The dream of Baron Davis hitting the hardwood for the New York Knicks will soon become a reality.
According to many reports, his long-awaited debut could come as early as Friday as the Knicks take on the star-studded Miami Heat.
Though Coach Mike D’Antoni’s plan is to ease Davis into the rotation slowly, monitoring his minutes on the court, there is no denying how badly the Knicks are struggling right now. As it just so happens, Davis has many of the talents his team is currently craving, so in fact, his vital return to play may be needed sooner than later.
It has come as a surprise to many this season, but the Knicks’ offense has been more of a problem than their defense. Though the team is still lacking in the win column, the addition of Tyson Chandler has elevated the defense without question, seemingly beginning to instill a new team culture, resulting in the best defensive roll out New York City has seen in years.
The offense, however, something D’Antoni’s teams have been known to excel at, has appeared more stagnant than ever before. No efficient point guard not only means Amar’e Stoudemire is no longer being set up for opportune shots, but also that Carmelo Anthony dominates the ball that much more often, resulting in forced up shots from him as well.
Aside from STAT and Melo, New York’s dynamic duo, the offense is weak, with no reliable third scorer stepping up thus far. In addition to creating a better offensive flow for the likes of Stoudemire and Anthony, Davis will also be looked upon to score, whether it be as a complementary player, or as a much needed boot off the bench.
Regardless of how things begin in Davis’ Knicks tenure, the conclusion that he will find his way into the starting lineup at some point has to be drawn.
Besides the fact Davis represents the team’s strongest point guard threat on paper, Knicks also need to look at inserting Davis into the starting five as a means of shaking things up. If everything was just fine and dandy, the team could have looked to bring Davis in off the bench, only adding to any success. Instead, the boat needs to be rocked.
The two-time all-star in fact found himself practicing with his new team’s first unit on Monday, alongside Landry Fields in the backcourt.
Though Fields has been the Knicks’ incumbent starting two guard since his rookie year, starting both he and B-Diddy would mean pushing rookie Iman Shumpert to the bench. The Georgia Tech product has excelled since being welcomed into the starting lineup, so far posting up impressive numbers for the season. Not only has he been able to score (with a 12.3 points per game average), but Shumpert is smart on defense (2.6 steals), and has proven he can effectively pass the ball as well (his 3.6 assists per game are second the team behind Anthony).
There’s no denying the rookie loves to shoot, which very well may point out his scoring prowess could be used off the bench. That said, the Knicks are still lacking scoring all around, and his strong play overall makes him a solid candidates to stay in the starting lineup.
Though Fields has put together a string of impressive offensive outings as of late, he has been a liability so far this season, shooting poorly from long range. From day one, Fields was inserted into the starting five because he provided a nice balance and played fundamentally well. The Knicks seem to need more than what he brings to the table right now.
Shumpert does make rookie mistakes here and there, but he appears to be the whole package. Fields is known for his defensive intelligence, but Shumpert has proven to be a strong defender as well. In the interest of rocking the boat, a staring backcourt of Davis and Shumpert may be the shock to the system the Knicks are in dire need of.
Neither are liabilities on defense, and both can effectively find teammates in the open floor. More importantly, the 10-15 points (at the very least) each one is capable of would indeed serve well in lieu of a steady third scorer.
Fields could still serve as a spot starter for various matchups, but the fact is both Davis and Shumpert appear to be better players all around. Fields’ strengths remain the same; he is able to mesh well with big existing talent. All that recognized, the Knicks need to shake things up in an attempt to find a winning recipe. Davis and Shumpert simply represent new ingredients.