Which NY Knicks Newcomer Has Best Chance to Make Biggest Impact?
The New York Knicks made some solid moves this summer, and it's time to break down just how big an impact each new addition can have on the 2013-14 season.
With plenty of depth already, there may not be room for each player to produce at a high level, so there's definitely an element of competition here in training camp.
Each player does bring a unique set of skills to the table, however, so excluding non-guaranteed camp invites, let's take a look at the chances each newcomer has to make an impact in New York.
Mike Woodson still isn't sure of his starting lineup for the upcoming season, but according to Newsday, it does sound like he's intrigued by the possibilities a unique player like Andrea Bargnani could bring to the unit.
Considering the Knicks' recent success with small ball, Bargnani definitely fits into the system, and if he can build a rapport with Carmelo Anthony, he could be a huge difference maker for the offense.
Playing at power forward, Melo benefited from plenty of spacing last season, but starting alongside Bargnani will give him the same room in the post without putting his body at risk against bigger opponents.
Bargnani is certainly talented enough to make a big impact in New York, but his focus and intensity have been questioned in the past, and that will have to change in a city that breathes basketball and has title expectations.
Hopefully, a fresh start will breathe new life into Bargnani as, for the first time in his career, he's on a truly competitive team with plenty of talent around him. Having a fiery head coach like Woodson and leaders like Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin in the frontcourt with him should also ensure he doesn't fall astray.
The general consensus on the trade that brought Bargnani to New York is that it was a misguided move, but the former No. 1 overall pick has a genuine chance to prove himself here. He's one of the biggest draft busts in recent memory, but the vitriol he's received over the years has let people forget just how talented he actually is.
On a stacked team like this, Bargnani is unlikely to put up major scoring numbers, but if he can shoot at a high percentage and contribute more on defense—which we know he can do when he wants to—that's all the Knicks really need from him.
Bargnani isn't just a shooter, though. He also has a solid post game and puts the ball on the floor better than most players his size. With more space to work with, we should start to see those elements of his game come to fruition.
On the whole, New York struggled to get to the line last season, and Bargnani should help to solve that problem. He excels at drawing and selling contact in the paint and shoots a high percentage on his foul shots.
Not knowing how many minutes he's going to play, it's hard to come up with a quantitative prediction for Bargnani's season, but his talent and skill set should help the Knicks' offensive system to run more smoothly and make up for the loss of J.R. Smith's scoring in the short-term.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Most expect No. 24 overall pick Tim Hardaway Jr. to be nothing more than a bench warmer in his rookie season, but with J.R. Smith out for the next few weeks, he's got an opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation.
One of the main reasons the Knicks took Hardaway is because he was one of the most NBA-ready prospects available late in the first round. As we've already seen in preseason, his jump shot is a legitimate weapon at this level and the stage isn't too big for him after playing at Michigan.
In the preseason opener against the Boston Celtics, Hardaway scored 16 points, including a baseline game-winner with 8.2 seconds to go.
To expect Hardaway to keep up that type of form throughout his rookie season is a stretch, but if he proves he can be a consistent contributor off the bench, he could still have a big impact on the Knicks' season.
If Hardaway and Iman Shumpert—another player who looked great against the Celtics—continue to impress on the offensive end, the Knicks might actually be in a position where they could trade Smith and his very team-friendly contract for an upgrade elsewhere on the court.
At this stage, Smith is clearly the superior player to Hardaway, so the rookie can't be expected to make up his 18.1 points per game on his own. It is possible, however, that he could average a more efficient 10 points per game, with the other 8.1 points coming from guys like Bargnani, Shumpert and Amar'e Stoudemire.
The next few weeks are going to be very telling for the Knicks. They have three young shooting guards under long-term deals and the likelihood that they keep them all is slim. If Hardaway and Shumpert prove they can make up Smith's production between them—while also playing better defense—it wouldn't be a surprise to see Smith gone in a year's time.
Only two years ago, the Knicks were relying on Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas at point guard, but all of a sudden, it's one of the more stacked positions on the roster.
As it stands, Beno Udrih figures to be the third-stringer behind Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni, but Smith's absence for the next few weeks should open up some playing time for Udrih to prove himself worthy of a consistent spot in the rotation.
The chances of Udrih making a major impact are slim considering his place in the depth chart, but if Felton or Prigioni was to get injured, his value would really come to light.
Udrih is good enough to at least earn a backup role on most NBA teams and for that reason, he can't be counted out entirely to crack the rotation. He's a well-rounded guard who excels at finding the open man and hitting the pull-up jumper, and that may force Woodson to find minutes for him. If he proves he manages to play better defense than Felton, that may not be too difficult a proposition.
While Udrih is certainly a solid, experienced player, his role on the team right now is to provide depth and, though he's good enough to make a big impact on a team like this, the likelihood is that he won't get the chance once Smith returns.
Metta World Peace
While the forward's off-court activity may be a little more random, the Knicks know what they're going to get out of Metta World Peace this season.
He's a tough defender who can hit the three and knows what it takes to win a championship. He won't be a major scorer, but he should be good for 10 or so points a night while taking on the opposition's best forward.
Assuming he's able to stay healthy, World Peace should have a low ceiling and a high basement during his tenure with the Knicks. There shouldn't be much fluctuation—he'll be one of their most important defensive players and someone to spread the floor and make the extra pass on offense.
In terms of intangibles, World Peace's experience and on-court intensity should leave a big impact on the rest of the team. Based on what his new teammates have said about him, he's clearly a respected player in the locker room, which will help to make up for the loss of Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace.
World Peace isn't the player he once was and, while he's still a solid role player, Bargnani, being in his prime, has a better chance to make a bigger impact. World Peace's presence will still be felt, but there's only so much he can contribute, whereas Bargnani has the talent, if nothing else, to be a very important piece.
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