As the New York Knicks prepare to get ready for training camp, we will take a look at some red flags the 2013-14 Knicks face as they prepare to take a run at winning the Eastern Conference.
One of those perceived red flags is trying to figure out exactly where a third scorer will come from?
Looking at this roster when it started to be assembled a couple years ago, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire were supposed to be a lethal one-two punch offensively, but naturally things didn’t work out as planned.
J.R. Smith emerged as the Knicks No. 2 scoring option a year ago, but he is far from a certain consistent No. 2 option.
Between his upcoming suspension, recovering from knee surgery and his Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde performances shooting the ball, it’s hard to put all of your eggs in the basket in terms of trusting Smith. But that’s the position the Knicks are in, so they really have no choice but to trust the fact that they will get the type of production from Smith that they got last season when he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
But assuming that the Knicks get something close to the 18.1 points per game they got in 2013 and not the guy that shot 33 percent from the floor and 27 percent from behind the arc in the postseason, a legitimate third scorer must emerge.
As a team last year the Knicks scored only 100.0 points per game, which didn’t rank in the top one-third of the NBA. The problem is that nearly half of those points came from the likes of Anthony and Smith (46.8). There must be another scorer to step up and take some of the scoring pressure away this season for the Knicks to have success this season.
Anthony will get his in the postseason, but if J.R has a repeat playoff performance, which judging by his career is a strong possibility, if the Knicks don’t see a third scorer emerge, it will be another early playoff exit.
But who will be the guy to step up?
There’s Stoudemire of course, but he will be on a minutes limit and coming off the bench and given his injury history, you just can’t count on him to be that guy anymore.
How about the newly acquired Andrea Bargnani?
Bargnani is a legitimate scoring option who should have success stretching the floor in the Knicks offense, but he also comes with major questions marks.
He will likely be coming off the bench, which isn’t a major problem, but how much will Mike Woodson be willing to use Bargnani in close games once he sees how bad he is defensively and rebounding the basketball? There are also the concerns that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and is coming off two injury plagued seasons in which he shot the ball brutally.
Bargs will be a guy who will likely live around the perimeter but if he doesn’t improve greatly on the 29 percent he shot from behind the arc in 2012 or the 30 percent rate of 2013, then Bargnani won’t be the third scorer the Knicks are hoping he will be.
The best case scenario for these Knicks though is hoping Iman Shumpert becomes that guy.
The problem is that even though he is filled with talent, Shump isn’t an established scorer and there are some concerns around the NBA whether he will ever become one.
Coming back from knee surgery a year ago, Shumpert averaged only 6.8 points per game on 39.6 percent shooting. I will give him a pass because he was coming off major surgery, but you have to be somewhat concerned over the fact that in 104 NBA games, the youngster has averaged only 8.3 points per game. More concerning is the fact that he has shot under 40 percent from the floor for his young career.
However the talent is there and if Shump has a breakout season, it will go a long way to solving the Knicks problems at the offensive end of the floor.
The bad news is that looking at the potential options for a third scorer, there is no guarantee that one will emerge, which would leave the Knicks in the same boat they were in a season ago.
The good news is that the Knicks have plenty of options for one to emerge.
We will find out starting in a few weeks if one will start to do so.
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