Can the Aged and Frail N.Y. Knicks Make It Through the Season Remotely Healthy?
The New York Knicks made a point to sign primarily veteran players in the offseason, with the hopes that their experience and know-how could help them beat their longtime playoff duck.
Early on, though, worries are starting to grow as to whether or not the Knicks are now too old, with injuries hurting them immensely in the preseason.
What's more worrying, though, is that it's not only the older players who are struggling with injuries. A lot of the Knicks' younger—and more important—players are particularly injury-prone, and it's showing already.
Along with Marcus Camby—who you'd expect to miss some time at his age—J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire all missed time in the preseason, with the latter ending up out for six to eight weeks.
Once you factor in that impressive second-year man Iman Shumpert is also out until January, things are starting to look quite disconcerting for the Knicks at this early stage in the season.
On paper, the team is one of the more talented in the NBA. They have everything they need outside of their big three, with shooters, defenders and playmakers; but, it won't mean anything if those players aren't healthy.
For the time being, the Knicks will just have to get by until they're back to full health in a few months and hope that they don't add anyone to the long-term injury list.
Though it is down two starters and a key bench player, New York still looked fantastic in its opener against Miami, and there aren't many teams in the NBA who have the depth to beat the defending champs so comfortably with so many players missing.
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New York now has to maintain this level of play until the reinforcements come along, and hope that older players don't tire too much as the 82-game schedule plays out.
No matter what they do, it's still inevitable that injuries and will pop up along the way, and that certain players won't be able to contribute every single game. This is, after all, the oldest team in league history (h/t USA Today).
But the Knicks know this, and Mike Woodson's focus should be on making sure he has a full squad come playoff time, whilst trying to balance that with keeping them competitive at the top of the conference.
Luckily for him, the front office has built him a deep roster, so much so that there are at least 14 rotation-quality players on the team.
Besides James White, who looked off in preseason, every player on the roster has something to give off the bench, and this will help when the injuries build up, as they have now.
Even players like Chris Copeland, with the scoring touch he showed in preseason, are capable of playing 15-20 minutes when they have to, and this is a luxury that could make the Knicks' season.
It will also be on the Knicks' stars—players like Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler—to raise their game, and carry their team when it's required during the season.
As much as the Knicks will want to rest players, they cannot afford another low playoff seed this year, as a matchup against the likes of Miami or Boston in the first round will almost certainly lead to an early exit.
This team needs, and is capable of, gaining home-court advantage in the first round, no matter how old they are. Though, without it it's hard to see them making too much noise.
It will take some luck to avoid the injury bug, but the only things the Knicks can do are playing it smart with their rotation and hoping their big-name stars can step up when the team is thin.
This team is deep enough to do it, no matter how old they are, and if they can, they may just be poised to win their first series in a long time, when the playoffs roll around.
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