The Knicks Say Hello to Another Unexpected Star

The parade continues with Kenyon Martin

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Martin's the newest old guy to give the Knicks life.

    You can quibble with the Knicks' overall strategy of relying on players old enough to remember the last time the Knicks were championship contenders, but you can't really argue against the old guys they picked. 

    They've ranged from the generally excellent (Jason Kidd) to the useful (Pablo Prigioni) to the tantalizingly good before injury (Rasheed Wallace), but the old guard has helped the Knicks lead the Atlantic Division all season. And now there's another reclamation project whose first impression makes it look like the Knicks have hit on another winner. 

    Kenyon Martin dominated the Raptors on Friday and Saturday nights. It's a strong word, but there's really none other that fits for his performances in the two Knicks wins. 

    Martin shot 16-of-21 from the floor, grabbed 18 rebounds, blocked three shots, had three steals and finished with 37 points in 63 minutes. Saturday night's game featured a series of thundering dunks that seemed to take all the life out of Toronto before everyone had fully settled into the game. 

    One must take games against teams like the Raptors with a grain of salt, but there's been no hiding the fact that Martin offers the Knicks something they desperately need with Amar'e Stoudemire and Wallace out of the lineup. He gives them interior defense that they don't reliably get from anyone other than Tyson Chandler and someone who can finish around the basket on pick-and-rolls and rebounds. 

    It doesn't hurt that he and Carmelo Anthony seem to enjoy playing together so much that they now wear identical sleeve/headband combos that make it hard to figure out who's who if you look away for a second. They both scored so much in the two games against the Raptors that the problem was a particularly vexing one.

    It's in the category of good problems to have, though, as is the question of what to do when Tyson Chandler returns to the lineup. Do you start Martin or do you move him to a bench role to keep the current three-guard lineup in place?

    Starting Martin, presumably with Iman Shumpert going back to the two, would be the best Knicks defensive lineup and the size could be an advantage in a hypothetical matchup with the Heat. It would move Anthony to the three, though, and this season's proved over and over that the offense looks better when he's at the four. 

    Mike Woodson's said he's going to move Martin to the bench, but Chandler has to get healthy before that can happen and that means things can change. The Knicks are calling him questionable for Tuesday against the Celtics, so Martin's time as a starter might not be ending just yet. 

    Should his play remain at a high level in this week's Celtics/Grizzlies back-to-back, the question will be asked more loudly. Whatever the answer, Martin's play has lifted the gloom hanging over this team a week ago. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.