Optimizing the Knicks’ Offseason

Note: this post was originally published for The Strickland.

The New York Knicks are entering yet another pivotal offseason. 

There are a myriad of decisions to be made by the front office: which free agents to add, which current team options to accept or decline (which they did today), and how many minutes to play each player per game once the season actually tips off. Luckily for them, they have a lot of flexibility — they have control over how they use their salary cap, roster spots, and minutes allocations throughout the season. 

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To Be Frank: A Ntilikina Deep Dive

Note: this post was originally published for The Strickland.

Hello. Welcome. I see you’re here to read a deep dive about Frank Ntilikina. I sincerely respect the decision.

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No All-Rookie? No problem: Projecting RJ Barrett’s future

Note: this post was originally published for The Strickland.

The third pick in the 2019 NBA draft failed to make an All-Rookie team.

However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Knicks fan that was significantly disappointed by RJ Barrett’s rookie season. Though he didn’t exactly light up the league immediately like Ja Morant or Zion Williamson, RJ showed a little bit of everything in what was a significantly featured role for the Knicks. Operating at an incredibly high volume, he filled up the stat sheet like few other rookies in the league – and few veterans on his own team:

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Tanking is Over, Long Live the Process

Tanking has been a pest for the NBA for over a decade, but no team embraced tanking as blatantly as the Philadelphia 76ers. 47 wins over 246 games, winning one out of every five games over three years, was rewarded with four young players with very cheap rookie contracts: Joel Embiid (4 years / $20M), Jahlil Okafor (4 years / $21M), Ben Simmons (4 years / $27M), and Markelle Fultz (4 years / $37M). 

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Optimizing the Best NBA Expansion Team

Assuming league recovery post-COVID-19, an expansion team (or more) in the NBA feels like more of a “when” than an “if”. Growing team valuations, marketable superstars, and worldwide interest has turned basketball into the sport of the future, and there are plenty of places that could use a squad (looking at you, Seattle).

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Visualizing the NBA’s Trend Toward Positionless Basketball

The NBA has transitioned into a somewhat positionless sport. As the years have gone by, more and more teams have continued to employ lineups that don’t contain centers, or utilize point forwards that guard the paint but facilitate the offense. Players have been thought of less and less as “shooting guards” or “power forwards” and more and more as “wings” or “bigs”. We wanted to visualize this massive change in play style by using data science methods to compare the play style of the current NBA to that of the NBA in the 1980s. Through unsupervised learning, we were able to see how the clustering of player data by position has changed over time, and what that says about how the play style of the league has evolved.

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An Ode to Mook

Raise a glass.

An ode. A toast, if you will. To Marcus Morris, one of the most respectable yet disrespectable, elating yet frustrating players that have ever played a half-season for the New York Knicks.

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The (Mostly Positive) Early Returns for RJ Barrett

After such a humilating offseason, the New York Knicks need any semblance of hope. They’re currently 1-6 and battling a slew of concerns for this season and beyond. However, they’ve taken solace in the early returns from their #3 overall draft pick in RJ Barrett.

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Atlantic Division Preview: Last Year’s – and Potentially This Year’s – NBA Champs

Welcome to the sixth of the Corner Three 2019-2020 NBA division-by-division season previews. In each of these previews, we use RJ Garcia’s player-by-player ratings (based on on/off metrics and career trajectory) and per-game minutes projections (taking into account potential minutes lost to injury) to project overall team quality for the upcoming season. RJ and Derek Reifer also provide their own analyses and commentary to provide any context and additional insights.

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Central Division Preview: The Bucks (Kinda) Run it Back

Welcome to the fifth of the Corner Three 2019-2020 NBA division-by-division season previews. In each of these previews, we use RJ Garcia’s player-by-player ratings (based on on/off metrics and career trajectory) and per-game minutes projections (taking into account potential minutes lost to injury) to project overall team quality for the upcoming season. RJ and Derek Reifer also provide their own analyses and commentary to provide any context and additional insights.

Continue reading “Central Division Preview: The Bucks (Kinda) Run it Back”