Since our last bench report, the New York Knicks have limped their way to an overall record of 2-2 in the past week. They salvaged one win on their west coast trip from hell, winning in Utah in what will forever be remembered as the “Kurt Thomas” game. They then returned home to the Garden last night and got an expected but nonetheless a much needed win against the dismal Orlando Magic. This past week the Knicks also had to battle with injuries, like they always do, having to play without the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, and up until last night, Carmelo Anthony. So once again, it was up to a lot of the bench players to step up and contribute in order to pick up some of the slack.
Most Productive Bench Player: J.R. Smith- For the second straight week, Smith comes in as our most productive bench player, and for good reason. Smith continues to not only balance between having to be the Knicks main contributor off the bench, but also being the Knicks main scorer period. Without Carmelo Anthony for most of the past week, Smith once again has had to carry the load, and while it may not always be pretty, he consistently puts up big numbers. The highlight for Smith came last Thursday night in Portland when he shot 11 of 21 from the field and finished with a total of 33 points. Some could argue however that last night against the Magic was his most productive game of the week. Last night Smith finished 8 of 16 from the field while scoring 22 points and grabbing 7 boards. At one point he was 8 of 11 from the field. While we often complain about the inconsistent shooting from Smith, and yes he did have a 4 of 20 shooting night against the Clippers, overall this past week Smith has shot 40% from the field. You can live with that. One thing he has also been doing a much better job at and being successful at is taking the ball to the basket. We really saw just how successful he can be at doing that last night against the Magic, when it seemed like he made it a point to attack the rim instead of just relying on his jump shot. Aside from Melo, Smith continues to be the Knicks main threat offensively.
Least Productive Bench Player: Marcus Camby- While I do believe Camby provides the Knicks with veteran leadership and toughness in the middle, I just expected he would step up and be a little more productive without Tyson Chandler in the lineup. Camby did get off to a promising start last Thursday night in Portland when he started the game and finished just a bucket short of a double-double. Camby ended the game with a very solid 8 point, 10 rebound performance. However, after the game in Portland, the Knicks got more out of Kenyon Martin and even Chris Copeland than they did in Camby, and I realize some of that is due in part because of his age. The next three games Camby scored just 1 point and saw just 7 minutes of playing time in both the Utah and Orlando games. His minutes decreased, as they should have, with the emergence in the somewhat surprising productivity in Martin’s play.
Suggested Rotation Changes: As long as Tyson Chandler is out of the starting lineup, Kenyon Martin will most likely get the nod at starting, which he most definitely should. When Chandler returns, it will be interesting to see who Woodson decides to start at the PF position. Personally, I think the best possible starting lineup for the Knicks would be; Felton, Shumpert, Anthony, Martin, and Chandler. And for some reason, I actually happen to like that starting five a lot.
With that, I think Kidd and Prigioni need to continue to see minutes, both have been productive in their minutes as of late, and both have distributed the ball very well. Chris Copeland continues to prove that he has above average offensive capabilities, and very below average defensive capabilities. I would keep his minutes right around where they are at. There are times when he is on the floor that the Knicks really suffer on the defensive side.
The same can be said about Steve Novak. Yesterday I put out an article about his inconsistency this year, and this past week that proved to be true once again. While the Knicks value his three point prowess, you almost have to limit his minutes solely on his poor defensive play. Kurt Thomas may be out for the remainder of the year, but he showed just how tough and gritty he is when he played with what turned out to be a broken foot in Utah. Thomas played a season high 26 minutes, finishing the game with 6 points and 3 rebounds. His toughness will be missed. Finally, it seems as though James White is the new odd man out. He is no longer starting and his minutes have dramatically decreased. Last night however at the end of the game he did make the most of his 6 minutes that he was in, finishing with 7 points.