Knicks Keep Winning Big, Keep Losing Bigs

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NEW YORK – As the New York Knicks extended their winning streak to 13 games on Tuesday, they extended their list of injured big men to six.

Six is the number of big men the Knicks have on their roster, by the way.

Early in the fourth quarter of an easy win over the Washington Wizards, Kenyon Martin went down a sprained left ankle. Martin (who was previously dealing with a sore knee) joined Marcus Camby (foot), Tyson Chandler (neck), Amar’e Stoudemire (knee surgery), Kurt Thomas (foot) and Rasheed Wallace (foot) on the list of (old) injured bigs in New York.

Frank Isola of the Daily News reported Wednesday that the Knicks intend to waive Thomas in order to sign Chris Singleton, who is 6-foot-8.

The only one of the true bigs who could possibly play in Chicago on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, TNT) is Camby. But most likely, Carmelo Anthony will be the starting center against the Bulls, who are still without Joakim Noah.

Now, the Knicks have only played 20 percent of their minutes with two bigs on the floor this season (a contrast to their vanilla-lineup neighbors in Brooklyn), and have been much better offensively when they’ve played small (like with two point guards). So if there’s one team that absorb the loss of a big man or two, it’s this one.

And a little bit of attrition is probably a good thing for New York. Since they traded for Anthony two years ago, they’ve simply been a better team without Stoudemire than they’ve been with him. It’s fair to assume that they’d be better off if Stoudemire didn’t come back this season from his most recent knee injury.

Chandler and Martin are another story. Both are known for their defense, but the Knicks’ one-big offense has been at its best when the one big is one of those two guys.

Knicks efficiency with one big on the floor

On floor MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Chandler 1,546 110.2 104.0 +6.2 +172
Martin 347 112.9 101.1 +11.8 +71
Stoudemire 319 101.7 105.9 -4.2 -33
Wallace 204 102.1 94.7 +7.4 +26
Thomas 188 106.8 111.1 -4.4 -19
Camby 140 106.8 92.6 +14.2 +33
Total 2,744 108.6 103.1 +5.4 +250

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Beyond Chandler, the sample sizes are small. And both Chandler (76 percent) and Martin (57 percent) have benefited – meaning their offensive numbers have benefited – from playing most of their minutes with Anthony.

Still, Chandler and Martin have brought something to the table. Chandler is the perfect example of how you don’t need post moves to be a good offensive center. He rolls hard to the basket, finishing strong and drawing help defenders from the perimeter, which creates space for the Knicks’ shooters. And while Chandler would rank second in the league in field goal percentage if he had enough shots, Martin has actually finished better than Chandler in his short time with the Knicks, shooting 48-for-61 (79 percent) in the restricted area.

And obviously, both guys give New York, a below-average defensive team, some sort of presence inside on that end of the floor.

So the injuries to both Chandler and Martin have to be a serious concern with the playoffs just nine days away. Woodson called Martin’s ankle sprain “severe” on Tuesday. Chandler, meanwhile, returned for just four games before his bulging disc flared up again. Woodson said that his center would be playing if it was playoff time, but back/neck issues don’t go away easily and Chandler at less than 100 percent certainly compromises the Knicks’ chances of winning games and series in the postseason.

8 Comments

  1. cochran294 says:

    The Knicks success this year in my opinion is not going to be determined by size in my opinion. You can clearly see that Miami Heat is lacking in size but that did not necessarily stop them from winning the NBA championship last season. The Knicks has been very inconsistent all year long and while I admit that they have been on a role lately, I just don’t think that having healthy big men would get them past Indiana, who clearly has the size and defense to match up perfectly with the Knicks. But I look forward to seeing how the Knicks will finish the season.

  2. cochran294 says:

    The Knicks success this year in my opinion is not going to be determined by size in my opinion. You can clearly see that Miami Heat is lacking in size but that did not necessarily stop them from winning the NBA championship last season. The Knicks has been very inconsistent all year long and while I admit that they have been on a role lately, I just don’t think that having halthy big men would get them past Indiana, who clearly has the size and defense to match up perfectly with the Knicks. But I look forward to seeing how the Knicks will finish the season.

  3. bballfan says:

    I really feel sorry for the Knicks but when you loss some of your bigmen (injuries) on your rotation and not getting back when playoff comes they will really be in a big trouble, Woodson should save his bigmen for the playoffs.

  4. ko0kie says:

    Maybe they can persuade Shaq or Hakeem to comeback for a short playoff stint? lol

  5. it’s the knicks’ fault that all the big men they got were too old….but they’re still a dangerous team even without a big man

    • ko0kie says:

      they’re not even a threat to miami without Chandler, Camby and Martin… (the only 3 guys out of that group who can defend the rim)

  6. NY's going to be fine says:

    The Knicks success this year without a healthy presence inside is simply a testament to the change the NBA has witnessed over the past few years. In other eras, each position had a conventional definition of what type of player was best suited for it and, as such, it was very easy to determine your role for the team. It started with guys like Dirk and Garnett – power forwards who could stretch the D on the perimeter – coming into the league in the late 90s but has really come into fruition in the past few years with guys like Durant and Lebron. The extinction of the true center has also had a spillover effect on backcourt positions as well. Many teams, NYK included, utilize two point guards on the floor at once and, similarly, many teams actively allow their shooting guards and small forwards to bring the ball up and direct the offense, traditionally the point guard’s role.

    The Knicks in particular have been able to find success doing this because their spacing is so good and they have arguably the most gifted offensive player in Anthony. The way he is playing, specifically the way he is shooting from the perimeter, is so good that he commands the double team, which opens up opportunities for their shooters. For the record, I am a die-hard NYK fan so maybe it’s hard for me to be objective. I don’t know how far they can continue this success into the postseason but the way they’re playing is different, intriguing, and really impressive considering the injuries they’ve battled. Almost solely for juggling the injuries and rotations so well, I believe Mike Woodson has to be considered for coach of the year.

    I’m sure their streak will end before Miami’s (After all, they’d have to more or less win the title outright to match it) but its worth noting that thus far in this streak the Knicks have rarely even struggled, winning almost all their games in double figures. A big contrast to Miami’s streak, I must add.

  7. Alex says:

    I’m pretty sure the knicks are getting james singleton… not chris singleton