This was certainly an entertaining past week of basketball for these Knicks since the last bench report. Since my last installment of my bench report, the Knicks saw wins against the Wizards, Cavs, and their latest coming last night against the dreadful Detroit Pistons. Their only loss coming in their Sunday matinee game against the Heat, a game they very much could, and should have won. So overall, 3-1 record in the past week is very plausible. As for the Knick bench, in this past week we have seen the reemurgence of some pretty important bench players like Jason Kidd, and the continued consistency of both Amare Stoudemire and J.R. Smith.
This weekly bench report has gotten pretty interesting to me, due to the fact that, and especially with Melo’s recent knee injury, the Knicks have been starting guys who would normally be bench players. Guys like James White and Kurt Thomas have seen the starting lineup this past week, and I still for the life of me do not know why. Overall in this past week of basketball for the Knicks, the Knick bench has continued to produce for the most part, at a very high rate. The highlight of the week for this Knick bench had to without question be in their 22 point comeback victory against the Cavs when the bench contributed for 70 of their 102 points this past Monday night.
Most Productive Bench Performer – Amare Stoudemire – Again, for the second straight week, this was a no-brainer. You would think with some of the injuries the Knicks have had, head coach Mike Woodson would eventually have to plug either Stoudemire or Smith in the starting five, if not both. However, instead, which I tend to agree with, Woodson had decided to stay with his ways and continue to use them off the bench. It appears as though STAT is starting to return to his usual self, which is a sight every Knick fan absolutely loves to see. Once Melo went down on Monday night in Cleveland, it was clear that Stoudemire embraced the team as “his” team in Melo’s absense. Amare went on to finish that game with 22 points and 6 rebounds, on 10 of 15 shooting. Over the course of the past week Stoudemire has shot an overall 28 of 42 for a superb 67% from the field. I know Woodson is keeping an eye on his minutes still, but he has shown to save him for the end of games, which needs to stay the same. Most importantly however, Amare has shown determination on the defensive end, which will prove to be extremely important as the season continues.
Least Productive Bench Performer – Kurt Thomas – I know “technically” Thomas started last night against the Pistons, but I can’t see Woodson staying with that same starting five in tonights game against the Thunder. Even so, I still consider both Thomas and White has bench players, even though White has started every game this past week. A part of me wanted to throw Novak’s name in here again for a second straight week, but I will give him a pass based off of his big performance on Monday night in Cleveland. When Kurt Thomas plays, it’s almost always coming off the bench, and that usually is few and far between as well. Which again is why a lot of people were questioning Woodson’s move to plug him into the starting five in last nights game against the Pistons. Thomas is averaging just 9.4 minutes a game and hadn’t even seen the floor up until last night, since their first game after the All-Star break in their blowout loss in Indiana. When Thomas is on the floor, it is just really hard not to see his age show. His once deadly midrange baseline jumpshot is no longer there, and all he is really good for is an occassional rebound or two. I realize it’s hard to throw Thomas’s name in to this for least productive because he rarely even sees the floor, but when he does, he just doesn’t do much at all.
Suggested Rotation Changes - The Thomas discussion leads great into this. Aside from Thomas, where has Chris Copeland gone? Last sighting was in the first game back from the break against the Pacers. Is Copeland’s defense much worse than Steve Novak’s? The answer is NO, if anything it is much better. I just feel as though that if Novak isn’t making his shots, what help is he to this Knicks team? I am not saying completely bag playing Novak off the bench, but maybe take away some of his minutes and give more to guys like Copeland.
There just isn’t much consistency to the Knick starting five, even when Melo is healthy. This in return, causes some confusion on the rotation to the Knicks bench. Also, is Kenyon Martin still a Knick? Last time I checked, they had re-signed him for another 10 days. I felt as though he could have helped out in last nights game against the Pistons, and I am still scratching my head as to why he didn’t see the the floor at all. I am however thrilled at the reemergence in the play of Jason Kidd, and I think his minutes should once again increase. It seems as though he has found his stroke once again, and his knowledge of the game is very important throughout the course of the game. It is also hard for Mike Woodson to not continue to give some time to Pablo Prigioni, who out of all the Knick guards, is probably the hardest working. He keeps possessions alive, and just like Kidd, has shown great leadership and intelligence on the foor. Meanwhile…I think James White just got called for another walk.