Knicks Media Day Report
Melo: ‘I’m fine, no worries…I’m good.’
by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
You could hear a pin drop.
When Carmelo Anthony fell to the ground with what thankfully turned out to be a minor knee injury, the entire gym held their collective breath as the Knicks’ hopes of the ’11-12 season laid on the hardwood in pain. As Melo went back to the training room and practiced resumed, the focus turned back to basketball as the Knicks proceeded to scrimmage and work on drills.
The first thing that jumped out was the great shape everybody showed up to camp in. Guys were getting up and down the court with ease and didn’t have their hands on their knees during stoppage of play for teaching points. Amar’e Stoudemire was looking bigger and stronger than he has in his entire career and claims to have grown to 6-11 in the extended offseason. There seemed to be no issues with his back and looked to be much more comfortable playing his more natural position of power forward and believes playing the 4 will help the Knicks defensively.
“I’ve never really played the 4 on a consistent basis during my career and that’s my natural position,” said Stoudemire. “And now having Tyson back there with me, it’s going to work to our advantage… it’s going to be great. With the lineup we have in the backline, we feel like we’re going to be great competitors defensively. That’s the No. 1 goal for us right now: to become better defensively and be known as a defensive team.”
Now paired with Tyson Chandler in the front court, the Knicks have arguably the most formidable center/power forward tandem in the League.
The one position that may hurt the Knicks is the point guard position. Although Toney Douglas is a tenacious defender and a high-energy player, he needs to become a pass-first point guard for the Knicks to flourish. On many possessions during five-on-five, Douglas was quick to shoot instead of look for open teammates. With a lot of offensive firepower around him, Douglas needs to look for his shot less and become more of a distributor, especially with Tyson Chandler in the front court who scores a lot of his points off of lobs and offensive rebounds. Douglas is certainly capable of scoring in bunches, and he will no doubt have some big game for the Knicks, but in order for them to play on a consistent, winning basis he will need to get the ball in Melo and Amar’e's hands.
Many fans and pundits disapproved of the Iman Shumpert draft pick based on his low shooting percentage and poor grasp of the point guard position at Georgia Tech. But, Shumpert will provide the Knicks with a spark off the bench and bring some much-needed defensive help to the team. When he and Douglas are on the floor together, they will wreak havoc on opposing backcourts.
“I play both sides of the ball hard,” said Shumpert, “I do love to play passing lanes, I’m athletic, I got long arms, I’m always searching for pass deflections, always looking to help someone else out.” He has all the tools physically, and displayed a nice shooting touch from three-point range. Now, it’s a matter of whether he can put it all together and compete at the NBA level. I’m very high on this kid and believe that he will be a major contributor for the Knicks on both ends of the floor as the season progresses.
The word of the day seemed to be defense, and new assistant coach Mike Woodson was stressing the nuances of defense, stopping practice many times for teaching points. The Knicks were attacking on defense, something that has definitely been lacking during Coach D’Antoni’s tenure. If they take heed to Coach Woodson’s hard-nose defensive philosophy, they will make a lot of noise this season.