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2008-09 NBA Draft Kit: New York Knicks Preview

October 9, 2008 | By Steven Ovadia | comment on this post

We continue our 2008-09 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit with more team previews, today as Steven makes a rare basketball cameo appearance with his Knicks report.

What can you say about the New York Knicks? That they’re one of the worst teams in the NBA? Or in all of sports? Let’s be honest; the only reason even die-hard Knick fans watch the team is to see if they’ve finally hit bottom. Only the Knicks could follow up Larry Brown’s trying to destroy the team with Isiah Thomas doing almost the exact same thing with just a slightly better record.

That’s the thing about a team as bad as the Knicks. It’s not even about the players. It’s about the management and the coaching. So, with Donnie Walsh in as president of the team and Mike D’Antoni in as coach, it’ll finally be about the players and what they can (and cannot) do. And boy, does D’Antoni have his hands full as he works with a lineup disturbing similar to last year’s 33-49 squad.

Projected Starting Lineup

PG: Chris Duhon
SG: Jamal Crawford
SF: Quentin Richardson
PF: David Lee
C: Zach Randolph

Key Bench Players: G Stephon Marbury, G Wilson Chandler, G Nate Robinson, C Eddy Curry

Position Battles

D’Antoni’s system notoriously relies on speed, decision making, and shot selection, thus requiring a special kind of point guard. Duhon has none of these attributes. In fact, the biggest thing working in Duhon’s favor is that he’s not Marbury, who the Knicks would desperately like to be rid of, but find themselves stuck with him due to his huge salary. Marbury showed up to camp light, fast, and ready to run for D’Antoni, and it seems just a matter of time before D’Antoni realizes he may as well start Marbury as long as he’s stuck with him.

Curry, presumably the starting centre and currently out recovering from a bacterial infection, might not start again due to his slowness and defensive softness. Many believe he’s physically incapable of participating in D’Antoni’s system. Jared Jeffries, who began camp as D’Antoni’s pick for starting power forward (and who is also expected to see time at centre), is out six-to-eight weeks with a fractured fibula. The brittle Jeffries might not even catch up enough to start this season, though.

Stud: Lee averaged almost 11 points a game, close to nine rebounds, and a little over an assist a game last season, playing less than 30 minutes a night in a horrible offense that couldn’t move the ball and had no shooters. This year, not only will Lee get more touches, he’ll see less collapsing defenses as D’Antoni tries to install an offense that moves the ball and doesn’t just stagnate in a half-court offense.

Dud: Curry couldn’t thrive in Thomas’ slow-as-molasses offense that only knew how to push the ball to either him or Randolph. Having reportedly shown up to camp out of shape, there’s just no way he can work in this new offense. The best case scenario for everyone is that Curry gets traded to a team that only wants a tall guy who can’t play defense. How can anyone that big average less than a block a game for his entire career?

Sleeper: Guard Nate Robinson is undersized but quick. While he’s seen limited action in camp and preseason, there’s a growing sentiment that Robinson is the only person on the current roster with the speed and ball-handling skills to run the offense. The only problem is Robinson’s reputation as an undisciplined hot dog. If Robinson keeps his nose to the grindstone, as he has so far, D’Antoni will have no choice but to give Robinson a shot running the offense.

Rookies: Ha ha. Patrick Ewing, Jr., despite his name, is not NBA-ready. Danilo Gallinari is out with back problems. Many around the league wonder if he’ll ever even suit up for the Knicks. Danny Grunfeld is the son of a former Knicks president, continuing the season theme of grabbing rookies based on lineage, but not need. It’s too bad none of these rookies has the last name of Sprewell.

Fantasy Stories to Watch

The thing about this team is it’s been completely reinvented with a new coach and a new team president. There are no rules. The lineup will be fluid until D’Antoni figures out a rotation. There’s no one on the team who’s a real solid fantasy pick because it’s impossible to predict anyone’s role. Coach Brown used to pick starters based on the hometown of the players. D’Antoni won’t be that random, but his lineups, at least for the first few weeks, will have that kind of variety. Do yourself a favour and avoid any Knick players until things settle down.

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