The Perfect Trade Between The Denver Nuggets And The New York Knicks

The Trade

Why Denver Does It

The Nuggets are currently 2nd in the West (24-11), despite being 19th in the NBA in PPG, 22nd in 3P%, 18th in REB, 21st in TS%, 19th in Bench PPG. The Nuggets are -7 points per 100 possessions when Jerami Grant (backup PF- averages 23.1 minutes/game) is on the court and +13.9 when he’s off (leads the team). Denver could really use Bobby Portis and might be willing to overpay for him if it could push them over the top. Portis is averaging 10.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in just 21.5 minutes of action. He has become a really nice stretch 4, shooting 37.7% from 3 and 42.9% from the corner 3. Portis has had issues with rim protection, but would fit nicely next to Mason Plumlee. Plumlee averages 0.7 blocks and 5.6 rebounds in just 17.4 minutes per game. Portis would fit next to him offensively (spacing the floor) and defensively (rebounding with Plumlee’s help inside via shot blocking). The Nuggets would also be willing to part with Malik Beasley due to him only playing 16.1 minutes per game and although Denver would lose some offense, Portis and the emergence of Michael Porter Jr. would makeup for it.

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Why New York Does It

Portis has become one of, if not the, Knicks top bench scorers. However, he has not made a major impact on the scoreboard as the Knicks are -3.1 points per game with him on the court and -4.1 points with him off the court. The Knicks severely lack rim protection when Mitchell Robinson is off the floor, most of which Portis is manning the paint. Of the Knicks top twenty lineups this season, the worst six shot blocking lineups by a wide margin (-5.9, -5.5, -5.4, -5.3, -3.6, -3.2 per game) all come with Mitchell Robinson off the floor (no surprise). Portis is playing Center in three of these lineups and Gibson is the Center in the other three. Julius Randle is on the floor for five of the six lineups. It is clear the Knicks need another shot-blocker on their roster. Jerami Grant is averaging 0.6 blocks per game (double Portis’ 0.3) in just 23.1 minutes of action and has averaged at least a block a game in every other season of his career. Grant and Gibson could rotate playing alongside Randle and Morris dependent on game situations, while Robinson plays alongside Knox (excluding the finish of games). Knox perfectly spaces the floor at Power Forward for Robinson and opens up lots of opportunity for Robinson in the paint. Malik Beasley (23 years old), would be a nice addition to the Knicks roster. Beasley is shooting 39.8% from three on 3.4 attempts per game this season. Last year, Beasley shot a very impressive 40.2% from three on 5 attempts per game. He is very quick, moves off the ball very well, and is incredibly athletic. The addition of Beasley would really improve the Knicks shooting and energy off the bench. He would also make Wayne Ellington and Allonzo Trier expendable, who the Knicks have been rumored to be looking to move. A recent report claimed that the Knicks would likely be able to acquire a 2nd round pick for either Ellington or Trier.

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The Kevin Knox Effect

Bobby Portis has displayed his scoring prowess for a Knicks team that has significant struggles scoring and shooting (29th in the NBA in PPG, 23rd in 3P%, last in TS%). However, Portis is taking 8.9 field goal attempts per game in his 21.5 minutes of play per game. This is significantly taking scoring opportunities away from the Knicks young, bench players. Kevin Knox is likely negatively affected the most from this. Knox is averaging 19.8 minutes, 6.8 field goal attempts, and 1.8 free throws per game this season. These are all major steps down from his rookie season (28.8 minutes, 12.2 field goal attempts, and 3 free throw attempts). Knox is having a down season and it likely has to do with his drop in usage rate (currently 17.3% vs. 21.9% last season) and playing the majority of his minutes at Small Forward instead of Power Forward. This season, Knox’s top 10, five man rotations, have him playing SF in nine of them and SG in one of them. The only lineup in which he could possibly be considered a PF is when he plays alongside Julius Randle and Marcus Morris Sr. in the front court (5th most minutes). Even if he was the Power Forward in this scenario, Knox still would have little opportunity to shoot. Knox was in 12 of the Knicks top 20, five man rotations last season. The Knicks had a positive, point differential, in seven of their top, twenty lineups. Knox was only in one of the positive combinations in which he played Power Forward alongside Mitchell Robinson, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, and Frank Ntilikina (all currently bench players for the Knicks). It would likely behoove the Knicks to try a bench consisting of Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson, along with two shooters (any combination of Dotson, Trier, Bullock, and Ellington).

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Kyle Kuzma Scouting Report & Analysis: Possible Knicks Trade Target

image via Clutch Points

Important Statistics

  • 36.3% from 3, 38.1% from 3 on catch and shoots
  • 52.4% when shooting the corner three
  • 23.9 points per 100 possessions
  • 4.3 free throw attempts per 100 possessions
  • 6.9 rebounds per 100 possessions
  • 1.6 assists and 3.4 turnovers per 100 possessions

Offense

Strengths

  • Shooting (Especially Catch And Shoot)
  • Scoring On All 3 levels
  • Moving Without The Ball
  • Physical When Driving/In Post
  • Finishing Around Rim (Floater, Running Hook, Other Finishing Moves With Both Hands)
  • Aggressive/Gets Downhill When Attacking The Basket
  • Dunking In Traffic

Weaknesses

  • Dribbling
  • Facilitating
  • Shot Selection
  • Drawing Fouls

Defense

Strengths

  • Fast, Long Strides
  • Long Arms And Active Hands
  • Rotates Well, Especially The Corner Three
  • Post Defense/Physical In The Paint

Weaknesses

  • Footwork On Closeouts
  • ½ Second Late On Some Rotations (Mainly Weak Side Help Around The Rim)
  • Rebounding
  • Sags Under Screens And Doesn’t Hedge Hard Most Of The Time
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Kyle Kuzma has a tremendous finishing package and is lethal in transition/catch and shoot scenarios. Kuzma displays his ability to score off both legs on tough floaters, inside the paint in this video (first off right foot, second off left foot). Kuzma is fast and has long strides, leading to him getting open looks in transition. He is shooting 37.6% from 3 this season when he doesn’t take a dribble.

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Kuzma thrives off dribble handoffs and moving off the ball. Briefly in the beginning of the video, he is running baseline against the Clippers zone. He does a great job on offense, spacing the floor and shooting whenever a defender falls back on him. Kuzma has a very quick release and impressive range from downtown.

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Kyle shows off his tough, shotmaking ability, in this video. His finishing package around the basket is fantastic. On back to back possessions he shows his ability to put the ball on the floor and score with both hands. Kuzma utilizes a floater/hook shot with both hands, often when driving to the basket.

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Kuzma displays tremendous energy on cutting and running the floor in transition. He has a knack for finding openings on the perimeter and utilizing his quick release and shooting prowess as well.

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Although Kuzma is known mostly for his scoring, he is also a very capable passer. Here, he displays his ability to draw the defense and throw a behind the back pass amidst the traffic in the paint. This displays great poise for a young player; not forcing the shot and showing impressive vision.

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Kyle’s shooting ability often leads to openings off the dribble (especially after pump fakes). He is physical and fast, dunking aggressively in traffic on many of his drives.

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This is another video displaying Kuzma’s ability to run the floor and his aggressiveness in the paint.

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Not known for his defense, Kuzma is a very sound defender in the post. He is physical and holds his ground when opponents try to back him down. He also doesn’t fall for fakes and stays grounded. After watching film on Kuzma defensively, he’s not flashy on defense; but he generally makes the right play.

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Kuzma is long and athletic, making him a viable shot blocker when smaller players drive on him. Here, Kuzma sticks with one of the best scorers in the league, James Harden, and blocks his shot. Kyle then runs the floor as he always does and drills an open three.

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Kyle plays with a high motor on both sides of the floor. His length (6-9 and a wingspan just over 7 ft.) makes shooters have a hard time getting good looks against him.

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Probably the best part about Kyle Kuzma is his determination to be great. He has a great work ethic and constantly looks to improve his deficiencies.

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Most of Kuzma’s struggles come defensively. He is fast when he takes long strides, but has slow feet on the perimeter. Quick offensive players utilize screens and ball fakes to create space against him. Kuzma’s closeouts are also an issue, not shortening his strides and leading to him committing too much to stopping the jumper. He can improve defensively by having better footwork and sticking to his players better when they take him off the dribble.

Review

Kyle Kuzma is an unbelievable talent and offensive weapon. He has the drive to become one of the top players in this league and will likely overcome his weaknesses that have held him back from being a complete basketball player. Kuzma could add to his game offensively if he drew more fouls and went to the line more. He also needs to work on his ball handling; not only to free himself more, but to be able to utilize his vision and passing to get his teammates open looks. Defensively, Kuzma has issues with foot speed and rebounding. Also, he’s not a premier shot blocker, but can utilize his length and size more around the rim (especially when rotating as weak-side help). Kuzma currently is without a double-double this season and has been used by the Lakers almost exclusively as a stretch-four. He has played approximately 96% of his minutes at the Power Forward position this season and is used primarily on offense to space the floor.

Knicks Fit

Kyle Kuzma would be a fantastic addition to the New York Knicks. His shooting would be a major improvement for New York (last in FG%, 23rd in 3P%, and last in FT%). The issue would be, can Kuzma play SF or can Julius Randle play Center? If the answer is no to both questions, then Kuzma would have to come off the bench. Kuzma can definitely play the three on offense, but his perimeter defense can be shaky at that position. The Knicks like to switch on screens, which would benefit Kuzma if he was guarding quicker/smaller players. This way he wouldn’t need to constantly get over screens and jump out on shooters. Randle likely can’t play major minutes at Center due to his lack of shot blocking. Playing Randle at Center could possibly hinder Mitchell Robinson’s growth as well. I believe Kuzma can play the SF, although it is not ideal, if he joined the Knicks. New York could close out games with a lineup of Payton/Ntilikina, Barrett, Kuzma, Randle, and Robinson. If Kuzma came off the bench for New York, I’m sure he would still play a ton of minutes and hold the keys to the offense.

What Would A Trade Involving Kuzma To The Knicks Look Like?

The toughest part about acquiring Kuzma (other than his talent) is his salary. He is making just under $2 million with 2 years left on his deal. Making the salaries match would be a struggle for the Knicks, who would likely have to trade Morris Sr. ($15 million) in a package to get Kuzma. Assuming these would be the two cornerstones of a deal, the Lakers would need to add salary. Demarcus Cousins ($3.5 million), Avery Bradley (just under $5 million), and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (just over $8 million), would be likely possibilities. If the Lakers were to send a package of Kyle Kuzma, Demarcus Cousins, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and a cheap contract such as Troy Daniels (just over $1.5 million) and/or Quinn Cook ($3 million), a Knicks offer may look like this- Marcus Morris Sr. and Dennis Smith Jr./Reggie Bullock + Allonzo Trier/Damyean Dotson and 1/2 2nd Round Picks.

Can The Ship Sink Any Lower? Knicks 115 Wizards 121 Review

Photo by Kathleen Malone- Van Dyke and Newsday

Recap

Jumping out to a 33-20 lead with 3:29 left in the 1st, the Knicks looked like they were on their way to an easy victory against a decimated Wizards squad. Subpar energy and a lack of defense plagued the Knicks after this. Washington scored 31+ points in the first three quarters and 27 in the 4th. Washington grew their lead to 17 points with just 4:40 remaining in the game. The Knicks finally woke up and went on a 16-2 run. Down by 3 with 48.1 seconds left, the Knicks forced Washington to commit a shot clock violation. Coming out of a timeout with 24.1 seconds left, Elfrid Payton missed a step-back, three-pointer, and the Knicks eventually lost.

Washington only had two starters score double-digits in points, Bradley Beal (30) and Ish Smith (17). They got fantastic play from three, young, bench players. Troy Brown Jr. posted 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists, Gary Payton II tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 6 steals (in his first game back from the G League), and Anzejs Pasecniks scored 14 points in just 20 minutes.

Julius Randle had an unbelievable performance for the Knicks, scoring 35 points. RJ Barrett (18 points) and Damyean Dotson (19 points) both had nice games too. Elfrid Payton (12 assists and 7 rebounds) and Mitchell Robinson (13 rebounds and 6 blocks) contributed great energy and defense.

Why The Knicks Lost

Fouling, rebounding, and energy cost the Knicks this game. New York committed 25 fouls, surrendering 30 free throw attempts. The Wizards outrebounded the Knicks by a ridiculous 20 rebounds (69-49). Washington deflected 19 passes and recovered 19 loose balls. New York only recorded 13 deflections and recovered 7 loose balls. The Wizards also picked up 12 steals compared to the Knicks 4. Effort and energy, especially on the defensive end, plagued the Knicks in this game.

Outlook

Taking a game for granted is never a beneficial move, professionally. The Knicks clearly took the Wizards lightly and it cost them big time. Every win in the NBA is crucial (especially for the Knicks) and they must be earned. This type of mental lapse and lack of effort is inexcusable. Steve Mills and Scott Perry will be looking to make changes to the roster to help the Knicks talent issues. In the meantime, Mike Miller and his coaches need to push the players to play harder for all 48 minutes and take pride in their defense. The Knicks next game is against their rival, the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are without their two stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. A poor performance from the Knicks in this one could lead to the panic button being hit and the fire sale beginning.

Knicks Have Strong Chance To Win Against Decimated Wizards

Photo from Paul J. Bereswill and NY Post

The New York Knicks (7-23) will be at home, facing the Washington Wizards (8-20) at 7:00pm Eastern Time. The Knicks are listed as 3.5 point favorites, despite being with their top scorer, Marcus Morris Sr..

Starting Lineups- With 2 Attributes That Will Be Impactful Tonight (Strength, Weakness)

PositionNew York KnicksWashington Wizards
PGElfrid Payton (facilitating/defense, scoring)Ish Smith (shooting, defense)
SGRJ Barrett (driving, shooting)Bradley Beal (scoring/assisting, turnovers)
SFKevin Knox (3 point shooting, defense)Isaac Bonga (defense, shooting)
PFJulius Randle (interior scoring, turnovers)Admiral Schofield (defense, scoring)
CMitchell Robinson (rebounding/scoring, fouling)Ian Mahinmi (rebounding, scoring)

Matchup Of The Night

Elfrid Payton vs. Ish Smith

Both veteran point guards will be relied on heavily to set their teams’ up on offense and lead their young teammates. Ish Smith is only averaging 9.6 points per game, but is a very capable scorer. Smith is smooth and quick with the ball, capable of getting into the lane and finishing around the rim. He also is a good three-point shooter (37.7%). With all of the Wizards injuries, Smith will need to step-up and lift their offense when Beal isn’t running the show. Elfrid Payton is the Knicks best passer (5.5 assists per game) and is a tremendous defender (1.8 steals per game). Payton will look to get his young scorers Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson open looks, while generating space for Barrett and Randle to operate (driving to the basket). Payton has played a major role in the Knicks recent play (the Knicks are 4-5 when he plays 20+ minutes).

Inactives

Knicks- Wayne Ellington, Marcus Morris Sr., Taj Gibson, and Reggie Bullock

Wizards- Moritz Wagner, Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans, Isaiah Thomas, Jordan McRae, Thomas Bryant, CJ Miles, and John Wall

Key Statistics

  1. Washington is 3rd in the NBA, scoring 117.4 points per game. New York is last in the NBA, scoring 103.1 points per game.
  2. The Wizards are 7th in the NBA, shooting 46.6% from the floor. The Knicks are last in the NBA, shooting 42.8% from the field.
  3. The Wizards shoot 36.7% from three, 7th in the NBA. The Knicks shoot 34.4% from three, 24th in the NBA.
  4. Washington shoots 81.1% from the foul line, 3rd in the NBA. New York shoots 68.4% from the line, last in the NBA.
  5. The Knicks lead the NBA, grabbing 12.1 offensive rebounds per game. The Wizards are 28th in the NBA, averaging 31.5 defensive rebounds per game.
  6. Washington is 2nd in the NBA, averaging 27.3 assists per game. New York is 29th in the NBA, averaging 20.7 assists per game.
  7. The Knicks are 27th in the NBA in defensive rating (113.1). The Wizards are last in the NBA (116.2).
  8. The Wizards are 2nd in the NBA in Pace (104.43). The Knicks are 25th (98.96).

Keys To Winning

The Wizards are decimated by injuries and the Knicks must take advantage of this. Not only is Washington missing a majority of their top shooters, but they also severely lack depth. The Wizards utilize a very fast paced offense that may run them out of gas early, tonight. The Knicks should look to push the pace and attack the basket. The more New York can tire them out on defense and get them in foul trouble, the better. Washington only has 5 men on their bench, only 2 of which play significant minutes (Troy Brown Jr. and Anzejs Pasecniks). Washington’s offense will run through it’s guards Bradley Beal and Ish Smith. Beal will be the best player on the floor tonight and there isn’t much New York can do to stop him. However, locking up Ish Smith would be a major victory for New York and greatly increase their chances of winning. Washington has one of, if not the worst defense in the NBA. Scoring should be no issue for the Knicks tonight.

The Greek Freak Balls Out On The World’s Largest Stage: Knicks 102 Bucks 123 Review

image via BeIn Sports

The Bucks starting lineup absolutely dominated the Knicks in this contest. Their starters combined for 82 points, while shooting a ridiculous 56% from the field and 52% from three. Mlwaukee’s dominant play was led by their superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo finished the night with a triple-double (22 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists). Brook Lopez (14 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 blocks) and Khris Middleton (23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals), both had fantastic games. As for the Knicks, Julius Randle (20 points and 8 rebounds) and Kevin Knox (19 points, 2 steals, and 3 blocks) played very well. RJ Barrett (17 points) and Elfrid Payton (10 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals) provided the Knicks lots of energy and positive play. Marcus Morris Sr. (11 points) and Mitchell Robinson (6 points and fouled out), had disappointing games.

Why The Knicks Lost

The Knicks lost this game completely due to their defense. The Bucks shot a scorching 18-43 (41.9%) from three and shot 48.2% from the floor. Milwaukee could’ve easily scored north of 130 points, as they missed 12 free throws and committed 19 turnovers. On defense, the Bucks contested 86 shots and allowed only 9 second chance points. The Knicks contested just 64 shots and gave up 20 second chance points. Milwaukee also scored 19 fast break points, compared to the Knicks 5. New York was outworked in a few stretches of the game (primarily in the 1st and 3rd Quarter), crushing their chances to defeat the best team in the league. 

Outlook

The Knicks will have a chance to redeem themselves, facing the Washington Wizards (8-20) in their next contest. They will need to pick-up their perimeter defense and play 48 minutes of hard basketball on both ends of the floor to win. Elfrid Payton appears to have locked in his role as the Knicks starting point guard and his veteran presence on the floor, should continue to help the Knicks gel together on the floor and improve the team’s play.