Position Battle: Tussle For The Two-Spot

Barring some unexpected eleventh hour dealing, the core Knicks roster is set for training camp. David Lee and Nate Robinson will be re-signed, with the only new additions being those acquired on draft night. Last year was one of constant change, though, and the frequent roster moves demanded that Mike D'Antoni shape rotations on the fly. Training camp in Saratoga could be the coach's first real chance to groom relatively new players in his system and fully assess their worth without the distraction of games. It'll also be his first chance to run camp with rookies and new acquisitions, as well as a pair of Knicks- Danilo Gallinari and Eddy Curry- who were either too hurt or too nauseated to train last time around. If D'Antoni approaches camp with a blank slate, we could see some dramatic redistribution of minutes.

The shooting guard position promises to be one spot worth some attention. Last year, after Larry Hughes was acquired, Hughes and Quentin Richardson pretty much split minutes at the two. Richardson left for a summer tour, though, and Hughes tended to disappoint, so don't be surprised if this spot's up for grabs in a couple of weeks. Let's have a look at the candidates to get minutes. The cast of characters, after the jump...

The Frontrunner:

Larry Hughes- If D'Antoni is more content than we thought, this should be the choice. Hughes brings active hands to the defensive end and passes well enough to help Chris Duhon run the offense. That said, we're all familiar with Larry's propensity to chuck. Even accounting for occasional streaks of accuracy, Hughes' eFG% of .460 puts him in the company of such virtuosos as Jared Jeffries and Zach Randolph. In an offense that all but accommodates volume shooting, I think we'd all prefer a better success rate. If Hughes is the principal two-guard, expect competent defense, but avert your eyes when he's setting up that line-drive release.

The Borrowers

Wilson Chandler- A number of additional players aren't true shooting guards, but could be utilized creatively in the D'Antoni system. Chandler is one such player. He measures up as a small forward, but there's long been talk of playing Wil as a two. He's got the right combination of size and footspeed to stick with even elite opposing guards, but like Hughes, struggles to score efficiently (.480 eFG%). Unlike Hughes, though, Chandler's still a work in progress. If he's devoted enough of his summer to honing his stroke, Wil's physical attributes could make him a monster of a two-guard.

Danilo Gallinari- Gallinari will compete with Chandler for the starting 3 spot, but could also serve as a shooting guard. He's the best pure shooter on the team, but his size lends itself to frontcourt play. Gallo played occasional minutes at the two-spot last year, but it seemed more like a ploy to keep the rookie from getting muscled around with his injured back. If Gallo's healthy and in shape, he'll likely be more serviceable as a forward.

Nate Robinson: Nate's misfit size and potpourri of talents make him the ideal sixth man, but you never know with D'Antoniball.

The New Guys

Morris Almond- We haven't gotten official word that Almond's been invited to training camp, but he better be. The 24 year-old showed a pure shooting stroke and more in the Summer League, and might not be as much of a longshot as he seems. He's got prototypical two-guard size, and enough offensive talent to have Mike D'Antoni smitten by September's end. If Mo Nuts shows the same commitment to defense that he did in Vegas, he's my dark horse to take the starting two-guard role.

Joe Crawford- Crawford's another one whose performance in Vegas demanded attention. Joe has range, but prefers to bull his way to the rim. If he can translate that same strength into tough defense, then like Almond, Crawford has a real shot to make a believer out of D'Antoni.

Toney Douglas- On draft night, I would've expected Douglas to compete at shooting guard. Given his usage and fine play in Summer League, though, I think we're all expecting Pretty Toney to apprentice with Chris Duhon as a point guard.

Odds are D'Antoni sits tight with Hughes as his primary shooting guard, but you never know. Who's your pick to start and get the brunt of the minutes at the two? There will be a separate post/poll for the small forwards, so keep that vacancy in mind as you choose. Are you satisfied with Hughes? Would you rather play someone else out of position? Might there be a diamond in the rough? Pick one and make your case in the comments.

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