Monday, October 16, 2006

New York Knicks 2006-2007 Season Preview

New York Knicks Season Preview
2006-2007
By Alex Benesowitz

Head Coach – Isiah Thomas – You might call him an overspender as the GM and President of Basketball Operations, and you might say that he has a quick trigger with Knicks players trading them just months after acquiring them. However, one thing you can’t say about him is that he is a bad head basketball coach. In his 2 years as a head coach with the Indiana Pacers in 2001-2 and 2002-2003 seasons he went to the playoffs both years, and also won over 50 games. He was only run out of town when fellow basketball great Larry Bird fired Thomas because of personal vendettas. Something you can count on is that Isiah Thomas will be ready to coach this team. He will not sabotage the season to make some quick cash at the end of a long career, like our previous coach, Larry Brown. Another thing you can count on is that the players will know their role on the team (not starting one night putting up 15 and 8 then sitting on the bench in street clothes the next night with no injury).

Projected Starting 5

Starting PG – #3 Stephon Marbury – As a die hard Knicks fan I still love the move of bringing Steph in here to play PG for his favorite team growing up. That’s like me starting for the Knicks……….that would be insane. Last year was bad but you cannot put the blame squarely on his 6-2 205 pound shoulders. It’s a little weird how you can go from scoring 20 pts and at least 8 assists a game for 7 straight years to averaging 16 and 6 it can’t be entirely his fault, most of the blame has to go to Larry Brown and some to Isiah Thomas. He’s not washed up by any sense of the imagination he is only 29 years old (Stephs got at least 4 years of solid ball left in his legs). However, not being able to establish a solid comradery with his fellow players last year with everybody not knowing their roles because of constant lineup changes, and constant trades, hurt his stats and the entire teams performance considerably.

Starting (I guess you can call it shooting guard) SG – #1 Steve Francis – It was just a few years ago when Stevie Franchise was considered one of the best players in the NBA. It was just a few of years ago when Steve Francis gave (Wince) Vince Carter a run for his money in the slam dunk contest putting on a tremendous display of athleticism (that is widely forgotten). It was just a few years ago that he was paired up with then rookie Yao Ming, to hopefully bring the Houston Rockets back to the promise land. Then Jeff (The man) Van Gundy saw he can get T-Mac (and lets be serious who wouldn’t make that move?) Trading Francis and his boy Cuttino Mobley to Orlando for Tracy McGrady. Then Francis’ career seemed to go into a downward spiral. Despite averaging a career high in assists in his first season in the O, things where not going well. In his second season in Orlando, the losing in Magic land continued, the trading away of his best friend Cuttino Mobley and the fact that his former team Houston was clearly on their way to consistent playoff appearances haunted him and "the Franchise" clearly wanted a new franchise to play for. So can you really blame him for not going back into a game at the end of the 4th quarter, when they were getting blown out of the water once again? I sure as hell can’t. Awesome!! Let’s bring him to NYC where he can relish in the spotlight with (washed up) coach Larry Brown and bring the Knicks back to prominence……yeah right……well not last year at least, not with LB as coach. He didn’t start the 6-3 200 pound perennial All Star at times (cuz of his constant lineup changes) stabbing Knicks fans in the heart and wondering why did you lobby for this trade in the first place? All and all Steve Francis will be fine, with him and Marbury in the back court scoring won’t be the problem, and hopefully winning more that 30 games won’t either but D-ing the bigger guards of the world will be a consistent issue.

Starting SF – #20 Jared Jefferies – It’s a little difficult to understand how as a die hard Knicks fan since birth, I can get excited about signing a ANOTHER free agent, with a ANOTHER big contract, with the name Jared Jefferies. The man has never averaged more than 7 points and more than 5 boards in a season, but hey here’s $30 million dollars. Yeah, he’s supposed to be a shut down defender and all this crap but expect David Lee or Quentin Richardson to take his starting spot come mid season. It’ll only take that long to lose it because Thomas will be stubborn to give up on his new acquisition, (and you can’t blame him for that Isiah is human). I really hope I’m wrong and he turns into Bruce Bowen all of a sudden but I highly doubt that. He is the Jerome James signing of this season.

Starting PF – # 7 Channing Frye – This soft touch big man has an outside jumper that reminds me of Charles Oakley. Oakley would consistently knock down the open jumper when getting the kick out from Patrick. Frye can do the same, and he has the talent to end up being better then the great Oak man. The only problem with his sick jumper is that opposing coaches quickly picked up on this and shut him down a lot of times. He has also yet to develop the part of his game, where he can create his own shot. Whether it’s with his back to the basket or facing the basket. Channing has a tremendous upside, with a mature showing. I’m eagerly anticipating the rest of his career. All he needs to do is develop that mean streak that all great big men have and he will be a fix in the Knicks lineup years to come.

Starting C – #34 Eddy Curry – This 6-11 285 pound monster of a talent big man just needs to get in shape. If he gets in shape and stops smoking that chronic he will be one of the best big men in the league. He can’t be that lazy this year. I also understand he had heart problems last year in the off-season that forced him to be out of shape, but this year he has no excuse. With a new coach that’ll actually give him consistent minutes and with a consistent lineup, the time is now for Curry to perform or he will just be nothing but trade bait.

Reserves

SG/PG - #11 Jamal Crawford – The little wiry, exciting, 6-5 190 pound guard, is a great talent, with a nasty crossover and a John Starks three point shot (if he’s on he’s unstoppable). Crawford also has a knack for taking the big shot, not only taking the big shot but hitting it as well. He won nearly a third of the games last year with shots in the final seconds, one notably over Chauncy Billups to beat the powerful Detroit Pistons. Crawford will relish in his role as the 6th man coming off the bench, he is the perfect player for this role. He will provide a spark that hasn’t been felt on the Knicks bench since the 90s, when Anthony Mason and John Starks won 6th man of the year awards, in consecutive seasons. Jamal Crawford will oooh and aaahh the Garden fans as usual this season.

SG/SF – #3 Quentin Richardson – This Larry Brown favorite is a very good defender with a decent 3 point shot that is perfect for coming off the bench. The knock on Q last year was that he lost his 3, however, his 3 point percentage only dropped a couple of percentage points. The difference was he didn’t have Steve Nash to make him look good, Nash can make Raja Bell and Leonard Barbosa look like solid NBA players pretty much he is just Nashty. Bottom line, Q-Rich will be a good spot defender and might end up starting at some point this season, mainly for his defensive abilities.

PG – #4 Nate Robinson – Nate the great leaper displays an outstanding love for the game and a love for life. His constant smile is something that is great for any locker room to keep players loose. He also gave Knicks fans the only thing they could be proud of all year by winning the Slam Dunk Contest by dunking over fellow shrimp Spud Webb. Even with his 5-9 (yea right he’s gotta be at most 5-6) stature he’s not afraid to bang it on opposing players……because he can. He performed great at times especially hitting the game winning three pointer in the corner over Allen Iverson. The man that was once dubbed as just a "highlight reel" by Larry Brown (the last person to be dubbed a "highlight reel" just got inducted to the hall of fame named Dominique Wilkins) might end up, in the future running Steph outta town, but for now he’ll be a solid bench producer.

SF – #42 David Lee – Another promising young player on this underachieving roster, David Lee was one of those players starting one night, then after having a solid performance, he’s in street clothes the next game. He managed to put together a solid season considering his inconsistent playing time even though his stats don’t show it. This hard nosed, high flying white boy has a pretty damn good jumper too. He also won a Slam Dunk contest in college so he can get up there. Lee can play the 3 or the 4 and with his great summer league performance he may slowly work his way into the starting lineup.

SF, SG, PG – #5 Jalen Rose – Jalen is a solid veteran that can pass the ball as well as defend. This former Fab 5 point guard can run the offense off the bench in an emergency or play the Scottie Pippen role of Point Forward. He can also be brought in to D the big guards that Francis and Marbury might have trouble with not because of their defensive abilities just there lack of height. Jalen will never be the same player he was in his Indiana days he’s getting up they’re in age, but he should be a solid role player with valuable playoff experience just in case, the Knicks surprise everybody and sneak in.

C- #31 Jerome James – I couldn’t tell you how many times I watched this dude last year and screamed at the T.V. "Hey fat ass get on a fuckin treadmill!!" After one amazing playoff series with Seattle, James put up All Star numbers, sooooo the Knicks signed this overweight, lazy 280 pounder to a fat contract. He’s supposed to be an intimidating shot blocker like he showed flashes of last season when he was healthy but he was never healthy. Unless this guy stops getting hurt and gets in shape he’ll remain the worst signing in Knicks history.

PF – #13 Malik Rose – This solid savvy verteran brings a winning attitude and toughness to the Knickerbocker lineup. A hard-nosed good rebounder who plays with a lot of heart is a good player to have on their team. He also brings Championship experience to this veeeeeeery young inexperienced roster. Hopefully, his experience can bring them more wins this season.

PF – (Rookie) #32 Renaldo Balkman – This rookie was booed on draft day by the Garden fans in attendance at the 2006 NBA Draft. However, he is supposed to be the new junk yard dog who runs around with tons of energy. If he wants to be a successful power forward in this league he needs to put on a little weight. Also if he can consistently be that garbage man the Knicks have lacked for years, as well as provide energy off the bench he’ll be able to stick around or just simply turn into trade bait.

PG/SG – (Rookie) #25 Mardy Collins –
Supposedly Collins is a very good passer with a weak jumper. Solid fundamentals at defense coming from Temple, which has a great defensive heritage. He’ll probably only get playing time this year if one of their gaurds go down but for all intents and purposes he’s a work in progress.

SG – #6 Qyntell Woods – One of the only things I was proud of as a Knick fan last year was Woods’ 360 dunk that was number 1 on Sportscenters Top 10 (Yup it was one of those years last year). Other than that Woods got some burn at the end of last year as a late season pickup but it’s not likely he’ll make the roster, but who knows.

The other players on the Knicks Preseason roster who are most likely to get cut are Rookies #21 Milone Clark a 6-4 guard, #9 Elton Brown a 6-9 power forward, #45 Paul Miller a 6-10 250 pound center who might have an outside shot of making the team due to his size, and the 7 foot underachieving Lottery Pick #55 Nikoloz Tskitishvili if he reaches some of his potential he could make the squad because of his size……psh yeah right.

Season Prediction

The Knicks can back into the playoffs with the 8th seed based on talent and hunger to improve on last years dreadful performance alone. They have to get better because they cannot get much worse. Projected record around .500, 42-40 with the 8th seed of the playoffs, but with that record in the Eastern Conference that could get them as high as 6th.

Projected Team Leaders

Points – Steve Francis – 18 Points per game
Rebounds – Eddy Curry – 9 Rebounds per game
Assists – Stephon Marbury – 8 Assists per game
Steals – Stephon Marbury – 1 Steal per game
Blocks – Channing Frye - around 1 Block per game

2 Comments:

Blogger barryg said...

alex-
very good analysis although I think David Lee is getting back with Van Halen so I don't think he'll be available next season - but otherwise good stuff - keep up the good work.

10/16/2006 9:49 PM  
Anonymous John said...

I am looking for Anthony Mason and Bernard King jersey's. They don't have to signed or anything like that just home jersey's. Anyone know where I can get them??? You can e-mail me at iamnine@sbcglobal.net. Thanks for any help!!

6/15/2007 2:28 PM  

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