5 Troubling Signs from the New York Knicks' Early-Season Games
While the Knicks are off to one of their best starts in recent memory, there are still some troubling signs that fans should be aware of.
Understandably, New York has improved—it is off to its first 3-0 start since the 1999-00 season—but there are a few causes for concern in Knicks nation.
Can the Knickerbockers continue to build on this success, or will their flaws be exploited by the opposition?
Here are five signs that could become a problem for Mike Woodson's Knicks this season.
Successful Without Amar'e Stoudemire
The Knicks are a perfect 3-0 this season, and that's without the $100 million man.
Amar'e Stoudemire being out is not completely bad, but the success New York has found without the power forward on the court is troubling.
Thus far, the Knickerbockers have not needed Stoudemire's career average of 21.6 points per game. They've done just fine on their own, averaging 104.7 points per game this season.
Where exactly will Stoudemire fit when he returns?
The question of whether Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire can co-exist has been present since Day 1, and if Coach Woodson doesn't think fast, he might find himself at the center of criticism for putting the Knicks' success in jeopardy by starting Stat immediately upon his arrival.
Knicks Defying Father Time Early
Jason Kidd is averaging 22 minutes per game.
Pablo Prigioni spends an average of 19 minutes on the hardwood.
Kurt Thomas has put in about 14 minutes per game, and Rasheed Wallace clocks about seven minutes per game, although that number is likely to increase as the season progresses.
Marcus Camby is already injured, and his recovery time has everything to do with his age. The typical recovery time for a calf strain is about 10 days, but to be safe the training staff took extra precautions with the backup center.
Is this what Knicks fans are to expect if someone else goes down in the future?
Although the oldest players on the roster have been rather successful thus far, the average age of the five is 38, and at that age the Knicks staff won't force a comeback early.
The strain of a rigorous season filled with intense games and hard fouls will eventually take a toll on all of the Knicks, especially the older guys.
The standout veteran is Jason Kidd. He found his niche early with this team and is living up to the expectations. He's averaging nine points per game and just under four assists a game—not bad for what should be your No. 2 point guard.
Can he, along with the other vets, keep progressing and putting up impressive numbers during crunch time?
Will they be able to compete after All-Star break?
Hopefully, the team will silence the critics and what could deem trouble is no problem at all.
Pablo Prigioni Passing Up Open Looks
It's clear that Pablo Prigioni is a pass-first point guard, but there are just times when the man has to take a shot at the basket.
Unfortunately, Prigioni only has three NBA games under his belt right now, so he's still a bit nervous.
In the opener against the Miami Heat, Pablo played 16 minutes, and while he had three assists, he did not attempt a shot.
The next two games against the Philadelphia 76ers were a bit better for the second-unit floor general. Pablo took a total of nine shots—sinking four of them.
Evidently, Prigioni can hit a shot, and there have been a number of times where he decided to make the extra pass rather than take advantage the opportunity in front of him—that's a troubling sign to me.
Eventually opponents will see that No. 9 continuously passes up shots and will rush to double team another foe.
This could be trouble for the Knicks because they're going to need scoring from everybody, especially when Carmelo Anthony isn't on the floor.
Ronnie Brewer—not known for being an offensive force—has not been afraid to take the open shot; hopefully this will not rub off on others like Prigioni.
J.R. Smith's Erratic Shooting
When J.R. Smith takes the court it's so unpredictable as to how well he will play that night.
For example, in New York's opener against the Miami Heat, Smith only hit three of his 11 shots. He didn't look like a player who could possibly compete for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
However, in both games against the Philadelphia 76ers, J.R. picked up the slack. The shooting guard went 15-for-30, hitting six three pointers and totaling 37 points.
It worries me that Mike Woodson has urged Smith to take more shots, as pointed out by Peter Botte of the New York Daily News.
Don't get me wrong. If Smith is hot then by all means he should continue to take aim at the basket. However, if he is struggling, then he has to try drawing some fouls instead of chucking absent-mindedly with two defenders in his face.
J.R. could be beneficial to this team, but he could also be that troublesome cancer that catalyzes a demise.
Let's hope for the former rather than the latter.
Post Game Has Been Absent
The Knicks have very capable players who are able to knock down the long ball, but that's been their main source of scoring in the early season—that's a troubling sign.
According to TeamRankings.com, the Knicks are ranked last in points in the paint per game—they average 29.3 points in the paint per game.
To beat out the competition, New York is going to need a variety of scoring and not just from Carmelo Anthony. The team needs to be more aggressive in the paint.
Didn't the bigs work with Hakeem Olajuwon for a reason?
As pointed out by Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports, the paint being empty has been a problem.
For one, Tyson Chandler rarely posts up. Anthony has plenty of moves on either side of the court, even if he too often relies on some of his worst options offensively, and Stoudemire remains a versatile player offensively...
Tyson is a seven-footer. There's no reason he shouldn't be posting up, especially against smaller and less aggressive centers.
Carmelo Anthony will always be the go-to guy on this team, and for that reason, he'll be putting up the most shots. However, if he's not connecting, a quick post-up could be the spark needed for him and the team.
In short, it's only a matter of time before teams begin to exploit what could be New York's biggest problem.