What the heck happened to New York?

The following post gets it’s Wins Produced numbers from the fantastic NBA Geek. Seriously go check out the player comparison engine and I’ll see you in a while. We also have historical Wins Produced back to 2000. Finally any other numbers are from Basketball-Reference.

Last season New York managed to return to the promised land. With two supposed superstars in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire and a giant splash in free agency with Tyson Chandler they were looking poised to be even better this season. It hasn’t quite turned out that way and I thought I’d give New York a closer look.

Chandler, Amare and Melo are all back

It would be easy to fall back on the chemistry myth: putting multiple stars on a team together doesn’t always work. When we look at their production though Melo, Amare and Chandler are all pretty close to where they were last season.

Anthony, Chandler and Stoudemire 2010-2011 vs. 2011-2012
Player 2011 MPG 2011 WP48 2012 MPG 2012 WP48
 Carmelo Anthony 36.2  0.088 35.8 0.207
 Tyson Chandler 27.8  0.268 33.3 0.270
 Amare Stoudemire 36.8  0.039 36.5 0.029

In fact this trio is in fact better than last season. Melo is playing very well right now. Chandler’s production is matching last year’s but he’s playing more minutes per game. Stoudemire is still quite bad and a long way removed from his former self. He’s still close to levels from last season though, so we can’t exactly blame him for a decline.

They forgot the rebounding

Last season Landry Fields was an amazing rookie talent. His production came in two ways. First, he was a very efficient scorer. Second, he was an absolutely beast at rebounding for a guard-forward. This season Field’s points per game have stayed roughly the same as last season. The problem? He’s actually gotten much worse at shooting and is just taking more shots to make up for it. Additionally, Fields is now rebounding half as effectively as he was last season.

The case of the Knicks’ missing rebounds
Player 2011 TS% 2011 ORB-48 2011 DRB-48 2012 TS% 2012 ORB-48 2012 DRB-48
 Landry Fields 0.598  1.5 5.9 0.498  0.6 3.1
 Tyson Chandler 0.697  3.6 8.5 0.806  2.5 4.7

In acquiring Chandler the Knicks were supposed to be getting a premier defender. Part of that includes rebounding. Chandler though is having the lowest rebounding season of his career. Looking at last season the best two players the Knicks have should be Fields and Chandler. We’d expect this to mean they’d grab many boards. That has yet to happen this season.

It’s too soon to tell what is going on with Fields. It’s entirely possible that the addition of Chandler has convinced him to lay off rebounds. Players tend to know scoring gets you paid and on a team with Amare and Melo (and Douglas, who is putting up 15 shots a game) it is hard to get touches. Fields’ new strategy may very well be to just shoot as often as possible and hope the extra points boost his value. (this is the last year on his contract)

They don’t have a point guard

New York Knicks point guards past and present
Player Season MPG WP48
Toney Douglas 2011-2012 33.8 -0.008
Baron Davis 2010-2011 25.3 0.068
Chauncey Billups 2010-2011 32.1 0.158
Raymond Felton 2010-2011 36.5 0.121

Last season the Knicks started the season off by acquiring Raymond Felton. Felton proceeded to play very well for the Knicks. The Knicks then decided to trade Felton with other pieces for Carmelo Anthony. Luckily they acquired another good point guard in Chauncey Billups in return. In order to get Chandler they released Chauncey Billups. To rectify this they signed Baron Davis off of waivers. Davis has been injured. As such the Knicks have played Toney Douglas as their starter. Douglas has proceeded to take many shots and make very few of them to go along with very few assists. The end result is the Knicks have an absolutely terrible player at the point. This is employing a similar strategy the Lakers have in recent years with Derek Fisher. Unfortunately Melo and Amare are not quite the players Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are.

Still hope?

Landry Fields is young. It’s hard to know if he’ll revert to form or if he’s changed his game for the worse. The plus side is that in theory some of his production from last year can come back. Additionally it seems unlikely that Chandler’s rebounding will stay so low. In that regard the Knicks have hope they’ll get more wins.

The bigger problem the Knicks have is weakness in their point guards and big men outside of Tyson Chandler. While I’m hopeful, it’s unlikely Amare will revert to his 2008 form. Their other options are two rookies in Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan or two veterans in Steve Novak and Jared Jeffries who have never been that productive. At the point guard they are hoping that an aged and injured Baron Davis will come back and be productive or that an injured rookie Iman Shumpert will be productive or that Toney Douglas will stop being awful. I wouldn’t hold my breath on any of those players.

If Fields reverts to his 2011 form and Melo keeps up his career production (two big ifs) then the Knicks will be very good at three positions (SG, SF, and C). Unfortunately they will still be quite bad at two of the other positions. In the east though that should still be enough to keep them competitive.

If that doesn’t happen though then the Knicks decline will largely be a result of “losing” Landry Fields, Ray Felton and Chauncey Billups and keeping Amare. Of course, when all is said and done it is likely that other targets will be blamed and the same problems may repeat themselves in New York.


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