Every summer, PSD holds a game which mocks that year's NBA offseason. This year, users from the site took the reigns of NBA franchises and had to utilize their skills via draft, trades, and free agency to improve their teams. At the end of the game, GMs voted on how they believed the regular season of this game would shake up. These are the playoffs of PSD's 2013 NBA Mock Offseason.
Please take the time to consider each line up, the match-up itself, and vote on which team you believe would win in a seven game series.
The Bulls have homecourt advantage.
Bulls Depth Chart:
PG: Deron Williams (38) l JJ Barea (10) l Peyton Siva
SG: Thabo Sefolosha (38) l Landry Fields (7) l JJ Barea (3)
SF: Kawhi Leonard (40) l Landry Fields (8) l Teletovic
PF: Al Horford (30) l Brandon Bass (18) l
C: Tim Duncan (38) l Al Horford (10) l Aaron Gray
Knicks Depth Chart:
PG Chris Paul (36) / D.J. Augustin (12) / C.J. McCollum
SG J.R. Smith (33) / Caron Butler (15) / Sergey Karasev
SF Shane Battier (25) / Carmelo Anthony (18) / Caron Butler (5)
PF Carmelo Anthony (20) / Tyler Hansbrough (20) / Kenyon Martin (8) / Channing Frye
C Tyson Chandler (32) / Kenyon Martin (16)
Knicks Write-up:Originally Posted by KillerjugWe Would like to congratulate MBT and KOB for reaching this round of the playoffs and a job well done
Offensively we feel that we will be able to run our game effectively and efficiently. The only real above average defender starting for the Knicks is Tyson Chandler and while he is very good outside of him there are a couple average defenders and some poor defenders. Shane Battier is not what he once was defensively and Melo and JR both struggling on this end of the floor will lead to us getting baskets. Here are some numbers showing how some of the current Knicks were defensively last year:
Shane Battier- .86PPP overall defensively ranking 169th, .86PPP on Iso's ranking 205th, .93PPP on spot up ranking 133rd (0.1 RAPM)
Chris Paul- .83PPP overall defensively ranking 107th, .81PPP Iso ranking 158th, 1.01 PPP spot up ranking 231st (0.5 RAPM)
Carmelo Anthony- .87PPP overall ranking 195th, .86PPP on Isos ranking 234th, 1.02 PPP on spot up defense ranking 240th, (-1.7 RAPM)
Caron Butler- .96PPP overall defensively ranking 393rd, 1.03PPP on Iso's ranking 310th, 1.14 PPP on spot ups ranking 353rd (-1.5 RAPM)
As you can tell, not only will their close out defense on our shooters be bad, because they all arenít good against spot up shooting, but they all canít defend our players 1 on 1. This is going to leave us with tons of open looks and easy baskets. Not to mention how significantly better our rebounding as a whole group is compared to theirs. Every player on our team can space the floor and effectively and consistently knock down jumpers.
Whether its Thabo, Deron or Kawhi hitting open 3ís, which Thabo knocked down at a 41% clip, Kawhi at a 37% clip and bumped it up to 39% the whole playoffs while averaging about 2 a game, and Deron who averaged an amazing 40% on about 6 attempts per game in these past playoffs is just bad news for the Knicks. Add those percentages to go along with the Knicks horrible rebounding, one of which Melo averages about 6.7 boards per 36, which for a PF is brutal. Then the supporting cast of Paul, Battier, J.R Smith and Butler not being above average rebounders either is going to be a massive headache because of all the extra possessions we are going to consistently get. While Tyson is a good rebounder, we boast Duncan who averaged 10 a game, Horford who averaged 10.2 a game, and Kawhi Leonard who averaged 7.2 per 36 minutes in the regular season and in the finals averaged about 11 rebounds a game against a Heat squad that featured good rebounders in Wade, Lebron and Bosh. We also feel that we will have the ability to get out on the fast break as well because we are going to have a big rebounding advantage. This will lead to fast break opportunities when required and also 2nd chance points which will play a major role in this series. In transition, he's (Kawhi) an excellent 37th, and on cuts he's 98th which is quite respectable.
Both Deron Williams and Thabo Sefolosha had career highs in WS/48. Sefolosha having a .49 better WS/48 than any other year he's been in the league, while Deron Williams surpassed even his playing level from his Utah Jazz days. To continue on Williams, when Deron Williams and Chris Paul face off in Head2Head games over the course of their careers, they both average 16 PPG. The catch? Paul has shot 43% and 29% from 3 in those games, while Deron Williams has shot a high 50% and a respectable 37% from 3. To add to it, Deron Williams is 14-5 in his career against Chris Paul.
Tyson Chandler is coming off a brutal playoffs that had him firstly bullied down by an older, declining Kevin Garnett (which doesn't seem to be the case with Duncan). Then against an elite PF/C combo in Indiana, he averaged 6 rebounds per game, with an average of 4.8 fouls in 29 minutes. If this is what Tyson Chandler was able to do against a declining Kevin Garnett (something I must add is that the Celtics had no depth at all in the frontcourt, leaving it a tired Garnett at that) and one of the better PF/C combo's in the league,what is he supposed to do against Al Horford and Tim Duncan? With little help next to him I might add?
Our plan is to do a lot of pick and roll to bring Chandler away from the rim whether that be with Al Horford or Tim Duncan who have both shown the ability to play well in the pick and roll and whoever Tyson isnít guarding will be able to post up either Battier or Melo. Take for example Al Horford ranks 15th in the NBA on points scored per play on pick-and-rolls, making 59 of 96 (62 percent). Then we have our primary ball handler and while people may be writing him off, last year he was very good offensively obtaining an Offensive RAPM of 5.1, 9.1 Offensive Win Shares, and a TS% of .574 which is higher than Carmeloís who many believe had an amazing offensive year.
One last thing as I have said it before, efficiency will be huge for us. Here is the TS% of each of our guys last year
Deron Williams: .574
Thabo Sefolosha: .617
Kawhi Leonard: .592
Al Horford: .560
Tim Duncan: .554
So we would like to ask, since the Knicks players will be inefficient offensively and get destroyed defensively against our extremely efficient and balanced offensive and defensive attack, how do they plan on winning this series?
Our defensive game plan to start is to have Thabo Sefolosha guard Chris Paul. Since 2012 in Head2Head games between these two, other than one game in which Paul managed to drop 31 points on 11-20 shooting, his shooting wasn't exactly what you'd expect from the superstar.
**Take Note of the percentages carefully.
The other games he shot 3-12, 5-12, 2-14 and 8-21 from the field. As you can tell extremely inefficient, and not something you would expect from Paul, is it?
Another critical point to keep in mind is, when Melo is primarily handling the ball and CP3 is expected to play of the ball, this is another factor that plays a huge advantage in our favor. CP3 shot a whopping 32% from beyond the arc last year, this held true, come playoff time to because he averaged the same while attempting about 3 a game.
Other than putting one of the best perimeter defenders on Paul, this allows us to have Kawhi Leonard primarily focus on Carmelo Anthony. Leonard has the size, and speed to keep up with Anthony. In a limited sample size be, take it for what you will but definitely can hold true because everyone saw how inefficient Kawhi made Lebron, so imagine a player like Melo. As it's known league wide, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have a similar skillset. In the playoffs, George's defense on Anthony was a big reason why the Pacers were able to eliminate the Knicks from the playoffs this past year.
In the three games theyíve faced of, these are the following numbers Melo posted with Kawhi defending him.
19.7 PPG, 7 RPG, while shooting 43% on 19 shots attempted and averaged about 3 FTAís and shot that at a 67% clip. Another key note to take in Melo averaged about 3 Fouls in that span.
If thatís not good enough defense, then we have another Melo stopper in Brandon Bass, of the bench whoís coming of an amazing playoff showing guarding Melo and the main reason why the Celtics had a glimmer of hope against the Knicks.
This gives us the chance to always have someone guard Anthony throughout the series. Whether it's when someone needs rest, gets into foul trouble or is just struggling in general. We have two players that have the ability and size to guard him effectively. If Kawhi Leonard, and Brandon Bass for the matter, can hold him to a similar shooting percentage, we like our chances in this series. More importantly, if we manage to make Carmelo struggle like we feel we can, we have no question that Carmelo would get frustrated. And what his frustration has shown in the pass is that it leads him to shoot more. We can't imagine this would be good chemistry with Chris Paul. As much of a team friendly, pass first player Paul is, he's going to have to be just as much of a score first player as Carmelo Anthony.
As seen in the past, J.R. Smith cannot be trusted as a legitimate scoring option. He's as streaky as they come and is known as a "chucker" as most would say. In fact, if the Knicks decide to start him like they did in their previous series against the Celtics, we believe this plays into our favor. Starting a 6th man who has had a mentality throughout his career of coming in only for scoring purposes is always a recipe for disaster and devalues the Knicks team as a whole, because then they donít have a proven scorer to provide a spark offensively of the bench from the perimeter and down low.
As for our bigs, we intend to have Al Horford guard Shane Battier. We realize that Tim Duncan has the better ability to play outside, but we also know Shane Battier cannot, and will not beat us with his speed and that he's nothing more than a jumpshooter offensively. We feel comfortable with leaving one of our bigs out on the perimeter with his size, and length to guard a shooter.
Not to mention, Shane Battier at this point in his career is not a starter, not to mention he averaged 24 minutes the last year, and that doesnít even tell the whole story because those numbers werenít accumulated over a full season. Heís played 23, 65 and 72 games the past 3 years and even in these past playoffs got benched a lot. Not to mention these past playoffs he only played an average of 17 minutes. If a team like the Heat who love spacing for Wade and Lebron, didnít give Battier substantial minutes, then how can he be expected to be counted upon for this series against a team where he canít be hid without having his declining defense exposed and lack of offensive explosion?
Having Horford guard Battier leaves us with the chance to have Tim Duncan stay in the paint to be the defensive presence that he is in case Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith or Chris Paul are able to get past any of Thabo Sefolosha, Kawhi Leonard, Deron Williams or Brandon Bass. And no, as good of an alley-oop target Tyson Chandler can be, we're not worried about his offensive game. And to say he used to be a double-double machine with Chris Paul is foolish. Last time they played together Tyson Chandler was 26, while Chris Paul was in the prime of his career. That's not to say Paul's not in his prime today. But what he was able to do those years were truly something special and something he hasnít repeated for a while now.
Now when we go to the bench, we feel we have nothing to worry about. Caron Butler was really something else last year. He showed the ability to shoot the 3, but overall was really horrific last year. His defense was beyond awful, but we'll talk about that in other parts. Then you have D.J. Augustin, who shot 35% last year. We don't expect to see much of him anyway, seeing how Paul is in front of him and his inability to play SG.
Tyler Hansbrough is nothing more than a hustle guy. He's never proven to be a consistent option anywhere. His career 36% in the playoffs is nothing to get excited about. Maybe he can hustle his was into some rebounds, as his team will need it. Having Battier or Anthony play PF against Al Horford and Tim Duncan is sure to go against you on the boards. As for Kenyon Martin, we see nothing offensively and a body the Knicks are going to use once Tyson, Melo, Battier or Caron are to get into foul trouble. As you can see the depth the Knicks have is awful because there is no offensive spark to be provided of the bench and should their top scoring options get shut down or get into foul trouble, where is the offense consistently going to come from?
We on the other hand have JJ. Barea, proven 6th man who was a key cog of the bench for the Mavs against the Heat, the year they won the title. Brandon Bass as a high calibre bench big that can play the SF, PF or even C spot at times, that provides really solid defense and a good PnR mid range jump shot.
Originally Posted by KnicksorBustThe Bulls GMís have done a phenomenal job and both teams have had their share of had friendly jabs in anticipation of this matchup, but this Knicks team has multiple, significant advantages which makes New York the clear choice in a hard-fought series.
1. Play-Making and Perimeter Shooting: We have a slight advantage in the latter and a significant advantage in the former. The Knicks roster provides four legitimate 3-point shooting threats in the starting lineup alone (Paul, Smith, Battier and Melo) with good spot-up shooters like Butler, Augustin and Frye off the bench. Their pinpoint perimeter shooting will consistently spread the floor, providing Paul opportunities to penetrate on the slower Deron Williams and Melo chances to work his mid-range game and beat Horford off the dribble. The Bulls starters from PG-SF provide floor spacing on the perimeter, but their bench is severely lacking, as Barea is the only significant bench player who can shoot from beyond the arc consistently. Our shooters also have more confidence beyond the arc, as we possess four players in the top 40 in made 3-pointers last season, while the Bulls possess only one guy in the top 50 (Williams).
Play-making between the two clubs is a clear advantage in the Knicks favor, as Chris Paul is not only the best PG in the league today, but one of the greatest in league history. He has made All-Defensive 1st team and All-NBA 1st team each of the last two seasons while ranking in the top 5 in MVP shares both seasons and top 3 in PER. While his play-making skills are rarely matched, our biggest selling point in acquiring his services was he would run our offense in New York rather than carry it. He realized with reigning scoring champ Carmelo Anthony and 6th Man of the Year JR Smith at his side, he would have other play-makers capable of lightening the load and allowing him to reach his optimum performance. Both are capable of facilitating and scoring, posting in the top 32 in USG% last season with AST% over 14.0. Meanwhile, besides Deron Williams, the Bulls are in bad shape. Barea ranked 309th in the NBA in offensive production last season. So, where do the Bulls turn next? Certainly not Landry Fields, who was ranked even worse at 323rd in the NBA. Thabo is merely a spot-up shooter at 7ppg, and neither he or Leonard average even 2 assists per game or posted an AST% over 8.2 last season. To ask them to facilitate would drastically diminish their effectiveness. The Bulls have only one play-maker in Deron Williams, who will be bothered by exceptional All-NBA 1st team defender Chris Paul, who allowed only 39% shooting to opposing players and forced point guards to commit 4.6 TO per 48 minutes last season.
2. Point Guard Play - While Deron and CP3 were neck and neck early in their careers for title of best point guard, Paul has clearly distanced himself. Since 2011, heís also drastically outplayed him in their limited head to head matchups. Deron has not shot over 42% in a game against Paul since 2010, while Paul shot better than 45% in all four contests. In those four games, Paul averaged 19 points, 10 assists, 5.25 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 3 turnovers a game compared to 15 points, 8 assists, 3.25 rebounds, 1.67 steals and 3.25 turnovers for Williams. Paul not only dominated in every statistical category, but he outscored, outassisted and outshot Williams in all four contests. The most recent was a dominant 29-point, 11-assist victory against Williamsí Nets March 23 of this year, a 5-point victory in which Williams committed five fouls and Paul went to the line 13 times. When you factor in that Deron is forced to carry so much more of the load in this series, this matchup becomes even more lopsided in favor of the Knicks.
3. Who guards Carmelo? This question is relevant in every series, because Melo in his prime. He had his most efficient season (24.8 PER, .184 WS/48, 56% TS%), leading the league in scoring while facing more double and triple teams than ever before. Itís especially relevant here, because the playing Anthony at PF allows him to exploit slower bigs like Al Horford. Horford is a center, and his defensive numbers as a center were very strong. However, he gave up an atrocious 19.0 PER to opposing PFs last season and plays zero minutes against SFs, a position Melo has the speed and athleticism to play. Horford will not be able to keep up with him on the perimeter, as he has never guarded Melo in head-to-head matchups. Melo torched Horfordís Hawks for 40 and 42 points last season while being guarded by the far superior defender in Josh Smith. If, as a help defender, Horford canít stop Melo from exploding for 40, how can he be expected to guard him man-to-man?
The Bulls may switch Leonard on Melo at times, but that puts their 6í10Ē center in the corner guarding a spot-up shooter like Shane Battier. Horford was terrible in that situation, as he was ranked 253rd in guarding spot-ups last season. Should the Bulls put Leonard on Melo, Kawhi played by far his worst defense guarding the power forward position last year. According to 82games, he was actually outplayed at PF with a PER of 13.9 for Leonard and 16.0 PER for opponents. In addition, Leonardís biggest weakness as a defender is that he ranked an extremely disappointing 239th guarding post-ups. This is a huge advantage for Carmelo, because he took 470 post-ups this season and ranked 33rd in the NBA, even better than his PF counterpart Al Horford. Melo can exploit Horford with his speed off the dribble or bully Leonard down low on the block. Either way itís a huge edge for the Knicksí offense.
4. Surprising Mismatches (or Lack thereof?) Ė The Knicks pick and roll play was very effective with Tyson Chandler continuing historic levels of efficient production, leading the league in TS% again with Raymond Felton at PG. Itís no secret our pick and roll play would improve with Paul, perhaps one of the greatest pick and roll creators in the history of the NBA and a player who thrived with Chandler in New Orleans. The Bullsí best option to stop us, Tim Duncan, was merely a mediocre pick and roll defender last season. Duncan allows opposing bigs to shoot 55% on pick and roll man attempts of which Chandler already shoots 68%. On the other end, one might assume Horford would have his way with Melo in the post, but Carmelo Anthony is a solid 235 pounds and ranked an elite 16th overall in defending the post last season. Opposing bigs only shot 40-113 in the post on him for a putrid 35.4%. Coming off a series guarding the perimeter minded Patrick Patterson in Round 1, Melo will be fresh and ready to go at PF. Ironically Meloís PPP in the post tied him with Tyson Chandler was also ranked 16th in the NBA in defending the post. He only allowed players to shoot 35.6% on post-ups vs. him last season. This former DPOY from 2012 would be able to limit their interior production significantly.
5. Bench Depth Ė DJ Augustin was one of the most efficient players in the postseason for the Pacers, Caron Butler was a starter for the playoff Clippers, Tyler Hansbrough was a rotation player and ranked in the top 25 defensively for the Pacers and Kenyon Martin averaged 7ppg/5rpg shooting 60% while playing key rotation minutes for the playoff Knicks. This bench is clear, experienced and fits this roster like a glove. Meanwhile, the Bulls bench leaves a lot to be desired. Landry Fields posted an awful 10.3 PER and .052 WS/48, and will be required to play too many minutes thanks to the Bullsí lack of wing depth. Aaron Gray barely played at all for a bad Raptors team last season, and heíll also be asked to play far too many minutes behind an aging Duncan. Barea is their best offensive player off the bench, and posted a horrid 51% TS% a season ago, and Brandon just posted his lowest PER and WS/48 since 2007 and a career low in TRB% (11.2). Our bench played significant minutes for playoff teams, while the Bullsí bench consists of guys who played limited minutes for lottery teams.
6. Clutch Delivery Ė Undoubtedly there will be some tight games in this series, and you have to ask yourself a simple question: Who is more likely to come through at the end of a game? Chris Paul or Deron Williams? Carmelo Anthony or Tim Duncan? We not only have one elite option, but we have arguably two of the best in the league at closing out games. Deron Williams shot a horrific 27% from the field in clutch situations last season. Duncan wasnít even in the top 40 in scoring in clutch situations. Melo and Paul give the Knicks two deadly performers who can play off each other, hit big shots and pull the Knicks to victory in close games.
7. Chemistry - This Knicks core was purposefully not overhauled, because it was already a 54-win team that played extremely well together. JR Smith, Carmelo, Tyson and Kenyon are all back. The only true roster changes were the addition of clutch contributor Shane Battier and the upgrade of Raymond Felton to Chris Paul. The same Chris Paul who turned Tyson Chandler into a double-double machine in New Orleans and won a gold medal with both Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler at the last Olympics. They have been surrounded by glue veterans that either provide defense (Hansbrough), shooting (Butler, Augustin and Frye) or both (Shane Battier). Meanwhile, this Chicago team has 0 returning rotation players. Are we supposed to believe that overnight they would develop into a championship contending team?
There is no denying the talent-level of either one of these teams. However, when you break down this matchup to its crucial elements: shooting, play-making, defensive mismatches, depth, clutch production, and chemistry, one team clearly rises to the top. That team is the Knicks. Good luck to Chicago, but we confidently believe New York deserves to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.