Though the Knicks’ front court has been depleted one way or another (with the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace all previously or currently sidelined), the team will likely receive quite the injection of life to begin 2013, as STAT and Melo are both expected to be in uniform.
Camby will also be hitting the hardwood when the Knicks take on the Blazers to start off the new year, but he already had a chance to close out 2012 in a big way, unlike his fellow front court mates. The center managed to average 3 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per contest in the month of December as he made his return from a bevy of previous injuries that kept him off the court.
But while Camby and company were down for the count, the Knicks received quite the unexpected boost from their fifteen man, Chris Copeland. In the year’s final month, the 28 year old averaged just a shade under 13 points per game, all the while shooting 57% from the field, including 50% from down town. The big man has begun to catch defenders off guard with a quick shot release. His bold shot selection, attempting to let the bombs fly from wherever he is on the court, makes him quite the fearless option to come off the bench. Needless to say, he stepped up in a big way, and may have even done enough to secure a spot in New York’s regular rotation come 2013.
Though Copeland was the man who helped pace the Knicks’ front court’s efforts this past month, who will emerge as a hero for the back court in January? With Raymond Felton expected to sit out virtually the entire month, the team is in need of a clutch floor general. With elder statesman Jason Kidd already expected to take on a bulk of extra minutes, there’s only one man who can help the future Hall of Famer lead the way.
Of course, that’s the one and only Pablo Prigioni, International Man of (Not So Much) Mystery. While he’s served as the Knicks’ third string point guard up until this point, the Argentine has shown flashes of brilliance over the course of the still young season.
Prigioni’s style of play makes him an absolute fireball on the court. On the defensive end, the 35 year old likes to chase down opponents with his sights set on taking the ball away. Able to catch a bevy of inbounds passes, Prigioni can run away with the ball, taking away the opponent’s possession, all the while creating another potential opportunity for the Knickerbockers on the offensive end.
Though such an attack serves as the Argentine’s signature move, Prigioni isn’t simply a one trick pony. After dishing out a regular season-high of 9 assists, the floor general further proved he knows how to get his teammates involved. His fellow players appreciate the energy he brings along with him each time he hits the hardwood, and it’s obvious they feed off of it.
As fate would have it Prigioni’s international flavor helps him mesh quite well with Copeland, who has some overseas experience of his own. The pair play off one another nicely, and clearly have a sound understanding of one another after playing in similar systems over the years.
Prigioni is also in a unique situation when it comes to his conditioning, much like Kidd. After playing the role of starting point guard during his time in Europe, he came to the NBA, fully ready to embrace a larger role for the Knicks, only at a time like this. Not forced to log too many minutes in the season’s first two plus months, Prigioni is now poised to shoot out of the Knicks’ canon of secret weapons, certainly all rested up and ready to go.