I’m a little embarrassed to admit how long I’ve been following the Knicks. As a hint, when I was barely able to whine about my favorite teams I remember hearing on the radio that Dave DeBusschere broke his nose in a game and thinking that his nose was no longer attached to his face. I’ve been following for so long that there is no need for me to look up the correct spelling of DeBusschere.
While the last decade has deterred even the staunchest of Knicks fans, I am looking forward to the 2010-11 version. I really have no clue as to how Mike D’Antoni is going to use his bizarre roster, which is now filled with too many capable swing players and a few Golden State castoffs. New York made three big moves in the offseason, signing America’s favorite semite, Amar’e Stoudemire, to a max contract, then flipping studly David Lee for Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike, then finally corralling Ray Felton from Charlotte to run the point. Straight up, I would rather have the hard-working Lee than Stoudemire. Same goes from a fantasy perspective as Lee averaged 20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 steals to go along with top-shelf percentages, while Stoudemire, a first-rounder in most drafts, finished with 23.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and a disappointing 1.0 blocks. Amare will no longer have Steve Nash at his disposal, so he may struggle to exhibit his patented “stand around and wait for his point guard to miraculously create a passing lane for him to dunk” move.
Last year, fantasy owners everywhere were frothing at the mouth at Randolph’s potential. This year, those same owners are simply salivating as taking the long and lean Randolph is surely a crapshoot. This is a player whose per minute numbers were staggering as he produced 11.6 points, 6.5 rebounds 1.6 blocks and 0.9 steals in 22.7 minutes of daylight. He will likely begin the year backing up both Stoudemire and Turiaf, and even with the fickle D’Antoni at the helm, I see the 21-year old playing 23-28 minutes per game as the hard-nosed Turiaf perennially is about as healthy as Hyman Roth. Don’t discount Turiaf in your drafts, however. He will have a chance to play consistent minutes for the first time in his career and you could garner a couple of blocks per game before he makes medical history. Take Randolph in the seventh or eighth round and Turiaf in the latter stages.
The Knicks point guard situation has left a little to be desired the past few years. In comes Felton, a legitimate middle-of-the-road NBA starter at the position. I don’t expect huge totals from him, but 12.0 points, 7.0 assists and decent steals seem reasonable. D’Antoni won’t shut out second-year man Toney Douglas, who came on strong the final 18 games of ’09-10 and averaged 14.2 points, 3.8 assists and 2.2 threes over this period. Keep an eye on Douglas in case of an injury to Felton.
At shooting guard and small forward the Knicks have many interchangeable parts with Azubuike, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, newcomer Roger Mason and Bill Walker. I even like rookie Andy Rautins, but he looks to be taxi-squad bound. Azubuike is that athletic, 3-point shooting type who can excel in D’Antoni’s shoot first and ask questions later offense, but with all the congestion at his position, I wouldn’t touch him before round 11. I expect Gallinari to go off our league’s draft board early as my Damn Lies colleague Tom is on the verge of proposing. Even with inconsistent minutes, Gallo will knock down enough threes to help dominate the category. He can also block a shot or two, rendering him a pretty valuable guy. I’m looking at him around the fifth or sixth round. Chandler is a terrific athlete who does everything decently. If he finds his way to 30 minutes a night, he could be a decent sleeper. I’ll be staying away unless he lasts past the 11th round. Mason and Walker are free agent fodder.
PG: Raymond Felton, Toney Douglas
SG: Kelenna Azubuike, Roger Mason
SF: Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler
PF: Amare Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph
C: Ronny Turiaf, Timofey Mozgov
Up Next: Golden State Warriors