One position at a time we will break down the roster of the 2013-14 New York Knicks. The Knicks frontcourt has been revamped in the offseason in hopes of improving the team’s performance in the playoffs. At small forward, the Knicks have one of the premier players in the league today and arguably the best individual scorer backed up by one of the league’s toughest and hardest defensive veterans. Here are the 2013-14 small forwards for the New York Knicks and what we can expect from them this season.
The unquestioned leader and face of the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony had perhaps the best season in his decorated NBA career thus far in 2012-13, taking home the scoring title and leading the Knicks to their best record since the 1996-97 season with 54 wins. The 29-year-old Anthony averaged 28.7 points per game to pace the league and also contributed with 6.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists. One of the most ball-dominant, high-volume scorers in the game today, Anthony controls the Knicks’ offense and as a result led the league in usage percentage with 35.6. Carmelo splits time between the small and power forward positions, allowing coach Mike Woodson to tinker with his lineups around his star.
The Knicks had their best regular season in years and now the focus turns to the playoffs, where they were disappointed to lose to the Indiana Pacers last season in the second round. Anthony’s averages in the playoffs were nearly identical to his regular-season numbers, but his shooting efficiency dropped to just .406, a number that needs to improve if he is going to account for near a third of his teams’ offense. The Knicks have bolstered their lineup, but retained much of the roster that showed such promise in 2012-13. It should result in another strong regular season for New York and Anthony individually, but it is time for the six-time All-Star to add some playoff success to his resume.
The regular season will be spent building chemistry, working on different lineups. as well as trying to stay healthy for the postseason. Once there, it will be up to Anthony once again to prove that he is among the league’s very best players and can lead his team deep into the playoffs. Expect the ball-dominant Anthony to continue to put up gaudy numbers; with some extra depth he may dip down to 26 to 27 points and six rebounds, but will look to improve his efficiency and involve teammates more throughout the season.
The show that is Metta World Peace has now moved to New York City and one of the most polarizing figures in league history now looks to help the Knicks achieve their championship aspirations. World Peace, 33, joins his sixth team after having somewhat of a resurgent 2012-13 campaign. With more minutes than he had seen for a couple of years, World Peace averaged 12.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals for the Los Angeles Lakers as they endured one of the toughest seasons in franchise history. Despite the solid numbers, World Peace has struggled from the field recently and averaged just .403 percent last season.
A former NBA champion, All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year, World Peace has all the experience and toughness that a team could want from its veteran role players, the key is whether he stays focused and if his body can keep up with the younger wing players of today. World Peace gives the Knicks a defender to throw at the elite forwards of the league, especially in the playoffs where the likes of LeBron James and Paul George will provide a huge challenge in the Eastern Conference. He has played alongside one of the most ball-dominant players in the game in Kobe Bryant for the past four seasons, so should handle the supporting role alongside Carmelo Anthony just fine.
To help the Knicks, World Peace will have to start converting his open looks from the perimeter and prove he can still slow down the elite scorers in the game defensively. For a minimum contract, he provides a great deal of experience for the Knicks and if the change in scenery rejuvenates him, World Peace could be a big-time addition once the playoffs roll around. Expect a dip in playing time and numbers from last season to around eight points and four boards, but World Peace is signed for the playoffs and that is where the Knicks hope he will shine.
An undrafted rookie out of North Carolina State, C.J. Leslie is a combo forward who will fight to earn his place on the roster, but is unlikely to factor much in to the Knicks’ plans this season. Leslie is an athletic 6’9” forward who averaged 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds as a junior, but needs to improve his shooting to play the small forward position full time. He will likely spend most of the season in the D-League developing his game, but could see an opportunity if injuries strike down the Knicks’ frontcourt.
While Leslie may not make an impact in 2013-14, he adds to a growing number of young players on the Knicks’ roster as they plan for the future while also looking to compete for a championship.