The situation at Madison Square Garden looks increasingly bleak. Knicks owner James Dolan has reportedly said that he expects this year's Knicks to compete for a title, but his team is 1-3 and has lost center Tyson Chandler (fractured right fibula) for the next 4-6 weeks.
The Knicks are likely to struggle while Chandler is on the mend. New York is a weak defensive/rebounding team even with Chandler on the floor. Coach Mike Woodson is expected to use some combination of Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin in Chandler's place, but Martin has been on a minute restriction and Bargs - well, just ask any Toronto fan if Bargnani matches up well with the likes of Roy Hibbert or Al Horford.
Dolan has already put the Knicks' dance team on hiatus in a classic rich-guy temper tantrum imagine what will happen if Carmelo Anthony and company drop five of their next seven games.
Woodson has stubbornly insisted on playing a more traditional lineup this season, with Chandler at center, Bargnani at power forward, Anthony at the three and Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert in the backcourt. Last season, the Knicks were much more successful playing a small lineup, with Anthony at the four and two point guards Felton and Pablo Prigioni or Jason Kidd in the backcourt. Chandler's injury will force the Knicks to go small more often, which will mean more minutes for Prigoni (1% owned) and Beno Udrih (1% owned). We could also see more all-around production from Iman Shumpert, (24% owned) who will have to play like a poor man's Andre Iguodala for the Knicks to get through this stretch at anything approaching a .500 record.
Bargnani (45% owned) could actually be a sneaky buy-low acquisition as well. In Woodson's offense, the center is used in a lot of pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop situations, which should play to Bargnani's strengths, especially when he's on the floor with Prigioni or Udrih. He still won't rebound or block shots, but this might get him going offensively.
Also note: there's just one game remaining on J.R. Smith's (88% owned) five-game suspension. He should be back in uniform when the Knicks play the Spurs on Sunday, November 10.
Is Anthony Healthy?
The Knicks' other problems have deflected attention from Carmelo Anthony's poor start. Through four games, Melo is averaging 23.8 points on 37.1 percent shooting from the floor with 3.5 turnovers per game. That point total well off last year's league leading 28.7 ppg looks even worse when you consider the fact that he's playing a league-high 42 minutes per game.
Anthony's slow start is more distressing when you consider his injury history. He finished last season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder but opted for rest-and-rehab over surgery to correct the injury. Is he completely healthy? Could the injury be a contributing factor in his slow start?
Don't Call it a Comeback
Last week in this space, we asked which of the following oft-injured stars would play the most games this year Amar'e Stoudemire, Greg Oden, Andrew Bynum or Danny Granger?
Granger and Oden have yet to make their season debuts. Stoudemire has played in two of the Knicks' four games, averaging 11 minutes and four turnovers per game and has generally looked awful. Bynum hasn't been much better. He's appeared in four of the Cavs' five games to this point but has been plagued with pain in his surgically-repaired knees and was openly mulling retirement this week.
They aren't the only players struggling to work back from major injury. Derrick Rose looks just as athletic as he did before the torn ACL, but he has yet to shake off the rust that inevitably accumulates when one misses an entire season. Rose is shooting just 31 percent from the field and 25 percent from three thus far, numbers that are sure to go up as he works his way back into form.
The Curse of Expectations
You might have missed out on the Michael Carter-Williams feeding frenzy. Philly's rookie point guard is now 92 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, thanks in large part to his stellar play during the Sixers' shocking 3-0 start.
MCW is hardly the first point guard to make a big splash in NBA (and fantasy NBA) circles, and then fade back to the pack. Remember when Brandon Jennings dropped 55 points on the Warriors? Remember Jeremy Lin-sanity?
I'm not saying he doesn't merit a roster spot by all means, get him if you can. But don't be surprised if his production tails off as more defenders learn his tendencies and as he hits the legendary "rookie wall." And if you are one of the owners that was lucky enough to get him early on, don't be afraid to sell high.
Picks for the Week
All percent-owned stats are from Yahoo!
Jeremy Lin (85%) Speaking of Lin-sanity, Rockets coach Kevin McHale has a decision to make. With Dwight Howard and Omer Asik (64%) in the frontcourt, the team is struggling to develop continuity on offense and they're demonstrably better when Lin is running the point. On the other hand, their perimeter defense has been laughably bad, and defense has never been Lin's strong suit. Patrick Beverley (28%) may hang on to the starting job, but Lin should get enough playing time to stay relevant in at least 12-team leagues.
Eric Gordon (85%) Gordon seems to be completely healthy for the first time in recent memory and has been red-hot to start the season. He's shooting over 50 percent from long range thus far and has scored 19 or more points in three of the Pelicans' five games.
Kyle Korver (79%) Korver's value as a three-point specialist is well-established, but he has really expanded his game this year, averaging over three boards, three assists, 1.8 steals and just under a block per game thus far.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (54%) Is he just a pure defensive specialist? Maybe not. MKG reportedly spent much of the summer working on his shot, and the early returns (57 percent from the field) have been impressive.
Zaza Pachulia (32%) Officially a backup, Pachula has been an integral part of Milwaukee's frontcourt to this point, averaging 30 minutes, 13.5 points, 8.0 boards, 3.5 assists and 1.0 steal per game.
Jae Crowder (3%) Crowder is getting significant minutes as part of Rick Carlisle's small lineup and making nice contributions in every category except assists.
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