Anybody else feel like this is the longest three-day stretch in recent New York Knicks history? Maybe it doesn’t help that the Mets just got swept out of Atlanta, but this absolutely feels like a never-ending extended weekend.
Well, there is one clear way to move past all the uncertainty, and that’s by forecasting. At this point in time, I think Knicks fans are split down the middle on the Jeremy Lin situation. Some are willing to move forward without the dynamic point guard, while others still believe matching the offer is the best course of action for the team. Me? Personally, I understand both sides of the story. I’m totally going to remain on the fence. You can convince me to choose a side, but until you do, I’ll let the pundits do what they do best, which is letting their opinions be known
For me, I’m more obsessed with trying to figure out how Mike Woodson is going to play the pieces he does have. Just what will his rotation look like moving forward in 2012-13?
Keep in mind, Iman Shumpert is likely to miss the beginning of the season after having knee surgery during the 2012 Playoffs. So, for the sake of this article, he will start the season on the end of the bench, and we will look at who will be in orange and blue come opening night.
The Starters -
Kidd was brought on to be the stabilizing force in the Knicks rotation. He has played with a wide variety of players, and has historically been a winner in his career. Many believe Kidd will find the perfect balance between getting Carmelo Anthony his touches, while re-energizing Amar’e Stoudemire’s game inside. Add in the fact that Kidd is still a sharp-shooter from deep (35.9% from 3 last year), J-Kidd should be able to provide the defense and leadership while playing crunch time minutes for the Knicks.
Smith slides into a starting spot for the Knicks because of the injury that will sideline Shumpert at the beginning of the season. Smith’s going to be destined for the Sixth Man on this team, as he is the perfect Irrational-Confidence-Guy that can come off the bench and score in bunches. He’s a bit of a dead end as far as ball movement goes, but I think a full year with the team and practicing with the regulars, he should be able to find his niche easily.
This may be the make-or-break season for ‘Melo. The Nets are talking a big game in Brooklyn, and he’s already called the contract Jeremy Lin received from Houston “ridiculous”. At times, the media blamed a lot of the Knicks problems last season on Carmelo’s play. This will be his first true full-season in MSG, and he has a lot of proving wrong to do in order to restore the shine on his star.
A lot of people have been critical of Amar’e's play last season. I’ve gone as far to say that if the Knicks still had their amnesty clause, there would have to be some serious consideration about using it on Stoudemire. He seemed worn out by playing D’Antoni minutes in the two season he’s been a Knick, and battled injury after injury last year. The best news for STAT, the Knicks have a lot more depth inside that will spell him minutes he doesn’t need to be on the floor. I’m very eager to see what STAT has to offer next season. He will be the X-Factor for determining how high the Knicks can climb.
Chandler was the anchor for the Knicks inside. He led the defensive renaissance the Knicks experienced after Mike D’Antoni was let go. He will be expected to do more of the same on defense next year, but will get more help from the players the Knicks have added this off-season. The team didn’t anticipate the things he did on offense last year, and will likely continue to work under the notion that Chandler is in town for key rebounds, blocked shots, disruption on defense and easy put back slams. Anything more would be, well, unfair.
Sixth Man – Raymond Felton – 2011-12 numbers: 11.4ppg, 6.5apg, 2.5rpg, 40.7 FG%, 31.8mpg (with Portland Trail Blazers)
The big question moving forward post-Lin will be which point guard starts for the Knicks. My guess is Kidd will get the starting assignments, but Felton will play more minutes. Felton can flex to play shooting guard alongside Kidd at times, and will head the second unit at the point. Felton averaged career-best numbers when he was in New York for half a season playing alongside Amar’e before being part of the Carmelo package. I don’t know if Felton will ever reach that high again, but I fully expect him to put up better numbers than he did last season, even if he sees a dip in playing time.
Bench – C Marcus Camby – 2011-12 numbers: 4.9ppg, 9.0rpg, 1.4bpg, 44.6 FG%, 22.9mpg (with Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets)
Camby is going to give the Knicks something they haven’t had in a very long time, a true back-up big. Playing Jared Jeffries off the bench as their main big had put the Knicks at serious disadvantages in critical moments in big games. Having Camby gives the Knicks a huge security blanket if Tyson Chandler gets into foul trouble. While there is still a drop off defensively from Camby to Chandler, it isn’t as evident as it was last year from Chandler to Jeffries. Having a second 7-footer on the team is a huge addition.
Bench – F Steve Novak – 2011-12 numbers: 8.8ppg, 1.9rpg, 47.8 FG%, 47.2 3-pt%, 18.9mpg
Outside of Jeremy Lin, Novak was the biggest surprise the team had last season. He led the league in 3-pt percentage, and hit some critical shots from the corner when the team needed them most. There were games where he was just lights out and would put up 15-20 points off the bench almost exclusively from beyond the arc. He isn’t much of a defender, but has the flexibility to play both the 3 and 4. With players like Landry Fields and Jared Jeffries no longer with the team, Novak is likely to see some more minutes next year and play a bigger role in the offense.
Bench – G James White – 2011-12 numbers: spent the season in Europe
White was called one of the most athletic players in the Euro leagues last year and he will see some minutes early in the season, especially before Shumpert is healthy. We know he’s super athletic, but we’re not certain how his game will translate to the NBA. I don’t think anyone is expecting him to perform like Landry Fields did, or even Bill Walker in spurts last year. But, that’s not what the Knicks need. All they need is a player that provides significant depth to the bench and can hold his own defensively.
Bench – F/C Kurt Thomas – 2011-12 numbers: 3.0ppg, 3.5rpg, 0.6bpg, 46.5 FG%, 15.2mpg (with Portland Trail Blazers)
Thomas is here to stabilize the locker room and serve as a mentor to Amar’e Stoudemire. His role on the team will be seen more off the court than on it, but he is going to be very important to the coaching staff. I’m excited to have him back in town, and he’s another big body the Knicks have in case of injury.
Bench – PG Pablo Prigioni – 2011-12 numbers: played last season in Argentina
Prigioni is, uhm, a very old rookie. The Knicks front office clearly sees value in adding him to the end of the bench, and he is very experienced as far as leading an offense. I’m uncertain what he’s going to provide to the team, but its going to be worth watching.
Injured – G Iman Shumpert – 2011-12 numbers: 9.5ppg, 2.8apg, 3.2rpg, 40.1 FG%, 28.9mpg
Shumpert burst onto the scene towards the end of last season, playing critical end-of-game minutes. He’s proven to be a top class perimeter defender that can hold his own against some of the league’s best. The Knicks desperately needed his presence last year during the playoffs. Once they lost Shump, any hopes of them knocking off the Heat went out the window. He’s a huge part of the Knicks present and future, really the only young, controllable player the Knicks have on roster. He is going to get better the more he plays, and he should be in the starting rotation once he returns to health. How he continues to develop his game will determine a lot about the team.