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|The Knicks will need a strong season from new power forward Zach Randolph, above, if they want to get back to the playoffs.(Courtesy of NBA.com)|
The Celtics weren’t the only Atlantic division team active this off-season, as the Knicks again tried to restructure their team by acquiring PF Zach Randolph from the Trailblazers and more importantly losing G Steve Francis and that ridiculous contract ($15,070,000 salary last season) in the deal. The Knicks may have wheeled and dealed, but will it be enough to improve? Let’s flashback to the 2006-07 season and review their off-season as they try to claw back to their first winning record since the 2000-01 season.
Knicks 2006-2007 Team Review
2006-07 Record: 33-49 (4th place, 14 games out in the Atlantic Division)
What went right: First, they didn’t finish last in the division for the second year in a row. Thar’s a good start. Second-year power forward David Lee had a breakout season, averaging a double-double for the year (10.7 points, 10.4 rebounds). Lee was always the guy that was hustling more than the others, it seems that he also has skill to back up the hustle. C Eddy Curry finally realized some of his potential, averaging 19.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 81 games (all starts).
What went wrong: Despite his strong season, Curry remained the most anemically inefficient player in the NBA. Yahoo’s Matt Buser established the Eddy Curry Line to measure the most inefficient players in the league. (From Buser – “The standard: a player must average more turnovers than assists, steals, and blocks combined – in order to qualify, a player must have appeared in at least half of his team’s games and averaged at least 25 minutes of playing time.”) No surprise here, Eddy Curry led the way .48:1 ratio, meaning he had more than twice as many turnovers as assists, steals, and blocks combined. The Knicks also continued to suffer from their puzzling personnel moves of recent years. Overpaid guards Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury were inconsistent, and overpaid veterans Mailk Rose, Maurice Taylor, Jerome Williams, and Shandon Anderson were useless (a combined $29.3 million made, and of the four only Malik Rose played during the season). Head coach Isaih Thomas shuffled the lineup 19 different times during the season but couldn’t seem to get one that worked well.
2006-07 Season Grade: D
Knicks 2007 Off-season Team Review
Key Additions: PF Zach Randolph, G Dan Dickau, G Fred Jones, F Demetrius Nichols, F Wilson Chandler
Key Losses: G Steve Francis, C Channing Frye
Reaction: The story of the Knicks off-season was that they somehow rid themselves of Steve Francis and acquired a quality power forward in return. Losing Channing Frye could hurt, but the emergence of David Lee helps relieve some of that. Zach Randolph should give the Knicks some nice added muscle up front. Randolph is good, but he may have trouble matching up against other power forwards in the Atlantic (Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh). One drawback of Randolph is his total inability to block shots. He doesn’t jump very high off the ground, and thus his defense is shoddy. Randolph was fourth-worst in the Eddy Curry Line, averaging one turnover for every assist, block, and steal combined.
Off-Season Grade: B
Knicks 2007-08 Season Preview vs. Celtics
New York @ Boston, Nov. 29
Boston @ New York, Jan. 21
New York @ Boston, Feb. 13
Boston @ New York, April 14
How the projected starting lineups stack up:
(“x” marks which team has the edge)
|C||Kendrick Perkins||Eddy Curry||x|
|PF||x||Kevin Garnett||Zach Randolph|
|SF||x||Paul Pierce||Jared Jeffries|
|SG||x||Ray Allen||Quentin Richardson|
|PG||Rajon Rondo||Stephon Marbury||x|
The Edge: The edge goes to the Celtics due to their experience and relatively good bench. The Knicks seem deep on paper, but the lineup is still too cluttered and it is unclear how the bench will slot up by the beginning of the season. Between the lineups, point guard is the closest position. Rondo is the up-and-coming young gun, and Marbury is getting older, but has a lot more experience. Look for Marbury to have a better season than Rondo this year, but that may begin to reverse by the 2008-09 season.
Final Prediction: The Knicks could have a better season, and with luck may be able to slip into the playoffs at the #8 seed. I still don’t see them finishing any higher than the Celtics, Nets, or Raptors. Look for the team to finish fourth in the Atlantic Division.