New York Has A Three-Headed Monster
The New York Knicks added a lot of talent over the past two seasons with mixed results. While there was no doubt the team improved, they failed to live up to the very high expectations set by this basketball savvy market, management and themselves. Now, there is a new recipe for success in New York. Experience, and lots of it, will be this team’s calling card. This season, they will be led by three point guards who have a combined 42 years of professional basketball experience between them in Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni.
“It’s going to be great,” Felton said. “A lot of guys who can really pass the ball, understand the game and been around the game for a while. Even Pablo, he is a rookie, but he has been playing professional ball for years. To me, in my eyes, he is not even considered a rookie because of the way he plays, the way he handles himself. He really understands the professional game, so you have three point guards who have the experience and the understanding of the game.”
Felton, the least experienced point guard with just seven years under his belt, returns to the Knicks after being included in the Carmelo Anthony trade with the Denver Nuggets in 2011. At 39 years old, Kidd joins the Knicks ranking second in the league all-time in assists (11,842) and steals (2,559) and remains one of the most respected players in the game. One of the top international guards for a long time, the 35-year-old rookie Prigioni has played professionally in Argentina and Spain since 1995.
“We all understand the game and that’s one of the biggest keys, understanding how to run the team,” Kidd said. “Ray and Pablo understand how to do that and that makes the game easy for our teammates, so you might see two point guards out there a lot of times, which really makes the game a lot easier for our teammates. It’s a great thing that we have three because it’s a long journey.”
“It is great for the team because we are experienced but different,” Prigioni said. “Raymond is a more aggressive scorer and our starting point guard. On the bench, we have two options. Kidd has (played) a million games and he won the championship. He has a lot of experience in the league. He can help Raymond and he can help me as I am new in the league. He has a shot and he can organize the team. I am a little bit different, more of a pick-and-roll player. I think it is good for the team to have many options.”
While Felton enjoyed the best (partial) season of his career in New York, when he averaged 17.1 points and nine assists in 54 games, his production prior and since has not been close to that level and there have been concerns in some corners that he may not be up to the task. However, Felton has an answer for last season and why this season will be different.
“(I had) more time to get in shape and more time to prepare mentally and physically,” Felton said. “(I) had a chance to have two or three weeks with teammates before training camp. All that helps with bonding and with chemistry. We had a chance to do all that this year, so that’s a plus.
“It helped last time (I played in New York). I was able to play with those guys in the summer and then come in and start off the season. It is only going to help us this year. We have a few more games in preseason and after that last preseason game, we have a week of practice before we play again. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be good.”
Prigioni is also something of a question mark for North American fans that have not been able to follow his career, but this very experienced guard has not looked out of place during the preseason.
“I work every day and try to adjust to the league as quickly as possible and finally, it is basketball,” Prigioni said. “Some differences, some small details, but it is basketball and if you know how to play, it is easy. It doesn’t matter if you play in Spain or the States.”
Even the sure-fire Hall of Famer Kidd has slid into his role with the Knicks already.
“I am here to help,” Kidd said. “To do whatever I can do to make the game easier for my teammates, watching from to bench or on the floor. Just things I am seeing and how our opponent is playing and hopefully that benefits leadership and hopefully that helps us win ball games.”
“Everyone has accepted their roles and things that they have to do and how much time they have to do it,” Felton said.
This trio of veteran point guards has their eye on the prize; this is not a season of development in New York.
“You don’t have to teach,” Kidd said. “Everybody has seen a lot, so there are things that guys can respond to on the fly and that hopefully will be to our advantage.
“There are a lot of guys that can play, but we all understand that there is just one goal and that is to try and win a championship.”
New York has three experienced point guards to rely on this season, a healthy three-headed monster with over four decades of experience to call upon. This depth of leadership at the point guard position should go a long way towards providing the consistency the Knicks have been looking for over the past two seasons.