Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How Can I Help You? New York Knicks

Anthony is looking for another scorer to play with.
The New York Knicks had the most up and down season for any team in recent memory. First, the team struggled immensely to start the season, not living up to expectations. Then, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire got injured and the Jeremy Lin show took off, reviving the Knickerbockers. After the returns of Anthony and Stoudemire, the team didn't seem to mesh well and started slumping. That led to the resignation of former head coach Mike D'Antoni, the defensive style of new head coach Mike Woodson, and a strong surge of Melo powering them through the final weeks of the season. Finally, the team was manhandled by the Heat and knocked out of the playoffs in five games. Stoudemire has been pointed out as an issue here, as he doesn't seem to fit in the team. Whatever the case, it showed the Knicks have some serious holes. They'll try to address them in the draft.

Being a Knicks fan, I watched the majority of their games this year. By doing so, I feel like I've gotten to know how the team plays and understand what their strengths and weaknesses are. I'm not saying I should be an NBA coach, but its clear to see where the Knicks need help. First let's look at their free agents.

Can "Linsanity" return to the NBA?
All signs point towards Jeremy Lin getting a big payday. Will he live up to it? That remains to be seen. But is he capable of being a starting NBA point guard? I think so. Lin needs to work on taking care of the ball and defense, but his ability to pass the ball and attack the basket makes him a solid PG option for New York. The other point man, Baron Davis, will likely not be brought back. Davis went down with a gruesome knee injury in the playoffs and will be out for quite some time. Landry Fields has been better than expected, but I just don't understand what he brings to the table. He doesn't excel at one specific area. However, I hear that he will likely be back with the team. J. R. Smith is another very interesting situation. His scoring ability is desperately needed by the Knicks, but his off the court issues, inconsistency, and desire to test the free agent market makes me feel like he's a goner. Steve Novak ais another player that shouldn't be resigned. He's a one dimensional three point shooter and he showed that against Miami. Finally, Jared Jeffries should be given a new contract, as he did contribute well for the team when needed.

That being said, let's look at the roster. Lin will start at point guard (barring an outlandish Steve Nash signing), and Mike Bibby will be the backup. With the guard injuries that the Knicks had all season, it would be wise to look for a backup in the draft or free agency. Iman Shumpert's timetable for his return from injury is uncertain, but hopefully he can make it back next season. Fields will start in his place.

At small forward is Carmelo Anthony, who truly needs some backup help. Too often was Anthony the only person who could score on the team. Stoudemire and Jeffries will man the power forward spot and Tyson Chandler will be the center with Josh Harrellson behind him. Big man depth is another need.

So what do the Knicks need? That have a lot of talent, but haven't been able to put it all together. And with only the 48th pick in the draft, they'll need to do work in free agency as well. But their main holes are backup point guard, wing scorer who can create their own shot, and post scorer. In just a season, New York went from all offense to all defense. They need someone after Melo to pick up the slack, even if Amare returns to form.

Finding a veteran point guard or big man who can score down low is something that would better be suited for free agency. Therefore, I'll adress the most persistent need: a wing player who can back up both Fields and Melo and create his own shot.

Crowder has his three goggles on.
Late in the draft, there aren't a ton of options, but there are some. Will Barton from Memphis or Khris Middleton from Texas A&M would both be excellent picks here. Both have the versatility to score in a variety of different ways and play both the two and the three. The only problem is that neither will likely be around once New York is on the clock. Kevin Murphy from Tennessee Tech boasts serious NBA range and a very consistent jumper. He hit 41.6% of his three pointers last season despite shooting just under six a game. Jared Cunningham's scoring relies on his his potential. If the former beaver can live up to it, he can pair attacking the basket with his stellar defense. Hollis Thompson of Georgetown is another shooting specialist, but he doesn't offer much besides that (see Steve Novak). Ohio St.'s William Buford has great shooting mechanics and can be a leader on the floor. Jae Crowder, despite his "tweener" status, has the ability to score a lot of different ways thanks to his shooting and strength. UCSB's Orlando Johnson averaged nearly 20 points per game in his career and has the size and frame to score as a pro.

Phew. Let me take a breather. The deeper we go in the draft, the more room for leeway and less difference between prospects there is. Because I think that the Barton/Middleton/Murphy trio wil be off the board, I say that the Knicks take a flyer on either Crowder or Johnson. Both would add scoring and physicality, just what this team needs.

For argument's sake, Ill look at five prospects in other areas of need.

Iona's Scott Machado is a fantastic point guard prospect who would pair well with Melo thanks to his pass first mentality. Tomas Satoransky from the Czech Republic has great size (6'8"), but also great passing ability and court vision. He could very well be the best European player in this draft. Casper Ware of Long Beach St. can pass, shoot, and attack. He has everything you look for in a PG, but his size (5'10") is a concern. Same goes for Jordan Theodore of Seton Hall. Theodore has already worked out for the Knicks, and is a great on the court leader who brings a talented offensive game with his point guard abilities. Looking at big men, Robert Scare of Gonzaga could give Tyson Chandler a break. He has several back to the basket post moves. Finally, Yancy Gates from Cincinnati has a nice offensive game. Some may wonder about his attitude and lack of toughness, but he has the capability to be a banger down low.

In the end, I'll have to go with Crodwer because I know more about him and I've seen him play before. That would make New York look something like this in the 2012-2013 season:

PG: Jeremy Lin, Mike Bibby
SG: Landry Fields, Jae Crowder
SF: Carmelo Anthony, Jae Crowder
PF: Amare Stoudemire, Jared Jeffries
C: Tyson Chandler, Josh Harrellson

The Knicks still have holes and depth issues, but there's only so much that one draft pick can do. I believe that a bunch of the prospects I've mentioned could help the team in a variety of ways. New York has drafted well recently, especially in the second round.

Next up, I head to Lob City to try and help the Clippers become a true title contender.

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