Opening Tip: Marcus Camby's return

Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: With Marcus Camby optimistic he'll be back on Thursday, what can opponents expect from the backup center this season?

After Sunday's practice, Camby said he's hopeful about playing Thursday in the Knicks' season opener against the Nets.

"I want to play if possible," he said. "I know I'm not going to get extended minutes because I haven't really been out there, but I'm shooting to get out there on Thursday."

Here are three main things Camby will provide, assuming he stays healthy:

1. Support. If any of the Knicks' perimeter players get beat, Mike Woodson won't have to cringe as much. "As long as you have Tyson Chandler or Marcus Camby back there to protect the rim, it's a big help," a veteran NBA advance scout told ESPNNewYork.com. While Jared Jeffries was a solid backup last season, Camby is a former Defensive Player of the Year. His 6-foot-11 height and impressive wingspan will help him still cover ground at age 38. He also excels as a rebounder and communicator, talking constantly to let his teammates in front of him know what to watch out for.

2. Versatility. On offense, not only can he finish off the pick-and-roll, but he also can attack the basket and shoot the midrange jumper. Defensively, Woodson has the option to play Chandler and Camby side-by-side. "They're both very mobile and so long," the scout said. "They might be able to play Chandler at center and have Camby guard a certain type of stretch forward, or vice versa." Their timing, nimble feet and effective defensive stance, enabling quicker reaction time, allows them to make great reads guarding pick-and-rolls.

3. Covering matchups. If the Knicks face their biggest challenge in the playoffs, the Heat, featuring the always attacking LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, they'll need as many long arms, wits and skills as they can in the paint. That's what Chandler and Camby provide. Chandler alone did a superb job of altering James and Wade's interior shots in the 2011 Finals, which helped Dallas win its first title. With both of them, the Knicks will also be better suited to face the Lakers or Thunder's big and experienced frontline.

How do you think Camby will help the team? Leave us your comments below.

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