There aren’t many 35-year-old rookies in the NBA, heck there aren’t even many players that age that are still playing in the NBA. The Knicks happened to have five of them last year in Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin and the aforementioned Prigioni. When each of them were healthy last year they had a profound impact on the Knicks 54 win season last year. Prigioni was the one who was able to be consistent and healthy throughout the season.
What’s even more impressive is that Prigioni was learning he NBA game throughout his first season with the Knicks,when taking into account the fact that he spent the past decade playing European basketball, it’s impressive to say the least that he was able to pick up the NBA game so quickly. He has played in the Olympics for the Argentinian National Team which was his test against many All-Star NBA players. Prigioni played solid basketball in each of the Olympic games he played. He has always been a pass-first point guard who is known for his pesky defense and tenacity on that side of the ball.
Prigioni’s role moving forward with the Knicks will be a very important one, because he is now our backup point guard, which was the role of Jason Kidd last season. Although Kidd;s offensive skills diminished throughout last season, he was brought into the game to create turnovers and run the point while Felton was resting. He was also put into the starting lineup, which was eventually a role that Pablo Prigioni took over during the latter portion of the season. He was very important for the Knicks because on a team that was so heavy in isolation based play on offense, Prigioni brought his pass-first mentality into the starting lineup and created a ton of shot opportunities for his teammates even when he didn’t get the assists.
Prigioni’s numbers don’t tell the story of his impact on the Knicks. On the season he totaled 3.5 points, 3.0 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game, which included a PER of 13.01 which is surprisingly low. Although is PER is slightly below league average, I feel that that number might be so low because of Prigioni’s offensive game as he preferred to pass than even take wide open shots, he had a profound affect on this team. When examining the shot chart it’s clear that Prigioni was effective from the three point line, but it was because most of the time he was the last option on the court. He is also not very good at creating is own shot, but is always looking to make the right play.
Moving forward I expect Prigioni to play more minutes this upcoming season, but hopefully in the backup point guard role and not playing starting point guard with Felton at the shooting guard spot. Although this lineup may be effective offensively it leaves the Knicks very vulnerable defensively to guards penetrating and getting into the lane for easy finishes at the basket. The numbers will be similar, but I expect an increase to around 5.0 points, 4.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. Although he isn’t talked about much, Prigioni will be a major part of any success the New York Knicks have in 2013-2014.