Sunday, October 09, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #4

There's a great deal of hoopla surrounding the Knicks this year, and it all begins with Larry Brown.

#4 - Larry Brown and the Knicks

If you were to start a new franchise and you had the option of choosing any player or coach to build your team around, would you consider Larry Brown? Obviously you couldn't turn down the likes of a LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, or Tim Duncan-- all true franchise players, but where would you rank a franchise coach? There's no question that talent usually reigns supreme in the NBA, but if there's ever been a coach who can turn a pile of shit into a gourmet feast, Larry Brown is the man.

While the Knicks certainly aren't a heap of trash, there's a lot of major question marks on the roster going into the season. Talent isn't necessarily a question with a number of these clowns, but rather how LB will be able to get the most out of them. Going right along with Anthony's analysis of the Lakers from the other day, let's take a closer look at each member of the Knicks with respect to how they performed B.L. (before Larry) and how LB can utilize them best.


Stephon Marbury - I'm as big a critic of Marbury as anyone, but there's simply no denying his God-given abilities. In a way, he's sort of the Alex Rodriguez of the NBA-- esteemed reputation, big numbers, little team success to show for it, and he seems to shrink when the moment is its most pivotal. The question going into the season isn't how effective Marbury will be under Brown (because he's going to have his best season ever, watch), but how exactly Brown will get the most out of his best player. I had assumed all summer long that Steph would shift over to the two and LB would convince Isiah to bring in someone like an Eric Snow to serve as a more natural point guard, but that doesn't appear to be the case since Marbury is really the only point guard on the roster. Expect LB to entrust Marbury as the team's starting one to begin the season, preaching defense and leadership over everything else. The Knicks actually have a fair amount of weapons surrounding Steph-- they could easily win games with him sacrificing a handful of points.

As critical as I've always been of Marbury, I'm banking on Brown getting the absolute most out of his star player, much like he did with AI.

Jamal Crawford - How Brown plans to use Crawford is anyone's guess. He could just slot him in at the 2; he could play him more at the 1 and take Marbury off the ball; he could bring him off the bench in a 6th man role; he could potentially not use him at all and instead give Penny, Houston, Ariza, and Nate the Great a chunk of the minutes; or he could even talk Isiah into getting rid of him. Nothing would surprise me. Crawford is a uniquely talented player, but he's going to have to really discipline his game if he wants to fit into Brown's plans. I really believe Crawford is one of the keys to the Knicks' success. If LB can get to Crawford, he could be a huge asset with all the matchup problems he can cause on both ends of the floor.

Penny Hardway - If you think Penny can still rediscover the magic he once played with, it's time to step back into reality. At 34 now and with a pair of battered knees, Penny is nothing more than a 15-20 minute sub-- at best. But Penny could fill that role nicely for the Knicks considering he's humbled himself and has been more enthusiastic about LB's hiring as anyone. Vets like Penny, players that LB can entrust and are willing to put in the work, are the ones that usually find success in his system.

Allan Houston - Houston did enough this summer to convince the Knicks to hold onto him, so there's got to be a little something left in the tank. Problem is, how do they plan on bringing two aging stiffs that play the same position off the bench? LB's never placed a major emphasis on perimeter shooting, so I'm not sure where Houston fits in. He could end up being the odd man out in the backcourt rotation.

It would be a nice story to see Allan Houston overcome injuries and play a significant part of the Knicks this season, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Nate Robinson - He showed this summer that he can truly be an impact player in this league. And I know what you're thinking-- it was only summer league, but if you had the opportunity to actually watch Nate, you know that he could potentially be one of the toughest players in the league to defend this year. What impressed me most about him this summer was his tenacity in attacking the rim. As a former defensive back for the Washington football team, he's not afraid to bang with the big guys and this is going to result in easy baskets and trips to the foul line. if Brown is willing to open up the offense and let Robinson exploit his talents, he could be a huge factor for the Knicks right from the get-go. But if history tells us anything, Brown has a difficult time placing trust in his young players, especially ones that are going to have problems defensively. Best case scenario for Nate to start the season will be a role off the bench that he could parlay into bigger things as the season progresses, but I'm guessing only an injury to someone will get Nate into the rotation.


Quentin Richardson - Another player like Crawford who could be a key contributor for the Knicks if LB gets him to buy into his system. Q-Rich is going to have to be willing to sacrifice numbers for the better of the team-- that means he can't launch threes at his discretion like he did in Phoenix, nor can he play half-hearted defense. Richardson has the tools to be a hush defender at the 3 and an effective inside/outside scoring option for the Knicks, Brown is just going to have to discipline his game

Channing Frye - Frye was expected to be the starting 4 up until Isiah acquired Eddy Curry this past week. Now it's unknown as to whether Frye will come off the bench with Curry sliding to the 4 and James holding down the 5, or perhaps Frye taking up a reserve role in favor of Maurice Taylor or Malik Rose as the starter. One thing is for sure-- Frye is not a good fit to start alongside Curry. The Knicks will just get pounded upon by bigger and more physical frontlines. Look for Brown to go with experience at the 4 and to choose between Taylor and Rose when the time comes. Frye will just have to earn his minutes.

Malik Rose - Rose is the kind of player that thrives under LB-- dedicated, hard-working, and savvy. Even though he gives up a significant amount of size at the 4 (he's listed as 6-7), Brown will rely on him for quality minutes, possibly even as a starter. The Knicks are sorely lacking an experienced, nitty gritty type of player who will focus all his energy on the glass and the defensive end-- Rose is the closest Brown's got, so look for him to see ample run.

Trevor Ariza - I've said it before-- Trevor Ariza has what it takes to be one of the premier defensive players in the league, almost like a Bruce Bowen or Trenton Hassell. Difference is, he's got the chance to be a pretty good offensive player as well. If you're looking for your sleeper contributor on the Knicks, look no further than Ariza. If Brown likes him as much as I think he will, Jamal Crawford could be packing his bags very soon.

Maurice Taylor - Mo Taylor is one of the better post-up power forwards in the league, but he's essentialy a disaster in every other aspect of the game. His knees prevent him from having any remote chance of slowing down a quality opposing 4, and that's likely to land him on the bench. Brown might risk the defensive limitations of some of these guys, but certainly not all of them.

David Lee - Lee is probably the odd-man out of the front court rotation from the outset, but he's the kind of rag-tag, hard-nosed player that LB loves (think Harpring, Geiger, Dale Davis). Unfortunately, he's young and Brown will give the older guys a chance to earn their spots in the rotation before Lee. Like Ariza, a player worth keeping an eye on should the Knicks struggle out of the gate.

Matt Barnes - I'm guessing LB had something to do with this pick-up last week considering Barnes is his kind of player. If Brown plans on developing the younger guys together as a unit, then Barnes is a terrific fit. He's a hustler and an outspoken leader, but expect most of his contributions to come during practice.


Eddy Curry - I've already stated that I'm not a huge fan of this trade in the long-term, but for this season, Curry could be the difference in the Knicks being a Playoff team and a lottery club. As much as Eddy needs to work on his defense, rebounding, and work ethic, the guy still provides them with a consistent low post threat that will make things easier for everyone on the floor. Q and Jamal should receive plenty of open looks from the perimeter, Steph and Nate should find penetration much easier, and whoever ends up starting at the 4 next to Curry (assuming Curry does indeed start at center and not power forward) should end up with a fair amount of opportunities to hit the offensive glass. The key with Curry, like it seems with everyone on the Knicks, will be Brown's ability to get Curry to put as much focus on his rebounding and defense as on his offensive contributions.

I don't care what Larry Brown preaches to Jerome James this season, this bum is going to be plain garbage.

Jerome James - The off-season signing of James (a monster 4.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG last year with Seattle) looks even worse now that Isiah was able to reel in Curry. Instead of an overpaid starting center, the Knicks now more likely than not have an extremely overpaid backup center. What worries me most about James-- if Nate McMillan could only get this doofus to play with heart during the Playoffs and with free agency on his mind, then how will LB possibly get anything out of him? If I'm a Knicks fan (which I most certainly am not), I'd be thrilled if I could get the same production from James this year as last. I wish I was being facetious.

Antonio Davis - He wants out right away, and LB is willing to let him off the hook. Isiah has stated that it won't be that easy, but I expect him to relent this week. Davis, the Players Union President, is one player that has earned the right to request a buy-out, especially considering his main reason is to stay closer to his family.

Jackie Butler - He's big (6-10, 250), fairly athletic, but young (21) and raw. If he plays any quality minutes this season, I'd be utterly shocked.

One thing is certain for the Knicks heading into the season-- Larry Brown is going to play the guys that he thinks can help him the most this season. He's never been one to hand over minutes for the sake of developing younger talent, so don't be surprised to see the rookies squeezed out of the rotation. He's also been known to have no problem benching players that won't contribute like he wants them to. As I see it, there's essentially 13 players on the roster that have a shot at cracking the rotation. Brown won't go any deeper than 10 no matter what. Whatever happens, the Knicks should be an improved team this season. They have the talent necessary to make the Playoffs-- how much they can accomplish is going to be dependent on how far Larry Brown can coach this team. This might be his most difficult coaching job yet, but the upside of his effect could be very surprising and definitely an intruiging storyling to follow throughout the season. And one other thing-- did I mention these are the New York Knicks we're talking about? Who isn't going to keep a watchful eye on the Garden this year?

When you're talking about New York City, Madison Square Garden, and the Knickerbockers, you're talking about the biggest stage in all of basketball. You won't be able to avoid the hype this season.


At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice job paul by breaking down the knicks and I believe that curry will stay at the 4 and jerome james at the 5 leaving frye having to make out of his minutes. P.S. When will you post #3,2,1?

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Mike Plugh said...

The Knicks have already ruled out playing Curry at the 4 and James at the 5. It makes no sense to play them both at the same time, but it does make one wonder why we wasted so much money on James. He's now the highest paid back up center in the history of the NBA. Thanks Zeke.

My prediction. By year's end the Knicks starting lineup will be...

PG Stephon Marbury
SG Quentin Richardson
SF Trevor Ariza
PF Malik Rose
C Eddy Curry

The first guys off the bench will be:

G Nate Robinson
C Jerome James
F/C Channing Frye

You'll see Houston, Crawford, and company grumbling about minutes pretty quickly....David Lee may crack minutes before some of these guys if he can match Mark Madsen's athletic defensive style....

At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

I agree with Mike. Playing Jerome Jame at all isn't the best of ideas. Starting him is absurd. Paying him this much is beyond stupidity.

I think the Knicks will trade for the better soon, enhancing Brown's way of play because now his system may not work. Yes, I'm really thinking Isiah is thinking. They have lots of players on the roster (although many are intradeble).

Now its time for Starbury to do or die. Iverson had to work hard when coach Brown came along. They went to the finals.

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Creek! said...

You nailed A-Rod/Starbury.

Another similarity between the two, is that they are both prime "Ewing Theory" candidates. A-Rod of course is, but look at Marbury. Leaves Minny, they (eventually) get to the conference finals. He leaves Jersey, and they become the Buffalo Bills of the Eastern Conference. He leaves the Suns, and the team leads the league in wins, and his replacement wins MVP. So why aren't Knick's fans clamoring for Eric Snow?

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Great post, as usual. If it makes you feel any better Mike, Rasho Nesterovic will make $6.7M this season and Adonal Foyle will make $7.3M. So, I guess it could be worse. Can't wait to read #'s 1-3.

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how many times are the knicks on national tv?? how many times is larry brown and stephon marbury going to be the lead nba story on espn??

personally, i think the best thing for my own nba fandom would be for the knicks to be relegated to the airtime of the new orleans hornets, rather than have the league and media way too idealistically turn them into the atlantic division lakers. paul, you probably have the means to pull this off: keep track of the minutes of coverage given this season to the knicks (who will be BO-ring even if they're good enough to squeak into the playoffs) and the amount given to the nets (who will be relatively exciting even if they tank). it could be a running feature and tell us a lot about the nba's goals and self-perception.



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