The Knicks bench could win them some games. No, I mean it.

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Thumbnail image for D'antoni.jpgWhile you were busy talking about how the Knicks missed out on LeBron and Wade but got that Amare guy and he’s not that bad, you missed something.

Donnie Walsh put together a pretty deep team.

Not deep with name guys in the Lakers sense, but similar in one way — deep with guys who fit the system. The Lakers, Celtics (mostly, we’ll see about Shaq), Spurs, Suns have all been very good at this, getting role players who really fit in with what they want to do.

The Knicks did that this summer.

Let’s assume a starting five of the Knicks tall lineup: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph, Amar’e Stoudemire and Ronnie Turiaf. (Nobody knows who will actually start, not even Mike D’Antoni at this point, maybe Wilson Chandler starts at the two, Gallinari at the three and Randolph comes off the bench, but we’ll go with the tall lineup for now.)

Off the bench would come Toney Douglas, Wilson Chandler, Kelenna Azubuike, Roger Mason Jr., Larry Fields, Eddy Curry and Timofey Mozgov.

That is not a lineup of All-Stars. But it is a lineup of guys who are athletic, who can run, who can drain the three, who can score. Guys who fit the system. It’s sort of like what the Suns had last year — a group of guys who hustled and blended with what the Suns wanted to do and could put up points. That Suns group won regular season games — it also won a Western Conference finals game. It was a big part of what the Suns did.

Douglas can run the point a little and is we learned one thing about Mozgov at the World Championships it’s that he can set a good pick, roll to the hole and finish. You can picture a drag screen with them being effective. Mason could bounce back to the form that made him a supersub in San Antonio — picture him sprinting down the court to an open spot on the arc and draining the transition three.

Once he really gets healthy and his strength back, Azubuike may be the starter. He is more dynamic than Chandler. In the short term Azubuike is going to be explosive off the bench. And Wilson Chandler showed last year he can ball in this system.

Eddy Curry… let’s not bet on it. But if he can even return to the 15 PER guy he was two seasons ago — a league average guy — at the five off the bench? Huge boost for this team.

Mike D’Antoni’s system is built in part on conditioning and wearing another team down — they are going to run and run and run and you will not be able to keep up. You will wear down. They will break you.

To do that takes more than five — it takes nine or 10 deep. The Knicks have that now.

There will be a lot o playing around with lineups and matchups. It may take a while to figure out the rotations. But the Knicks have depth now, they have athletes deep on the roster.

And that could win them some games.

Edmond Sumner declares for NBA draft despite torn ACL

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Edmond Sumner has grown about five inches since high school.

That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.

Still, he’s entering the NBA draft.

Sumner:

Rick Broering of Musketeer Report:

Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.

Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.

His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.

A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.

But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.

If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.

Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.

PBT Extra: Can Boston hang on to the No. 1 seed in East?

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In an unexpected twist as the season winds down, the Cavaliers have stumbled — 8-11 since the All-Star break — while the Celtics have just kept on winning. Suddenly the Boston Celtics are on top of the East with the best record.

Can they stay on top through the rest of the season?

Does it matter to the Cavaliers?

I cover all this ground in the latest PBT Extra.

Draymond Green on Raiders move to Las Vegas: I won’t attend another game

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The Raiders are moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, and Draymond Green — whose Warriors also play in Oakland is not pleased.

Green, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

I wouldn’t attend a game. I won’t attend a game.

“And I’m not a diehard Raiders fan, but I support the city of Oakland. It ain’t for me and I feel like all fans should feel that way. You just don’t do that. Come on man, that’s ridiculous.”

“If I were the fans, I wouldn’t attend a game for the next two years. But that’s just me. That’s ridiculous. No way I’d pay my money to attend a game.”

 

Um, does Green realize the Warriors are also moving from Oakland (to a new arena in San Francisco)?

Green:

“It’s one thing if you’re moving them from Oakland to Fremont or something,” Green said of the Raiders. “To Las Vegas?

OK, that’s Fair. I am just being pedantic. I don’t actually see moving across the bay as similar to the Raiders moving hundreds of miles away.

Green:

“That’s like moving the Dallas Cowboys or moving the Packers,” he said. “Moving the Raiders? You can move a lot of teams. Ain’t many fan bases like the Raiders fan base. That’s like moving the Boston Celtics from Boston or the Lakers from LA.

“You just don’t move certain franchises with the fan base they have.”

But seriously this time: Someone tell Green that the Raiders have already moved from Oakland to Los Angeles and back to Oakland — hundreds of miles each way and a ridiculous drive in traffic.

I get that Green — who grew up in Detroit Lions territory, roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is pictured above in a San Francisco 49ers jersey — just wants to connect with Oakland fans, but this argument is just intellectually dishonest.

Lonzo Ball: I’m better than Markelle Fultz

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Who should go No. 1 in the 2017 NBA draft?

A pair of Pac-12 freshmen point guards, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, lead the discussion.

Fultz looks like the leading contender, but Ball doesn’t buy into the conventional wisdom.

Ball, via ESPN:

“Markelle’s a great player, but I feel I’m better than him,” said Ball, who led the Bruins to a pair of blowout victories over Fultz’s Huskies this season.

“I think I can lead a team better than him,” Ball added. “Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

This will get spun into a discussion of Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball. But, without digging deeply, D'Angelo Russell, Shabazz Muhammad and Enes Kanter each claimed to be the best player in their respective drafts. Look further, and there are many more examples.

Reaching Lonzo Ball’s level usually comes with supreme confidence. This is normal — not a cause for concern about the influence of his boastful dad.

And for what’s it’s worth, I’d favor Ball over Fultz right now, though there’s still more information to gather in the draft process.