Friday, February 18, 2011

The Knicks at the All-Star break

The Knicks sit at 28-26 at the break and most "experts" had picked the Knicks to be about a .500 team. The interesting thing is that the talking heads are right for all the wrong reasons. The common opinion held was that Amar'e Stoudemire + the other guys would get New York back to respectabilty again. As it has turned out, according to the Wins Produced metric the Knicks have been taken to .500 by rookie Landry Fields + the other guys. Landry Fields has emerged as one of the biggest surprise stories of the year. Although at the Wages of Wins blog Landry Fields was projected to have a .212 Wins Produced per 48 minutes (average being .100 WP48). What may come as a surprise to most people is how close Amar'e Stoudemire has been to that .100 WP48 number. Perception in the NBA is driven entirely by scoring numbers and Stoudemire's 26.2 points per game have thrust him into the popularity contest that is the MVP award as well as starting in the all-star game.

Knicks Wins Produced at the All-Star game

The other wrinkle into the Knicks at the all-star break is the likely acquistion of Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets. Anthony has been described as the best pure scorer in the league, a top-10 player in the league, a top 5 player in the league. This is not surprising given that Carmelo Anthony scores a lot of points, the other aspects of his game are swept under the rug. Carmelo at the break has a WP48 of .143, fairly consistent with his career norms. Would this improve the Knicks?

It appears the Denver front office is not interested in acquiring Landry Fields because his numbers are "inflated" from playing in D'Antoni's system. On a side note, it seems that a GM of would realize that a rate basis is more important than a sheer number. But I digress, the latest rumor has NY shipping out Wilson Chandler, Gallo, a first round pick and the corpse of Eddy Curry for the "best pure scorer" in the league.

How does this effect the team?

Wilson Chandler + Gallo have been responsible for 5.0 wins this season for the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony has produced 5.3 wins for Denver. It appears the net would not be that great either way, except the Knicks would lose the financial flexibility to add future players given Carmelo and Amare's contract situation. Should Landry Fields + Wilson Chandler be included in the deal the Knicks would be set to ship off 11.5 wins produced for the 5.3 of Carmelo Anthony, or a -6.2 return. Of course this would be a disaster, but it would be blamed on a lack of team chemistry or the coach not focusing on defense!!

It would be the first major clash of analytics versus popular notion. The Knicks would employ two thought of superstars in the league, but the stats tell us that these two players are average to above average. In addition if Landry Fields was included in the deal there would be no hidden value guys to make Carmelo or Amar'e look better by inflating win totals under the radar.

It should be very interesting to see what happens.

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