The $47 Million Frontcourt
The New York Knickerbockers lost again last night to the Detroit Pistons. After the game, Carmelo Anthony was asked why the Knicks are struggling:
“I mean, it’s hard to take anything positive out of the way we’ve been playing these games. You know, it’s kind of — it’s not really making sense to me right now as far as what’s really going on, why we’re not in sync with one another, why we’re just losing basketball games.
“It’s kind of hard to put a finger on at this point.”
Help is on the way! We here at the Miller Time Podcast are perfectly happy to break it down for you. First, a number:
Any guesses on what that is?
“The Philadelphia 76ers payroll?”
Nope. Philly is actually paying their entire squad $47,765,845. Damn close guess, though.
“The GDP of Tuvalu?”
You must be in the market for some cheap domain names! No, Tuvalu’s GDP is actually less, approximately $37,000,000.
Give up? Okay, we’ll just tell you. That is the amount of money that the Knicks are paying three players: Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Andrea Bargnani.
I know, right?
If all three of those players were healthy and ready to go, the Knicks would be in solid shape. That, of course, is far from the case. Chandler is down for 4-6 weeks, and calling Stoudemire a competent, heathly NBA player at this point is a good way to get you the Mike Woodson stare.
Andrea to the rescue! Bargnani is the best of the three right now. The Knicks sacrificed a 2016 first round pick and Steve Novak for him. The Knicks seemed to be hoping to aquire a Mega-Novak that could do more than just spot up behind the arc. New York was blasted in the media for this, mainly on the grounds that the Knicks were sacrificing the future for a marginal gain today.
That is true, and the criticism is warranted. But we are here to discuss the New York Knicks squad that will be playing on November 20th, 2013. It doesn’t matter how Bargnani was acquired and what the Knicks sacrificed.
Bargnani is shooting .509/.393./.857 in this young season. Those are great numbers, and probably a bit more than the Knicks were expecting. Woodson is correct in valuing big men who can knock down that midrange jumper, especially against Indiana.
But $11,000,000 is a whole lot for a player who is a disaster defensively, and Bargnani’s defensive incompetence looks a whole lot worse with Chandler’s absence.
Last year, the Knicks were 18th in Defensive Rating. That isn’t a number to brag about, but that is enough to make a playoff team out of a squad that had the third best offense. This year? Their DRtg has dropped all the way to 28th. The complete lack of defensive presence from the $47 Million Frontcourt (hey, catchy new nickname!) is a huge contributing factor.
That drop is bad enough, and a bit expected with the injuries and personnel change. What hasn’t been quite is expected is the Knick’s struggles to put up three point shots.
Last year, the New York’s finest set an NBA record for three point attempts with a jaw-dropping 2,371 hoists from deep. 997 of those attempts were thrown up by Novak, Chris Copeland, Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, and Rasheed Wallace. None of those guys are on the team anymore. Melo is taking two fewer attempts from long range this season. New York is asking Bargnani, Metta World Peace, and Tim Hardaway Jr. to replace that production. That won’t get it done.
JR Smith has been the only Knicks player who has tried to carry on the three-point flag. He is shooting an incredible seven attempts from downtown this season, up from 5.5 last year. While his eagerness is appreciated, his .257 three-point shooting percent certainly isn’t.
The Knicks have invested a gigantic chunk of their payroll to a frontcourt that isn’t producing. They have lost a significant amount of shooting talent in the offseason, and they are too cash strapped to replace it fully. They have taken significant steps backwards on both sides of the ball since their second-round defeat at the hands of the Pacers last year.
If you are looking for a source of your team’s struggles Melo, those are good places to start. Don’t expect those problems to be cleared up tonight.
Finally, the day has come! We here at the Miller Time Podcast have been waiting for this Knicks matchup to have a proper excuse to post this clip, our favorite of the preseason:
If you watched that without sound, you might be wondering what the fuss is about. Watch it again, this time with sound. You hear that? That is someone shouting “PARTY TIME!!!” right before Hardaway Jr. throws it down.
At first, we thought Hardaway Jr. yelled it himself. There was also some discussion about whether or not it was “Hardy Time” instead. From the man himself:
Outstanding stuff. Can you imagine how much more awesome the “Lance Poops on the Bucks” dunk would have been if someone yelled “BORN READY!!!” right before the jam? If someone yelled “GEORGIE PORGIE!!!” right before Paul George posterized Birdman?
I nominate David West to be the designated screamer. Get on it, big fella.
Hibbert + Melo = 0
No way we are doing a Pacers-Knicks preview without posting this, one of the greatest blocks in NBA postseason history:
Carmelo Anthony, Expert Passer
Al Horford is the victim here. Hat tip to New York Knicks Memes.
JR Smith makes the announcers giggle with one particularly ill-advized shot attempt. Luis Scola puts a few moves on Bargnani and makes Andrea fall to the floor, the first “ankle breaker” of Scola’s career. Chris Copeland gets in a few garbage time threes and flashes a “bet you wish you were me” grin at Toure’ Murry. Melo never smiles once.
The Knicks have some early success from three, but the Pacers destroy any hopes and dreams of a close game with a classic huge second half. Pacers 104, Knicks 83.