Linless in NY
Jeremy Lin is done for the season with a meniscus tear in his knee. With Lin out, the Knicks are back to where they started before Linsanity swept the nation, looking for a capable point guard. Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.1 assists on the season, 18.2 and 7.6 as a starter.
Lin proved he belonged on a NBA court instead of a D-League court by getting to the bucket and finishing or finding open teammates in the lane for an easy dunk. He showed he was a smart player that could quarterback a team and put up the numbers. His weaknesses on defense were exposed as well as his lack of a jumper and his tendency to be turnover prone. This is a huge loss for the Knicks and Mike Woodson will really be tested from here on out, but it’s not a kill shot.
Baron Davis has to step up and play starters minutes without getting hurt. Davis has the court vision, experience, and shooting ability to lead the Knicks into the playoffs, but it seems like he is still not completely in game shape. Right now he is better served playing 20 minutes, but I think he will have to dig down and run the point full time for the Knicks to have a shot at winning.
Iman Shumpert is the player that is stepping up into a much bigger role. If the Knicks are going to beat teams without Amare Stoudemire, who’s out for four weeks, and Jeremy then it’s going to have to be on the defensive side of the ball. Shumpert steals the ball almost two times per game which ranks sixth in the NBA. His defensive is crucial to the Knicks success and the Knicks can’t afford to be without him on the floor. Most comfortable at the shooting guard, I wouldn’t mind him getting a crack at the lead guard spot, although his decision-making with the ball would have to improve.
Without Stoudemire the Knicks have gone small with Carmelo Anthony at the power forward position and some combination of Davis, J.R. Smith, Shumpert, and Landry Fields at the 1, 2, and 3 spots.
Fields is going to have to start doing something out there. He has been silenced in the majority of games lately and needs to find a niche on defense and put some shots in the basket or his time in New York will be coming to an end sooner than later. He just dissappears on the court too often to be a solid starting off guard in the NBA. He needs to provide some defense in his new small forward role and just defer on offense because his jumper is not falling.
Smith is going to have to do what he does, light it up on offense. The problem is that he is too streaky to rely on and will shoot you out of as many games as he shoots you in. A bright spot has been his defense and with the Knicks needing buckets more than anything down the stretch, look for Smith to get his chance to prove he can fill it up at an elite level.
Reserve point guards Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby are going to have to play backup minutes. These guys have been relegated to the bench for most of the season, although Douglas was the opening-day starter. One of these two has to be able to give the Knicks 10 minutes of mop up time and be effective while the starters are on the bench. I think it’s Douglas’ time for a second chance at being a contributor.
The reason the Knicks have a chance despite losing two stars is solid defense and Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has proven he can score with the best and honestly Lin and Stoudemire out has opened up the floor for him to slip into his comfort zone as a go-to-scorer. If Melo can get hot enough to keep the Knicks in games and then find open teammates when the inevitable double team comes, then it’s not over yet in Gotham City.