Knicks Befuddle their Coach while the Team Stays in Contention

Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) — from the Wall Street Journal — often tweets about the Knicks.  This morning he has two that I thought were especially interesting.  Each includes a quote from Mike Woodson (the team’s head coach).


So Mike Woodson is making two statements:
1. He doesn’t know what kind of team he has.
2. He still sees this team as a contender.

Let’s ignore the inconsistency between these two statements and make two more observations.

1. The Knicks are 3-9 with a -5.8 point differential.  Only two teams have won fewer games.  Only four teams have a worse point differential.  So this team is “bad”.  The good news is that the Nets are worse. So currently, the Knicks are the very best team in New York (barely, and that could change today).

2.  Woodson sees this team as still in the playoff chase.  That is true.  If the Knicks win the Atlantic then they are in.  And right now, the Knicks are only 2.5 games out of the lead.

Of course, if this division remains awful (no team in the Atlantic has a winning record) then this will introduce a new strategy for teams to follow in building a contender.  Previously people focused on the quality of their team.  The Knicks strategy this year is to hope their competition remains awful.  This strategy could pay off (although it seems hard to replicate).

Let’s close by noting why the Knicks are not very good.  The team’s leading producers of wins last year — Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd — are not playing right now (Kidd is coaching Brooklyn and Chandler is hurt).  When you change the players in the clothes, you will change outcomes,  The loss of talent can be offset by simply adding more talent.  But the team’s primary addition in the off-season — Andrea Bargnani (-0.003 WP48 at the moment according to — is not likely to help.  So until the team finds more productive players, it seems likely that the Knicks will continue to befuddle their coach.

But given the weakness of the Atlantic, this team might still be able to “contend”.

– DJ




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