On Thursday, the Knicks add Baltimore to their preseason travel log when they head to Hamsterdam for an exhibition tilt with the Washington Wizards. While many of the Knicks’ starters sat out their last preseason game, a Saturday blowout loss to the Celtics, they’re all expected to suit up against the Wizards; for Carmelo Anthony it will be a homecoming, playing in the city he grew up in (but don’t forget Knicks fans, he was born in New York City!). Here are some things to watch for:
- The aforementioned Anthony. He’s expected to play 20-25 minutes, as per the usual during this preseason, and I’m sure there will be plenty of family and old friends on hand. I’m sure he’ll come out juiced up and want to put on a bit of a show early (as much as one can in a preseason game), so I’d expect a lot of shots from #7 in the first quarter. Outside of not getting hurt, it would be encouraging to see Anthony continue to develop some chemistry in a two-man game with Andrea Bargnani (more on him in a minute).
- More on Andrea Bargnani now, actually. Bargs will continue to shoot, and despite his struggles so far, it’s actually a good thing that he does. It’s preseason! The games don’t count, and if the Bargnani trade is going to bring with it any modicum of team success, the dude has to contribute on the offensive end. So far, he’s done that by getting to the line, where he’s very good (am I allowed to say something nice about Andrea Bargnani? Is that allowed on a Knicks blog?). Where he needs to improve is from deep, where he’s made just a single shot from in three preseason games. He’s going to get plenty of looks from there in this offense. Work out the kinks now, Andy, because if these shots keep clanking come October 30th and beyond, things might get ugly for you pretty quickly.
- Overall team defense. Zach Lowe at Grantland had a pretty awesome piece the other day, sitting down with Mike Woodson and discussing a lot of things surrounding the Knicks, one of the main themes being the Knicks’ defense. Essentially, Woodson is hoping that the team’s defense improves by repetition and hoping guys get more comfortable and familiar with it. Again it’s just preseason, and there are new guys like Bargnani, Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace who are still getting familiar, as well as some rookies and guys who won’t be on the team in a few weeks, but the defense so far has been pretty lackluster. Stringing together a few nice defensive performances to round out the preseason would be nice to see.
- The opponent. As usual with the Wizards, the focus is on John Wall, who will be a tough cover for whatever Knick point guard has the duty. His back court mate, second year player Bradley Beal, is coming off a 29-point performance against the Miami Heat. The Wizards employ two former Knicks, Trevor Ariza and “I Get Buckets” Al Harrington.
- The battle for the final forward spot(s): Cole Aldrich! Ike Diogu! Josh Powell!