After missing out on the ultimate prize in 2012-13, you can expect a handful of changes next season on the court for the New York Knicks. With the core trio of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire seemingly cemented through 2015, only minor tweaks will be feasible between now and next November.
Those minor tweaks may include bringing on new names this summer for the $3 million-per-year MLE, or shifting around the already in-house options. The ladder is what we'll focus on here, and there are a few names that stand out from the rest.
The youngest Knick spent the first three months of his sophomore campaign in fitted suits as he waited for his growing hi-top fade to reach a height suitable for playing basketball. Well, that, and he was recovering from a torn ACL, but both are equally plausible excuses.
By mid-January Iman Shumpert was back in the Knicks' starting lineup, but only sort of. It took Shump about two months to fully regain confidence in his knee and in his game. In the meantime, he was an indecisive, awkward half-Shump that everybody wanted to be good but just wasn't. From January 17 to March 17, Shumpert shot a sad 34 percent from the field, 37 percent from three-point range and 65 percent from the stripe, equating to less than six points per game in nearly 21 minutes.
After the unfortunate two-month #reshumpification period, the 22-year-old started to look a lot more like what we remembered from his impressive rookie season. Over the season's final month, Shumpert's relentless hair saw its minutes bump from 21 to 24. It shot 47 percent from the field in that time, and 44 percent from three without missing a free throw. At least that's the way I saw it.
The postseason acted as Shumpert's coming-out party for most casual fans. He finally received the impact minutes he deserves—28.1 per game including three games of 35 of more—and posted a shooting line of .410/.429/.857. His defense never wavered and he was able to come away with multiple steals in four games while checking the opponents best ball-handler on most occasions.
It appeared through much of the regular season—and even some in the postseason—that Mike Woodson was hesitant to include Shumpert in crunch-time situations, usually because of his affinity towards Jason Kidd.
Woodson ran him out for about 28 minutes per game during the team's series with the Indiana Pacers, but inexplicably benched him for extended stretches during the second half. Namely in the decisive Game 6, after Shumpert had single-handedly brought the team back into the game with three three-pointers.
Woodson will need to be weary of his faults as a coach next season—the faults that ultimately did the Knicks in. One was not calling on Shumpert's number often enough, and that'll need to be fixed for 2013-14. The defense he provides on the ball was too valuable to leave on the bench—especially on a team that struggled defensively as much as New York did—and his newfound three-point stroke was all the more reason to run him out for most of the game.
Woodson failed to properly manage Shumpert correctly in 2013, and next season should be a big one for the 23-year-old, tall-haired, rapping swingman.
The Knicks had to have known what they were taking on when they signed 16-year vet Marcus Camby to a three-year deal last summer. But the center's 2013 production was even less than Father Time could've predicted.
Camby, who was supposed to headline the team's gritty reserve frontline, snuck into just 24 games and averaged about 10 minutes per. Taking into account that he was the highest paid Knick not named Anthony, Stoudemire or Chandler, Year one of Camby's deal was the ultimate failure.
He'll be 40 by the end of next season, so it's unrealistic to expect much out of Camby. But the Knicks won't need much. They'll need something, though, which is more than he gave in 2012-13.
Entering 2012-13, he was looked at as the team's second center behind Tyson Chandler, and was likely going to be asked to give 12-17 minutes a night—the perfect supplement to Chandler's minutes. The thinking was that top-tier Knicks defenders would be in the orange MSG paint at all times, and it was a novel idea. Camby just couldn't hold his end of the bargain. Mike Woodson only fueled the fire later in the postseason by refusing to even contemplate matching him against Roy Hibbert.
The scenario will likely be very similar next year with Tyson Chandler slated for 30-35 minutes per game. If Camby can come in to fill the 10-15 minute void at the 5 to spell Chandler, while contributing his usually solid rim protection and board-crashing, the Knicks' frontcourt should be in better shape than it was last year.
It seems feasible, taking a look at his 2013 numbers. Camby, although in limited duty, posted the team's second-lowest individual defensive efficiency; second only to Rasheed Wallace. He was second on the Knicks in defensive rebounding percentage (to Wallace) and total rebounding percentage (to Chandler), which is the percentage of all rebounds he pulled down while on the court. The Knicks' defense allowed about five-and-a-half points less per 100 plays with Camby on the floor, according to 82games.
Glen Grunwald, on ESPN radio, confirms that Marcus Camby was healthy in the playoffs & Camby stuck on bench was strictly a coach's decision.— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) May 21, 2013
There's no question Mike Woodson felt uncomfortable calling on Camby late in the season after he was apparently healed according to his agent. The East semis seemed like the exact order of events that Camby was brought on for—a playoff bout against a team with formidable size—but Camby stepped on the floor for a combined 12 seconds against Indiana.
Camby will need to be healthy enough to take on a 10-15 minute reserve role, but Woodson will also need to oblige and trust him in the middle.
Considering the $45,090,881 left on Amar'e Stoudemire's deal, it's safe to include him on the Knicks' RSVP list for next season. Injuries just about derailed his career as he knew it in 2013, but there's still hope for STAT as a secondary weapon.
Stoudemire was relegated to a bench role with the emergence of Carmelo Anthony as the team's first power forward, but performed better than anyone could've asked of him. After shaking the rust off, Amar'e became a basketball robot, programmed with post moves that could break down the stingiest of paint protectors. Excluding his first five contests, Stoudemire averaged 15 points and five boards per game on 60-percent shooting in 24 minutes. His 22.16 PER ranked 13th league-wide, and his per-36 minutes numbers normalize to 22 points, eight rebounds and a block.
Defensively, Stoudemire was as putrid as ever. Not because of a lack of interest—no one can ever accuse Amar'e of not giving everything he has to win—but just an inability. An incomprehensible hole in his otherwise formidable game. Mike Woodson resorted to some zone in an attempt to hide the 30-year-old's defensive futility, but canceling out such a sorry defender is no easy task.
The Knicks allowed two more points per 100 possessions with STAT on the court than they did with him off, and they even scored a point less per 100 plays with him on, according to 82games. Stoudemire personally excelled though, scoring well and rebounding only slightly off his usual rate.
This type of role seemed to fit Amar'e well, but the issue was the 54 games he missed due to injury. In order for him to revive his perennial-All-Star-level career, Stoudemire needs to stay on the hardwood and out of the trainer's room. Spending time improving—or developing—his defending ability would do wonders for New York, too.
Follow me on Twitter at @JSDorn6.