Rising Knicks’ star Wilson Chandler (above).
We are not ashamed to say that we had the Knicks projected at 10-24 at this point, and that we had major problems with the construction of the roster. The David Lee trade? Awful. To get back perpetual dog house resident Anthony Randolph as the centerpiece of a deal in which you trade a 20/10 guy, and to also recieve Kelenna Azabuike–yet to play and who may not recover from a serious knee injury in time to ever play for the team–is akin to letting Lee walk for nothing. Well, at least we got back scary looking Ronny Turiaf, who has had a positive effect in his minutes, and who becomes a downright essential cog for the thin Knicks in the absence of Gallinari.
What about our good friends Roger Mason and Timofey Mozgov, 2 players the Knicks alotted cap space to, who, well, suck it hard? Between Randolph, Azabuike, Mozgov, and Mason, the Knicks have tied up 1/3 of their roster with totally unusable players. Not to mention Eddy Curry.
Shawne Williams? We like him fine and think the former first rounder and journeyman deftly rescued himself from the scrap heap by shooting the lights out in limited action, and continued to shock us in a rousing win versus the Spurs by making plays with his back to the basket. Very nice. But let’s be real. He wasn’t brought here to or expected to contribute.
Are we upset that first Shannon Brown and then the absolutely awful Roger Mason were pretty much guaranteed starters’ minutes by D’antoni at the virtual expense of Wilson Chandler, who just kept his head down and played hard? Yes. In looking at this woeful roster, we clearly identified Chandler as 1 of the 4 guys with actual basketball talent on this team (along with Stoudemire, Felton, and Douglass). Since then, we’ve upgraded our assessment. This team has 5 players with basketball talent (all credit goes to the surprisingly gifted hard work guy from Stanford, Landry Fields, currently leading all guards in rebounding). Chandler, the 2nd or 3rd best, has thoroughly impressed us and we’re not surprised at all. Tuesday night, W.C. had 31 pts. on 13/19 from the field, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, and was too much for Richard Jefferson to handle. The fact is, on most nights and even against some very good teams, a few players can carry the multitude of bad ones. The Knicks also channeled that Garden energy left up in the rafters from the previous night’s incredible St. John’s victory.
The NBA is a star driven league, and Amar’e is playing like an MVP calibre, 1st team All NBA guy. Raymond Felton is playing the best ball of his career (17 pts, 7 assts per), and out-played Spurs star Tony Parker most recently (28/7 vs. 26/6) in the Knicks’ banner win at MSG. Chandler, who proved early on he could not be driven from the lineup, has been so good that Donnie Wheelchair has now vowed to re-sign him, even with the player in line for perhaps a $ 60M contract.
The Knicks big 3 of Stoudemire, Chandler, and Felton is proving so good that they can carry the team, even against some top squads. Even in the absence of Gallinari, who we think sucks anyway. Face it. How many teams have a triumvirate that it out producing the Knicks’ big 3? As we see it, it’s something only elite teams can say.
We also see a silver lining with Gallinari’s injury. While we are totally unimpressed with Italy’s finest, and while we especially pan his supposed strength–his perimeter game–he does seem to be developing a better repertoire as a guy who can put it on the floor and get to the rim. For all his faults, he’s a young guy, at 6’10, playing major minutes on a winning team. Denver, who seems intent on getting back 1-2 players and picks for Carmelo, might be willing to take Landry Fields, as well as the young talent and picks that a Gallinari and an Anthony Randolph could bring back, since we’re hearing the Nuggets aren’t big on either. For now, we’ll kindly hold off on the bust tag for these guys.
As for the immediate future, Amar’e returns to Phoenix Friday night. We look for our captain to be extra motivated against his old squad.
GO NY GO NY GO!