New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson has spent the first 2.5 weeks of the preseason assimilating the team's many new players into his offensive and defensive schemes. Knicks fans have had the opportunity to assess the players and team as a whole during the Knicks' two preseason games and inside looks at practices on MSG Network.
Coach Woodson has experimented with various different lineups and found certain player combinations that worked particularly well together. He has also tipped his hand as to what type of offensive sets the team will run.
Some of the new and returning players have exceeded expectations with their conditioning or skill level, while others have squandered an opportunity to earn a rotation spot or make the roster. Veterans like Amar'e Stoudemire and Marcus Camby have been limited due to injury.
With less than two weeks before the start of the regular season, it is time to evaluate the team's players. Here is a slideshow of Knicks whose stock is rising or falling halfway through the preseason.
Raymond Felton rejoins the Knicks with a lot to prove. He is coming off a tumultuous season in Portland and carries the burden of replacing Jeremy Lin in the Knicks' starting lineup.
The point guard admitted that he was out of shape last season and showed up to camp slim and toned. Felton looked as quick as ever while pushing the ball up the floor during the Knicks' first two preseason games.
Felton connected with Tyson Chandler on several lobs at the rim off the pick-and-roll Saturday night against the Celtics and had excellent chemistry with Amar'e Stoudemire in the pick-and-roll during his first go-around with the club.
He played the best basketball of his career with the Knicks and appears ready to pick up where he left off.
Steve Novak came out of nowhere last season to lead the NBA in three-point shooting percentage. The Knicks rewarded him with a four-year $15 million contract.
The forward had failed to crack a team's rotation during his first five years in the league because he was seen as a one-dimensional catch and shoot player. The Miami Heat's suffocating defense neutralized the Knicks' sharpshooter by quickly closing out on him in the playoffs last year.
Novak spent the offseason learning how to shoot off the dribble and did so on a few occasions during the Knicks' preseason game against the Celtics. His ability to make defenders pay for closing out too hard will make him even more deadly from the field this season.
The Knicks signed Pablo Prigioni as insurance in case Raymond Felton or Jason Kidd are injured, but based on the Argentine's performances in the first two preseason games, Coach Woodson will have to find a spot for him in the rotation.
Prigioni contributed 14 points, four assists and two steals in 21 minutes against the Wizards last week, while connecting on four of eight attempts from behind the arc. He followed that up by executing the pick-and-roll to perfection in the Knicks' victory over the Boston Celtics Saturday night.
The long-time veteran of the Spanish ACB keeps the ball moving and may be the best on-the-ball defender of the Knicks' three point guards. The team's ball movement was exceptional against the Celtics when Prigioni and Kidd were on the floor at the same time.
Woodson appears willing to play Kidd at the two-guard, which will open minutes for Prigioni at point guard, especially while Iman Shumpert is recovering from knee surgery.
Chris Copeland entered training camp as one of the front-runners for the final Knicks' roster spot after an impressive showing with the Knicks' Summer League team. He separated himself from the other players on the roster bubble during the Knicks' win over the Celtics Saturday night.
The 6'8'' forward scored 21 points in the second half, 18 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime, and sealed the game with an offensive rebound and two free-throws in the closing seconds.
Copeland thrived in the pick-and-roll, which is expected to be a major component of Coach Woodson's offense. He attacked the basket, earning 13 trips to the charity stripe and finished around the rim. If he continues to play with that type of aggression he should break camp with the team in November.
The Knicks desperately need Amar'e Stoudemire to be healthy and regain the explosiveness that made him such a dynamic scorer prior to last season, so his history of knee and back injuries are a major concern.
STAT has been sidelined since banging knees with Chris Copeland at practice last week and was forced to sit out the Knicks' first two preseason games. Coach Woodson and Stoudemire have been quick to state that it is just a bruise and the forward is expected to play against the Toronto Raptors Friday night.
However, any time Stoudemire hurts his knee, it reminds the Knicks and their fans how fragile their star forward is.
Durability is a concern for a Knicks team that is counting on multiple players in their late 30s to play significant roles this season. One of those players, 38-year-old Marcus Camby, strained his calf during the first week of training camp.
The Knicks indicated that Camby would be out 7-10 days. That was 12 days ago. The backup center is still not practicing and according to MSG Network's Alan Hahn, Camby won't be traveling with the Knicks on their three-game road trip, which begins in Toronto Friday night.
It is not surprising that the Knicks are taking it slow with their big man. It is the preseason and that type of injury can linger. Toronto Raptors' big man Andrea Bargnani was in and out of the lineup with a similar injury last season.
However, the early injury to Camby is an ominous sign for an injury-prone 38-year-old. The Knicks are relying on him to anchor their second unit defensively.
Rasheed Wallace's attempted comeback has not gotten off to a promising start. After 2.5 weeks of training camp, the four-time All-Star is still not in good enough shape to practice with the team.
During MSG Network's inside look at training camp last week, Sheed could seen be off on the side wearing some type of compression outfit, working on his post moves while his teammates ran wind sprints and scrimmaged.
Coach Woodson has been tight-lipped about Wallace's progress, though the veteran's inability to get into practice shape does not bode well for his chances to make the team. According to Marc Berman of NYPost.com Wallace's contract is non-guaranteed, which means the Knicks can cut him after training camp or at any point prior to January 5 without being responsible for his full salary.
Other than Rasheed Wallace, Mychel Thompson is the lone training camp invitee fighting for a spot on the Knicks' roster with NBA experience. The son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson played five games for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.
Thompson was given a golden opportunity to show the Knicks' coaching staff what he could do when Coach Woodson inserted him into the starting lineup for the team's preseason game against the Wizards. But the 6'6'' guard looked tentative and missed all five of his attempts from the field.
He was not much better against the Celtics on Saturday, connecting on two of seven shots for four points in 20 minutes. Thompson needs to make some shots in the Knicks' remaining preseason games to have any chance to make the team.