Opening Tip: 'Bockers & boards

There were plenty of reasons why the Knicks failed to make it out of the second round last season.

Injuries, poor shooting and spotty perimeter defense all played a role in New York's loss to Indiana.

But the biggest culprit may have been rebounding.

Indiana outrebounded New York by an average of 10.4 per game in their series last year. That's 62 rebounds over six games.

And that's the kind of deficit they hope to avoid this season.

"We've got to get better in that area, especially against bigger teams -- the Indiana's, the Chicago's, the Brooklyn's," Mike Woodson said on Sunday. "We're going to have to compete with the size of those teams. So we're going to have to be able to rebound with them. Because that's important throughout the course of a ballgame. It could be the difference between winning and losing."

With that in mind, it's worth wondering if the Knicks have the personnel to remain competitive with Brooklyn, Chicago and Indiana on the boards.

Last season, the Knicks ranked fourth in defensive rebound percentage -- a percentage of defensive rebounds grabbed by a team. But they ranked 19th in offensive rebound percentage (Note: the large amount of 3-pointers they missed made it difficult to coral offensive rebounds).

More importantly, the Knicks ranked 17th in rebounding differential.

Brooklyn, Indiana and Chicago were in the Top 10 in offensive rebounding rate and rebounding differential. The world champion Heat were in the bottom third in offensive and defensive rebounding rates and rebounding differential.

Now, you can probably have a long debate over how important rebounding is to winning in the long run.

But it's fair to say that the Knicks will likely need to improve on the boards this year if they want to finish near the top of the Eastern Conference.

To that end, New York brings back its top five rebounders from last season's team (measured by rebounds per game).

But the loss of Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas and Jason Kidd could hurt.

Thomas, Wallace and Marcus Camby were three of the top four rebounders on the Knicks when measured by rebounds per 36 minutes.

Kidd's rebounding rate -- a percentage of total rebounds grabbed by a player while he was on the floor -- was 9.2. That's pretty good for a guard; the league average was 9.8.

The players the Knicks brought in -- Andrea Bargnani (7.6), Metta World Peace (8.1) and Beno Udrih (4.7) -- all have rebounding rates below Kidd's.

So that brings us to our question: Do the Knicks have enough to compete with the best in the Eastern Conference on the boards this season?

UP NOW: Amar'e Stoudemire doesn't know where Carmelo Anthony is going to play next season, but he thinks Anthony's will make a decision based on his family and financial situation this summer.

Andrea Bargnani suffered a back injury on Sunday in the Knicks' annual Orange and Blue scrimmage at Columbia University. It seems minor, but his status for Monday's game against the Raptors is questionable.

J.R. Smith could be cleared for contact on Tuesday, which is a big step in the guard's attempt to come back from knee surgery.

Also, teammates and coaches say Carmelo Anthony has taken on more of a leadership role this season.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks return to Toronto to begin a two-game, three-day road trip.

QUESTION: Do the Knicks have enough to compete on the boards this season?

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