Well, judging by the sample size that the regular season provided to us, the Knicks took three-of-four from Miami with an 11.5 points per game differential in the series, not to mention, the one loss was a double-digit halftime lead that the Knicks blew at home.
Too bad the Knicks ran into the Indiana Pacers before they got their chance to validate General Manager Glen Grunwald’s strategy.
After a season that saw 54 wins and a successful defense of their home court in a playoff round, the Knicks find themselves still a couple of pieces short of superstar Carmelo Anthony’s championship aspirations. And after last offseason that saw the team add nine new players — and contracts — for their opening day 12-man roster, the chance to build to beat a team like Indiana, or Chicago might not be available this time around.
Grunwald will see if he can be as successful this summer as he was last summer starting with June’s NBA Draft.
Throughout the Knicks’ demise in the playoffs they were consistently beat in two areas, against forceful big men on the glass, and in the backcourt due to a lack of guys who could create shots not just for themselves, but for others. With pick No. 24, I think the Knicks should address one of those issues.
I’ll start by talking about the favorite, point guard Shane Larkin out of Miami. I don’t think that the Knicks have that bad of a backcourt with Pablo Prigioni playing his combo guard role, but coach Mike Woodson often showed resilience towards his vet-rookie guard, and the 36-year-old’s return to the NBA for next season is still questionable. In looking to replace Prigioni — and Jason Kidd while we’re at it (am I right?) — it’s possible that the stud of the NBA combine, Larkin, could be the Knicks answer. Already popular due to his stellar play for the Hurricanes this past season, and let’s be real, because he’s MLB Hall of Famer Barry Larkin’s son, 5-foot-11 Shane plays the game at a blazing pace and is a dynamic scorer.
Much like Prigioni, Larkin has a reliable shot from beyond the arc, and much to Woodson’s delight, is every bit as pesky on defense as the Argentinian. In a draft that isn’t chock-full of highly touted point guards, it’s likely that Larkin could still be available when the Knicks draft near the end of the first round.
And if he isn’t, another point guard who could really be an asset to this short-windowed team is former Virginia Tech guard Erick Green. Coming off of a senior season that saw him lead the nation in scoring (25 PPG), the 6-foot-3 Green is projected to be a late first round pick, but is one of the guards who can contribute immediately at the next level. Green won’t be the type of scorer in the NBA that say Damian Lillard already is, but he’s as big, fast and good of a shooter as any point guard in this draft, and he’s a natural leader.
For my third candidate I’m going to stray from the point guards, but stick with another former ACC player, and suggest that the Knicks strongly consider North Carolina State’s Richard Howell. The 6-foot-8 power forward’s game screams Udonis Haslem as he’s mainly a dirty work kind of player, who can occasional face up and knock down a mid range jumper. Playing amidst a very talented offense the last couple of seasons in Raleigh, Howell knew his place, which was to defend and find fellow draft prospects Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie extra shots. He did a great job at the task at hand, and if the Knicks can’t bring Kenyon Martin back, they could really use a blue collar guy like Howell with their late pick.
I think there’s great value around the Knicks pick in this year’s draft, especially if they’re looking for guys who can contribute in a few years. However, if the goal is to add a role player as easy as they can this offseason, I strongly suggest they take a flyer on one of the three previously mentioned prospects.
Check back in with me after they draft European player X.
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