As training camp nears for the Knicks, the questions surrounding the team shift from debating whom will be acquired to who will battling it out for minutes in the rotation.
Anthony Randolph, the Knicks most heralded acquisition besides Amare Stoudemire this summer, will enter training camp unsure of his role. Will he start or provide that spark off the bench?
The Knicks haven't figured it out yet.
Assuming that Randolph is still a Knick when training camp begins (the Knicks’ desperate desire for Rudy Fernandez have dragged Randolph’s name into the ramped rumors), he will be battling Ronny Turiaf for a spot in the starting lineup.
While the question may not be whom the better player is, Randolph will have to prove he is a better fit next to Stoudemire out the gate, as opposed to the defensive-minded Turiaf.
He already has a lot to live up to. Many have been forecasting Randolph as the NBA’s breakout star this season. Whether or not he can live up to his potential in front of the critical New York City media (not to mention, while dealing with the tremendous pressure of helping the Knicks return to the playoffs) remains to be seen.
Randolph’s lengthy figure does help him guard different body types on defense,. However, that same lengthy figure would force Amare Stoudemire to play center, a move that weakens the Knicks defensively.
Turiaf (who will immediately enter camp as one of the Knicks’ stronger defensive presences) appears to have the edge. Pairing him up with Stoudemire creates a nice balance of talent up front. It also allows Stoudemire to play power forward, his natural position.
Randolph would add more firepower to Coach D’Antoni’s offensive punch, but with Stoudemire already starting next to the likes of Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari, that added firepower may be better suited leading the second unit off the bench.
Although Randolph’s offense would undoubtedly be a boost off the bench, so would Turiaf’s intense defense. As Turiaf stands to receive anywhere from 20-30 minutes per game regardless, the Knicks may be better off firing from all cylinders on offense (with Randolph starting) to begin the game in order to get ahead quickly.
Turiaf could always come in during clutch moments over the course of the game as a defensive stopper, leaving way for Randolph to start.
Nevertheless, D’Antoni proved time and time again last season that he will simply give the most minutes to whoever plays well. While carrying out that standard ruffled the feathers of multiple veterans last season, it also seems to be the most sensible thing to do.
If Randolph can find his niche and elevates his game like expected under D’Antoni, the minutes (and perhaps a starting spot) will certainly come his way.