How Mike Woodson Should Utilize Each New York Knicks Offseason Addition
The Knicks will have a brand new lineup for the 2012-13 season since only six players are returning from last year—Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire.
Nine new players will be on the roster; some fighting for starting spots and others there to fill needs off the bench.
Here is how Mike Woodson should utilize each of the Knicks’ offseason additions next season.
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The Knicks signed Chris Smith, brother of J.R. Smith, to a two-year deal that isn’t fully guaranteed.
It is uncertain whether or not Smith will be on the final roster when the season starts on November 1 since he is one of four point guards the Knicks signed this summer.
Al Iannazzone, Knicks writer for New York Newsday, believes there is a good shot Smith will join his brother on the squad this season.
Whichever ends up happening, Smith appears to be a lock to be with the Knicks for at least the next two seasons, but will have a very minor role, if any at all.
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The Knicks signed Chris Copeland this summer to a non-guaranteed contract after he had a stellar season playing in the Belgium League, averaging 21.8 points per game.
Copeland was by far the Knicks best player during the Summer League. He led the team in points per game with 13.8 and even added four rebounds per game as well as a shooting guard/small forward.
Even with his impressive play this summer, it will be very difficult for Copeland to have any significant role this season. The Knicks already have five suitable players at the two positions he can play and it won’t be easy for Copeland to surpass any of them.
If the Knicks suffer any unfortunate injuries at shooting guard or small forward however, expect Copeland to be the player who steps in for them.
The Knicks have signed James White, who has been very successful everywhere he’s played throughout his career except the NBA.
During his senior season at Cincinnati, White averaged 16.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. After White only got in 10 games over the next two seasons of his career in the NBA, he went on to play in the D-League and then oversees. Last season, while playing with Italian team Pesaro, White scored 17.4 points per game on 52.1 percent shooting.
White’s biggest attribute is his athleticism and high-flying dunking ability. Before reaching the NBA, he competed in both the McDonald’s All-American Game Slam Dunk Contest and NCAA College Slam Dunk Contest.
White will not be high on the Knicks depth chart, but could add a little excitement when he finally does get in the game. He has the potential to be a fan favorite with the New York crowd.
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Pablo Prigioni will become the oldest rookie in NBA history when he steps on the floor for the Knicks at age 35.
He may be a scorer when he plays internationally, but Prigioni proved against Team USA he will have trouble getting into the paint when he’s going up against defenders like Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook.
Where he will excel is with his ball handling and ball distribution. Prigioni is a very crafty dribbler and also controls the pace of the offense exactly how his coach wants him to. He also thrives in a pick-and-roll system, which the Knicks like to run often.
Prigioni is a favorite of Knicks’ GM Glen Grunwald, so expect him to see a good amount of action as the team’s third point guard.
The last time Kurt Thomas was in a Knicks uniform, he was 32 years old and averaged a double-double on the season. Now at age 39, Thomas is back in New York for his second stint with the team.
Thomas has been on six teams since leaving the Knicks in 2005. His latest season was with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he averaged 3.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in only 15.2 minutes.
Thomas should have a bigger role with the Knicks next season since he will be the primary backup for Amar’e Stoudemire. He won’t be counted on as a scorer, but he needs to improve his rebounding and defense if he doesn’t want the Knicks to look for his replacement via trade or free agency.
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Marcus Camby was the key move of the offseason for the Knicks.
The Knicks significantly lacked defense and rebounding out of their big men other than Chandler last season. Now they have a second seven-footer whom they can count on to always put in effort on the defensive end.
Camby will be the primary back up to Chandler, but he will also use them on the floor together at times. With players like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith on the team, who can dominate the scoring, Woodson will be able to use these two to combat teams with big men who can score.
Camby should make the biggest impact out of any player coming off the bench next season.
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With Iman Shumpert sidelined with his knee injury until January and J.R. Smith accustomed to coming off the bench and being the team’s sixth man, Ronnie Brewer will most likely begin the season as the Knicks starting shooting guard.
Brewer is an excellent perimeter defender, averaging 1.4 steals per game for his career. He’s also become a decent rebounder for the guard position, grabbing a career-high 3.5 rebounds per game a year ago.
Brewer’s role with the Knicks will be less clear when Shumpert returns to action. He will move from first on the depth chart to third, but Woodson won’t be able to bench him completely if he is playing well.
Brewer may need to slide over to the small forward spot and play behind Carmelo Anthony if he wants any significant minutes down the stretch.
Kidd will be extremely instrumental both on and off the court. On the court, Kidd will be the team’s backup point guard. He can still dish the ball to his teammates and will knock down open jumpers when they’re available. He also still attacks the glass, averaging 4.1 rebounds per game last season.
When he’s not playing, Kidd will mentor some of the younger players the Knicks have, like Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith. He will be a great presence in the locker room and will lead by example. He has been to the NBA playoffs 16 times during his career, including the NBA Finals three times, so he has a ton of wisdom to share about how to succeed once you get there.
Even though he will turn 40 this season, Kidd will be an extremely import piece to the Knicks' playoff run in 2013.
Raymond Felton has huge shoes to fill as the Knicks’ starting point guard.
The New York crowd and media adored Jeremy Lin. Felton will need to prove to everyone that he is just as good as Lin if he doesn’t want the fans to turn on him in a hurry.
One thing Felton has in his favor is his phenomenal history with the Knicks. It may have been short lived, but Felton averaged 17.4 points, 9.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game during his 54 games as the Knicks starting point guard. He also had Amar’e Stoudemire playing at an MVP level when the two teamed up at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
Felton will fall under heavy scrutiny and will certainly be compared to Jeremy Lin all season long, but he has the confidence to prove he is the better point guard of the two.