The excellent Orlando Magic site, Howard The Dunk, ran an interview yesterday asking Buckets our thoughts on former Knicks/new Magicians Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson. Here are the first and last questions excerpted from it:
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 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 amazingly 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.
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 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…?