The draft is done. Votes have been cast for Team Schulman versus Team Dente. Now we leap off the turnbuckle and settle once and for all Team Miranda versus Team Marceda. Only the marginally superior will survive. Come for our notes. Stay for the votes!
STARTERS: Carmelo Anthony/Earl Monroe/Anthony Mason/David Lee/ Pablo Prigioni
BENCH: Kurt Thomas/Wilson Chandler/Trent Tucker
COACH: Pat Riley
My team was assembled with an eye on multi-talented players and flexibility. In the tradition of the Knick championship teams from the 1970s, all my starters can pass; some of you clever wags are already brimming with Melo-doesn’t-pass quips, but I’m counting on the presence of capable teammates and Coach Riles to bring out the best of Comrade Anthony rather than Capitalist Carmelo. Melo and Earl Monroe are Hall of Fame scorers. There are millions of people with millions of reasons to downplay Melo’s greatness, but don’t get it twisted. He’s an all-time 99th percentile scorer with pretty much infinite range who can lose defenders off the dribble, in the post, or after gaining a sliver of open space facing them up. He’s as good a scorer as this franchise has ever had. Ever.
You’ll hear a lot of noise from some of my opponents in this fairytale tournament about how the old-time players could never hope to hang with the size, skill and athleticism of today’s alleged demigods. And factually speaking, it’s true that, say, Tim Hardaway Jr. is taller, jumps higher, and runs faster than Monroe did. But if you don’t think a dude named Black Jesus can turn yesterday’s water into some spirited modern-day spirit, you’re one of those born-every-minute suckers forever falling for the plebeian anachronism that time is inconstant. I can’t help you with that. But I can give you some Pearl to think about. Walt Frazier described “everything [Monroe] did as creative, spontaneity.” So don’t think. Absorb.
Remember: the top overall pick in this fairytale draft was Frazier. Monroe was considered Frazier’s equal, his first great rival, and eventually his peerless partner in New York’s backcourt. On this team, he’s the #2 option.
Anthony Mason works as a point forward who can run the floor and provide post-offense, and along with David Lee provides a pair of ambidextrous bigs who can impact the offense with or without the ball in their hands, cutting, screening, rolling, offensive rebounding. They’d be poetry together. You may scoff at Pablo Prigioni as my fifth starter, pro’ly ‘cuz as a child you weren’t held enough or something, but on this team he’s perfectly content to set up others and let them work as the hubs of the offense while he hangs behind the arc, where he shot 41% as a Knick.
As Melo and Lee ain’t exactly All-NBA defenders, I drafted Kurt Thomas and Wilson Chandler: playing those two with Pablo and Mase offers plus-D at four of five positions. Twice Thomas ranked top-10 in defensive rating, and his ability to rebound, post smaller foes and hit from midrange means you don’t get stuck playing 4-on-5 with him in there. Plus his nicknames are Crazy Eyes, Mid-Life (I love that one!), and Dirty Kurt. A dude like that can ball on my team any day.
Chandler brings size and skill to the wing. So if I decide to go big, he fits just fine as the two-guard. If I really need buckets, I can play Monroe at the point, Chandler alongside him, and Melo, Mase and Lee up front. If I wanna go small-ball, I could play him at one of the forward spots. He’s versatile and athletic; in any era, those are strengths.
Trent Tucker is the original Knick bomber, and he wasn’t just a catch-and-shoot ace of easy looks. Lotta y’all remember this:
But how about this? From your 8th man?!
Or a do-or-die moment in the playoffs? Season on the line? Click on the 7:30 mark: Knicks down 111-107, nine seconds left. If you hate Doug Collins as an announcer the way I do, his face after Tucker’s shot is all-time schadenfreude.
If not for Michael Jordan, Tucker would have the most famous four-point play in Knick history, and Larry Johnson would just be some bulky phantasm who manifests at MSG every few years when James Dolan needs to prove he has actual friends. Point being, Trent’s quite the nice ace-in-the-hole.
Lastly but soooo not leastly, Pat Riley is my coach. I did not think he’d fall beyond the top two picks and I think he offers this team as much upside as any of its players. Riley will make sure this team plays team defense. He’ll drag them through endless practice torments that will make the game itself seem like death’s sweet release. He often went with rotations as short as six men during the playoffs, so you know he’s going to identify his strongest lineup and ride it. You cannot hate what you never loved, and that’s one reason I sports-hate Riley so much — he was my favorite coach of any of my teams, in any sport, ever. He can lead this diverse group of talents to victory. This team can score in isolation, they can score from inside and out, and they can defend. Half of them can shoot from distance. Half can post-up. Half can create for themselves. I figure a match-up with Team Marceda will play out the way a lot of big games in the 1990s went: Patrick Ewing will score 30+, no one else will break out (Amar’e Stoudemire and Ewing don’t seem like they’d work well together), and Riley will top Mike D’Antoni because holy crap do I really even need to go into detail there?
STARTERS: Not my call.
BENCH: Let the coach coach!
COACH: Reigning Coach of the Year, father of the modern game, rider of Jeremy Lin like he’s freakin’ Secretariat, PRINGLES
Unlike the rest of these clowns, I wouldn’t dare tell my coach how to do his thing — that’s not how I GM — so instead of dictating who starts and who sits, I’ll tell you why I drafted each player. I’ll leave the second guessing and media mind games to the Matt Mirandas and Steve Millseses of the world.
Wait, do I really need to justify picking Patrick God-Damn Ewing? Fuck outta here, son! He’s the GOAT, unquestioned, and even Clyde says so.
You want a particular vintage? Let’s go with 1990, when the big fella poured in 28 points per game on 55% shooting, ripped down 11 boards, swatted 4 shots, and yoinked 1 steal.
Hold on a sec, I’ve gotta go change my undies.
Amar’e and Pat are an awkward fit? Please. The only player Amar’e can’t play with is Melo, and thank God I’m not saddled with that ball-stopping fat-faced chucker. Amar’e and Pat go together like wine baths and cheese. They’ve both got solid outside shots that will unclog the lane, and any messes that Amar’e causes on defense will be mopped up by Pat, Oak, or DeBusschere, depending on lineups.
You guys like pick and rolls, right? Amar’e is the Osiris of this shit. There wasn’t a better pick-and-roll big in the game than Amar’e at his peak, a peak the Knicks enjoyed during Stoudemire’s first season with the club. He was a legitimate MVP contender putting up 25 pts, 8 boards, and 2 blocks per game, including a Knick-record stretch of 9 straight 30-point games, a Knick-record stretch of 9 straight 50% FG games, and 43% shooting from downtown (a thing that is true, if wildly misleading).
The East is big, man, and my bigs are FIRE!
Dave De’Busschere is such a team guy that he added an apostrophe to his name in an unprecedented show of solidarity with Amar’e Stoudemire. Black sneaks? Shaved heads? Those are cute, but they got nothin’ on this level of dedication.
We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is the man who is widely credited with being the final piece of the 1970 championship puzzle. Walt Bellamy was good, maybe great, but it wasn’t until he was traded for The Bush that everything clicked. It’s one of the many reasons my man is a Hall of Famer and one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players.
You may say I have a log jam in the front court, but I say The Bush will be happy to play wherever Pringles needs him. Power forward, small forward, or center. It doesn’t matter. You put him in a rotation with Pat, Amar’e, and Oak, and you’ve got wave after wave of Grade A beef comin atcha. Good luck catching your breath.
Y’all know what it is.
[Queue the ”PERFECT!” sound bite from Street Fighter and/or Life of Pablo]
Need I say more?
Look, I know this pick is controversial, but Hubert Davis is the second best 3-point shooter of all time. It’s true! He shot 44% for his career, just under Steve Kerr and just above the League’s First Unanimous MVP. In 1996, his final season with the Knicks, he shot 47% from downtown and had an offensive rating of 122.
I will never NOT be convinced that this was a man before his time. Did he have a great career? No. Was he a great defender? Not really, but in 94-96 he had net ratings of +9, +7, and +13, all on great defensive teams. You can hide this guy defensively if the rest of your squad is as brolic as mine, and hide him we shall! It’s an especially easy task against the likes of Prigioni, who despite his many charms has never been the most elusive ball handler.
OH AND ONE MORE THING — are you really gonna sit there and tell me that Pringles can’t figure out what to do with this kid? Are you really gonna sit there and tell me that the man who orchestrated Chris Duhon’s Knick-record 22-assist game can’t coax a little more out of this sharp-shooting cherub than bully ball connoisseur Pat the Rat? Are you reaaaaaaally gonna sit there and tell me that D’Antoni can’t turn Hubert Davis into basically Steph Curry?
My bigs need the floor spaced so they can rumble through the jungle, and the tragically misunderstood Hubert Davis will do just that. He doesn’t have to play big minutes, but he’s a weapon just the same.
One of Dick Barnett’s nicknames was Skull. Wanna know why?
That’s a face made for BASKETBALL, baby! If Oak doesn’t scare you, that mean mug will.
Luckily for me his game was also pretty frightening (for opponents). He averaged 23 points, 4 boards, and 3.5 assists in 1966, his most prolific year with the Knicks. He was the league’s 6th leading scorer, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Rick Barry, and Sam Jones. All fairly talented basketball players.
Dicky Barnes had a long and distinguished career for the Knickerbockers, playing for both championship squads, so you know he brings those intangibles, but at his peak he was considered one of the best shooters and ball handlers in the league, an incredible feat considering he shot the ball like a lunatic. Check out this description of his form that I excavated from the SI Vault:
Barnett's jumper is an intriguing thing to behold, for it seems to attack all the basic laws of basketball, human coordination and aerodynamics. He leaves the floor with the ball cradled in his left hand directly below his ear. As he lets the ball go, he throws both feet violently backward. At the release he resembles a shotputter, but the result is a high trajectory flight with an extremely soft touch. Often when the ball heads toward the basket Barnett tries to steer it home with body English and delicate flicks of his wrists. Altogether it is a compelling performance.
He was such an intriguing specimen with such otherworldly skill that fans showed up early to watch him warm up. Remind you of anyone? He was Steph before Steph, Lonzo before Lonzo, and Cassell before Cassell (just in the face).
If Dick Barnett were around today we’d all be completely obsessed with him. I love him and I’ve never seen him play.
You done laughing yet?
Sure, D’Antoni will need to do some point guard whispering, but we know very well from history that he’s up to this specific task. In the half season before he was shipped off to Denver as part of the Melo trade, Ray-Ray averaged 17 points, 9 assists, 2 steals, and shot 86% from the free throw line, all while pushing the rock at a relentless pace under the watchful eye of the mustachioed one.
You’re telling me this guy can’t hang with Petey Pablo? Once again, fuck outta here! Peak bulldog wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and I dare say he had the game to back up the snarl. I’ve got no problem running him out there at the point.
And let’s be honest, the Knicks wouldn’t be the Knicks without a gaping hole at the 1.
LEAN IN TO THE SKID, BABY!
What, you wanted me to go with Pat Riley? In 2017? The game’s passed you by, Pat. Old dogs don’t learn new tricks and your musty, dusty style of ball has gone the way of the dodo.
I’ll throw no shade at Red, but I needed someone to breathe a little life into my less-than-stellar PGs. D’Antoni’s the guy. Pat, Oak, and Burning Bush don’t need anyone to tell them how to play D, but the weakest parts of my roster benefit greatly from Pringles’ visionary offensive mind.
Mike D’Antoni single handedly reinvented the way NBA teams play basketball, and somehow this is a bad pick? Why? Because the KNICKS discarded him? That visionary franchise? Or is it because he was run out of town by Carmelo Anthony, that paragon of championship basketball?
I’m not having that weak ass bullshit, and neither is Mr. Seven Seconds or Less.
See you suckas in the Finals.
This poll is closed