Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Watching A Team Like Clippers Proves Knicks Should Make A Deal
Seventeen year NBA veteran Grant Hill played all of 15 minutes, scored only 2 points, and didn't take a single field goal during the Clippers' matinee victory over the Knicks this past Sunday.
Looking at the stat-sheet, one could be led to believe that Hill has shriveled up into an old veteran that makes little to no impact for his team. They'd be all wrong.
The veteran swingman, instead, made all the difference as he came up in the clutch to play sound defense on Carmelo Anthony. Anthony scored 42 points in the contest, but was contained with the game on the line. It was Hill who was in his way.
Hill is simply one small piece to the Clippers' puzzle for success that's filled with notable and worthy veterans from A to Z.
When looking at the Clippers---both their roster and continued success-- it's easy to venture off and recall that such a squad is incredibly similar to the one the Knicks' aimed to put together this last offseason.
The Knicks' team looks deep, and judging by their 32-17 record, the squad has certainly been good enough to this point. But as New York's coaching staff continues to preach, what matters most is just how good the team will do in the postseason.
The Clippers are full of household names who have served as key role players for decent teams in the past. Essentially three and/or four deep with such players at every position, Los Angeles not only has the ability to keep things going at full speed for 48 minutes, but if one or two players go down, there are quality options waiting in the wings to step up.
Take Willie Green for example, who after starting 48 games for the Clippers to begin the season, has taken a step back and played limited minutes in February. His team can afford to do that, because of the ever so steady depth they have, in addition to the guard.
How many teams have the luxury of starting a player like Green in lieu of an injury, only to push down the bench completely when others return?
The Knicks certainly don't. The point guard combination of Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, and Pablo Prigioni was considered incredibly strong prior to the start of the season. If all three players are healthy and hitting the hardwood each and every night, there's not a trio of floor generals in the league that can match up. By having three players of such quality on one roster, New York is able to preserve some of each one's respective energy from game to game as well.
But when/if one goes down, one can then poke holes in the existent depth the Knicks have at point guard. New York is only strong at the position when all three are healthy. Each guard does something different not only for the team, but for each other. Kidd shouldn't be playing regular starter minutes, and who's to say Pablo Prigioni could handle playing 20 or so minutes per game on a consistent basis either?
The same theory can be applied when addressing the Knicks' front court depth as well. The three-headed monster of Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace is formidable, but with the latter two currently sitting out for the long haul, the depth is minimized.
Of course, the Knicks now have the ability to go small and play Amar'e Stoudemire at center. There's no discounting how strong that is. But one can still make the point of asking where Camby and Wallace are, and what they add to the team as the season goes on.
These are just a couple of examples. There's no denying that New York is a team that is playing great basketball. But as the Clippers proved this past weekend, depth is absolutely necessary as teams propel towards the playoffs.
While the Knicks play a tired Carmelo Anthony, the struggling Steve Novak/Iman Shumpert, or the weaker James White at small forward throughout a contest for instance, a team like the Clippers can go through most of their options at the position and still have a player like Green or Matt Barnes raring to go after all is said and done.
With all this said, it would make sense for the Knicks (granted they have the assets to do so) make a minor deal or two before the trading deadline. This team is solid, but the fact is holes can be poked through the current depth. It's better to shore up those holes, however small they may be, now, rather than wait to truly discover the leaks come playoff time.