By John Schmeelk
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With five preseason games in the books and just one remaining on Wednesday, the Knicks are 2-3. There’s been plenty to like and plenty not to like. Here’s my take so far:

– One of the things I liked the most about the preseason is the lack of isolation plays. I’m not seeing a lot of Carmelo Anthony catching it on the wing with 16 second on the shot clock, and a shot going up ten seconds later after no passes. There was a lot more ball movement and movement away from the ball. Unfortunately, that changed on Monday night, when Anthony ran a ton of isolation and the ball movement was near non-existent. Maybe it was a tip of the cap to Anthony since he was playing at Syracuse, but I didn’t like it.

I wrote about the Amar’e Stoudemire injury on Monday, but it really does hurt not having him work on chemistry with the rest of the team. When he does return, if healthy, he should be able to connect with the three passing point guards on the team and have a big bounce-back season. He showcased some post moves in his one preseason game, and I think that will be a bigger part of his offensive repertoire this season.

– Pablo Prigioni is a true point guard and is great on the pick-and-roll. He knows where to go with the ball, and he finds the open man extremely well. He also puts in a lot of effort on defense. The one problem is that he can’t shoot a lick. Eventually NBA teams will figure it out and that might limit his effectiveness running the pick-and=roll.

– The defense hasn’t been what it needs to be, but I’m not that concerned about it. The uptick in intensity that will come with the regular season will fix a lot of it. There are a couple of things that do make me a little leery. In his one game of action. Stoudemire was just as poor defensively as he has been in the past. I also saw way too much switching on high screen-and-rolls which invariably turned into mismatches. I saw it a lot from Mike Woodson last year, so seeing it pop up so early in the preseason is a little disconcerting.

– Anthony certainly seems to be in the best shape of his career. He has a very fast first step and I think he is getting much more elevation around the rim. What I don’t like from him so far in the preseason is his penchant for jumping into stationary defenders to try to draw a foul, rather than finishing around the basket. Get the points first, then worry about the contact.

– Chris Copeland has been impressive with his scoring, but if he wants to earn his way onto the roster and to potential playing time, he is going to have to do it with defense and rebounding. This team has plenty of scoring in the frontcourt with Anthony and Stoudemire.

– Kurt Thomas is amazing. He’s running the floor like a young man and he doesn’t look his age. I can say the same for Jason Kidd. Marcus Camby, on the other hand, needs to get on the floor and get comfortable in Woodson’s system. I understand being cautious, but hopefully he can get back for the season opener against Brooklyn. Especially with Stoudemire out, the Knicks need the depth in the middle. Perhaps Rasheed Wallace can get back in time for the first game of the season, but that seems more and more unlikely since he hasn’t even scrimmaged yet.

– It’s good to see Ronnie Brewer back in the lineup, but I really can’t wait for Iman Shumpert to return from his knee injury. Both of those guys can be defensive difference-makers. I didn’t see much from the likes of Mychel Thompson or James White in the preseason.

– Raymond Felton is in better shape than he has been in prior years, but you still don’t look at him and say, “Wow, that guy is really in great shape.” He’s still pretty thick.

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Prediction time: How many games will the Knicks win this season? Let’s hear from you in the comments section below…


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