Jake Brown | Twitter |
The preseason opener is tonight, with the Knicks' first test coming against the Brooklyn Nets. The results of the games obviously don't matter, but playing their crosstown rival should give them a little extra motivation. Head coach Jeff Hornacek has a brand new roster with a whole new outlook now that Carmelo Anthony is gone. He's got a lot of tough decisions to make and that all begins tonight. Let's take a look at what we should watch for...
How will point guard work out?
There is a decent chance Frank Ntilikina won't play tonight due to a sore groin. If he still has the groin issue, there's no point in the Knicks throwing him out there in a meaningless game. What this does mean, though, is that there is going to be a small chance that the rookie starts the season opener against Melo and the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
While he would likely be ready to play, it should be off the bench and not in the starting five. Tonight, Jarrett Jack, Ron Baker, and Ramon Sessions will get their chance to showcase who should start. If Jack is fully healthy, I see him winning the starting job because of his experience and his ability to score. Hornacek is going to have to figure out how to divvy up the playing time in the backcourt.
Who starts at small forward?
Early reports indicated Courtney Lee was the favorite to start at small forward. This should not be the case. Lee should be backing up Tim Hardaway, Jr. And I'm excited to see Michael Beasley play. This guy has become a quote machine and the best guy to interview on the team. With what he said on Timeout with Taylor Rooks, to him saying he is as talented as LeBron James and Kevin Durant, it's time to see what he has got.
If Beasley can become a scoring machine, there's no reason you don't start him at small forward with Doug McDermott and Lance Thomas off the bench. This is going to be another difficult decision for Hornacek to make. He's really got around five guys that can play small forward.
How will center play out?
Enes Kanter should be the Knicks' starting center. He's the most talented and can score in bunches. While he came off the bench with the Thunder, it makes more sense for him to start in New York. Willy Hernangomez can learn from him and grow on the offensive end. Kanter should be seeing 30 minutes a game. And with the way he put up points in just 20 minutes a game last year, the Knicks need him to be a presence in the post next to Kristaps Porzingis.
The preseason will be a good chance to see if Hernangomez improved in the offseason. He showed promising signs in his rookie year, but has a lot of room to get better. This will be the Knicks' one-two punch for the first 12 games until Joakim Noah returns. At that point, Hornacek will have yet another difficult decision to make as he figures out how to split time at center.