Alex David is the lead blogger for Fansided’s fantastic New York Knicks site, Buckets Over Broadway. Alex also used to run our Los Angeles Clippers blog, Fully Clips, meaning he is especially familiar with Orlando’s two big summer acquisitions, Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson. Mr. David was kind enough to answer a few questions to help make us more familiar with the two newest members of the Magic.
Can you talk a little about Chris Duhon? What does he do best? Where does he struggle most?
Duhon was actually really quite good his first half plus season with the Knicks. However, he played so many minutes that his body broke down by the end of the season. The following season he lost his confidence in his shot and as a result was just awful. But that’s as a starter. As a backup, he’ll be far better. First, he’s a team player, so when he was really sucking, he was genuinely totally fine that Coach D’Antoni took him completely out of the lineup. This was apparent not because he said the correct good-soldier things in media sessions, but because you could see he was the most vocal and excited on the bench. We here in NYC ain’t seen much enthusiasm from the bench the last couple years, let alone the guys getting no time. Towards the end of the season he got back in the rotation and was a solid in the reduced role. Offensively, he can be a really steadying presence, and he’s actually a surprisingly good pick-and-roller, which obviously is huge for the Magic since that’s one of their staples. That said, it should still be a big adjustment because one, he hasn’t had a pick-and-roll partner like Dwight Howard who can receive the alley-oop and slam it home, but two, likewise David Lee could receive the ball much further out since he’s surprisingly good at dribbling and finishing with either hand. Likewise Lee could hit the outside shot, so sometimes they could do the pick-and-pop. That said, with Duhon coming off the bench, perhaps he’d be doing the p-n-r more with Brandon Bass or Marcin Gortat, both of whom have closer skill sets to Lee, so that might ease the transition. By the way, if you haven’t already seen NBAPlaybook.com’s article on “Can A Poor Shooting Point Guard Run An Effective Pick And Roll?”, check it out ‘cuz they found out that unbelievably Duhon was actually the best set-up man in the league.
Weakness-wise, it’s not just that Duhon isn’t a great shooter, it’s more what I said that he often loses his confidence. As a result, off the p-n-r sometimes he won’t take wide open shots that he should, and sometimes he won’t take the ball to the rim like he should when the lane opens up. He’s a pass-first-second-and-third point guard. Although with the Magic having as many offensive options as they do, his reluctance to shoot might be totally fine.
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Duhon is expected to be a big upgrade defensively over Jason Williams. What can Magic fans expect from him on the end of the court?
Defense is one of Duhon’s strongest selling points. Sometimes he’d even switch onto taller shooting guards, like Kobe, to try to stop them. He’s also got decent strength, so he matches up well against the bigger point guards like Deron Williams, Chauncey Billups and Baron Davis who often like to muscle their way to the basket.
Excluding his 3-point shooting ability, what will be Quentin Richardson’s biggest contribution to the team?
Quentin Richardson, much like Matt Barnes who he’s replacing, is a good defender who will not back down. He’s not the vocal, get-in-your-face, holler-after-a-basket type like Barnes, but he’s a tough player who doesn’t get afraid. During the playoffs this past year, it seemed like on the Heat the only player who didn’t shrivel away besides Wade was Q. He also plays smart, knows where to be and when, so both coaches and fellow players seem to love him. Since Barnes has gone through like 5 teams in 5 years despite seeming like a really good player to me, I wonder if perhaps the reason teams don’t try particularly hard to keep him is because while he may play good man-to-man D, maybe his rotations, help defense and offensive positioning/choices aren’t great? If so, then Q could make Van Gundy happier. He’s also a pretty good rebounder for a shooting guard. When he was a Clipper he was also good at using his strong lower trunk to post other players up, but after all the back issues he’s had over the last several years, I’m not sure he does that too much anymore.
The lower Richardson’s usage rate, the better. Why is that?
I would think most “supporting” players are better with lower usage rates. If a mediocre player starts trying to create more on their own, they’ll take worse shots. Versus if they only go for clearly open shots/drives, then they’ll have a higher success rate, no? Like with the Heat there may’ve been times he was like the third best option, so he might’ve had to force the action sometimes. However when he was with the Suns he was alongside better players like Nash, Amar’e, Joe Johnson & Shawn Marion, so there was less pressure on him to make something happen. Of course since I haven’t looked at his usage numbers, for all I know he was worse in Phoenix than in Miami, so I’m just guessing here.
Lastly, tell us about the Knicks. We all know they made a big move in bringing in Amar’e Stoudemire. How much better will the Knicks be? Do you expect a playoff appearance?
The Knicks only won 29 games last season, and I’m thinking/hoping they’ll get a good 10 more wins at least. It’s not just Amar’e, but also the big addition of Ray Felton at point. As I said, I like Duhon as a backup, but he’s simply not a starter. Gallinari should take another step forward too, as should many other young returning Knicks like Bill Walker (who hit an insanely high percentage of threes after coming over last season), Toney Douglas and perhaps even Wilson Chandler. Kelenna Azuibuike should be a more reliable 2-guard than Tracy McGrady, JR Giddens, or Larry Hughes. And of course the big question mark is whether young 21-year-old phenom Anthony Randolph can finally turn all that tantalizing potential into something productive. If that happens, or if by some miracle Eddy Curry returns to life, the Knicks should have a good shot at a playoff berth. The other big intangible that could help the team is that they’re no longer in shed-contract mode or expecting a huge face lift, so all the players (with the exception of Curry) can now feel invested in the team, that they’ll be around for a bit. The last two years, players like Hughes, McGrady, Al Harrington and others knew that they wouldn’t be returning. Plus shortly after Donnie Walsh arrived, he even traded the team’s two most effective players (Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph), so no one was safe. Things like that can really get to players. Now, however they’re all talking about how excited they are to be the ones to turn things around. Then again, what else could they say…?
I’d like to thank Mr. David for his time and encourage all of you to check out his website.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page, and co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days (1420sports.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here.)