Delonte West Would Be Double-Edged Sword for New York Knicks' Backcourt
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Knicks kept an eye on West's D-League debut on March 16:
And Knicks, I'm told, are indeed among teams that will be monitoring Delonte's play to see how he fares— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 15, 2013
It's hard to fault New York for pursuing every available option to shore up its flagging backcourt production. Raymond Felton has essentially played at a league-average level this season (as his 14.99 PER indicates), though his penetration and ability to create looks for teammates have been helpful for the Knicks.
But Behind Felton, things have gotten downright ugly.
After starting the season with some truly remarkable play, Jason Kidd has seen his outside stroke completely disappear. His pre- and post-Christmas splits paint the picture quite clearly: Before Dec. 25, Kidd was hitting from long range at a 44 percent clip. Since then, though, his knockdown rate from three-point land has been under 29 percent.
He's still a heady player and a steadying influence on the few young on the Knicks' roster, but Kidd's inability to make open shots has essentially rendered him a stationary passer from the top of the arc.
35-year-old rookie Pablo Prigioni has shot it just fine this season, but he suffers from some of the same issues that have rendered Kidd so ineffective. Without the ability to consistently penetrate, Prigioni lacks discernible offensive value. He's an experienced pick-and-roll operator, but with Amar'e Stoudemire out, he's got nobody to work with.
As a matter of fact, Prigioni is on the short list of players likely to be cut loose if the Knicks take their pursuit of West to the next level.
According to Ian Begley of ESPN, "James White, Prigioni and Kurt Thomas would be among the candidates to be waived to make room for West, should the Knicks choose to sign him."
Though it's obvious that the Knicks need help at the point guard position, it's hard to know if West is the man to provide it.
The 29-year-old veteran is a reliable outside shooter, as his career three-point accuracy rate of 37 percent attests. What's more, he has the ability to create his own shot and possesses a good enough handle to generate offense for others by breaking down the defense.
On the other end, his quickness makes him a capable defender—and one that would represent a massive upgrade over either Kidd or Prigioni. According to 82games.com, West made the Dallas Mavericks' 3.8 points per 100 possessions stingier when he was on the floor last season.
When it comes to West, though, it's impossible to talk about his potential contributions on the court without also mentioning his reputation as a loose cannon in the locker room. He hasn't played at all this year after twice being suspended by the Mavs for conduct detrimental to the team.
In addition to his volatile past, West certainly doesn't look like a player ready to take on the grind of consistent minutes. Based on his performance in the D-League, he's still got some skills but doesn't appear to be in anything close to basketball shape.
In his March 16 debut, West started nicely, hitting three of his first four shots, but then clearly succumbed to fatigue, knocking down just one of his next 11 attempts.
Ultimately, West represents a double-edged sword for the Knicks; he could definitely help strengthen one of New York's most obvious areas of weakness, but his personality could also upset the team's chemistry.
For a team playing .500 ball since an 18-6 start, the Knicks should probably roll the dice on West, though. Considering how poorly Kidd and Prigioni have played, they don't really have a whole lot to lose.
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