New York Knicks: 5 Questions for Their Point Guards
The Knicks had a lot of questions that needed immediate answers this offseason, and even with all of their big time (and somewhat risky) moves, things are starting to look a little clearer for Melo and Co. going into next season.
Still, there's a lot of speculation about what this team is actually capable of accomplishing, and it's no surprise that fans and analysts alike are completely divided over how much success this current Knicks team can actually have.
In my opinion, the biggest question mark right now for this team is the point guard position. The point guard is arguably the most important player out there on the court at any given time for any given team.
Unless you're the Heat, which kind of defeats the purpose of my last sentence, but still. You know what I'm getting at.
However, for a team built like the Knicks, and carried by shoot first players like Carmelo, pick-and-roll stylists like Amar'e Stoudemire, and alley-oop grabbers like Tyson Chandler, there's no doubt that the right guy bringing up the ball could end up bringing this team together in the right way.
The 2012-2013 season is still a few months away, and even though many (if not all) of these questions won't be answered until the Knicks play a couple of games, they're still worth analyzing. Because if the Knicks want to live up to their expectations in any way, they better hope that all the question marks clear up pretty quickly.
1. Can Raymond Felton Pick Up Where He Left Off?
Although Felton's body may have left New York at one point, I'm not so certain that his talent ever did.
His disappearing act after being traded to Denver two seasons ago in the Melo swap was pretty prevalent, and although I'm sure many people were surprised by this, it's still baffling just how good Felton was in New York when you compare it to his other seasons.
Now that he's back in the Big Apple, it's time for Felton to get back to what he did in New York. No doubt that it'll be a little bit harder the second time around with the way the team is built and the inevitable and constant comparisons to Jeremy Lin, but I'm sure this isn't something that Felton isn't already expecting.
Can he get back to his original Knicks numbers (17.1 PPG, 9.0 APG)? Probably not with all the other me first guys that'll be out there on the court. But if he's as motivated as his teammates are saying, then those numbers might not be that far fetched.
Most importantly, he needs to rebuild his relationship with Amar'e Stoudemire. Stat is slowly on his way to being a huge bust and a liability in the Big Apple. It's clear that the guy is lost out there and just doesn't know where he fits.
For both their sakes, Felton and Stoudemire need to pick (and roll) up right where they left off in 2011 if the Knicks want to make any sort of relevant impact this season.
Hopefully, he can recapture that magic a second time around. His 9.0 APG two seasons ago cannot be overlooked. His ability to make big plays can't be ignored. And the inevitable Lin comparisons cannot be justified. Felton is not Jeremy Lin, besides the fact that they both happen to have a PG next to their names.
And is that a bad thing? Well, only time can truly answer that question. But for now, the New York faithful should just be happy that they have a familiar face bringing up the ball again.
At the end of the day, Raymond Felton is no slouch, even though his weight issues and recent stint on the Blazers may say otherwise. When he's focused, like he was in New York, he's proved exactly what he's capable of being.
2. Can Jason Kidd Actually Still Be a Factor?
Let's start off by saying that after his DUI, Kidd's stint in NYC really has nowhere to go but up.
Because, let's face it, the getting-to-know-each-other stage between him and the New York media hasn't worked out for Kidd in any way, shape or form.
First off, besides the PR nightmare, the DUI accident could've killed the man. Seriously, if you haven't seen it yet, go and Google the picture of the wreckage. It's amazing that the guy is still breathing.
Then, let's not forget that the biggest reason that Kidd came to NYC was so that he could be a mentor to that Jeremy Lin fella, and help turn the one hit wonder into a bona fide star. Kidd definitely has enough stories and tools to do that for just about any player who's willing to listen.
Well, in case you've been on Mars lately, Jeremy Lin is no longer a Knick. That has to bum Kidd out more then people realize. Let's not forget that there's another team too in New York that was gunning for Kidd's services, a team that he has an incredible history with, and that team is starting to look pretty promising right about now.
So yes, I'm a little worried about Kidd's motivation and drive going into next season, as well as his age. But if he can even give this team half of what he's capable of, it'll be hard to complain. He's already been clear that he wants the ball in crunch time, which is obviously a good sign that he's probably not here for just a paycheck, and that he wants to contribute as much as his body will allow him to.
Plus, it's hard to overlook what Kidd has accomplished throughout the course of his legendary career. He's arguably the best PG of this generation, as well as a winner, a champion, a leader, and the best player in the history of a franchise.
With those kind of credentials, Kidd can't be counted out just because he's going into his 18th season.
As long as he can get through some early struggles, Kidd three year stint in New York may be one of the most important pieces to this team's immediate success.
3. Can Pablo Prigioni Find Success in the NBA?
Prigioni is certainly going to be the biggest mystery man in NYC going into next season.
I'm going to be honest. I know next to nothing about this guy. So I did my research, and after watching a couple of videos, I think I've got a better idea now about what he's all about.
Also, I got to get a couple good looks at him during the Olympics. Not the best indication, but still a worthwhile report.
First off, the guy can straight out dish the ball. Which is obviously a plus. Anybody who can pass like that is going to make things a lot easier for our star guys like Chander and Stat.
Second, the guy knows how to play defense, which is always something the Knicks need. Especially in the steals category. Seriously, Shump (or Brewer) and Prigioni together on the same court sounds like trouble if you ask me.
Finally, the guy isn't a shabby shooter. Although I suppose that's not exactly why the Knicks signed him in the first place, so who really cares.
What I'm trying to say is, it looks like he'll fit in well with this Knicks roster. Oh and he's also 35, which mean all the old guys will like him too.
But of course, like all foreign players, there's still a lot of question marks over his head, and there's a fine line between him being the next Dirk, or being the next Darko.
He's going to have to learn how to adapt to the quicker, much more athletic style of play found in the National Basketball Association. Can he do that? We'll just have to wait and see once he steps out onto that court.
Not to say that the teams he played against in Europe consisted of a bunch of slouches, far from it actually. But Prigioni still has to be aware that what he's getting himself into will probably be a completely new experience for him from a competition standpoint.
Unfortunately, he doesn't have much time considering his age. But he's been a stud in Europe now for years, and it's not like they play their basketball completely differently over there. The ball is still round, and it still has to go into a 10 foot basket.
If Prigioni can learn how to play in America like he did overseas, there's simply no telling how many ways he would benefit this Knicks team.
An unsuspecting spark off the bench like Prigioni could truly be one thing that the Knicks don't even know they need, until they realize that they have it.
4. What Happens If Someone Goes Down?
Even though every point guard on this roster is talented, it's pretty prevalent that none of these guys are spring chickens (I'm using that correctly, right?) anymore. Unless you count Iman Shumpert, who's technically a point guard, but will probably play more of a SG role after coming back from his ACL injury.
Putting Shumpert aside, the average age of the the Knicks' PGs is 34. In the NBA, that's not young by any stretch, and that's certainly not an age where you normally will find somebody in their prime. The youngest of the three is the 28-year-old Felton, who's at a reasonable age where his skills haven't noticeably declined and his basketball IQ should be high.
But let's not forget that "Raymond Felton" and "in shape" usually don't go together in a sentence. Unless that sentence is "Raymond Felton is not in shape." Even Felton has admitted to being pretty plus sized while in Portland.
So, for every single one of these guys, injuries should be a big concern. Kidd because of his age, Prigioni because of his new basketball surroundings and Felton because of his weight and conditioning issues.
What happens, then, if any of these guys suffer a big time injury? Hopefully there's a contingency plan for this, because the loss of any of these three guys could have serious consequences on the overall outlook of this team.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't trust a 40-year-old and a 35-year-old rookie to run my team. Maybe I'm the exception, but I really hope most people notice the problem with that too.
Kidd is a surefire Hall of Famer, but 40 is 40 no matter how you slice it. He can't play the kind of minutes that he used to.
Prigioni may know how to run an offense, but until he proves he can do it in the NBA, it's going to be a rocky road in the media frenzy of New York City. The guy really doesn't have much room to mess up, and it'll only get worse if he's forced to play more minutes.
The same rings true no mater who gets hurt. No Kidd? No veteran leader on the court, and no crunch time point guard option. No Pablo? No solid third option, and he's an immediate bust.
Simply put, all it's going to take is one rolled ankle, torn ligament, broken bone, or death by old age to back the Knicks into a corner.
And then the Jeremy Lin fans are going to REALLY start going crazy.
5. Is This Position Better Than Last Season?
This is always the ultimate question for any team going into a season, especially when your talking about a team with the kind of anticipation that the Knicks have.
Let's break it down in the easiest way possible, by looking at the rosters:
2011-2012 PGs: Mike Bibby, Baron Davis, Toney Douglas, Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert (kinda).
2012-2013 PGs: Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni
Early injury woes and lockout rust really put the Knicks at a disadvantage last season when it came to their guard position. Someone even thought that it was a good idea for Melo to bring the ball up at one point, as if he doesn't attempt to control the game enough in his usual position.
It's not like the Knicks had many other options anyways. Davis didn't really mesh with the team all that well, Douglas was a certified bust almost immediately, and Bibby was way past any resemblance of his former self. As for Shumpert, he was groomed to be a SG as soon as he first put that Knicks cap on his head.
Even though all that bad luck was the reason they ended up with Jeremy Lin in the first place, I doubt there's another waiver acquired phenom like him just waiting in the shadows this season for New York. Lighting doesn't strike twice.
So basically, the Knicks are pretty much stuck with what they've got, and on paper, what they got isn't going to scare many opponents or coaches.
Still, even with fewer options then last season, there really isn't as much of a blatent drop (or rise) in talent from what the Knicks had in 2011. Felton, Kidd, and Prigioni are all capable players with plenty of talent and experience to make a worthwhile difference on this team.
In fact, if I had to pick any of these point guards from any of these two seasons, I'd probably go with Felton just because of his past success in MSG. Sure, Linsanity was a very special moment in time for Knicks fans, but any reasonable basketball fan will tell you that holding on to a player like Jeremy Lin, especially with a binding contract, was risky at best.
So, did the Knicks make the right moves this offseason in regards to their point guard position? I'll go with a very timid "yes," but the names on that roster still leave a lot to be desired at the end of the day.
Thanks for the read guys.
Don't forget to comment on what you think the answers to these questions will be.
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