Bullets Fever

A blog and community website for the Washington Wizards and their fans.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Analyzing the Competition

The New York Knicks were simply a mess last year. There's no other way around it. After an offseason that saw general manager Isaiah Thomas attempt to mold the Knicks into his image, the Knicks ended up with an overpaid Jerome James, an overrated Quentin Richardson, a similarly overrated Eddy Curry, and a couple unknowns in Channing Frye and David Lee. Thomas also lured Larry Brown away from Detroit to mold this mess into a playoff team. Instead, Brown was probably the worst possible fit for this team. He clashed early and often with franchise point guard Stephon Marbury and kept tinkering the lineup for no apparent reason. The end result was that the Knicks were never able to gain the continuity and cohesiveness necessary to win in the NBA. Making matters worse, Thomas continued to show his incompetence as a general manager, trading valuable assets for the bloated contracts of Steve Francis and Jalen Rose. Those two continued to add to the roster mess, making a bad situation even worse. The end result was a 23 win team that conceivably could have been even worse had there not been that 6 game winning streak in January that generated optimism.

Additions: Jared Jeffries (FA-Washington), Renaldo Balkman (Draft 1-20), Mardy Collins (Draft 1-29)
Subtractions: Jackie Butler (FA-San Antonio), Maurice Taylor (FA-Sacramento)

Notwithstanding the blunders of paying Jared Jeffries the full mid-level exception, drafting Balkman so early in the draft, and letting Butler escape to San Antonio, the Knicks didn't really do much this offseason (note the sarcasm). Still, there were no collosal blunders like trading for Steve Francis or trading multiple unprotected draft picks for Eddy Curry.

Most importantly, though, there is no more Larry Brown. The Knicks remain a mess, but at least the coach that arguably sabotaged the season is gone. Brown played an obscene 42 different lineups last year, which has to be a record. Naturally, if you don't develop a rotation, you're never going to win. Eventually, the team quit on Brown, as they probably should have. Replacing Brown with Isaiah Thomas does not appear like an upgrade, but in this context, it's probably the best thing the Knicks could do.

New York still has a ridiculous logjam on the wing and they still have way too many small forwards. However, one thing they will have is a rotation. Thomas is going to eventually figure out a way to divide minutes more effectively. It won't be easy to do it on the wing, but Thomas will find a way. That alone should cause some improvement, because the Knicks do have talent.

I still don't see New York in the playoffs, however. It will take a while to divide minutes and settle on a rotation, which should doom the Knicks to a slow start. Beyond that, however, who's going to rebound on this team? Eddy Curry has never been a strong rebounder, and Channing Frye posted poor rebounding numbers in college. The Knicks' best hope is that David Lee will emerge as a rebounding machine, but he's never been that type of player either. A team that can't rebound is a team that can't win.

I do expect the Knicks to make a late push for the playoffs once they figure out their rotation, but their slow start should doom them to another season in the lottery.

Projected Record: 34-48

Bench Renaldo
took a look at the Knicks yesterday on the NBA Blog Previews and sees an 18 game improvement from the Knicks to 41-41.
If management can stay out of the picture and just let Isiah run the team (wait, hear me out!), they should be alright. Last season, a major distraction was that no one knew who was calling the shots. There was a power struggle between Brown and Thomas from day one, and now that Brown has lost the fight, it's on Thomas to prove that he's the right man for the job (or else James Dolan will have no choice but to can him). Remember, he did a commendable job as coach of the Pacers a few years back (albeit, with a better team).
I wouldn't say Thomas did a "commendable job" when he coached the Pacers, but I do see some improvement. 41-41 is saying a little too much though, if you ask me. Still, be sure to check out Bench Renaldo for some funny NBA coverage.

Think I screwed this one up? Let me know. How many wins do you think New York will have this year?

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