• Last offseason many pundits predicted that the Knicks would take a step forward in 2015-16 simply by surrounding Carmelo Anthony with NBA level talent.  While the team finished just 32-50, the development of Kristaps Porzingis marked real progress for the organization, even if it didn’t translate into a playoff bid the way Knicks fans may have hoped.  Hoop Ball’s Post-Mortem series takes a look at what happened in New York.

    OVERVIEW

    It’s been a lean three seasons since the Knicks last made the playoffs, including a franchise worst 17-65 finish in 2014-15.  Carmelo Anthony was shut down for a large portion of the season’s second half, and the Knicks lacked consistent talent around him.

    Las offseason, team president Phil Jackson set out to bolster the roster with NBA veterans.  Instead of making splashy signings, which had become the norm under owner James Dolan, Jackson inked Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez to reasonable deals in an effort to fill out the Knicks’ starting lineup.  While Afflalo was inconsistent throughout the season, simply building a prudent foundation helped to stabilize the franchise.

    In the 2015 draft the Knicks took Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick, launching the Latvian big man into the spotlight.  Porzingis did not disappoint, as he proved more polished than many expected and finished second in the NBA’s Rookie of the year voting.  In fact, if he hadn’t been overshadowed by Karl-Anthony Towns’ historic brilliance Porzingis might have been even more celebrated as a rookie.

    Not everything was rosy for the Knicks, however, as the Porzingis hype train didn’t directly translate into wins for the franchise.  The Knicks finished 26th in offensive efficiency and 18th on the defensive end of the floor.  As a result, head coach Derek Fisher was relieved of his coaching duties in early February and Kurt Rambis was named the team’s interim coach.

    Not much improved under Rambis, however, and the team opted to hire Jeff Hornacek as their new coach on June 2, 2016.

    COACHING

    The last two seasons have become a referendum on the triangle.  Some of the criticism may be overblown, but in many ways the system seems like a relic in the pace-and-space era.  Having big men who can operate from the elbows is still a relevant skill, and isolation plays are still called during critical possessions across the league, but the offense the Knicks ran under Fisher and Rambis looked unplayable in today’s NBA.

    New coach Hornacek will apparently have some degree of freedom to install his own offense rather than run Jackson’s preferred system next season, a notable development after Jackson reportedly ousted Fisher in part for deviating from the triangle.

    We won’t know the specifics of Hornacek’s offense until we see it in October, but this change could signal a philosophical shift for the organization.  Hornacek was the primary target of Jackson’s coaching search, marking the first time in his tenure as team president that Jackson has reached outside his own coaching tree.  It’s hard to believe Phil would want to hire a coach with no experience in a given system (triangle or otherwise) and then expect him to run said system.

    In Phoenix, Hornacek’s teams were towards the top of the league in pace and attempted a high number of threes despite their lack of skilled shooters.

    THE PLAYERS

    Carmelo Anthony

    ADP: 16/12 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 31/39 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 29/36 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 72

    After being shut down for nearly the entire second half of the 2014-15 season, Carmelo returned to anchor the Knicks for 72 games this year.  Despite the Knicks’ disappointing finish Anthony found himself surrounded by actual NBA level players, unlike in 2014-15, and seemed to embrace their presence by accepting a more team-centric focus.

    This new outlook showed up in the stat sheet as well, as Anthony attempted fewer shots and averaged his lowest points per game (21.8) since joining the Knicks in 2011.  That said, Melo’s game showed a new level of versatility this season.  He averaged 7.7 rebounds (the second highest mark of his career), and posted a career high 4.2 assists per game.  His defensive stats, while far from elite, held steady at 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks per game.  As a result, his impact in both fantasy and reality was well rounded.

    Despite these positive developments, however, it might be time to retire the notion that Carmelo is still an elite fantasy option.  He has now finished as a late third round value in back to back seasons on a per game basis.  The primary culprit is his scoring, but it goes deeper than his steadily declining points per game as Anthony has averaged 0.7 fewer threes per game since the Knicks parted ways with coach Mike Woodson.

    Moreover, while he’s never been an efficient scorer Anthony has seen his field goal percentage dip from 45.2% in his last top-10 season to 43.4% in 2015-16.  That might not seem like a massive difference, but when you take 18-22 shots per game such a dip has serious fantasy implications.  Melo will absolutely still warrant an early round selection next fall, but let someone else in your league reach for him inside the top-30.

    Kristaps Porzingis

    ADP: 116/137 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 51/45 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 55/48 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 72

    Patience and potential were the two words most commonly associated with Porzingis when he first declared for the 2015 draft.  In fact, ESPN’s Chad Ford summed up the conventional wisdom on Porzingis by writing, “Porzingis has the most star potential of anyone in the draft. But I don’t think the Knicks have patience.”  Perhaps the Knicks knew something the rest of us didn’t, maybe they just got lucky, but Porzingis flashed his immense upside immediately upon entering the league.  The need for patience was almost immediately invalidated by his shooting, rim protection and ball handling.

    As mentioned earlier, only Karl-Anthony Towns’ unprecedented rookie season kept Porzingis from being the fantasy breakout of the season.  Over the course of his rookie campaign he averaged 28.4 minutes, 14.3 points, 7.3 boards, 1.3 assists, 1.1 threes, 0.7 steals and 1.9 blocks.  Porzingis was as good a shooter as advertised, but showed maturity as a rebounder and defender that many thought would take him years to master.  That type of versatility placed Porzingis squarely inside the top-50 in nine category leagues despite shooting an underwhelming 42.1% from the floor.

    Looking ahead, Porzingis seems like a lock to average minutes in the mid-30s next season, as he did during the final three months of this year.  Over that time period he was even more impressive, averaging 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 threes per contest while still maintaining excellent defensive stats.  All told, Porzingis was a top-30 player over the season’s second half, and seems like a lock to go that high in drafts this October.

    Robin Lopez

    ADP: 87/97 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 57/53 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 90/83 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 82

    Lopez was a model of consistency in 2015-16.  Health played a large role in his fantasy worth, as the splits between his total and per-game values indicate.  Lopez might not have been spectacular, but it’s hard to argue that staying healthy for 82 games is a bad thing in fantasy or reality.

    Lopez’s conventional counting stats might not jump out at you, as 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game is hardly remarkable.  Digging a little deeper, however, reveals an efficient rim protector.  Finding a big man who can both hit his free throws and block shots is a rarity in fantasy, and Lopez checked both boxes by shooting 79.5% from the stripe and averaging 1.6 blocks per game.  He only took two foul shots each night, but by simply not hurting you in that category he offered more than many shot blockers.

    Lopez is already being undervalued in preliminary 2016-17 rankings, as most have him well outside the top-100 players.  He’s the type of unsexy pick that can dramatically improve a fantasy squad in the later rounds, giving savvy owners a boost in the rarest category without taking anything off the table.

    Jose Calderon

    ADP: 140/139 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 134/124 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 141/135 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 72

    Calderon was helped by the Knicks’ influx of talent as much as anyone, jumping nearly 40 spots on the player rater from 2014-15.  Despite scoring 1.5 fewer points per game, he made meaningful improvements in both his field goal percentage and assist rate.  With Porzingis and Arron Afflalo spacing the floor, Calderon improved his shooting from 41.5% from the floor last year to a respectable 45.9% this season.

    All told, Calderon averaged 7.6 points, 4.1 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 treys and 0.9 steals per game.  Those numbers are never going to blow owners away, but they allowed Calderon to hold onto 11th round value in 12-team leagues.  The Knicks are already sniffing around Mike Conley – among other big name point guards – this offseason so it seems unlikely that Calderon will be able to replicate this year’s success in 2016-17.

    Langston Galloway

    ADP: 140/147 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 149/134 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 200/175 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 82

    The Knicks took an extended look at Galloway in 2015-16, and he showed marked improvement in his second season, providing enough versatility to remain on the standard league radar.  Averaging 7.6 points, 3.5 boards, 2.5 assists, 0.9 treys, 0.9 steals and 0.3 blocks per game, he showed his ability to impact the box score in a variety of ways.  His value next season will be heavily influenced by how the Knicks approach free agency, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he sees a reduction in minutes if the team signs a high profile guard.

    Arron Afflalo

    ADP: 93/139 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 167/165 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 179/173 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 71

    Afflalo provided enough for his fantasy owners to remain on the fringes of standard league consideration.  Despite not doing anything particularly well he chipped in across the board, averaging 12.8 points, 3.7 boards, two assists, 1.3 threes and 0.4 steals.  Afflalo still doesn’t offer much in the money fantasy categories (treys, steals, blocks), though, so owners will want to target higher upside players at the end of their drafts next season.

    Derrick Williams

    ADP: 140/133 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 218/213 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 280/277 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 80

    Williams got some good opportunities and he took yet another step forward this season, but he still couldn’t make his way on to the standard league radar.  Averaging 18 minutes, 9.3 points, 3.7 boards, 0.6 treys and 0.4 steals per game, he showed some good versatility but he’ll need to take another step forward in order to be relevant in most fantasy leagues.

    Kyle O’Quinn

    ADP: 140/141 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 218/213 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 246/279 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 65

    O’Quinn offered little to fantasy owners in his 65 games this season.  Averaging just 11.8 minutes, 4.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks he failed to make an impact in standard leagues.  If you find yourself absolutely desperate for blocks next season he might be worth considering, but outside of that he can safely be left alone.

    Lance Thomas

    ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 271/269 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 289/290 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 59

    Thomas played a key role off the bench for this Knicks in 2015-16, despite being useful in only the deepest fantasy leagues.  In 22.4 minutes per game he averaged just 8.2 points, 0.7 threes, 2.2 boards and 0.4 assists on 44.2% shooting.  At 28-years-old it’s hard to imagine Thomas offering any real upside to owners next year.

    Jerian Grant

    ADP: 113/141 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 259/279 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 323/344 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 76

    Grant was a major fantasy disappointment in his first season, averaging just 16.7 minutes per game after being drafted in almost every league.  When he was actually on the court Grant struggled with efficiency, shooting just 39.4% from the floor.  All told, he finished the season with averages of 5.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.3 threes and 0.7 steals and will need to show a lot more before he warrants a spot on fantasy rosters.

    DOCTOR’S ORDERS

    After failing to muster a winning record for three consecutive seasons the Knicks find themselves at a crossroads.  If they decide to keep their current core together the combination of Anthony, Porzingis and a free agent to be named later could contend for a playoff spot in the East.  On the other hand, if Carmelo decides to waive his no-trade clause the team could decide to fully rebuild around their Latvian phenom.  Either way, things are always exciting in the city that never sleeps.

Fantasy News

  • Royce O'Neale - F - Utah Jazz

    Royce O'Neal was very effective in 33 minutes off the bench Wednesday, scoring 18 points to go with five rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers.

    O'Neal was a big factor for the Jazz staying competitive in this one, picking up the slack offensively for stretches of the game. The 25 year old forward saw his role increase in his second season in Utah, and figures to see more gradual increase in his next one with them.

  • Donovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell has his worst shooting game of the series in Wednesday's closeout loss, scoring 12 points on 4-of-22 shooting to go with six rebounds and a steal.

    Despite Mitchel''s struggles, the Jazz were able to stay in the game right up until the very end. While this series was revealing in the areas that Mitchell needs to improve, as well as flaws in Utah's offense in general, it also reveled how special of a talent he really is. He had an up and down season this year but the future is undoubtedly bright.

  • Ricky Rubio - G - Utah Jazz

    Ricky Rubio scored 17 points (7-of-15 shooting) to go with 11 assists, two rebounds and three steals in Wednesday's Game 5 loss in Houston.

    Rubio turned it up a notch over his last two games, double-doubling in both, but his efforts were not enough to extend the series past Game 5. The free-agent PG will now head into an off season where there will be questions abound about who the Jazz should pair with Donovan Mitchell for the long term.

  • Blake Griffin - F - Detroit Pistons

    Blake Griffin (left knee) underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday night.

    Griffin's knee obviously dogged him during the final stretch of the regular season and throughout the Pistons' brief playoff run. The Pistons said that he isn't expected to miss any off season training and should be good to go for the start of the 2019-2020 season.

    Source: Mark Stein on Twitter

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    According to head coach Mike D'Antoni, Clint Capela (illness) is feeling much better ahead of Wednesday's matchup against the Jazz.

    Clint Capela has been struggling ever since he came down with this virus. He seems to be close to 100% according to his head coach. If Capela can get close to his season averages of 16.6 points on 64.8% shooting while grabbing 12.7 rebounds and blocking 1.5 shots per game, then the Jazz will have an even tougher to task to take down the Rockets on Wednesday in order to force a Game 6 back in Utah.

    Source: Tim MacMahon on Twitter

  • JaMychal Green - F - Los Angeles Clippers

    JaMychal Green will remain in the starting lineup in Game 5 on Wednesday.

    Green logged 22 minutes in the same role in Game 4, though it's not surprising that the Clippers will stick with the same group considering Ivica Zubac's tough fit in this matchup and Montrezl Harrell's fit in his current role.

    Source: Andrew Greif on Twitter

  • Nate Tibbets - Team - Trail Blazers

    The Suns have been given permission to interview Blazers assistants Nate Tibbets and David Vanterpool for their vacant head coaching position.

    The Cavs have already been connected to the duo from Portland, and Tibbets interviewed for the Hawks' gig last summer. The Suns reportedly fired Igor Kokoskov so they could make Philadelphia assistant Monty Williams their top target before the Lakers got too deep into talks, but Phoenix will be looking at multiple candidates. It's a nice roster to work with but we can't imagine anyone will be too eager to work with the team's ownership group.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Draymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors

    Draymond Green admitted that his right wrist has been hurt for "a while."

    Green added that he got hit there in Game 4 and "it pissed it off" and said that he's going to play through any pain in the postseason. It's not like teams weren't sagging off Green on the perimeter already, but if his wrist continues to hamper him in any way we may see opponents get very aggressive in their defensive efforts on Golden State's other players. Green is going to have lots of open jumpers presented to him for the rest of the postseason.

    Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter

  • Jarrett Allen - C - Brooklyn Nets

    Jarrett Allen will work on extending his range to the 3-point line this summer.

    Him and every other big man. Allen went 6-for-45 on 3-pointers this season, so he's got some work to do. He's a quality young player who can protect the rim, but Allen isn't quite strong enough to crash and bang with the league's true behemoths and not quite gifted enough offensively to be anything more than a threat on the roll. It's a great base from which to work, however, and it's good to know that Allen is going to be putting in the work to make himself more of a weapon as the Nets look to build on a nice campaign.

    Source: Bryan Fonseca on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart - G - Boston Celtics

    On Wednesday Brad Stevens said that Marcus Smart (torn oblique) is "doing great."

    That's nice, but it's not much of an update. Smart was able to do some light shooting and treadmill work yesterday but we're still not expecting to see him until the tail end of the second round at the earliest. His tenacity and perimeter defense will be missed dearly in Boston's matchup with the Bucks.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter