Knicks-Nets: What to Watch For

  • The health of Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Toney Douglas.
    • All three guys played with injures throughout the playoffs last season and their health is key to the Knicks success this year. Stoudemire, marred by injuries throughout his career, is said to have strengthened his injured back during the off-season. Anthony had knee and elbow procedures done during the off-season. He also hyperextended his knee earlier this week but is said to be fine. Douglas had shoulder surgery in May and is thought to be completely healthy.
  • The point guards
    • Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby and rookie Iman Shumpert are the point guards currently on the Knicks roster. Douglas has experience running the point but often plays erratically and plays out of control at times. During the playoffs, after Chauncey Billups’ injury, Douglas struggled to run the point effectively as the Knicks were swept 4-0 by Boston. Mike Bibby is 105 years old. He was god awful for the Heat last year. He could not play defense, shoot effectively or run with opposing point guards. However, with a new supporting cast and an offensive system known to get the best out of players, Bibby may end up bringing some vet leadership to this Knicks team. I believe he can still shoot and run the point somewhat effectively. Bibby won’t show up on ESPN like Chris Paul lobbing dimes to Amar’e and Melo but I think Bibby can give this team 10-15 effective minutes a night. Rookie Iman Shumpert is an athletic marvel. He is 6’5, fast and he can jump out of the building. He has all the tools to be an elite point guard. The question for him is going to be how quickly he can adopt D’Antoni’s offensive system. I think he has a good shot to start by midseason if he plays well. However, knowing D’Antoni, if Shumpert struggles early he may be exiled to the Roger Mason section of the bench.
  • Who steps up off the bench?
    • Right now, the bench looks like this:

PG: Mike Bibby, Iman Shumpert

SG: Shumpert, Bill Walker (sigh)

SF: Walker, Renaldo Balkman (double sigh)

PF: Jared Jeffries

C: Jerome Jordan, Josh Harrellson

Guard Devin Green and center Chris Hunter are training camp bodies and I would be surprised to see either player get more than a few minutes today.

    • Unfortunately, with the 66 game compressed season, the Knicks will be very reliant on their bench this year. I say unfortunately because right now this bench is in flux. There is no clear 6th man. There is no proven bench scorer who is good for 8-10 points per game. Jerome Jordan and Josh Harrellson are both promising young players but both seem to be works in progress at this point. Shumpert has the potential to be a difference maker off the bench but has yet to prove anything. Until these young players show their worth, this bench will be under a microscope all year. Obviously Knick fans cannot stand Jeffries. I actually like what he brings on defense, effort and versatility, but he is an unbelievable hinderance on the offensive end of the floor. Balkman is just anemic. There is very little he does well. He will put in effort defensively but he also brings nothing offensively. Balkman is a bonafide scrub.  Obviously I am not a big Bill Walker fan. He can’t dribble or defend with any effectiveness.  I will say he is a good 3 point shooter and he is athletic but if he is going to be relied upon off the bench this year we need more than that. We need him to defend well, especially if he is the backup 3, and we need solid all around production out of Walker’s game. I just do not believe he is capable. It will be interesting to see if any bench players leave their mark against the Nets because right now this bench looks very weak.



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