he True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Isiah: Keep Francish

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Isiah: Keep Francis

Since Steve Francis' return against the Jazz Francis has looked better than ever. The former all-star is averaging 10.5 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds in his two games against Utah and LA. Those numbers don't exactly blow you away, but lets take a closer look at what those stats mean to the Knicks.

Besides Stephon Marbury the Knicks do not have another player who can consistently run the point. Nate Robinson is listed as a point guard, but doesn't pass the ball enough to be an effective one for a long stint. Not only was Marbury the only point guard on the Knicks when Francis was out, but he has a lingering knee injury that seemingly hinders his game every other night. So when Francis returned from his knee injury it was a blessing in disguise. Francis has been ineffective at best during his time with the Knicks since last season's trade deadline. However, it recently came out that Francis' knee injury has effected him for most of his time in a Knicks uniform. So the 20+ games he missed couldn't have helped him more.

Now that Francis is back and so far it appears that his knee is healthier than it has been thus far with the Knicks. Francis has been getting into the paint with ease, and has shot 50% from the field. Oh, and did I mention he is coming off of the bench. Although a return from Francis to the Franchise would be wishful thinking it is certainly possible that Francis can re-establish himself in the league. Even if Francis continues to put up the numbers off of the bench that he has done the past two games he will be very valuable.

He would instantly give Marbury a bit of a cushion in case he needs to miss a game here or there. Plus, he would be what Crawford was earlier in the season, instant offense. Like a bad commercial for instant coffee, I can picture it now: "Running out of time? Need offense? We have your solution! From the makers of instant coffee and the chia pet comes instant offense. All you need is Steve Francis." OK, maybe not, but it was worth a try. Not only is Francis solid offensively, but he is one of the better rebounders for a point guard in the league. In his prime Francis averaged 7.0 rebounds a game, and has averaged 5.7 boards a game over his career. Francis makes the Knicks best quality even better.

Although the 29 year old (turns 30 on Feb. 21st) turns the ball over a lot, already a Knicks weakness, he also steals a couple of those lost balls back. Over his career Francis has averaged 1.5 steals a game, and even with a balky knee he has managed to steal 1.0 balls a game, which is tied for the team lead. In addition, Francis has a quality that isn't shown in stats. Francis has shown he can be a leader for a team. Earlier in the season Francis spoke with Nate Robinson about trying to pull off a dunk in which he bounced the ball on the floor first. Also, Francis has joined Nate, Balkman, Lee, and a few others in leaping off of the bench whenever a Knicks player does something impressive.

I understand Francis has only played two games and praising him as the Knicks offensive savior off the bench is definitely premature, but when I notice potential for something I enjoy sharing it. Francis certainly has the potential to be a threat for the Knicks, and so far New York has played very well against two very good West Coast teams with Francis.

Stat Craze for next Opponent:

The Knicks play the Golden State Warriors tonight, and the Warriors run and gun offense could tire out the Knicks who will be finishing a three game road trip before the all-star break. The Warriors will be without a personal favorite of mine, Baron Davis. Davis was averaging around 21 points and 9 assists a game before undergoing knee surgery on Monday. The Warriors have also been playing without Jason Richardson for most of the year. However, Golden State still has a few players who can light the Knicks up in Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis, and Al Harrington. They also have their own version of David Lee in Andris Biedrins. Despite averaging the fourth most points a game in the NBA the Warriors rate in the middle of the league in FG% and 3PT%. They are also the third worst free throw shooting team. However, the Warriors also deal off the fifth most assists, while throwing away the sixth most balls a game. The Warriors are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, ironically they lead the entire NBA in blocks and steals a game. Most of the stats have been when Baron Davis has played, but when the off-injured point guard hasn't played the Warriors are 4-6. Expect a very high scoring game, and I envision a very close game.


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