By Jerald Levon Hoover
Updated: November 4, 2004

NEW YORK, NY � The roster is over 85% new from last years opening day roster. The coaching staff and team President/GM are new. The attitude and altitude is new. The game plan; offensive and defensive schemes are new. The approach in how they�re supposed to dress and stand for even the National Anthem is new. So what will this transpire as Garden’s tip-off home opener vastly draws near? With Cablevision shelling out more than 100 million for this squad the hope is nothing short of the Atlantic Division championship and at the very least a good showing in the second round of the playoffs. He�s how the Knicks look at a glance:


POINT GUARD � Stephon Marbury: Will Steph being made a tri-captain be able to lead his team past the first round of the playoffs? And does he really have the ability to make others around him better?

SHOOTING GUARD � Jamal Crawford: �J-Crossover� as some of his teammates call him, is as sleek with the basketball as there is. He�s more of a streak shooter but, when he�s on, he�s virtually unstoppable.

SMALL FORWARD � The small word should be omitted in this case because Tim Thomas is a legitimate 6-foot-10, 240 pounds. Now if only he can play that way all the time. In the Knicks� final preseason game, Thomas broke out in the third quarter and scored 19 points in a variety of ways. That quarter alone spoiled the Knicks brass. Let�s hope they�re spoiled like that a lot more often as Thomas is supremely talented and versatile.

POWER FORWARD � At present this position belongs to Kurt Thomas but it�s no secret that this spot will belong to Michael Sweetney before too long. And that�s whether or not Thomas is still on the Knicks roster. But, for all it�s worth Kurt Thomas is a steady customer and is the team�s best low post defender.

CENTER � Now here is where the Knicks either make it or break it. Nazr Mohammed appears to have won the starting nod by default. His competition was Vin Baker. If the two of them can stay healthy and together manage averages of 15 points and at least 7 or 8 rebounds, there could be some hope for the Knicks. But, if they falter look for coach Lenny Wilkens to go with Kurt Thomas in the middle for important stretches of the game.


PENNY HARDAWAY � Look for Penny�s minutes to suffer greatly once Allan Houston returns from his knee troubles and if promising rookie Trevor Ariza is still playing well. Too bad this isn�t 8 years ago.

VIN BAKER � Had a heart procedure over the summer to correct his heart rate when he�s relaxed. Too bad the operation didn�t turn back the hand of time to when Baker was an All-Star and a pain in the butt to play against.

TREVOR ARIZA � The Knicks haven�t had a player this young and this athletically gifted with basketball acumen in an awful long time. Coach Wilkens and Isaiah Thomas scored major by drafting this sleeper in the second round with the 43rs pick. He may just be the second coming of Scottie Pippen.

JEROME WILLIAMS � The Junk Yard Dog (JYD) will quickly be a Garden favorite with his all out hustle and bustle. His high-energy will be needed especially during the dog days (no pun intended) of the season.

MOOCHIE NORRIS � If he�s still around pending a trade collapse or buy out breakdown Norris still won�t see too much time. Crawford will more than likely get the lions share of reserve point guard minutes with Penny squeezing in there some how also.

SHANDON ANDERSON � He won�t play unless the team is up by 20 or down by the same within the last 2 minutes of the game. That�s if he�s not bought out, waived or traded.

ALLAN HOUSTON � On the injured list for at least the first 5 games of the season and more than likely a lot more. His dilemma is he cannot rush back and not be the Allan Houston of old. But, he cannot afford to wait too long and have Crawford become an All-Star on him either. If that were to happen the impatient fans in the Garden will boo every miss shot. Either way, the ultra nice Houston will have undeserved pressure on him. The best advice for him is to just wait until he�s totally healthy and come back strong.