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Jason has been a Knicks fan since the days of Patrick Ewing and John Starks.  He has felt the heartbreak suffered from Michael Jordan for a better part of the 90s along with a disappointing NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets in '94.  He does not speak of anything that happened during the Isiah era.  A time that almost drove him to stop watching NBA basketball altogether.  He has a renewed hope in his favorite team and hope that they can live up to expectations.  He will continue to write about them and anything that can hold his interest for more than 5 minutes.  This blog can also be found at


Around 80% and the NBA Lottery

Quick link.  This video made me respect Kyrie Irving a little more. Thanks to a guy at work that sent it to me.

Wow, what a series of unexpected events.  After all four teams controlled home court through the first four games, the Celtics and the Thunder went on to win game 5 in their respective series.  The best part was that they did it on the road.  The Thunder then finished off the Spurs last night coming back from a 15 point deficit at the half.  Unbelievable that a seasoned team like the Spurs would give up such a lead.  I will have to go back to the tapes, but it seems like the Spurs have given up double digit leads in 3 out of the last 4 games.  It could have gone the other way, but the Thunder is just that good.  I thought they were still a year out from reaching their potential (a championship), but they are playing at that other level.  It seems like Durant's shot just gets prettier as the playoffs go on.  And he is also doing it from further and further from the rim.  I am really happy to have caught so much of the playoffs this year.  There have been some truly great games, and being able to watch the Thunder get better as the finals get closer, is right up there with the 2008 season when the big three of the Celtics finally got theirs.  It is always nice to see a team work hard to develop chemistry and have it pay off in the end.

Speaking of the Celtics, they pulled off quite the upset the other night.  I aimed to do write ups of the series early in the weeks, but decided to wait until the game 5's were played.  I was happy I waited.  The Celtics played a mediocre first half but still hung around, followed by a great second half where they traded blows with the Heat and emerged the victor.  I thought they were done when Miami pulled ahead, but they kept sticking around, capping it off with a Paul Pierce 3 pointer over LeBron to put the Celtics up by 4.  Remember ABOUT 80%.  I try to pay attention to all the statistics the talking heads throw at us throughout the series, and 80% is about the percentage that the team will win in many situations.  Whether it be home court advantage, the winner of game 1 or game 5.  For example, whoever wins game 1 goes on to win 76% of the series.  Whoever wins game 5 will win 84% of the time.  If you are a gambler, you now know the odds to take if ever in that situation.  Even still, I am not sure I would take the Celtics in this series.  I know that I did not predict the Thunder or the Celtics to win their series, but this is what I would have wanted to happen.  After the Knicks lost, these are the two teams I would have wanted to see meet in the NBA finals.  Hopefully the Celtics can make that happen tonight.  If not, they only have a 30% chance of winning game 7. 


With the conspiracy riddled storyline of the Hornets attaining the number 1 pick, I decided to focus on the number one picks of the last 13 years.  You can read all about the conspiracy theorists if you like by simply searching for "NBA lottery conspiracy".  What I wanted to look into was what all the number 1 picks have done.  This should be a no brainer right?  The number one pick should be the easiest pick in all the draft, and there is usually a consensus on who should be chosen.  Here are the last fourteen number one picks and what they have achieved. 

NBA Lottery Number 1 Picks from 1998-2011
YearPlayerDrafted ByPositionNum YearsFinals App.
1998Michael OlowokandiLA ClippersC10 yrs0
1999Elton BrandChicago BullsPF13 yrs +0
2000Kenyon MartinNJ NetsPF12 yrs +2
2001Kwame BrownWashington WizardsC11 yrs +0
2002Yao MingHouston RocketsC9 yrs0
2003LeBron JamesCleveland CavaliersSF9 yrs +2
2004Dwight HowardOrlando MagicC8 yrs +1
2005Andrew BogutMilwaukee BucksC7 yrs + 0
2006Andrea BargnaniToronto RaptorsF/C6 yrs +0
2007Greg OdenPortland TrailblazersC5 yrs0
2008Derrick RoseChicago BullsPG4 yrs +0
2009Blake GriffinLA ClippersPF3 yrs +0
2010John WallWashington WizardsPG2 yrs + 0
2011Kyrie IrvingCleveland CavaliersPG1 yr +0
2012Anthony DavisNO HornetsF/C????
"+" denotes still playing in the NBA

This chart illustrates that there are no guarantees when you have the number one pick. In fact, 4 teams have had two shots at it and it's arguable that only the Chicago Bulls have a chance at a championship in the near future. There are already three players no longer in the league: Olowokandi, Yao Ming and Greg Oden. One supposed golden rule of basketball is that you can't teach height and you will not be faulted for choosing a center. But that line of thinking may be going away. Of the 6 centers chosen in the last 14 years, only Dwight Howard came close and played in the NBA Finals. Most teams seem to be coming to that mindset, as 3 out of the last 4 number one selections have been point guards. Of the 14 players chosen, there have only been 4 MVPs between 2 players: LeBron with 3 of them and Derrick Rose with the other. Finally, I hope that I am not surprising anyone, but there were 4 NBA Finals appearances and no championships. Based on history, it does not bode well for Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets, assuming he is the one chosen.

Teams need to rethink how they choose players. There should be less of an emphasis on the draft. Free agency and trades should be the means to success. For the draft, I would analyze players more on buy in than on talent. It would probably get me fired, but would I want to go through what the Magic have with Dwight Howard? I would probably not pick him based on this past year. I am sure there are ways to evaluate a player to see if they would become a head case. It should not be that hard. I wish the best of luck to Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets, but only one thing is certain when I look at that chart, and that is there are no guarantees.


Conference Finals & Building Dynasties

Before I begin, I wanted to thank Jon for a comment and a link.  The ESPN article reinforces what I had discussed in the last post about Kobe's woeful crunchtime performance, along with a stat that players whose strength is iso's (Hi Melo), should consider passing out of them more often.  "Hero Ball" is the title of the article, a term that I instantly hated when I first heard it.  I hope it fades away soon, along with the terms "monetize" and "swagger".  I believe basketball to be a team game with all my heart, but I also am not oblivious to the irony that I first fell in love with basketball because of the hero ball tendencies of Michael Jordan. 


It is set.  All the big 3's were triumphant in their series.  Some showing dominance, while others displayed their flaws.  Spurs vs OKC, Miami vs Boston.  Even if I did not predict these matchups, this is exactly what I wanted to see.  Old guard vs new guard is the theme of these conference finals.  On one side are the teams that have won and had many predicting their exit many moons ago.  On the other are the teams that will usher in the new age of the NBA.  They consist of future MVPs and possible championships.  These will be epic battles that I will be TiVo-ing.


8-0 and 8-1 in the playoffs.  No two teams have displayed their dominance more than the Spurs and the Thunder in the playoffs.  They have been so good, that many have predicted the team that wins this series will be the team to hold the Larry O'Brien trophy at the end of the year.  This will be a battle of epic proportions.  Kevin Durant will once again come through in the final minutes at least once or maybe twice.  Popovich is going to show us his master plan.  His genius will come through with methodical precision.  Once again, the Spurs will be the "boring" team because they will have the legs under them to execute to perfection.  Tim Duncan's 18 points and 7 rebound playoff average will somehow become more important than the combined 51 points a game by Durant and Westbrook.  Buckle your seats, we are in for a fun ride.  SAS in 6.


This series, on the other hand, will not be an offensive explosion and will actually be the more boring of the two conference finals.  That is, if you do not appreciate great defense.  There will be no more than 1 game where a team will score over 100 points.  Rondo is going to have a field day, finishing with at least two triple doubles, only to be matched by LeBron's.  I like where the Heat are headed.  The Indiana series showed that Wade was The Man and LeBron was the great facilitator.  And that is the way it should have been.  There should never have been a discrepancy between who should lead the team.  Wade was always the heart of the team, and the team should be on his shoulders.  One could argue that LeBron is the better player, but I will always cling to one hard and fast rule:  the team should always follow the player who was the leader on a championship team.  As long as Miami remembers this, they will win the battle, just like when Zeus and the Olympians put away the Titans.  Miami in 6.

Building a Championship Team

All this talk of championships has made me think of whether or not the Knicks will have a chance to win one in its current incarnation.  To understand this, I took a look at all the championship teams in the post-Jordan era.  There have been 13 championships since then, with 6 teams claiming the titles, and only 2 multi-year winners. 

I charted the teams and did a quick analysis on where I thought they stand now.  To me, a winning attitude begins with the top.  The owner must be all in and ready to do what it takes to win.  The management and coach must understand the ownership's message and come up with a solid plan.  The players they pick and sign onto the team must buy in and execute the plan. 

This chart shows every championship won in the last thirteen years.  Each logo stands for a championship.  For example, San Antonio has 4 championships, thus 4 logos.  Additionally, if they have an MVP on their team, it is represented by the Maurice Podoloff trophy.  The higher the logo, the stronger the commitment from the owner, and the farther to the right, the better the plan by management and coach to achieve the vision of winning a championship. This chart is where each team stands now. 

Detroit has largely fallen off the rails.  At one time Joe Dumars was commended for having built a team with no superstars that could compete and win a championship.  However, ownership has changed hands recently and management has been unable to replicate the success they had earlier. 

The Boston Celtics are owned by a group and the Miami Heat are owned by Micky Arison.  Neither ownership had much I could find in terms of vision.  A search for Micky only yielded his net worth.  These two teams are largely dominated by Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers for the Celtics and Pat Riley for the Heat.  Both of these teams have a strong management with a dream for a team, but without full interest from the owners, there is only so far these teams can go. 

The Dallas Mavericks seem to be a great team on paper.  An owner with full buy in, a coach with great experience, and an MVP on their roster.  Although I do admire Mark Cuban, I think he tends to overthink his decisions.  It is great how he turned the franchise around and built a championship, but I cannot place him any higher than the middle when he let Steve Nash walk and gave away their title defense on the hopes of getting either Deron Williams or Dwight Howard.  They are great players, but I value team chemistry more than any other strength, and team chemistry was what won the Mavs their championship last year. 

The Lakers and Spurs are world class organizations on the opposite ends of the spectrum.  The Lakers have won ten championships under Jerry Buss, their current owner.  He has employed a who's who of coaches, and I believe with Mike Brown's plan and Kobe's determination, they are still on the right path.  The Spurs are also a great organization, but their focus is on the community.  Peter Holt has laid the groundwork for great achievement and this is executed at every level of the organization.  With what he has built, he is knocking on the door of attaining his fifth championship in a 14 year time span with the same management and MVP.  A mark that has never been achieved in the modern era of the NBA. 

We have come full circle with the Knicks.  Jim Dolan, the owner, has not shown that he can stay away from meddling with the team.  Instead of a vision, he has unleashed a whirlwind of chaos.  Isiah Thomas was terrible and had a myriad of issues.  Yet Dolan still trusts him, and was one of the reasons why Donnie Walsh left after what appeared to be a successful rebuilding phase after only one year.  I am uncertain about Glen Grunwald, the current general manager and Mike Woodson, the current coach.  I have written numerous times that I think Carmelo Anthony can win the MVP next year if he can focus.  If he finds this determination, then the Knicks may have a chance to win one sometime in the next few years.  However, given their current makeup, one is all they will have in them.  They are not built for a dynasty.  But even one championship would be a wondrous thing. 




The Importance of Offseasons

Let us take a quick look at this past week.  I did not get much sleep and fell asleep while watching a few games but got a good sense of how everything is playing out. 

A quick rundown of where I am at in my predictions:

San Antonio defeats LA Clippers 4-0, my prediction was SAS in 5

San Antonio is on an amazing 8 game run with Tim Duncan averaging 17.6 points a game and 9 rebounds with a 54% field goal percentage.  I cannot believe he is 36 years old.  I am turning 35 this year and I know I am not a professional athlete, but I can certainly feel the years.  I cannot imagine what his body must be like, especially playing at the power forward position all these years.  More on Tim Duncan later, but I was astounded to find out that he lost 20 pounds this past offseason so that he could be lighter and not put so much weight on his bad knees.  San Antonio played a great series and became fun to watch.  I understand the prevailing thought that San Antonio is a boring team, and I was even one of those people in the past, but they are playing superb basketball that anyone should be able to appreciate.  They are so good that I expected the 24 point comeback. 

OKC leads LA Lakers 3-1, mine was LAL in 6

This series is a lot closer than the 3-1 score.  It could easily be 2-2 or even 3-1 in the Lakers favor.  However, Durant is playing out of his mind.  For someone who is considered a jump shooter, he is shooting over 50% in this series, as well as providing clutch baskets down the stretch.  The crown for my favorite current NBA player is still up in the air, but he may be taking at season end.  I am sure he is happy to hear that.  But I really expected Lakers to close out games better, given their experience and that they have Kobe.  A stat that I saw during one game that I never would have thought was that in clutch situations, Michael Jordan was 50%+ in field goal percentage, LeBron is high 30%, and Kobe is a measly 25%.  Durant in this playoffs, is somewhere in the 60% range...that is purely going from what I have seen and feel.

MIA tied with IND 2-2, mine was MIA in 6

As expected, this is a battle.  I thought Miami would give two away by a few points because of a lapse in Miami's scoring, but Indiana has proven to be the real deal.  They are a complete team that plays defense, rebounds and refuses to back down.  They lack any form of star power that I bet a casual fan would not have been able to tell you a definitive starter on this team when this season started.  With a little experience, I could see them being like the Detroit Pistons that won championships earlier this decade.  I look forward to all of these upcoming games.

BOS tied with PHI 2-2, mine was PHI in 7

I am most torn about this series.  I live in Boston now and I adopted this team during the Knicks era that shall not be named.  However, I have grown to appreciate Doug Collins.  He was always a good commentator and is a great coach.  This has been a well played game on both sides, except for the 18 point meltdown the Celtics had in game 4.  What is going on with all these teams surrendering huge leads anyway?  I am considering this as a post later if I can find all the data necessary.  I think either of these teams deserve to advance.  They are playing well and will pose an interesting matchup with Miami even though it will not be as good as the current Miami-Indiana series.



In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell examines education and tries to figure out why students in lower income areas are at such a disadvantage and have such a low rate of graduation compared to those with more money.  What he found out was that it was not race, religion or quality of teachers.  He found those students were just as smart and learned just as fast.  The differentiator was how they spent their summers.  Lower income children did not go to camps or have group activities, they simply sat around, and as the new school year rolled around, they had lost more of what they learned then their stimulated peers. 

This made me think about the correlation between how hard an athlete worked in the offseason and their greatness.  Again, I was surprised to hear that Tim Duncan had shed 20 pounds in order to manage the season better.  I have tried losing 10-15 pounds but it never took, so I tried to find his offseason workout routine.  Besides finding out that he used to roll tractor tires up a hill and that he postponed the start of his workout routine by a month because of the lockout, there was not much to find.  Still, the fact that he gave so much thought into when he should start working out and how much weight he should lose in order to handle the trials of a compacted season was interesting.  If he managed all his offseason workouts like this, it is no wonder that he will be in the discussion of greatest power forward ever.

Other offseason routines I found that were worth mentioning are Blake Griffin and Kobe Bryant.  What I found interesting was that Blake found "a mysterious trainer that is both radical and extreme in his approach towards fitness", and part of his training was carrying a 60 pound sandbag up a hill.  My conclusion is that he found a fitness instructor and not a basketball coach, or his game would have developed a little better than where it is now.  He is the new human highlight reel, but anyone that shoots barely 50% from the free throw line is definitely not working hard enough on the basketball end.  Kobe, on the other hand, has a sick workout.  He works out six hours a day for six days a week, running in a variety of ways for two hours and then shoots 700-1000 shots per day.  It's no wonder he will be one of the greatest. 

Finally, this would not be a Knicks blog if I did not mention them at least once.  I did look up Carmelo Anthony's workout routine and ended up on this site.  It did not seem like he had much of a workout besides medicine balls and jumping exercises.  I could not find anything that would contradict anyone calling him Flab Melo.  Still, I am holding out hope that he refocuses this offseason and realizes what he has to do to bring the Knicks into championship contention.  He is currently my favorite for pre-2012-2013 season MVP.  I think this is it for him.  His window is closing to become truly great.  Would you not be incorporating Kobe's schedule if you were in his shoes?  I do not understand what these players are thinking.  You only have 8 years or so for your prime, would you not work out to be the best you could be? 


2nd Round (late) Preview and Predictions

Now that the first round is over and the Knicks are out of the playoffs, I can concentrate on making (mostly) unbiased predictions for the road to the NBA Finals.  The matchups are:

MIA vs IND, MIA currently leads 1-0

BOS vs PHI, BOS currently leads 1-0



The Eastern Conference games are not really interesting, but have the potential to be dramatic.  Two "Big 3" teams versus two fundamental, no superstar teams.  Miami, which is really a big two and Chris Bosh, will prove once and for all that including Chris Bosh was really a mistake.  Sure it looked great and made us all hate Miami more, but if Pat Riley had really thought about it and had to do it all over again, he probably would have signed LeBron and saved the rest of the money for defense and role players.  Think about how dangerous they would be if they had enough money to sign a competent veteran point guard and at least one other defense stalwart at one of the other positions for what they paid Bosh.  I have no clue who was an available mid level free agent point guard at the time, but it would have been great if they could have gotten an Andre Miller lobber type or a Chauncey Billups leadership type.  Then they could have just concentrated on defense and looked for a nice role player.  Alright, Andre Miller makes $7.8M and Chauncey $10.7, but that would have left some cap space compared to Bosh's $14.5M.  If they do not win this year, I see some kind of Bosh deal happening, especially with the new collective bargaining agreement. 

Miami will win this series in 6 games.  Chris Bosh is hurt but they will not miss him until the Indiana bigs start taking over.  Indiana is a good team and deserved the 3rd seed, but they play largely the same style as Miami without the superstars.  They put up a good fight in the first game for three quarters, but could not keep it up.  I suspect that will be the story for a large part of the series and they will squeak by with two games, getting a lucky break here and there.  Not entirely interested in this series.  Miami in 6. 

The Boston/Philadelphia series is also not that interesting to me.  I have always liked the current incarnation of the Celtics, but they are playing hurt and very old.  This is the series with the potential for an upset.    I would much rather see a Boston/Miami Eastern Conference Finals, but they may not get that far.  Philadelphia just needs that one win to gain some confidence and Doug Collins seems to be very capable in keeping them focused and closing out the series.  (Disclaimer:  I am currently watching game 2 and have changed the next sentence at least four times) Philly in 7. 

Now for the good stuff.  I would never have envisioned saying this three years ago, or even last year, but I am looking forward to San Antonio playing the Clippers and OKC playing the Lakers.  I would also never have guessed that I would be happy to see San Antonio play well and picked them to win it all.  From the limited time I have seen them play, it seems like they are the most sound team in the NBA.  With that said, San Antonio will roll through the Clippers.  This is a 5 game series at most.  I love Chris Paul and think he is amazing, but his supporting cast lacks too much and when he is off the court the Clippers are atrocious.  Sadly, they will probably end up with two more injuries along the way.  Plus I saw some crazy stat like Blake Griffin had 38 field goals in the paint and none outside.  That is incredible and no way the Spurs allow anything remotely like that.  San Antonio in 5.

The OKC/Lakers matchup is peculiar.  I know OKC is the higher seed, but are they really the better team?  About a month ago, when Durant's name was in the MVP talks, I may have thought OKC would run away with it, but it still the Lakers.  Pau Gasol may have finally come out of his funk and Kobe will always be Kobe, so the Lakers are a dangerous team.  We also cannot forget The Elbow.  And if I were a Thunder, like Ibaka or Perkins, would I take a flagrant 2 if I saw Metta taking a soft layup?  I am not a vindictive person, but I would consider and would not be surprised if that happened.  That could potentially give the Lakers a game and thus, the series.  So tough call with this one.  I think the Lakers lose this series if Kobe becomes option 1, 2 and 3, while Gasol and Bynum fight for the rest of the touches.  However, if they play a solid inside out game, they probably beat OKC.  Lakers in 6. 

I am excited for the second round.  The first round was largely predictable and somewhat boring, probably because the Eastern Conference talent is too few and is not that intriguing right now.  The second round, however, has a few interesting matchups.  Old school versus new school, teams versus superstars.  I think some of the series may go shorter than I predicted, but the games themselves will be a lot more fun.  This should be great.


It's All Over

As the Knicks wrapped up their series, losing 4-1 to the Miami Heat, I learned three things about myself this season. 

First, despite what I say, I cannot be impartial with teams that I have liked in my past.  The Knicks are one of those teams and I went through all the highs and lows of the season with them.  I enjoyed the team when they were at the peak of Linsanity and felt terrible when we all knew D'Antoni was on his way out.  It was fun watching a team I used to like do well again, even if they were a quick out from the playoffs.  Now if only the Mets could advance to the World Series, I would probably lift my three year ban.

Second, being an analyst is really hard.  Not that I would ever call myslf a basketball analyst, but putting your picks out there can be a tough proposition.  Unless you are the second coming of Nostradamus, you are most likely going to be wrong a good percentage of the time.  So the real trick is fooling the reader into ignoring your previous incorrect prediction with some kind of statistic or a few witty comments.  Did you know the Knicks set the consecutive playoff losses record at 13 games, dating back to 2001?  Also, Carmelo Anthony now has a career playoff record of 16-36.  That is a .308 win percentage, making him the worst out of any player with at least 50 games played.  I certainly hope that there will be more wins next year, and less marks of futility.

Lastly, it is a good time to be a Knicks fan.  I am actually looking forward to next year.  There are a few things the Knicks need to work on.  Free throws is one area.  They were 22nd in the league this year, which is kind of amazing considering they seem like they should be a good shooting team.  In addition, they need to work on closing out the first half and coming out strong in the 3rd quarter.  For a fan, this was the most agonizing part of watching them this season.  This was usually the time when teams would come back and even the score or pull away if they were already leading, as Miami did in all four games they won in this series.  I think these are motivational and focus issues which can be fixed.  I will discuss the returning players in a later post, but it seems like they will have a decent roster.  Let us hope management can flll some key holes. 


Despite the Knicks being bounced out of the playoffs, I am excited to see the rest of it and see who will come out on top.  However, the first round has not been as exciting as I had anticipated.  Besides the Memphis-Clippers matchup, there has not been that many battles.  One odd thing I noticed is that no series went 2-2.  There were two sweeps from OKC and the Spurs, Miami and Indiana won 4-1, and all the losing teams in had to win the last game to make the series 3-2.  We could potentially not have any game 7s in the first round of the playoffs this year.  I wonder if that has ever happened before.  One thing that always amazes me is the amount of weird stats that you will be shown throughout any game you watch.  I hope that if it does end up that there no game 7s this first round, a statistic comes up to tell me if this is the first time that has happened or the last time it happened.  I supposed it is not that hard to find it if I muster some initiative.  We only started having best of 7 series in the first round in 2003.  Whether or not there is a first round game 7, the rest of the playoffs should be more interesting and I expect it to be more intense.