NY Knicks Hero Was Supposed to Be Cut from Team

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02: Chris Copeland #14 congratulates Steve Novak #16 of the New York Knicks on his three pointer against the Phoenix Suns in the second quarter at Madison Square Garden on December 2, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Knicks forward Chris Copeland scored 13 huge points in a Game 5 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday and has become a key player off the bench. But the fact that he's even on the team might be his most impressive accomplishment to date.

Copeland's 13 points off the bench led New York's second unit in a game that could have sent the Knicks home for the summer, as he scored eight second-half points to help the Knicks keep the Pacers at arm's length.

After an impressive performance, Mike Woodson remembered back to the concerns over the tweener forward going from the Summer League to the NBA (via Al Iannazzone of Newsday):

We didn’t think he was physically equipped to play at this level and just knowing the game at this level. It took him a while. He sat and learned patiently. We played him here and there. But each time he’s played he’s been productive on the floor.

His performance in Game 5 was huge, with J.R. Smith having another iffy night off the bench and Raymond Felton the only member of the starting lineup to put up double-figure scoring alongside Carmelo Anthony.

For his solid night, Copeland was even one of the three Knicks to represent the team in the postgame press conference.

New York signed Copeland last July with nothing more than a chance to make the roster out of training camp.

Previously, he played in the NBA D-League way back in 2006-07, and he then jumped overseas to play in Belgium, Germany and Spain.

Making the roster out of training camp was a big accomplishment, but even seeing the floor as a guy who hasn't played stateside since 2007 is extremely impressive.

Copeland has proven to be a quality power forward on offense, providing the necessary tools to stretch the floor and give the Knicks continuity from the first unit to the second when they keep a small lineup on the court. His role will likely increase over the course of the next few games if the Knicks are able to survive, and they're even starting to depend on him to add something off the bench.