Thursday, February 22, 2007

2/22 - The X-Factor

With D-Wade going down until who knows when, and the Magic performing sub-par as of late, the Knicks are still sitting in the 10 spot in the East looking up with a slim chance of sneaking into the playoffs. Yes, I know I'm being unrealistic, after all, this team is 24-31 and showing no signs of a fire that will lead a march down the stretch. However, as long as there is a slim chance, it's my job to speculate about it.

So with 27 games remaining (including a should-be win tomorrow with the Bucks at the Garden), someone needs to step up on this team. Marbury has been performing good enough to know his role: get the ball to Curry, take your shots when necessary. Curry, I don't even need to talk about, he's our stud. David Lee will do what he does best down the stretch. Q-Rich has probably been our best two way player: consistent on offense, solid on defense, but his knees are a big question mark. Crawford, well, he's JC...who knows what you'll get each night.

So now I present to you, our top three candidates for the X-Factor, someone who can step up and sneak this team into the playoffs:

3. Renaldo Balkman. I know it sounds ridiculous to throw someone on this list who doesn't even play a single minute for some games, but this kid has proved himself on the court. He plays hard on the defensive end, and is always looking to create on offense. Look at last night's game in Philly: after he almost single handedly led the team back into the game, he walked off the floor clapping and urging the team to get their act together. This is a ROOKIE we're talking about. As much as the Incredible Balk was criticized on draft day, he has a bright future with this team. He has fire, and Isiah should see this. Even 15-20 mins a game could make him the new David Lee. Bring it.

2. Channing Frye. So my current most-hated player on the Knicks survived the trade deadline. After a superb rookie season (even being considered in Rook of the year talk before he was hurt), Frye has done NOTHING to improve his game this year. If the kid would develop a hook shot off of a two step move from the baseline, he would be unstoppable. But we know it won't happen. To be effective, he needs to play defense. He can't guard any player that is his own size because his is SOFT. Get him in the gym and have Mark Aguirre hit him with those pads, slap him around a little bit. Do you think Eddy Curry's improvement came out of nowhere? Hell no! Aguirre knows how to make people into a low post player, he even helped Mike Sweetney out, who hasn't done anything since leaving NY. If Frye can just average around 16 and 7, and play decent defense, it would help the team in a big way.

1. STEVIE "THE FRANCHISE" FRANCIS. Sometimes I forget Stevie is on this team. I mean, were talking about a former all-star here. He seems to be healthy now, but all he contributes is turnovers and bad jumpers. I just don't get it. What happened to the dude? I truly think he has lost his competitive edge, his ability to take over a game. Some people thought that Francis might even push Marbury out of New York once he got here. Well it's obvious Steph has been putting in the work, Francis hasn't. He's coming off the bench for God's sake, and barely playing! He needs to stop being a wuss and drive the lane, get to the line. That's what he made a career out of. If Francis can suddenly come alive and have a good streak of games, who knows what could be possible.

- Honorable Mention: Nate Robinson. If Nate took some time away from rehearsing his big dunk for the dunk contest next year, he might also be able to contribute something to this team. He showed last year that he can take over a game, but most of the time it's during a game that becomes a loss. He needs to consistently hit threes, and if that happens, the Knicks have the shooter they need.

Will any of these things happen? Probably not. The useless Jerome James and Jared Jefferies will take minutes from Balkman, Frye will continue to shoot 18 footers, and Francis will likely fake an injury and head back to Houston for rehab. I'm simply giving you a "what if." By the way, if I'm starting to get negative on this site, I apologize, I'm just being honest.

See you tomorrow with some links and a brand spankin new article...I DON'T LET YOU DOWN. Tell your friends...fresh takes, every day, here at "Live! From the Garden"

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