Have Pre-Season Injuries Set the Knicks Up for Early Season Failure?

Much of the narrative regarding New York’s recent track record of underachievement has been centered around a lack of team chemistry. That narrative does have some merit to it, as this has been New York’s first conventional training camp with the trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler all on the roster. Not only was this seen as a training camp in which the “broadway bigs” would have the opportunity to mesh together, but a camp where the Knicks as a team can mesh together as well. However, the Knicks have run into a plethora of injury problems. Amar’e Stoudemire has missed time and both pre-season games to date with a “bruised knee”. CAA favorite Chris Smith is now out for the season with a torn patella tendon. His brother, one JR Smith, now has some sort of unidentified ankle/achilles injury. Free agent steal Ronnie Brewer has yet to see action due to recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery. Marcus Camby has a calf strain and his return is unknown. For what it is worth, Henry Sims hurt his ankle in practice, but he is a longshot to make the team anyways. So yeah, that is a lot of injuries. Great thing the Knicks have Jason Kidd and all of his veteran presence. He’ll be able to fix all the Knicks problems. Wait, he’s old and he’s not good anymore so never mind.

In all seriousness, this plethora of injuries may very well set the Knicks back in their progression. Apart from a few practices, the star studded front-court trio have not been on the court very much together. Ronnie Brewer, the team’s likely starter at shooting guard, could go into the season without having played a preseason game. It is unknown when Smith and Camby, arguably the two most important players off the bench, will be back. Stoudemire will be back this weekend, but we have no idea what level his play is at currently. This is a huge year for Stoudemire, as he needs to rebound from his dreadful 2011 season. This season certainly has not gotten off to a good start for the much maligned Stoudemire.

New York’s early season schedule just magnifies the possible impact of these injuries even more. Of the Knicks first ten games, the first nine of those games are against 2011 playoff teams. The Knicks have to face Brooklyn, Miami, Philadelphia twice, Dallas, Orlando, Memphis, San Antonio and Indiana. Yikes. After those first nine games, the Knicks go on the road to face Anthony Davis and the Hornets and then play in Dallas and in Houston. That is a brutal first twelve games. If the Knicks get off on the wrong foot, it is foreseeable for them to start off with only three to five wins in that stretch of those first twelve games. This early season slate of games was already a gauntlet of a schedule before the injuries. But now the Knicks really are going to have to scratch and claw their way to get wins.

Luckily for the Knicks, they do play great defense. God forbid something happens to Chandler (knocks on an entire desk full of wood) then the Knicks would really be screwed, but they should be good on defense as long as he is in the fold. You still have Melo, who has looked quite sharp in pre-season, and the point guards have been healthy throughout camp. I’m not saying the world is ending because of some injuries, but there is definitely reason for concern. Not being in the lineup makes it just that much harder  for Stoudemire to mesh with Anthony and Chandler. New York needs Camby to be effective to anchor the second unit defense. For a team that may struggle to score even with him in the fold, JR Smith’s shooting is absolutely imperative to the Knicks offense. If Brewer isn’t there, the Knicks will have a major void to fill in their starting lineup at shooting guard. Do you trust James White to give them productive minutes there? I don’t. Not that he can’t do it, but he hasn’t shown anything yet. The Knicks need to get all these guys back and get them on track (rhymez) or else they may be in for a turbulent start to the season.

Follow Taylor on twitter @tarmosino

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