New York Knicks: How Each New Acquisition Will Fit into 2012-13 Rotation
If not for a Linsane stroke of luck, the 2011-12 New York Knicks would've been a complete disaster. As it were, they entered the season with championship aspirations and finished the year with an unceremonious five-game defeat at the hands of the eventual champions from South Beach.
With the markedly improved Nets joining them in the Big Apple this season, the Knicks needed a successful offseason to salvage the upcoming season before the opening tip is thrown.
Throw general manager Glen Grunwald's name in the mix for Executive of the Year already, as he's managed to not only fill holes on the roster, but also add championship-level leadership, all on a limited budget no less.
His overhaul started at the point guard position, where he brought in the consummate floor general Jason Kidd and the potent Raymond Felton, both of which allow greater financial flexibility moving forward than the Linordinate amount that Houston poured out for the former Knick star, Jeremy Lin.
The former Knick, Felton, likely gets the nod in the starting five, with youth and numbers on his side. A potent scorer with a capable three-point shot (career 33 percent), it's his handles and creativity with the basketball where he'll make his biggest mark.
Lost in the Linsanity last season was just how much the Knicks benefited from having a third player on the floor capable of creating offense. Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire draw enough defensive attention as it is, but that attention is magnified when the offense bogs down to continual isolation sets for both players.
Felton's scoring prowess will help remove some of that attention from Anthony, but his ability to make plays in the pick-and-roll could push Stoudemire closer to the 25.3 points he scored in his first season in New York, when the two played together.
The Game Manager
With Felton taking some touches from Anthony and Stoudemire (and don't forget the not yet mentioned J.R. Smith), the Knicks needed a distributor in a bad way. Any concerns about getting everyone enough touches will be alleviated by the former champion, Kidd.
His veteran presence will help manage egos and relationships in the locker room. Besides the championship ring, he brings 10 All-Star appearances and five All-NBA First Team selections. In other words, his message will carry a little more weight than anything put forward last season by the undrafted, unheralded Lin.
But more than just his leadership, he'll also bring the third-most three-pointers in league-history (1,874) to help spread the floor along with a familiarity for some of his new teammates, Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.
The Knicks' starting backcourt should be...
His ability to create and score out of the pick-and-roll is something that he showcased with Chandler during their championship run together in Dallas. Not to mention the fact that seven of Stoudemire's eight highest scoring averages came in Phoenix, where he shared the floor with another master of the pick-and-roll, Steve Nash.
The Defensive Stoppers
Between Stoudemire, Anthony, Smith and the new point guards, it's safe to say the Knicks will be a solid offensive group next season. But any remaining defensive holes were filled when Grunwald added former Bull Ronnie Brewer and former Knick Marcus Camby.
Widely regarded as one of the league's best perimeter defenders, Brewer has the size (6'7", 227 lbs.) and athleticism to defend either position on the wing. His presence gives coach Mike Woodson options at the starting shooting guard spot with the defensive-minded Brewer and the gifted scorer Smith.
Brewer should ultimately get the nod for his defensive versatility, which could allow Anthony an easier matchup (i.e., less energy expended) on that end of the floor.
In addition, as talented as he is defensively, Brewer is an intelligent scorer who doesn't force the issue on the offensive end (career 50.1 percent shooter).
As for Camby, the 38-year-old should keep the Knicks from missing a beat when Chandler comes off the floor. Despite seeing fewer than 23 minutes last season (which he split between Houston and Portland), he managed 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.
His more-than-capable mid-range jumper could bring a new dimension to the Knicks offense and potentially pairs well with Stoudemire's post game (which could be dramatically improved if he's able to work with all-time great Hakeem Olajuwon, as reported by ESPNNewYork.com's Jared Zwerling).
Wing James "Flight" White returns to the States after two seasons in Italy, and his athleticism could help fill the void if free agent Bill Walker signs elsewhere.
Another former Knick, the 39-year-old Kurt Thomas, could very well end up being the Knicks' version of Miami's Juwan Howard. Thomas has the ability to come in and bang in the post when needed (and a reliable midrange jumper to boot), but at the least, will bring a toughness (and his lunch pail) to every one of coach Woodson's practices.
Pablo Prigioni, the 35-year-old point guard of the Argentinian national team, will have to fight for any minutes left over behind Kidd and Felton, as he makes his NBA debut after 17 professional seasons overseas.
Whether or not fans agree with the decision to let Lin walk as a restricted free agent, it's hard to disagree with the direction that this franchise is heading.
Anthony and Stoudemire will continue to be the focus, but there are now pieces in place to help shoulder the load.
They may not have made the splashy acquisitions of a Joe Johnson (Brooklyn) or a Steve Nash (L.A. Lakers), but they've added toughness and leadership, two key ingredients for any championship hopefuls.
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