The New York Knicks' Backup Plans for These 5 Disaster Scenarios in 2012-13
Every basketball team faces unforeseen setbacks during the course of the season. As the oldest team in the league, the Knicks can expect to face more than their share. Fortunately, Knicks coach Mike Woodson's squad is built to withstand injuries or lack of performance by key players.
General manager Glen Grunwald added several veterans to the roster via trades and free agency over the summer, giving the Knicks depth at every position, as well as the veteran leadership necessary to overcome obstacles. Grunwald is also willing to make a move during the season in order to shore up a particular position.
These are the Knicks' backup plans for five disaster scenarios for the 2012-13 season.
The Knicks Cannot Make an Outside Shot
Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony will provide the Knicks with plenty of scoring from the wings and in the paint. If there is an Achilles' heel, for New York's offense, it is their inconsistent three-point shooting.
The Knicks shot themselves out of games from downtown last season and continued to struggle from behind the arc in the preseason. In back-to-back preseason losses to the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, New York shot 5-of-27 (18.5 percent) and 3-of-29 (10.3 percent) on three-point attempts.
New York's three perimeter starters, Raymond Felton, Ronnie Brewer and Carmelo Anthony, shot below both the league and their career averages from behind the arc last season.
If they struggle from long range, Coach Woodson may insert J.R. Smith, a career 37 percent three-point shooter, into the starting lineup and find more minutes for Steve Novak, the league's leader in three-point shooting last season.
If Smith or Novak were to go down, Grunwald would explore trading a draft pick for a veteran shooter.
Iman Shumpert Suffers a Setback
Iman Shumpert emerged as the Knicks' best perimeter defender in his rookie season before tearing his ACL in the playoffs against the Miami Heat. According to CBSSports.com, Shump's rehabilitation is on schedule, and he could return to the lineup as early as late December.
The Knicks insured themselves against the possibility that Shumpert may suffer a setback or take longer than expected to regain his form by signing swingman Ronnie Brewer over the summer.
Brewer's game is similar to Shumpert's. Both are long, athletic players who can guard multiple positions. They each need work on their outside shot and are most effective on the break or slashing to the basket.
Brewer underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in early September and did not practice with the team until last week. The former Chicago Bull was in the Knicks starting lineup for their final preseason game Wednesday night and is expected to be ready to go for the season opener against the Brooklyn Nets on November 1st.
Tyson Chandler Goes Down
Tyson Chandler was the Defensive Player of the Year and the Knicks' most valuable player last season. Losing the big man to injury would be a blow to the Knicks' defense and team morale, though New York is prepared for the possibility after adding Marcus Camby as a backup center.
At 38 years old, Camby cannot match Chandler's quickness when defending the pick-and-roll, but is still a defensive force in the paint. The 6'11" forward/center blocked 2.3 shots per 36 minutes for the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets last season and led the NBA with 18.8 rebounds per 48 minutes.
Savvy veterans Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace would also help pick up the slack in Chandler's absence. Thomas can bang down low and hurt teams on pick-and-pops, and Wallace will bother opposing big men with his length.
Amar'e Stoudemire Is Sidelined with a Serious Back or Knee Injury
The Knicks are counting on a healthy and explosive Amar'e Stoudemire to help lead them deep into the playoffs, but there are some ominous signs for the all-star forward. STAT suffered a devastating knee injury earlier in his career and was sidelined for parts of each of his two seasons in New York with back problems.
The long-time Phoenix Sun suffered a bone bruise on his left knee during practice on October 10 when he collided with Chris Copeland. Sunday, the Knicks announced that STAT would be out two to three weeks with a ruptured popliteal cyst behind that knee. While this specific injury should heal smoothly, it is a reminder of how fragile the Knicks forward is.
If Stoudemire is sidelined for an extended period of time at some point during the season, the lineup will vary depending on matchups. Coach Woodson will either start Kurt Thomas at power forward or move Carmelo Anthony to the fourth spot and slide Ronnie Brewer over to the third.
Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire Do Not Jell
Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire have 11 All-Star appearances between them, but through parts of two seasons (Anthony arrived in New York late in the 2010-2011 season and last season was shortened by the lockout) they failed to develop chemistry on the court.
In order for the Knicks to be a potent offensive unit, their two dynamic scorers must figure out how to not just coexist, but make each other better. If Amar'e and Melo do not find that cohesion, the Knicks offense will become stagnant and revert to isolation plays. Lack of chemistry could also lead to griping about shot selection.
If they do not jell, Coach Woodson will be forced to try and play his two stars at different times. The most likely scenario would be to bring Stoudemire off the bench.