With the signing of Baron Davis, for one-year and $1.4 million (the veteran-minimum), who will reportedly be sidelined for less than one month and not the 8-10 weeks that was originally reported, the Knicks front office is proving that they are doing all they possibly can to win a championship this season.
Davis has disk issues, but the Knicks strongly believe that his injury is not as serious as originally thought. This will be his 13th season in the NBA, after previously playing with the Hornets, Warriors, Clippers and Cavaliers. His best season statistically, across the board, was when he averaged 17.9 points, 8.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals for the Golden State Warriors in the 2005-2006 season. On November 20, 2009, in a game against the Nuggets, he surpasses the 5,000 assist plateau.
When healthy and focused, Davis has had periods where he has been one of the best point guards in basketball. However, he has had a number of injuries, which could partly be due to his weight gain, since he has trouble staying in shape. He has clashed with coaches at times, especially Byron Scott, because of his refusal to play while injured. He is very talented, but has had trouble staying motivated, at times.
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Baron has often played for franchises that did not have much hope of getting to the playoffs, or if they did get to the playoffs, they did not have much of a chance of advancing past the first round. With him on the Knicks, if he is in shape, and committed to playing defense, New York could have as good of a chance as the Bulls, Celtics or Heat at getting to the NBA Finals.
Davis should be able to realize that this season, as well as the 2012-2013 campaign, could be his last legitimate shot at getting to the Finals and playing for a ring. Once he has his first practice with the Knicks, in Greenburgh, Westchester, when he is healthy, he will realize that he is the only real point guard on the roster.
Right now, Toney Douglas is currently slated to be the starting floor general. He is more of a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, but I think he will be able to develop into a capable passer. Douglas, who is entering his third year in the league, can already play effective defense, penetrate to the basket, and make jumpers. He just needs to improve the way he distributes the basketball.
The other player who will get minutes at point guard, Iman Shumpert, is a rookie out of Georgia Tech, originally from the Chicago area. He is known for his defense, like Douglas. “Shump” is a very vocal player, who hustles, knows how to score at the hoop, keeps his head up, and is very athletic. He is probably a little better of a passer than Douglas, but his shooting is not as effective.
Shumpert and Douglas both have potential, with Shumpert having more of a chance of being an effective starter for many years in the league, but Davis will be the player the Knicks have been missing to quarterback the offense. Davis’ reliable jumper, combined with his ability to get to the rim at will, makes him hard to stop offensively, while he has proven that he can keep his teammates happy by averaging more than 6.4 assists in every season as a starter.
If Baron Davis starts playing in games around Martin Luther King Day, as has been reported, it will make the bench even stronger. Shumpert and Douglas will both be able to add instant offense, rather than worry about distributing the basketball. More importantly, when he first wears New York across his jersey, he will know where to pass the ball to Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire so that they will be able to be successful. They are two of the best offensive players in the game anyway, but having a point guard like Davis will make life even easier for them.
I don’t see any downside to this signing. Douglas and Shumpert will be even more productive after seeing increased playing time before Davis seizes the point when healthy, since he is an obvious upgrade at the position. Once Davis joins Landry Fields, Tyson Chandler, Anthony and Stoudemire in the starting lineup, they definitely will be one of the best in the league offensively, with many alley-oops, but also a defensive squad, anchored by Chandler.
Also, after growing up in Los Angeles, and going to the prestigious Crossroads High School, Baron Davis enjoys television, film and media, so I see him embracing the NYC lifestyle.