With training camps and preseason games underway, I could not be more excited that the NBA is back. More importantly, it is time for New York Knicks basketball.
While there are a fair amount of guaranteed roster spots there is a still a few roster selections that are up for grabs. The training camp roster currently stands at 18, meaning that the team must cut at least three players in order to have the set amount before opening night. So for now I will be looking at everyone on the Knicks training camp roster and their roles going forward with the team.
The projected starting lineup
- Point Guard: Derrick Rose. The Knicks have been looking for a reliable point guard and Derrick Rose has been their best option in a long time. While he has an injury history, last season he played 66 games, his career best since 2011. Look for him to have a bounce back year in his first season in the Big Apple.
- Shooting Guard: Courtney Lee. Lee has been good wherever he has played during his eight seasons in the league. I personally think he is a good fit for the Knicks this season. He will be the key perimeter defender that will take a couple of three point shots.
- Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony. Melo is coming off a great summer in which he won Gold at the 2016 Olympics. Last season he also had the best career assist percentage (21.9%). Now that he has a decent roster to play with, he’ll be able to get out in the lane more. At the end of the day, Melo is a scorer but he’ll be able to do more now that he has playmakers around him.
- Power Forward: Kristaps Porzingis. I am really excited to see what the Latvian Locomotive will do in his second season. He has improved his three point shot and looks to be a force on the defensive end. The sky is the limit for him.
- Center: Joakim Noah. I am a fan of Noah’s game. He does all the little things and is a great rim protector, something the Knicks have been missing since Tyson Chandler left.
- Brandon Jennings (Point Guard): A few years removed from his achilles injury, Jennings looks to have a bounce back year after struggling at times with the Pistons and Magic last season. He has something to prove, as he can score easily and should be back to his old self this upcoming season.
- Lance Thomas (Small Forward): Thomas stepped up nicely when Carmelo Anthony was out for a few games. He averaged a career high 8.2 points and was the teams top perimeter defender. He was a journey man before joining New York and he looks to be a member of the team for years to come.
- Kyle O’Quinn (Center): Look for O’Quinn this year to be the first big man off the bench for New York. He is a big man that that is a banger down low. He had an up-and-down season last year, but slimmed down a bit and looks to be a reliable role player.
- Justin Holiday (Shooting Guard): Holiday was brought in as an add-on to the Derrick Rose trade. The Knicks need help at the wing position behind Courtney Lee and Holiday looks to fill that void. He is 6’5″ with a wingspan of 7-feet. His length allows him to be aggressive against guards of the same size and even some bigger perimeter players.
- Guillermo Hernangomez (Center): Hernangomez was acquired during the 2015 NBA Draft and was signed this past offseason. The rookie has great size (6’11” 255 lbs with a 7’1.5″ wingspan) and is only 22 years old. New York will bring him in slowly during the season but he looks to bring energy on both ends of the floor, but it may take some time.
- Mindaugas Kuzminskas (Small Forward): After a successful 10 seasons overseas, Kuzminskas looks to take his talents to the NBA. He is a great athlete that can shoot from beyond the arc. Like Hernangomez, the Knicks will probably give him time to develop but there is potential with the Lithuanian.
- Sasha Vujacic (Shooting Guard): Phil Jackson has always praised Vujacic since his days with the LA Lakers. He knows the triangle offense and has a great basketball IQ. However, he is a streaky shooter. He will get limited chances, barring any injuries.
The roster above is at 12. The guys listed below are guys that I believe are fighting for the final spots. Here is a list of those guys.
- Lou Amundson (Power Forward): Amundson has been on the team for the past couple of season. He can get you a couple of rebounds and can frustrate opponents with his defense but will get limited minutes barring any injuries.
- Maurice Ndour (Power Forward): Ndour was actually a bright spot for the Knicks summer league team back in 2015 and was signed by the Dallas Mavericks. He ended up not making the roster and spent this past season overseas. He has a good shot at making the team but now with the team signing Amundson, he needs to have a good camp/preseason to beat the odds.
- Ron Baker (Shooting Guard): Baker went undrafted in this draft but was a bright spot on the Knicks summer league team. The former Wichita State Shocker is a good shooter that might benefit playing with guys like Rose and Anthony.
- Marshall Plumlee (Center): Plumlee was also undrafted this past draft and an impressive summer league. He signed a three-year deal after his stint in the summer league. While the first year is guaranteed, the Amundson signing has hurt his chances on sticking with the team.
- J.P. Tokoto (Shooting Guard): The swingman was drafted by the 76ers in the second round in 2015, but never played for them, spending the 2015-16 season in the D-League. He played with the Knicks this past summer and showed that he is a freak athlete. His chances of making the team are very slim, but I would not suprised if the Knicks stash him in Westchester.
- Chasson Randle (Point Guard): Randle went undrafted this past year after a successful career at Stanford. He was very impressive running the Knicks offense in the summer league. With the potential health concerns between Rose and Jennings, Randle has the chance to the reliable third string point guard for the Knicks.
The last few spots will be a battle during the games. The Lou Amundson signing in my opinion hurt some chances. However, I do think that if Ndour shows that he can do more than Amundson, I can see the Knicks going with Ndour opening night. Baker has also been impressive, so I think he has a shot to make the team. Randle has shown that he can run the offense and play at an NBA level so I think he will also make the team. That leaves Tokoto and Plumlee as guys on the chopping block. They both have potential, so it would not surprise me if they are on the Knicks D-League team, the Westchester Knicks and get called up during the season if they have any injuries.
This Knicks season should be an interesting one. They have some nice pieces and it should be an exciting year.