NY Knicks Who Must Step Up in a Big Way After Amar'e Stoudemire's Knee Injury
It's that time of the year again. Or month. Or week.
This is a tough blow, as Stoudemire was playing well, averaging 14 points, despite his limited role. He's really been the only member of the rotation who can generate his own offense in the post.
Now, others must step up. On the bright side, this won't be anything new for them. At this point, they're more used to playing without Stoudemire than they are with him.
Not one player will be able to make up for what he brought to the table. Each member of the rotation will have to maximize their specialty to the fullest and make up for Stoudemire's lost production as a team.
OK big guy, you're up.
Kenyon Martin might be on his second 10-day contract, but his job seems pretty secure for the rest of the year.
This isn't a case of needing Martin to fill the roster. The Knicks need Martin to play—and play well.
The good news for Martin is that he won't be asked to go out of his comfort zone. His job? Knock a few guys down, pick up a couple of fouls and finish the plays in which he's set up to do so.
One of the attributes that Stoudemire brought to the table was his strength and toughness inside. Martin doesn't have to make up for Stoudemire's point production, but he does have to replace his presence under the boards and on the interior.
Consistent Source for Offense
Without Stoudemire, J.R. Smith becomes the clear-cut No. 2 scoring option in the lineup. Coach Mike Woodson is likely to give him the green light, which he'll need to use wisely in order to maximize his individual talent for the best team results.
The Knicks need Smith to provide a consistent source of offense on a routine basis. No. 2 options can't shoot 3-of-12 one out of every three games. He's got a ton of offensive freedom in New York's offense, and it's resulted in his worst field-goal percentage 2006.
If Smith is going to take more than 15 shots per game, he'll need to shoot better than 40 percent.
He's going to have a ton of opportunities to score, so no reason to get anxious. When the Knicks were playing their best, coincidentally without Stoudemire in the lineup earlier in the year, the ball was moving, and open shots were readily available.
The Knicks need Smith to continue scoring at a high rate, just with more efficiency and consistency on a game-to-game basis.
Manage the Game, Knock Down Shots
Even with Stoudemire healthy, the Knicks need Kidd to step up and help facilitate the offense.
The Knicks are going to have to rely on Raymond Felton as the scorer, and scorers need to be managed. Kidd needs to exercise his ability to control the pace and offensive rhythm. He's got to keep everyone in check and make sure each and every possession results in a high-percentage shot.
It also wouldn't hurt if Kidd started to find the range from outside.
After shooting 48.9 percent from downtown in November and 41.9 percent in December, Kidd has gone on to shoot 32.7 percent in January and 15.6 percent in February.
With Carmelo Anthony's ability to draw the double-team and Raymond Felton's breakdown quickness, Kidd is going to have his opportunities on the perimeter as a catch-and-shooter. Against the top teams, he's going to have to hit them.
But at this point in his career, Kidd's core strength is managing the game. His job moving forward will be to put everyone else in position to do their jobs effectively.
Knicks fans who catch every game know that Chris Copeland can ball. His defense might not be all that, but Copeland can flat-out get buckets.
Without Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, Copeland scored 12 points in seven minutes against the Jazz. He's actually an interesting offensive mismatch, with power forward strength and a small forward's face-up attack.
When Stoudemire was out earlier this season, we all found out this kid can score. He dropped 29 on Houston, 22 against New Orleans and 23 at Sacramento, and he doesn't need a full four quarters to do it.
Copeland's responsibility for the Knicks moving forward should be to provide some offensive firepower off the bench.
With Stoudemire out, there isn't another frontcourt player, outside of Melo, who can generate his own offense. Since Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas are the reserves up front, Copeland has to emerge as a legitimate scoring option.
Rotation, Chalkboard Management
Coach Mike Woodson is going to have to step up as well.
My personal criticism of Woodson is that he sticks to the book a little too much. If a player's hot, let him play. Just because Carmelo Anthony typically gets a break at the end of the first quarter doesn't mean he should every night.
It works the other way, too.
If something isn't working then he'll need to adjust. Dim J.R. Smith's green light if he just can't find the bottom of the net. Cut Iman Shumpert's minutes if he's struggling to find a rhythm.
Woodson also has to find a way to help the Knicks get some easier baskets.
Down one to Oklahoma City in the closing seconds, Woodson ran a play that isolated Smith, which resulted in a low-percentage, fadeaway miss.
He needs to get a little bit more creative and at least attempt to run some action toward the hoop. With so many perimeter-oriented scorers in the lineup, a few easy baskets at the rim would be a treat.
Managing the rotation and getting creative with the chalk will be the areas in which Woodson needs to step up.