The New York Knicks—who had very limited resources heading into the summer—managed to improve their roster with several surprising moves over the offseason. Glen Grunwald returned some key Knicks who played a major role in the team's success last year, and also added new veteran faces to aid a hopeful improvement in 2013-14.
As a result of the talent influx for this season—New York's rotation can go as many as 12 deep—some Knicks may be disappointed in their nightly burn. With both the backcourt and frontcourt jammed with proven ability, it'll be Mike Woodson's responsibility to properly divvy out minutes.
Ahead, we analyze who may be on the receiving end of a minutes slash, and how their situations could be handled this season.
When the Knicks decided to trade with the Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani early in the offseason, how the team would handle the overpriced 7-footer was, and has been, a topic of discussion. With Amar'e Stoudemire already on the roster, and collecting double Bargnani's already bloated salary, piecing together a rotation with two defensive-liability 4s is no easy task.
It's important to note that Stoudemire will likely be limited to 20 minutes nightly for the foreseeable future (via the New York Post). What's also notable is that S.T.A.T., when healthy, was as efficient as ever in 2012-13. His 22.2 PER ranked among the top threats in the game, and he's posted a higher field-goal percentage just once in his career.
With this in mind—assuming Stoudemire is able to perform—the Knicks will likely rely on Amar'e for most of his medically-permitted 20 minutes.
This would leave approximately the same minutes total for Bargnani, who's averaged more than 30 minutes for his career. With a quick look at the former No. 1 pick's shooting splits from 2012-13, you'll realize that this could work in New York's favor (via Basketball-Reference).
Whether it was due to a conditioning issue or something else, the numbers show that as games wore on, Bargnani became dramatically less effective.
In first quarters, Bargnani shot close to 46 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range. By the time the final quarter rolled around, however, Bargnani was just a 33-percent shooter, including an abysmal 4-of-21 clip from the arc. Oh, and avoid looking at his overtime splits if you have a weak stomach.
Limiting Il Mago at 20 to 25 minutes per night could help eliminate this discrepancy by keeping him fresh over the course of a game, rather than having him flame out by halftime.
Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace has started 832 of his 902 career games, so playing the part of role-player in 2013-14 will be a change for the 33-year-old. He's averaged close to 34 minutes over his 14-year career, but the Knicks will only require his services for a fraction of that this year.
World Peace's duties will be similar to what they were last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, just in less bulk. New York will rely on him to defend forwards of various sizes, and to knock down threes from both corners. Basketball-Reference's shooting heat map does a good job at depicting where MWP's offense comes from nowadays.
With the Lakers' depth obliterated by season's end last year, Ron Ron was asked to contribute more than usual—his 33.7 minutes per game last year were actually greater than his career mark—but the Knicks don't plan on having that problem in 2014. In fact, it should be the opposite situation.
With Carmelo Anthony being counted on for 35 minutes or so—splitting time at both forward spots—and the with Stoudemire/Bargnani combo worked into the rotation as well, finding minutes for MWP won't be easy for Woodson.
But considering how mightily the team struggled on defense in 2013—they finished 17th in team efficiency—mixing World Peace in will be absolutely necessary. The talent around him just eliminates the risk of overuse, which benefits New York. (See: Jason Kidd, 2012-13 (monthly splits), or Amar'e Stoudemire, 2012-13.)
Over his nine NBA seasons, Beno Udrih has filled various roles for four different teams. Most recently, with the Orlando Magic during the final third of last season, Udrih was averaging over 27 minutes as the starting point guard.
In his most prominent role since 2010-11 with the Sacramento Kings, Udrih put up 10 points and six assists with Orlando, shooting near 40 percent from the three-point line. His Magic success didn't bring the free-agent interest he'd hoped, and Udrih ultimately settled on a minimum-salary deal with the Knicks.
With the New York, Udrih will be a part of the three-headed point guard monster, in conjunction with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. At several points last season, Woodson made use of different variations of dual-point-guard lineups that helped expedite ball movement, critical in any offense centered around Anthony and J.R. Smith—two isolation-heavy ball-handlers.
The Knicks will undoubtedly utilize Udrih both on and off the ball, but there are only so many point-guard minutes to spread around. Prigioni averaged nearly 22 minutes as a starter over the season's final 18 games last year, and Felton can be counted on for around 34 minutes. Udrih should assume most of now-retired Jason Kidd's minutes from 2013, although Kidd's 26.9 MPG mark from last year is a bit skewed.
Kidd was playing nearly 30 minutes per game through the end of January, a time in which Prigioni was primarily glued to the bench (15.2 MPG). From that point forward, Kidd averaged a more modest 24.5 ticks per contest, which should be more consistent with the amount of burn Udrih can expect in 2014.
Ball movement should be the emphasis again this season, with Anthony, Smith, Stoudemire and Bargnani—all players that dramatically disrupt passing flow when the ball comes their way—as primary weapons in the offense.
Woodson will depend on all Knicks point guards—Udrih included—to help the offense build off its miraculous 2012-13 output.
It's a perfect situation for the 31-year-old. The only factor working against his minutes is the talent of those around him—depth that can only makes the Knicks a deeper, more intimidating unit in 2014.
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