PODCAST: Phil Jackson Isn’t The Only Item Up For Discussion

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Phil Jackson to the Knicks was definitely the story of the day. When a guy with 13 championship rings takes on a new job, there’s no getting around the importance of the moment.

But there are 29 other teams making news of one kind or another, and I found time on 1280AM in Salt Lake City to deviate away from Jackson and discuss Coach of the Year, the sleeper teams in the East and the West, and the debate over whether Blake Griffin has become a more worthy MVP candidate than LeBron James.

Popular Basketball Internet Radio with Sheridan Hoops Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Sixth Man Rankings: The Knicks’ current win streak should be taken with skepticism

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knicksThe Knicks have won five straight games and now sit just 3.5 games from the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The fans of Gotham are finally excited about the Knicks for the first time this season. The Bucks come to New York on Saturday, and if the Knicks can pull out an expected victory, they’ll close the gap between them and the Hawks even further.

Right now, ESPN.com has the Knicks’ playoff odds at 15%. With the Knicks having five very winnable games over their next six, I’d spot their chances at about 33% today.

Moreover, on a larger level, with Phil Jackson reportedly close to signing on with the team this week, there’s a sense of relief among the fans that the team may finally have a realistic plan in place to build a roster for the future.

Unfortunately for Knicks fans, the temporary excitement in the Knicks’ hot streak is slightly misguided. As analytic-guru and writer Dean Oliver calculated in his book Basketball on Paper, winning streaks of five or six games are actually quite common in the NBA — even for underachieving teams.

The Knicks are currently 26-40, good for a winning percentage of .394.

As Oliver discovered after extensive research of historical NBA seasons, teams with winning percentages of .400 or better have a 55% chance of winning five games in a row over an 82 game schedule.

Even if the Knicks defeat Milwaukee on Saturday (not a given, considering they dropped their last matchup to Milwaukee in February), a six-game win streak for a mediocre team is still quite common in today’s NBA. According to Oliver, a .400 team has a 27% chance of winning six games in a row over the course of a season. Just last month, the Cavaliers won six games in a row and proceeded to lose seven of their next nine. Winning a string of games is not indicative of a team turning their season around.

Furthermore, out of the teams New York has beaten recently on this little streak, only the Timberwolves own a winning record (32-31). This win streak is more a reflection of the poor competition the Knicks have faced rather than the Knicks having magically figured things out. Head coach Mike Woodson still doesn’t seem to grasp who can (and can’t) play well together:

On a more positive note for Knicks fans, one thing they can be happy about is J.R. Smith’s sudden positive turnaround. Over the Knicks’ five game streak, Smith has averaged 16.6 points, 3.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds. As his production’s increased, his efficiency has improved as well. He’s shooting 43% from deep over the streak and hasn’t committed a turnover in four of the team’s five wins.

Considering he has been averaging just 13.3 points and shooting under 40% from the entire field for the season, the Knicks must be relieved to see their longterm investment starting to look adequate again.

On to the rankings…

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Tweet of the Day: Carmelo Releases New Shoe, Fuels Rumors

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melo

New York Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, who has a shoe deal with Jordan brand sneakers and apparel, unveiled a new colorway to his latest signature shoe.

The new colorway brought on a lot of Twitter speculation among fans as to where Anthony, who is expected to opt out of his current contract with New York, may land in the offseason.

Square Peg Meets Round Hole: The Chicago Bulls’ dilemma with no-defense Jimmer Fredette

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Sacramento Kings v Golden State WarriorsJimmer Fredette is exactly what the Chicago Bulls need right now, yet at the same time is exactly the type of player the Bulls usually look to avoid.

It is this inherent contradiction that makes Chicago’s signing of Fredette so uniquely interesting among last week’s February buyouts since Fredette is the exact antithesis of the Chicago Bulls player we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the last couple of years.

Chicago as a team allows 100.6 points per 100 possessions, second in the league to Indiana. Fredette  had allowed 111 points per 100 possessions this season, and is a huge departure from the defense-first player the franchise has built its successful team around.

Bernucca: NBA Buyout Season’s Winners and Losers

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I’m kinda high on what the Charlotte Bobcats did with Ben Gordon.220px-Gordon7_20091204

The Bobcats waived Gordon on Sunday, preventing him from appearing in the postseason should he sign with another team. While they may have alienated his agent – not a trifle thing in the business world of the NBA – two things should be pointed out.

1. When teams waive or buy out players at this time of the season, they are essentially establishing a price they are willing to pay to that player to not play for them.

2. In this case, the Bobcats made it impossible for Gordon to come back to haunt them in the playoffs.

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