2013-14 NBA Season Preview Player Power Rankings for NY Knicks
The New York Knicks have built a strong roster over the past three years, but how do the individual players stack up against each other going into the 2013-14 season?
Based on their play last season, expectations for the upcoming year, current health status and how they've looked early in preseason, this article will rank every single player on the Knicks' 20-man training camp roster.
New York figures to have one of the deepest squads in the NBA, so there's plenty of competition, especially after the additions of Tim Hardaway Jr., Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih. There are also a few returning players who could creep up the rankings ahead of the new campaign.
15. Chris Smith
From a purely basketball perspective, there's no reason for Chris Smith to be on the Knicks. He made the team because he's J.R.'s brother and despite playing only eight minutes all preseason. He was arguably the worst player on the entire training camp roster and will likely spend the majority of the season in the D-League.
14. Cole Aldrich
While there's no family controversy surrounding Cole Aldrich's addition to the team, it's still a surprise he made the cut over Jeremy Tyler. He struggled all preseason, especially on offense, so the likelihood is that Tyler's injury is worse than expected.
13. Toure' Murry
All preseason, Toure' Murry was the standout player for the Knicks. As expected, he played great defense, but also contributed offensively as a scorer and distributor. He may start the season as a reserve, but it wouldn't be too shocking to see him force his way up the depth chart.
12. Tim Hardaway Jr.
Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. is unlikely to play a major role this season, but having impressed in preseason, he may just force his way into the rotation.
Hardaway was one of the most NBA-ready players available late in the first round of the draft, and he's proved that so far. His jumper is a legitimate weapon at this level, and he doesn't seem remotely intimidated by the competition he's going up against.
These next few weeks with J.R. Smith out of the lineup are extremely important for Hardaway. He can help the Knicks make up for the major loss of Smith's scoring and also carve out a long-term role for himself if he plays particularly well.
11. Beno Udrih
As far as third-string point guards go, Beno Udrih is one of the best in the league, but he's unlikely to play a major role for the Knicks this season with so much competition in the backcourt.
While Smith recovers from injury and serves his suspension, we should see Udrih a little in the dual-point guard offense, but it's unlikely that we'll see much of him in the long term.
Still, if the Knicks end up facing injuries later in the season, Udrih is a great player to have off the bench. He knows how to run a cohesive offense and is underrated as a mid-range shooter.
10. Kenyon Martin
Opening up the top 10 is Kenyon Martin, who was a surprisingly good addition for the Knicks when he joined them in February, before fading out in the postseason.
Martin only joined the team halfway through the season and likely wasn't in the best condition, so it should be interesting to see how he'll look in his first full season.
Because he was signed so late in the offseason, the return of Martin has gone under the radar, but we shouldn't forget just how big an impact he had last year. The Knicks were struggling with injuries at the time and had he not been signed, there's no way they would have earned the second seed in the East.
The defense as a whole looked much better with Martin starting and, while he's always been a weak offensive player, his positioning and chemistry with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith made him relatively effective on that end of the floor as well.
For the time being, Martin will likely be the backup power forward behind Andrea Bargnani, but could still see up to 20 minutes a night even with everyone healthy. After struggling last year, New York needs to make full use of its defensive personnel and shouldn't waste Martin as a minor bench player.
9. Andrea Bargnani
Bringing Andrea Bargnani to New York was one of the more controversial moves in the NBA this summer, but if it goes as planned, it could end up being a genius move for the Knicks.
The key to Bargnani's fit with the Knicks is his ability to spread the floor for Carmelo Anthony, allowing them to keep the same offensive formula that worked so well in 2012-13.
Melo will be playing at small forward with Bargnani alongside him, but he'll still be free to go to work in the post, only this time against smaller opponents.
Still, while Bargnani's skill set is a good fit, he'll need to play much better than he has in recent years for this to actually work. He's still a perceived threat from outside, but shooting 32 percent from downtown—which he has for the past three years—isn't going to cut it.
Defensively, Bargnani isn't given credit to his work as a one-on-one defender, but that's in large part due to the mistakes he makes as a team defender, missing rotations and failing to use his height as a weapon inside.
Working with a head coach like Mike Woodson should help to fix these issues, but so far in preseason Bargnani has been quiet. He's still trying to find his feet on a new team after being unable to play much during the summer due to illness.
With that in mind, Bargnani will need time to adjust, but if he's still making the same defensive mistakes and shooting a low percentage a month into the season, that's when it starts to become a major issue.
On the bright side, one thing Bargnani has done well in preseason is get to the line. The Knicks were particularly bad in that area last season, but his ability to put the ball on the floor and draw contact is surprisingly good for a 7-footer.
8. Pablo Prigioni
Though we didn't see much of Pablo Prigioni until late last season, the way the Knicks played with him in the starting lineup is a taste of the kind of impact he can have playing a significant role.
Prigioni will likely go into the season as the backup point guard, leading one of the most talented bench units in the NBA. He'll be tasked with getting J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire involved with the offense, something he did very well last season.
As a defender, Prigioni is underrated. He's old now, but he still keeps players in front of him and has a knack for causing turnovers on inbound plays.
His experience as a multiple-time champion in Spain is going to be particularly important this season, as he's now one of the key veteran leaders on a team that got much younger in the offseason.
While Prigioni is most valuable as a passer, he's also a high-percentage shooter and will need to stop his nagging habit of passing up open shots on the perimeter. It's great that he's focused on getting teammates involved, but there needs to be a better balance between the two.
7. Metta World Peace
Even at his age, Metta World Peace could prove to be one of the best value signings of the NBA offseason.
While World Peace isn't the player he once was, he's still one of the better defensive forwards in the league and is still capable as an offensive player.
Though it seems Andrea Bargnani has the edge at the moment, we'll likely see World Peace starting for the Knicks situationally, particularly against teams with dangerous opposing forwards.
An underrated part of World Peace's game is the leadership he can provide. He's still a respected player in the NBA and, while he likes to have fun off the court, he knows what it takes to win on it.
World Peace has talked this offseason about the importance of playing smart, as well as physically, something New York didn't always do last year. They were too quick to complain at referees instead of getting back on defense, for example, an issue World Peace should help to iron out.
With Iman Shumpert, Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin also on the team, the Knicks should be much better defensively this season, but to be elite on that end of the floor, these guys will need to ensure the rest of the team is doing their fair share.
6. Amar'e Stoudemire
Injuries continue to take their toll on Amar'e Stoudemire and with the Knicks taking every precaution to keep him healthy, we shouldn't see much of him until the playoffs.
While it's been a struggle to build a strong roster with $22 million going to someone who can't stay healthy, the Knicks proved they can win without STAT last season, making the offensive firepower he can provide more of a luxury than anything else.
In the 29 games Stoudemire played last season, he was a revelation off the bench, averaging 14.2 points per game in just 23.2 minutes of action. He also shot 58 percent from the field, the best percentage he's shot since 2008.
Expectations are low for STAT going into the season, but as a full-time bench player, he can still have an impact playing 15-20 minutes per game while Carmelo Anthony is off the floor. For all the talk of injuries, he still looks in great condition when he's actually out on the court.
It's in the playoffs, however, that Stoudemire's impact will really be felt. In a series against a physical side like the Indiana Pacers or Chicago Bulls, his interior scoring becomes particularly important, as we saw last year that a deep run is near-impossible when the team relies so heavily on three-point shooting.
5. Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton proved to be the point guard the Knicks were missing last season, but there are still some issues he'll need to iron out if this team is serious about contending for a title.
Defensively, Felton was one of the Knicks' worst players last season, allowing 23.8 points per game according to 82games.
The Knicks' perimeter defense was particularly bad last season, and Felton was a direct cause of that. He allowed opposing point guards into the paint way too easily, relying on Tyson Chandler to clean up his mistakes—something he just can't do every single possession.
Felton will also need to become a more consistent shooter this season, although his issues last year can likely be attributed to the multiple hand injuries he faced midseason. He looked particularly good to start the season and in the playoffs, so hopefully he'll be able to keep that up for a full season in 2013-14.
Besides those two issues, Felton is the perfect man for the job at point guard. The offense feeds off his penetration, and he also has great chemistry with Chandler in the pick-and-roll. Still, with Jason Kidd leaving, he'll need to be a more vocal leader and ensure the offense doesn't rely on isolation so much in key games.
4. J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith took a huge step forward with his play last season, but after a horrible postseason and equally frustrating offseason, he remains a question mark for the Knicks.
We all know Smith is talented and has the potential to be one of the best shooting guards in the league, but nine years into his career we still can't rely on that talent to shine through consistently.
After signing the biggest deal of his NBA career this summer—which, admittedly, is still rather team-friendly—the 2013-14 season is going to be a huge one for Smith.
With Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr. and even Beno Udrih competing for minutes at the 2, Smith's role on the team isn't as secure as his contract would suggest. He still needs to prove himself once he returns and make it up to his teammates after his suspension.
Smith is talented enough to be an All-Star this season and at almost 28, it's about time he made the next step. To do that, however, he'll need to get to the rim much more often and essentially not focus too much on his jump shot. When he can get to the line and work the pick-and-roll, he's almost unstoppable offensively.
There's still hope that Smith can become a consistent second option, but time is running out. If the Knicks play well in his absence, don't be surprised if they end up using him as a trade chip to add depth elsewhere on the court.
3. Iman Shumpert
Resisting the urge to dock him points for shaving his signature flattop, Iman Shumpert has quickly shot up the ranks to become one of the Knicks' most important players going into 2013-14.
We saw glimpses in the playoffs of just how big an impact Shumpert can have on games, particularly in the first-round series against the Boston Celtics.
Overall, Shumpert was inconsistent in 2013, but coming off his injury that was to be expected. Now, going into his first full season as an NBA player, he should be in line to break out.
Shumpert still isn't a great offensive player, but he now has a reliable jump shot and looks like he's worked on the rest of his game, too, so far in preseason.
Based on his defense—and the fact that he's fully healthy—Shumpert gets the edge over J.R. Smith for the moment, but that could change once the latter returns to action.
Mike Woodson has made it clear that the two are competing for the starting shooting guard spot, which should be interesting to watch over the course of the season. If Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. play particularly well in Smith's absence, there could be a logjam at the position, possibly leading the Knicks to make a trade to create depth elsewhere on the court.
2. Tyson Chandler
While Carmelo Anthony may be the Knicks' most important player, on the defensive end that title goes to center Tyson Chandler.
Last season, Chandler was a First Team All-Defensive selection, just a year after winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. Though he's struggled with injuries of late, he's still one of the best rim defenders and leaders around at the position.
The Knicks' defense as a whole was underwhelming last season, but that was no fault of Chandler's. While he's good at erasing mistakes on the perimeter, he can't be expected to do it all the time and needs more help from his teammates.
With Iman Shumpert and Kenyon Martin back for a full season and Metta World Peace joining the team, Chandler should have an easier time keeping the Knicks competitive on defense.
On the offensive end, Chandler is considered one of the most limited offensive players in the game, but he's one of the best pick-and-roll centers on the team and also the team's best offensive rebounders. He also sets good screens and is always a threat for an easy score off an alley-oop.
Still, people only seem to point to his inability to shoot or score in the post on offense, something which he has attempted to fix this summer. Chandler has been working hard on his shot all offseason, even turning to Melo for help, but it remains to be seen how effective it will be in regular season action.
1. Carmelo Anthony
There's no surprise here. Carmelo Anthony is the face of the Knicks organization and the best player the franchise has had since the days of Patrick Ewing.
A genuine MVP candidate last season, Melo had his best year in orange and blue, winning his first scoring title in the process.
So far in preseason, Anthony has continued to score at a high rate and looks set for another big year as he looks to make up for the disappointment of the second-round loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Melo will likely move back to small forward this season with the addition of Andrea Bargnani, but he sounds excited about working with such a talented offensive player who can spread the floor and let him go to work in the post.
With Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace leaving for coaching roles elsewhere, Anthony will need to step up as a leader this season. He already seems to be passing more in preseason, particularly in an effort to get Bargnani involved with the offense early on.
Melo's impending free agency has been one of the biggest storylines of the summer, but he seems content in New York and has already made it clear he's "not going nowhere." It's now up to him to prove he's still worthy of the huge max contract the Knicks will likely offer him once he opts out in the summer.