NY Knicks: Why Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd Are Key to Knicks' 2012-13 Success
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While both veterans are expected to play on the second unit, the Knicks' backups are no slouches. Last season, coach Mike D'Antoni revealed that the bench players were "kicking the first unit’s butt" in practice (h/t NY Post).
That squad of Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Steve Novak and Jared Jeffries exhibited inspiring play, looking dynamic on offense and energetic on defense.
This season, the Knick's second unit is shaping up to be even better.
While there are some questions as to who will back up Amar'e Stoudemire, Kidd and Camby will lead the effort off the bench, along with a projected rotation of J.R. Smith, Steve Novak and Kurt Thomas.
Iman Shumpert figures to return around January and will only add to the depth on a roster that is truly Cousteau-eqsue.
Without a doubt, the experience and leadership brought by Kidd and Camby will resonate throughout the entire team.
While the Knicks are certainly Carmelo Anthony's ball club, he has shown true leadership only in fits and starts, and he did not begin playing hustle defense until the end of last season.
Tyson Chandler was the only other player who exerted a commanding presence on and off the court, but his fiery temperament sometimes got the best of him.
In the 2011-12 season, Chandler notched a league-leading two flagrant fouls (tied with 14 other players) and 11 technical fouls, good for third most in the NBA. He added another flagrant and two technicals in the playoffs.
In Camby and Kidd, the Knicks bring in two players with a combined 34 seasons of experience.
They have also played in 222 playoff games, making four NBA Finals appearances between them. Kidd (with a lot of help from Tyson Chandler) finally seized a title in 2011.
Their sage guidance should benefit each player on the roster and help coach Mike Woodson to exert his mandate.
Jason Kidd is a surefire Hall of Famer, and sits in second place all-time behind John Stockton for both career steals and assists. He has also recorded 105 triple doubles—second only to Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
Kidd was no slouch last season, even in the twilight of his career. Per game with Dallas, he averaged 28.7 minutes, 6.2 points, 5.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds. When left open on the perimeter, he punished opponents by shooting 35.4 percent from three-point range, which was above his career average.
Kidd figures to see less minutes with Raymond Felton starting at the point, and this should save his legs and increase his production.
When Kidd was signed, he was expected to mentor 23-year-old point guard Jeremy Lin.
Now that Lin is with Houston, Kidd can instead lend his expertise to the 28-year-old Felton, as well as third-string point guard Pablo Prigioni. Even though the Argentinian is 35 years old, he has never played in the NBA and will be the oldest rookie in league history (via CBSSports.com).
Like Kidd, Marcus Camby continued his strong play last season as well. Known for his defense and rebounding, Camby played all but seven games in splitting his time between Portland and Houston. He averaged 22.9 minutes, 4.9 points, 1.4 blocks and a stunning 9.0 rebounds.
The combination of Camby and Chandler, last year's Defensive Player of the Year, gives the Knicks perhaps the most imposing duo at the 5 in the entire league.
Big men are hard to find, and two quality big men are practically unheard of these days. Like Chandler, Camby knows how to patrol the paint, ranking 12th all-time in career blocks.
But for all Camby's defensive prowess, his rebounding may be the most vital contribution to New York. As Capital's Howard Megdal observes:
Consider that last season, Camby's total rebounding percentage was 22.8 percent. That was best in the league: better than Dwight Howard, Kevin Love or any other rebounder you can name. Nor was this an anomaly for Camby; he's been over 20 percent six different seasons, and he led the league in total rebounding percentage the past three seasons.
Who was the most important offseason acquisition for the Knicks?
To put this in perspective, Tyson Chandler was a very good rebounder last season, and easily the best on the Knicks. He checked in at 17.6 percent, or 36th in the NBA.
As a team last season, the Knicks averaged 41.74 rebounds per game (18th) while giving up 41.85 (15th). Adding the league leader in rebounding percentage will have a tremendous impact.
This season's 82-game schedule will be less compressed than last season's lockout-shortened 66-game slate. There will be no back-to-back-to-backs. More days off between games will only serve to help keep Kidd and Camby in top form.
While Camby has struggled with injuries throughout his career—never managing to play in more than 74 games in any season—many of these have been minor ailments.
Since 2003-04, Camby has played at least 56 games each season. And in the past six seasons, between the ages of 33 and 38, Camby has missed only an average of 12.2 games per year.
Compare that to his four seasons with the Knicks from 1998-2002, in which Camby missed an average of 24.8 games a season due to injury.
A lot can happen during a regular season. The Knicks know that better than perhaps any other NBA team.
In just 66 games last season, they welcomed a world-champion free agent, started off horribly, discovered a gem with "Linsanity," enjoyed a winning streak, hit a skid, lost their coach, enjoyed another winning streak, lost their worldwide sensation, made the playoffs, lost the majority of their backcourt, won their first playoff game in a decade and then got laughed out of the playoffs.
Who knows what will happen over the next 82 regular season games?
Ultimately, the Knicks are virtual locks to make the postseason in a mediocre Eastern Conference. The only questions are where they will be seeded and how healthy their roster will be come April.
When the playoffs begin and the lights are at their brightest, the Knicks will have a distinct advantage with the depth, experience and leadership offered by Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd.
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