Knicks curiously move away from using two point guards

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With Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni at their disposal, the Knicks successfully implemented sets during the regular season that took advantage of having two point guards on the floor. Still, New York used one or fewer point guard more often than not.

  • With at least two point guards: +264 in 43 percent minutes
  • With one or fewer point guards: +84 in 58 percent of minutes

That’s fine. The regular season is for experimenting, and smart teams take the information they glean and apply it in the playoffs. For their first nine playoff games, the Knicks seemed like one of those smart teams. In that span, the Knicks more than flipped the script, giving significantly more playing time to two-point-guard lineups. To do so, Mike Woodson probably had to pick less-than-perfect spots to play those dual PGs, which would lower their efficiency but was probably still worthwhile.

  • With at least two point guards:  +21 in 68 percent of minutes
  • With one or fewer point guards: +19 in 32 percent of minutes

But Woodson strayed from that strategy in Game 4 against the Pacers. First of all, the Knicks started Kenyon Martin in place of Prigioni, giving New York a lineup with only one point guard right off the bat. Martin’s size theoretically could have help against the Pacers, but that didn’t work. Instead the shift just set in motion a gameplan that marginalized the Knicks’ two-point-guard sets in Game 4:

  • With at least two point guards: -12 in 21 percent of minutes
  • With one or fewer point guards: +1 in 79 percent of minutes

At first glance, it appears Woodson made a wise move to use more single-PG lineups. But not all point-guard combinations are created equal – especially when Kidd can’t score. Here’s how each point-guard combination has performed in the playoffs:

  • Felton-Kidd: –37 in 148 minutes
  • Felton-Prigioni: +31 in 120 minutes
  • Kidd-Prigioni: +39 in 65 minutes

Woodson, of course, used Felton-Kidd for 70 percent of the Knicks’ two-PG minutes in Game 4 and didn’t play Felton and Prigioni together at all.

The Knicks have gone away from what works for them in a doomed attempt to solve the problems that have plagued them all season and will likely continue to plague them. Instead, they should stick with their strengths – including playing two point guards together.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.