With training camp set to begin near the end of this month, we're taking a look at some of the biggest topics surrounding the Knicks this preseason.
On Tuesday, we examined what could be the best battle of camp. Today we’ll take a look at which starting five Derek Fisher might opt to go with for the season.
Obviously, health will be a major consideration considering how some players like Jose Calderon were slowed by injuries for much of camp last season.
When examining who Fisher might start, we’ll consider some factors above others such as which group would work best around Carmelo Anthony -– and we’re assuming Melo returns healthy after knee surgery. Who fits best with Melo? Which five might offer the best chemistry?
And because it was stressed this offseason, defense will be a key factor as well. So let’s take a look at a few combinations and operate under the assumption that Calderon, Anthony and Lopez are entrenched as starters.
With this five, Calderon will still struggle defensively but he can run the triangle and provide outside shooting. Afflalo provides the ability to defend shooting guards and serve as a capable outside shooter for Anthony to pass to.
The X factor to this particular starting five is Williams. The Knicks are intrigued by the former No. 2 overall pick’s potential and Phil Jackson is banking on Fisher being able to tap into Williams’ talent.
So perhaps they would want to see what he can do as a starter. But it remains to be seen whether Williams can play consistently enough for Fisher. Can he stay in front of a small forward? And if not, is Williams strong enough to bang with other power forwards?
While Anthony will be a steady source of rebounds, Williams has never averaged more than 5.5 rebounds which he did during 2012-13 when he started 56 games for the Timberwolves.
Lopez will anchor the team defense at center and help upgrade the team’s pick-and-roll defense and rebounding.
Kyle O’Quinn can come in and play power forward and perhaps even some center if need be. Kevin Seraphin also can back up Lopez at center. Sasha Vujacic will provide a knock-down shooter off the bench and another swingman like Cleanthony Early, Lance Thomas or perhaps even Thanasis Antetokounmpo could provide a spark and help spell Anthony. Lou Amundson also is a hard-working reserve.
PG Calderon, SG Grant, SF Afflalo, PF Anthony, C Lopez:
This starting five might be the best defensive unit Fisher could send out there. Grant may be a rookie but he has some size and quickness to perhaps defend either guard position which could help Calderon against a speedy point guard. Grant also can provide some playmaking ability and athleticism but the Knicks may need this more with the second unit.
Afflalo would start at small forward where he can still provide shooting. The hope is that Afflalo can defend either guard or small forward spot.
This combination also allows Anthony to play power forward where he can be effective against slower power forwards and provide some matchup problems.
PG Calderon, SG Afflalo, SF Porzingis, PF Anthony, C Lopez:
The Knicks likely will bring Porzingis along slowly and play him a reasonable amount of minutes nightly. But perhaps Phil and Fish will want to see what Porzingis can do as a starter even if he plays around 20-to-25 minutes a game initially.
What we learned about the fourth overall pick in summer league is Porzingis has some serious height and length at 7-1. He also has a motor which is good to see from a raw 20-year-old European.
But he has a lot of bulking up to do with that thin 220-pound frame. He won’t be able to bang with power forwards, and could have trouble fending off some small forwards as well. He will have difficulty staying in front of quicker small forwards but the Knicks may still want to see what Porzingis has to offer and start his learning curve against the best right away.
PG Calderon, SG Afflalo, SF Anthony, PF O’Quinn, C Lopez:
This would be a big lineup for Fisher to play. O’Quinn can provide some midrange shooting –- a plus in the triangle -- when Anthony is working in the block. O’Quinn also would give the Knicks some muscle underneath with Lopez as well.
And if the Knicks wanted to go even bigger, they could start Seraphin alongside Lopez but then Fisher would have two offensively-limited bigs starting together.
Tell us which starting five you want to see the Knicks go with this season.