Our starting 5 will remain the same from last year, but we've got a new look to our bench--and I think our new bench is going to have more offensive firepower than last year's.
Leon Powe is starting to get comfortable in the paint, and he appears to be ready to shoulder some of the offensive load. In previous seasons, because he was green behind the gills, he rushed his moves, forced shots that weren't there, and played into the defenders traps. But now with 2 years under his belt, he's got a better understanding of the timing of the game, and how to feel where his defender is overplaying him. Here's an example of his improving game; versus the Knicks (final preseason game), he started on the right blocks, worked his way towards the middle of the paint, dropped his shoulders into the defender's chest to create some space, and instinctly stepped back and fired a fallback jumper. Last year, if his initial move was being contested, he would have pump faked his man into the air, and then jump into his body to draw contact. This year, he has countermoves to utilize when his defender is playing him tightly.
No longer is he limited to garbage points--he's ready to be our go-to guy in the post (at least among the bench players)
Doc said in an interview yesterday that Tony is going to be in the rotation this year (somewhere he wasn't really a part of last season, especially in the playoffs). I'm venturing to say Tony's not just there to be a warm body, but to be one of the scoring options off the bench. With scoring games of 25 and 32 pts this preseason, its clear that when he's on his game, Tony can carry the scoring load when members of the Big 3 are resting.
When Eddie House is encouraged to take more shots, he won't have to be told twice. He's going to have to be more aggressive with his shots. Not that he naturally isn't a quick triggered guy, but last year House held back to keep the team oriented offense going. This year, defenses will play us much tighter, meaning we might not get many good looks at the bucket. Those who have an opening should take the shot. When Eddie uses a screen, if his defender goes under it, he needs to pick up his dribble and take that shot. Or if he's running a 3 on 2 break and both defenders are running to cover the paint, he needs to stay on the perimeter and fire away. Eddie can score in bunches and that's what he has to be aware of.
Between Powe, Tony, and Eddie, we have guys who can score for us off the bench. And we will have to rely on them coming through for us because we will have to be a better team than last year if we want to repeat as champions. The competition is going to be fiercer now that we're champs, and we have to be up for the challenge. That means our bench will have to contribute more. I trust they will.
Good analysis, Derren! I love Powe and think he is going to take a leap up in his development this season if Doc gives him the playing time. I loved the way Eddie and Tony worked together in the preseason with Tony driving to the hoop and kicking to Eddie for the 3. I think that may be a very effective tactic this season.