The Knicks have been praising their own depth for the upcoming season as a key to their potential success.
On one hand, strong depth allows a team to overcome injuries to crucial contributors. On the other hand, that same depth often helps a team put forth a balanced attack for all 48 minutes of a ball game, not losing a step no matter who checks in.
But to really benefit from that depth, a team needs to be able to put players in the best possible position to succeed. Players shouldn't asked to do too much.
And that's where things are about to get a little difficult for the Knicks. As unfortunate as the knee injury that will keep Amar'e Stoudemire out 2-3 weeks really is, New York wouldn't be in such a vulnerable position if their frontline wasn't already depleted.
Marcus Camby has been nursing a calf injury for nearly two weeks. Rasheed Wallace hasn't even hit the hardwood yet, and there's already talk of him potentially being waived by the guarantee/non-guarantee deadline for contracts in mid-January, should he not show more signs of revitalization.
With all three big men questionable and/or doubtful for opening night, who are the Knicks left with?
Kurt Thomas has been starting for the team during preseason, and seems like a likely (if not default) option to play with the first unit during the regular season too. The oldest player in the NBA, the 40 year old has clearly done well enough to maintain his body through his near two decades in the league.
Though he can still muscle it up in the low post on defense and a hit a mid-range jumper, Thomas is certainly best used if only in sporadic minutes. Asked to step in and help in a pinch, perhaps he could play 20 minutes per game...anything else may prove to be far too much.
Cue Chris Copeland. The forward has surprised NBA fans throughout the preseason with his smooth and efficient offensive abilities. What's more, his physical nature helps him attack the boards, going towards the hoop to lay in easy buckets. With so many injuries to the Knicks' front court, Copeland will have to play more minutes than expected.
And that's the kicker of it all. Originally entering the preseason fighting for a spot, Copeland's chances of making the roster took a hit when the Knicks brought in Wallace too. But due to his impressive play, coupled with the injuries to nearly every other big man, Copeland is not only being considered a part of the team, but will also be expected to eat up some quality rotation minutes.