Monday, September 23, 2013

Who are the Most Important Knicks This Season?

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America
By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)

*This is part of an article compilation being featured on about which Knicks are the most important for this upcoming season; this section is the part that Kenneth contributed. Follow the link and check out the rest of the article and contributors takes on which Knicks are the most important for the 2013-2014 season. A link to the whole article will be featured once the whole article is up and ready.

The 2013-2014 season will be an important one for the New York Knicks. The roster looks a lot different from last season as they are younger, deeper and arguably more talented at virtually every spot on the roster. With questions looming around Carmelo Anthony and what he will do after the season there are some questions that need to be answered about this current team first. Virtually everyone will be important to the Knicks having any success this season and here are two that I think will be the most important.

Guard Iman Shumpert – Shumpert has shown that he has the skills to be a lockdown perimeter defender in the league with question marks coming about his decision making and shooting on offense. In his rookie season this was true as he played well on the defensive end but struggled when then head coach Mike D’Antoni has him playing point guard; it was a tough spot to be put in as a rookie without training camp because of the lockout but he looked much more comfortable off the ball. An injury in the first round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat then derailed the start of his 2012-2013 season. When he came back he did not look comfortable at all but as he got more comfortable he started going full throttle again and it was a pleasure to watch. The defensive intensity was again there but along with it came an improved jump shot. Shumpert made the corner three pointer a strong point of his during rehab, something that will undoubtedly keep him on the court this season as the Knicks spread the court to let Anthony work.

Something people are underestimating is what a training camp will do for Shumpert. This is the first regular summer he will go through even though it will be his third year in the league. That will do wonders for him as he will be coming into a season in the best basketball shape he has been in as an NBA player. He will have as good a chance as ever to make an impression to start the season with J.R. Smith on the shelve as he recovers from knee surgery and a five-game suspension. Shumpert has a chance this season to become the best two-way player on the Knicks and supplant himself as one of the top two-way players and shooting guards in the NBA. Without Shumpert making the leap production wise the Knicks could be in some trouble this season.

Head Coach Mike Woodson – The players more often than not are only as successful as the coach can set them up to be; talent can only get you so far. If talent was the sole thing that made an NBA team go then the Knicks would be set with one of the top players in Anthony out on the court every night. This Knicks team has a lot of talent and many directions to go and it will come down to how well Woodson handles the players.

Woodson will have to figure out how to make things work early on in the season with second leading scorer and reigning Sixth Man of the Year award winner J.R. Smith not having a time table to return. He will also have to figure out a rotation that has some repetition among it in the playing styles of his players. The biggest thing he will have to figure out is the starting lineup and where his star player Anthony will be playing for the season. Anthony thrived last season predominantly playing the power forward position but may have to play some more small forward this season. It will be interesting to see if Woodson changes this because it will also cause him to change his two point guard lineups he likes to use; but these are the type of questions and decisions head coaches have to make. For the Knicks to be successful Woodson has to push the right buttons more often this season and become less stubborn with his rotations for the Knicks to be successful and play up to their potential. 

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