Winners and Losers from Week 3 of NY Knicks Training Camp
Training camp is a time of hope for all NBA fans, but much like the regular season, it too comes with its ups and downs.
For the Knicks so far, this has definitely been the case, with some promising performances coming in the first few preseason games, and some not-so-great news coming on the injury front.
The preseason may not be considered that important, but it could set the tone for the season, and what happens now could very well have an impact on what we see down the stretch.
Let's take a look at some Knicks players who're on the up so far in camp, and those who—whether through fault of their own or not—are now at a disadvantage at this early point in the campaign.
Winner: Ronnie Brewer
Ronnie Brewer was hit with some bad news when he tore his meniscus in September, but he's finally ready to hit the court for the first time as a Knick.
The guard returned to practice during the week, and after missing two preseason games since then, will likely get his first action in Monday night's game in Syracuse against the Sixers.
At the moment, Brewer is the only shooting guard the Knicks have healthy right now, so it's essential that he can come back and gel with the team right away.
Though a veteran's minimum player, Brewer could have a big role to play in the early portions of the regular season, providing fantastic defensive effort, and hopefully an improved offensive game to help make up for the absence of Amar'e Stoudemire.
Loser: J.R. Smith
As a young and in-shape player, J.R. Smith was one of the least likely Knicks to get injured so early in the preseason, but now he too has joined a long list of those who have gone down early on.
An Achilles injury will reportedly keep the guard out of the Knicks' current three-game road trip, which concludes on Monday night.
The Knicks could really use his spark off the bench come the start of the regular season, and Smith himself could use the extra practice time that training camp offers to fine-tune his offensive game.
Smith returns to a very different looking Knicks bench this season, and he'll need to use the remainder of preseason to build a rapport with his new teammates.
Luckily for Smith, he's already spent a lot of time playing with Marcus Camby in Denver, and gelling with a player like Jason Kidd shouldn't be too difficult a task.
Winner: Raymond Felton
The Knicks' starting point guard situation looks to be in good hands with the play of new signing Raymond Felton this preseason.
Some fans may have been worried about how the Knicks would fare without Jeremy Lin running the show, but if Felton can keep up this level of play throughout the regular season they'll be just fine.
Felton hasn't been particularly flashy—that's just not his game—but he's clearly built good chemistry with his teammates and understands what his role needs to be with the team.
With 6.5 assists per game so far in the preseason (coming only 22.7 minutes per game of action), Felton is the league's fourth-leading assist man, and so far has relished playing with such offensive firepower around him.
Particularly notable is Felton's relationship with Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony, who have more often than not been the beneficiary of the point guard's vision.
Unfortunately, he hasn't had much time to play with Amar'e Stoudemire just yet, but we all know just how good an on-court relationship the two already have.
On the flip side, Felton's scoring has been inefficient and his percentages are poor, but that shouldn't be much to worry about for Knicks fans.
If nothing else, we know the Knicks have finally found someone capable of spreading the ball around, without hurting them in other areas.
Loser: James White
Former Italian league star James White was given a guaranteed contract by the Knicks this summer, but so far he's done very little to prove himself worthy of the assured place on the roster.
Besides an inefficient 16-point outing against the Celtics on Saturday, the athletic swingman has failed to eclipse six points in a game, and has been lousy on the offensive end.
To be fair to White, his defense does look pretty good, but not to the extent where you'd choose to put him on the roster as a defensive specialist.
With a couple more preseason games left, White still has a chance to prove himself before the start of the regular season, but if not, he's looking like a very disappointing pickup.
Winner: Chris Copeland
The Knicks have a lot of new players in camp so far—including some fairly big names—but not one has made more of an impression than Chris Copeland.
Signed out of the Belgian league following an MVP season with Generali Okapi Aalstar, Copeland has shown he can score in the NBA, too, putting up big numbers in his first four games.
What's most impressive, is that Copeland's scoring hasn't just come against fellow reserves; most of his 21 against the Celtics came against Boston's first-teamers.
His 34-point game against the Celtics following that is currently the highest-scoring game for any player in the league this preseason, and it should stay that way.
Once you factor in the injury to Amar'e Stoudemire, it would appear that Copeland has now confirmed his place on the 15-man roster, with the potential to play an even bigger role when the season comes around.
If Carmelo Anthony is to move to power forward during STAT's absence, they'll need someone to take over at the 3, and Copeland is definitely in contention with his play so far.
Loser: Amar'e Stoudemire
It just seems like Amar'e Stoudemire can never get a break.
This preseason, the Knicks finally had both STAT and Carmelo Anthony fully healthy and ready to build the chemistry that has eluded them for so long, but now things aren't looking nearly as bright.
A minor bone bruise kept Stoudemire out of the first two preseason games, but that was considered nothing worth worrying too much about.
Unfortunately, the Knicks do have something to worry about now as a ruptured cyst will keep Stoudemire out for two-to-three weeks, which will include missing some of the team's first regular season games.
It's obviously too soon to overreact, but it's scary that the injury bug has already hit Amar'e so early in the season.
This puts the Knicks in a very bad situation, as if Melo moves to the 4 and thrives the inevitable question about whether or not STAT has a place on this team will be raised once again.
The sad truth is that the Knicks may well be better without Stoudemire. There won't be any clash between he and Melo on the offensive end, and defensively just about anyone can provide more than STAT can.
A Knicks team with Stoudemire working well with Melo has the chance to be something special, but if they can't do that—and it will be a struggle missing half of training camp—the Knicks may well be better off without their $100 million man.
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