As we approach the end of the first week of training camp, it is evident hearing from the players and coaches that the Knicks are building a real camaraderie. They are focused on defense, communication and conditioning. Coach Woodson had the Knicks working on conditioning and defensive sets for most of the first three days of camp. Saturday was the first day the Knicks got into offensive sets. Woodson said the Knicks put up 35 points in 18 scrimmage minutes on Saturday, adding that the team understood his offensive concepts.
Early standouts from camp include Carmelo Anthony, who looks like he’s in the best shape of his career, there is definition in his arms and he has slimmed down considerably. Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony have been running the pick and roll pretty consistently in practice, according to reports. Jason Kidd has emerged as the vocal leader and he has been pushing Felton daily. Kidd has even played off the ball at the 2 and this is a big development and a very encouraging sign for the Knicks. Kidd is a solid three point shooter who can make the extra pass and can guard 2’s in the NBA. Without Brewer and Shumpert, the Knicks can experiment with starting Kidd at the 2 alongside Felton. This will allow JR Smith to play his more natural 6th man role.
Pablo Prigioni has been impressive, proving he can be the backup point, if Kidd starts at the 2. Prigioni is a skilled and disciplined passer who knows how to run a professional team. I believe he will play some key minutes during the season. It’s still early, but the Knicks versatility and depth is already a strong point.
On the injury front, Marcus Camby will join Ronnie Brewer in missing the first 2 games of the preseason, due to a calf injury. These early injuries can turn out to be a blessing in disguise as the Knicks want to give some of the fringe players a look, especially rookies John Shurna and Henry Sims. Shurna is a stretch four, who by all accounts is playing solid defense in camp and is knocking down his open shots. Sims is a very effective passing big man out of the post, so he may get more of an opportunity, though he is still in the developmental phase of his early career. Amar’e Stoudemire missed practice on Saturday due to a tweaked ankle. This can be worrisome, as the Knicks would love to have Amar’e and Carmelo get some reps going early and often during training camp, however, his injury is not being considered serious. Rasheed Wallace is still not ready to practice, according to Woodson, but look for Wallace to start joining the 5 on 5 scrimmages early next week. Wallace has already been communicating while watching the scrimmages. Wallace is known for being one of the best defensive minded and communicative teammates in the NBA.
We will get to see what the Knicks and their rotations look like for the first time this Thursday against the Washington Wizards.
Sean Aquino @reactdrummer34 – Knickswag Contributor