New York Knicks: Why Chris Copeland Should Be a Lock to Make the Roster

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIIFebruary 22, 2017

Oct 20, 2012; Albany, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Chris Copeland (14) shoots a free throw during the second half against the Boston Celtics at Times Union Center.  Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

After four months without NBA action, it has been great for basketball fans around the league to get back into the swing of things with some preseason play.

So far, we haven't seen the star-studded action we're used to in the regular season, but the preseason has still been interesting in its own way so far.

Primarily, the intrigue has come from watching the battles for the back end of rosters, as rookies, D-Leaguers and players from over in Europe fight to prove themselves worthy of a place in the big time.

For the Knicks, the majority of the roster has been pretty much settled, with 13 guaranteed contracts having been given out, and Rasheed Wallace working towards earning the 14th.

That leaves just one roster spot left in New York, and though there are theoretically five players in contention, one has jumped out way ahead of the pack.

After spending five seasons in Europe after going undrafted, forward Chris Copeland has finally been given his chance to make it in the NBA, and he's taken the opportunity with open arms.

The Knicks have had so many new faces making their debuts here in preseason, but none has been as impressive as Copeland; a player not expected to do too much when signed in the summer.

To be fair, a lot of the the veterans haven't seen as much court time as of late, but fellow camp invitees John Shurna, Oscar Bellfield, Henry Sims and Mychel Thompson have had equal opportunity to impress.

Following a stand-out summer league performance, Copeland has stayed in top form, and is now the team's seoond-leading scorer in preseason, behind only Carmelo Anthony.

After being forgotten in the first half in his first game against the Boston Celtics, Copeland came out and put up 21 in the second, with most of those points coming against the opposition's starters.

Copeland barely played out in Montreal in the next game, but more than made up for it by burning the Celtics again—this time for 34—last night.

On a Knicks' bench that lacks youth, Copeland could have a big role to play as a back-up forward, especially considering his ability to slide over and play at the two as well.

Such a versatile weapon is hard to come by with only the veteran's minimum, but Glen Grunwald has managed to find a pretty valuable asset here.

Grunwald was the man who brought in the likes of Iman Shumpert, Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak last season, so he clearly has an eye for unheralded talent.

Last season in Belgium, Copeland earned the Player of the Year award after dominating night after night on the offensive end.

The Colorado graduate can not only score in isolation, but can act as a spot-up shooter too, which is something that could really add a new dimension to the Knicks' bench.

Copeland may not be as good a shooter as say Steve Novak, but his athleticism, solid defense and ability to score in other ways make him a worthy alternative.

At 28, Copeland has had plenty of experience playing basketball in four different countries, and though the NBA is on a different level, he's showing us that he can handle things in the US as well.

The flipside of that, though, is that Copeland is no longer at the age where playing in the D-League is the best career choice for him. If they don't give him this roster spot, they may well lose him completely to a team whose eye has been caught by his exceptional play.

We shouldn't get too carried away—it is after all just the preseason—but what we've seen from Copeland is definitely encouraging, and more than enough to warrant the final roster spot and possibly a place in the rotation.