketball team.
CleAnthony Early showed flashes of what he can do. Hopefully in his second year he'll have a better grasp of the NBA game speed and difficulty. Early can score, create his own shot or be a spot up shooter. Not much of a defender. He was heralded last year as a great pick by the Knicks at 33 overall. Hopefully he can a reach some of that potential in his second year.
There are still a couple roster spots to fill. Hopefully Phil can bring in another scorer to come off the bench and provide a punch. Maybe even bring back Alexey Shved who played well in his time here last year.
All in all, I love what Phil has done with this roster given the choices he had. He was not going to bring in a star. Why would LaMarcus Aldridge come here instead of the Spurs?! Greg Monroe? The Bucks are a really amazing young team. Of course he chose them. And look at them! They lost the most games in the NBA in 2013-2014. That was 1 year ago!!! Now look at them.
This Knicks team was not a destination that most free agents wanted to come to and Phil was still able to build a really nice roster despite that. Maybe if we win a respectable amount of games this year then next year we might be a free agent destination.
We are a young team on the rise. Our future success depends on the play of our young players. If Kristaps Porzingis can develop into a star, if Jerian Grant, Langston Galloway, and Kyle O'Quinn into really good rotation players and maybe even Derrick Williams, CleAnthony Early and Thenasis Antetokounmpo become good options off the bench. Then we have a great young nucleus of players surrounding Carmelo and our veterans. A whole lot must go right, but this Knicks team can get to the playoffs.
And then there is next offseason. Kevin Durant?
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Thanks for reading and go Knicks!