And you thought the Knicks’ season couldn’t get any worse? The Knicks 6 game win streak ended when the hapless Raptors crushed them by 29 points on Sunday. Then New York lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves. At home. On Martin Luther King Day. Although the loss was their 22nd of the season, the worst aspect of it was the injury Stephon Marbury suffered. The early reports are that Stephon will likely miss the next 5 games due to a shoulder injury. While Marbury has been a lightning rod to those looking for an individual player to blame the Knicks recent woes on, it’s indisputable that he’s the best player on the team. Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford will try to fill the hole left by Marbury, but their absence will leave another hole for someone else to fill. To be successful in this stretch, the Knicks will need another guard to step up & produce.
Richardson showed some life in the Knicks last game, but on the season he’s been as dependable as a newborn puppy dog on a white couch. Injuries have kept Quentin out of the preseason, and his back has kept him out of a handful of games this year. Q is shooting an appalling 41% eFG%, way below his 48% career mark. He’s scoring at a rate of 11.5pts/40min, which places him behind granite statue Jerome James & troubled child Qyntel Woods. With Marbury out and the trade deadline a month away, now would be an ideal time for Richardson to snap out of his season long coma.
At one point in his career, Woods was considered a decent prospect. NBADraft.Net heaped praise upon praise on Qyntel comparing him favorably to Tracy McGrady. Meanwhile the USAToday said he was good enough to possibly go 3rd overall in the 2002 draft. Woods played reasonably well his first year in Portland, posting a 11.2 PER as a 21 year old rookie. However that was the high point in his career. Portland released him after a turbulent sophomore season, and Miami sent him packing after a 3 game tryout. While Woods’ physical ability is intriguing, he’s regressed since his first year and time is running out on the 24 year old. It isn’t often that players get more than 3 chances to make it in this league, and Woods could extend his NBA life with a productive 5 games.
Hardaway has been on the disabled list since December with an injured knee, which is the NBA’s version of “nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more!” If Penny is interested in rejoining the NBA as a player, now might be a good time to do so. Unlike the two mentioned above, Hardaway has had experience running the point, which could aid the Knicks since Robinson is more of a shooting guard. Penny can still play some defense on the perimeter & has good court vision with the ball. Unfortunately he suffers from Lavor Postell‘s syndrome: he can’t shoot a lick & doesn’t know it. Penny’s career eFG% as a Knick is 44.6%, which is 10 points lower than his heyday in Orlando. If Hardaway is given the opportunity, he should do a December 30th Scott Skiles impersonation & set up his teammates as much as possible.
Although more of a small forward, Ariza is agile enough to play shooting guard as well. Last year he was the lone bright spot on the team, but this year he’s been the forgotten man in Larry Brown’s rotation. His problem is simple, he’s a liability on offense. According to 82games, Ariza is connecting on only 26% of his jump shots. While Brown has no problem putting players on the court out of position (see Lee, David – starting small forward) he doesn’t like having a black hole on offense. Remember this is the same coach who took Ben “my offensive game should be limited to tip ins and alley oops” Wallace, and encouraged him to shoot more. Ariza becomes the dark horse candidate to contribute more, because his main focus is defense and the Knicks will need more offense with Marbury out.