With the New York Yankees and the New York Mets seasons wrapped up with no postseason action for either team and with the New York Giants and New York Jets a combined 2-6 thus far, a lot of New Yorker’s attention will be focused on basketball (and to some degree hockey) in the coming weeks and months.
So, with practice getting underway, what are some of the storylines Knicks fans’ should keep an eye on this preseason?
How will Metta World Peace fit in?
Perhaps the biggest x-factor with the Knicks this year is how the embattled and mercurial World Peace will fit in with the Knicks. He is saying all the right things and is committed to being all-in for a run at a championship. You can’t question his toughness and his ability to play defense, and if he just plays his role as junk-yard dog and provides Carmelo Anthony with a bodyguard, per se, he’ll have a huge impact. It’s if he hucks and chucks it and plays undisciplined basketball, things will unravel quickly. World Peace must be committed to playing a role and sticking with it.
What kind of role will Andrea Bargnani have?
The Knicks made some noise this offseason when they traded for the Raptors' Bargnani. Often labeled as soft, how will the Italian product fit in under the bright lights of New York City? And what position will he man? With Amar’e Stoudemire having lingering injury concerns, Bargnani will most likely play power forward. And will he start or come off the bench? Can Mike Woodson get him to rebound and play defense? These are all things that should bear monitoring this preseason.We at least know he can score and he should compliment Anthony nicely.
Will any of the rookies (Tim Hardaway Jr. and C.J. Leslie) contribute anything?
With Stoudemire and J.R. Smith nursing injuries (not to mention Jeremy Tyler), Hardaway Jr. and Leslie may be needed to provide a boost off the bench in the early going. Hardaway Jr., in particular will have to shoulder some of the scoring load off the bench in Smith’s absence. Obviously, there should be some bumps in the road for the rookies, as is the case with most first-year players. Although they’re not expected to do much right off the bat, it would be a welcome sight if Hardaway Jr. and Leslie can give the Knicks a boost off the bench.
Is this the year Iman Shumpert puts it all together?
As one of the Knicks most talented assets, a lot of New York's success this year depends on whether Shumpert can take his game to the next level. Blessed with above-average athleticism and superior defensive skills, Shumpert is a player the Knicks can count on for not only immediate success, but as well as being a player the team can build around in the future. If Shumpert shows a little more consistency this year, the Knicks will be a much more dangerous team.
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