How David Lee, Nate Robinson and the New York Knicks Look at NBA Preseason's Tip

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How David Lee, Nate Robinson and the New York Knicks Look at NBA Preseason's Tip
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Now that the New York Knicks' preseason has started and the roster is set, it is a good time to see what the team actually has going this year. So, without further ado, here is a player by player analysis of the New York Knicks.

 

Centers

David Lee will likely start at center again this year. Though he is really a power forward playing center, Lee is athletic enough to compensate for his lack of height.

Lee is a rebounding machine and has excellent footwork. Few run the pick-and-roll as well as he does. He almost always is in perfect position to get a lay-up if his teammates can make the pass. This is an underrated skill. 

Lee also uses both hands well near the basket which makes him a surprisingly effective low-post scorer. 

While still a poor shooter, Lee has improved and is now okay from about 15 feet. 

Even though Lee is a great leaper, he is an amazingly poor shot blocker with no timing. He also does a poor job of holding his position in the low post on defense. So even though he usually gets 10-plus rebounds per game, he is limited defensively. Lee's lack of defensive skills is a major reason why the Knicks are a poor team on defense.

The great hope for the Knicks is Darko Milicic. Though laughter is to be expected from this statement, Milicic is actually a good fit for this Knicks team. 

Milicic has three NBA skills. He can block shots, rebound, and run. He cannot score in the low post, but can hit an open medium-range jump shot. 

With the Knicks, he does not need to score. If he rebounds and blocks some shots, he will improve the defense and allow Lee to occasionally play power forward. 

The Knicks under Mike D'Antoni are a running team that almost never posts up. So if Darko cannot play well for the Knicks, he cannot be an effective player in the NBA.

Milicic will not be asked to do anything that he cannot do. The Knicks just need 20 to 30 minutes per game. If he can do that, New York will be a playoff contender.

Eddy Curry is overweight. 

The latest word is that he is about 318 pounds. (That's after losing 40 pounds.) 

While he had the excuse of a bad knee last year, the reality is that Curry does not have the desire to succeed. He is a very poor defender and rebounder. And he is currently hurt again. 

He has only two real NBA skills. He can score in the low post and he can take up space near the post. He cannot shoot a jump shot. He cannot block shots. If he is not the focus of the offense when he plays, he is basically useless. 

Ideally, he will get healthy and the Knicks will force-feed him the ball enough to boost his trade value before dumping him for an expiring contract.

Jordan Hill is an athletic rookie who can play both center and power forward. But he is very raw. 

He has a nice jump shot and can block shots. He has below-average footwork in the post on both offense and defense. It appears he can be overpowered on the boards due to a lack of strength. 

I expect very little this year from Hill and think that he needs some NBA-level training to reach his potential.

 

Forwards

Al Harrington is an underrated player. 

He is a very good shooter and has a variety of spin moves. He can score in the post when necessary. 

Harrington is a fundamentally sound rebounder and defender although he does not excel at either skill. As such, he will not hurt a team defensively and will create favorable match-up problems for the Knicks on offense. 

Though he needs to improve his passing skills, Harrington is a really nice fit for the Knicks. Unlike most of the Knicks, he has played well in the playoffs in the past.

Danilo Gallinari is the great unknown. 

He can shoot the ball. I mean, he can really shoot the ball. The Knicks have never had a forward with his shooting ability. Healthy, Gallinari could be a better version of Hedo Turkoglu. 

Gallinari is an excellent passer and ball handler. He is the type of player that makes his teammates better because he sees the court so well. However, he plays too high on defense which makes him vulnerable to dribble penetration. Plus, he lacks strength and can easily be posted. He does a nice job of overplaying the passing lanes, though. 

If healthy, Gallinari is potentially an impact player.

Wilson Chandler is a nice glue player. He scores a little, rebounds a little, clocks some shots and plays defense. Think of him as an athletic version of Shane Battier. His jump shot is not as good, but he drives much better. 

Chandler is the Knick who has the ability to make the biggest leap. If he improves the consistency of his jump shot, he can play shooting guard and both forward positions.

While none of the Knicks' top three forwards are stars, they are all quality players.

Jared Jeffries is the forgotten forward on the Knicks but he can play defense and block shots. 

He is a decent rebounder, particularly on offense. However, he panics with the ball and often rushes his shots. As such, he is very limited. His role is only that of a defensive stopper.

 

Guards

Larry Hughes will likely start at the shooting guard position. 

He is tall and athletic and is the Knicks' best perimeter defender. But he has an inconsistent jump shot and poor shot selection. 

In a weird way, Hughes is a good fit for a D'Antoni team because the system provides the freedom to take the first good shot, meaning he won't force as many. However, he is a stop-gap player. He will fight Nate Robinson and Wilson Chandler for playing time.  Expect him to play well as this is his contract year.

Chris Duhon is a very underrated player.

He is a good defender and solid spot-up shooter. He makes smart passes and does not try to be flashy. He is very good at running the pick-and-roll. 

On the other hand, he is not very creative as a point guard and has trouble creating shots for himself. 

Until he ran out of gas two-thirds of the way into last season, Duhon was having a very good year. If he is in better shape, he will be a good fit for a fantasy team. He will probably play 35 minutes a game. The Knicks can absolutely win with Duhon as their point guard.

Nate Robinson is the Knicks' most explosive player, good and bad. 

Robinson might be the most athletic player in the NBA. Unfortunately, he is only 5'9" at best. He rebounds and blocks shots better than players a foot taller and is a very good shooter that can score in traffic. 

Robinson is not a very good passer. Because he can drive virtually anywhere on the court, he tends to over-dribble and force plays. However, he can also have stretches where he is completely unstoppable. 

Nate is a good on-the-ball defender and because he is so strong, teams have had little success posting him up.

Toney Douglas is a rookie who will be a nice role player for the Knicks. He is a superior defensive player is all aspects. 

Douglas has shown the ability to play solid basketball as a point guard by limiting turnovers and making solid passes. Though he lacks explosiveness on offense and his jump-shot lacks NBA range, he is an adept ball-handler and has the ability to drive and get into the lane. 

He should be able to give the Knicks a solid 10 to 15 minutes per game as the backup point guard. Look for him to be a continually improving player.

It is highly unlikely that any other player will play significant minutes. Overall, the Knicks should be able to win about 38 to 42 games this year if everyone stays healthy and plays up to expectations.

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