However, with any team (especially one with 11 new players), there are sure to be many questions regarding a brand new NBA season.
As the pressure for success mounts, here are a few questions that Danilo Gallinari and the new-look New York Knicks are bound to face during the 2010-11 season.
While he is proving early on to be a dominating force on offense, it remains to be seen whether Amare Stoudemire can carry the Knicks to victory (more specifically, the playoffs) on his own.
Although the initial goal was to sign two star players this summer, the Knicks instead signed Stoudemire and surrounded him with a solid supporting cast. The players around Stoudemire all have to step up their game if the Knicks have legitimate chances at being a serious playoff contender.
Danilo Gallinari will be put to the test this season, as the Knicks will depend on him to be Stoudemire’s right hand man.
With no other dominating force (like Stoudemire) on the roster, it may be reasonable to assume that Stoudemire could average around 25 points per game. He cannot, however, be depended on all by himself.
Is it too much to ask of Gallo (or someone else for that matter) to average 18 points per game? If this can be accomplished, the Knicks will have a nice offensive flow, along with a (hopefully) improved defensive game to take the pressures off Stoudemire.
It is no secret that the Knicks have been one of the league’s worst rebounding teams over the last few seasons. With its leading rebounder last season, David Lee, gone, the team will have to look elsewhere for improvement on the glass.
Although Lee averaged close to 12 boards the past two seasons, Knicks’ new-found star Stoudemire has yet to average double-figures in rebounds in his career.
Mike D’Antoni has said he hopes Timofey Mozgov can average 8-10 rebounds per game this season, which may be an issue, as rebounding was never a focus of Mozgov’s while playing internationally.
The team’s best natural rebounder, Ronny Turiaf, will likely not get the type of playing time needed to pull down some meaningful boards.
What will the Knicks’ solution be to this rebounding dilemma? There is hope that some of the team’s smaller players, such as Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, will increase their rebounding numbers from last season to offset what the team is terribly lacking.
3) What Will Mike D’Antoni’s Rotation Look Like?
D’Antoni is known for going with a small game rotation, dating back to his days with the Suns. However, with depth being one of the Knicks’ strong suits, and so many players impressing in practice, there has been talk of an unprecedented 11 man rotation this season.
Where each player will fall in the rotation, however, is the question that should be asked.
While Chandler plays out of position at shooting guard, Roger Mason Jr., Bill Walker, and Landry Fields have all been jockeying for minutes at the two-guard. As rumor would have it, Chandler will reportedly be shifted over to power forward as Stoudemire sits out the Knicks preseason game on Saturday night.
This would mean one of those three guards could get the start, although it could be Kelenna Azubuike whom edges them all out for the spot, once he eventually returns from an injury.
Also up for grabs is the starting center position. With Turiaf not yet making a meaningful impact, and Mozgov still adjusting to the NBA game, D’Antoni may opt to move Stoudemire to the five when he returns.
Anthony Randolph, one of the Knicks most heralded young talents, could also play center. However, he is also incredibly versatile, so it may take the coaching staff a while to determine where he fits in exactly.
Although D’Antoni could toy with various lineups all season long, once an initial starting lineup is put into place, it will be easier to see which players will be getting a fair amount of burn off the bench.
The highlight of the David Lee to Warriors trade, Randolph may be the most coveted unleashed talent the Knicks have acquired in quite a while.
The key is obviously unleashing his talent, and that will not happen until the Knicks figure out how Randolph fits in their system. Is he a forward or a center? Is he a starter or a reserve? Can he become a major scorer?
These are all questions surrounding Randolph, but D’Antoni loves the potential that also surrounds him.
That potential (and all the pressures that come with unleashing it) may ultimately be the downfall of Randolph, however, as he has looked confused in orange and blue thus far.
That being said, it is way too early to jump to conclusions. Often noted as “the wildcard” as to whether or not the Knicks make the playoffs, Randolph has an opportunity to fill a void and become the perfect complement to Stoudemire on both ends of the floor if everything goes well.
Last season’s struggles and the hype surrounding this past summer put the Knicks in a difficult spot, as many expected LeBron James to don orange and blue this season.
While the Knicks obviously could not successfully lure in LeBron, there is now hope for a competitive future.
Nevertheless, that won’t stop everyone from wondering if Carmelo Anthony will be joining the Knicks by 2011.
Although the talk has died down as of late, rumors of a Melo-to-Knicks trade were hot leading up to training camp. It’s well-known that it is New York whom Anthony wants, so it perhaps may be only a matter of whether the Knicks trade for him before the deadline or sign him outright next summer.
With 11 new faces already on the squad this season, the team may want to let the current players simply play bal. It’s safe to say that the team looks the most competitive it has been in a while, so waiting for the summer to further pursue Anthony (as opposed to disrupting team chemistry or giving up too much in a trade) may be in the Knicks’ best interest.