July 22, 2005

I feel for the Knicks fans, I really do

Now, as you've been reading, it may seem as though I hate the New York Knicks. This is certainly not true. Some of my very favorite moments in the NBA were courtesy of the Knicks. Reggie Miller showing love to Spike Lee, and Greg Anthony (no really, he just fell down). Isaiah "JR" Rider ruining a Patrick Ewing poster by rejecting a dunk. Those playoff series against Miami and Chicago and Indiana provided some great entertainment and certainly helped transform me from an avid NBA fan to a rabid one. "So Jake, why then do we read you ripping on the Knicks right and left?" Okay, that's a fair question, but my answer is even more so. It's not the New York Knicks NBA team that I'm ripping on, it's their complete idiot GM Isaiah Thomas that I'm ravaging. And for good reason. It's true that he inherited a bad situation; Mediocre talent and inflated, long-term contracts. Okay, so when Isaiah was brought onboard, we all knew he was going to make some drastic changes and put his face on the organization. But what he did was make the bad situation worse by going out and getting more and more inflated contracts. He's done such a shitty job with the team so far and it doesn't look to be getting much better (see previous rants as to why). One point that I think I need to nail home is his performance in this years NBA Draft. Specifically using their first pick (#8) on Arizona center Channing Frye. Now before I get going, I have nothing against Frye, he's a solid player. He's sound fundamentally, he's smart, and he seems like he's got a great character. But to draft a wire thin center at 8th is not a very good move.

"Frye is a very skilled low-post big man -- he's similar to Tim Duncan because he's so mechanically sound." - Matt Lawrence, Sportsline.com

Like Duncan, huh? That's a pretty big thing to say. Let's take a look at them statistically in college, since that's all we've got.

Tim Duncan's senior year stats
20.8ppg 60.8% FGs 14.7rpg 3.3bpg

Channing Frye's senior year stats
15.8ppg 55.4% FGs 7.6rpg 2.9bpg

Duncan was better in every category by relatively large margins. The glaring difference is in rebounding. Frye is supposed to be a supurb rebounder, but he didn't even average 8rpg his senior year. I realize at this point in their careers it's not fair to compare them because Duncan is one of the best players in the NBA, but we're trying to gauge where Channing's career will go, so for arguments sake, shut up!

Tim Duncan's rookie year stats
21.1ppg 54.9% FGs 11.9rpg 2.5bpg

Channings? We shall see.

He's not going to be another Tim Duncan, we all know that. Lawrence also goes on to say he'll be a dominant center in the league. No. He won't.

Marcus Camby's senior year stats
20.5ppg 47.7% FGs 8.2rpg 3.9bpg

Camby's stats from last season
10.3ppg 46.5% FGs 10.0rpg 3.0bpg

In college Camby was a better scorer and blocked more shots, oh and he also won the John Wooden Award in 1996. Camby took his Minutemen to the Final Four and lost to eventual champ Kentucky.

If Frye ends up with Camby stats in the NBA, the Knicks should consider themselves lucky.

Loren Woods' senior year stats
13.2ppg 50.4% FGs 6.5rpg 2.9bpg

Woods stats from last season
3.9ppg 43.3% FGs 4.9rpg .9bpg

Loren was painted as the next Tim Duncan before he transferred to Arizona. He was a solid player in college, but he was soft much like Frye is. I believe Channing will be a better NBA player than Loren Woods has been so far, but Woods was the 45th pick in the draft. He's allowed to fail, being a late second rounder. Channing will be held to higher expectations, being the 8th pick in the draft.

Here's a list of centers (and career stats) that were drafted between spots 6-10 since 1995.
Bryant Reeves #6 1995 12.5ppg 47.5% FGs 6.9rpg .8bpg - Retired after 2000 season

Lorenzen Wright #7 1996 9.6ppg 45.9% FGs 7.1rpg .8bpg

Erick Dampier #10 1996 8.9ppg 45.9% FGs 7.4rpg 1.6bpg - 54% FGs 10.4rpg last 2 years

Adonal Foyle #8 1997 4.6ppg 49.0% FGs 5.2rpg 1.9bpg

Chris Mihm #7 2000 7.6ppg 45.7% FGs 5.4rpg 1.0bpg

Joel Przybilla #9 2000 3.5ppg 53.3% FGs 5.2rpg 1.6bpg - broke out slightly last season

Desagana Diop #8 2001 1.6ppg 35.8% FGs 2.6rpg .9bpg - rarely plays

Nene Hilario #7 2002 10.7ppg 51.9% FGs 6.2rpg .7bpg - would play more elsewhere

Chris Kaman #6 2003 7.4ppg 48.0% FGs 6.1rpg 1bpg - improved last season over his rookie

Okay, so the centers taken in the range that Channing was taken have generally been complete failures, but where they failed, Channing should be better. Some of the guys on the list above have seen very few regular minutes in the NBA(Diop, Przybilla, Foyle), some have ended up in bad situations (Kaman, Reeves, Wright), and others have started to come around (Dampier, Nene). Frye should see more minutes than most due to the lack of centers the Knicks have at the moment. Although we know how well Larry Brown develops young players - see Darko Milicic - so that may have some effect on his minutes, assuming Brown takes that job. The Knicks are certainly in the class of "bad situations" like the Clippers and the then Vancouver Grizzlies(an expansion team), but there's certainly more talent in New York. Frye will benefit from Steph's ability to get into the paint a dish it out - he turned Dean Garrett into a starter - but of course that'll help only if Steph does that.

I know the Knicks needed a center, but Channing Frye is a big time stretch at the number 8 spot. I hate shoulda-woulda-coulda but it's so much fun. What happens if they take a shooting guard, say Granger, McCants, or Antoine Wright, and trade him to Denver for their pick(Julius Hodge) and Nene? Nene is more than servicable and would fit in with the New York tough.

Again, just an idea.

But alas, it's the Knicks, err....I mean Isaiah Thomas, so there's no point in hoping for a good decision, only a bold one.

I DO wish the Knicks luck this next season and beyond, but with Isaiah at the helm, I don't know if they're in for anything more than mediocrity.

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