Play Your Role: The Knicks need to improve their supporting cast
The unsung heroes of the NBA are role players. As Paul Pierce recently remarked, a team is only as good as their role players. This lesson should be of special importance to the New York Knicks.
Next season is rumored to be the biggest one in years for New York. The team is rumored to get Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and a lottery pick (possibly Zion Williamson). With all that potential talent presumably coming to the Knicks, the team is projected to have some success next season. However, if a team is only as good as its weakest link, the front office really has to consider who will be supporting this incoming trio.
Aren’t Superstars Enough?
The answer to the above question is no. Case in point, LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers this season. While some may say he is no longer the best player in the world, there are maybe one or two players who can be named before him. If superstar talent was sufficient, James would be in the playoffs this year instead of watching them from home. What was the problem? He didn’t have the proper support he needed. The reality of this game is that when it comes to making deep playoff runs, teams need depth themselves. That is something that New York is severely lacking.
Who does NY have?
DeAndre Jordan will likely be off the team next season. Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina have not played up to their expectations. Mitchell Robinson and the other young stars are still developing and learning how to play as a team. The only two glimmers of hope the team still have are Dennis Smith Jr. and Emmanuel Mudiay, both of whom would likely play reduced minutes if Kyrie Irving joins the team. That being said, this team needs help.
What exactly does this team need?
The Knicks have cleared $70 million on the books for next season. While most, if not all of it, will go to securing two superstars, the Knicks need to consider their supporting cast. It’s no secret that this is a shooter’s league, but Durant and Irving won’t be enough to elevate the team to that level. The team will need players that can still shoot the ball well whether or not Durant and Irving on the floor. While those two could undoubtedly make up the deficit there, they can’t be expected to do everything, especially in the playoffs.
In addition to shooters, the team will need legitimate big men. One of the brightest spots for the Knicks in the last two seasons have been the team’s ability to rebound marginally well. Going forward, the team will need to find suitable replacements for the big men they’ve lost along the way. It looks like Mitchell Robinson is being primed to be that replacement, and Kevin Knox had some decent rebounding nights through the season. Durant will also probably help out in that department, but its not enough. The Knicks need to strongly consider a solid big man that they can get for cheap going into next season. If they can somehow convince Jordan to stay, that would be optimal. If they can’t however, the team needs to explore the open market for board crashers and paint defenders.
If the Knicks are serious about turning the franchise around, the team needs to seriously consider their role players. Championship teams are brimming with talented players who know their role and can play it well. On top of the superstars, that is exactly what the Knicks are going to need next season. Just as Paul Pierce said, if the team is only good as good its role players, a 17-65 losing record is very indicative of the state of the team’s current role players.
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