Knicks Moves Building a Contender?
For all of the Knicks’ moves in increasing an already-expensive payroll, this team is still a total mystery. New York is an on-the-fly construction project that, in the big picture, has had very little time to work together and learn.
Until we get some answers about this group on both sides of the floor, it’s hard to picture New York’s core competing with Miami and Brooklyn, if the Nets manage to acquire Dwight Howard. For one, the Knicks — who have added point guard Jason Kidd and center Marcus Camby while retaining forward Steve Novak, shooting guard J.R. Smith and (presumably) point guard Jeremy Lin — are not done buying. They’ll try to get something for center Dan Gadzuric’s non-guaranteed deal, and they still have a form of Bird Rights on free agent Jared Jeffries, a valuable fourth big man behind center Tyson Chandler, Camby and power forward Amar’e Stoudemire (and perhaps Novak, if you’d like to classify him as a “big”). And we won’t see New York’s best wing defender, guard Iman Shumpert, until at least January, as he recovers from a torn ACL.
That’s the puzzling thing about this team, especially without Shumpert: The Knicks look bad, defensively, on paper. But they looked just as bad last season, with minus defenders (Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire) at both forward spots, a bunch of guys splitting time at shooting guard and an untested second-year player in Lin manning the point. Despite all of that, New York ranked fifth in points allowed per possession and spent the entire season as one of the league’s stingiest defenses. Chandler was at the heart of that, talking to everyone and sliding all over the place to plug holes before they fully opened. The Defensive Player of the Year was so good that the Knicks managed to allow points only at a league-average rate even with Anthony and Stoudemire on the floor together.