Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Opening Tip: The Knicks' bench
By Jared Zwerling
Every morning throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip."
Today's Burning Question:Who needs to step up the most off the bench?
The Knicks did something Monday night against the Bobcats they hadn't done in 41 years. The second unit scored just three points.
For the season, the Knicks are now ranked last in the league in bench points (19.7 per game). That has to change, and someone really needs to come through, especially tonight as the team faces the second-best bench team, the Sixers, whose reserves average 45 points per game. They're led by Louis Williams (16.4 ppg), Thaddeus Young (12.3 ppg) and Evan Turner (10.0 ppg).
The Knicks' bench has to be much sharper on defense and help maintain the first unit's scoring. Those factors and that energy were lost when Iman Shumpert was moved to the starting lineup. The team's subs need to take after the rookie's motto, which is "when you play hard, good things happen."
Toney Douglas is the obvious choice for a course in self-improvement. His shot hasn't been falling and his defense has been subpar.
Then there's Bill Walker, who opened training camp saying, "My goal is to start," which meant over Landry Fields. While Skywalker's athleticism has declined a bit from his left knee injuries, he needs to regain his form from last April, when he averaged 9.6 points during the month and stole one start from Fields.
Three-point marksman Steve Novak should also get some minutes -- he was a DNP Coach's Decision on Monday -- as the Knicks were only 1-for-10 from downtown Monday night. That's unheard of for the Knicks, as the 3s are one of their main weapons.
Unfortunately, injuries have plagued members of the bench -- Mike Bibby and Jared Jeffries stand out -- which is why, against the Bobcats, Mike D'Antoni overloaded the minutes on to his starting five.
But whatever the case, three-point nights can't continue. There are no talks of trades yet, but the Knicks' bench is on the hot seat. D'Antoni needs more production out of them -- fueled by someone. At this point, anyone.
Who do you think needs to step up the most for the Knicks off the bench? Leave us your comments below.