What to Expect from Every NY Knicks Player in 2014-15
The new faces added to the Knicks roster and coaching staff give the franchise hope for the future.
After underachieving and toiling in mediocrity throughout 2013-14, the Knicks are developing an identity with the additions of players who fit into head coach Derek Fisher's triangle offense.
Fisher's system should benefit many of New York's players, providing them with structure and purpose while on the court. Stagnancy won't be an issue for the Knicks in 2014-15, and guys like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith should see an increase in efficiency.
Let's take a look at the team Phil Jackson has built thus far.
Shane Larkin, PG
At the moment, the second-year player is a change-of-pace guard who pushes the ball well. Larkin possesses great agility and dexterity and has the opportunity to become a reliable playmaker against second units.
He's a good shooter off the dribble and should be consistent when spotting up along the perimeter. As long as he stays under control, Larkin should excel in the triangle offense, utilizing his speed in the two-man game when coming off ball screens and handoffs.
Travis Outlaw, SF
The veteran small forward will provide New York with good defense and consistent effort in transition and on the glass. Outlaw won't be much of a factor offensively, aside from the occasional backdoor cut or putback, but his defense will address one of the flaws that plagued the Knicks in 2013-14.
Outlaw rotates well and is a consistent on-ball defender. He won't rack up steals or dominate the passing lanes, but he also won't be a liability who closes out poorly or needs to switch on every screen.
Quincy Acy, SF/PF
Acy is a high-energy player who will ignite rallies by doing the little things. Like Outlaw, he's an athletic defender who runs the floor well. He's strong and isn't afraid to dive after loose balls and be physical. The Knicks lacked toughness in 2013-14, and the addition of Acy helps veil that deficiency. He won't be asked to score much, but he should pick up a couple of easy baskets each game due to his quickness and athleticism.
Jason Smith, PF/C
Smith is a solid screener and mid-range shooter who should benefit from the triangle offense, especially against reserves. The big man has a soft touch at the top of the key and foul line extended. He'll help spread the floor with his pick-and-pop abilities. And he's an adequate passer who will find cutters when he's on the floor. Smith plays with physicality and should be efficient defensively and on the boards.
Samuel Dalembert, C
Dalembert's role with the Knicks will be simple: block shots, rebound and try to play defense. The big man wasn't always reliable defensively last season, but with a new ball club he might be re-energized to hold his own more in the low post.
Unlike Tyson Chandler, Dalembert won't be asked to anchor the defense, but effort and basic rim protection from him are necessities for New York to make the playoffs. If Dalembert can give it his all for 20 minutes per game, he should do a sufficient job defensively and on the glass.
Pablo Prigioni, PG
The wily point guard may be one year older, but his wisdom and effort outweigh the questions surrounding his age. Prigioni does the little things that help organizations win games. He's been a pest with his ability to deflect inbounds passes, and he runs the offense well. Prigs doesn't force passes, and he knocks down open shots.
The 37-year-old isn't as athletic and quick as the competition, but he manages to avoid being a liability by utilizing his intuition and knowledge of the game. He'll be a solid backup point guard, and he ought to be an excellent mentor for Shane Larkin.
Tim Hardaway Jr., SG
The second-year player will take the next step this season. Hardaway Jr. plays with a ton of confidence, and he's continually making strides and evolving as a player and person. With his excellent jump shot, he will be a force in the triangle offense.
Hardaway Jr. could still be a little erratic at times, but he's a good shooter off the dribble and has gotten better making plays off ball screens. His defense still needs improvement, but with experience and proper coaching, he should become less of a liability. Hardaway Jr. will probably average new career highs in scoring, and he has the potential to be a serious X-factor for the Knicks.
Cleanthony Early, SF
As a rookie, Early won't be asked to do much more than defend his position and score when open. He has the potential to become a consistent scorer, especially against reserves, but he won't be featured as prominently as Hardaway Jr. and J.R. Smith.
Early is a reliable scorer off the dribble and should thrive as a cutter and off handoffs in the triangle offense. Early also rebounds well for his position and should help fortify one of New York's weaknesses. The young small forward will improve throughout the course of the season, and he will be consistent in head coach Derek Fisher's offense.
Andrea Bargnani, PF/C
Like Jason Smith, Bargnani should thrive in the triangle due to his mid-range shooting ability. Bargs is consistent from elbow to elbow, and if he desires, he could spread the floor out to the three-point line. The knock on Bargnani has been his health, but if he manages to stay on the court, he will be a solid contributor for the Knicks.
He held his own as a shot-blocker in 2013-14, and he's a competent man-to-man defender. He'll need to improve his help defense and rotations, however, in order not to be a question mark defensively.
Cole Aldrich, C
Aldrich has a soft touch around the basket and has proved to be a worthwhile defender and rebounder. He may not become a star, but the Knicks could trust the youngster to man the 5 for 20 minutes per game.
Aldrich is a good screener, and with his athleticism, he could make an impact against reserves in the pick-and-roll. He will finish at the rim and make the occasional jump hook from the post. He isn't a liability on either end of the floor, and for the moment, he fills a need at the 5.
Jose Calderon, PG
Jose Calderon is an excellent fit for Fisher's offense.
He's an unselfish player with a consistent jump shot, which meshes well with New York's current roster. Calderon is a reliable playmaker who will be trusted when the ball is kicked out to him on the perimeter.
With pick-and-pop players like Jason Smith and Bargnani on the roster, coupled with the team's other shooters, Calderon will have the opportunity to rack up plenty of assists in 2014-15. He runs the pick-and-roll well, which should add to the bottom lines of Aldrich and Amar'e Stoudemire, and he thrives at finding cutters to the basket.
His chemistry with Dalembert should see the big man get a couple of easy chances around the rim per game, which would keep the center interested and less irritable over the course of the season.
Iman Shumpert, SG
A little structure may be what Iman Shumpert needs to improve offensively.
The young shooting guard has been lauded for his defensive prowess since entering the NBA, but his offense has been sporadic and frustrating, to say the least. With the triangle employed, Shump should get his share of easy looks at the basket and perhaps find consistency.
Too often in 2013-14, Shumpert started and scored less than a handful of points. Part of the blame for his inconsistencies could be chalked up to New York's isolation-heavy offense at the time.
In Fisher's triangle, Shump won't be asked to create for himself off the dribble as much as he has needed to thus far in his career, and in essence he should be more effective offensively than in the past.
If Shumpert can maintain his confidence when faced with adversity, he should see himself averaging a career high in points per game.
J.R. Smith, SG/SF
Focus has always been J.R. Smith's issue.
When he loses it, he takes lousy shots and makes some of the most bizarre plays one could imagine. But when he has it, he can score in bunches and excite the crowd.
Like Shumpert, the structure of the triangle should benefit Smith. The less the ball is in his hands and the more Smith moves without it, the better shots he should get, and the less sporadic his scoring will be.
Smith is a volume shooter, but if he buys into the triangle, he should see his field-goal percentage trend upward.
Carmelo Anthony, SF
After signing his monster contract, Carmelo Anthony will be looking to prove his worth in 2014-15.
The Knicks have a long way to go in order to become contenders, but with a healthy Anthony, the franchise is on the right path. Since this season is being looked at as a throwaway, Melo will likely play fewer minutes than the career high of 38.7 minutes per game he averaged in 2013-14.
He may not score more than 26 points per game this year, but he is likely to improve his field-goal percentage.
With Melo having to create fewer shots for himself due to Fisher's offense—as opposed to Woodson's isolation-heavy approach—he should find himself raising his efficiency with the better looks he'll see.
Anthony could see his rebounding numbers dip due to the potential minutes decrease and the additions of Jason Smith, Acy, Outlaw and Early.
Amar'e Stoudemire, C/PF
Entering the final year of the contract he signed back in 2010, Amar'e Stoudemire will be looking to prove to the NBA that he can stay healthy and contribute at a high level.
The hardworking veteran has never lost focused and has done all he could throughout the adversity he has faced since signing with New York. He'll be effective this season and should be more comfortable and fluid when executing offensively in the low post.
The Knicks will need Stoudemire to knock down open jumpers along the perimeter and baseline, and he should deliver as long as his body lets him. He's not the best defender, and his awareness has been questionable to poor at times, but with better coaching, he should be serviceable on that end.
Stoudemire will contribute positively for the Knicks, and if he can stay healthy, he'll be one of the reasons for New York making the playoffs.