With the lockout likely to linger well into October and perhaps into November, trying to preview the season of 30 teams that might not actually have one seems about as worthwhile as raking leaves on a windy day. But I love raking and the wind only makes it last longer. We here at Razzball have you covered, even if you didn’t want to be covered. That’s love. You’ll appreciate it when you’re older. Look at it this way, the only way any of this stuff can be disproven is if the season starts. So go ahead, NBA, make me a fibber! I dare you. Until then, consider this fantasy basketball gospel. Don’t even bother reading anything else – dem’s all lies. From now until the start of the season, we’re bringing you the 2011 Fantasy Team Previews, which will focus on each team in order to paint a clearer fantasy picture. Who’s starting? Who might surprise you? And who might make you want to hurl yourself off a bridge in a few months. Enjoy! Next up – The New York Knicks (who are generally un-enjoyable, but just try anyway).
Gained – Iman Shumpert, Josh Harrellson, Mike Woodson
Lost – Jerome Jordan, Kelenna Azuibuke
Probable position depth –
PG – Chauncey Billups, Toney Douglas, Anthony Carter
SG – Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, Andy Rautins, Roger Mason Jr.
SF – Carmelo Anthony, Shawne Williams, Bill Walker
PF – Amar’e Stoudemire, Jared Jeffries, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman, Derrick Brown*
C – Ronny Turiaf, Josh Harrellson
* free agent
Surprising Team Fact From Last Season – Of the three leading teams in pace last season (Wolves, Knicks and Nuggs), New York was the only one outside the top 5 in both FGA and FTA. Minnesota finished 2nd in FGA. Denver finished 1st in FTA. Basically, the Knicks have plenty of opportunities to score; they just don’t do as much with it as they should.
Number of Top 20 Fantasy Players (par 0-1) – 2, Anthony, Stoudemire
Number of Top 50 Fantasy Players (par 1-2) –
Number of Top 75 Fantasy Players (par 2-3) – 3, Billups
Number of Top 100 Fantasy Players (par 3-4) –
Number of Top 200 Fantasy Players (par 6-7) – 5, Shumpert. Douglas
3 Concerns Heading Into the Season
1. Will Carmelo’s surgeries to his head, elbows, knees and toes (knees and toes!) hurt him or help him?
Chronic bursitis caused him to have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and elbow, but he says he’s been dealing with bursitis for seven years. If the suggestion here is that we’ve been watching an injured Carmelo Anthony throughout his career, then I’d say … what the hell were the doctors in Denver doing all this time not fixing their franchise player?
2. Any chance Roger Mason Jr. won’t get booed in his first home game of the new season … which will probably be sometime in January?
Yes, there’s a very good chance, actually. This damn team has nine guys that could play the guard position and Junior Mason is the least talented of ‘em all. Frankly, if they don’t boo him for his representative role in the impending lockout, they should boo him for taking minutes away from Shumpert and Rautins.
3. Is Landry Fields a fantasy option this season?
Not if you’re interested in competing in your league. There’s a reason New York drafted Shumpert, despite having seven other players who could fit the position. Lest we not forget the NY Post and Newsday reports back in May and June that said the team doesn’t have confidence Fields is a starting SG for a playoff-bound team. Not that such a report closes the door on Fields altogether. This is the Knicks, after all. They could start Fields and just skip the playoffs and no one would be shocked.
Rookie Review! – Iman Shumpert (No.17) comes into the league with the third-highest vertical among active players behind only Vince Carter and Nate Robinson. So there’s that. He’s also projected to be the Knicks’ best defender. So there’s that on top of the first thing. He’s apparently strong like a bulldog and can get to the line on quickness and agility alone, but he’s going to be a SG on this team. And his style of play is that of someone who needs the ball in his hands to make something happen – which won’t happen on a team with Billups, Anthony and Stoudemire. So now there’s that drizzled over the rest of it. Then there’s the New Orleans acquisition the Knicks made after someone in the front office went, “Holy Shizz! Our only center is Ronny Turiaf and he’s hurt, like every other week!” Enter: Josh Harrellson. Dude’s nickname is “Jorts” and his upside is “decent role player.” That’s all you need to know.
Fantasy Disappointment in ’11 – Chauncey Billups. Chauncey Billups, why can’t you age like Steve Nash?
Biggest Fantasy Contributor in ’11 – Carmelo Anthony. Stoudemire is the obvious pick here, as he was the bigger contributor last year, has the potential to fill more of the stat sheet than ‘Melo and has center eligibility in most leagues. He also injured his back in late May and is still affected by it today. I don’t want a guy with a long history of health issues and a current health issue as my first pick – or in this case, my first Knick. Anthony, on the other hand, exploded when he came to New York. I mean exploded in a good way, not the way the Stay Puft marshmallow man exploded after he arrived in New York. This ‘Melo man produced eerily similar numbers in his 27 regular season games in New York as he did in 50 games with Denver. The biggest differences were his percentages and his three-point shooting. He went from a .452/.833 shooter averaging 25/8/3 with 0.8 3ptm per game with the Nuggets to a .461/.872 shooter averaging 26/7/3 with 2 3ptm per game with the Knicks. He went from an elite scorer to an eliter scorer (not a real term) now with threes. Then in the playoffs he proved it wasn’t a fluke by averaging 26/10/5 with 2.3 3ptm in four games against a Celtics team that limiting him to shooting just .375 from the field. I like Anthony to go off this year a) to cover for an injured Amar’e, b) free from the shackles of yesteryear’s trade rumors and c) on a team that made a cameo in the playoffs and could make a better showing this season.
Deep Sleeper – Iman Shumpert. I’m biased here because the kid went to the hometown elementary school I still have my weekly shootarounds in. Go Whittier Wildcats!