Pre-Training Camp New York Knicks Player Power Rankings

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2012

Pre-Training Camp New York Knicks Player Power Rankings

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    Of the NBA's 30 teams, the New York Knicks wouldn't have a hard time staking their claim as one of the most talented.

    With two perennial All-Stars, a few quality marksmen and a new stable of veterans to help solidify their bench, the Knicks look like a team that will consistently play 10 men at least semi-regularly.

    Competing in the Eastern Conference's premier division will stretch this roster to its limits, but there's no doubt that the Knicks have the pieces necessary to compete with the likes of Boston, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

    As training camp approaches, here are player rankings for the New York Knicks' current roster.

15. Chris Copeland

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    After going undrafted out of the University of Colorado, Chris Copeland floated around the likes of Europe and the NBA's D-League for several years before latching on with the Knicks this offseason.

    A 6'8'' forward, Copeland signed a non-guaranteed deal this summer and will likely just be a camp body, as he'll compete with younger rookies who possess more upside than the 28-year-old does.

    While he's more than six years removed from college, Copeland averaged 7.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game over four seasons with the Buffaloes, ultimately posting his best numbers during his senior season (12.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per night).

14. James White

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    Like Chris Copeland, James White is a journeyman who will join the Knicks on a one-year deal. However, unlike Copeland, White's deal is guaranteed at the veteran minimum.

    According to, White is well-traveled and posted some impressive numbers during his most recent stint in Italy:

    White, 6-7, 200-pounds, spent the past three seasons playing overseas for St. Petersburg (Russia), Sassari (Italy) and Pesaro (Italy). He posted 17.4 points, on 52.1-percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists over 33.6 minutes in 30 games with Pesaro of the Italian A League during 2011-12, and averaged 21.0 points, on 54.1-percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 35.8 minutes in 30 regular season games with Sassari in 2010-11.

    White is known for his freakish athleticism, and it will be interesting to see if his unique athletic qualities can help wedge him into the rotation once the season gets underway. While it's unlikely that White will see extensive minutes, he offers the team an athletic wing on the perimeter, something NBA teams can never have enough of.

13. Chris Smith

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    The younger brother of Knicks guard J.R. Smith, Chris Smith is among the group that includes Chris Copeland and James White that's fighting for one of the team's final roster spots.

    According to a tweet from Marc Berman of the New York Post, Smith actually has a decent shot at making the final roster:

    Source told me G Chris Smith, J.R.'s brother, has good chance of making #Knicks roster because of his defensive potential and Iman's injury.

    — Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) August 28, 2012

    Undrafted out of the University of Louisville, Smith has acquired some good experience playing under the tutelage of Rick Pitino, and if his defense is up to snuff, could be a real positive for this team.

    The Knicks' defensive struggles, especially in the backcourt, have been well-documented, and a player of Smith's caliber could be a welcome sight for head coach Mike Woodson.

12. Kurt Thomas

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    To say that Kurt Thomas' glory days are behind him would be a big understatement. A member of the Knicks from 1998-2005, Thomas will enter the 2012-13 campaign as the senior member of a team that he was once a solid contributor for.

    Thomas will turn 40 years old before the season starts and will likely log somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-15 minutes per game. In his most recent stint with the Portland Trailblazers, Thomas played in 53 of a possible 66 games, while recording just over 15 minutes of run per contest.

    Along with fellow offseason addition Marcus Camby, Thomas figures to work himself into a frontcourt platoon that will see him log minutes primarily as a defensive specialist and rebounder.

    Thomas shouldn't be counted on to produce much this season, which is why he lands outside the top 10 on this list.

11. Pablo Prigioni

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    One of several new members of the New York Knicks' backcourt, Argentinian point guard Pablo Prigioni may have a tough time finding extensive playing time in his first NBA season.

    The 35-year-old Prigioni is slotted in behind Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd on the depth chart and, barring some unforeseen injuries, will likely be a situational contributor for most of the year.

    With Felton as more of a shoot-first option at the point and Kidd's game oriented around distributing the ball, Prigioni could ultimately prove to be nice backcourt complement as he patrols the floor with his international flare.

    For a team that was fairly thin at the point (depending on your opinion of Baron Davis and Toney Douglas) last season, the Knicks clearly made an effort to go out and get deep at a position that's quickly becoming the most important in the NBA.

10. Marcus Camby

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    Something about Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas on the Knicks together just feels right. Reunited in the frontcourt with his old running mate from 1998-2002, Camby and Thomas will comprise a duo off of the bench that will have to get the dirty work done.

    Behind reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, Camby will be a stout shot-blocking presence as the team's backup center.

    While his effectiveness is wearing down at age 38, Camby was still able to block an average of 1.9 shots per night last season while pulling down 8.8 rebounds.

    A necessary addition to the bench, Camby is a vast improvement over the likes of Josh Harrellson and Jared Jeffries.

9. Ronnie Brewer

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    If it weren't obvious already, the Knicks made it the focal point of their offseason to improve on the defensive end.

    As Iman Shumpert fights his way back from a torn ACL, Ronnie Brewer will presumably man the controls as he hopes to replicate the success Shumpert had on the defensive end.

    While J.R. Smith is the likely starter at the 2 with Shumpert out, he doesn't pack the same defensive punch as Brewer. Brewer is constantly being cited as one of the league's most underrated defenders, and he will have a chance in the spotlight to prove that he's earned that designation.

    Brewer's offensive impact will likely be minimal, but he wasn't brought in to light it up on the offensive end. As long as Smith and Brewer can combine to duplicate Shumpert's success, they should have no problem holding down the fort at shooting guard.

8. Raymond Felton

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    Raymond Felton comes it at No. 8 simply because it's unclear which version we're going to get this season.

    It would be great for the Knicks if Felton returned to the form he flashed in 2010-11 while in New York, when he averaged 17.1 points and nine assists per game before being dealt to the Denver Nuggets.

    Unfortunately, Felton faltered in his lone season in Portland, posting a PER of 13.46, down nearly four points from his days in New York. Felton's shooting percentage dropped to 40.7 percent, and according to Hoopdata, he converted on just 29 percent of shots between 10-15 feet. Felton also shot a measly 30.5 percent from beyond the arc last season.

    Felton's big numbers in 2010-11 could be attributed to Mike D'Antoni's offensive scheme, so it will be interesting to see how he performs now that Mike Woodson is at the helm.

7. Steve Novak

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    Steve Novak may be a one-trick pony, but that doesn't make him a dispensable piece of the New York Knicks. One of the league's deadliest three-point marksmen, Novak finds himself ranked at No. 7 because of his ability to swing a game at a moment's notice.

    While he's not the most prolific scorer, Novak is a far more consistent shooter than teammate J.R. Smith, although his stock does take a hit because of his lack of versatility.

    Novak shot almost identical percentages from the field (47.8%) and three-point range (47.2%) last season, and his potent stroke has become an invaluable piece of the Knicks' plans, evident by the four-year, $15 million he was inked to this summer.

    According to, Novak had an effective field-goal percentage (which values made threes more than made two-pointers) of 70.5 percent last season. Not bad for a guy who's carved out a role as a specialist.

6. Jason Kidd

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    Jason Kidd doesn't figure to be the Knicks' starting point guard when the season opens, but his pedigree alone bumps him ahead of Raymond Felton on this list.

    It will be really interesting to see how Mike Woodson mixes and matches Kidd and Felton with different lineups, but ultimately I see Kidd closing games while Felton watches from the bench.

    Felton is more prone to turning the ball over (he averaged 2.8 per game last year), while Kidd is a more adept passer and savvier ball-handler.

    Kidd's impact won't be felt as much in the box score as it will on the floor, but his ability to control the flow of the game will be crucial to a team that's already loaded with shooters.

    Felton has the potential to offer the Knicks another scoring option down the stretch, but Kidd's ability to manage late-game situations figures to be a far more valuable quality.

5. J.R. Smith

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    If there's one thing J.R. Smith isn't, it's consistent. You take the good with the bad and accept that he's going to get his shots one way or another.

    When he's on, it's hard to argue with his talent. But when he's off, take cover.

    Smith will likely open the season as the starting 2-guard, so he'll see an increase in minutes, and ultimately, field-goal attempts.

    Smith isn't technically a bad shooter, but the volume of shots he takes is of some concern when you figure that Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire each need to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-18 shots per game.

    Smith's talent is undeniable, but he's never going to shy away from open shots, much less contested ones. His more natural spot is as a sixth-man, but Iman Shumpert's injury will force him into a more scrutinized role for the first few months of the season.

    For now, I'm going to heir on the side of positivity and say Smith emerges in his temporary role, which is why he comes in at No. 5 on this list.

4. Iman Shumpert

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    According to Nate Taylor of the New York Times, Iman Shumpert could make his season debut as early as this December:

    All signs Saturday suggested that Shumpert’s rehabilitation this off-season has gone well. He will still miss the start of the regular season, but it appears Shumpert could possibly return in December if his recovery is ahead of schedule.

    Given his likely absence over the first half of the season, Shumpert cracking the top five may seem puzzling, but his impact upon returning is what I'm looking at here. In his rookie season, Shumpert didn't flash the skills to make me believe he's an offensive juggernaut, but his persistence on the defensive end was far more valuable than any points he could have scored.

    The Knicks have tried their best to replace Shumpert's production by adding Ronnie Brewer, but it'll be tough to find someone with the same athleticism and drive that Shumpert possesses.

3. Tyson Chandler

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    At a time when NBA teams are implementing smaller lineups and foregoing the use of conventional centers, Tyson Chandler remains one of the league's best.

    Chandler is a bit of an offensive liability, but his impact on the defensive end is undeniable. According to Hoopdata, Chandler averaged 5.7 attempts per game last season, and of those 5.7, 4.7 came at the rim.  Chandler converted on 75 percent of those attempts at the rim, showing 1) how much of an impact he has around the basket, and 2) how limited his range is.

    Chandler's an invaluable piece of a team that has previously struggled on the defensive end, but his offensive capabilities hinder the overall impact he has on the game.

    As teams begin to trot out smaller frontcourts, it'll be interesting to see how much of an impact Chandler has when he's defending 10-12 feet from the basket and not protecting the rim.

2. Amare Stoudemire

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    The discussion over whether Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony can co-exist has quickly turned stale.

    While the consensus is that this arrangement will blow up in the Knicks' faces, I have faith that Mike Woodson will make it work.

    Stoudemire is a dynamic scorer, and the presence of Jason Kidd working off of the pick-and-roll with someone possessing his offensive skill will be a huge plus. While Jeremy Lin was typically looking to shoot first and pass second, Kidd will do just the opposite.

    A more refined point guard will help Stoudemire immensely, and I'm looking for him to return to prime form during the 2012-13 campaign.

1. Carmelo Anthony

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    Now that LeBron James has his ring, Carmelo Anthony figures to dominate the spotlight as the NBA's next ringless superstar.

    Coming off of an impressive performance at the 2012 London Olympics, Anthony will enter the 2012-13 season with plenty to prove. He's been called selfish in the past, but if Anthony learned anything at the Olympics, it's that selflessness can often prevail while your offensive output remains steady.

    Anthony showed throughout the Olympic games that he's a more than capable defender and rebounder, skills he will need to flash on a nightly basis to prove that he's committed to winning a title.

    As the Celtics age and the Sixers and Nets re-tool, Anthony and the Knicks appear primed for a big year.