2009-10 New York Knicks Season Preview
Last year, the New York Knickerbockers (32- 50) brought in another new coach: Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni had garnered a solid reputation in his time as the headman with the Phoenix Suns, helping to turn them into a winner. It was not by any means a great first season for the new coach. But there was a much better feeling in Madison Square Garden due to the fact that former head coach Isiah Thomas was gone. Thomas, who had done an alarming amount of bad in four years at the helm, leaving behind a team that had maxed out the salary cap and whose roster consisted primarily of underachievers and wannabes. In D’Antoni’s initial season, the Knicks were actually in the playoff hunt in late February, sporting a record of 21- 25. The team also played a new style of ball that was exciting as they aggressively attacked on offense, utilizing the open court concept. This season looks even better.
The Knicks are stronger upfront due to the trade they made with Memphis that sent Quentin Richardson to the Grizzlies for center Darko Milicic (5.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.6 APG). Although not an offensive threat, Milicic is an excellent defender and ball handler who will relieve starting forward/center David Lee (16.0 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 2.3 APG), a double-double threat. The starting small forward spot is presently the realm of 11-year vet Al Harrington (20.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.4 APG). But the heir apparent, Danilo Gallinari (6.1 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.5 APG), returns for his second NBA season after seeing limited playing time last year due to injury. Gallinari returns healthy and that’s good news for the Knicks. If Gallinari does start, Harrington could move to the power spot. Various other options upfront also exist, including vet Eddie Curry (1.7 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.0 APG) and athletic rookie Jordan Hill.
Five-year pro Chris Duhon (11.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 7.2 APG) at the point put up the best numbers of his career last season. He’ll probably get the nod to start but he will face competition from talented rookie Toney Douglas. Although Douglas is known for his defense, he did average 21.5 PPG while at Florida State. Two guys will most likely occupy the shooting spot: 11-year vet Larry Hughes (11.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.2 APG) and third-year swing Wilson Chandler (16.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 2.1 APG). Hughes has a dead-on shot but his productivity has dropped off. Chandler, who can also play forward, needs to practice better shot selection.
The Knicks have a lot of versatility on-board: swing men, guys who can offer quality minutes off the bench, and fine two-way players. There’s also a decent mix of veteran and young players. The biggest concerns are the wing spots. There’s less depth in the backcourt. Additionally, you’ve either got aging vets, untested rookies or failed starters on the wings.
Can fans expect a winning season from this edition of the New York Knicks? That would be an awful lot to ask in such a short period of time. The Knicks will notch no more than 35 wins, finishing fourth in the Atlantic Division and around 12th in the Eastern Conference. This club needs another season or two under D’Antoni to escape from the traps that Thomas ensnared them in during his tenure. Still, they’ll be a lot more fun to watch than any team the former coach put on the court.