The Knicks Continue To Stumble And Bumble On The Road In OKC

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks got pummeled on the road in Oklahoma City, 128-103, and unfortunately, the game was even worse than the score indicated.

Coach Fizdale continued his rendition of musical chairs, as the Knicks once again rolled out a new staring lineup. This time, the French Prince and Damyean Dotson were reduced to the bench and a limited roll, meanwhile rookie Kevin Knox was slated for his first career start and Emmanuel Mudiay was promoted.

Despite Coach Fiz claiming these moves were not demotions and claiming Frank and D-Dot would still play their average 20-25 minutes, they both played about 7 minutes in this blowout. This lineup tweak is not extremely surprising as Frank as been struggling as of late. Knox is starting to shake off some rust and beginning to look healthy coming off of his ankle injury, and the Knicks are looking for a solution at point guard with the team averaging the lowest assist totals in the league, 19 per game.

Did the New York Knicks ever have a chance against OKC?

On paper it seemed like the Knicks might have a chance in this game with Enes Kanter returning to Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook sitting out, and a lineup change always gives room for some pre-game optimism. But the reality is that about 8 minutes into the game, it was clear the Knicks had no energy and it was going to be a long night for the players and the spectators.

Paul George had 18 points in the first half despite having two fouls in the first quarter. The All-Star lobbied Coach Billy Donovan to remain in the game, and the coach abided, much to the benefit of Oklahoma City. It was extremely disappointing that the Knicks did not have the fortitude to be aggressive and attack Paul George in the paint in order to capitalize on the playmaker’s foul trouble and lack of Westbrook in the lineup, in order to make a respectable run at the road victory.

Instead, Paul George must’ve played “Encore by Jay-Z” at halftime, because George came out in the second half as a man possessed, dropping 17 points in 3rd quarter with ease, his highest in a quarter with OKC, and finishing the game with a season high 35 points, on the Knicks swiss-cheese defense.

If you have a sensitive stomach, do not keep reading. It gets ugly.

The New York Knicks are not fun to watch, they have a bad record, 4-11, and the team has bad statistics all around to prove it. Not only are the Knicks last in assists per game at 19, they are also 28th out of 30 in three-point field-goal percentage sitting at 31.6%, which is not too far off from the last place team in the category, the Detroit Pistons, who are sitting at 31.3%.

The simplest statistic, in my opinion, that tells a story of how an NBA team is doing is points differential. New York is currently sitting at a -6.6 points differential on the season only ahead of Chicago, Atlanta, and Phoenix. That is not surprising as the Knicks have not had a lead in the last 10 NBA quarters, but it is also important to come to terms with the class of teams that the New York Knicks are and should be associated with, at least at this point, in the 2018-2019 NBA season.

The rookie second round pick, Mitchell Robinson, has been a bright spot in the paint averaging almost 2 blocks per game. However, the reality is, the negatives surrounding the Knicks perimeter defense and off/on ball defensive rotations is not outweighed by the occasional highlight block by the rookie center.

Also, Robinson, a rookie second round pick with a lingering ankle injury, is not getting any help due to the Lance Thomas ailment and from the veteran Enes Kanter, who is never at a loss for words or too shy for the camera or social media. But he sure does have an affinity for hiding on defense and snagging a rebound if the opponent happens to miss the shot.

How’s that working out you ask?

The Knicks are allowing their opponents 36% from downtown and 112.7 points per game, both 22nd in the league. Conversely, New York is allowing their opponent 47.5% from the field, 27th in league, while the Knicks are shooting 43% from the field, both 27th in the NBA.

What’s Next?

The Knicks are continuing their road trip to New Orleans as they have a scheduled practice on Thursday, November 15, before facing ‘The Brow’ on his home floor on Friday night [Cue the Friday Night Knicks on MSG music].

Anthony Davis and the Pelicans have shown some resiliency this year after overcoming an early 6 game losing streak with a 3 game winning streak that was snapped last night in a close game, against the newly revamped Minnesota Timberwolves. This is another bad spot for the reeling Knicks as the Pelicans have shown they play well when angry or ‘with a chip on their shoulder’ and New York will have no answer for Davis, especially following their early season trends and most recently, the Knicks interior defense against Steven Adams in OKC and Mitchell Robinson hobbling throughout the OKC matchup with an apparent aggravation of an earlier ankle injury.

Every minute that you torture yourself to sit through this season to physically feel the growing pains along with the team just remember one thing… Knicks trending down as Duke trending up.

Also… I agree… listening to the Friday Night Knicks upbeat song while getting blown out on the floor is agonizing. It’s like getting into a car accident (God forbid) while an upbeat Chance the Rapper song is on and you’re listening to him have a grand ol’ time and sing all cheerfully while you’re trying to figure out and piece together what just happened. 

New York Giants: The 2019 NFL Draft’s Strongest And Weakest Unit

As the New York Giants slowly retreat towards the 2019 NFL Draft, the organization has begun to evaluate the current talent on the roster and contemplate a full rebuild. A majority of general manager Dave Gettleman’s free agent signings didn’t pan out, hurting the depth and starting quality on the roster.

For example, right guard Patrick Omameh, a player that I felt didn’t feel deserved a three-year, $15 million contract. Why? Because he was never a good player on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first place. The new acquisition performed terribly to start the season. He was benched short after as reserve lineman John Greco replaced him. The only applaud worthy action Gettleman carried out was the releasing oh Omameh, which will cost the Giants $3.5 million in dead=cap next year.

New York Giants’ Dave Gettleman did mention to get one thing right:

As for the 2018 NFL Draft, Gettleman performed well. Securing three influential starters and several more players with potential. Next year’s draft on the other hand will be tricky. The strongest unit by far is the defensive line crop. There are five defensive lineman ranked in Mel Kiper’s top 10 prospect list for 2019. In fact, the first three players on the board are all defenders. This doesn’t bode well for the Giants, who are reportedly keen on finding Eli Manning’s heir sooner rather than later. Although I wouldn’t rule out Kyle Lauletta just yet. Oregon’s Justin Herbert seems to have attracted the most interest from the Giants brass, and he ranks as the No.21 overall prospect according to CBS Sports.

With Nick Bosa, Ed Oliver, and Clelin Ferrell (all D-lineman) featuring as the most talented players in the draft, Gettleman might consider shying away from a signal caller. Taking an instant game-changer on defense with a player like Bosa is significant to the dominance of the unit for years to come. On the other hand, Manning has proved to us this season that grandfather time has arrives, and it has taken a few yards off his deep ball (if you don’t believe me, watch the week 10 highlights).

Ultimately, the draft presents a ton of question marks. But if we know anything about Gettleman it’s that he loves to allocate resources to the trenches. That means the offensive and defensive line will be heavily prioritized moving forward. A great ideology to live by if you’re piecing a team back together.

 

What Should The New York Giants Do At Quarterback In 2019?

Eli Manning may have just pulled off his 36th career game-winning drive in San Francisco on Monday night, but there are a few undeniable truths that the Giants fan-base and organization need to recognize and consider:

  1. Manning is 37 years old and will be 38 at the start of the 2019-2020 season.
  2. Manning’s quality of play has declined over the past few seasons.
  3. The Giants are 5-20 over the past two seasons.
  4. Cutting Eli Manning this offseason will save the Giants $17 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap.
  5. The Giants do not have an heir apparent at the quarterback position.

With that being said, what options do the Giants have?

Current New York Giants Quarterbacks:

Eli Manning: Despite his declining and consistently lackluster play over the past two seasons, there are a few reasons why the Giants might want to keep Eli Manning in 2019. For one, he is a Giants legend and they may fear facing fan-base backlash from cutting him, similar to the back lash they faced when benching him last season. Letting him play an extra year gives him the chance to retire and go out with a season long send-off.

Furthermore, if they do decide to draft a quarterback this year, they could sit him behind Manning for a year and let him learn from the veteran, similar to what Kansas City did with Patrick Mahomes. In addition to this, it can be argued that Manning is not playing as bad as the media says he is.

Manning’s completion percentage this season is the highest it has ever been at 67.6 percent, he is ninth in the league in passing yards so far this season, and he has been sacked a league high 32 times. These statistics can draw a few key conclusions.

First off, the Giants have an awful offensive line and it would be difficult for any quarterback to play behind it. Secondly, Manning has shown that he is capable of playing well when given time in the pocket. Finally, Eli’s 11 touchdowns in 9 games but 2,565 yards demonstrates that he and the Giants offense are good until they get into the red zone. This can be attributed to player execution and even coach Shurmur’s play calling.

Kyle Lauletta: Giants fans are eager to see what the team has in the 4th round rookie out of Richmond, but he has yet to even be activated for a regular season game. Coach Shurmur should definitely look to see what the team has in Lauletta sometime this season with some regular season playing time. However, his recent arrest and Eli’s magical win against the 49ers might delay the Kyle Lauletta show.

If he gets to play this season, the team can assess him and plan ahead accordingly. Best case scenario: they hit big-time on a 4th round quarterback and found their heir apparent. Worst case scenario: Lauletta has a maximum potential that most would expect out of a 4th round quarterback and he ends up being a backup for the future. The only way for the Giants to know the answer is to give Lauletta a chance in the 2018 season.

Current NFL, Non-Giants Quarterbacks:

Teddy Bridgewater: The 2014 first round pick out of Louisville for the Minnesota Vikings has had a rocky career. In his rookie season, Bridgewater showed great potential and won the Pepsi Rookie of the Year award. In his sophomore season, Bridgewater progressed further and was selected to his first pro bowl. At this point, it looked like there was a promising career ahead for the young quarterback, until he suffered a devastating knee injury that would sideline him all of 2016.

In 2017, Bridgewater still was not healthy enough to be a starter again, but he managed to remain on the roster. In the 2018 offseason, Bridgewater signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets, played well in the preseason (one might even say well enough to start for another franchise with a 73.7% completion percentage and 104.7 QBR), but was then traded to the New Orleans Saints to backup Drew Brees.

Teddy Bridgewater will be a free agent again this offseason, and he is expected to draw interest from around the league if he is not retained by New Orleans. Being that he is a former Minnesota quarterback, Bridgewater has a connection with Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, former offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. Shurmur is familiar with Bridgewater and knows his potential.

If the Giants are willing to cut ties with Manning, Bridgewater could be a great developmental option for the Giants if they feel like they can maximize his potential. Additionally, signing Bridgewater does not mean that he needs to be the future of the Giants. Theoretically, they could sign him the same way that the Jets did, if he agrees to it. The Giants could try to get Bridgewater on a one-year deal and draft a quarterback, just like the Jets did.

Derek Carr: Raiders coach Jon Gruden began a fire sale in Oakland during the 2018 season, trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. According to Oakland’s general manager, Reggie McKenzie, no one is untouchable. That would seemingly include Carr. Derek Carr has been selected to a pro bowl each of the last three seasons and he lead his team to a 12-3 season before breaking his leg in 2016, a season in which he was an MVP candidate.

However, this season Carr has looked like somewhat of a shell of his former self. The former gunslinger now settles for countless check downs, as documented by NFL Next Gen Stats’s passing charts, and has a 10 to 8 touchdown to interception ratio through nine games.

This begs the question: what happened to Derek Carr in 2018? These issues could be attributed to his putrid offensive line, a lack of weapons, a fear of reinjuring himself, or the new coaching staff. These issues could potentially all be solved with a change of scenery for Carr, and that could just bring him back to his 2016 playing level.

If the Raiders end up with the first pick and decide to move on from Carr, they could select Herbert and put Carr on the trading block. If that happens, the Giants would need to consider trading for Carr, since Herbert would no longer be an option. The trade would be costly (potentially one first, one second, or maybe even two first round draft picks) but if the Giants are confident they could get Carr back to playing to his full potential, they should make the move and acquire the three time pro-bowler.

College Quarterbacks

2019 Draft Class: Last year’s draft class was considerably loaded. This upcoming year’s class? Not so much. The consensus for the top signal-caller of the 2019 class is Oregon’s Justin Herbert (and there are rumors that he might not even declare this year).

It is also well-documented that the Giants are heavily interested in Herbert. They have attended six of his ten games so far this season. He’s a big body, strong arm quarterback with a good personality. He’s had a good, but inconsistent junior year, thus far. He has games with a completion percentage as high as 78% and as low as 47%, so there is still much work to be done with consistency if he wants to be a star in this league. His 25 touchdowns and 2,621 passing yards in ten games are impressive, however, his accuracy can be inconsistent (as displayed in the Oregon vs. Arizona game in October).

Even with his high ceiling, when compared to the 2018 class, it would be hard to rank Herbert inside the top three prospects. Mayfield, Darnold, and Rosen would likely all rank higher than Herbert if they were a part of the same draft class. That being said, he could be a franchise quarterback with some development, but he’s not as close to a “sure-thing” as anyone in the 2018 draft class.

Other notable quarterbacks in the 2019 draft class include Will Grier (West Virginia), Drew Lock (Missouri), Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), and Daniel Jones (Duke). All of these players have potential to be first and second round quarterbacks and, with the right development, maybe even starting quarterbacks in the NFL. However, none of these guys are considered to have the same potential as the 2018 draft class by sources such as Pro Football Focus and Bleacher Report.

2020 Draft Class:

A lot of fans believe that Monday night’s win has ruined New York’s chances at the top pick in 2019 and, subsequently, their chances at drafting Justin Herbert. If that is the case and the Giants are unable to secure the Oregon quarterback, they might look to trade back, accumulate more picks, and draft someone from the 2020 draft class. 2019 Heisman candidate Tua Tagovailoa has been lighting it up in his sophomore year for Alabama, drawing comparisons to Russel Wilson. He will be every quarterback-needy team’s dream choice in 2020 and, with an accumulation of picks from trading down in 2019, the Giants could possibly have the first pick, or enough draft capital to move up to the first pick and select Tua Tagovailoa.

The Giants have tons of options for their future at quarterback. Being that they have so many options, it is too soon to say that passing on a quarterback for Saquon Barkley in 2018 was a mistake. After all, Saquon Barkley truly has hall of fame potential. Could this have been New York’s plan all along? Draft Barkley and secure a quarterback the following season? Possibly. Time will only tell. The New York Giants need to make the right decision this offseason in order to avoid what general manager Dave Gettleman would consider to be “quarterback hell.”