Greetings to the NBA season!
Bargnani, who hasn’t stayed healthy or shot well the past two seasons, isn’t nearly a good enough reason to shift franchise player Carmelo Anthony from his best spot of power forward, not to mention keeping the Knicks from utilizing Iman Shumpert/J.R. Smith with two point guard sets, anytime Bargnani/Anthony/Chandler are on the floor together. And clearly, Bargnani over Chandler at the 5 is a massive defensive downgrade, while Bargnani over Anthony at the 4 is a massive offensive downgrade when deployed.
There’s another big winner from Bargnani to the bench, though, and that’s the man who looks like he’ll start tonight: Metta World Peace.
Now what can the Knicks expect from him? I really, truly don’t know.
If you go purely from the stats, his assist rate plummeted last year. Through his career, he’s been a pretty good passer, though, and that Lakers team last season was dysfunctional to the point of absurdity. Is this a skill that’s disappeared, or simply went unused last season?
The knowns with Metta World Peace appear to be: very low turnover rate, which was a huge part of the Knicks’ success last year. He can still defend quite well, and forces plenty of turnovers, blocks some shots. He makes threes well enough to force defenses to cover him. And while Shumpert at the three is probably a truer complement to Anthony offensively, having Peace around to cover power forwards is a dimension that shouldn’t be discounted.
I’m awfully excited to see him play for the Knicks, and to cover him on a regular basis. And kudos to Mike Woodson, for recognizing a potentially disastrous lineup problem before the season even begins. Now if he manages his starter minutes more carefully this year, maybe last year’s growing pains will have all been worth it.