The Knicks and Pacers will finally return to the court tonight after last playing Tuesday.
The Pacers are 4-1, including a 125-91 win over the Knicks in February, after at least three days rest. The Knicks are 3-3 and have been outscored by seven points in such games.
Meaningful? Maybe not. That’s a fairly small sample. But it’s worth paying attention to how the Knicks’ older players handle the long layoff and how both coaches gameplan after so much time to adjust.
Amar’e Stoudemire will return after an even longer hiatus, and that could be much more meaningful.
Stoudemire, who last played March 7, averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game this season. He’s no longer the same player who received Most Value Player votes just two years ago, but Stoudemire is still 6-foot-10, and that could pay dividends against a big and physical Pacers team.
So far in this series, the Knicks have been more successful when using taller lineups. An average height of 6-foot-5.5 splits the lineups New York has used about evenly (11 shorter and 12 taller), but results are nowhere close to even:
- Lineups with an average height taller than 6-foot-5.5: +21 in 35 minutes
- Lineups with an average height shorter than 6-foot-5.5: –2 in in 60 minutes
Stoudemire will at least allow the Knicks to play taller lineups more often. But big lineups haven’t exactly negated Indiana’s advantages.
The Pacers have dominated the glass in the series. The Knicks’ offensive-rebounding percentage (23.8) would have ranked 26th in the regular season, and their defensive-rebounding percentage (72.7) would have ranked 25th. No team rebounded so poorly on both ends during the regular season.
Stoudemire is not a lock to save the Knicks on the boards. In addition to working his way back into game shape, he posted career lows in defensive- and total-rebound percentages.
But every bit helps, especially when J.R. Smith might not play.
Could you find your way out of LeBron James‘ head?
Now, you can find out.
An Ohio farm has created three corn mazes – one featuring LeBron’s head, one that says Believeland and one with a Larry O’Brien Trophy – to commemorate the Cavaliers 2016 NBA title:
Kevin Ollie made himself one of the NBA’s hottest coaching prospects by leading UConn to the 2014 NCAA title.
He has since resisted NBA overtures, including from the Lakers in 2014 and Thunder last year.
But his peers don’t expect Ollie’s hesitance to last.
Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander of CBSSPorts.com asked more than 110 college coaches, “Which active college coach is best suited and most likely to next jump to the NBA?” The results:
Coach, college Percentage
Kevin Ollie, UConn 20 percent
Bill Self, Kansas 17 percent
John Calipari, Kentucky 16 percent
Jay Wright, Villanova 16 percent
Shaka Smart, Texas 9 percent
Tony Bennett, Virginia 8 percent
Note: Other coaches who received at least three or more votes: Sean Miller (Arizona), Larry Krystkowiak (Utah) and Avery Johnson (Alabama).
Keep in mind 80% of responds didn’t answer Ollie. But he’s still makes sense atop the leaderboard.
Ollie isn’t the typical college-to-NBA coach, and Brad Stevens and Billy Donovan – and maybe eventually Fred Hoiberg – are changing that perception, anyway. Not is Ollie showing his basketball acumen at Connecticut, his 13-year NBA career suggests he can translate his style to the next level.
Of course, Calipari always comes up on these lists. He coaches more future NBA stars than anyone, and he loves the attention that comes with the perception NBA teams are chasing him. But he has the best job in college basketball at Kentucky, so luring him will be difficult.
Self and Wright, the other coaches who got at least 10% of the vote, come up from time to time in NBA rumors. But it never seems to be anything that goes anywhere.
Frank Kaminsky ranked 119th of 165 big men in ESPN’s real plus-minus last season.
The eye test matched.
Kaminsky isn’t strong enough to defend inside, and he’s not mobile enough to defend the perimeter.
The assessment might sound harsh, but coming off his rookie season, Kaminsky put it just as bluntly.
Kaminsky, via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:
“I’ve got to be a better overall defender. I was overwhelmed at times,” Kaminsky said. “My preparation, obviously, needs to get better. I so want to be a more consistent player. I’d have a good game and then disappear in the next.”
Kaminsky competes defensively, and Hornets coach Steve Clifford can work with that. Despite his shortcomings, Charlotte still allowed fewer points per possession with Kaminsky on the floor than off. That had plenty to do with whom Kaminsky shared the floor, but it’s evidence his defense is already at least tolerable.
As Kaminsky acclimates to the NBA, his defense could improve. He’ll never be a great leaper, and his length is pedestrian for his position. But he moves alright and plays hard. Add better defensive recognition, and he could be fine.
Los Angeles announced today, August 24, 2016 would be Kobe Bryant Day – presumably because he wore Nos. 8 and 24 with the Lakers, not because 8-24 feels like a common shooting night for him.
But that press release understated the honor.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
Kobe had a great career, and he’s beloved in Los Angeles. Honoring him with a day is a nice gesture.
But as the luster of his retirement tour dims, this will seem overreaching if it’s not just forgotten. The latter is far more likely, but when it’s remembered, Kobe Bryant Day will mostly lead to questions: Why not an annual Magic Johnson Day? Why not an annual Sandy Koufax Day? Why not an annual…