Chris Copeland: The Knicks’ Latest Diamond in the Rough

Mark L. Baer – US PRESSWIRE

The New York Knicks have lost A’mare Stoudemire to a knee injury for what could end up being an entire month, leaving an opening for rookie PF and preseason standout Chris Copeland. Copeland is 28 years old and played his last two seasons in Belgium, where he averaged 18.5 PPG. On Saturday, the Knicks signed the rookie to a one-year, rookie’s minimum contract.

Copeland could end up being worth three times that.  The young man can score, plain and simple. He averaged 15.5 PPG over the preseason, including a 34 point outburst on the Boston Celtics.

Will Copeland be a consistent contributor every night? I doubt it. He will likely be an erratic performer, similar to teammate J.R. Smith. He committed five fouls in fifteen minutes of action in the opening preseason contest, and then didn’t play in the first half of the next game. When he got his chance in the second half, however, he tore up the Washington Wizards for 21 points.

Who else should replace Stoudemire? Rasheed Wallace isn’t ready. He came into training camp after a two year trial of being retired, out of shape and unable to practice. Head coach Mike Woodson says that Wallace is improving his conditioning, but as a fan, he is not the guy that I want starting.

I say give the nod to Copeland. What does New York have to lose? If it doesn’t work, then they can play Carmelo Anthony at the PF, where he was most effective last season in Stoudemire’s absence. Steve Novak, the best 3PT shooter in the NBA, could also be in the mix, but Novak rarely plays starter minutes and provides much needed scoring off the bench.

Does anyone remember what happened when the Knicks gave an unproven, young player a chance to play last season? Jeremy Lin took over the league, that’s what happened. I’m not saying that Copeland will be the next Lin (although “Copeland-sanity” does have a nice ring to it), but I don’t see why the Knicks shouldn’t at least give him a chance.

Follow Thomas Duffy on Twitter @TD_Knicks for articles, news, and all things NBA.

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