We’ll be honest, most of the analysis in this post is taken from the excellent Knicks blog Posting and Toasting. They’ve been going to practices, scouring the Web for news, and actually watching the games the team has played so far. On the other hand, we made the illustration above to commemorate the fact that the Knicks and Timberwolves played a pre-season game yesterday in Paris. We feel it more than makes up for our lack of original insight; just like on a basketball team, every member of the Knicks blogging community contributes in his own special way. Anyway, the Gardeners now have a couple weeks of practice and two exhibition games under their belt. The first was a win over Armani Jeans Milano, Danilo Gallinari’s old team, and the second yesterday’s loss to the T-wolves. How are things shaping up?
The answer to that question is an enthusiastic “pretty OK, we guess, considering.” All the new guys except Kelenna Azubuike (Amar’e, Raymond Felton, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, Timofey Mozgov, Roger Mason Jr. …man, the Knicks have a lot of “new guys”) showed up in shape and ready to rock. Amar’e has been dunking on heads as expected. Timofey Mozgov looks like he’ll be a solid part of the team’s rotation; both he and Turiaf have actually been keeping opponents from scoring by occasionally “blocking” shots with their hands and arms, a new maneuver that this writer doesn’t remember any Knicks attempting previously. Wilson Chandler looked a little slow early in training camp after off-season surgery but has recovered; he’s looking spry and shooting well from the outside. Anthony Randolph has made a few dynamic plays of the sort we’re all secretly counting on him to make all season.
The downside: The team’s half-court offense has been pretty awkward. Felton and Amar’e, the guys who are going to touch the ball more than anyone else, haven’t gotten comfortable with the rest of the team yet. That’s not good news, but it’s not really that surprising or troubling. More so is the fact that the Knicks were out-rebounded 64-35 by the Wolves yesterday; Amar’e in particular was out-boarded five to two by Darko Milicic despite the fact that Darko played his minutes while sullenly wearing an over-sized sweatshirt with the hood up, listening to Eminem on his headphones (we assume — that seems to be his general vibe). Now, this could be a sign of woefulness to come on the glass, a confirmation for haters who said Amar’e would be too one-dimensional. Or … it could merely be the result of the team’s focus on other issues, which will soon be resolved when they get comfortable enough with their defensive assignments that they can get back to instinctively positioning themselves in the right place to chase rebounds. Yes, that’s definitely it. Once those tricky ol’ defensive assignments are nailed down, watch out! 82-0.