Knick fans got their first look at Mike D’Antoni’s 2008-2009 team Wednesday night, and they had to like what they saw.
For at least one night, the numerous critics who said the Knicks have the wrong personnel for D’Antoni’s fast-paced system were silenced, as the Knicks built a 20-point lead en route to defeating the Miami Heat.
Players such as Jamal Crawford, David Lee, and Nate Robinson—all of whom should have been expected to excel in an up-tempo system—showed they were up to the challenge of playing for D’Antoni. Even Zack Randolph looked comfortable, despite his tendency to prefer slower offensive possessions.
But the biggest bright spot for the Knicks Wednesday night had to be Wilson Chandler.
The second-year swingman was superb off the bench, scoring 17 points and adding nine rebounds in only 23 minutes of play. Chandler looked fluid, energetic, and athletic throughout the game, and was a big reason the Knicks won their season opener.
Chandler looked like a slimmer, more mature, and more capable version of the player who excited the Garden faithful in his 2007-2008 rookie season. He was all over the court offensively, consistently slashing to the basket and finishing effectively with either hand.
Going into the season, Chandler was an afterthought, primarily because first-round draft pick Danilo Gallinari was expected to take much of Chandler’s playing time. Now, it looks like he might just take Quentin Richardson’s starting spot.