Knicks Training Camp Preview Part 3 : Small Forwards


The New York Knicks 2013 preseason schedule is underway, and as always, Empire Writes back is here to break down what you should feel good about, and what should leave you scratching your head in the 2013 New York Knicks training camp preview.

Small Forwards

Who’s In: Metta World Peace (Free Agent), C.J. Leslie (Undrafted Free Agent)

Who’s Out: Steve Novak (Traded to Toronto), James White (Released), Quentin Richardson (Traded to Toronto)

Projected Depth Chart: Carmelo Anthony, Metta World Peace, C.J Leslie

How it all breaks down

Like most of the Knicks roster, the depth at small forward is impressive.  What makes it difficult to preview is that the Knicks wings are so versatile that no one on the roster other than Metta World Peace and C.J Leslie truly fit into the traditional small forward mold.  Carmelo Anthony is a small forward by trade, but won his first scoring title last season playing the majority of his minutes from the power forward spot.  The same can be said for Iman Shumpert, who is considered a shooting guard, but will surely log a ton of minutes from the wing this season as well.

I think the big question surrounding the Knicks small forward’s this season is just how well will Metta World Peace fit into this team?

If Metta wants to hang out around the three-point line and jack up awkward looking jump shots like he did for his last few years in L.A. then I’m not so sure how much he really moves the needle for the Knicks this season.  However, if MWP makes a commitment to defense and embraces the role of scrappy energy guy, then the marriage between the former Queens Bridge native and the Knickerbockers will be a beautiful thing to watch.

What should be really interesting to see unfold is just how Mike Woodson decides to fit Metta World Peace into the Knicks lineup, as a strong case can be made to either start MWP, or bring him off the bench.  Let’s look at the benefits of each scenario, shall we?

Starting Metta

If head coach Mike Woodson opts to start MWP, he could play a very important role for the Knicks.  Offensively, Carmelo Anthony clearly excels at the power forward spot, as the David West’s of the world have almost no chance of stopping Carmelo’s offensive output.  On the defensive side of the ball, things can get a bit dicey for Melo sometimes.  Just like we saw in the playoffs against Indiana, when Carmelo is forced to guard bigger power forwards in the post (David West comes to mind again) it is not only taxing for Carmelo on defense, but also takes something away from his offensive game.

With Metta World Peace in the starting lineup, Coach Woodson can use MWP to “protect” Melo on defense, having him slide over to guard the opposing team’s best forward — which would take a lot of pressure off of Carmelo.

It remains to be seen what Mike Woodson will do, but I believe we will see this lineup early and often this season.

Bringing Metta off the bench

If the Knicks decide to bring MWP off the bench –something that is likely early in the season — they can still use him to protect their more vulnerable defenders in the second unit (I’m looking at you, Bargnani and Amare) much in the way they would use him to protect Carmelo Anthony if he was in the starting lineup.

Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani are both still well above average offensive players at their positions, defense on the other hand, well that’s a different story altogether.

With MWP coming off the bench, the Knicks can move him to the opposing team’s best offensive forward, to alleviate some of the pressure on both Amar’e and Andre Bargnani on the defensive end of the floor.

While a sound argument can be made for either side, I hope Mike Woodson keeps his options open with Metta this year, and moves him in and out of the starting lineup based on matchups. Of course a lot of this is tied to Iman Shumpert’s development, which might force Mike Woodson to play a lot of smaller lineups featuring Shump at the small forward spot.