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Clear Choice for NBA Executive of the Year

Leon Rose is the clear choice for NBA executive of the year handed out by Adam Silver.

The Knicks’ decision to hire Leon Rose as their new president in Feb 2020 was ground-breaking. It was unique in that very few agents had ever succeeded as general managers, but the hype was tempered due to the Knicks’ state of affairs. From 2016 to 2020, the Knicks fired 4 coaches (no. 5 was Mike Miller, fired after the 2019-20 season). They let go of 2 general managers in the same span and had not made the playoffs since 2012-13. As Knicks fans look back, it is safe to say Rose achieved more than they could have imagined.

Knicks President Clear Choice for NBA Executive of the Year

Leon Rose’s Case

Off-season Moves

The offseason moves made by Leon Rose were critical to the Knicks marking consecutive playoff appearances since the Carmelo Anthony days. In the offseason, he signed Josh Hart to a 4-year $80 million contract and brought in Donte DiVincenzo on a 4-year $47 million deal.

On the season, Josh Hart played 81 games, averaging just under 33.5 minutes per game. He averaged 9.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists to go along with 1 steal a game. He did have career-worst years in the field, but that was more due to an added load upon his shoulders. Hart played the 11th most minutes this season and attempted the most field goals of his career by more than 100. Opponents shot just 34.8% from 3 against him, and just 52% inside the arc. He had a ws/48 mark of 0.100, and others around that included Cam Johnson, Kyle Lowry, and Nikola Vucevic, all higher-paid players than Hart.

DiVincenzo on the other hand, blossomed into a high-caliber starter. After bouncing around the last couple of years, he was brought in as the backup shooting guard. DiVincenzo took the starting spot from Grimes early in the season and never looked back. He was a top-3 candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year, but the NBA’s eligibility rules deemed him ineligible. DiVincenzo played 81 games, averaging over 15.5 points on an effective field goal % of 58.4%, a top-15 mark among guards with 65 games. DiVincenzo’s ws/48 mark of 0.135 is top-50 in the league, highlighting the bargain Rose got him at. The 50th highest-paid player in the league makes over $30 million, while the 100th highest makes $18 million. DiVincenzo’s contract valued him as a low-caliber starter/backup, and his 1st season in New York has proven everybody wrong.

In-season Acquisitions

The biggest move Leon Rose made during the season was trading away young stars Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett to get OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa. According to Estimated Plus-Minus, Anunoby ranked as a top-5 defender, and the Knicks defense allowed just 101.8 points per possession with him on the floor. His size and speed gave the Knicks a primary defender who could guard the opponent’s best player on most nights in the NBA. Anunoby allowed players to shoot just 49% from inside the three-point line when he was the primary defender. However, the underrated asset of the trade was Precious Achiuwa. After the injury to Mitchell Robinson, Rose knew that the Knicks forward/center rotation was thin. Achiuwa proved to be a standout for the Knicks when they were going through the motions. He filled Robinsons’ role as a dominant offensive rebounder and was stellar on the defense when required.

Other Candidates

The major candidates in contention for the award are Leon Rose, Brad Stevens, and Rafael Stone. Rafael Stone’s case is marred by the lack of a postseason appearance. However, his savvy moves of bringing in veterans and a new coach guarantee he will win one in the future. Brad Stevens’ case for the award involves a league-best 64-18 record and trading away the heart and soul of the team. But it’s not as crystal clear. Boston won 7 more games than last season, higher than the Knicks’ 3 more wins, but the circumstances are different. The Celtics just added to an already successful duo that has never had a mediocre season (remove bubble season). We expected them to be good, and they got better all around, but none of his moves were groundbreaking. Rose, on the other hand, had to retool his team midway through the season because of the injuries that they had suffered. He made “the trade of the season” with the acquisition of Anunoby, and resigned lesser-known players that ended up being bargain values on their contracts.

In my opinion, Leon Rose should win the award this season, What do you think?


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