One of the X-factors recently for the New York Knicks has been 29-year old rookie Chris Copeland, as his energized play has been a big part in the Knicks late season success.
But with the Knicks getting healthy for the postseason, you have to wonder exactly what, if any, role Copeland will have in Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson’s rotation for the postseason.
Copeland did his part to earn playoff minutes down the stretch, finishing the regular season with back-to-back games of 32 (Charlotte) and 33 points (Atlanta). Even though those games didn’t come against the greatest competition, he’s done enough to be a big part of things in the playoffs.
With Pablo Prigioni listed as questionable for Game 1 against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Copeland could find himself in the starting lineup with Raymond Felton shifting back to the point and Iman Shumpert moving to the 2.
But where will Copeland’s minutes come from when Prigioni is healthy?
Considering the fact that the Knicks bigs are also healthy, Copeland could be in a fight with Marcus Camby as the 10th man in Woodson’s rotation, but don’t be surprised if he steals some minutes that would normally be given to Steve Novak.
Sure the Knicks could use the long-range shooting of Novak, but good teams have had success taking him out of games, something I expect the Celtics to do.
In addition, the shots haven’t been falling for Novak as of late as he hasn’t shot above 42 percent from behind the arc since the month of February, knocking down only 37.3 percent in March and 41.3 percent in April.
If Novak isn’t able to knock down three’s in volume, he offers up little other value to the team.
Like Novak, Copeland has his struggles in terms of rebounding and defense, but he brings a lot more to the table.
Copeland’s per 36 minute scoring average of 20.3 points is the highest on the team besides NBA scoring champion Carmelo Anthony, and he can make a big difference against a strong defensive team like Boston.
Like Novak, Copeland can knock down the long-range shot, but unlike Novak, has the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, as well as get to the free-throw line.
The Knicks need a legitimate third scoring option next to Anthony and J.R. Smith to contend for a championship, and Copeland is a guy that can provide exactly that.
Since training camp began, Copeland is a guy that has earned everything he has received.
He’s let his play do his talking for him and it could result in playing a major role in a Knicks lengthy playoff run.
That’s something that likely wasn’t envisioned a couple years ago after Copeland had been cut twice in the Spanish Second Division, and wasn’t expecting a call from the NBA after falling so far under the radar.
But Copeland has persevered and earned a spot in the Knicks’ playoff rotation.
Unfortunately it could come at the expense of major minutes to Novak.
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