MARCUS CAMBY: How many teams in the history of the NBA can say they had two Defensive Players of the Year on the same roster? That's what the Knicks will have with Camby and Tyson Chandler, who recently won it. While Camby is five years removed from hoisting the trophy, the 38-year-old will still make a big impact playing 20 to 25 minutes per game off the bench. Last season in that range of minutes with the Blazers and Rockets, only missing seven games, he averaged 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and nearly one steal per game.
Next season, the Knicks' biggest competition in the East will likely be the Heat and Nets, especially if they land Dwight Howard. But with "C2" (Chandler and Camby, who have mirror attributes with only age separating them), the Knicks will be a lot more explosive defensively down low. With one subbing in for the other -- and even both of them sharing the paint at times -- the Knicks shouldn't lose defensive momentum in the middle. They'll be able to keep disrupting the opposing team's best penetrators -- as in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo, who never seems to go away in the playoffs -- and obviously D-Howard, who's prone to getting into foul trouble.
And let's not forget about a potential Jared Jeffries' re-signing just yet. Then, if Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire bring it on D consistently, which they did a better job of under Mike Woodson, the Knicks could become the best defensive team in the league. With Woody already at the helm, they were top three in the league in the last 24 games.
By the way, did I mention Iman Shumpert will be returning in January? All in all, Camby coming to New York represents not only what Woodson is all about, but what it takes to win a championship: defense. That's what the Heat proved winning the Finals, limiting Kevin Durant, neutralizing James Harden and making Russell Westbrook shoot 4-for-20 in the decisive Game 5. The Knicks now have most of the chess pieces in place to cause similar infliction. The biggest question will be: Can they operate efficiently on offense?
J.R. SMITH: The last memories of Smith in the orange and blue are of him missing shot after shot against the Heat in the first round of the playoffs. He finished 31.6 percent from the field (24-for-76). Smith, who occasionally falls back into his own game, literally fell back on many of his jumpers -- his biggest bad habit -- and was too trigger-happy in the offense. But you can't just signal out Smith's bricks that led to the Knicks' bad offense. With nearly half of the roster banged up, the Knicks simply played out of rhythm and they looked like a streetball team.
Once the Knicks enter the season healthy, with Smith likely the starting shooting guard, that will enable him to excel at more defined roles -- instead of having to carry more of the load. Those roles will mostly include 3-point shooting, fastbreak finishing and running some pick-and-rolls to score (he's also an underrated passer). He has the ability to go one-on-one, but isolation can't be the name of the game in New York in 2012-13. That's where they got into trouble at times last season and especially during the playoffs.
Smith is the kind of player who plays better with less to do, and he proved he was coachable under Woodson. They seemed to develop a father-son relationship on the court, where Woody always gave Smith a longer stare-down when his young pupil made a mistake. But Smith never appeared to be stubborn or have a temper tantrum; he stood next to Woody on the sideline, patiently, and seemed to pay very close attention to what the teacher was saying.
In fact, when Smith agreed to re-sign with the Knicks on Monday, he mentioned Woodson as a big reason why.
Not only did Smith mature as a person under Woodson -- he still has to watch it a bit on Twitter -- he became a more tenacious defender in New York. While those images of him jacking up jumpers against the Heat left a bitter taste, he earned his stripes on the defensive end. He was all over LeBron James -- even picking him up full court and frustrating his dribble. With Shumpert missing the first few months of the upcoming season, Smith will need to bring that perimeter defense from day one.
The Knicks are confident in Smith's abilities at two guard, which will be pointed out when the Knicks let Landry Fields head up north to Toronto, where he signed an offer sheet for three years, $20 million. Smith also believes in the team. He took less money ($2.8 million) than he could've earned elsewhere.
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.