With Anthony and Billups, does the Knicks offense really get better?

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On a very basic level, the question seems almost absurd.

Does the Carmelo Anthony trade make the Knicks offense better? The gut first reaction is “Of course it does. ‘Melo is a scorer going to a system where they just ask guys to get out and score. Match made in heaven.”

Then you look at the devilish details, and you look at Chauncey Billups… and maybe this isn’t going to be so smooth.

Sebastian Pruiti at the fantastic NBA Playbook notes that what Anthony likes to do and does well — isolation plays and post ups — are things the Knicks don’t usually highlight.

With the Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony was ISO’d 36.9% of the time, while posting up 15.7% of the time.  Anthony has success in both of these spots, posting a PPP of .853 when ISO’d (110th in the NBA), and a PPP of  .941 when posting up (54th in the NBA).

While ISO plays are at least part of the Knicks’ offensive game plan, running ISOs 13.4% of the time, they simply don’t post their players up, only running Post-Up plays 5% of the time.  So right off the bat, the Knicks’ offensive system takes away something that Carmelo Anthony does very well.

Go read the post, because with video evidence Pruiti shows how the Knicks in general — and Stoudemire specifically — shoot themselves in the foot with spacing on isolation and post up sets. Stoudemire in particular tends to shade to the ball, bringing an unwanted defender into the area.

But you just kind of get the feeling Stoudemire and Anthony are going to find a way to coexist. Will Mike D’Antoni adjust his system to fit Anthony (he would warrant it)? There may be rough patches this year, but they will get it figured out, it feels like.

The bigger issue may be at point guard.

I’ll grant you that Chauncey Billups is a better player than Raymond Felton. At this point in their respective careers (Billups is 34) it’s closer than people want to admit, but for the sake of argument we’ll grant that Billups is the better overall player.

But he is not the better point guard for the Knicks offense, where the point guard runs a lot of pick-and-roll, as Pruiti points out.

When coming off of ballscreens, Felton is looking for his teammates than he is his own offense, passing it to a teammate 55.8% of the time (looking for his own offense 44.2% of the time).  Out of those passes, he hits the roll man 43.1% of the time while hitting a teammate spotting up 52.7% of the time….

While Felton is more pass oriented coming off of screens, Billups is more interested in looking for his offense.  According to Synergy, Billups looks for his offense 51.3% of the time when coming off of ballscreens, passing it just 48.7% of the time.  Out of those passes, he hits the roll man 38% of the time and a player spotting up 48% of the time.  The rest of the time (14% to be exact) Billups is hitting cutters.  To me, this means that Billups has a tendency to hold the basketball when coming off of screens (he is penetrating looking for his own offense and a teammate cuts off of that).  A point guard who dominates the basketball when playing the pick and roll game doesn’t work unless you are Steve Nash (Billups isn’t pass first like Nash).

I can hear the New York counter argument now, “Billups is just a placeholder until we get Deron Williams or Chris Paul in a couple years. We can live with him for now.”

We’ll ignore the possibilities of the Knicks getting D-Will or CP3 in two years because there is no way of knowing what the rules will be under a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Does this mean New Yorkers will quietly sit by and not complain about D’Antoni and his offense because he has been given ill-fitting pieces? You going to cut Melo and Amar’e slack because they are not getting the ball when and where they like it.

Of course you’re not. You’re New Yorkers.

The offensive transition in New York well may not be as smoother and effortless as some expect. Still, with all that firepower they will still put up points. Defense? That’s another story entirely.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.