By Evan Chadwick
Now that the NBA world has once again been turned upside down with the Lakers transforming themselves from a first round bust to an NBA title contender with their addition of Dwight Howard, it appears that the Knicks have a little work to do if they are going to be able to keep up with this year’s version of superstar musical chairs.
In looking at this year’s roster there is no doubt that the Knicks are much improved. With the added defensive veteran presence of Marcus Camby, and the all-around game of Raymond Felton, which despite all the Linsaniacs out there, is clearly an improvement from last year’s guard play, the Knicks are starting to take on the appearance of a younger and more talented version of the Celtics.
However, Knicks fans are known for not being happy with improvement alone. And, if they are to take advantage of the prime of their superstar’s careers, now is the time for them to put the final pieces of the puzzle together to form a championship caliber team.
There is no doubt that the Knicks have the best starting enforcer in the game with Tyson Chandler. What is lacking however is another center that, in Chandler’s absence, can have a similar physical presence in the paint.
Although many may point to Camby as the heir apparent to this role, at the very generous 235 lbs that Camby is listed at and his propensity to shy away from the basket, he is not the physical presence that the Knicks will need when they have to buckle down and limit their opponent’s second chance opportunities.
What the Knicks need is a man who, by name alone instills fear in the hearts of opposing guards who dare enter the paint. Although the Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat would fit this role perfectly, it is highly unlikely that the Knicks have the pieces necessary to put this type of trade together. However, even if Gortat is not in a Knicks’ uniform come November, there are several other players who can at least fill the hammer part of Gortat’s game if not the double digit scoring. With the list of big men free agents dwindling by the day, it may be time for the Knicks to give the likes of free agent Timofey Mozgov another shot at impressing the Garden faithful.
Mar 24, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Marcus Camby (29) takes a shot against the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Mavericks defeated the Rockets 101-99 in overtime. Photo Courtesy By Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE.
Let’s face it, Amare is bound to get hurt during the season, whether it is due to his ailing back or for “other reasons” (here’s looking at you fire extinguisher). As a result of this relative certainty, there will be times that the Knicks are going to need to rely on another 4 spot to contribute more than the 4.4 points per game they got from Jarrod Jeffries last year.
In many of last year’s games, it appeared like there was too much of an emphasis on getting Stoudemire back in the game due to the lack of offensive production that the Knicks got from their power forward reserves. If Stoudemire is to stay healthy this year, his minutes are going to need to below the 32.8 he averaged last year and thus the Knicks need a 8 point-per-game and 4 rebounds-per-game guy to fill the void.
By landing a Udanis Haslem or even a Bismack Biyombo, not only will there be less stress placed on Stoudemire’s shoulders to play more minutes, but the added offensive presence in the paint will allow three point specialist Steve Novak more chances to spot up for a kick out from a banger who can force the defense to lose track of Novak for the split second he needs.
It is exciting to finally believe with any conviction that, after years filled with Marbury tirades, Sprewell $10 million contracts and an abundance of signings that involved over-the-hill shooting guards, that our beloved Knicks may have finally reached the precipice of greatness. However, with the ever changing NBA landscape, it is important that the Knicks do not go into this season believing that they currently have all the pieces they need to compete with the elite teams. With a few important additions, this team can transform itself into a well oiled machine that come playoff time, may just have enough depth and talent to shock the basketball world.
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