HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If there’s going to be a big man renaissance in New York this season, it will come with a huge assist from one of the all-time great big men in the history of the game.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson, a former teammate of Hakeem Olajuwon‘s, approached the two-time NBA champ about tutoring members of his frontcourt rotation as preparation for the 2012-13 season.
Amar’e Stoudemire, who worked with Olajuwon earlier this summer (above), Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby will all get a chance to learn from a master. Olajuwon normally tutors big men, but he’s also going to work with Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com.
Having Olajuwon school his guys on post moves and the art of winning at the highest level is a masterstroke by Woodson, who knows that the key for the Knicks this season will be finding the right fit between his biggest stars. It’s an understanding that Olajuwon already seems locked in on as well, per the report from Broussard:
“They both have to realize that the most important thing is not how great you are individually,” Olajuwon said. “You’re remembered for how many games you win. So to get to play with another great offensive player should help you. It should make your job easier. You have to work well together. You can’t be competitors with one another.”
While Olajuwon has taught Stoudemire back-to-the-basket post moves, he said the Knicks’ game plan should not be simply to post up Stoudemire while Anthony dominates the perimeter.
“It shouldn’t be Amar’e just staying in the post because he can be a scorer in the paint and outside,” Olajuwon said. “It’s the same thing for Carmelo. He can score in the post and outside. So if Carmelo is in the post, Amar’e can be at the foul line and he can make that shot. If Amare’s in the post, Carmelo can make the shot from the free-throw line, too. They shouldn’t be competing against each other; they should be complementing each other. They need each other to win.”
But Olajuwon doesn’t think the Knicks need to be a two-man show offensively. He sees great offensive potential in Chandler, who averaged 11 points per game for the Knicks last season, three above his career average.
“You can see that he has great timing by the way he rebounds, blocks shots and catches lobs,” he said. “He’s got great timing and reflexes. I haven’t seen him use any moves of his own, though. But there’s no way a guy with that kind of talent and timing should not have effective moves. So I want to teach him some moves so he can use all of that talent. If you add some moves to all the talent and energy he’s got, it will open up a whole new door for him. That’s what he should be looking to add to go to the next level.”
The “next level” is where the Knicks have set their sights this season.
And their frontline of Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler is what will lead them there. If they plan on joining the Heat, Celtics and Pacers in the top-tier in the Eastern Conference, it will have to be powered by this All-Star/gold medal trio (Linsanity took the train to Houston).
With Dwight Howard in Los Angeles with the Lakers now and Andrew Bynum adjusting to his new surroundings in Philadelphia, Chandler, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, has a chance to move to the front of the line in the East. That leaves Anthony and Stoudemire to find a way to co-exist while sharing some of the same sweet spots, particularly on the offensive end.
If they get it right, the Knicks should be a serious factor this season. Heat power forward(center?) Chris Bosh knows it, telling ESPN.com’s Justin Verrier:
“I just wanna say — the freakin’ Knicks, man. I think they’re going to be a good team,” Bosh said. “Nobody’s really talking about them, and I don’t like it. They’re flying under the radar right now. I think the Knicks are gonna be a very good team.”
With a little help from the Dream, Bosh’s words could wind up being prophetic this season.