For much of last season, the New York Knicks had a balanced rotation. With a decent amount of (at the very least) marginal talent at every position, Coach Mike D'Antoni had a number of different lineups he could roll out while shifting guys up and down in the rotation.
Highlights off the pine last season included double-digit scorer Toney Douglas, three-point specialist Shawne Williams, and the energy-filled Ronny Turiaf. Prior to the trade for Carmelo Anthony, the team even benefitted from bringing Wilson Chandler off the bench during 21 contests.
It's safe to say while none of mentioned players caused opponents to envy the Knicks' bench too much, the team certainly had plenty of options to create a balanced attack.
Will this season prove to be a similar campaign for the Knicks, or will they struggle after sacrificing much of their depth as a result of acquiring stars like Anthony and Tyson Chandler?
With Williams and Turiaf no longer donning orange and blue, and Douglas penciled in as the opening day starting point guard, where will the boost off the bench come from for the Knicks?
Though D'Antoni's possibilities for a strong rotation do not look quite promising enough, it's important to remember that gems like "Extra E" were not uncovered until the season began to get underway.
In lieu of Williams and company, the Knicks will surely look to a few of their more recent acquisitions to fill the voids. Mike Bibby is a sharp shooting veteran who has had a steady career, and now has arrived in New York with a desire to play for Coach D'Antoni in an attempt to better feature and preserve his offensive touch.
With Douglas in place and Anthony likely to play as a point-forward, Bibby likely won't have to worry about playing floor general all too often. Instead, if he can maintain a steady hand beyond the arc, he could benefit the Knicks immensely by providing some much needed scoring off the bench.
Also looking to step in to make an impact from downtown is Steve Novak, whom the Knicks recently claimed off waivers from San Antonio. The 6'10 forward is a player who could certainly stretch the floor, positioning himself in the corners to knock down timely three-point field goals. Though the 41% three-point career shooter struggled to break into the rotations of his previous teams, his breakout year did come in 2008-09, when he averaged 6.9 points on 44% from the field (41% from three-point range) through 71 games with the Clippers.
With a nice opportunity under the bright lights of New York playing in a free-flowing offense, Novak could very well turn into a fan-favorite just like Williams did.
And then there are the rookies. The Knicks have been drafting pretty favorably in the past few years, and this year looks like it should prove to be another strong season for their prospects.
The team is very excited about the potential defensive contributions of Iman Shumpert this season, but the fact of the matter is the versatile guard likes to shoot the ball and can fill it up in a hurry. The rookie averaged over 17 points during his senior season at Georgia Tech, and turned in an impressive performance with 16 points in the Knicks' preseason opener against the Nets. His skill set certainly indicates that he could replace Douglas as a strong combo guard who provides a scoring boost off the bench.
The team's second round draft choice this past June, the rugged Josh Harrellson, also appears to be the type of role player who can provide the Knicks' with much needed skills. The former Kentucky big man proved in the NCAA that though he is not much of a scoring threat, he has no problem throwing his body around on defense. He could turn out to be a decent backup to Tyson Chandler, with whom he will likely pair up with to endure the bumps and bruises from some of the Knicks' bigger opponents. The rookie also grabbed 10 rebounds in the team's preseason finale, another win against the Nets.
The energy and strength Harrellson brings as a complement to some of the Knicks' more notable scorers could suffice as a spark plug off the bench, a la Turiaf.
The has been talk about potentially bringing Landry Fields off the bench, but the defense and smart play he provides is best suited to be mixed with the bevy of scorers the Knicks already have present in their starting lineup. The key is having a balanced attack. The team is in need of more scoring off the bench than Fields can really provided. His off-the-ball style makes him a perfect fit next to the likes of STAT and 'Melo.
Surely, there will be much speculation as to who will start and/or come off the bench as the NBA season finally begins and the Knicks work towards getting into a groove. With nothing set in stone just yet, however, it's important the likes of Mike Bibby, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert, and Josh Harrellson hit the ground running and make an impact off the bench.