The GM Diaries: VII


Well, it’s the end of the first season of this series, so it’s time to look at how we ended the season, and outline our plans for next season. In the last update (Update 6) we had started a downward slide to a record of 17-36, but I wasn’t actually too bothered about that, because it meant we at least stood a chance at the Number 1 pick, and Zion Williamson, the most hyped rookie since LeBron James. I’d also been fairly aggressive at the trade deadline – very Billy Beane – and traded away Tim Hardaway Jr., Mario Hezonja, and Enes Kanter, gaining Jusuf Nurkic, Jordan Clarkson, Evan Turner and another player whose name I forget because he went to the G League almost immediately . By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, as you can see stats and particularly advanced analytics coming into this save more and more, I’m really looking at starting a Moneyball type save once I’ve rebuilt the Knicks back to former glory. Anyway, enough about that now. Let’s get on with the update. Here is a link to the series so far if you need to catch up with my Knicks.

So, we ended the season at 24-58, a pretty standard losing tanking season if I’m honest. Most teams that are looking to not be good end up around this area, although we weren’t bad enough, with the Hawks beating us by 3 games, ending 21-61. If only I’d traded Porzingis earlier I guess. Again, I must stress that American sports are different. Yes we’ve been bad, but from early on, it was pretty much by design, and I’ve carefully built the pieces whilst still remaining bad. If you look at our team, we have a good core of Gilgeous-Alexander, Nurkic, Gallinari and Clarkson, with some other young pieces we can use moving forward. All in all, I’m very happy with how this season has gone. Most importantly for the Knicks, we had a plan, and it’s gone that way. Also, before we get to the recap, the NBA finals were the real life finals, the Warriors against the Raptors, with the Warriors winning with 3 games to 1. Dynasty. Confirmed.

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 20.01.43

Here’s the team’s stats across the whole NBA season. In terms of statistics, this is where this is no longer small sample size, and I can really gain a good idea of where our players are. I think the most important thing to do is to compare these stats to what they were like at the trade deadline. One thing to recognise is that Jusuf Nurkic has been marginally better with us than he was with the Blazers, but has still improved and has led the team with a double double over the season – again, only part of it for us. One concern is that Danilo Gallinari’s stats dropped significantly when he returned from injury, along with his overall, which dropped several points to 78. He was an 81 when he arrived from LA. Jordan Clarkson’s wins added dropped, and his ppg went slightly down, but I still think he’ll be useful for us next year in a more limited role off the bench. SGA has really improved through the season, becoming a really solid Point Guard for us by the end of the year. This year he made the All Rookie 2nd team and I think he’ll get even better next year. Evan Turner improved slightly in his role off the bench, and Mitchell Robinson continued to prove himself as backup Center.

For me, the main issues that jump out to me is that Alonzo Trier clearly wasn’t deserving of the increased minutes. By the end of the season he had cost us with a -1 EWA, showing that perhaps his efficient shooting stats – which dropped at the end of the season – is all he’s helping with, and he’s costing us in other areas. Plus, his 6.5ppg just aren’t enough for a scoring role off the bench. Emmanuel Mudiay also continued to be a waste of space on the court, and will be leaving us as soon as his contract expires. Aron Baynes also didn’t add any value and therefore will be leaving at the end of the season, along with reserves like Lance Thomas and Damyean Dotson. However, like last time, my main concern remains Kevin Knox, who ended the season as a negative in terms of wins provided (-0.1), and really didn’t provide us much. As a result, if I can include Knox in any trade packages this offseason, I won’t hesitate. Anyway, now that we’ve looked at our players it’s time for another edition of…….

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 17.46.41

Yep, this is a thing. So, the Draft Lottery has happened, and in the end we drew the 6th and the 11th pick. To only get the 6th pick when we were predicted to get the 4th pick based on odds – and had an 11.9% shot at the 1st pick – was a little disappointing, but I was happy to get the 11th pick – received from the Celtics in the Ntilikina deal – because it meant I could be fairly aggressive.

Screen Shot 2019-10-13 at 20.36.07

In the end, Atlanta got the first pick, and therefore the opportunity to draft Zion. With the 6th and 11th, we had an opportunity to build, but I knew that the 1st pick – Zion – would change our entire franchise immediately. What’s more, Atlanta already have a Power Forward in John Collins, who has a very good relationship with their star Point Guard Trae Young, and therefore I felt I could give this a shot. I knew I would have to relatively overpay for the 1st pick, but Zion is absolutely a gamechanger, and it would take a huge offer in real life for anyone to get that pick.


Trade: The New York Knicks trade Danilo Gallinari, the rights to the 6th and 11th picks in the 2019 draft to the Atlanta Hawks for the rights to the 1st pick in the 2019 NBA draft.

Although I may have stretched realism here, I have given Atlanta quite a bit. There’s still some good talent at the 6th and 11th picks, and Gallinari wil be an excellent trade piece they can use in their rebuild. If they use those pieces correctly, they could put themselves in a position to contend in several years time, building around Trae Young, who’s their star. Either way, the game didn’t consider me to have underpaid, as they immediately accepted the offer without negotiating. This is why I said it was so important for us to have a plan from the very beginning. By making the correct trades and picking up the right pieces, I’ve now put ourselves in a position to draft a generational talent, and possibly the best rookie since LeBron in Zion Williamson. Williamson will start for us at Power Forward, and should make an elite frontcourt with Jusuf Nurkic.

After the season ended, I also adjusted the staff at the team, letting most of the staff go, including Head Coach David Fizdale, and bringing in my own choices, particularly new Head Coach David Blatt, who had a stint as head coach of the Cavs when LeBron was there, but never really got a chance to put his own stamp on the team. He prefers a Perimeter Offence based on the 3-ball, which should fit quite nicely with the pieces we’re building around. Right now, things are beginning to look increasingly promising for my Knicks. Until the next update, which should most likely be my plans for Free Agency, thank you very much for reading. As always, if you have any questions about my approach to rebuilding the Knicks, NBA 2K or just basketball in general, please do feel free to comments below, or contact me via Twitter (@JLAspey). Thank you once again, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading.


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