By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN NBA Previews: A Look At The Knicks
NEW YORK — There’s no doubt that if this season’s New York Knicks squad was in a media quiet city such as a Charlotte, Portland, Denver, New Orleans or perhaps an Orlando they would be taken much more seriously than they do now.
Maybe it’s because of all scrutiny surrounding head coach Isiah Thomas and situation over the summer with Anucha Brown Sanders and with lead guard Stephon Marbury doing strange things in his interviews not to mention his graphic and damaging testimony in the aforementioned case. This cast of characters that Thomas has assembled has talent and good talent at that.
If you don’t believe what is written, just have the Knicks cut one of there players currently on the 15-man roster (save for bust Jerome James) as see just have fast someone gobbles them up. Hey, Steve Francis got picked up by the Houston Rockets so anything’s possible.
Here’s a look at the Knicks by position:
The Knicks are well stocked at the guard position. Now, there isn’t a Steve Nash or a Jason Kidd on the roster but, hey the same can be said for the remaining 28 teams in the NBA.
Starting point guard: Stephon Marbury still has the goods to be considered one of the better point men in the League. With the big men the Knicks have down low he won’t be required or asked to score 20 points per game as he’s done in the past but with a solid 15 or 16 with seven or eight assists per game, the Knicks will be more than happy to have that.
Backup point guard: Nate Robinson seems to have nailed this shut (for the time being anyway) with is all out stellar play in training camp and in the Vegas Summer League where he was named MVP.
Starting shooting guard: Jamal Crawford has this position on lock down. When Crawford went down last in the season last year with a fracture in his right ankle, the Knicks seemed to go down with him. In fact, it is said the Marbury actually cried crocodile tears upon hearing the news that Crawford was done for the season. Crawford gave Miami the Heat with Dwayne Wade guarding him for a cool 56 points in a win at The Garden.
Backup shooting guard: This spot can actually go to Robinson but for the sake of uniformity I will go with another player. That player would be rookie Wilson Chandler who has been a surprise in camp. Chandler was that to be drafted and put on the shelf so to speak for a season or two, but he has surprised and turned heads with his poised defense, athletism and effective jump shot
The Knicks have a versatile bunch here. They have tall and long types like Jared Jeffries who may or may not even have a spot in the rotation. They have short and stocky type with a defensive mentality in Quentin Richardson and they have rugged rebounders.
Starting small forward: Quentin Richardson who had back surgery this off season to correct a disk problem is said to be fit as a fiddle and ready to go. Richardson is the main starter that goes all out defensively, although Marbury is a vastly underrated defender in his own right. Richardson’s jump shot is pretty lethal also and his post up game gives opposing guards and small forwards fits.
Backup small forward: This would normally go to Renaldo Balkman who was booed lustily on draft night only to become an instant crowd favorite with his heady play and all out hustle. Balkman can grab a rebound and immediately start a fast break ala former Knick Anthony Mason and make an intelligent decision. If he can only somehow develop a jump shot, he would become all the more dangerous.
Starting power forward: This position belongs to the new big guy down low in Zach Randolph. Randolph has shown in preseason that he not only can do damage on the low dock but he also has the ability to take his man off the dribble as well as stroke it from deep with consistency. Matter of fact, Randolph’s outside work has been more lethal than the guards and that includes Robinson who has been hailed as “the best player hands down in camp”, by Coach Thomas. Randolph will make life easier for Eddy Curry once they get over the ‘adjustment’ period.
Backup power forward: David Lee. Who is instant energy ala Balkman but with better rebounding prowess. Lee is a prolific rebounder on both sides of the glass (defensive and offensive) and often gets in zones to where he gathers them in bunches. And again like Balkman if Lee could develop an adequate jump shot, and improve on his man to man defense, the All Star game would not be out of the realm of possibilities.
Starting center: Curry is the best player on the squad, for now. Randolph will probably grab that title before the season is over and done with. But, that shouldn’t matter because Curry will still be a load to tow for any opposing center. Matter of fact, Curry was the highest and most efficient low post scoring in the League last year. That trend should continue as soon as they get over the, ‘adjustment’ period everybody says they have to have. Once Curry’s defense and rebounding improves; and it should as Curry is said to have shed some 25 pounds in the off season.
Backup center: Randolph Morris who last season had the distinction of being the only player in NBA history to go from the college classroom (University of Kentucky) to an NBA team all within one week. This season Morris isn’t as shell shocked and has a better feel for the pro game. He had a great showing in the Vegas Summer League as he did he-man work under the boards. His future is pretty bright if he can stay focused and continue to work hard. Jerome James, who is an overall nice guy, has been Thomas’s biggest bust to date. James may be facing a season ending surgery soon as his reconstructed right knee has loose screws that are plaguing him.
Overall the Knicks should be a playoff team. That should be there number one objective. That might be the only thing that saves Thomas’s job. There’s plenty of talent and there seems to be a lot of good off the court chemistry as well unlike in season’s past.