Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Well-Rounded Big Apple

First, let me say that I'm basing this post entirely on the Knicks' highlights, boxscore and scouting report from a fellow Knicks fan. Living in Hartford, where the line between New York and Boston fans blurs, the cable company apparently sides with the men in green rather than the boys in blue and orange. In short, I do not get MSG, I do not get to watch the Knicks on a regular basis, and I am not happy.

Next, allow me to make a bold statement which, when you really think about it, is not really so far-fetched: the Knicks can beat anybody on any given night. The big "if" will always be the defense. But the Big Apple looked pretty balanced in their season-opening loss to the Cavs (110-106 on Friday). Here are some positives. Again, we're talking about the Knicks, so they absolutely need to be layed out in full since fans have been overwhelmed with negatives.

The Stats: The Knicks had five players score in double-figures and led most of the way until LeBron went Michael on them and refused to lose this game. Offensively, this team can be very good this year. Inside, Eddy Curry had 18 and Zach Randolph had 21. No team will be able to contain both. On the perimeter, Marbury managed 10 points, but the more important line was Jamal Crawford's: 8-17 shooting, 25 points and six assists. (Honestly, Curry, Randolph and Crawford should be the big three on offense. Hopefully Marbury won't get in the way.) Nate Robinson also contributed 19 off the bench.
The Substance: The Knicks are deep. They can score inside and out. They can run with Marbury, Crawford, Lee, Nate-Rob and a surprisingly mobile duo of Curry and Randolph, or they can work in the halfcourt with those two on the blocks.

The Stats: The rotation seems to be set already. Marbury, Crawford, Q-Rich, Randolph and Curry start, while Robinson and Lee come off the bench. Both at guard and forward, the Knicks can bring energy into the game when they replace a starter. And Isiah Thomas doesn't seem to associate playing time with contracts (thank God). For example, mid-level exemptions Jerome James and Jared Jeffries never entered the game, while the washed up Malik Rose kept his sweats on all game.
The Substance: With a roster full of talent but with little direction or experience playing together, the last thing the Knicks need would be confused roles on the team.

The Stats: There are none to quantify the type of contributions which David Lee and Renaldo Balkman can make. But looking at all the names on the roster, there's a severe need for glue-guys. If everyone wants to be The Man on the team, they're going to need a couple guys who clean up, do the dirty work, and make sacrifices. Given the right situation, Marbury, Crawford, Curry, Randolph and even Robinson could all be 20-point scorers.
The Substance: Lee played about 24 minutes and Balkman under a minute on Friday. However, the team still played well, so the important thing here is that the Knicks have these guys available. They can rebound, run the floor, distribute the ball and (most importantly) defend. Some believe Curry and Randolph will eat away Lee's minutes, but that should only be a concern if either of them are playing poorly and D-Lee is still not in the game. If both big guys are playing well, as they did on Friday night, Lee is just a bonus off the bench to give them some rest. If either of them have an off night, Lee needs to get more minutes.

I'm not about to predict that the Knicks can breeze through the East or even the division. But they've got the potential to take a giant step forward from recent years.

I'll just go ahead and ignore the opposite scenario for my own sanity...


Post a Comment

<< Home