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Two and Three After Five

Aaron Afflalo… He hasn’t played yet. We’ve seen everyone on this team except for Afflalo and Lou Amundson. The consensus from around the internet with regards to this Knicks team is that the starting back court is shot, can’t shoot, and should be revamped with Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway as soon as possible.

But Afflalo is day-to-day nursing a hamstring problem, despite Phil Jackson’s famous quote from Charley Rosen’s summer series The Phil Files, “he takes excellent care of his body and I am certain he has something left in the tank.”

With Vujacic and Calderon in the back court starting, there is no penetration and mediocre defense. If Calderon started with Afflalo, things could be more balanced defensively and in terms of attacking the paint. Afflalo is also known for his midrange shooting, which is something the starting guards could improve on shooting a combined 29.6% from the field. So shitty.

So we have to wait to see how things develop, if Afflalo can come in and find his rhythm and be a leader as a guard. Galloway, despite his numerous big-shots early this season, IS a reserve, and Jerian Grant is still too much of a rookie to start. This is why coach Fisher doesn’t tinker with the lineup. At 2-3, he will probably not make any changes. If they go 2-10 with everyone healthy, I would expect to see changes.

Porzingis is quickly gaining popularity in the NBA, having dunked put backs over Lamarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, both being players the Knicks wanted not so long ago. Porzingis’ biggest challenge is going to be to learn how to not foul and still play solid defense. It could take him all season to learn how to do this. Mozgov used to have this problem.

Kyle O’Quinn had been solid. Kevin Seraphin looked impressive in the first half against the Cavs, wonder why coach Fisher didn’t want to play him in the second half of the basketball game? Derrick Williams had a nice take to the basket, but once again didn’t put up huge numbers compared to the preseason despite limited minutes on the floor last night. The Knicks barely got any fast breaks, and this is due to the scouting reports. Teams are going to hustle back, but it is the defense that must provide the fast-break opportunities that Derrick Williams flourishes in.

I’m still wondering why Cleanthony Early was replaced with Lance Thomas in the rotation. Cleanthony had a hell of a preseason but is seeing very little daylight now in the regular season. Maybe a future Wally Pip moment will happen for Cleanthony…

Will Jimmer Fredette do his best impersonation of John Paxon in effort to find his way out of the d-league and onto the Knicks roster as the 15th man?

I hope the second unit remains intact, Porzingis learns how to play without fouling, and that Afflalo brings defense and penetration to the starting five, as well as leadership. Melo will get his, shooting slump or not, he’s still a top 10 scorer in the league, even with Porzingis slowly developing into New York’s newest star.

I leave you with this, a picture of Phil at MSG, having rode his bike there on draft day.


Knicks K.O. (Kyle O’Quinn) Greg Monroe 122-97


It was brutal.

We were doing the brutality.

The team has bought-in to coach Derek Fisher’s philosophies on both sides of the court.

The bench scored 70.

Jason Kidd and his Milwaukee Bucks had no answers.

The question is:

Why does Derrick Williams remind me of Latrell Sprewell in a Knicks uniform?

-He flies on the break and finishes with athleticism that makes me forget about JR Smith.
-His hair is sort of like Latrell’s in that is is uncoventional for an NBA style. Long.

The energy of this team right now, can they sustain it?

Will Melo be happy to take less shots if it means statement wins like last night?

We don’t have to wait long to find out, the Knicks have their home opener tonight against the Hawks. The Hawks will be thirsty, they lost yesterday.

We Know our injured guys from last year, Calderon and Melo are back and are contributing in the starting minutes.

Love Vujacic and what he brings to the starting five. He reads those passing lanes well and with Calderon will keep the defense on the perimter – both guys can shoot.

But with that second unit, you see the future of the franchise’s back court. Jerian Grant, not many are talking about him right now because of the focus of Porzingis and Derrick Williams, but Grant is a major reason why Charles Barkley, a Knick-basher for decades, is now their #1 fan. Grant was a tremendous player for a very fun to watch Notre Dame team last year. He is NBA-ready and could make the all-rookie team if his minutes are consistent.

Porzingis showed promise with a solid stat line: 15 points 5 rebounds 1 block 1 assist 1 steal. He didn’t shy away from contact and doesn’t appear to be getting pushed around as the pundits promised he would.

Loved the tag team effort on Greg Monroe: What Robin Lopez started, Kyle O’Quinn continued to bring against the big who spurned the Knicks in the offseason. Boy am I tired of hearing about that, but this was nice revenge.

If Melo starts to get to the line, we have three guys who can draw fouls: Melo, Kristaps, and Derrick Williams.


Langston Galloway was awesome to start that second half with big three’s. We have bigs that can shoot those too – O’Quinn was tempted but did not. Maybe you’ll see him put up a three tonight.

I do not miss Chris Copeland, or Steve Novak for that matter and Lopez and Porzingis are helping me start to forget Mozgov and Gallinari. We are getting two-way players now, not guys like Shumpert or Tyson who can defend but can’t shoot or J.R. Smith who can dazzle but well, enough about those players.

Watching how much Cleanthony Early improved during the offseason and during the preseason, I was surprised the coach gave the minutes to Lance Thomas, but that was a great decision as Lance Thomas produced double figures and was a plus 20 off the bench in efficiency.

Knicks finish preseason at 4-2

Last night’s game in Boston was the first time we saw the starting five that we can expect to see at the Garden for the season opener on Wednesday against the Bucks:

PG Calderon – had his best game thus far as a Knick
SG Afflalo – hurt his hamstring again, will Sasha start on Wednesday?
SF Melo – worst outing of the preseason but I’m not concerned
PF Porzingis – very shaky on D but had his moments on offense
C Lopez – solid short range jump hook, expect more from him in the regular season.

New York has strength in its bench, however:

PG Grant – best penetrator on the team
SG Galloway – solid sophomore with much less on his plate than during his rookie season
SF Cleanthony Early – seems so improved it’s like getting a new player
PF Derrick Williams – the “mvp of the preseason” according to Afflalo
C Kyle O’Quinn – both Kyle and Seraphin are hungry for minutes and will have to take advantage when they’re in to assure their role on the team as enforcer.

We have the role players from last year, Lance Thomas, Lou Amundson, and possibly a roster opening now that the training camp players have been cut.

The Knicks, particularly the rookies, look a little lost on defense, and need to learn how to not jump on pump fakes.

If the starting five can keep up in terms of speed with other NBA starting fives, we have a solid chance to be a 500 ball club this year, because the strength of the second unit is their chemistry.

Melo needs to find that balance of team play versus individual performance.

This year’s Knicks team is deep, so finding the right rotations will be easier for Derek Fisher.

There are, of course, Knicks fans who aren’t convinced of Fisher’s abilities as a coach. He was in a very difficult situation last season, hopefully this time around he won’t have the same type of adversity in the world’s most famous arena.

This is the Video that Convinced Phil to Draft Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez

In the video, Porzingis wears #6 and Willie is #14. Willy will come on next season and is described by Phil as being “stronger version of Luis Scola.”

That’s strong.

WG is a post player that gets rebounds. KP seems like stretch four that likes to set high screens and pop.

The Knicks will be faster next year

The addition of this guy guarantees it:

If Calderon doesn’t come back full speed in November (he was hobbled much of the second half of the season in case you quit watching), I would expect 4-years of college traingle royalty in Jerian Grant. He’s the 6’5″ point guard nephew of Horace Grant, of Chicago Bulls dynasty.

So we have Derrick Williams, Jerian Grant and Aaron Afflalo as the shooting guard. The Afflalo signing assures decreased minutes for Langston Galloway, a d-league all star who started last season and was the Knicks’ only award-winner during the season of 17 wins.

O’Quinn doesn’t appear as quick, but is definitely young and talented as a reserve big.

Here’s how the summer league rookie highlights looks:

Porzingis blocked Okafor three times in one game.

Jerian Grant at #19.

Mario Hezonja at #5

Jhalil Okafor at #3 (he will be a good post scorer but not much else in my eyes

Karl Towns at #1

New Team, Did Phil and Steve Do Well?

I put Mills in the title because by all accounts, it seems as he is doing the heavy lifting and may in fact serve as the mediator between the success of Phil and the petulance of the owner.

We have ourselves a new roster.

Yes we struck out on the big names. People are saying they failed in that respect.

I think the Knicks might be fun to watch this year.

Much depends on Melo, the coach and how well the new players blend in chemistry-wise.

We weren’t going anywhere with Tyson Chandler (neither did Dallas) so I welcome Robin Lopez and his workman game.

We weren’t going anywhere with J.R. and Shump so I welcome the younger, more mid-range game of Afflalo.

We weren’t going to get Okafor or Towns, so I welcome the upside of Porzingis, who looked like a factor in Vegas Summer league.

Jerian Grant might finally give us a penetrating point guard that even a healthy Calderon will not provide.

No, we’re not a lock to make the playoffs, but we’re a lock to be close.

It all depends on Melo. It all depends on the coach. The other guys, Derrick Williams, Kyle, O’Quinn, Langston Galloway, Amundson, Lance Thomas, those guys are all role players to compliment Melo. To allow Melo to be Melo within the context of the triangle, the way Jordan and Kobe were as well.

The coach must command the respect of the players and he must know how to bring out the best in them.

If not, this team could see moves before the February trade deadline.

Yet, I fault the media for trying to paint Melo as a malcontent for not attending the summer league, not tweeting flowering things towards the new aquisitions. So what if he wanted Justice Winslow, that guy has Shumpert written all over him, and how well did Shumpert work out in this system?

It was strange to see Fisher trying to gain extra experience in the summer league, but perhaps beneficial, because more than a few of that roster will make the roster in late October, when we know all 15 guys who will fight this uphill battle as Knicks.

For now, we know the identity of 13 or so of those guys.

We also know who won’t be back: Shved, Acy and Bargs. Oh well. Weren’t going anywhere with those guys either.

Time to look at those summer league tapes again!

The Knicks signed Derrick Williams for $10 million over 2 years

Derrick Williams is 6’8″, 240lbs, a high-riser that was drafted 2nd overall back in 2011.

Does Thanasis Factor into the Draft?

As either a roster player next season or as a trade chip for perhaps a second-rounder?

Note that Langston Galloway is in many of these highlights. Funny how salary cap could have prevented Thanasis from seeing any real NBA time last year but Langston got plenty of time to shine. Maybe Phil didn’t want to show the rest of the league how bad Thanasis is on offense, or how good Thanasis is on defense.

At this point in the game of NBA Draft 2015, I know they’ve had Mudiay in and they plan to bring in many other new rookies for questioning. The Knicks are a mess, they only have 31 year old Melo and a few spare parts and there are legit concerns that other NBA players are too coward to come to where the “lights shine the brightest” as some idiot owner once said.

I’ve been reading Phil Jackson’s book (poor Phil, is he trying to pull a next town Larry Brown now that he knows how tough it is to work with these people?) and the triangle is all predicated on penetration. For that reason I think we need to get Mudiay. If people are right (you can’t trust people) and he has John Wall quickness, then you have to take that in today’s game, there is more an emphasis on athleticism.

I saw the quote from some one who used to play with Fisher, saying the players won’t listen to him because he is too young and not ready to coach. The good thing is, the players who wouldn’t listen were removed, or are going to be removed.

The jury is still out on Melo, but hey, Melo could be moved if he doesn’t figure out the triangle.

And Jerry West seems to want to tell players through the media that you can’t be yourself when playing in the triangle system. Hate much, Jerry?

And why does anyone in the world care who Laimbeer would prefer, Jordan or LeBron? Seriously, who in the world cares what Bill Laimbeer thinks about anything?

As far as the finals, game 3 was much more boring than game 2, which wasn’t as good as game 1. I have no dog in the fight, but the Cavs winning should light an already lit fire under both Melo and Jackson’s asses. Seeing those guys, Shump and JR, do well, even Mozzy who had to be thrown in so that Melo could have a couple more dollars, all of those guys are going to win a title and the media just wants to take another chance to shit on the Knicks for not getting enough back in exchange for those players.

As far as the draft goes, we might get Greg Monroe in free agency, so maybe you have to take either a guard who can penetrate, pass and shoot, or a big who can defend, because Monroe is known for his scoring.

Seems like it will either be Justice Winslow, Mudiay, or Will Cauley-Stein, but there are plenty of Knicks fans who want Frank Kaminksy. There are also a few euro players that seem to be climbing the charts, ask Fran Vazquez why he didn’t come to Orlando once they wasted a draft pick on him.

I watched every Duke game I could this year, Justice seems like a better, more competitive version of Wilson Chandler. Cauley-Stein could be like Tyson Chandler. I see Melo is buddying up with Justice Winslow now, is he trying to flex on management to pick who he wants?

Phil Jackson’s book is all about giving up ego, points, stats, for the team win. Has Melo read it?

I miss Danilo Gallinari. Didn’t he have a 40+ game before the season ended? I ate at his restaurant once in the west village. It was decent.

Should they get this guy?

When was the last time the Knicks got it right?

In 2003, the Knicks picked Mike Sweetney at number 9.

In 2005, the Knicks picked Channing Frye at number 8. Ellis was taken at 40, Gortat was taken at 57. Someone like Fran Vazquez, never even made it to the NBA and was taken at 11. The draft is tricky even without involving trading up or down.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 10.23.02 AM

Maybe the Knicks’ luck is set to change starting with the lottery tomorrow…