I know they’re all old and their best days are behind them. That’s quite clear, but the bottom line is that the Knicks don’t need any of these three to play 30 minutes a night. So go ahead and call optimistic Knicks fans foolish for thinking that their team is capable of challenging in the Eastern conference this season. Just make sure you call me foolish, too.
Winning in the NBA requires blending the correct ingredients together. Youth helps, but health is more important. Having prolific scorers can get you closer to the promised land, but so can having lockdown defenders.
So when you look at the Knicks frontcourt rotation of Tyson Chandler, Camby, Amar’e Stoudemire, Thomas, Novak and Wallace, it’s understandable if you see a bunch of over-the-hill veterans and one-dimensional players that, by themselves, aren’t much of a difference-maker for an NBA team.
But as a unit? I see a solid platoon of big men that can protect the paint and the rim and rebound the basketball. The mere fact that there are so many of them means that no individual—aside from Stoudemire—will have to play big minutes or try to do any more than they’re capable of doing.
Remember what I said in this space last week… To win, you need a solid division of labor. Because of injuries, the Knicks certainly have some questions in their backcourt. But as of right now? I think their frontcourt is pretty good.
Now, if we’re talking about elite frontcourts in the NBA, the discussion probably starts with the Lakers. Assuming Dwight Howard returns to form, he, Pau Gasol and Antawn Jamison will almost certainly form the best triumvirate of big men in the league.
The Thunder’s gang of Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich, and Perry Jones III is also formidable. And the Celtics – the Knicks’ Atlantic division foe – have a wealth of effective and capable bigs. As a center, Kevin Garnett can effectively match up with any center in the Eastern Conference not named Andrew Bynum, Al Horford or Roy Hibbert. And with Brandon Bass, Darko Milicic, Chris Wilcox and rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, one could make the argument that the Celtics’ frontcourt is better than the that of the Knicks.
The Sixers—with Bynum and Thaddeus Young—have a decent unit that also features Kwame Brown and Spencer Hawes.
And yes, there are arguments that could be made for the front lines of the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz, as well.
But that’s only seven teams. And after those seven, the Knicks can’t be very far behind—if they’re behind at all.
The Knicks have been perennial underachievers over the past 10 years or so, and they have made some very questionable personnel moves. For the record, I would agree with anyone who believes that their roster and their immediate future is absent of any players that fans can grow with.
But fans that are that far-sighted, in my opinion, are a rare breed. Most Knicks fans I’ve spoken with are tired of waiting for youth to develop; they want to win right now.
I understand. So did Glen Grunwald, and that’s why this team has been made over in this image.
The truth is, the darkness of the Knicks’ past blinds a great many onlookers from seeing the potential light in the future. It’s hard to talk about future when we’re dealing with 38-, 39- and 40-year old professional athletes, but we’re talking immediate future here.
Because of the Knicks recent ineptitude, folks are too quick to pre-judge and predetermine that the moves they make will end up being the wrong ones. Certainly, the Knicks aren’t deserving of our benefit of the doubt.
But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t attempt to give it to them — sometimes.