The Knicks open training camp October 1st as the defending Atlantic Division champions for the first time in nearly 20 years. Although he was faced with salary cap restrictions entering the off-season, recently replaced GM, Glen Grunwald was able to be quite creative in assembling this year’s team. Below we take a closer look at the players and what each could contribute toward bringing a championship to New York:
His return back to New York was sort-of a rebirth after a disastrous stint in Portland the previous year, but after a strong start Felton struggled mightily last year to contain speedy offensive minded PG’s. To his credit he still provided his usual leadership & toughness, but entering camp it’s imperative that his conditioning allows him to attack the rim and breakdown defenses with his penetration. The Knicks offense flourished last season when Felton played in attack mode.
Big things are expected from Shumpert a year removed from ACL surgery. His expected return back to the SG position should allow him to become the dominant player we all hoped he’d become after his rookie year. His improved sometimes deadly 3-pt shooting, that was on full display Gm 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, combined with his freakish athleticism and defensive prowess has Shumpert easily pegged for a significant breakout season.
Never before has an all-star taken so much grief as Tyson did last year after his body physically broke down towards season’s end rendering him rather defenseless in the playoffs against Roy Hibbert, as well Kevin Garnett, who also outplayed Chandler in the last year’s playoffs. Chandler did himself no favors by deflecting criticism to teammates. However, one thing he can do to gain favor with the fan base again is enter the season debuting at least one go-to move. If the Knicks hope to contend, Chandler can no longer be completely inept on the offense end of the floor. A little more balance to his game in addition to the plethora of frontcourt depth should keep him relatively healthy and a much more effective player entering the season.
The great escape from Canada to New York has success written all over it. Bargnani who will no longer be the focal point of opposing defenses will play with a newfound ease now free of the heavy burden that comes with being the top player on a team. On the Knicks, he simply just has to be one of the guys, and hit shots consistently, which should open the court for the likes of Carmelo, Shumpert and Smith. Bargnani skill set will also allow the Knicks to play an effective version of small ball making it nearly impossible for the likes of Joakim Noah, Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez to impact games the way they have in the past against New York. If Bargnani holds up health wise, his addition could wind up being as big as Dave Debusschere’s addition to the 1969-70 Championship team.
For the Knicks to take another step forward they will need Anthony to take an even bigger step. By now it’s no secret that Carmelo is an offensive force capable of singlehandedly beating teams but that still wasn’t enough to get past the Indiana Pacers in the conference semi-finals. Last season statistically Carmelo was the top 1st quarter scorer in the league, but tended to struggle at times during the fourth. This season the Knicks will need him to save his best for last.
Although an international veteran, Pablo was still very much a pleasant surprise as an occasional starter with his fearless and unselfish style of basketball that really connected with fans. His newfound comfort with the league and the States should result in more of the same this season.
The overlooked and underrated Beno should do a nice job as the 3rd guard. After a few of years of playing for losing teams, Udrih should be quite excited for the opportunity not just to contend for a championship again but to do it in New York City!
The reigning NBA 6th Man of the Year has already made some headlines prior to camp opening with the announcement of his 5-gm drug suspension in addition to his recovery from off-season knee surgery, which was supposed to already delay the start of his season, but J.R. has found a real good comfort zone playing for Coach Woodson and with comfort comes performance. Look for another explosive season from a healthy Smith once he returns.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
A rookie’s impact is always hard to predict, but Hardaway’s pedigree says this rookie might be ready if called upon early. Although it was just the Summer League, Hardaway demonstrated good touch from 3-pt range, as well as an extremely high motor that could prove valuable to the Knicks during the marathon season.
Metta World Peace
The Knicks have championship ambitions, but in order to reach those ambitions players like King James, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, and Paul George must be dealt with, this is where Metta will show he true worth. Even at the age of 34, Peace remains a standout defensive stopper and intimidator still capable of knocking down open 3’s. As long as Metta remains focus, which should no longer be an issue for the veteran, he will team with Shumpert to form a dynamic defensive duo.
Rookies, especially rookies drafted in the 2nd rd, are impossible to predict, but after watching him during Summer League, Leslie has the size and skill to develop into a very versatile player. Time will tell.
The menacing PF played a huge role in the Knicks winning the Atlantic Division after he stepped in for an injured Tyson Chandler and provided a toughness that had been lacking since Rasheed Wallace had gone down with season-ending foot injury. Martin, even at the age of 36, showed he still had the athleticism to protect the rim and defensive prowess to guard the center position. More of the same is expected entering this season from the veteran, but health must be a concern.
The 21 yr old showed tremendous promise on both ends of the floor during Summer League, which resulted in the Knicks signing the young center to partially guaranteed contract. How fast he can recover from off-season foot surgery will go a long way in determining if he makes the final roster and get’s playing time.
Very intriguing player, because unlike the other PG’s on the roster his long athletic 6’5” frame allows him to pressure and harass opposing PG’s like no other.
Frontcourt depth is paramount and that’s exactly what the former 1st rd pick could provide to this team if he makes the final roster.
In attempt to add frontcourt depth, Powell was signed and invited to camp to complete for a roster spot. In the past the PF has shown the ability to defend the post and rebound.
Diogu might be undersized for the center position at 6’8”, but his ridiculous 7’3” wingspan has made many GM’s mouth water with his defensive potential. Maybe he reaches it as a Knick.