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2010 NBA Team Preview: New York Knicks

They have a new franchise player in Amar’e Stoudemire. They finally have a suitable point guard who can execute Mike D’Antoni’s system in Raymond Felton. They have a sharpshooter who can nail that three ball all the way from, well anywhere, in Danilo Gallinari. They have an athletic phenom who is projected to eventually grow into becoming a “stat magnet” in Anthony Randolph. Ha ha ha! Did I just write “grow into becoming?” There are no accidents in the Universe.

What’s not to love about the New York Knicks?

So who needs a LeBron James anyway? Everyone. The Knicks did.

That’s all water under bridge. Now, they’ve got the hots for Melo. But we can’t do a preview on speculation, can we?

It’s about who they have right now and how those players will help this franchise rise up from the ashes of the “Isaiah years.”

As far as the team’s depth chart goes, there’s been a lot of adjustments being done by Coach D’Antoni over the pre-season. So as of the last news I’ve read THIS is what it’s like. It’s not carved in stone. I actually expect it to change as the season actually gets underway.

Depth Chart

PG Raymond Felton, Toney Douglas

SG Wilson Chandler, Kelenna Azubuike, Roger Mason

SF Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Bill Walker, Landry Fields, Patrick Ewing Jr.

PF Amar’e Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph

C  Timofey Mozgov, Ronny Turiaf, Eddy Curry

The Captains

Both Stoudemire and Felton were declared as co-captains of the team as early as training camp. They are the cornerstones. Amar’e is the offense-oriented big man, franchise player and Felton is there to orchestrate things on the floor.

Amar’e Stoudemire - 25 Points and 9.8 rebounds a night are reasonable expectations for him this season. So is 56% FG and 80% FT. Are those numbers enough to pick him as the last pick of the first round? Probably. His fantasy upside all boils down to whether or not he can deliver defensive numbers (steals and blocks). In 2007-08 he managed to average 0.8 STL and 2.1 BLK a night. That immediately catapulted him into Top 5 fantasy status coming into the 2008-09 season. The block averages fell that year and so did his fantasy value. Without those D numbers, you’re just drafting yourself a glorified Chris Bosh. He’s shown that his steals can hold steady at somewhere around 0.8. The last couple of seasons he’s only managed 1.1 BPG.

Mike D’Antoni, wants the Knicks to improve on defense. Since there’s no one on the team who is particularly defensive minded, it WILL have to start with Amar’e if that goal is going to prosper. If he can deliver 1.5-1.7 BPG, then he’s gold as the last pick of the first round.  He’s finally on a team that he can call “his,” and his motivation to succeed is at an all-time high, so it’s possible he can deliver. Draft him on that upside. That’s his bottom line.

Raymond Felton – There are people who are worried that he won’t live up to the hype. He’s playing for a team with a system that is possibly the most fantasy-friendly for point guards. He can pass the ball. He will probably average eight to eight and a half dimes a night. Amar’e is a proven, solid finisher on the break and close to the basket. As I mentioned, D’Antoni wants D. Felton can deliver that. He’s been a reasonable source of steals ever since he started in the NBA. What’s interesting to note over the pre-season is that he appears to slowly be gaining more confidence in shooting treys. He’s never really been good at it, but hey if Zach Randolph (after joining NY) can learn to lob the leather, then I’m sure Felton can too. I rank Ray somewhere in between Aaron Brooks and Darren Collison. Consider him as a suitable primary PG in the even that you’ve missed out on higher tier PG’s in the first two rounds.

The Three-point King

Danilo Gallinari – After Danny Granger and Stephen Curry. Gallo’s probably the most versatile not-so-pure three-point shooter on the board. He’s known for raining down those threes while chipping in only 1.4 TO’s a night. It’s also dandy that he isn’t shy on the defensive end. He averaged 0.9 STL’s and 0.7 BLK’s last season. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see him hit about 2.8 bombs a night this season. He, along with Felton and Stoudemire, appear to be the only ones (as of now) with assured tenures in New York’s starting lineup. If you’ve drafted Centers and Point Guards early on, he’s a sweet target to begin dipping into the SF position, towards the middle rounds.

The New “Marion”

His trade to the Knicks rekindled his hype. His poor showing in the pre-season has quickly dowsed the raging flames of burning upside. So what should people do about Anthony Randolph? If we’re assuming that Amar’e is reprising his old dominant, Phoenix-self, and Raymond Felton is the new, capable playmaker; then technically – ideally – Randolph should be the system’s new Marion. He should be aggressively grabbing those rebounds and being a headache for opponents on the defensive end of the floor. But that’s in an ideal world and from the way things stand, he does seem to lack maturity and confidence. We all saw, dreamed of, what he’s capable of delivering. Seeing his potential come to fruition – would be the operative word – is the bottom line why some people still want/wanted to buy into his fantasy stock.

Optimistically, he’s just a slow, perhaps erratic bloomer and will get around to delivering the fantasy goods but just not from the get-go. Pessimistically, Don Nelson was right all along for barely showing him the light of day (or arena lights), and will end up being a dud. Again.

If you haven’t drafted yet, downgrade him in your cheat sheets. If you already own him, keep at least until the end of November through early December to give him a chance to work his way into solid rotation playing time or even a starting gig. Frankly, the kid should just bulk up and dominate the freakin’ paint.

The Late-rounders

Wilson Chandler kind of looks like he somewhat of an “odd man out” as far as the system flows. He’s not athletic enough to be the “Marion” and he’s not accurate enough to be a reliable outside threat. The Knicks have dangled his name here and there in trade rumors. He will be inconsistent, at best this season. He’s a soft multi-cat guy, but will be challenged for minutes at the two by Roger Mason and Toney Douglas at times.

Due to his being recently christened as the Knicks starting center, Timofey Mozgov has become a recent last-round flier favorite and is even being picked up off the FA pool in leagues that have already drafted. Mike D’Antoni was quoted saying that he (Mozgov) is the most “complete athlete” on the team, during training camp. Those were big words coming from the coach, especially considering he’s sharing the front court with beastly, athletic specimens in Stoudemire and Randolph. Mozgov’s got decent basketball I.Q., but still needs to learn the nuances of playing D in the NBA.

So for your GMTR drafting guidance…

Amar’e Stoudemire – Late first round

Danilo Gallinari - Early 4th round

Raymond Felton - Round 4

Anthony Randolph - Round 5 if you’re a glass half full kind of person and late round 6 if you want to play “chicken” with the other managers in your draft.

Wilson Chandler - Round 12-13

Timofey Mozgov - Round 13+

Roger Mason Jr. and Toney Douglas – Deep league, late round specials

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