Just over two weeks ago, the Knicks were reeling. Fans began calling for Coach Mike D'Antoni's head while questioning whether or not Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony could ultimately mesh well together in the long run. Fingers were being pointed in every which direction as the team's fans, the media, and just about everyone else, criticized the Knicks for their frustrating struggles.
Of course, everyone and their mother knows what happened next. LINsanity overtook the entire nation as Jeremy Lin delivered on an opportunity granted by the combination of the Knicks' void at point guard, as well as the absences of Stoudemire and Anthony.
Ever since, Lin has led the charge as the Knicks have come surging back, rising as the toast of the town. Moving forward, however, the Harvard grad will not only continue to embrace role of starring attraction, but also be the glue that holds his team together.
This may prove more difficult to do as the Knicks will make adjustments to their rotation moving forward.
With Anthony expected to return to the court tonight vs. the Nets, fans will get their first look at how (and if) he and Anthony can not only co-exist, but succeed on the court. What's more, Baron Davis, finally dressing in uniform, is set to make his debut any day now. J.R. Smith will also demand substantial minutes as he looks to provide a spark off the bench for the Knicks following his stint in China.
All three players are obviously especially talented and can elevate a team's rise to contention. That being said, after experiencing so much success with their current rotation, how will the Knicks adjust to playing with these different yet notable players in the mix?
Though Coach D'Antoni has asserted Davis will be gradually welcomed back onto the court, Anthony and Smith are surely to aim towards making instant contributions. This will likely signal a decrease in playing time for the likes of Jared Jeffries, Steve Novak, and Billy Walker (among others), all of whom have been instrumental during the Knicks' impressive streak.
Though it would be nice for Coach D'Antoni to find the perfect balance of minutes for each and every player, that is not likely to happen, at least for a little while. As the Knicks make the necessary adjustments to their rotation, the key will be not so much who is on the court, but rather still playing with a certain fluidity.
The players stepping up big for the Knicks lately have displayed the most efficient ball movement. Whether it's Novak and Walker positioning themselves in either corner to catch a pass and drain a three, or Jeffries transferring the ball quickly out of his hands and into someone else's, these players have played their roles well through the flow of the offense, purely for the betterment of the team.
Anthony and Smith will not only take minutes away from the players who have succeeded as of late, but also have been known to play a different style. Anthony is clearly an isolation type of player, and Smith demonstrated more of the same in his debut, the Knicks' 104-97 win over the defending NBA champion Mavericks. The former Nuggets swingman added 15 points, but shot 3 for 9 from long-range in the victory.
As both are very talented, it's important they also buy into the way the team is playing now. This is imperative to the impending future success of the Knicks. Keep the ball moving, hit the open man, and continue to play team basketball, even if it means sacrificing your own shot. This is the mentality every Knickerbocker needs to play with if the team wants to make noise, roaring towards the playoffs.
With the emergence of Lin, Davis will be the one out of the three who will not have to do as much to fit in. The pressure is no longer mounting, which will make anything Davis provides simply gravy. If he and Lin can form a two-headed, ball moving monster at point guard, the offensive flow will continue and the Knicks will further improve. All the players need to buy into this and execute accordingly, no matter who is on the court.