The GM Diaries: VII

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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.

The GM Diaries: VI

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Right, I’m one day before the trade deadline of Season One of this series with the New York Knicks, so it’s time to update once again on how we’re getting on. The last time I spoke to you all (update 5), we were sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference at 14-23 having made a sharp decline in form following our good start at 5-4. Because American sports work very differently to European sports, and being bad – deliberately – can sometimes be very helpful, this actually is no concern to me, but it did leave me to make some important decisions. If you’re joining the series now, here are updates one, two, three and four. The major decision I made last update is that I made the decision to trade franchise player Kristaps Porzingis. I said at the beginning of this series that I wouldn’t trade Porzingis, but whilst his performances were good, I didn’t feel they quite warranted a max contract – which I would have had to give him at the end of the season – so decided to trade him whilst I could – along with Courtney Lee – picking up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA), Danilo Gallinari and a 2022 1st Round Pick.

Since then, our play has fallen off a cliff – for various reasons I’ll discuss soon – and we’ve fallen to 17-36, still good/bad enough for 11th in the East, and ridiculously only 6 wins off the 8th seed in the playoffs. The East is the land where mediocrity is rewarded. We’ve lost our last 4 games, and as you can see, from the last update we’ve only won 3 more games whilst losing 13. Logically then, I’ve made bad moves that actually have made our team worse? Well, not really. Whilst we may have been much worse since trading Porzingis, I believe we have a much better roster (especially with further moves I’ll discuss later), and when injuries to Gallinari and Knox (starting SF and PF) are taken into account, that explains why all of a sudden we’ve found wins slightly hard to come by. This has had the added benefit that we’ve joined what I like to call:

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The GM Diaries: IV

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Right, welcome to our first full recap update of my new series ‘The GM Diaries’ with the New York Knicks. It is currently the end of November, ahead of a December 1st game against the Milwaukee Bucks, so I’ve ‘played’ a month and a bit so far. One thing I think I should have likely mentioned in the first, second or third updates is that I’m not actually playing these games. I’m simming every game, taking player skill out of it, and much like Football Manager, I find most of the enjoyment out of squad building and team development anyway. The team has played 25 games, so we’re about a third of the way through the season, so this seems like a perfect time to look at how things are going so far. If you’re just joining the series now, the first three updates covered my plans for the team moving forward, and my analysis of the players.

Firstly, we currently stand at 9-14, ‘good‘ enough for 10th in the Eastern Conference. This is actually a little better than I expected to be honest, but considering we started off at 5-4, it’s clear we’ve started to tail off as the season has progressed. The key now however is to discuss how we’re playing, and where any potential issues may be. I said that I would be tracking my players as well, and you’ll get a glimpse of that here as well. One thing to mention is that currently we’re the 18th best team in the league on points allowed, and 25th best on points scored, so whilst we may be average on defence (and would improve with better players), we’re poor on offense and that’s something I need to look at moving forward. Purely on team FG% (field goal percentage), we’re pretty much middle of the pack at 18th. I do however, have a much better idea of things moving forward, and I possibly may end up altering my approach, in particular doing something I said I wouldn’t do, but that’s for another time. Now, it’s time to track my players.

The GM Diaries: III

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After the first and second posts of this series, what we now need to do is begin to evaluate the playing staff of the Knicks, and look at which players are going to be the key building blocks moving forward, and who is going to get playing time this season. As I said in the previous update, one of my major focuses this season and moving forward is going to be the development of young players I’ve either signed/traded for, or drafted. This approach will clearly affect who I give minutes to this year, rather than simply just start the ‘best’ players with the highest ratings on the team. This is a long term plan and for that reason, I need to play players who either have room to grow into foundation pieces for us, or players who need to prove whether they are going to remain with us. In this update, I’m not going to run down every single player under contract at the Knicks (there’s a fair few players who just won’t get playing time), but I will discuss the major players.

The first player I want to talk about – quite rightly – is Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis is a 7″3′ big man, with the ability to score from anywhere on the court, and has the potential to be an offensive freak – even more than he already is. I’ve already stated that I won’t be trading Porzingis as the Knicks did in real life – he’s coming up to being an unrestricted free agent – because I’m not looking to suddenly jump to being a superteam by signing KD and Kyrie. My main question is whether to play him at the 4 (Power Forward) or the 5 (Center), and I’m going to test this by giving him a month at each position at the start of the season, before then evaluating his performance at both positions and the impact this had, before planning our moves around Kristaps moving forward.

The GM Diaries: II

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Right, now that the introduction post is out of the way, let’s get started. What I want to go through in this think-tank diary is my vision for the Knicks moving forward, both on and off the court. In real life, I think most Knicks fans would agree that this is something that the Knicks have lacked since their 90’s heyday, with perhaps a small break in the madness when they landed Carmello Anthony – yet, even that was a botched move. The Knicks are without a doubt – along with probably Charlotte – the worst run organisation in the NBA, because it feels like they jump from hopeful plan to hopeful plan, without any idea of how to get there. In real life, this past offseason is the perfect example. New York tanked throughout the season, intending to land a high pick to draft generational talent Zion Williamson, and/or sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency to build the most promising team in the Eastern Conference. In the end, KD and Kyrie went to the local rival Brooklyn Nets, because they did what the Knicks couldn’t – build a roster and a culture that appealed to them. If you want a snapshot of the Knicks in the last twenty or so years, take this quote from superfan Spike Lee:

We’ve got the highest payroll in the league, the highest priced tickets in the world and New York City fans aren’t stupid. They’re not going for okey-doke, they’re not going to be hornswoggled or bamboozled, so you got to put a plan in place.

The GM Diaries: I

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Hello and welcome to a new series on the blog, and it’s going to be a series I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. Those of you who know me well will know that I’m ridiculously into American sports. I first fell in love with American football when I was 13 years old, and then around the age of 17-18, I discovered the NBA, and it’s become my favourite sport  – at least American sport. For years and years, I’ve been wanting to do a basketball series on this site, but I haven’t found quite the right way to do it. I’ve tried to over-complicate it, making it as creative as possible (which I’ve always tried to do), but in the end I’ve realised that the series will be best served working much like a Football Manager save, simply working as a think-tank and a record for me to get my ideas out and be able to discuss what’s going on in my NBA 2k19 save.

I’ve also debated many, many times about which team to play as. There are lots of interesting teams possible to begin as on 2k19, such as the Miami Heat – with their gorgeous Miami Vice uniforms – or the New Orleans Pelicans – rebuilding without Anthony Davis – but in the end as you can tell from the header, I went for the team that is arguably the worst run team in the NBA – and professional sports – over the last twenty years, the New York Knicks.

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