Where to start? It has been a week to forget to say the least for this Knicks team. After receiving news this past Saturday that the they have probably lost their most productive player off of the bench for what looks like the remainder of the season, the Knicks are also battling with injuries to key players in Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. Anthony has been struggling with his ailing right knee, while it appears Chandler sustained a knee contusion in last nights debacle in Denver. While it appears that Chandlers injury isn’t too serious, and is listed as just day-to-day, Melo may in fact need to get his right knee drained. Since last Thursday the Knicks have gone 1-3, with losses against Oklahoma City, Golden State, and Denver. The Knicks lone win this past week came on Saturday night against the Utah Jazz.
As for the Knicks bench, they have started to become a bit inconsistent, which is a road the Knicks can not afford to go down, especially with the devastating loss to who was their most productive bench player in Amar’e Stoudemire. On top of that, the Knicks schedule does not allow them to continue to be as inconsistent as they have been. In the Knicks final 20 games, they will be on the road for 11 of those games. With the loss of Stoudemire, this means the Knicks need to get guys like Keyon Martin to step up, much more then they originally thought they would have to. It also means guys like J.R. Smith need to not just shoot, but shoot at an extremely high level. And what about guys like Jason Kidd and Steve Novak? Who this past week shot 11 of 39 between the two of them. What was an extremely consistent and reliable bench has since become a disoriented and much maligned one.
Most Productive Bench Player – J.R. Smith – J.R. had possibly his best game of his Knick career last Thursday against the Thunder, and almost single handedly upset OKC at the Garden. Smith finished the game with 36 points, on a very efficient 14-27 from the field, which is somewhat uncharacteristic of him. He followed that up with yet another solid performance as he carried the Knicks to a win over the Jazz in Utah without Melo in the lineup, scoring 24 points on 10-18 from the field, while also grabbing 6 rebounds. With the loss of Stoudemire and now what looks like to be the loss for some time for Melo, J.R. is not only going to have to carry the load off the bench, he’s also going to have carry the majority of the scoring load in general.
Least Productive Bench Player - Jason Kidd - Just when you thought Jason Kidd was making a turn for the good, turns out Kidd may just in fact be back to where he was two weeks ago. In the Knicks past four games, Kidd has shot a whopping 1-12 from the field, and while he may have grabbed 10 rebounds in the win against Utah, he really has not been doing much of anything. Not only as his offense been completely anemic, his age shows on defense as well. He no longer can guard the quicker and almost everytime younger guard, and the only time he makes good on defense, is when he uses his smarts, which is something he still has. For the Knicks to be successful, they really need to have Kidd contribute more than he has. I am not saying he needs to score 15 points a night, but shooting 1of 12 from the field in a four game stretch is simply not going to cut it.
Suggested Rotation Changes - Things will obviously have to change now with the loss of Stoudemire, and we have already started to see some of them. Since STAT has gone down, we have seen much more of Kenyon Martin, who has actually given the Knicks some good minutes in Amare’s absense. He definately does bring that toughness on defense and plays at a high energy at all times, something this team lacks greatly at times. While Steve Novak lived up to his nickname “Novakaine” in Utah, he just is not having nearly the same type of year he did last year. On top of that, if Novak does not shoot well on a given night, you basically get absolutely nothing out of him because his defense is so poor. Either his minutes have got to go down, or he needs to start shooting at the same level he was last year. I am starting to feel like a broken record saying that.
While Prigioni’s minutes have dropped considerably, Chris Copeland has for the most part made the most of his time he has given. Copeland was perhaps one of the lone bright spots in Mondays loss against Golden State in which he was 5-11 from the field, finishing with 15 points and 6 rebounds. I do think Woodson needs to go back to Prigioni, if not for the sole reason that he provides much needed energy off of the bench. He may not wow you with any particular skill, but he always plays hard and at least will make a commitment to playing tough defense at all times. With Keyon Martin starting to get more minutes, I would not be upset if we have seen the last of Kurt Thomas. He virtually gives the Knicks absolutely nothing. James White continues to start and I am not sure why. He needs to come off of the bench, and you cringe everytime he puts a shot up, which has become way too often. Also, is Marcus Camby still on the team? He has barely seen the floor aside from a few minutes in Monday’s game in Golden State. I think he could be a guy you can throw in there every once in a while for mostly rebounding purposes.