The New York Knicks have been a busy team since their season ended in early May. Since, general manager Glen Grunwald has begun, not a makeover, but a glossing-over of the team in hopes to make them a real contender in this upcoming season. To sum up just how busy the Knicks have been this offseason, Alex Raskin of nj.com listed Grunawald’s moves this summer in chronological order. These moves included, re-signing J.R. Smith, singing and trading for Marcus Camby, signing Jason Kidd, re-signing Steve Novak, signing and trading for Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas, and signing Ronnie Brewer.
So, with the Knicks set to come back in the fall with a different look than this previous season, what can we expect to be their greatest strength on the court? Early season predictions have had the Knicks anywhere from seventh in the East to fighting for homecourt advantage in the playoffs, so while it’s unclear how good they’ll be, it’s not too early to debate where their strengths lie.
Could it be their…
1.) Defense: Last season, the Knicks finished fifth in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) according to Hoopdata, and that was in a rocky season that featured two different head coaches, and about four different lineups and versions of the team. This year, they’ve added Marcus Camby, a center who led the NBA in rebound rate last year and is twelfth all-time in blocks, Ronnie Brewer, an elite defensive wingman, and two defensive-minded guards (at least historically, or by effort) in Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. They’ll also bring back defensive-minded head coach, Mike Woodson, now with job security, and reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler.
Although team offense was down across the league last year, the Knicks could very well find themselves in the top five in defense again this year, especially with their additions this season. Guys like Iman Shumpert (once healthy), J.R Smith, Brewer, Kidd, Felton, Chandler, and Camby will all make a consistent effort, but the Knicks could really elevate their team defense if they get Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to buy in.
2.) Depth: Through all of Glen Grunwald’s wheeling and dealing this offseason, one aspect of the Knicks has gotten undeniably better: their depth. With a completely healthy squad, the Knicks can go two-, and even three-deep at some positions. The back-court will be particularly loaded with Pablo Prigioni, Kidd, and Felton all fighting for time at point guard, while Smith, Shumpert, and Brewer will all compete for time at the two-guard.
Upfront, the Knicks aren’t quite as deep, but they’re more versatile. Chandler and Camby will eat up nearly all of the minutes at center, but the Knicks have the ability to go small by moving Stoudemire to the five and putting Anthony or Novak at the four. Likewise, with one more roster spot still available, and a number of serviceable big men still on the market, the Knicks could still add another player to round out their front-court even more. Of course, playing time can become an issue with so many players deserving of time, but the Knicks are in a good position to be able to withstand injuries and keep chugging along.
3.) Offensive Weapons: The Knicks weren’t a very good offensive team last year, but injuries, coaching changes, and lineup inconsistencies all may have played a part in that. With a full training camp, the Knicks will have a chance to finally blend all of their seemingly ill-fitting pieces together and create the offensive monster management has imagined. Even if all of the pieces don’t fit together like puzzle pieces, the Knicks sheer amount of offensive weapons will make them a constant threat night-in and night-out.
Obviously Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire cannot be ignored, but their surrounding pieces are capable of making an offense hum. Felton and Kidd can both run an offense and get everyone involved. Smith is one of the most explosive bench scorers in the league, and he and Novak can combine to carry an offense from beyond the arc on any given night. Tyson Chandler posted the NBA’s best field goal percentage last year and cannot be left alone around the basket. Likewise, Shumpert and Brewer should find a role on offense slashing and running out on the fastbreak. Simply said, the Knicks have a multitude of players who can put the ball in the hoop.