After an eventful offseason, regular-season basketball finally beckons for the New York Knicks.
As training camp and preseason commence, we inch ever closer towards the big game in Brooklyn on November 1st, and excitement is building.
The front office made some bold moves in free agency, and so far in preseason, we've had our first look at some of the newest members of this Knicks team.
With 13 guaranteed contracts on the books, the Knicks roster is pretty much set for the most part, but let's take a look at exactly how Mike Woodson will utilize his squad in 2012-13.
1. Raymond Felton
2. Jason Kidd
3. Pablo Prigioni
Last year's early-season chemistry problems for the Knicks came down to two things: injuries and the play of their point guards.
The Knicks got nearly nothing out of Mike Bibby, Toney Douglas and the oft-injured Baron Davis, forcing Carmelo Anthony to take on a point-forward role he clearly wasn't suited to.
Jeremy Lin had an unbelievable stretch—and is by all means still a good player—but he wasn't what the Knicks really needed out of the position.
What the Knicks needed was not a star but simply a pass-first point guard capable of establishing harmony on the offensive end. Thanks to the work of Glen Grunwald this summer, the Knicks now have three of them.
Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni may not have the upside or scoring ability of Lin, but all three are perfectly capable of running an efficient offense.
Mike Woodson has made it clear from day one that Felton will be the team's starter, but even so, we should expect to see a lot of all three as the season progresses.
So far this preseason, Woodson has been experimenting with having two point guards in the backcourt, and each of the three has seen significant time running the show.
Kidd will be Felton's backup, but Prigioni is way too good to just waste on the bench, so he will definitely see some time in those games that Kidd will inevitably miss due to his age.
When it comes to the final minutes, Kidd is likely going to be in the game some way or another. Whether playing the point or as an off-guard, Kidd has already said he wants to be in when it's all on the line, a situation in which he has thrived for much of his lengthy career.
1. Ronnie Brewer
2. J.R. Smith
3. Iman Shumpert (Injured)
Of all their positions, shooting guard is arguably the Knicks' most talented in terms of quality down the entire depth chart.
New York's 2s are all young, athletic and talented, and in theory they could all grow into fantastic players in the future.
For the time being, though, the unit is looking depleted, with all three currently nursing some worrying injuries.
Luckily, Ronnie Brewer and J.R. Smith should be ready for opening day, with Iman Shumpert not expected to return until any time between December and February.
Though he wants to start, Smith will return to his role as the team's sixth man upon his return from injury, as Mike Woodson sees this as his ideal situation.
Brewer, who recently returned to practice, will start until Shump comes back, providing similar defensive play and very underrated passing.
Apparently, Brewer has also improved on his outside shot, which could really help the Knicks spread the floor for their starting lineup.
Coach Woodson will be left with a tough decision to make once Shumpert returns, but at least he now has the luxury of taking things slow and not risking unnecessary re-injury.
The likely outcome is that Shumpert will eventually start, with Smith retaining his sixth-man role and Brewer spending time at both the 2 and the 3 to compensate.
1. Carmelo Anthony
2. Steve Novak
3. James White
This Knicks team is built around Carmelo Anthony, and as talented as the team around him is, it will only go as far as Melo takes it.
As you'd expect, Melo will play a lot of minutes for the Knicks—as he has done for the last one-and-a-half seasons—but this time around, things may be a little different.
Though Anthony will be used as often as before, he will look to play a slightly less-dominant role in the offense, so as to allow Amar'e Stoudemire to get his touches and for chemistry to build.
Without the added pressure of trying to distribute the basketball, as he was expected to last season, Anthony will be in a much more comfortable role, especially with the additions of the three aforementioned pass-first point guards.
Melo will still be the Knicks' leading scorer, and there will undoubtedly be those games which he just takes over, but as he's said himself, this isn't about putting up numbers anymore—it's about winning.
Behind Anthony, Steve Novak will get the majority of the backup minutes, as one of the league's most dangerous three-point shooters.
The majority of Novak's scoring will come from spot-up shooting, but after being shut down vs. Miami in the playoffs, he's taken it upon himself to add a few more wrinkles to his game, too.
It won't be anything greatly notable, but we could see some more shots off the dribble to help shake off defenders when they play tight like the Heat did.
The third small forward, James White, has an intriguing highlight reel, but after seeing what he's done in the summer league and preseason, it's unlikely he'll have much impact. If anything, he's just a waste of a guaranteed contract that could have otherwise gone to a younger camp invitee.
1. Amar'e Stoudemire
2. Kurt Thomas
3. Chris Copeland/Rasheed Wallace
The biggest question mark for the Knicks going into next season is the power-forward position.
Amar'e Stoudemire is coming off a terrible season marred with injury and will need to bounce back for the Knicks to have any chance of winning a title with this core of players.
STAT has spent the summer making sure that he's ready for a comeback, spending a lot of time and money working on his post game with Hakeem Olajuwon.
Besides a minor bruised knee, Stoudemire is healthy going into the 2013-13 season and is finally ready to build a rapport with star teammate Carmelo Anthony.
In the one preseason game he's played in to this point, Stoudemire has looked just fine, getting to the rim with ease and working well with Melo and Raymond Felton in particular.
Behind Stoudemire, the Knicks are a little thin. Kurt Thomas is one of the more consistent players in the game, but in those inevitable games that Amar'e sits out with injury, he'll struggle to play the minutes required.
Luckily, former Belgian league star Chris Copeland has looked good so far in the preseason and may even crack the rotation thanks to his ability to score the basketball.
Though it's not a sure thing he'll make the roster just yet, Rasheed Wallace will likely be the next power forward up, providing the Knicks with the toughness and leadership we've come to expect from him over the years.
If he can get in shape, Sheed has the potential to play a much bigger role than expected, especially if his shooting touch and physicality haven't left him in these two years out of basketball.
1. Tyson Chandler
2. Marcus Camby
3. Kurt Thomas/Rasheed Wallace
There may be debate as to whether or not the Knicks are a genuine title-contender, but if they want to be, then eventually they'll have to find a way to get past the Miami Heat.
The Knicks may not be as good as the Heat, but they've tried to build a roster to target Miami's weaknesses, with the big one being the Heat's lack of a presence in the paint.
Chris Bosh is a fantastic power forward, but outside of him, the Heat only have below-average players playing inside.
The Knicks, however, have a much more physical power forward in Amar'e Stoudemire and a group of dominant defensive centers to play along side him.
Scoring inside against this Knicks team is going to be a struggle for everyone this season, as Tyson Chandler tries to defend his much-deserved NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Thanks to Chandler, New York had a top defense last season, but now it will be even better, as behind him, New York has former Knick Marcus Camby.
Camby was the NBA's best rebounder last season (in terms of rebound rate) and is still a feared shot-blocker, leaving the Knicks with next to no drop-off when Chandler has to leave the floor.
Injuries are a worry—Camby has already missed time in preseason—but behind these two, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace should also be capable of providing 10-15 minutes here and there if need be.
The Knicks will need a lot more if they're to actually defeat LeBron and the Heat, but at least they know they have the advantage at the 5.