If you’ve been reading here long enough, you know that there’s certain players that I’m a huge fan. 28 year old Knicks rookie, Chris Copeland, is one of the new guys on that list.
Now unlike the more popular rookies, Copeland has been relegated to bench-warming for the likes of Pablo Prigioni, James White, and some of crotchety vets. I’ve been struggling to figure out why.
First and foremost, you can make a fist out of the amount of games Copeland has had significant minutes in. In his 6 starts, he’s averaged 6 ppg off 11 minutes per game. His best performance came on the Knicks’ 2nd meeting with the Rockets. In 28 minutes, he scored 29 pts and shot 60% from the the arc. His next 20+ point performance came when Melo sat out vs. the Kings In 41 minutes, he scored 23 and made 50% of his shots. Against the Hornets, where he actually started on the floor with Melo, he played 30 minutes and shot 60%. So are you noticing a pattern? When Woodson actually lets him play, he’s a decent offensive contributor.
Now what’s frustrating is as much as Woodson preaches about defense, forward Steve Novak has taken the bulk of bench minutes for the 3 position. Let me give you Novak’s numbers from the same 3 games where Copeland had significant floor time
12/17 vs. Rockets – 33 minutes, 1-5 from the arc, 1 rebound, 3 points
12/28 vs. Kings – 26 minutes, 4-7 and 3-5 offensively, 2 rebounds, 11 points
1/13 vs. Hornets – 17 minutes, 6-15 overall, 1 rebound, 9 points
Again, another pattern. Yes, Steve Novak is 1 of the best 3 point shooters in the league. But he’s a volume, streaky shooter. He doesn’t do anything else except camp out beyond the arc. His highlight reel is quite misleading as it relates to his production on the team. I cringe every time I see him in the paint because I know that all he’s going to do is step aside and let that player score or be blocked. I’m not saying that Copeland is a stellar defender either. However, he does try. At 6’8 and 225, I do expect him to plant his feet more and be more aggressive on the boards. But Steve Novak is 6’10 and 235. So I mean……yeah.
I’m not sure if Copeland fell out of Woodson’s good graces or what. But Copeland was deactivated in order to make room for Kenyon Martin; which made plenty sense for defensive reasons. Although prior to that, James White was seeing more floor time than Copeland. JAMES WIND-SPRINTING WHITE!
What I can appreciate is that Copeland is being the consummate professional about his position (or lack thereof) in the Knicks game plan. Not that anyone would really ask his opinion, but he’s seemingly accepted his job as being the team’s professional hypeman. You have to wonder though – headed into the playoffs and Amar’e Stoudemire out again for 6 weeks, at what point will Woodson notice that sometimes Copeland is a better option than Novak.