The Knicks @ Nite crew and important Knickswag contributors have thought night and day about who the most important Knick could be. We all have come up with some great insight into this subject, so let’s skip the bloviating and get right to it… Enjoy.
The idea that one player could be more important than the team concept is maddening to me. Assuming Melo picks up where he did last year, and if J.R. Smith is a 6th man contender again, if my finger were to point it would be pointing at Raymond Felton. This was a tough one for me because the maturation of Iman Shumpert was something I was really going to focus on this year. But Raymond Felton was more important to me because his impact is on many levels.
Ray is the point guard, he needs to control the tempo of the offense and keep a pace to the game. His distribution to Melo and the other important role players is key to any Knicks success. Yes, NY has a three point guard tandem, but Raymond needs to be that leader, plain and simple. He has believers in Mike Woodson and the Knicks brass, so it is his leadership that needs to be present all year.
His surprisingly consistent shot should not be taken for granted. His ability to penetrate to the hole for easy lay-ups and floaters is another piece of his game that makes you feel comfortable with him as your point guard.
However, Raymond Felton needs to be more consistent, that is his nemesis. Consistency at the floor general role will propel the Knicks to at least the Conference Finals, and a chance to go the Finals if the cards play out right . I am not saying this will happen, but I’m putting the Knicks solely in Raymond Felton’s hands. Felton is the guy that the Knicks to look to for a great run this year. He can’t disappear defensively, and certainly cannot lose the tempo of the offense. Raymond Felton is the driver behind the wheel of some tremendous potential in the 13/14 season.
Iman Shumpert – Shumpert has shown that he has the skills to be a lockdown perimeter defender in the league with question marks coming about his decision-making and shooting on offense. In his rookie season this was true as he played well on the defensive end but struggled when then head coach Mike D’Antoni has him playing point guard; it was a tough spot to be put in as a rookie without training camp because of the lockout, but he looked much more comfortable off the ball. An injury in the first round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat then derailed the start of his 2012-2013 season. When he came back he did not look comfortable at all, but as he got more comfortable the defensive intensity was again there but along with it came an improved jump shot. Shumpert made the corner three pointer a point of emphasis during rehab, something that will undoubtedly keep him on the court this season, as the Knicks spread the court to let Anthony work. Something people are underestimating is what a training camp will do for Shumpert. This is the first regular summer he will go through even though it will be his third year in the league. That will do wonders for him, as he will be coming into a season in the best basketball shape he has been in as an NBA player. He will have a chance to showcase that right off the bat with J.R. Smith sidelined to start the season.
Mike Woodson – The players more often than not are only as successful as the coach can set them up to be; talent can only get you so far. If talent were the sole thing that made an NBA team go then the Knicks would be set with one of the top players in Anthony out on the court every night. This Knicks team has a lot of talent and many directions to go, and it will come down to how well Woodson handles the players. Woodson will have to figure out how to make things work early on in the season with second leading scorer and reigning Sixth Man of the Year award winner J.R. Smith not having a time-table to return. He will also have to figure out a rotation that has some repetition among it in the playing styles of his players. The biggest thing he will have to figure out is the starting lineup and where his star player Anthony will be playing for the season. Anthony thrived last season predominantly playing the power forward position but may have to play some small forward this season. It will be interesting to see if Woodson changes this because it will also cause him to change his two point guard lineups he likes to use; but these are the type of questions and decisions head coaches have to make. For the Knicks to be successful Woodson has to push the right buttons more often this season, and become less stubborn with his rotations for the Knicks to be successful and reach their potential.
Raymond Felton - As if I didn’t say enough on our Monday edition of the Knicks @ Nite Podcast Show at 10pm, here is a little more. Many people when they think of the most important player or coach, their minds immediately jump to best. Well I may be in the minority, but when I think of the key player this season who can bring the New York Knicks to the next level, that player is Raymond Felton. I know Carmelo Anthony is the best player, and a healthy Tyson Chandler could have brought the Knicks past the Indiana Pacers last year in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals, but I say Raymond Felton is my guy.
In the 2010-2011 season when the Knicks introduced Amare and Felton as their consolation prize for Lebron James I don’t think anyone thought Felton would be an All-Star caliber point guard and a perfect fit in the pick and roll offense Mike D’Antoni made famous in Phoenix. Felton shined and helped bring the Knicks back to the conversation before being traded in part of the Carmelo Anthony deal. With his second chance to be the starting point guard for the Knicks coming last year after the departure of Jeremy Lin, Felton showed glimpses of that point guard we all cheered for two season ago. When a healthy Felton was attacking the hearts of opposing teams defenses, creating for shooters and finishing, the Knicks were unstoppable. However, after a fast start Felton was injured and in my opinion, the Knicks never really recovered from his injury.
Lets look at some stats about Raymond Felton’s season last year… When Felton wasn’t in the lineup last season the Knicks record was 6-8, and the first 12 games after Felton returned to the lineup the Knicks were a mer 6-6. In a season where the Knicks won a 10 year high in games 54, and won the Atlantic division, they were 12-14 during a period of time when Felton was injured or coming back from injury. In the Indiana series Felton struggled in games 3, 4, and 7 all of which the Knicks lost.
His overall numbers of 14 ppg, 5.5 assists, and 3 rebounds aren’t jumping off the page to anyone, but a point guards numbers don’t have to. He has to be able to lead this team and make other players around him better. It’s no secret that the Knicks were much better last year when there was a two point guard set on the floor. Having a second ball handler on the floor really helped the spacing and the ball movement. However, this season if this Knicks team is going to excel Ray Felton needs to control the ball on offense and defend it on the defensive end. If Raymond Felton can do that effectively I truly believe that this team is good enough to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and then from there anything can happen.
There are many different opinions as to who the most important player on the Knicks really is, (some say Felton, some say Chandler, some say Shump).
In my opinion, the answer is obvious, the face of the New York Knicks is Carmelo Anthony. As we all know Melo was the scoring champion last year and without him I feel the Knicks would be a sub .500 team.
This year Melo is the most important player because he reached the peak of his career last year. Is he going to surpass that peak or begin to decline? That is the question on everyone’s mind. With the East being stacked this year, it is imperative for Melo to exceed last year’s averages. He needs to become the superstar and leader that we all know he is.
The 2003 NBA draft class was arguably the best of all time. Lebron, Wade, Bosh, as well as our very own Carmelo Anthony, were 4 out of the top 5 picks. Lebron, Wade and Bosh have reached superstardom winning 2 championships. It is now Melos time to shine and become a top 5 player in the league. We all know he is capable, and with the moves the Knicks made in the offseason, I feel he will have the best chance to do it.
This season’s success or failure rides on Carmelo Anthony’s shoulders. Can he take his game to the next level like his draft class colleagues? Only time will tell…
Yes, I know Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title last season. Yes, I know Tyson Chandler is an NBA champion, and a former Defensive Player of the Year. Yes, I know that J.R. Smith has just come off his best year as a pro, one that resulted in a 6th Man of the Year award. However, who the most important Knick…? Raymond Felton.
More so than ever, Felton is going to have to lead this Knicks team. It has been said that the Knicks will go as far as Ray takes them. This year he helped guide them to a second round elimination, nowhere near the expectations of the Knicks.
Now with the New York bundling together some of the “craziest” guys in the league (Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Ron Ar Metta World Peace), they need to have a leader. Raymond Felton is more capable than anyone on this team to lead, and he will need to. You saw it last year in the playoffs with J.R. Smith struggling, and Tyson Chandler calling teammates out, the Knicks needed a leader.
Raymond Felton will HAVE TO be that leader if the Knicks want to get to the Finals and take home the trophy.
Entering his 13th NBA season, Tyson Chandler is the second most important Knick. Though Chandler had his fourth highest rebounding total of his career, his defensive efficiency ranking of 104 is tied for the third lowest defensive efficiency ranking of his career. For comparison, in his first season with the Knicks his defensive efficiency was 99.
Chandler is vitally important for the Knicks to rebound from their lackluster defensive effort last season. Even more importantly, the Knicks were unable to find another defensive minded big man to play center behind him. If the Knicks were ranked 17th in defensive efficiency last season, imagine what could happen if Chandler goes down to an injury without a legit back up big man behind him.
To top all of that off, Tyson adds a tremendous dimension with his ability off the pick and roll offensively. Tyson Chandler ranks 1st in offensive efficiency and true shooting percentage, while finishing third in offensive rebounding percentage. Defenses have to adjust to Chandler’s ability to finish and attack the glass. If the Knicks lose him, they have no one else on this roster that comes close to doing what he does. Defend, rebound and finish strong at the rim.