Hamilton: The Next Week Is Critical For Knicks

Kidd is 39 years old and Wallace is 38, but thus far, each has shown that they are capable of providing something that Mike Woodson’s team will need if it is to truly compete with the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.

Thus far, Kidd has played a career-low 22 minutes per game. But while he’s been on the court, he has shown that he can guard younger backcourt players. He still has his vision on the court and communicates with his teammates regularly. At even at this stage in his career, there are few guards in the NBA that can read defenses and execute skip passes better than Kidd.

On the season, Kidd has 11 assists and six steals, but only one turnover. After dealing with a very shaky point guard situation last season, a healthy Kidd should continue to pay huge dividends for this team. Woodson is even using him at 2-guard, playing him alongside starter Ray Felton and sub Pablo Prigioni.

And it’d be unfair to omit that on the young season, Kidd is shooting a blistering 54.5 percent from three-point land. If he continues to can threes, play solid defense and help orchestrate and organize the Knicks on offense, they’ll continue to rack up the wins and be a very difficult team to beat.

As for Wallace, he got his first extended action on Monday night when the Knicks played the Sixers in Wallace’s hometown of Philadelphia. Before signing with the Knicks, Wallace was last seen on a basketball court when he started Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals for the Boston Celtics with a bad back and could barely make it through the game.

He’s not in basketball shape, but in his limited minutes on Monday, Wallace hit two 3-pointers, commanded the attention of the opposing defense while he operated in the low post, and blocked two shots.

Though he’s a streaky shooter, Wallace’s presence on the box and on the defensive end are things that the Knicks will need, especially since Carmelo Anthony is their best post-player (I am withholding judgement on what Hakeem Olajuwon did for Amare Stoudemire until I see Amare in action)

When Anthony checks out of games, the Knicks’ offense becomes overly reliant on dribble penetration and kick-outs. If healthy and in shape, Wallace could give the Knicks another option in the low post. To some, Wallace’s NBA career was a bit of a disappointment, despite his winning an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons.

Wallace was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft—one pick before Kevin Garnett. With his all-around skills and shooting touch, when Wallace came out of the University of North Carolina, many expected him to be a Hall-of-Famer. He’ll never be enshrined, but he still has his instincts for the game and he still has a very valuable all-around skill set.

As Wallace rounds into shape, his minutes and productivity should increase.

And if they do, and if Kidd also stays on the floor, the Knicks may be partying like its 1999 all over again.

(RELATED: Podcast with Sid Rosenberg: More on Knicks-Mavs, plus envisioning Knicks-Heat in East finals)

It’s still early in the NBA season and it’s especially early for the Knicks. But thus far, there have been some very encouraging signs.

One way or another, we’ll find out more over the course of the next week whether we should expect it to continue.

Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops.com whose columns appear here on Fridays. Follow him on Twitter.

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