As pretty much everyone has noted, the 2011-12 is the second abbreviated season and we are all trying to draw parallels to the first such season, 1998-99, to better understand what we might expect this time. The lessons people have taken from good old 1998-99?
-Older teams will struggle in the compressed schedule with fewer days off but youth will abide
-Teams that have played together before could possibly hit the ground running, while teams with lots of new parts might struggle
-Depth is really important
Before turning to 2011-12 we should test how true all of the above statements actually were back in 1998-99. Sure, most of these things are true in the abstract but can we attribute the happenings of 1998-99 directly to older teams/thin teams/new teammates struggling? I’m not so sure. Let’s look at some of teams that fell or rose dramatically in the fateful 1998-99 season and see why the jump/dip happened:
-Orlando Magic: The Magic missed the playoffs in 1997-98 at 41-41 but jumped out to an nice 33-17 record thanks to a deep team and great coach Chuck Daly, who realized how good Darrell Armstrong was and gave a lot of run to players who were untested rookies (Michael Doleac and Matt Harpring) or previously taken for granted role players (Armstrong, Bo Outlaw, Derek Strong). It wasn’t an offensive gem but the great depth and coaching created a boring but effective slow-paced defensive unit. Indeed, the depth allowed defense to remain effective even when the scorers Hardaway and Nick Anderson left the floor. Continue reading NBA Preview 2011-12…
New York Knicks
12/10 Waived Chauncey Billups
12/10 In a sign-and-trade three-team, Dallas sent Tyson Chandler, the rights to Giorgos Printezis, and Ahmad Nivins to New York for Andry Rautins and a conditional 2012 second-round pick from Washington; Washington received Ronny Turiaf, a 2013 second-round pick and cash from New York, and a 2012 second-round pick from Dallas
12/11 Re-signed Jared Jeffries and signed Mike Bibby
Chandler is exactly the kind of athletic, quality, defensive big man that the Knicks have been desperate for since they had Marcus Camby (no…Ronny Turiaf doesn’t count). Assuming he stays healthy, Chandler fits into the team perfectly. He can run and he doesn’t need shots to be effective. Chandler, however, is far from risk free. Before last year, he missed almost half of the previous two seasons and was at diminished capacity when he did play (averaging a PER of 13.0 those years). The question is whether Chandler’s career high PER in 2011-11 was flukish and whether he can stay healthy.
In addition, the Knicks had to cut their point guard in Billups to fit Billups under the cap. So, if you throw in the Chandler’s injury history and the loss of Billups, this is still a deal the Knicks had to do but it tempers my enthusiasm a little. One thing to watch on the injury front is that Mike D’Antoni tended ride his best players really hard last year:
Raymond Felton, 38.4 mpg
Amare Stoudemire, 36.8 mpg
Carmelo Anthony, 36.2 mpg
Danilo Gallinari, 34.8 mpg
Wilson Chandler, 34.5 mpg Continue reading Transactions 12/9-12/10 (Part 2)…
12/9 Signed Tracy McGrady, Vladimir Radmanovic, and re-signed Jason Collins
Did you know that T-Mac is only 32? In a part-time role, McGrady wasn’t actually that bad for the Pistons either. The problem is that one of the most exciting players of the 2000s is now, at best, an average bench guy who can’t really get to the line and is a decent shooter. On a playoff-level team, T-Mac’s presence as a cheap filler will have value, assuming the knees hold up well enough. The hope, though, is that McGrady can replace Jamal Crawford off the bench. At first blush this seems silly. McGrady can’t move very well these days and Crawford got ridiculously hot at times. Looking at the advanced metrics, though, T-Mac actually had a slightly higher PER than Crawford (14.9 to 14.2) and shot exactly the same from three (.341%). Does this mean that McGrady is a more valuable player? Well…no. Part of Crawford’s value was the ability to generate tons of shots (13.7 shots and 4.1 free throws per-36 versus 11.0 and 2.8 for McGrady). The Hawks are downgrading on 2010-11 stats (though not by as much as you would think). Still when you combine the volume with the possibility that McGrady might get hurt again or continue his steep decline from his peak, there is plenty of risk that the Hawks will have a big hole at backup sixth man.
As for Radmanovic, he has demonstrated that he will never be a regular but is also useful in a bench role. While Vlad still can’t play any defense and is thus not a viable starter, he will help the Hawks replace the tons of threes lost when Crawford doesn’t come back. In short, the Hawks’ filler is useful but has some holes. Continue reading Transactions 12/9-12/10 (Part 1)…