Overall Game Grade: A
Grade inflation for a sloppy pre-season game which the Knicks won 92-83? Grades are all relative and sometimes irrelevant. In this instance the A represents the thrill of being able to see some NBA-type basketball finally. The Knicks-Nets game was sloppy at points but it was great to see the possibilities in action. I watched the game on YES and MSG. I may never watch yes again. Boring. Boring. Boring. But with the sound down the game looked good enough for a start.
Mike D'Antoni and Mike Woodson (aka Woodtoni): A
"Woodtoni", another Steadyism (term or phrase coined by Knick Fanatic Steady), reads better and funnier than D'Ant-Wood, but it does not reflect the fact that MikieD is still the HEAD coach. Certainly, this coupling is a work in progress which is certainly better than being a work in regress, which may yet happen, but for now they seem to be working together just fine. Woodson's influences are very apparent. Most notable is the usage of Renaldo who never appeared to be a D'Antoni favorite. It is clear that the offense is going to suffer initially, at least until the MikeSquare (yet another nickname for the two headed Mike) get a distributing point guard and everyone figures out how to maximize Stat around the paint.
Iman Shumpert: A-
Wow. In 25 minutes he had 16 points,two steals and two assists. He has the confidence of the dude on the playground or in the gym who knows that he is getting his stuff off and he is going to do damage no matter who is on the court. He is also willing to listen and learn. If that is a reflection of his work ethic, OMG. He is 6'5" and physical. He played in the ACC so I am surprised that Cooleyhigh, one of our ForceMDs (basketball doctors in the DC area) didn't have a word to share with us on him. He was breathtaking. Long, fast, quick, smooth shot.
Renaldo Balkman: A
Somebody (Balkman) has been working on his game. Still Tazmanic, Balkman led all scorers with 20 points and high energy. How ironic was it for Balkman to play one of his best NBA games on the day former sportswriter now MSG analyst, Alan Hahn had his show debut. Hahn, graded below, was one of the writers who perpetually questioned Balkman's basketball intellect. On D, Balkman still reaches a lot but he seems to know where he needs to be at all times on both sides of the floor. His baseline cuts on O may be very productive for this team. (If you want to see a nice collection of Balkman videos, check out the offerings from Peaceman in the comment section of the post-game post).
Josh Harrelson: B+
I have a feeling he is going to be a great utility man. He can bang and shoot. The Knicks need big bodies like his on both ends of the floor.
Jared Jeffries: B
His value increases with the acquisition of Tyson Chandler. Jeffries was the Knicks defense last year. He seems ready to continue that energy and aggression this year.
Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony: B
It's only their first NBA game together so it was no surprise that the anticipation was more exciting than their actual play together. There is still much work to do. Tyson Chandler did not overexert himself, but as D'Antoni noted, the guards missed him on open cuts to the basket numerous times. It was great to see a Knick easily grab rebounds. Carmelo seemed more comfortable offensively than Stoudemire ( 3 for 11 for 10 pts w/ 6 boards and 3 assists). Finding Studdy and getting him the ball in his spots should be a priority. Their were times when he and Carmelo worked really well together. Also Stoudemire, who raised his profile by 1 full inch, looked good physically.
Toney Douglas: C
Very active but still very disappointing because we want him to play like a starting point guard, not a pretty good reserve two guard. You would hope that he would be further along by now with his point guard instincts. Part of that is attributable to the coaching staff for not giving him all the opportunities available these past two years. Nevertheless, Toney (5 pts, 6 boards and 5 assists in 30 mins.) must take responsibility for picking up his dribble far too quickly, not penetrating with greater frequency, and missing pick and rolls, lobs and fast break opportunities. He still has a chance, but the Knicks are probably not going to show the patience he needs to grow into the roll.
Landry Fields: B-
Now is the time for him to find the rhythm he will need playing with the Fantastic III. He and Shumpert bring different speeds and levels of athleticism to the table, but Fields has shown he can play the 4th man role without the ball. Poor shooting (2-12 for seven points) this game, but he hit the boards(7), gathered a couple of steals (2), and a couple of assists (2). He continues to demonstrate good energy. I'm guessing that he will improve.
Mike Bibby: C
Five points, three assists, two steals. I don't know. He's just not the answer. I can't pinpoint it yet, but I'm just not feeling Bibby. Real analytic huh? Some of you know what I mean. He plays smallish and without consistency on the three, he's really just filling time until he can collect his pension. Sorry, but today was a C and this is probably not his mid-season form, so we expect him to improve at least a little.