New York Knicks: Breaking Down What We Saw from the Team in Preseason
Preseason is often considered unimportant, but it does have a genuine role to play in bringing a team together. With the lack of a preseason last year, the Knicks struggled coming out of the gates, so the preseason is definitely something that needs to be taken seriously.
Admittedly, the win-loss record means nothing, but the way the team—and certain players—played could be a precursor to what we see when the real season comes along.
Quality Point Guard Play
Going into the offseason, the primary position the Knicks needed to address was at point guard.
Deciding not to match the Houston Rockets' poison pill offer for Jeremy Lin, the Knicks instead brought in Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni, and it's been so far so good for the trio.
This preseason, we've seen some creative backcourts to ensure that all three have had extended time on the court, and it's worked really well for Mike Woodson.
All three players bring a pass-first mentality to the table, can shoot when it's required and despite their average age, can actually get up and down the court quite well.
Essentially, these guys showed in preseason that they can give the Knicks exactly what they need out of the position, after getting almost nothing out of their point guards for a good half of last season.
The only point guard problem the Knicks really have is in their rotation. All three players have proven themselves worthy of significant minutes, but there are only so many to give out. Look out for some more usage of two point guard sets until Iman Shumpert returns.
Injuries, Injuries and More Injuries
The preseason is supposed to be a time for half-hearted basketball, but you wouldn't know it looking at the Knicks' injury report.
Along with Iman Shumpert, who we already knew was going to be out until around January, the preseason left the Knicks with Amar'e Stoudemire, Marcus Camby and Tyson Chandler all ailing ahead of the regular season.
J.R. Smith also picked up a knock, but has since returned to practice and is looking good to go.
The likelihood is that Chandler will also join him for the big game in Brooklyn, but things are looking a lot less promising for Camby and Stoudemire, with the latter seeking a second opinion on his knee.
Injuries are the biggest concern for the Knicks heading into the season, and health could well dictate whether or not they can compete for a title, so they'll hope this is just a blip and something they can move on from.
A Clear Leader in the Battle for the Final Roster Spot
The Knicks went into camp with 13 guaranteed contracts, and Rasheed Wallace primed to take up the 14th spot, leaving room for only one more player on the roster.
To compete for that spot, the Knicks brought in six undrafted rookies, but over the course of the preseason, it's been more of a one-horse race in favour of Chris Copeland.
The former Belgian league MVP was the Knicks' second-leading scorer in preseason, including a stand-out 34 point performance against the Boston Celtics. Only Carmelo Anthony—one of the best in the business—was able to put up better offensive numbers.
Copeland has been in Europe for a while now, and has clearly developed his offensive game since playing in the D-League back in 2007. The versatile forward has shown us he can have success in isolation, as a shooter and in the pick-and-roll, which will be invaluable as the Knicks move forward.
With Amar'e Stoudemire out right now, Copeland may just have earned himself a spot in the rotation for the first few games of the season, and if he can keep up this form when it matters, he has a chance to stick in the long-term.
Copeland's place on the roster isn't confirmed just yet—the deadline for the final cut is on Monday—but it's more than likely that he'll end up on the team. It will be a travesty if he's not.
Weak Play on the Boards
One particularly disappointing aspect of the Knicks' preseason was their rebounding, which really suffered in the absence of key big men Amar'e Stouemire and Marcus Camby.
The Knicks were the worst-ranked rebounding team in the league for the preseason, with not a single player averaging over six a game.
Considering that both STAT and Camby are going to be missing early in the season, this is clearly something that needs to be fixed soon, or they risk getting dominated on the boards.
Standing at 7'1", Tyson Chandler needs to be the dominant rebounder he has been at times in his career, with at least double-figures in boards at the very least.
Carmelo Anthony, too, needs to chip in now that he'll be seeing time at power forward, making use of that physical play we see from him on the offensive glass on the defensive end as well.
New York will also be hoping for a little bit of help from Rasheed Wallace when he returns to basketball fitness, and looks to provide the same physical style of play we remember from him before he retired.
Wallace may not have seen any preseason court time, but things like this will keep him on the team.
Speaking of Rasheed Wallace, we didn't have a chance to see any of the power forward in preseason, as he was left out to work on his fitness after two years out of the game.
As a result, there are now serious question marks as to whether or not Sheed has anything left in the tank, and if he's really worth a space on the roster.
Still, so long as Wallace can simply give the Knicks solid defense, rebounding and a threat from outside, he's not a bad player to have on an unguaranteed veteran's minimum contract.
This video shows us that he can still be a big help to the team without even being on the court, which is another invaluable asset that Wallace will bring to the table if he makes the final roster.