The Knicks will miss Jason Kidd's (right) leadership this season.
Last season, the New York Knicks felt that they had constructed a team capable of challenging the Heat and possibly winning the championship. The squad fell short, as they were eliminated in six games in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
It was clear that New York was a couple of pieces short of contending and matters worsened when veteran point guard Jason Kidd retired and then became their new rival as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. After a solid regular season, Kidd's numbers dropped significantly in the playoffs.
After a decent Game 1 performance against Boston in the first round, Kidd's numbers dropped significantly throughout the rest of the postseason. Kidd finished with a horrendous stat line, including an average of 0.9 points per game, 2.0 assists per game and 3.5 rebounds per game, via ESPN.
Kidd's presence was never really felt through statistics, however, as his impact stemmed from his knowledge and leadership. The Knicks have a veteran-laden team, but team chemistry is bound to suffer without the presence of the future Hall of Famer.
The Knicks also lost veteran Marcus Camby and sharp-shooting fan favorite Steve Novak in a trade with the Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani. Chris Copeland is also gone, having bolted in free agency to the rival Pacers for a two year, $6 million contract.
New York managed to make some moves this offseason despite having little salary cap room to work with. Still, Executive Vice President and General Manager Glen Grunwald was very productive. After selecting Tim Hardaway Jr. with the 24th pick in the draft, he managed to re-sign J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin in addition to trading for Bargnani and signing free agents Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih and young big man Jeremy Tyler.
The Knicks are hoping that the moves made by Grunwald will help them keep up in the top-heavy East and catapult the squad to contender status. Let's take a look at what to expect from each player on the New York roster.
Raymond Felton needs to attack the basket more often this season for the Knicks to be successful.
Raymond Felton will likely remain Mike Woodson's starting point guard after a decent season last year. Felton was hot at the beginning of the season, but cooled off after a nagging wrist injury slowed him down. When Felton is healthy and playing to his full potential, he is one of the better point guards in the game.
The Tar-Heel alumni averaged 13.9 points per game to go along with 5.5 assists, 1.38 steals and a .444 shooting clip, via ESPN. Felton also shot 32 percent from beyond the arc.
The Knicks will need a healthy Felton to improve his shooting if the team is going to compete with Miami, Indiana, Chicago and Brooklyn for one of the top four spots in the East.
Last season, Felton was at his best when he attacked the basket. When he attacks the basket, he gives himself multiple options for success: finish with a layup at the rim, or draw an extra defender and dish to a wide open teammate.
Felton can adequately run the pick-and-roll and proved it in the playoffs against Indiana. However, Felton too often settled for mid-range jumpers rather than attacking the basket. While he is a decent shooter, Felton needs to attack and get his teammates more involved.
If Felton can increase his shooting numbers by taking more high percentage shots around the rim, he will open the court up for the Knicks three-point shooters and add a much better flow to New York's offense.
Prediction: 14.9 PPG, 6.2 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG, .481 FG%, .344 3P%.
Pablo Prigioni's full-court pressure sets the tone for New York's defense.
What is there not to like about Pablo Prigioni? The native Argentinian is a feisty defender, a smart passer and, as he proved last season, a knock-down shooter.
After starting the season on the bench, Prigioni was given a starting role alongside Raymond Felton in a two-point guard backcourt. With Prigioni in the starting lineup, the Knicks embarked on a 13 game winning streak en route to clinching the No. 2 seed in the East.
The Knicks re-signed Prigioni this offseason to a three-year team-friendly contract, after averaging 3.5 points per game to go along with 3.0 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 0.9 steals. He posted a .455 field goal percentage and a surprising .396 three point percentage in only 16.2 minutes per game (statistics via ESPN).
Prigioni will be back, but head coach Mike Woodson has yet to decide whether he will start him alongside Felton yet. Despite his advanced age, the 36-year-old point guard should be in the starting lineup. His defense alone should merit a starting spot, but his cerebral offensive approach will help the Knicks move the ball on offense.
Prediction: 5.2 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.8 SPG, .446 FG%, .389 3PT% (25 minutes per game)
Beno Udrih (center) will be a welcome addition to Mike Woodson's rotation
New York's signing of Beno Udrih for the veteran's minimum salary of $1.27 million is a steal, according to ESPNNewYork's Jared Zwerling. The Slovenian guard will offer the Knicks point guard insurance in the event that Felton or Prigioni get injured. If Woodson chooses to start both point guards, Udrih would be the first point guard off the bench for New York.
After the trade, Udrih saw an increase in playing time. Udrih scored 10.2 points and recorded 6.1 assists per game. His overall shooting percentage hovered right around 40 percent, but he knocked down three-pointers at a .396 clip.
While Udrih has never been a great defender, he offers good insurance for the Knicks in the event of an injury and should contribute to the team.
Prediction: 5.2 PPG, 3.4 APG, 1.4 RPG, 0.8 SPG, .421 FG%, .377 3PT% (15-20 minutes per game)
Over the past season-and-a-half, J.R. Smith has both excited and frustrated Knicks fans at the same time. When he is on his game, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year is an elite offensive talent and is capable of playing solid defense. When his shot is not falling, he makes Mike Woodson look like this.
J.R. was at his best last season when he was attacking the basket rather than settling for long, contested jumpers. As always, his shot selection will dictate his success. If takes better shots, he will be more successful—and boy, do the Knicks need him to be successful.
J.R. Smith played in 80 games last season. Of those 80, New York went 53-27. Out of those 53 wins, J.R. averaged 18.3 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting; he only averaged 17.7 points on 37.5 percent shooting in the 27 losses.
Bottom line is if J.R. shoots the ball well, more than likely the Knicks will win. They need his scoring off the bench to alleviate some pressure from Carmelo Anthony.
After inking a three-year, $17.5 million contract, J.R. has some added responsibility. His status for the beginning of the season is in question after undergoing knee surgery shortly after signing his contract. If J.R. comes back completely healthy and motivated, the Knicks will fight with Indiana and Chicago for the No. 2 seed in the East.
Prediction: 18.2 PPG, 3.6 APG, 3.4 RPG, 0.8 SPG, .431 FG%, .355 3PT%
Entering his third season, Iman Shumpert will be the x-factor for the Knicks this year. After missing the first couple months of the season, Shumpert needed some time to shake off the rust. Upon regaining his form, Shumpert reminded Knicks fans why they should be excited for the future.
The 23-year-old guard/forward did not post great numbers during the regular season, only averaging 6.8 points, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals per game. His defense had not yet returned to the level of that of his rookie year.
Once the playoffs arrived, everything started to click for Shumpert. In the first round against Boston, Shumpert averaged 9.0 points, 6.8 boards and 1.8 steals per game. He posted 17 points (3-3 on three-point shots) in the series-clinching Game 6 victory.
In the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Indiana, Shumpert continued his hot shooting. Shumpert recorded 19 points and hit five three-pointers in Game 6.
If Shumpert can continue to improve his three-point shooting and play lock-down defense, he will be one of the most exciting young players in the NBA.
Prediction: 10.2 PPG, 3.7 APG, 4.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG, .422 FG%, .371 3PT%
Tim Hardaway Jr. will look to add more scoring and defense off the bench for the Knicks.
The Knicks selected Tim Hardaway Jr. with the 24th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Hardaway Jr., the son of former NBA player Tim Hardaway, is coming off a strong junior season in which he helped lead the University of Michigan to the National Championship Game.
Hardaway Jr. averaged 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last season for the Wolverines. The 6'6" guard shot 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc, while playing solid defense.
The Knicks liked what they had seen from Hardaway and were looking forward to seeing him in action in the summer league. However, Hardaway suffered a wrist injury early in the summer league and has not played since.
Assuming he is healthy, Hardaway Jr. should provide a nice boost off the bench for the Knicks. With Felton, Prigioni, Udrih, Shumpert and Smith all part of the rotation, Hardaway Jr. will have to earn Mike Woodson's respect to gain some playing time.
Prediction: 7.4 PPG, 2.3 APG, 3.1 RPG, 0.8 SPG, .401 FG%, .342 3PT%
Metta World Peace's (left) presence will make the Knicks a more physically tougher team.
After being released from the Los Angeles Lakers via the amnesty clause, Metta World Peace chose to sign with the New York Knicks. World Peace will bring something to the Knicks that New York was missing last season: toughness.
New York had some toughness around the rim with Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin, but lacked a physically tough perimeter defender to pair with Shumpert. Metta World Peace can provide that tough defense and will help give the Knicks a new identity.
New York essentially lacked toughness in their postseason defeat against the Pacers in the second round of the playoffs. Carmelo Anthony, playing the four in Woodson's rotation, was matched up against the bigger, stronger and tougher David West. Now, that responsibility can be given to World Peace, taking some pressure off 'Melo.
World Peace still has something left in the tank offensively, as well, as he averaged 12.4 points per game with the Lakers. He probably will not be asked to score as much this season, but should be able to knock down some open three-pointers.
While his offense may not be great, and his age (33) is catching up with him, one thing is certain: Metta World Peace will help bring a new identity to the New York Knicks. His greatest asset is his toughness and he can help the Knicks this season.
Prediction: 10.4 PPG, 2.7 APG, 5.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, .411 FG%, .332 3PT%
C.J. Leslie will be competing for a spot in Mike Woodson's rotation.
C.J. Leslie will be a bottom of the rotation player, at best, for New York this season. The rookie out of North Carolina State went undrafted, but inked a contract with New York shortly after the draft.
Leslie stands at 6'9" and had a solid junior year last season, posting 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the Wolfpack. He has a big, slender frame and could be used as a combo-forward off the bench.
However, New York has Kenyon Martin, Andrea Bargnani, Amar'e Stoudemire, Metta World Peace and Carmelo Anthony at both forward positions, so playing time will not come easily for Leslie.
Leslie had a decent summer league showing in Vegas, but could have done more to impress the Knicks. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.2 boards per game while shooting just over 40 percent.
The Knicks are hoping that Leslie can be this year's version of Chris Copeland after the latter bolted in free agency to Indiana. With a crowded rotation, Leslie will have to prove that he deserves playing time, but his impact will likely be minimal.
Prediction: 2.2 PPG, 0.6 APG, 2.7 RPG, 0.2 SPG, .388 FG%, .288 3PT% (5-10 minutes per game)
Carmelo Anthony will need to exceed last year's performance if the Knicks are to get to the NBA Finals.
Carmelo Anthony had an MVP-caliber season last year and earned his first career scoring title after averaging 28.7 points per game for New York. Anthony was the go-to player for the Knicks and performed admirably, especially in the playoffs when he was playing with a small tear in his left shoulder.
'Melo started off the year strong and displayed renewed energy on defense, which can be seen when he rejected Nick Young's shot and dove into the stands to try and save the ball. Over the course of the season, that level of commitment to defense was not always there; but he still had his offense.
The Knicks relied on 'Melo to carry the team offensively, especially with the absence of Amar'e Stoudemire. The former Syracuse star averaged 28.7 points per game while shooting about 45 percent from the field, including a solid .379 mark from beyond the arc (the second best percentage of his career).
'Melo certainly had his ups and downs, but was clearly the leader of the New York Knicks. He should be able to further improve his numbers this season after the re-signing of J.R. Smith and the addition of Metta World Peace and Andrea Bargnani.
World Peace should especially help 'Melo on the defensive end. Last season, Anthony was constantly matched up against bigger, stronger forwards at the 4 position and was beat up down low. This season, World Peace will gladly do the dirty work and allow 'Melo to stay fresh on the offensive end.
Carmelo Anthony managed to put up monster numbers on the offensive end last season despite the difficult defensive challenges. This season, he will not to muscle his way down low against bigger forwards, which will leave him with more energy to use offensively. 'Melo will have an even better year for New York in 2013-14.
Prediction: 29.5 PPG, 3.6 APG, 6.8 RPG, 1.2 SPG, .467 FG%, .385 3PT%
If K-Mart can stay healthy, he will be the Knicks main defensive big man off the bench.
No one was really sure what to expect from Kenyon Martin after the Knicks signed him to a 10-day contract in late February to bolster their rotation. K-Mart exceeded expectations with his physical play in the paint and was re-signed for the rest of the season.
While Martin's best asset was on the defensive end, he provided some solid games offensively. The former No. 1 pick averaged 7.2 points per game and posted four games with 10 points or more. Still, his presence was felt more on the defensive end. K-Mart recorded 5.3 boards and 0.9 blocks per game in an average of 24 minutes of action.
The energy Martin provided was invaluable to New York, as his highlight-reel blocks and dunks energized the Garden. After re-signing with the Knicks in late July, Martin will look to continue to entertain the Garden with his physical style of play.
Despite a high number of big men on the roster, Martin offers something that others such as Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani simply can not: defense. His ability to play tough defense will ensure him an every-day role in Mike Woodson's rotation.
Prediction: 8.7 PPG, 1.8 APG, 7.3 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 1.3 BPG, .520 FG%, .211 3PT%
Andrea Bargnani is out to prove that he can contribute with the Knicks.
The Knicks added Andrea Bargnani in an offseason trade with the Toronto Raptors centered around a future first round pick, fan-favorite Steve Novak and Marcus Camby in an effort to stretch the floor and open up space for 'Melo to operate in the post.
Bargnani has never been anything more than a shooter, but has struggled in recent years in Toronto after Chris Bosh left for Miami. A career .361 three point shooter, Bargnani has only averaged about 31 percent from beyond the arc the past two seasons.
The Knicks are hoping that the former No. 1 overall pick can regain his shooting touch with a change of scenery and a winning environment. He should be able to help offensively and will have a role on this team because of Amar'e Stoudemire's minutes restriction.
Bargnani has not been a great defender throughout his career, but playing in Mike Woodson's rotation with either Kenyon Martin or Tyson Chandler should help. If he is on the floor with defense-orientated players, he may be able to put together a nice season.
Knicks fans should give Bargnani a chance this season, as he has the potential to make an impact. If he shoots well and plays decent team defense, the Knicks will not miss any pieces they gave up to acquire the big man.
Prediction: 10.7 PPG, 1.4 APG, 4.7 RPG, 0.4 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .430 FG%, .341 3PT%
Amar'e needs to stay healthy to help New York in the postseason.
After a promising start to his Knicks career back in 2010, Amare's Stoudemire has had to deal with injuries ever since. Stoudemire missed most of the 2012-13 season with an injured left knee.
Upon returning on New Year's Day against Portland, Amar'e managed to shake off some rust and posted decent numbers for New York in about two months of action. He posted 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in just 23.5 minutes of action per game.
However, his knees could not hold up and he was shut down in March after another procedure on his knee. Amar'e was out for the remainder of the season and missed the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics.
Stoudemire returned to play in four games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but was unimpressive and had little impact. He averaged only 3.8 points and and 2.3 rebounds in only 8.3 minutes per night.
Amar'e has worked hard to stay healthy this summer and is preparing to make an impact for New York this season. However, he likely will be playing in a reserve role off the bench, as the Knicks have implemented a minutes restriction in an effort to keep him healthy.
Amar'e will be held to about 20 minutes per night, as Marc Berman of the New York Post reported via Twitter. His impact will be limited, but if he can stay healthy, then he should be able to help. There will also be less pressure on Stoudemire with the re-signing of Martin and the acquisition of Bargnani.
Prediction: 11.4 PPG, 1.7 APG, 4.8 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.9 BPG, .540 FG%, .282 3PT%
Jeremy Tyler will fight to earn minutes in Mike Woodson's rotation.
Jeremy Tyler is filled with potential and may have a chance to earn significant playing time as New York's backup center this season. Tyler forfeited the final year of high school and left to play overseas following his junior year. He played in Israel for the Maccabi Haifa and then went to Tokyo to play for Tokyo Apache.
The Golden State Warriors took a chance on Tyler in the second round of the 2011 draft. Tyler has a decent offensive game, but is known for being a solid rebounder, according to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports ProBasketballTalk.
What the guy can do is rebound and rebound well. It’s a good skill to excel at.
He appeared in 42 games (started 23) in the 2011-12 season, but only averaged 13.5 minutes per game. Tyler scored 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Tyler spent some time with Atlanta in addition to Golden State last season, but saw limited action in 21 combined games.
Tyler received an invitation to the Knicks summer league team and performed well. He averaged 12.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting a surprising 56.3 percent from the field. His performance earned him a spot on the roster, as the Knicks signed him in early August.
Tyler will likely see limited action to start the season. However, if Chandler, Stoudemire or Martin gets banged up, Tyler will see some more playing time. The 22-year-old will have to rebound and defend while he is on the court, as the Knicks will have other scoring options to turn to. Tyler should be able to contribute this season, even if it is only in limited time.
Prediction: 3.2 PPG, 0.4 APG, 4.1 RPG, 0.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG, .522 FG%, .189 3PT%
Tyson Chandler remains the anchor of the New York Knicks defense.
Tyson Chandler will once again be the anchor of the New York Knicks defense this season. However, he will not have to do it alone. The addition of World Peace, the re-signing of Martin and a healthy Shumpert will make life easier for Chandler.
Chandler had another strong season for New York just one year after winning Defense Player of the Year. He was named to the All-Defensive 1st Team last season and averaged a double-double (10.4 PPG, 10.7 RBG) in an All-Star campaign.
The big man became known for his "tip-outs" last season, when he would tap the ball out to a teammate on the perimeter rather than corral the rebound himself (although he would still be credited with the offensive rebound). His "tip-outs" would extend possessions for the Knicks, while giving the defense a longer break.
Chandler's shooting percentage was down a bit compared to the 2012-13 season (.679 in '11-12 to .638 in '12-13), but he was still solid last season nonetheless. Expect Chandler to continue to hover over 60 percent from the field due to the nature of his shot attempts (dunks, alley-oops, put-backs).
The Knicks will need Chandler to stay healthy and play at an elite level this season if they expect to contend for a championship. His impact on the defensive end is obvious and his offensive production remains adequate. Expect another strong year from Tyson Chandler.
Prediction: 10.6 PPG, 1.2 APG, 11.4 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 1.5 BPG, .642 FG%, .000 3PT%
The Knicks will compete for a spot in the top tier of the Eastern Conference
After going through each player's expectations for the upcoming season, let's take a look at what their rotation may look like. Expect a revolving door at the power forward and center positions with 'Melo, Martin, Bargnani, Chandler and Stoudemire. Do not expect too much playing time from Leslie and Tyler to start the season. Also, keep in mind that these predictions are based on several factors, including injuries and playing time.
|PG:||Pablo Prigioni, Beno Udrih|
|SG:||Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr.|
|SF:||Iman Shumpert, Metta World Peace, C.J. Leslie|
|PF:||Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Andrea Bargnani|
|C:||Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire, Jeremy Tyler|
* Bold = Sixth Man