There is so much to look forward to this season for the New York Knicks organization and their fans. For the most part, the roster is set for the 2013 Knicks and many new faces can all work together to make this season a good one. Some players, who may be considered to be an “under the radar” players, can make an immediate impact for this team.
With the Knicks roster already set for the most part, here are a few names to keep an eye on as “Sleepers” for the 2013-14 season:
Mar 2, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani (7) during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 122-114. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Bargnani has to be one of the most underrated players in the NBA and the Knicks are very fortunate to have a player with the talent that he has. There are a lot of questions about what role he will play in New York, but regardless what role he plays on this team, he will thrive and be very productive night in and night out. Whether he comes off the bench or starts, he’ll be reinvigorated and excited to be playing in New York.
The main issue for Bargnani will be going through the transition from being the franchise player that he was in Toronto, to being the second or third option on offense. The transition does give him minimal pressure and will give him more open shots as the opportunity presents itself.
In the playoffs last year, against Indiana, the Knicks desperately needed someone to spread the court and relieve the pressure placed on Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. Bargnani fills that role.
With Carmelo Anthony being the star of the team, he will draw much of the defensive pressure to him. That is where Bargnani comes in, where he will consistently hit those open mid-range or long-range jump shots. There is no doubt that Bargnani will score for this team, the question however is how can he improve his defense?
One of the most explosive players in the NBA today will finally be returning to the court and will be suiting up for New York. His name is Iman Shumpert.
Shumpert has the mind-set and skill-set to break out as a star this season. Despite the fact of him coming back from a knee injury last season, everyone still knows how good he is and how good he is capable of being.
Now that he is fully recovered from his torn ACL, Shumpert is capable of putting in a solid offseason’s worth of work to develop the shortcomings in his offensive game. Not only does he impress many with his athleticism, but he has a nice shooting stroke as well. It will also help that the Knicks want to see him elevate his scoring ability and be a consistent threat on the perimeter and in the lane.
Due to the lack of reps last season (because of the ACL injury) he could not find his rhythm and seemed to have lost his stroke. This season being completely healthy the sky is the limit for this young man.
The main thing for him to concentrate on this off-season and during the course of the season is to learn to find more opportunities to find the open man and improve his offensive game off-the-dribble. If he can accomplish such an easy task, the Knicks offense would just become that much harder to guard.
The replacement for Jason Kidd is what he will be classified as at least for this season. Udrih signing with the Knicks is actually a really good opportunity for him to show the critics how polished of a point guard he actually is. Thus far in his career, it has been difficult to see exactly how good he is. We all know how good he could potentially be, but the teams he has played for haven’t been very competitive so we haven’t gotten to see much.
Udrih will swing the ball and make that extra pass to find an open shooter, he’ll carve his man off the pick-and-roll and he’ll nail the open jump shot when the defense sags and fails to recover. He could find himself getting plenty of playing time, regardless of injuries, and during the preseason he will show New York how fortunate the Knicks were to land his services at the veteran’s minimum.
Metta World Peace
Just when we thought Metta World Peace would retire, he then signs with the Knicks. It almost seems like a perfect fit since he is from New York and he brings great service to any team he decides to play for. This could end up being a fresh start for World Peace and it may show on the court quicker than many people think.
He brings a much-needed dominant defensive guy that they lack from all positions except for center Tyson Chandler of course. Not only does he bring that to the table, but he also brings a much improved perimeter game and smarter decision-making.
If he can stay focused and just play ball, then this could end up being one of the most intriguing signings of the past off-season. Many people forget what he can still do on the court and maybe without the Mike D’Antoni, Dwight Howard, and Kobe Bryant distractions, World Peace can show the city of New York what he can still do.