The 2010-11 New York Knicks, if nothing else, were vastly more entertaining than their predecessors had been throughout the last decade or so. And so when I tried to put some season-postmortem thoughts on paper, I quickly realized that the franchise’s indisputable return to relevance deserved more points of view than just my own.
Indeed, only a roundtable of epic Knickcentric opinions would suffice. But who to call upon for knowledgeable, fun and reasonable hoops analysis?
Surely not Mr. Isola. Heck, only bloggers and folks without journalism degrees would ever agree to be part of something like this. Oh well, so be it.
Presenting, in no order of importance, my fellow inaugural members of the Knick Roundtable:
- Seth Rosenthal is the brains, not brawn, behind SB Nation’s Posting and Toasting. He’s not bacon, he’s Sizzlean.
- Charlie Zegers covers the Knicks for MSG.com, writes about fantasy basketball for RotoWire, and authors the About.com basketball page. Oh, and did I mention that he rocks out in Westchester?
- Tommy Dee is a man who needs no introduction, but he founded The Knicks Blog, scouts him some NBA talent on the side, and pretty much sets the blogging standard. Also, another Westchester homie.
- Tommy Beer is the Senior NBA Analyst and Lead Fantasy Basketball Editor for Hoopsworld.com. Ultimately, the only way he could be any cooler is if his last name was pluralized.
- Dan L. created the The Knicks FanBlog upon the advice of his therapist, who said that without a creative outlet, Dan’s fan-rage would surely eat him alive. If you like your truth unvarnished, there’s no better source.
- Simeon Russell rocks it for Sports Illustrated’s Knick Fannation page, and he aggregates Knick content on Twitter every morning. A must follow.
- The man behind Bandwagon Knick plays his identity pretty close to the vest, and disbunking widespread speculation that he’s really Isiah Thomas, he actually knows A LOT about basketball X’s & O’s. A better Knick post-game breaker-downer exists not.
- Jonathan Fishner may claim to be “reppin’ the Knicks Since Day One,” but I have it on great authority that he was not yet born when Patrick Ewing won his NCAA title. Whatever, I’m pickin’ up what he’s puttin’ down.
- Dan Miranda is full of teen angst — and hormones — but where he’s short on experience, he’s long on instinct and determination. His site, Knicks Vision, claims to be the “source for everything Knicks.” I don’t disagree.
- Known only by his Twitter handle, @netw3rk, this fan’s expertise is solely comprised of years of watching too much Knick basketball, primarily in a fetal position. Multiple Tweet-of-the-Day award winner, and relentless creator of hilarity.
1. What grade do you give the 2010-11 Knicks’ overall performance?
Let’s be honest. If you told me last June that the Knicks would eventually come within a terrible foul call and a Jared Jefferies brain-fart of taking a 2-0 lead against the Celtics — on the road — in the first round of the playoffs, I would have asked to see your long-form birth certificate. And if you then told me that Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony would be on the roster by the trading deadline, I would have warned you that I don’t like being messed with, and I happen to know a few Navy Seals with itchy trigger fingers. Like a phoenix, the franchise rose from Stephon Marbury’s ashes — ironically, not unlike how the Suns once did — and exceeded virtually every media or fan expectation. I grant a provisional A-, subject to next season’s performance.
Well, there’s Amar’e Stoudemire. He gets an A, because he was really great. Actually, he gets an A minus because he sucks at defense and only rebounds on occasion. He did stay healthy, though, so maybe he gets an A again.
Carmelo Anthony gets, like, a B+. He, like, Amar’e could give a little more in the effort aspects of the game, but he was absolutely dominant at times. Melo loses points for doing absolutely nothing to help the Knicks through the Knicks’ first 50 games of the season.
Chauncey Billups gets a B-. The injury troubles sucked, but even when healthy, his decision making was kinda questionable. He’ll improve next year with full health and a training camp, I think.
Landry Fields gets a B+. He surpassed expectations by a vast margin, but regressed as the season went on.
By that logic, Shawne Williams also gets a B+.
Toney Douglas didn’t really improve. Then again, he didn’t really regress. Then again, he apparently had an exploded ligament in his shoulder the whole time, so he’s a beast. Umm, B? I wonder if people’s responses to this question lend some insight into their performance in school? If somebody’s like “oh, this guy was mediocre”, then gives that guy an A-minus or something, then that somebody was a goodie two shoes suck-up geek buttface.
Where were we? Oh, Ronny Turiaf. He’s cool. He’d get something in the “A” range if he wasn’t injured so often. I’ll give him a B+.
Bill Walker was okay, but he really didn’t try hard enough. B-.
I ended up really liking Shelden Williams. He did great in the minutes he got. A-.
Jared Jeffries gets a C. You just can’t get away with being that useless on offense if you aren’t DOMINANT on defense. He covered ground well, but couldn’t body up big guys and committed a lot of silly fouls.
Anthony Carter gets like an A+ with a scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker. That guy was a delight. Up for anything.
Who else is on the Knicks? Oh, Derrick Brown. I don’t know, C? He could have done a better job of seducing Mike D’Antoni into giving him minutes.
Andy Rautins is Canadian, so he just gets a picture of a maple leaf.
Roger Mason gets a D or something. He seems cool, but really didn’t help ever.
Renaldo Balkman gets an F, and he’s thrilled about that.
I probably forgot somebody. Oh well. I give my own grades a C-.
I’m proud of this squad. From the management to the coaches to all the 773 players on the roster this year. I also think it’s important to keep expectations in mind in grading this group. Go back and look at all the blogs and mainstream coverage with respect to predictions at the start of the year. With very few exceptions, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who believed that the Knicks would be better than a .500 squad. Funny what one torrid stretch in December does to the perception of the fan base. Anyway, the Knicks did what they were supposed to do. That said, throughout the year they lost some extremely winnable games to the likes of the Cavs, the Kings…you name a bad team, the Knicks likely lost to them. In that sense they squandered an opportunity to overachieve. In school when you do what you’re supposed to do and nothing more you get like a B. So that’s my grade.
Overall, fans have to ask themselves would they have signed for the playoffs preseason and everyone would have said absolutely. That doesn’t deserve an “A” especially if you informed them that you’d be getting Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups with several weeks left. That said, Amar’e put the team on his back and elevated the franchise and the idea of having he and ‘Melo moving forward would lead you to believe they will be a perennial top 4 eastern conference team right away. Overall, I give the Knicks a B- for the season.
Tough to give a definitive grade, considering this Knicks team was constantly in a state of flux. The pre-‘Melo Knicks could have been considered overachievers, but they settled back around .500 by early February. Then, once the blockbuster deal went down, Billups and Amar’e were dinged up both towards the end of the regular season and in the playoffs as well. As result, D’Antoni has been here three seasons now, and we still aren’t able to fairly grade him or his team.
In all, I think 2010-11 was a successful season for the Knick franchise… but not as successful as it could have been. The biggest concern for me was the way this team played down to the level of the competition and gave away winnable games to the likes of Cleveland and Detroit – they should have finished several games better than 42-40. The coaching staff probably doesn’t get enough credit for making adjustments to accommodate the mid-season arrivals or for aiding in the development of players like Gallinari, Chandler and Douglas – but the team came out flat against lesser opponents far too often. And upper management gets credit for the Stoudemire and Anthony deals, but the David Lee trade was a total bust. I’d call their overall grade a C+. Not great – but their best grade in the better part of a decade.
B+. I always felt like I deserved credit for improvement when I was in school, so I’ll extend the same courtesy to the Knicks. They started the off-season as a 29 win joke, the season as a maybe-playoff team and the playoffs as a trendy pick for an upset. And even though some are clamoring for Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, role players are what they need this off-season. That being said, if they go 42-40 and get swept in the first round next season, I’ll flunk their asses.
This season’s Knicks get a B, though you could just as easily award them an INCOMPLETE. We saw two completely different teams, one that played 54 games before getting shipped off to the Nuggets, and a second one after the trade that played 32 games. Neither one really had the chance to realize their potential for obvious reasons. On top of that, injuries made it especially difficult to catch more than a glimpse of how good the post-trade Knicks could be, though the glimpses were tantalizing. More individually:
Carmelo: INCOMPLETE. What Knick fan will ever forget his heroic yet ultimately doomed 42 point 17 rebound 6 assist game 2 vs the Celtics. It was the greatest offensive playoff performance by a Knick that I have ever seen live (I only saw Bernard King on tape). He also showed what I’ll kindly call a lack of defensive instincts. I need to see him with a full camp under his belt.
Amare: A+. He single-handedly revived a beaten down franchise overnight through sheer force of his swaggerocity. I know he could rebound better. I know his pick & roll defense is seizure inducing. I know his knees are the biological version of my car’s donut spare-tire. I know the Knicks owe him roughly 100 billion first born children over 5 years. I don’t care. He made me feel good about rooting for Knicks again.
Billups: INCOMPLETE. I don’t know if he’ll play 60 games next season due to his propensity to shatter into tiny pieces when opposing players make contact with his leathery legs, but like ‘Melo, let’s see what he does after a full training camp.
Toney Douglas: C. He played with a bad shoulder all season. Makes head scratching decisions and frequently misses open teammates. Takes shots that cause my eyes to bleed. But he plays hard all the time. Can’t help but feeling that a theoretical Knicks title team that includes TD would have him as the 2nd guard off the bench not the 1st.
Landry Fields: C. He actually crapped his pants for 4 straight games in the playoffs.
Jared Jefferies: INCOMPLETE. I would like Jared back but he cant be the first big off the bench. He has the offensive ability of a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.
Ronny Turiaf: C. Very important player because of his interior defense and shot blocking. His knee brace has its own apartment. He made a critical error in cutting his beard mid-season.
Bill Walker, Grade: D. I like Bill. He dropped a lot of weight before the season but never drove to the basket. Then he gained it back and started driving more. He’ll randomly take and make a bunch of threes. He makes dumb fouls. He’s the type of player where you know right away if he can give you anything on offense.
Shawne Williams: B. Shawne showed a wonderful shooting touch, most fecally from the corner. He competes extremely hard on defense even though he was frequently physically over-matched. One of the great career reclamation projects in recent league memory.
B. Understandably, expectations are lost and met in the postseason, and frankly, the Knicks failed to convert on an opportunity. However that doesn’t rob them of their inspiring regular season, one that left many fans in awe how one team could captivate them before the trade deadline, and a complete new one could instill hope for future years to come. Had they snagged a playoff game or two, the grade would be higher.
My grade for the Knicks this year is a B. With the speculation of trade rumors, lack of rebounding, defense and depth with the Carmelo trade, I believe the Knicks slightly overachieved. With a huge adjustment after the trade, they managed to maintain a 42-40 record, very good for a team whose most tenured player is a sophomore guard off the bench. I didn’t go with an “A”, because I felt the mentality of the team was wrong at the end if the year, using late-season games as an extended training camp for next year, and used the lack if chemistry the “we wont be at full strength till next year idea” as a crutch for their failures.
2. What is the single greatest roster need for the Knicks to address this off-season?
Imma gonna make this short and sweet. The Knicks need an interior defender in the worst way, but they’d probably have better luck sending Bill and Ted on an joyous journey back in time to scoop up Patrick Ewing, circa 1986, than being able to afford a viable free agent or find an impact player in the draft.
The single greatest need for the Knicks is a quality defender that can contribute on both ends in D’Antoni’s system. Ideally, this would be an interior defender, in other words a quality center to put next to Amar’e at power forward. But quality centers are scarce and pricey, and the Knicks are lacking defenders at the wing and in the paint – their best defenders (Douglas, Carter) are smallish guards or one-dimensional role players (Jefferies, Turiaf). A Marion/Tony Allen/Grant Hill type that can guard multiple positions and quarterback the D would make a huge difference, along with a big man that can (at a minimum) platoon with Turiaf in the middle. (This is more important than the “defensive assistant coach” everyone pines for, because defensive coaches still can’t do anything without defenders to build a defense around).
Next season, two positions will be left open in the starting lineup: shooting guard and center. You could make the case for Toney Douglas playing the two, and because of this, getting a center is the most thing for the Knicks to address over the off-season. Amar’e Stoudemire faced lots of trouble last season because he was forced to guard big men, and getting a defensive-minded big that’s not injury prone (read: Turiaf), is a key.
The Knicks desperately need a seven-footer – ideally one that can walk and chew gum simultaneously. I don’t think they have much of a chance to land someone like Marc Gasol or DeAndre Jordan (restricted free agents both) and you can forget about Tyson Chandler or Nene. But that’s OK. They don’t need a star, they need a guy who can protect the rim a little on the defensive end, and hit the occasional wide-open layup when the opposing frontcourt is chasing STAT and ‘Melo. And they need one they can sign without sacrificing the cap space they’ve earmarked for a run at Chris Paul in 2012.I don’t like their chances of finding that guy in the draft, or of finding another European free agent that fits the bill a la Timofey Mozgov. But I suspect the new CBA, when it is eventually signed, will include a method for teams short on cap space to add veteran players to short-term deals at relatively low cost – a shorter, less expensive version of the mid-level exception. And I suspect Donnie Walsh will look to use that exception to sign someone like Kyrylo Fesenko, or Greg Foster or Sam Dalembert or Nazr Mohammed – any of whom would be a significant improvement over the Knicks’ current center rotation. Another name to consider – assuming Troy Murphy can shake off the rust he’s accumulated this season, he could be an excellent fit for this team. He rebounds very well on the defensive end, and on offense he could be a bigger version of Shawne Williams, camping out at the three-point line.
Someone to protect the basket and cover up defensive lapses is paramount. They also need a legitimate shooting guard who can come off screens and stretch the defense from behind the arc. Someone who can make big shots in November, but bigger shots in April.
Rebounding, defense, size, and preferably the part of the Venn diagram where those three circles overlap. Amar’e Stoudemire ain’t gettin’ it done in there. None of the other bigs were really convincing, and some of ’em might not even come back.
The single most important decision of this off-season doesn’t pertain to a player – the most crucial choice made this Spring is whether or not Dolan is smart enough to retain the services of Donnie Walsh. The good news for Knicks fans is that Dolan has apparently come to his senses. As long as Donnie is calling the shots, Knicks fans should feel confident with Walsh addressing the biggest holes in the Knicks roster, which are finding a long-term PG and starting center. Amar’e needs to have the load lightened on him down low, they need a banger to defend the rim and guard the other team’s best post player.
Definitely a player capable of playing center capably. Notice I didn’t say a center because the pickings a slim amongst the legit 5s. The search should expand to 4/5s, which means that guys like Kenyon Martin, Chuck Hayes and Kurt Thomas should be on the radar. Otherwise you’re looking at guys like Dalembert. I know I’m in the minority on this one but I think it’s a big mistake to give Sammy anything more than a year. Sure the guy blocks shots, but if they kept track of goaltends, he’d have to lead the league. If you swat at every ball whether it’s on the way up or not, you’ll block a few shots.
The Knicks have to get bigger. When I look at the NBA’s true contenders (other than Miami), every single one has size in the middle. The 60% of the Knicks starting five we already know about are below average defensively and in my opinion Landry Fields is average at best. That means they need someone to watch their backs. But it isn’t just center. Their backup power forward needs to be the size of a power forward, not the size of a Shawne Williams.
3. Should Mike D’Antoni stay or go? And if he’s here, what are the expectations of him for 2011-12?
D’Antoni has coached the approximate equivalent of 86 rosters over his three-season tenure, and despite everyone’s belief that his system can never win an NBA Championship, I’m not ready to dismiss him on the hope that Phil Jackson or Doc Rivers arrives via horseback in 2012. Who would replace him, anyway? Mike Brown? Mike Fratello? Mike Francesa? And why must the next coach be named Mike? And why is Dolan trying to kill Nordberg? And where the hell am I?
D’Antoni will get one more season to prove himself, which he probably deserves. I have had my doubts about D’Antoni since the day they hired him; however, they have now built a roster around his system. The players currently on the Knicks are suited to excel in a system which focuses primarily on offense. If you bring a defensive-minded coach in here, he’s going to have to figure out a way to correctly utilize ‘Melo and Amar’e. D’Antoni hasn’t had a training camp with a truly talented roster. He’ll get his shot this Fall. The expectations will be lofty. No excuses this time around.
Stay. He carried water for management for three years – two as they gutted the roster and one where they rebuilt on the fly – and deserves a chance to coach a real team for a full season (or a lockout shortened one if need be). But he’s on thin ice. The Knicks need to be in the battle for the fourth seed next season and need a good showing in the playoffs or he’s got to go. And if he refuses to hire a defensive assistant, he should be fired faster than you can say Jeff Van Gundy.
I’ve been consistent in maintaining that Mike D’Antoni should have at least one more year as the coach with a stable roster, since he hasn’t had that in any of his first three years with the team, through no fault of his own. His goal should be a top 4 seed, a first round playoff series win, and a solid competitive performance in the second round, win or lose. Barring injury or the loss of most of the season to lockout, he should be able to accomplish this if Walsh is able to acquire some good complementary pieces to fill the currently flawed roster.
You don’t hire Rex Ryan to coach a run-and-shoot team, and you don’t hire Don Nelson if you’re planning to walk the ball up and keep scores in the 80s. The Knicks have built a roster around two of the game’s top scorers – who better to coach them than Mike D’Antoni? That said, it does seem fair to ask the coach to make some adjustments for 2011-12. I’d like to see him add a defensive specialist to his staff. I’d like to see him use a deeper rotation – both to ensure that his reserves are capable of stepping in should the need arise and to minimize the wear-and-tear on Stoudemire and Billups in particular. I’d like to see him stress preparation a bit more – and if that means Stoudemire has to commute to Greenburgh for game-day shootarounds, so be it, he’s well-compensated for his time.
D’Antoni should stay, but he will be dealing with increased expectations. He will have – likely – training camp, the preseason, and the regular season in order to build the team up for the playoffs. If he can’t win one series with two of the top 15 players in the league (and a veteran point guard), you can say goodbye to MD’A.
I don’t think there’s any question that D’Antoni will have to make sacrifices and have to win at least 2 playoff rounds to be back. Phil Jackson would come back after a year off and I think Doc Rivers could be wooed as well. I think it’s Phil’s job if he wants it especially if the Knicks underachieve next year. It’s got his fingerprints and coaching model written all over it. Stars who can figure each other out.
Yes. I have nothing to add to the things that smart people have said about why he should stay so I’ll just offer a recap. Basically D’Antoni has coached 6 teams in 3 years. A lot of people downplay that, or flat out ignore it, but you’d be hard pressed to find a coach that’s had to deal with a similar situation. Upheaval is not conducive to winning. Also, frankly, the Knicks have rarely had a high talent level in the time he’s been coaching. He’s been placed in incredibly unfair situations for 3 years now that have only been amplified by the harsh New York media spotlight. The other thing is, who is going to replace D’Antoni? There’s one coach available right now who I really like, and that’s Rick Adelman. He’s had a sneaky-good coaching career, but he’s not good enough that I’d jettison D’Antoni and sign him to a multi-year deal with the likes of Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson likely to be coming off one-year hiatuses after the last year of D’Antoni’s contract.
Stay. He deserves a full training camp with this roster. I think there are valid criticism to be made about whether he deploys a coherent defensive team strategy. But I think he’s a good coach. I like the idea of bringing on a defensive minded assistant coach. Goals should be top 4 in the east.
D’Antoni should stay. MDA hasn’t had a full roster to work with since he’s been the coach, yet he’s managed to put together one of the league’s top offenses. How can you motivate players to buy in if they know they are not coming back or believe they are simply pawns and will not be around…YOU CANT!! Some folks will mention MDA’s poor end of game management in playoffs, but how can you make sound decisions when you barely know your players tendencies? It takes a coach more than 30 games to understand his squad, and make good lineup adjustments. This is a luxury Rivers had with Boston, but MDA did not. He stays. Next year? Game 7 of the Semi-Finals. At least.
I think he should stay for at least a year. I think. I could be convinced otherwise. I’d like to see him get a little more creative with the offensive weapons he now possesses. More plays designed to get open shots from the defender-drawing power of ‘Melo and Amar’e. More stuff on the block. More stuff going to the basket. Obviously, the defense needs to improve, too, but that has as much to do with personnel as it does coaching. I’d like to see less switching, though. My expectations/hopes are that the Knicks get into the top half of the league defensively and actually do some things in the playoffs.
4. Whose team is this going forward? Amar’e or Carmelo’s? Whose should it be?
I happen to think this is a critical issue going forward for the franchise. You see, both Amar’e and ‘Melo are alpha dogs that are used to being treated as such. It was painfully obvious by season’s end that in their brief Knick tenures, neither superstar’s games have been adjusted to compliment the other’s. It isn’t a matter of who gets more touches, or who takes the final shot, but rather it’s who is going to add a new dimension to their game — or de-emphasize an existing habit — in order make the tandem indefensible by the opposition. In a perfect world, that means Amar’e would add some back-to-the-basket moves and Carmelo would move without the ball and learns to pass effectively in the pick ‘n roll. Here’s hoping the two-man game emerges sooner rather than later.
I think they’ll have a symbiotic relationship. I don’t think it’s constructive to anoint the team to one guy. They each bring different praise-worthy traits. Amar’e took the New York challenge and changed the culture of the franchise. ‘Melo also wanted to be here and will play an important role for the franchise going forward on and off the court. Talent-wise, they’re both incredible, thrilling to watch, and capable of carrying the team in stretches or for entire games.
MINE. I don’t know, really. Does it matter? Do teams need owners? Probably. Neither of them has really blown me away as an on-court leader, so the team doesn’t really belong to either of them in my eyes.
Depends on how you define ownership… if you’re asking who will be the vocal leader of the club, my guess would be Stoudemire, with Billups a close second. But if you want to know who’s getting the ball for the last possession of the game, Anthony is the obvious answer. As for billboards and commercials and other “face of the franchise” opportunities… this is New York. There’s plenty of that stuff to go around. In terms of numbers, I suspect Anthony’s will get the bigger boost, only because I expect his role will expand to the point where he’s regularly initiating the offense, creating shots both for himself, for Stoudemire and the rest of the team. Mike D’Antoni thinks ‘Melo should be threatening triple-doubles on the regular. I might not go that far – he’s got exactly one triple-double in his career to date – but I’ll be deeply disappointed if he doesn’t post a career-high in assists.
No one player can/should claim the team – but Amar’e is more suited to be the locker room leader and the voice/face of the franchise. He was here first, and laid the groundwork for Melo’s arrival. Amar’e also handled the transition beautifully, which he deserves plenty of credit for. ‘Melo is the more dynamic player, but he can learn a lot for Stoudemire in terms of dealing with the NY media.
It’ll be Carmelo’s team. The NBA Superstar-Industrial Complex and the fact that he’ll have the ball in his hands more make it inevitable that Carmelo will be the number one guy. But for me, and I think for the folks who were really paying attention to the team before Carmelo arrived, it will always be Amare’s team. His play, leadership and likableness were awesome. It’s the rare instance where a guy was given more responsibility than he seemed capable of handling and he stepped right up into it. I’ll always love him for that. I also think he’s really handsome.
I believe this is Stoudemire’s team and will be going forward. Not because Amar’e was here first, but because he has the leadership, stature, and character required of the job. He may not always score, but he’s the bona fide leader of the team. Even if ‘Melo takes the last shot.
If the Knicks are going to contend with the elite teams in the Eastern Conference next season, the stars need to share the limelight, rather than having the team “belong” to one star or the other. The press can run with the narrative of whose team it is, but teams like the Celtics, Heat and Spurs do very well with a more democratic approach. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Knicks become “Carmelo’s team” in the mainstream press narratives because he’ll probably control the ball more in next season’s offense and he’s the best late game shot-maker. But the team will become really good if each one of the three best players – Billups, Stoudemire, and Anthony – works to make the others better as much as maximizing their own opportunities.
I think it’s Amare’s team simply because of his personality. Melo seems to be a really good dude who just wants to play and doesn’t seem to interested in really leading a team. But who knows, that could develop. This is an area where Chauncey is going to be critical.
Amar’e brought the Knicks back. Carmelo brought the Knicks excitement. But guess what… this is about creating a team environment. Melo seems to be more efficient when he moves the ball around. Stoudemire seems to play better when teammates are involved. It’s not either’s “team”, it’s both of them coming together and deciding they want to be leaders.
5. Who/what should the Knicks target in the upcoming NBA draft?
Hmm, is there enough time to culture some stem cells from Dwight Howard’s shoulders? The Knicks have needs aplenty so they better grab the best available player — just as long as that player doesn’t exclusively provide offense at the SF position. Ideally, they need size, defense and toughness, but to expect a rookie enforcer is probably unrealistic. If they can somehow mine an undervalued PG prospect or a lethal outside shooter, they will have done well for themselves — especially considering their mid-round draft position.
Well, I’d say interior defense and rebounding first. There are always unsung guys from backwoods colleges or just buried in good programs who aren’t tall enough to be lottery picks but have big butts and can rebound and stuff. Every draft has a few, and every team needs at least one. The Knicks currently have none. If they can somehow address that need in free agency, then perhaps a back-up point guard/point guard of the future. I doubt that’ll be available, though. Whoever the pick is, I hope he’s not a project. The Knicks need help immediately. They’re quite shallow, you see.
I think the Knicks should seriously consider trading down to get future 1st round picks myself, but if they are serious about this draft a young point guard and front court depth should be sources of need. They need to decide if they are going to wait until next year and save precious cap space, or ditch it and fill in the needs with picks and the mid-level exception. That is the first decision after the team decides if Donnie Walsh will be chief decision maker, and from what I’m hearing that is still very much up in the air.
Addressing their biggest needs (center and point guard) will be the stated objectives. However, the Knicks have so little depth surrounding ‘Melo and Amar’e that they can’t afford to pass up a great talent at either forward spot if someone slips. It’s the old “best player available” strategy at that point. In addition, if the Knicks can acquire immediate help by trading their newly acquired draft pick (via an arranged deal), they shouldn’t be opposed to that either.
College is not my forte but generally the Knicks need size and they need a backup point guard or some they can groom to start at point in the future. Typically it’s a lot easier to find guards in the mid to late draft than it is to find quality bigs. 15, 16, 17 is where you see guys like Hilton Armstrong get drafted. By way of contrast, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Rajon Rondo, even Mardy Collins and Frank Williams, went mid to late first.
The Knicks should take the best player available. There isn’t a single position where they can’t use a hand and they likely – hopefully – won’t be picking this high for a while. And since they have almost no assets left after the trade, the value the pick has to other teams may be as important as its value to the Knicks. Of course, they have glaring needs at center and backup point guard/point guard of the future, so to the extent they need to break any ties they should go with a guy at one of those positions.
I’m not a draft expert, but the Knicks just need good complementary players capable of contributing sooner, rather than projects. It doesn’t look like a strong draft, especially for size, so I’d be inclined to go for taller guards or wings, since the lack of wing depth was badly exposed in the playoffs. (I’m very divided on the current popular choices – Kenneth Faried or one of the Morris brothers, but I trust Walsh’s brain trust is doing their homework on them). Beyond the 17th pick, I would hope the Knicks could purchase a low 1st round or 2nd round pick that they could use to draft another undervalued Fields type player (like Kyle Singler), or a shooter.
I’m leaning toward filling a need as opposed to taking the best available player. It’s pointless to bring in a big man, expecting him to take on a starting role, and then find out he’s not “NBA ready”. However if Amar’e can help breed him (whoever he is) then the team will be in better shape. The case for taking the best available player is that that player then becomes an asset in a trade for another big star. We’ll have to wait and see.
Right now, the Knicks have four players under contract beyond next season – and one of those is Renaldo Balkman. Getting a player – any player – who can make a contribution in 2011-12 and beyond from what appears to be a particularly weak draft would be a big win. That being the case, my recommendation would be “take the best available player, regardless of position or skill set.” That could mean Kenneth Faried – the outstanding rebounder and shot-blocker out of Morehead State. Or it could be Jimmer Fredette and his epic shooting range. Or one of the Morris twins out of Kansas. Or a developmental swingman like Texas’ Jordan Hamilton, Florida State’s Chris Singleton or UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt. Any of the above could become a significant factor in next year’s rotation. I’d also like to see the Knicks acquire another pick – possibly an early second-rounder – to use on more depth. There could be some interesting players available at the top of the second round; a developmental point guard like Darius Morris, Shelvin Mack, Charles Jenkins or Iman Shumpert or a young big like Nikola Vuvevic or Keith Benson might be well worth the investment.