We're so close to New York Knicks basketball, my friends. So. Damn. Close. The 'Bockers open their preseason slate on Wednesday at MSG against the Brazilian club Bauru.
Since we lack the technology to cryogenically freeze ourselves for 48 hours, let's indulge in a bit of lineup fantasizing. The P&T staff picked their preferred starting lineup for the preseason opener.
Kristaps Porzingis, Robin Lopez, Carmelo Anthony, Arron Afflalo, Jerian Grant. Ideally the five who open the preseason are the same five on opening night. That's the mark of a good team. The Knicks aren't a good team, so this is my dream-come-true lineup.
Porzingis starting would mean he's closer to stud than understudy, and the best chance the Knicks have of building a super team is if they've got a Latvian Superman to anchor it. Comic book aficionado Robin Lopez is like Pa Kent, Clark Kent's human father: protecting and nurturing the youngster as he grows into his powers. I know the numbers when Carmelo plays the four, but as he ages, coming off injuries to his shoulder and knee, doesn't it seem he'd rather be backing down small fries than jostling with jumbos? Afflalo's a real, live, neither-one-dimensional-nor-TMZ-level-flaky two-guard, something that feels so new to me it makes newborn babies look old as shit. Grant starting would mean the Knicks' best guard is also their youngest, the kind of efficiency that accelerates a team's growth while solidifying their sustainable success.
I'm pulling for Langston Galloway-Afflalo-Anthony-Porzingis-Kyle O'Quinn. Porzingis and O'Quinn complement each other well on paper, and I'd love to see how the two play off of each other on the court. The bulky O'Quinn should be able to handle more physical opponents on defense while KP supports by using his mobility and length to protect the rim. The unit would be fun to watch offensively as well, as all five have serviceable jump shots and can get open using the attention Carmelo commands. It would be nice to see Melo back at full health again, too.
Lemme go Grant/Calderon/Afflalo/Melo/Robin Lopez. If I can't have that I want:
And get out of the way.
Grant-Galloway-Thanasis Antetokounmpo-Cleanthony Early-Porzingis. Since the first preseason game is against a Brazilian team, I'm not expecting the Knicks to pull out all the stops. Instead, I'm hoping for things to get wild and crazy. Rookies and second-year guys only.
I think I'm going Calderon-Galloway-Porzingis-Anthony-Lopez. It's somewhere in between a lineup I think could eventually suit Melo perfectly (on both ends) and a hey-it's-preseason-let's-see-what-the-kids-can-do lineup. I don't expect Kristaps Porzingis to shoulder regular starters' minutes in his first season, but it's worth a try in exhibition, and playing an inferior Brazilian team followed by some NBA opponents should be a nice gradual progression toward seeing how he hangs at this level.
Galloway-Afflalo-Melo-O'Quinn-Lopez. I have long been one of the most strident small-ball advocates on this site, which is probably why the boys in high school gym class called me "Joey Small-Balls." I'm not a huge fan of this particular lineup, but I feel like Derek Fisher plans to roll out the Melo/KOQ/Lopez frontcourt early and often, so I'd rather they experiment with it while the games don't count? Can O'Quinn stretch the defense with his jumper? Will Melo even attempt to guard smaller, quicker opponents on the perimeter? I'd like to know the answers to these questions A.S.A.P
What about you, humble reader? Which starting five would you like to see take the (blue!) court on Wednesday night?