Matthews: NBA Draft Advice For Knicks

posted by Bob Matthews - 

NBA DRAFT ADVICE FOR THE KNICKS: SELECT TRAE YOUNG

The New York Knicks are a lousy NBA team.

Even worse, they’re a boring lousy team.

The most exciting player in Thursday night’s NBA Draft is point guard Trae Young, who as a 19-year-old Oklahoma Sooner freshman point guard became the first player to lead NCAA Division I in both scoring (27.4 points per game) and assists (8.7 per game) in the same season.

The Knicks currently have one potential superstar – 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis, who is recovering from knee surgery.

A healthy Porzingis and Young would be a terrific two-man nucleus to build around. In a year or two, they might even inspire quality free agents to want to join the Knicks instead of steering clear of them.

Porzingis and Young would make watching the Knicks fun again – live in Madison Square Garden or on cable TV in places like Rochester. Every game – win or lose – would be Showtime,

The Knicks have picks 9 and 37 in Thursday night’s draft. Trae Young is projected to go from as early as No. 3 to as late as No. 12 in most of the mock drafts.

Suggestion to the Knicks: Put together a trade package to move up to select Young. Maybe the No. 9 and 37 picks plus any one or two players – except Porzingis – on the current roster.

Young has been compared to Stephen Curry when he came out of Davidson and was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. That’s probably wishful thinking. But I believe Young and the Knicks are the potential best team-player match in the 2018 NBA Draft.

BOB’S BOLD EXPERIMENT TO SAVE BASEBALL: MOVE BACK THE MOUND

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred knows his product needs a spark – a big one.

Attendance is down around 7 percent – and it isn’t all the weather. As America gets older, love for the past American Pastime diminishes.

MLB needs something dramatic to make the games more appealing to watch, particular for younger people.

Many loyal baseball fans don’t agree that long games are a problem. They don’t mind watching pitchers try to hit. They like time-consuming strategy – particularly the late-inning parade of relief pitchers.

Scoring continues to fall as pitchers tend to overpower overmatched hitters. Small ball is dying. Hit-and-run plays and stolen bases are going the way of dinosaurs.

The main offensive strategy today is swinging from the heels. All-or-nothing.

Manfred’s latest proposal is to restrict or eliminate defensive shifts – an obvious factor in lower averages and fewer runs. But how could that be done? Would they use chalk to divide the playing field into sections and force fielders to stay in their area? Maybe only three fielders allowed behind the outer rim of the infield (a relatively bright idea)?

Defensive shifts are effective. My big question is why it took 100-plus years to use them on a regular basis.

Here’s my pitch: Move the pitcher’s mound back one foot – from 60 feet and 6 inches to 61 feet and six inches -- or even to 62 feet.

Why? Because the evolution of MLB has given pitchers too much of an advantage over hitters. The average pitcher is too big and throws too fast. There never has been less contact and more strikeouts.

In 1893, baseball made a bold move to boost offense. The distance of the mound to home plate was increased from 50 feet to 60 feet and 6 inches (legend says it was supposed to be an even 60 feet, but sloppy writing resulted is mistaking 60 feet and 0 inches for 60 feet and 6 inches).

It worked – probably too well at first. Batting averages soared by 35 points in 1893 and 29 more points in 1894.

Pitchers battled back through the years. By 1968, they had achieved dominance. Carl Yastrzemski won the AL batting title with a .301 average. Seven teams batted below .230. It became known as The Year of the Pitcher. Seven starting pitchers had earned run averages below 2.00, led by Bob Gibson’s incredible 1.12.

In a drastic measure to restore balance, the height of the mound was reduced from 15 inches to 10 inches.

My suggestion also is drastic. Instead of lowering the mound by 5 inches, I recommend expanding the distance between the rubber and home plate by between 6 to 18 inches.

Why? Hitters would have more time to react to power pitching. More contact would create more hits and more runs. There would be fewer time-consuming strikeouts and walks. Shorter counts would equal quicker games.

Pitchers would hate this idea, but there are more hitters than pitchers in the players’ union and they’d love the change.

The distance from the rubber to home plate has been the same for 126 years. Common sense tells me a change is overdue.

More swings. More contact. More hits. More scoring. Fewer pitches taken. Quicker games? More fans? Better TV ratings? What would be wrong with that?

At least give it a try in a minor league for a season.

TICKED OFF EX-YANKEES WILL BE IN TOWN THIS WEEKEND

The Red Wings will host Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the RailRiders might not be in a good mood. They’re a disappointing 33-36, have the 14-team International League’s 10th-ranked pitching staff (4.08 ERA) and a few key players must be wondering why they’re still in Triple-A. – for example third baseman Tyler Austin, third baseman Brandon Drury and center fielder Tyler Wade.

Drury is the most upset. He recently told The Athletic, “I don’t belong down here at all.”

The veteran has a good point. He had blurred vision problems that led to him being demoted from the New York Yankees to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Rookie Miguel Andujar was promoted and it looks like he has won the job at third base permanently.

Drury is hitting .348 in 40 games for the RailRiders and probably will be the IL’s season-ending all-star third baseman if he’s here that long – and he hopes he won’t be.

LET’S GO PLATES...AND WHERE ARE THE TRIBE LOGO AND CAPS?

I know when to give up. Better late than never. Long live the Plates.

I was opposed to the temporary gimmicky substitute names and fancy new caps and jerseys for the Rochester Red Wings.

I figured our baseball team has been the Red Wings since 1928. Why is that no longer good enough?

Because using clever names is a great way to boost interest in the Red Wings and increase merchandise sales at the Team Store. It no longer is an experiment. It’s working for many other minor-league teams.

Why stop with the Hip Bitters and the Plates?

Here’s a partial list of Rochester’s pro baseball teams:

Hop Bitters...Brownies...Bronchos...Beau Brummels...Hustlers...Colts...Tribe.

I suggest that the Tribe be the next revived name to salute one of the great teams in Rochester’s baseball history. I can picture the replica Tribe hats and shirts.

The Colts were 45-106 in 1920 to set the stage for the arrival of manager George Stallings in 1921. The team had a new name – the Tribe – and a loaded roster, including Fred Merkle,  Bob “Fats” Fothergill and Maurice Archdeacon:

1921 – 100-68 record

1922 – 105-62

1923 – 101-65.

Unfortunately for Rochester’s baseball fans, the Tribe finished in second place each of those three seasons behind Jack Dunn’s mighty Baltimore Orioles, arguably the greatest seven-year dynasty in International League history: 100-49 in 1919...110-43 in 1920...119-47 in 1921...115-52 in 1922...111-53 in 1923...117-48 in 1924...105-61 in 1925.

Rochester Community Baseball has no plans for a permanent name change for the Red Wings – at least not for now.

The colorful new permanent team names in the minor leagues now include: Akron Rubber Ducks...Auburn Doubledays...Binghamton Rumble Ponies...Charlotte Stone Crabs...Columbia Fireflies...Daytona Tortugas...Florida Fire Frogs...Great Lakes Loons...Greensboro Grasshoppers...Hartford Yard Goats...Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp...Lansing Lugnuts...Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs...New Orleans Baby Cakes...Omaha Storm Chasers...Orem Owlz...Pensacola Blue Wahoos...Richmond Flying Squirrels...Rochester Garbage Plates (just kidding).

SHORT SHOTS

The New York Yankees hit four more home runs in Tuesday night’s 7-2 home win over Seattle and now have 118 HRs in 70 games. They’re on pace for 273 HRs this season. The MLB record is 264 by the 1997 Seattle Mariners.

The Minnesota Twins on Monday released Red Wings veteran Taylor Featherston. The 28-year-old veteran is a good fielder and has some speed but he simply wasn’t hitting: .160 (30-for-180); 4 doubles; 2 triples; 4 HRs; .221 on-base percentage; .256 slugging percentage; .477 OPS in 55 games. In 101 MBL games with the LA Angels, Phillies and Rays the past three seasons he batted .160 (35-for-219) with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 4 HRs and 16 RBI.

If the Red Wings are going to make the players, big boppers Kennys Vargas, Chris Carter and have to start hitting like they can. Entering Tuesday night, they were batting a combined .209 (68-for-325), with 14 HRs, 41 RBI, 47 walks and 103 strikeouts.

Attention soccer fans: I’ll be talking World Cup and the future of soccer in America, Wednesday night, 6:35 to 7, on Bob Matthews On Sports on News Radio WHAM 1180.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, June 20

Adalberto Mejia (25)...DeQuan Jones (28)...Terrelle Pryor (29)...Luke Babbitt (29)...Darko Milicic (33)...Kendrys Morales (35)...Darren Sproles (35)...Cael Sanderson (39)...Carlos Lee (42)...Jozef Stumpel (46)...Rodney Rogers (47)...Len Dawson (83). Nicole Kidman (51), John Goodman (66), Lionel Richie (69) and Anne Murray (73) are invited to the birthday party.

Thursday, June 21

JaMychal Green (28)...Thaddeus Young (30)...Garrett Jones (37)...Richard Jefferson (38)...Derrick Coleman (51)...Tom Chambers (59)...Rick Sutcliffe (62)...Michel Platini (63)...Bob Bourne (64)...Ron Low (68)...Duane Thomas (71). Chris Pratt (39) and Juliette Lewis (45) are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

June 20

1930 (88 years ago), Bobby Jones won the 65th British Open...1936 (82 years ago), Jesse Owens set the 100-meter record at 10.2 seconds...1950 (68 years ago), Joe DiMaggio reached 2,000 hits in an 8-2 Yankees victory over Cleveland...1960 (58 years ago), Floyd Patterson KOd Ingemar Johansson in 5 for the heavyweight title...51 years ago (1967), Muhammad Ali was convicted to refusing induction into armed services...38 years ago (1980), Roberto Duran won a unanimous decision over Sugar Ray Leonard for the WBC world welterweight title...36 years ago (1982), Tom Watson won the 82nd U.S. Open with a 282...25 years ago (1993), Tammie Green won the LPGA Rochester International...24 years ago (1994), O.J. Simpson was arraigned for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman...12 years ago (2006), the Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs 4-3 in the NBA Finals.

June 21

7 9 years ago (1939), the Yankees announced the retirement of Lou Gehrig after doctors revealed he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis...54 years ago (1964), Phillies Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game against the Mets on Fathers’ Day...48 years ago (1970), Brazil beat Italy 4-1 to win the ninth World Cup...21 years ago (1997), the New York Liberty beat the Los Angeles Sparks in the first WNBA game...16 years ago (2002), Lennox Lewis retained his WBC world heavyweight title with an 8th round KO over Mike Tyson...3 years ago (2015), 21-year-old Jordan Spieth became the youngest winner of the U.S. Open since 1923.

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